Thursday, April 12, 2018

Throwback Thursday: The Babysitters Club #5: Dawn and the Impossible Three

Nothing to Disclose.


This week almost didn't happen because Polyvore shut down without warning and took all my outfit sets with it - if you also used it, you can retrieve your data before May 28th by signing in to your account here:

We're up to Book Five - and it's the turn of California girl Dawn Schafer.

The book starts with a little recap of who everyone is, and what has happened so far. Dawn has recently moved to Stoneybrook with her little brother Jeff and their mother, Sharon (a former flame of Richard Spier, Mary-Anne's Dad). Dawn is a super-healthy avocado-loving all-natural girl that would be bang on trend in 2018 - I'm fairly sure this was my first introduction to tofu. And probably avocados. 

Mary-Anne has become a new woman since Book 4 - her Dad has now relaxed a little and let her stay out later, plus she has contact lenses and JEANS. Jeans! The ever-stylish Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill have a discussion in this book about using egg rinse and lemon in their hair to keep it shiny - I too used lemon in my hair at school, because one of my friends told me it'd lighten it. See also: household bleach, Sun-In....none of which worked on my hair (thankfully). The more I read these books the more I realise how much of an impact they had on me as a child - I remember buying a pair of dice earrings purely because I knew they were the type of thing Claudia would have worn. 

Anyway - I'm rambling. Back to the plot of this book. Dawn books a job sitting for the Barrett kids. Their mother is a young, really stylish woman - I've included her iconic outfit in this weeks collage - but their house is an absolute shit hole. Here's what Dawn encounters when she first walks in:

I noticed that Suzi's jumper was coming unbuttoned, and that Mamie's diapers were drooping and the hem was falling out of her overalls. A grubby bandage was wrapped around one of Buddy's fingers. All three kids needed to have their hair brushed.
I looked in the living room. It was a sight. Newspapers and toys were scattered everywhere. A plateful of crumbs sat under a lamp. Something red had been spilled on the coffee table and was never wiped up. Our house might have been disorganized, but the Barretts' house was a pigsty.
I dared to glance in the kitchen. What a mistake. The sink was overflowing with pots and dishes, napkins and Popsicle wrappers, and about a million TV dinner trays. The breakfast dishes were still on the table. I could tell exactly what Mrs. Barrett had served because the remains were in plain view. Soft-boiled eggs (the yolks, now crusty, glued to the plates); orange juice (dried pulp in the glasses), bananas (peels on the table), and Pop-Tarts (crusts stuck in a glass).
Yick. Ew, ew, ew.

Dawn sorts the house and the kids, Mrs. Barrett is delighted, and then comes to rely a little too much on Dawn (WHO IS TWELVE) to keep doing it. And not only the cleaning and childminding - fielding calls from her ex-husband and landing her in the middle of a fairly toxic custody situation. Dawn puts her foot down, says no, and makes Mrs. Barrett realise how unfair she is being. 

Speaking of unfair, Kristy is being a wagon as per because Mary-Anne and Dawn are becoming close friends, and Kristy is jealous. When is she ever not jealous?

Here are the notable outfits: 

Stacey: A simple pink t-shirt under a baggy jumpsuit with big pink and red flowers all over it.
Dawn: Blue jean shorts and a white t-shirt that said 'genius inside'.
Mrs. Barrett: A silk blouse, sleek linen suit, brown heels and gold jewellery.

The special mention this week goes to Puff, the Magic Dragon - not actually a song about marijuana, but a really bloody sad tune about the end of childhood. I cried.

Gummi Worms hidden in her desk drawer
How does Claudia have any teeth left? Gummi worms are gelatin-based worm shaped jellies made almost entirely from sugar. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Monthly Reads: March 2018

Links under books are Affiliate links. ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here


I read 12 books in March (some were much shorter than others), so as always I'll dive right in.

The covers below are all clickable and should take you directly to my longer review on Goodreads. 

Books I Recieved for Review


Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian (Published June 14th)
Described as "Sarah J Maas meets Game of Thrones", this is a YA fantasy about a young woman who has been denied her rightful title, Queen of Astrea. She has a decision to make - will she escape in search of a better life, or will she stay and try to get her throne back from the inside? I really enjoyed this, I'm almost gutted that I read it so early because I've over a year to wait until the next installment. 
Pre-Order: Kindle | Book Depository

Elefant by Martin Suter (Published May 31st)
Originally published in German, this is a really unique story about a homeless man living in Zurich. Naturally, when he sees a tiny glowing pink elephant in the cave where he sleeps, he thinks it's down to the alcohol he consumes regularly. In fact, she's the result of genetic engineering and a guy determined to gain infamy as the creator of "pets for people who have everything". Sweet, engaging, and unlike anything I've read before. Loved it. 
Pre-Order: Kindle | Book Depository 

How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne (Published June 14th)
Holly's first adult novel follows Tori Bailey, a woman who has become successful by telling women they don't need to have it all. She has a perfect relationship, she has a great life, she has scores of fans online - but could she do with taking some of her own advice? I've read most of Holly's YA books and enjoyed them, but I think this is my favourite of hers so far. Fans of Dawn O'Porter would enjoy, this is witty and sharp and fresh. 
Pre-Order: Kindle | Book Depository 


Almost Love by Louise O'Neill (Available Now)
This is Louise's first book aimed at adults. It's about how an obsessive relationship can change and form you as a person, having an impact on all future relationships. This wasn't what I expected (nothing Louise writes ever is) - it made me feel uncomfortable and shaken. It's very realistic and sad, like both of Louise's other books. I received a copy of this from Netgalley but I had already bought one myself. This was also a ROSBC pick for March.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

The Dead Ex by Jane Corry (Published June 21st)
I'll have a full review of this book nearer to publication. Vicki, the main character, is a really interesting one - her ex husband is missing, presumed dead. Vicki has a condition that means she may not be 100% reliable about events, and we also have chapters from a very troubled young girl in foster care in 2007. If you like a very twisty, dark novel you may like this one.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Books I Borrowed

Ireland's Arctic Siege: The Big Freeze of 1947 by Kevin C. Kearns
I saw this mentioned somewhere around the time of Storm Emma so requested it at the library to learn a little more about one of our most talked about weather events. Unfortunately this book was almost entirely focused on the Dublin area - I wouldn't have requested it had I known that. For Dubliners, this will be a nostalgic visit to a city from times long gone - from mentions of the Adelphi and Switzers to anecdotes from people who still remember the freeze. Other counties are very briefly mentioned but I lost interest fairly soon after I realised it was mainly centered around the capital.



Clean Break by Tammy Cohen
I did a blog post about the 2018 Quick Reads - they're specially commissioned every year and aimed at people who feel intimidated by longer books or those who haven't as much time as they'd like. This one was good, it was a domestic thriller about a couple who are divorcing, but one of them is not going to give up easily. 

The Great Cornish Getaway by Fern Britton
This features a very famous actor who walks off set and ends up in a small, quiet Cornish town. I didn't enjoy this, I felt the use of a real actor cheesy and rather than add to the enjoyment of the story, I felt like I was reading fan fiction. Which is fine if that's what you're into - I'm not.



The Baby Sitter by Sheryl Browne
I had pre-ordered this and forgotten about it. It's about a woman who suddenly becomes a huge part of the life of a family when she agrees to be their babysitter in return for letting her stay with them after her home is damaged in a fire. It was a quick read, nothing spectacular, I found a lot of the situations a little unbelievable. It might make a good holiday read unless you're saturated by books with "gripping psychological thriller" - I think I'm reaching my limit, unfortunately.

The Liar's Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard
Having read and loved this authors previous book Distress Signals, I was really looking forward to the release of this book. A decade ago, Alison left Ireland after her boyfriend confessed to a series of grim murders. Now, there are crimes happening that bear remarkable similarities to the ones Will committed - and he may know something. Unfortunately, the only person he'll talk to is Alison, who has made a new life for herself in the Netherlands. I really liked this - there was only one character I was a little iffy about, but overall this was fast paced, full of action, and had a great story. Loved it. 



A Cowboy to Remember by Barbara Ankrum
This was free for Kindle via the Bookbub daily email - I've mentioned before that I'm a sucker for a few different cheesy romance tropes, especially "The Childhood Pact". Olivia and Jake were High School sweethearts that drifted apart. But will sparks fly when they see each other after so long? This was predictable, cheesy, saccharin, and exactly what I needed in between thrillers. I really liked the characters, they had a little more depth than I expected.
Buy: Kindle

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray
I'm always a bit wary of approaching books about alcohol, having grown up with someone dealing (or not dealing) with an addiction. This was a Rick O'Shea Book Club pick (for February, I think) so I said I'd give it a go - it's Catherine Grays own story, in her own words, about how she came to stop drinking alcohol. It's not preachy, it's not clinical, it's warm and witty and has great life advice. I took a lot from it and I'm glad I read it, if only to take a closer look at my own relationship with alcohol and why/when I choose to have a drink. 
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Have you read anything good lately that you'd like to share? Let me know!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Throwback Thursday: The Babysitters Club #4: Mary Anne Saves the Day

Nothing to Declare


We're up to book four, and it's Mary Anne Spier's turn.

Mary Anne lives alone with her overprotective Dad, Richard. Her mother died when Mary Anne was very young, and her Dad has some incredibly strict rules. Mary Anne must wear her hair in braids (okay, Richard), dress very conservatively (penny loafers, sweater vests and corduroy skirts) and be home at 6pm sharp. She can't stay out as late as the others when she's babysitting, and she is forbidden to wear trousers to school because........I have no idea. Luckily, she's close to Claudia's Grandmother, Mimi, who is teaching her how to knit.

Mary Anne feels like her Dad is infanilizing her, to the point where her bedroom still looks like a nursery, with pink ruffles everywhere and childish pictures on the wall. All she wants is to paint her walls navy and yellow and hang posters of kittens and New York, dammit Richard!! At one point she does stand up to him and call him "her jailer", which doesn't go down too well.

As a kid, I'm sure I just detested Richard and had no interest in his uber-conservative ways, but in this one, we get a LOT of back story. He's an overworked lawyer, he's a single parent, his wife died from cancer over a decade ago, and he wrote poetry to his high school girlfriend who had awfully disapproving parents. I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt.

In this book, we are introduced to Dawn Schafer, California girl. Dawn has recently moved to the neighbourhood with her mother Sharon, and becomes friendly with Mary Anne after the BSC have a massive falling out with each other. With the girls not speaking, Dawn proves to be a godsend - least of all when Mary Anne has an emergency while babysitting little Jenny Prezzioso. The way Mary Anne deals with Jenny convinces her father to loosen the reins a little, plus his old high school girlfriend may be closer than he thinks...

The main outfit mention in this book goes to the one Mary Anne says she'd love to wear if she had control over her own clothing choices - I also had to put Stacey's "one is a dog and one is a bone" earrings in there too.

"Just once, I'd like to go to school wearing skintight turquoise pants, Stacey's "island" shirt with the flamingos and toucans all over it, and maybe bright red, high-top sneakers." 

A special mention to the extra-juvenile/absolute dire unprofessionalism of going to Jamie Newton's 5th birthday party and spilling punch on each other, stepping on each others toes, and throwing wet paper towels at each other. Yes, girls, yes. Please, mind my newborn child. How Mrs. Newton didn't throw them all out is beyond me.

Ring-Dings hidden in a pajama bag.
Ring-Dings appear to be some kind of hybrid between a tea cake and a wagon wheel. They're now called Ding-Dongs. I don't know what a pajama bag is. I presume some kind of bag to put your pajamas in but - why?!