Thursday, January 21, 2021

Throwback Thursday: The Babysitters Club #11 - Kristy and the Snobs


Remember at the end of the last post back in September a whole four months ago when I said "I'll be back next week, I promise, I have it drafted already"? 

This week we're up to Book 11, with the spotlight on my least favourite sitter.

Our miniature soccer mom Kristy opens up this book about snobs by being, well, a massive snob. She declares her new neighbourhood to be "full of snobs" because it's an affluent area and the neighbours appear to have money. This book also kicks off with a passing comment about how an elderly dog is limping, WHICH IS NEVER A GOOD SIGN. Louie is taken to the vet who diagnoses him with...being elderly.

Kristy runs into some preppy girls & they have a brief interaction in which they call each other names, and meets one of them later when she's out with Louie. Shannon Louisa Kilbourne and her dog "Princess Astrid of Grenville" slag Louie off, and suddenly I'm #TeamKristy all the way. GET HER, KRISTY. 

When Kristy is sitting for some neighbours, Shannon prank calls her & tells her the house is on fire. Kristy freaks out before she realises what's happening and THIS. MEANS. WAR. Kristy gets Shannon back by sending "a man dressed as a stork" to her house to drop off "a huge package of diapers". Kristy, please. Who paid for this? This pranking goes back and forth, each one more juvenile than the last, until the girls eventually realise that they're not too different from each other after all. 

The inevitable happens and Louie passes away, in a very sad scene (I BAWLED) that involves the family making the decision to put him to sleep. Shannon comes through and tells Kristy that she can have one of Astrid's puppies if she wants, the girls all become friends & Shannon joins Logan in becoming an official associate member of the BSC. 

The style in this one is thin on the ground, as it tends to be when Kristy is the lead character, but luckily we have Myriah and Style Queen Gabbie Perkins to save us: 

"In Gabbie's room, she found Myriah wearing a pink party dress with white tights and shiny Mary Jane shoes. But Gabbie had a different idea about getting dressed up. She was wearing one of her mother's slips, a necktie belonging to her father, a feather boa, a straw hat, sunglasses and snow boots" 

Notable events in this book include:

The Perkins' shortlisting the names "Randy for a boy, or Randi for a girl" for their new baby. According to the CSO, there hasn't been a single Randy OR Randi born in Ireland between 1964 and 2019 (There is, however, a mini Sharon resurgence happening - after dropping off the face of the country for three years in 2014, the Sharons are on the rise again with 11 babies named Sharon in 2017, 2018, & 2019. Go team!).  

The Pikes all having the Chicken Pox (with Claudia still expected to babysit them) and winding each other up by doing "the bizzer sign", a hand signal they invented to annoy each other. My twins also had something like this, it was a sound that they used to SCREAM at each other until I banned the two of them from saying it, so I can absolutely vouch for how annoying something like this can be. 

Gummi Bears stashed inside her pillowcase
M&Ms (location undisclosed)

Stacey reads an article called "Getting What You Want: Dealing With Difficult People the Easy Way". This could possibly be a reference to the famous self-help book by Robert M. Bramson entitled Coping With Difficult People, first published in 1981. 

The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorst is mentioned, it's a children's book about dealing with pet loss.

Stacey knocks over some Lincoln Logs at the Delaney's house - I had never heard of these but they're very cool little logs used to build toy cabins & houses. They were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1999.

Book 12 is up next, Claudia has competition when a new artsy fartsy girl comes to town. What will happen? Excellent style, that's what. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Spotlight On: Romance Novels

Nothing to disclose


The urge to call this post "Bridgerton & other books about riding" was shocking.

In 2011, I confessed my "Dirty Little Secret" and spoke on here about my love for romance novels. No matter how many reading groups I join, or how many book discussions I'm a part of, someone will always pop their head up and declare that these are not "real" books and scoff "you read 20 books in a month? Ah but not REAL books", declaring all romance "chick-lit" and all YA "children's books". 

When Fifty Shades of Grey hit the top of the reading charts in 2012, it was dubbed "Mummy Porn". Article upon article surfaced about more and more women wanting to read about romance or sex as if this were a new concept.  In reality, the romance novel industry is worth billions of dollars, and according to a Glamour article from December 2019, made up almost a quarter of all book sales in 2016. It's almost as if it's another dismissal of women and our frivolous little hobbies like the equally valuable cosmetics industry, isn't it? 

With Bridgerton being a worldwide smash hit since Netflix released it in December 2020. the original set of novels by author Julia Quinn are once again getting some attention. 

I haven't read the books - I don't personally like the regency setting, so I won't typically read anything that is classed as historical romance or anything to do with lords and ladies. If you do like this style, Oprah magazine recently published a list of 24 historical romance novels in the same vein, with a brief synopsis of each one. If you want to read the Bridgerton series, this is the order: The Duke and I; The Viscount who Loved Me;  An Offer From a Gentleman;  Romancing Mr. Bridgerton;  To Sir Phillip, With Love; When He Was Wicked; It's In His Kiss; and On The Way to the Wedding; and The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After.

Being a fan of Harlequin and all their imprints, I sometimes review & participate in blog tours for their new releases. I've tagged every one I've toured for, so please have a click on this Harlequin tag if you'd like to go back and read those. Harlequin also have a really nice free app called Book Breaks that feature hundreds of free stories to read - you can sort by how much time you have to read or by category. 


If you prefer physical books, larger Tesco stores sometimes have a decent selection of romance books priced around the €6/€7 mark. Usually after you read a couple you'll discover that you prefer certain authors over others, so the app could come in really handy there. 

A great source for discovering new authors and book styles is the BookBub Daily E-mail. You sign up for free, tick a couple of preferences, and you will get an e-mail once a day featuring some free/low priced e-books for whatever platform you choose at sign-up. The daily e-mail isn't intrusive, and it always has a couple of free romance books. I've found some of my favourites this way. I just signed up using a second e-mail purely for this blog post and it has recommended several - it's worth mentioning that it doesn't just recommend straight romance, there are hundreds of LGBTQ+ books too. 

Don't forget your library - there is absolutely no reason why you should ever be embarrassed to borrow any kind of book in person, but while *the situation* is ongoing, Borrowbox have hundreds to loan, and they're incredibly popular going by some of the hold dates. If you have a tablet that can use apps or a smartphone, you can use Borrowbox. It will not work with a Kindle Paperwhite. 

The key to enjoying romance novels is to figure out what you like and don't like to read about - for example, I absolutely do not want to read lords & ladies, supernatural romance, anything to do with people getting pregnant ("A Royal Pregnancy" - best of luck, hun, but absolutely not), anything involving gangs or mafia, or BDSM. If you're into any or all of the above, there is a WEALTH of books set around those themes, just have a Google. 

Personally, I enjoy rom-com style books, a good ol' fake relationship, someone-returns-to-their-small-town, a childhood pact (all credit to Crossroads) or enemies to lovers. So if you are interested in any of those, I got you. Here's some of the ones I've read & reviewed over the past decade, you should be able to click on any cover to go to my Storygraph review of that book (provided I remember how to do that correctly, it feels like I haven't put together one of these posts in ages).




If you'd like to park the smut for now and just read something contemporary & funny that gives you a dose of the warm & fuzzies, then I highly recommend these, or anything Mandy Baggot has written (particularly her Christmas ones):


The bottom line here is - never be embarrassed to read a book, no matter what that book is. Don't let someone on a Twitter thread or a Facebook group make you feel bad about wanting some light escapism at any time, but particularly during what has been one of the most difficult periods of time any of us have endured. As I have said previously - it's fine to want to read every book that has ever been nominated for a literary prize. It's also fine to spend three hours reading about people riding up in the mountains. 

Feel free to give me a shout below or via DM on instagram if you want any more specific recommendations, and I'll see what I can do, no judgement.