Top Ten Tuesday – Books On My Summer 2021 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Books On My Summer 2021 TBR

Honestly, I don’t know how much time I’ll have for reading this summer. I’m publishing a book of my own in seven days *incoherent screaming* and uni is about to get super-busy again. But a girl can dream, and here are some of the books I’m dreaming of…

HMS Expedient by Peter Smalley

Summer is the time of year when I crave a good old-fashioned adventure story. I usually turn to Patrick O’Brian for nautical shenanigans, but I’m going to give Peter Smalley a go.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

It’s about time I dived into the Grishaverse. And apparently Six of Crows is the place to start if you’re a sucker for found families.

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter

I love Angela Carter’s short stories. Her prose is so rich and so purple, it’s like scoffing a whole box of Milk Tray. I may have to read this novel in short bursts to avoid indigestion, but I reckon I’ll enjoy it.

Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery

I’m loving my re-read of the Anne of Green Gables series. I vaguely remember this one being full of letters between Anne and Gilbert, so I’m steeling myself for mushiness! Also, Ann has just graduated college and been offered the principalship of a school. Clearly a Bachelor’s degree was worth a lot more in the olden days!

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

My pen pal described this book as “an asexual Native American teen with a ghost dog solving a supernatural murder case”. So it has ace rep, spooky stuff, animals, and an amateur detective – all my favourite things!

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl was one of my favourite books of 2020 (Yes, I know it was published in 2012) so here’s hoping Sharp Objects is just as deliciously twisted.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

I’ve only read three and a half Terry Pratchett books (I consider Good Omens to be 50% Pratchett) so I better get my arse in gear if I expect to read all of them.

Kid by Simon Armitage

“Kid” is one of my all-time favourite poems, so I don’t know why I haven’t already read this collection.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

I adore Zadie Smith but I’ve never read her debut novel. I know she writes brilliantly about friendship, and she writes so vividly about London you can almost smell that lovely sooty air. This book is all about the later lives of two wartime friends living in London, so I’m anticipating good things.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Mum is way ahead of me with the Wayfarers series, so I need to catch up!

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share your own summer TBR in the comments. If you’ve read any of these books, what did you think of them?

Also, if you’re buying books this summer, please consider supporting indie authors. My YA contemporary novel Other People’s Butterflies is being published by the indie press Art Over Chaos, and the eBook is available for pre-order here

Top Ten Tuesday – My Ten Most Recent Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

My Ten Most Recent Reads

Between working, studying, and preparing to publish a novel (six weeks until Other People’s Butterflies gets published!) I’ve not had much time for reading, and this list takes me right back to 2020.

Educated by Tara Westover

It’s not an easy read but, despite the brutality of Westover’s upbringing, this isn’t your average misery memoir. It’s hugely insightful, and sheds light on the type of rural, religious family that’s often reduced to a caricature.

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

I’m a relatively “unschooled” writer, so I feel like I should be reading more books like this one. It’s an unstuffy writing guide that offers lots of helpful tips for making your writing snap. But some of the grammatical stuff is pretty intimidating!

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

I loved Anne of Green Gables as a kid, but wasn’t so keen on the other books in the series. Was this because the books decrease in quality? Or did I find “grown-up” Anne less easy to relate to than Anne as a child? Definitely the latter. Anne of Avonlea is beautifully written and an ideal comfort read. Also, it turns out that “grown-up” Anne is only 16!

Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass by Lana Del Rey

If you’re a fan of Lana’s music, this is a must-read. Her poetry explores similar themes to her lyrics, but in a slightly different (perhaps more vulnerable) way.

Desolation Island by Patrick O’Brian

Hooray for reliable escapism! This is the fifth book in O’Brian’s series and has sea battles, spies, and the ever-entertaining friendship between main characters Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin (who are basically an old married couple at this point).

Common Bonds by various authors, including me!

Obviously I read my contributor’s copy of Common Bonds – an anthology of short stories and poetry centred on aromantic characters and platonic relationships. Seriously, if you’re looing for aro representation, or heart-warming stories of friendship, family, found-family and platonic partners, this is the book for you.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

SPOILERS, but I kinda wish Little Women ended halfway through. Poor Beth! And poor Jo, marrying some guy who’s twice her age and calls her stories trash!

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein

I finally got around to reading this, and it’s not my cup of tea. I don’t mind a slow-paced story as long as there’s a lot going on inside the characters’ heads. But these guys just spend forever deciding where to walk.

The World for a Shilling by Michael Leapman

If I had a time machine, The Great Exhibition of 1851 would be my first stop. Technologies and treasures from all over the world – including a 16 foot telescope, rare diamonds, and a precursor to the fax machine – were displayed in a purpose-built “crystal palace”. The book gives a vivid impression of what it must have been like for visitors.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

A murder-mystery that wastes very little attention on the murderer and contains one of the oddest sex scenes in mainstream fiction. Come for the weirdness, stay for the heart-wrenching portrayal of loss and grief.

Okay, not a bad bunch of books. Have you read any of these? What are some of the best books you’ve read recently?

Top Ten Tuesday – Places in Books I’d Love to Live

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Places in Books I’d Love to Live

I’m currently living in a draughty room in a shared house. The kitchen is always messy and the bathroom is always occupied. So please allow me to indulge in a few fantasies of where I’d rather be living…

Bag End (from The Hobbit)

“It was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.” The only drawback I can think of is a lack of natural light. Otherwise, Bilbo’s home in a hill seems perfect.

Manderley (from Rebecca)

I remember a guy from my old writers’ group describing Rebecca as “property porn”. I think it’s fair to say that the beautifully spooky country house, and its grounds full of blood-red rhododendrons, are described with more passion than the lukewarm love affair between the nameless protagonist and Maxim de Winter.

Mistlethwaite Manor (from The Secret Garden)

Creepy manors are ten a penny in classic literature, but this one definitely has the best garden.

Villa Villekulla (from the Pippi Longstocking stories)

Maybe it was the house, or maybe it was the childhood fantasy of living with a horse, a monkey, and no parents. Either way, I definitely wanted to live in Villa Villekulla when I was a kid.

Baba Yaga’s hut (from various folktales)

I first encountered Baba Yaga in a story called “Vasilisa the Wise”. Baba Yaga is a strange, ambiguous character with an equally strange house that walks around on giant chicken legs. You could escape from noisy neighbours and unwanted visitors at the drop of a hat!

The gingerbread house (from Hansel and Gretel)

Look how adorable it is! Child-eating witches always have the best houses.

Echo Lodge (from Anne of Avonlea)

Echo Lodge isn’t as well know as these other homes, but Miss Lavender’s house is the perfect place to become a cheerful, slightly batty old maid.

Neverland (from Peter Pan)

This one is a general place rather than a home, but I wouldn’t mind setting up camp here. Fairies, pirates, mermaids, no school, no growing up and having to pay a mortgage – the benefits are endless.

Wonderland (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

You’d never get bored…

Wayne Manor (from the Batman comics)

Yep, comic books count as books. And who wouldn’t want to waltz about like the lady of the manor all day, then go down to the bat cave and get ready for a night of crime fighting?

So what do you reckon? Would you rather live in a cosy hobbit hole, a spooky manor house or a hut with giant chicken legs?

Top Ten Tuesday – New-to-me Authors I Read in 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

New-to-me Authors I Read in 2020

Since 2020 was such a clusterf*ck of a year, I did a fair bit of comfort reading. But amongst all the books by familiar old favourites, I did manage to find some new authors who I’ll be reading again.

  1. Gillian Flynn

I finally read Gone Girl and I feel like this is one of those occasions where the hype is justified. Sharp Objects is high on my TBR.

2. Lauren Groff

I read The Monsters of Templeton after my mum recommended it. Mother knows best, of course – Groff is a superb writer and the book is a great family saga with some subtle supernatural elements.

3. Nicholas Eames

Kings of the Wyld is one of the most purely fun books I read in 2020. Somebody please make this rip-roaring, daft-as-balls adventure into a movie. Or a TV show. Or both.

4. Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is one of the reasons I am determined to read more sci-fi in 2021.

5. Arthur Ransome

You’re never too old for a children’s classic, and Swallows and Amazons is as classic as they get. There are twelve books in the series and I expect I’ll be dipping into it again when summer arrives.

6. Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones is such a rare thing – a book that begins with a murder and DGAF about the murderer. More victim-focussed crime books, please.  

7. Hank Green

I’d read a couple of John Greens, but this year I read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green and found it both an excellent sci-fi and a thoughtful exploration of fame, especially “internet fame”.

Since most of the authors I’ve mentioned so far are well-known, I’m going to narrow my focus a little. I read an anthology of fairytale retellings called Unburied Fables in 2020. And while I’m always up for a fairytale retelling, I particularly enjoyed these ones because so many of the stories feature characters who, like me, are asexual or aromantic or both. The stories also have lots of other forms of LGBT+ representation.

The authors all write beautifully, so which story you would prefer probably depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re after a sweet, grounded, m/m romance, I recommend The Last Lost Boy by George Lester. If you prefer sci-fi with richly detailed world building, you’ll like The Suns of Terre by Will J. Fawley. But three authors I really hope to read again are…

(SPOILERS for these stories)

8. Laure Nepenthes

No prizes for guessing which fairytale Handsome and the Beast is based on, but it’s the first story I ever read with a “happily ever after” ending for a platonic relationship.

9. Moira C. O’Dell

O’Dell’s story Satin Skirts and Wooden Shoes is a retelling of Cinderella. I’ll never get tired of aromantic characters using magic to wriggle their way out of unwanted marriages!

10. Minerva Cerridwen

Match Sticks is waaaay less depressing than the fairytale it’s based on, and a celebration of so many different types of love and relationships.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books to Read in Winter

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Top Ten Books to Read in Winter

I’d always thought of winter as thriller season. But when I sat down to write my top ten list of books with wintery vibes, it didn’t include a single thriller. It does, however, include six classics. So curl up by the fire with a hot cuppa (or a good whisky) and enjoy…

  1. A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

The name alone makes this an obvious winter read, but the chilly setting of the Canadian prairies seals the deal. Also, hooray for queer characters in historical fiction! LGBT+ people have always existed, and have always found ways to live a life of our own choosing.

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane’s entire childhood and adolescence seems like one really long January. Then she grows up and goes wandering over windswept moors. It’s enough to make you shiver.

3. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

This is pure fairytale gorgeousness and will make even the most determined sun-worshipper wish for snow.

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This one always makes me feel Christmassy. Yes, that is a real word.

5. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Anything set in Victorian London seems to give off winter vibes. Also, I always think of Holmes as a slightly chilly character, though that’s probably more to do with certain adaptations (especially the modern-era one with Benedict Cumberbatch) than how he is in the original stories.

6. Northern Lights

My favourite book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. This is an epic adventure story, full of wintery delights.

7. Heidi by Johanna Spyri

This cosy children’s classic is a perfect read for when you want to imagine a simpler life on a snowy mountain.

8. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

If you’re looking for something a little less cosy, The Call of the Wild presents the harsh realities of a frozen landscape as well as the allure.

9. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Though this novel spans years, it seems like it’s always winter. Maybe that’s a coincidence, or maybe it was a deliberate choice to reflect the inescapable chill of grief.

10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I suppose it ought to be a Halloween read, but this book feels like winter to me. Maybe it’s the essential harshness of the story, or just the icy ending. Brrrrrrr.

Have you read any of these? And what do you like to read when the days are cold and the nights are long?

Top Ten Tuesday – Scary and Spooky Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Scary and spooky books (because it’s almost Halloween!)

I’m usually too much of a wimp to read horror novels, but I love stuff that’s horror-adjacent, like thrillers and dark fantasy. This list contains books that I found genuinely unsettling, as well as books with a deliciously spooky atmosphere.

Reader beware! This post contains minor spoilers and mentions some nasty stuff.

  1. The Witches by Roald Dahl

Childhood is the perfect time to be scared shitless by a book, and this one freaked me out so much that I couldn’t finish it. I went to bed with mental images of witches climbing up the sides of the house with their horrible, clawed hands.

2. Bone Chillers by Betsy Haynes

I’m sticking with nostalgic scares here. Like every 90s child, I grew up reading the Goosebumps series. But I always found the Bone Chillers series scarier, particularly the story about an evil lunch lady who feeds kids caterpillars to turn them into living cocoons!

3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The first book in the Millennium trilogy contains some very disturbing content, and Larsson’s matter-of-fact writing style doesn’t make it any less horrifying.

4. I’m the King of the Castle by Susan Hill

I read this at school and was thoroughly creeped out. Edmund Hooper is the ultimate bully, and the novel is full of incidents guaranteed to evoke primal childhood fears. Moths! Taxidermy! A forest called “Hang Wood”! Punch and Judy shows! Creepy, creepy stuff.

5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood

I read this one for AS level English Lit. at college (I feel like most of the books I had to read for school and college were very disturbing) long before it was adapted into a TV series. The particicution scene is burned into my brain. If you’re not sure what particicution is, try smushing together the words “participate” and “execution”.

6. Dracula by Bram Stoker

When it comes to classic horror, you’re either Team Frankenstein or Team Dracula, and I’m Team Dracula. I found the style easier to get to grips with, and I can’t resist a crumbling, gothic castle.

7. Girls Out Late by Jacqueline Wilson

Don’t be fooled by the cheery cover. This was the first book I ever read that introduced a harsh reality of growing up female – the threat of sexual assault.

8. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Not being able to trust your own memory is inherently scary, which makes Rachel Watson – an alcoholic and a victim of gaslighting – the perfect unreliable narrator for this creepy psychological thriller.

9. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

For gentler scares, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is ideal. Ursula Monkton is a very scary antagonist – not so much because of what she is, but because she’s so good at hiding it.

10. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Scary, but not in the way you’d expect.

Have you been similarly freaked out by any of these books? And which books give you the heebie-jeebies?

Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Make Me Hungry

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Books that make me hungry

Interestingly, most of these are kids’ books. I don’t know if that’s because food plays a more prominent role in children’s books, or if I was just a greedy kid who loved her sweets. Here are my top ten – I hope you have snacks handy!

  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

My first memory of a book that made me hungry is this absolute classic. The caterpillar starts out eating a very restrained diet of fruit before binging his way through chocolate cake, salami and Swiss cheese. Actually, this seems pretty relatable to an adult audience.

2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

How can you read a book about a magical chocolate factory and not crave chocolate? Another particularly delicious Roald Dahl book is The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, about a boy who dreams of owning a sweet shop.

3. Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Sticking with the chocolate theme here. This novel about a free-spirited woman who moves into a little French village and opens a chocolate boutique (during Lent, which pisses off the local priest something rotten) will give you serious cravings.

4. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

There’s something so appealing about very simple food, cooked on a campfire and eaten in the fresh air. Even bread and butter seems like a special treat when you get to eat it on your own island.

5. The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates

No doubt about it – the Larkin family know how to eat. Also, Ma is one of those women who was “body positive” long before body positivity was a thing. She’s just a deeply happy woman who loves ice cream and doesn’t give two hoots about having a big arse.

6. The Naughtiest Girl in the School by Enid Blyton

With all the talk of tuck shops and midnight feasts, there’s something about boarding school stories that are guaranteed to make me hungry.

7. Girls Under Pressure by Jacqueline Wilson

On a less light-hearted note, this book made me hungry out of sympathy for Ellie, who develops an eating disorder. Food never loses its appeal for her but becomes an intense battleground as she tries desperately to lose weight.

8. The Truth About Stacey by Ann M. Martin

Another childhood book about a girl who has a complicated relationship with food is the third Babysitters Club book, about diabetic Stacey McGill. I remember reading a scene where Stacey is looking longingly at a Thanksgiving window display with a giant chocolate turkey, and wishing I could invent sugar-free sweets to give to her.

9. A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones

This was my favourite DWJ book, and my strongest memory of it is craving a 42nd century butter pie. Rather than waiting for the 42nd century to arrive, some ingenious souls have come up with recipes for this drool-worthy treat.

10. Everyone Else’s Parents Said Yes by Paula Danziger

Matthew’s eleventh birthday is coming up and he wants to celebrate with a junk food feast. Unfortunately, his mum has other ideas. This tale of pre-adolescent rebellion will make you want to stuff your face with as many flavours of ice cream as you can handle.

Have you read any of these tasty books? And which books make you hungry?

Top Ten Tuesday – Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Authors I’ve read the most books by

I like to think I have some good qualities as a reader. I’m open-minded in terms of genre, not remotely snobby (yay for the trashiest of trashy thrillers) and won’t give up on a book just because the first chapter doesn’t grab me. But one quality I seem to lack is loyalty.

Rather than commit to an author I like, I hop around between them, never getting too invested in any of them. For some of the authors on this list, I haven’t read more than four or five of their books. But for me, that’s a big commitment! Here are my top ten…

  1. Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl probably bears at least half the responsibility for my love of reading, dark humour and female villains! As a kid, I read almost all his children’s books and could recite whole chunks of James and the Giant Peach. But my favourite was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, because chocolate.

2. Jacqueline Wilson

Maybe I was a more loyal reader as a kid, because I read heaps of Jacqueline Wilson books along with the Roald Dahls. Looking back on them, I’m really impressed that she managed to write about heavy stuff like homelessness, mental illness and eating disorders in a way that was neither overly scary nor patronising.

3. Diana Gabaldon

I rarely read long series, but I’m hooked on the Outlander novels. I’ve been reading them since I was fourteen, which is maybe too young considering all the sex, violence, sexual violence, gory surgical scenes, etc. But I’m addicted to Jamie and Claire’s adventures, and the Lord John Grey series is just as good.

4. Margaret Attwood

I first read The Handmaid’s Tale as a seventeen-year-old, and the “particicution” scene was the most disturbing thing I’d ever read. It probably still is. Luckily, this didn’t put me off Attwood’s amazing writing. I’m not sure how many of her books I’ve read, but it’s a fair few. My personal favourite is The Robber Bride.

5. Philip Pullman

The His Dark Materials trilogy is brilliant, obviously, but he’s written plenty of other fantastic books.

6. JK Rowling

To address the big, transphobic elephant in the room, I am no longer a fan of JKR. But there will always be a special place in my heart for the Harry Potter series. The books and films are pure magic, and so is the wonderful, creative, diverse fandom.

7. Nicholas Evans

I think that reading Nicholas Evans at thirteen was the first time I consciously recognised “good writing”. Specifically, I noticed his ability to get right inside the minds of his characters and give each one a distinctive voice, and was very impressed.

8. Jane Austen

Austen didn’t write many novels but I’ve read all of them. It wasn’t exactly love at first read because I used to get frustrated with the stifling, judgemental world her characters inhabit. But then I realised that in many ways, it’s not so different from 21st century Britain, and I finally started to appreciate Austen’s subtle satire.

9. Patrick O’Brian

O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series has about 20 books and I’m not even halfway through it. But I’m fully committed to finishing it because this shit is amazing! It has oodles of old-school adventure, plus brilliantly written characters, lots of humour and a complex, heart-warming central friendship.

10. Terry Pratchett

I was a latecomer to Sir Terry’s satirical fantasy. I read The Colour of Magic a few years ago and I’m still playing catch-up with his series of 41(!) Discworld novels. My favourite so far is the festive classic, Hogfather.

I’m kind of annoyed with myself that certain authors haven’t made it onto this list. Why haven’t I read more Zadie Smith? Surely Neil Gaiman should be on there? If you’ll excuse me, I have A LOT of reading to do.

Meanwhile, have you read any of these authors? Are any of them on your top ten list?

Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Give Off Summer Vibes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Books That Give Off Summer Vibes

  1. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Prodigal Summer

An obvious choice, perhaps, since it’s got “summer” right there in the title. But this is, to me, a perfect summer read. It’s beautifully sensual and it thoughtfully explores the natural world.

2. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island

Summer is the ideal time for reading classic adventure stories, and they don’t come more classic than Treasure Island.

3. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

A book generally feels “summery” to me if it’s set somewhere hot and dry. And since I live in the UK, I consider most places hot and dry. This book has such a strong sense of place, you can practically feel the Alabama heat radiating off the pages. And though it has some dark themes, it’s also full of human warmth.

4. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

The Undomestic Goddess

Summer is (in theory) all about relaxing, and this book is a fun and frothy story about a stressed-out woman embracing a slower pace of life. An excellent beach read.

5. Just William by Richmal Crompton

Just William

Remember those long, carefree summers of childhood? William and his gang of friends – “The Outlaws” – will take you right back there.

6. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

The Horse Whisperer

This book makes me want to ride horses, go camping and take a road trip across America. A lovely, outdoorsy book.

7. The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle

The God of Animals

The God of Animals has some similarities with The Horse Whisperer. But it’s a more cynical book, and the summer heat suffusing its pages is often prickly and uncomfortable. Still, it’s a fantastic coming-of-age novel.

8. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Good Omens

This is the breeziest, most feel-good book about the apocalypse you’re ever likely to read. Everything about it – from the heartwarming central friendship to the gloriously silly humour – puts me in a good mood.

9. The Exiles by Hilary McKay

The Exiles

A good middle grade novel never gets old, and The Exiles will always have a special place in my heart. It’s about four naughty sisters going to stay with their formidable Grandma for the summer, and causing all sorts of chaos.

10. The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates

The Darling Buds of May

Is May part of spring or summer? Either way, this book is literary Prozac. There’s no better way to spend a summer afternoon than hanging out with the Larkin family – picking strawberries, drinking very strong cocktails and eating way too much delicious food.

Have you read any of these? And which are your favourite books to read in summer?

Top Ten Tuesday – Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

Top Ten Tuesday – Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

If I had to choose between books and bands, I’d choose books. But only just! Here are my top ten, totally imaginary, book-named bands.

1. I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle

Dodie Smith’s gorgeous coming-of-age novel would make a great name for a sensitive indie band with awkward charm and whimsical lyrics.

2. Autonomous


In contrast, Autonomous would be an industrial music band who take pride in making your ears bleed.

3. Gone Girl(s)

Gone Girl

Pop a “s” on the end of the title and it becomes a good name for a 90s riot grrrl band.

4. Kings of the Wyld

Kings of the Wyld

These guys would play swaggering stadium rock, plus some more intimate acoustic numbers with mystical, pagan vibes. My dad would adore them.

5. The Subtle Knife

The Subtle Knife

If The Velvet Underground wasn’t called The Velvet Underground, it would be called The Subtle Knife.

6. The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck’s classic might be a serious novel, but I always thought the title was kind of funny. Aren’t grapes like, the least angry fruit? This would be a pop-punk band with a lot of rage but a sense of humour too.

7. Dracula


A darkly glamorous band. Lots of eyeliner, black lace and sexual ambiguity.

8. The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers

This would be an all-female, hipsterish folk band. They would write the kind of lyrics that make you do mental gymnastics before you can understand them.

9. Wise Blood

Wise Blood

Woozy, bluesy swamp-rock.

10. Hogfather


Terry Pratchett’s Christmas classic would make a perfect name for a heavy metal band.


Which of these awesome imaginary bands would you listen to?