The First Ten Books I Randomly Grabbed from My Shelf

I’m kinda loving the laziness of this Top Ten Tuesday topic! What I’m not loving is how small my bookcase is. I live in a tiny flat and don’t have room for a full-size bookcase, let alone a big library with rolling ladders like I totally deserve.

Nonetheless, I closed my eyes and grabbed ten books at random, and here is what I came away with…

(Please note, this post may contain spoilers.)

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I love my gorgeous, illustrated copy of Neverwhere. It’s not my favourite Gaiman novel (that would be Good Omens, which is also my favourite Terry Pratchett novel and my favourite book about the apocalypse) but the world-building is glorious and it makes an ideal introduction to urban fantasy for those who are new to the genre.

Wool by Hugh Howey

I haven’t read this one yet, but I should really get a move on because the TV adaptation is airing on the 5th May. I know the book is always better than the movie, but I feel like there’s no clear consensus on whether this is true for TV series.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I’ve read Little Women twice – once as a teen and once as an adult – and both times I was completely sucked in by it. Alcott’s characters are so vividly drawn, and the joys and griefs of growing up are captured so powerfully.

The only thing I don’t like about this book is the ending. I understand that Alcott was under a lot of pressure from both readers and publishers to get Jo married off, but did it have to be that guy? A boring older man who calls her stories trash? For a more interesting (and queer, and Laurie-centric) ending, read So Many Beginnings by Bethany C. Morrow.

The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett

This was the first Ken Follett I read, and while I found the plot consistently engaging I’m not sold on Ken Follett’s style. There’s a bit too much “showing off the research”, which is a bugbear of mine. However, he does write in genres other than historical fiction so maybe I should give one of those a try.

Grand Union by Zadie Smith

This excellent short story collection covers just about everything – desire, friendship, cancel culture, futuristic videogames, a trans woman’s attempt to buy a decent corset – with Smith’s incredible skill and generous humour.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

I bought this book after seeing the film but still haven’t read it. The whole time I was watching the film I kept thinking ‘I bet the book goes into this in more detail’, so buying it was an obvious choice. But having seen the film also means there are some scenes I’m dreading because they’re just so grim.

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

Despite its beautiful prose, this one disappointed me in the same way that most fantasy romances disappoint me – not enough fantasy! I wanted to find out more about the mermaid’s world and instead she just goes to live in a guy’s bathtub and loses her tail.

The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley

I’m interested to read a love story with an older protagonist – Posy Montague is approaching her seventieth birthday – but apparently not interested enough because this has been sat on my bookshelf for ages.

Common Bonds by various authors (including me!)

I swear I picked this at random and not to promote my own work (though, err, if you fancy a copy you can buy it here). It’s an anthology of short stories with protagonists who are aromantic – they don’t experience romantic attraction – and with a strong focus on platonic relationships.

My personal favourite is Cinders – a fairytale retelling so crammed with jokes that it makes Shrek look humourless. There’s also father-daughter bonding in space, and a cursed seamstress who becomes friends with a witch. My own story, Spacegirl and the Martian, features a superhero getting drunk and wandering around London with her nemesis.

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

The author of the Anne of Green Gables series seems to have a reputation for writing cosy, feel-good books. This book, about Anne’s daughter Rilla and her coming-of-age adventures, certainly has its fair share of warmth and sweetness. But it’s also set during WWI, and Rilla has brothers and a love interest being sent away to fight. I may have cried a bit.


Thanks for taking this haphazard tour of my bookshelves with me. Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

My Top Ten TV Shows

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a non-book freebie, so I’m going with my top ten TV shows. I’ve been strict with myself and only picked from shows where I’ve seen literally every episode. This rules out stuff like The Simpsons and Buffy the Vampire Slayer which I have loved passionately but sporadically!

I’m also ruling out anything that has only had one season, so that sadly means no Severance (a thriller about a dystopian workplace) no We Are Lady Parts (a comedy about an all-female, all-Muslim punk band), and no SAS: Rogue Heroes (a fictionalised account of the formation of the SAS). So, here are my top ten…

Being Human

The original BBC show of course, though I’ll admit the American remake had its charms. In a nutshell, this is a comedy-drama about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost who share a flat in Bristol. It’s frequently a laugh-out-loud show, but it doesn’t pull its punches in terms of the horror or the emotional turmoil of the characters.  

Not only do I love this show with my whole heart, but it has also influenced my writing more than most books I’ve read. I’m constantly striving for the same beautiful and unsettling mixture of weirdness, darkness, and warmth.


Hmm, it would seem my two absolute favourite shows have certain things in common, including dark humour, an Irish vampire, and a major religious figure as an antagonist (in Being Human it’s the devil and in Preacher it’s God, which should illustrate the difference between these shows).

Preacher is cheerfully nihilistic, dark as a barrel of tar, and has a lot of excellent, very inventive fight scenes. But at its core it’s about a guy, his girlfriend, and his best friend, who all love each other a lot but badly. I think that’s why it’s a show I keep coming back to.


Girls is such a marmite show – some people love it, some people hate it. I adore it, and I think the show’s main character – aspiring writer Hannah Horvath – is one of TV’s greatest antiheroes. Also Jessa is a legend, Marnie is a subtle monster, and Shoshanna is … honestly I never quite figured her out.


I went on a bit of a detective show kick in the early 2010s, but Sherlock was the show that started it by creating something new and vibrant out of characters I’d grown up with.

There weren’t many episodes but each one was like a movie, and the epic scale of this show definitely gave it an edge. While other detectives had ‘cases’, Sherlock and John had ‘adventures’.

Raised by Wolves

Every fangirl has that one show they are forever salty about because it was cancelled too soon. For me, it’s Raised by Wolves – a British sitcom about a single mum and her home-schooled (but mostly unschooled) kids that lasted only two seasons.

I’d like to think that if there was any justice in the world, this would have had at least five seasons and become as popular as Derry Girls. In reality, the writing probably wasn’t broad enough for mass appeal.

The Umbrella Academy

OK, this is a fun one to describe. Basically, this guy adopts a bunch of kids and raises them to be superheroes, but they keep causing the apocalypse. My favourite character is a 58-year-old assassin, trapped in the body of a teenage boy due to time travel shenanigans.

This show is just a good time. Great fight scenes, a soundtrack that doesn’t strive to create a particular mood but is just wall-to-wall bangers, and the most gleefully dysfunctional bunch of siblings you’ll ever meet.


As a 90s child, Friends was bound to appear on this list. I know that makes me a basic bitch, but this show is consistently funny and full of warmth and optimism. It ended when I was 16 and I mourned it like a dearly departed relative.

The Sopranos

Another big hitter with a very different vibe. Part crime drama and part family drama (with many connections between the two, since everyone in the mob is someone’s cousin) this show is truly a work of art. The acting is phenomenal and the writing is *chef’s kiss*.

This is England

No other show makes me feel as much as this miniseries about the coming-of-age adventures of a group of ex-skinheads. It takes the typical dramas of an average soap opera – infidelity, fights, break-ups and betrayals – and creates something raw and powerful.

This show just does things that other shows don’t. It unambiguously states “violence has consequences”. It subtly explores forgiveness and its limits. It normalises loving and affectionate relationships between working-class men. Watch it, but be prepared for a rollercoaster.


I started this list with a show about supernatural housemates and I’m ending the list with a show about supernatural housemates, so clearly this is my favourite type of show.

Ghosts is a delightfully silly comedy about a couple who inherit an old house filled with ghosts that only one of them can see. The ghosts all come from various historical eras, from the stone age to, err, the early 90s. My fave is Robin – an emotionally intelligent caveman who loves playing chess but also loves chasing squirrels.

Thanks for reading my TTT. Have you seen any of these shows? Would any of them make your top ten?

Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2022

I definitely read more new authors than familiar ones in 2022, and I’m planning to keep that going in 2023. Here’s my pick of the bunch…

Karen Joy Fowler

Who’s she? An American author of literary fiction, sci-fi and fantasy.

What did I read? ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’ – a story about a young woman whose sister mysteriously disappeared during childhood.

What do I want to read next? I’ll probably go for her most well-known novel – ‘The Jane Austen Book Club’.

Philippa Gregory

Who’s she? Only the queen of historical fiction.

What did I read? ‘The Queen’s Fool’ – the story of a teenage girl who becomes involved in a Tudor power struggle.

What do I want to read next? ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ is her most well-known novel but I’m more drawn to ‘Tidelands’ – a novel set in 1648, about a woman suspected of being a witch.

Peter Carey

Who’s he? An award-winning Australian author. He is frequently named as Australia’s next contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

What did I read? ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ – a fictionalised account of the life of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly.

What do I want to read next? ‘Parrot and Olivier in America’ – strange adventures, an unlikely friendship, and an exploration of American democracy from the perspective of outsiders.

Zoraida Córdova

Who’s she? An Ecuadorian-American author, best known for her ‘Brooklyn Brujas’ series.

What did I read? ‘Labyrinth Lost’ – a YA fantasy about a young bruja who casts a spell with dire consequences and has to rescue her family from a strange world.

What do I want to read next? ‘Bruja Born’ – the next book in the ‘Brooklyn Brujas’ series.

Noel Streatfeild

Who’s she? A British author who published children’s and adults’ fiction from the 1930s to the 1970s.

What did I read? ‘Ballet Shoes’ – the story of three very different sisters who take to the stage to earn some much-needed money.

What do I want to read next? ‘Ballet Shoes’ was such a cute, feel-good story that I’d like to read another book in the series like ‘Tennis Shoes’ or ‘Party Shoes’.

Douglas Stuart

Who’s he? A Scottish-American writer (and fashion designer).

What did I read? ‘Shuggie Bain’ – a novel about a young boy growing up in Scotland, and his mother’s struggle with alcoholism.

What do I want to read next? Stuart hasn’t written many novels, but ‘Young Mungo’ – the story of a Protestant boy and a Catholic boy falling in love on a Glasgow housing estate – definitely sounds worth a read.

Rachel Klein

Who’s she? An American novelist, essayist and translator.

What did I read? ‘The Moth Diaries’. Written in diary form, this novel explores the experiences of an intelligent, troubled teenage girl, and her obsession with Ernessa – the new girl at school who may or may not be a vampire.

What do I want to read next? As far as I can tell, ‘The Moth Diaries’ is the only novel Klein has written. Maybe I can find some of her short stories to read.

Ben Macintyre

Who’s he? A British historian and writer of non-fiction books, mostly about soldiers and spies.  

What did I read? ‘SAS: Rogue Heroes’ – the absolutely barmy story of the formation of the SAS in World War II.

What do I want to read next? It’ll have to be ‘Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle’. One of the main players from ‘SAS: Rogue heroes’ ended up in this POW camp and I want to find out what happened to him there.

Melissa Harrison

Who’s she? A British novelist and nature writer.

What did I read? ‘All Among the Barley’ – the story of a teenage girl and her rural community in the 1930s.

What do I want to read next? ‘The Stubborn Light of Things’ – a nature diary written in Harrison’s beautiful, unshowy prose sounds blissful.

Agatha Christie

Who’s she? You know who she is. Literally the world’s best-selling author of all time.

What did I read? I’m embarrassed to admit I got to my mid-thirties before reading an Agatha Christie, but at least I started with a good one. I read ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, in which detective Hercule Poirot must solve a murder on a train while the murderer is still aboard.

What do I want to read next? There are plenty of novels to choose from (Christie wrote 66) but I’m drawn to ‘Death on the Nile’ – another Hercule Poirot whodunnit.

Have you read any of these authors? If so, which of their books would you recommend?

You can find more topics for Top Ten Tuesday here.

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings this Year

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

“Cosy” isn’t usually something I look for in books, but I’m intrigued by the concept of cosy fantasy. Sometimes the world-building in fantasy novels is so tasty that I just want to hang out and people-watch in the tavern for a while rather than whizzing off on an adventure.

Das Boot by Lothar Günther Buchheim

I’ve never seen the film, but I recently watched the first series of the TV programme and damn-near chewed my nails off. So tense! I’m planning on doing a nautical fiction reading challenge in 2023, so this would be a great book to have at hand.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Yeah, it’s a bit of a dad book, but my taste in fiction is increasingly dad-ish. I think it would be a good companion to Das Boot.

Aces Wild: A Heist by Amanda Dewitt

Asexual representation is still hard to come by in books, so this is exciting. I love a good heist, and ace rep only sweetens the deal.

Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson

This is one of those classics I’ve been meaning to read forever and still haven’t got around to. I live in a large city but grew up in the countryside and often find myself missing it, so I love to read books with rural settings.

The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian

Obviously I want the next (eighth) book in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. Jack and Stephen own my heart and their adventures never disappoint.

Port Royal by Peter Smalley

Another book from a nautical series. This is only the second book in Peter Smalley’s series, but the first one impressed me with its subtle examination of friendship across a class divide, and its fearless portrayal of trauma.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

I’ll admit it’s mostly the hype that’s got me curious about this one. Also, I recently read Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova and it got me in the mood for brujas and brujos!

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon

I’ve been reading this series since I was 14, so it’s an automatic purchase. Yet somehow this book has been out for over a year and I still don’t have it.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

I want to read this before the movie adaptation arrives!


So what’s on your Christmas list this year? And have you read any of these books?

Find more Top Ten Tuesday topics here.

Top Ten Tuesday – Characters I’d Love an Update On

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 Characters I’d Love an Update On

Occasional SPOILERS for these books! While writing this, I realised that almost all the characters I want an update on are female. Maybe I get more emotionally invested in female characters, or maybe it’s because women’s stories have a habit of ending with “and then she got married and lived happily ever after”, which doesn’t tell the reader much!

Rose Red from What Katy Did at School

Well-behaved women seldom make history, which bodes well for the future of Katy’s mischievous friend Rose Red.

Fanny Price from Mansfield Park

The ending of Fanny’s story always felt rushed to me, and I had a sneaking suspicion that Edmund hadn’t quite got over Mary Crawford when he married Fanny. I’d like to check in on them in ten years and see if their marriage is a happy one.

Chiyo/Sayuri from Memoirs of a Geisha

Bound by the secrecy of her profession, Sayuri only hints at a how her own story ends, which makes it all the more intriguing.

Charlie Nancy from Anansi Boys

When your dad is a trickster god, there’s simply no chance of a normal life.

Bathsheba Everdene from Far from the Madding Crowd

Did Gabriel Oak tame Bathsheba’s unruly heart? I’m not so sure…

Louise/Lulu from Mountains of the Moon

Louise’s eventful, ambiguous story ends with “I can hardly wait for what comes next.” Me neither – gimme more!

Sara Crewe and her new family from A Little Princess

The book doesn’t quite have the film’s fairytale ending, where Sara’s father turns out to be alive. Instead, she gains a new family in Carrisford, Ram Dass, and Becky. With all the complexities of class and race that existed at the time, it would be interesting to see if they were happy together.

Tanya from Bad Girls

At fourteen, Tanya is a petty thief who’s always in trouble. She’s also brave, ballsy and a loyal friend. I’d like to see what kind of adult she turns into.

The narrator from Rebecca

I just want to check up on her. It’s never a good idea to marry a man who murdered his first wife.

Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre

It’s also never a good idea to marry a man who locked his first wife in the attic!

Who’s on your list? And if you’re familiar with any of these characters – care to venture a guess at how things turned out for them?

Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Pet Peeves

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…

Bookish Pet Peeves

I’m usually an over-enthusiastic fangirl when it comes to books. I’m much more inclined to rave about the stuff I love than rant about the stuff I hate, but here’s the perfect excuse to have a good old bitch. My pet peeves are pretty varied, but a lot of them can be lumped into the two categories of “annoying romance stuff” and “annoying sexist stuff”.

  1. Mary Sue characters

To clarify, I’m not using “Mary Sue” the way dude-bros on the internet use it, i.e. to describe a female character who is very powerful, succeeds where male characters fail, or just gets shit done.

I mean a female character who is completely perfect in an unrealistic and unsatisfying way. She has no flaws and no depth. She gets everything she wants despite never thinking of herself because of course she’s utterly selfless. Give me female characters who are relatable, real, and complex.

2. “Love interest” characters

Characters that exist purely to be a romantic fantasy always have me rolling my eyes. If a character has no personality beyond being charming, and no motivation beyond fulfilling the protagonist’s every desire, they might as well be a sexy robot.

3. The word “chuckle”

OK, maybe this one is just me, but I find it grating when characters chuckle. I feel like a chuckle is a very specific type of laugh, belonging mainly to elderly men. But so many writers seem to rely on it as the only way of conveying mild amusement.

4. Zero conflict

You know when a book has zero conflict and everyone is thoroughly decent and communicates properly at all times and the world is safe and peaceful and the book is basically like a big warm hug? I don’t like it.

Don’t get me wrong – I can absolutely see the value of these books. But I tend to find them a bit bland and cloying. A book like a warm hug is all very well, but I want a book that will hug me and also punch me in the stomach. Yep, I’m a weirdo.

5. Only one (1) female character

I like to think this trend is dying out, but it used to be common in SFF. Despite women making up half the population, it apparently made sense to have just the one female character. And she would do female things like being alluring, sleeping with the protagonist, and wearing sexy armour.

6. Everyone must be coupled up at the end

Readers like romance, right? So you should have as much of it as possible, right? So every character should end up in a long-term relationship, thereby implying that romantic partnership is the only “happily ever after” that exists, right? Bleurgh. Let some characters stay single.

7. Baddie does bad things because he’s bad

Cartoonish villains who are evil because they like being evil have their place, but that place is generally in pantomimes and Disney films. Antagonists are an ideal vessel for exploring the darker side of human nature, and it always feel like a missed opportunity when a writer fails to address their motivation.

8. Flowery descriptions of eyes

We’ve all seen the jokes about male writers being obsessed with their female characters’ tits (“She breasted boobily down the stairs”) but I feel like a lot of female writers have an equally weird obsession with eyes.

An attractive character’s eyes will never just be “blue” or “dark”- they have to be “cerulean” or “obsidian”. And they’re always doing stuff like flashing, or smouldering, or turning the colour of storm clouds, or being windows to the soul. Calm down love, they’re just blobs of jelly.

9. Women in refrigerators/Bury your gays

“Women in refrigerators” is a term from comic book fandom to describe how female characters are frequently murdered in order to motivate the male protagonist and move the story forward. “Bury your gays” is a similar trope that treats LGBT+ characters as disposable. Both leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

10. Human characters growling

I get it. It’s supposed to be erotic and intense. It’s supposed to hint at untamed emotions and animalistic power roiling beneath a character’s surface. But it just seems kind of … silly.

Do any of these make your list of pet peeves? Am I on my own regarding the word “chuckle”?

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books on My Autumn 2021 To-read List

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 on My Autumn 2021 To-read List

Having read a grand total of three books from my Summer 2021 TBR, I’m aiming to do much better this season. The books on my list are:

Dune by Frank Herbert

I want to read the book before I see the movie.

The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen

Having read and enjoyed Cerridwen’s short story Match Sticks, I thought I’d give this a try. Autumn always feels like the right time of year for dragons (not that there’s ever a wrong time of year for dragons).

How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

One of my aunties has this book, and I dipped in and out of it while staying with her for a weekend, so I’m already confident it’s hilarious.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

This one has been on my bookshelf forever and I don’t know why I still haven’t read it.

Wool by Hugh Howey

According to the front cover, this is “The Next Hunger Games”. Obviously it wasn’t the next Hunger Games because Divergentwas the next Hunger Games. But I’m intrigued to know what could have been…

Create My Own Perfection

A modern-day retelling of the Medusa myth? Yes please. A modern-day retelling of the Medusa myth with an aromantic-asexual protagonist? Hades yes!

Procedures for Underground by Margaret Attwood

I’ve read plenty of her novels and short stories, but I don’t think I’ve read one single poem by Atwood. I’m starting with this collection purely because I love the front cover. Is it a woman? Is it a lobster? Who knows?

Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom

Not the kind of thing I usually read, but I found the movie fascinating.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

I’ll read anything with witches, but witches in 1893 joining forces with suffragists to get the vote? Gimme gimme.

Port Royal by Peter Smalley

I read HMS Expedient and I’m now keen to see what Captain William Rennie and Lieutenant James Hayter get up to next. Having (SPOILERS) gained a fortune and narrowly escaped death by drowning/exploding guns/volcano, I feel like they ought to take a break. I doubt they will.

Have you read any of these? And what’s on your TBR this autumn?

Top Ten Tuesday – Secondary/Minor Characters Who Deserve More Love

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…

Secondary/Minor Characters Who Deserve More Love

Yaaaasss! Minor characters are so often the best thing about a story. The protagonist has to drive the plot, but secondary characters generally have less to do and more space to just be awesome. Here are some of my personal favourites.

Hassan Harbish from An Abundance of Katherines

Witty, insightful, and loyal, Hassan is easier to like than the book’s slightly whiny protagonist. Also he manages to turn a bit of homophobic graffiti into “God hates baguettes”. John Green was fond of the character and considered giving him his own spin-off novel, which I’m still eagerly awaiting.

Reepicheep from The Chronicles of Narnia

Everyone loves a tiny badass, and Reepicheep is the tiniest and most badass of them all. Disrespect him and he will spank you with a sword.

Laura Moon from American Gods

I could have picked any of the secondary characters from American Gods, but I’m going with the dead wife. She’s a f*ck-you to the “women in refrigerators” trope, where a female character dies a grisly death to motivate the male protagonist and send him on his journey. Laura, bless her rotten little zombie heart, just won’t stay dead.

Hickory Sparkle from Mercedes Ice

This is one of those childhood books that’s burnt into my brain – there’s nothing else like it. Hickory could be dismissed as a girl with a silly name and a crush on Mercedes, but don’t be fooled.

Philippa “Phil” Gordon from Anne of the Island

What I love about Anne’s friend Phil is that she’s very casually a genius. Usually, clever girls are presented as uptight overachievers, constantly striving for straight A’s. Phil has “heaps of brains” but just isn’t that bothered with school.

Alicia Abshire from The Time Traveller’s Wife

Alicia only has a small role in this novel, but I love her for her sense of mischief and her plans for retirement (which involve listening to Jimi Hendrix and The Doors, eating chocolate and shooting heroin!)

The Them from Good Omens

I’m cheating slightly, but these four come as a team. Since they’re competing for attention with the dynamic duo of Aziraphale and Crowley, The Them are often overlooked in Good Omens. But they’re beautifully drawn characters who enjoy an idyllic, outdoorsy childhood before literally stopping an apocalypse.

John Childermass from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Aside from having a fabulous name, Childermass is the ultimate puppet master. He might be a servant, but he’s always the one in control.

Brune from Bloody Rose

Bloody Rose is full of great characters, but Brune has my heart. He’s a shaman with a daft sense of humour and some serious identity issues. More importantly, he’s a ride-or-die friend.

Mary Malone from the His Dark Materials trilogy

In so many children’s books, the adult characters are bland or two-dimensional. But in the HDM trilogy they’re allowed to be complex and interesting without stealing focus from the young protagonists. Mary Malone is just one of my faves. She a nun-turned-physicist, memorably described in the TV series as “Impertinent. Intelligent. Free.”

Thanks for reading! Who are some of your favourite secondary/minor characters?

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 – 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?