Top 5: Children’s Books

Although it’s a little late, I really liked the idea of sharing our favourite children’s books, based on last Wednesday’s (12th) Top 5 topic! I like to think of all of these books as the books that have made me the reader I am today, the books that have shaped my reading taste and drawn me towards young adult series that became my new favourite books.

(Backstory: Bee and I have always been readers, for sure, but it was never a huge priority in our lives until we were in secondary school. We spent most of our childhood playing role-play games with our dolls and watching Winx Club)

Fairy Dreams by Gwyneth Rees 

Because we loved animated fairies so much, it only made sense to seek them out in book form. When we were younger, I always wore my hair in bunches, so we thought that the two fairies on the cover looked like us! The story is about a girl who finds the fairies and when she goes to sleep, gets transported to the magical world! There was also something called The Book of Fairy Fun with every Gwyneth Rees character, full of word games and puzzles. When Bee and I shared a room, and when we were meant to be asleep, we’d allow ourselves to complete a couple puzzles a night, crouching up to our windowsill to get light from the streetlamp outside.

Anything by Jacqueline Wilson 

She was as big in the early 2000s as she is now. I have such fond memories of finding a Candyfloss hardback for 50p at a car boot sale with our grandparents, and reading Bad Girls for a reading level assessment. Of course, we lapped up Double Act and I always had a soft spot for Midnight (again, fairies. It’s a phase I hope to never grow out of!)

Anything by Cathy Cassidy

For our tenth birthday, I got Sundae Girl and Dizzy and Bee got Driftwood and Scarlet, and to this day, they will always be our favourite books by Cathy! Since then, we’ve been to three signings, one of which we won tickets to in a Mizz magazine contest. It was for the launch of Angel Cake and we got these glorious goodie bags and the chance to interview Cathy in a small group. It was one of the best days ever.

Judy Moody by Megan McDonald

I don’t remember how we got hold of these books, but they were fantastic. So great, in fact, that Bee and I are currently re-reading them just for fun! They’re about Judy, who really wants to be a doctor when she grows up, and each book is about her taking on these wild ideas like trying to get famous, or pretending to have ESP and running with them. Essentially a female Phineas and Ferb before the show existed.

Rose by Holly Webb 

Rose was Bee’s special thing. It was a four book series about this little orphan girl who discovered she had magical powers before she went to work for a renowned magician. She gets trained, along with the magician’s apprentice and helps to solve magical crimes like kidnappings and blood lettings. It was a bit more…grizzly than I was expecting when I first read it on a train back from London. I can remember, instead, choosing to focus on the scene where she goes to the candy store, and the big cat, Gus.

These are all the books that stick out in my mind as the ones we loved the best, and also the ones we’ve chosen to keep hold of, just in case we want to take a trip down memory lane.

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Series To Read Before 2018!

What time is it? TBR Shame Time! Around the middle of the year, it’s always a good plan to re-evaluate what’s on your TBR and what your priorities are before 2018 rolls around, because it’s going to come sooner rather than later if January to June is anything to go by. I swear we were making our reading resolutions a week ago…

Tiny Pretty Things by Donielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra

This is only a duet, so really I have no excuse for not starting it because it’s not a lifetime dedication like Cassandra Clare series. But, it’s TOP of my list because I’m desperate to read about ballerinas at a boarding school. Ever since Bee and I got hooked on Dance Academy at the beginning of the year, ballet has been my favourite topic and this will be fabulous, I know it.  Continue reading “Series To Read Before 2018!”

Favourite Fictional Father Figures!

Richard Manners in Geek Girl

It just so happens that any one of these favourites posts can be used to promote the Geek Girl series. Funny, that. Richard is a fantastic dad. He may not always make the right decisions, or completely understand his daughter, but he’s there to support her (by taking free trips to Russia!) and generally be a maverick of the household. We absolutely love that Holly Smale wrote a family that inverts the tradition of the mother to be the one to stay at home and the dad to do the work. It’s so positive to see.

Hagrid in Harry Potter and Whatever He’s Up To

Every one who’s ever compiled a list like this is guaranteed to have any male character bar the Malfoys and Voldemort from Harry Potter. Out of every other contender for best father figure, I’ve chosen Hagrid because he’s the only one, in my opinion, who loves Harry because he wants to. Lupin and Sirius love him because he’s a miniature James, and brings back a piece of their shared past. Dumbledore cares for him because he turns out to be a selfish pusher of his own agenda. Hagrid loves him, full stop. Yes, he may put Harry in the radius of dangerous magical creatures, but whatever.

Dad Edwards in Second Chance Summer

I may not know his name, but he’s crucial to the story, and still manages to give Taylor some beautiful life lessons with the time he has left. This was a difficult father-daugther relationship to read about because illness gets in the way, and neither of them want to admit that their time is limited, but I think this story really proves how much loved ones matter to a person, and that no matter how much time you have with someone, it’s always worth being together. Excuse me while I go sob now.

Mr Bennett in Pride and Prejudice

A man that loves his daughters and irritating his wife. Although P&P definitely isn’t a comedy, Mr Bennett provided the light hearted jokes just when you needed them, and didn’t really care about what society thought of his family, as long as they were happy. I also really appreciated how he didn’t shame Lydia for what happened to her, whereas Mrs Bennett was distraught for days. No wonder everyone likes their father best!

Dad Marx in The Museum of Heartbreak

He just loved dinosaurs and wanted to share that love with the world, even in inappropriate scenarios. Dinner party conversation? Dinosaurs. Break up conversation? Dinosaurs. Definitely one of the stand out characters of a rather wishy-washy read.

Top 5: Side Relationships!

Before you wonder, this Top 5 Wednesday topic is not about your favourite relationship that had a side piece, like I first thought 😂 No one wants to promote disloyalty in relationships, for sure! This topic is all about your favourite couples that never got the spotlight. We’re big fans of secondary characters, and love it even more when they get their happily ever after. BUT, this week also meant that I had to delve back into the 2013-2014 archives of my reading tastes because secondary characters are only usually granted well developed relationships in series with three books or over, and seeing as I’ve managed to complete a measly two series this year, I was limited for choice. So, get ready for some oldies but goodies! Continue reading “Top 5: Side Relationships!”

Books We’re Taking on Holiday!

It’s going to be a holiday of tomes! Since we’re going to be spending 85% of this holiday reading, we decided that the physical books we took had to be over 400 pages, and preferably a book we both haven’t read (there are two exceptions, though!) I mean, isn’t that the best thing about going on holiday when your sister has the exact same bookish taste as you? Sharing books!

A lot of these books have been on our shelves unread for a seriously long time, and what better time to read them than practically stranding yourself on a desert island with them? Okay, so maybe substitute ‘stranding yourself’ with ‘going willingly’ and desert island with ‘really nice hotel.’ Continue reading “Books We’re Taking on Holiday!”

Top Ten: Favourite Book Covers With Models!

When it comes to book covers, I’m not that picky. It’s the story that matters, right? But, I always find myself reaching for books that have pretty typography or gold lettering (*cough* A Quiet Kind of Thunder *cough*) rather than books with actual people on them. But, when I looked at my shelves and books on my TBR, some of the covers I really gravitate towards have models. Who would have thought? Let’s appreciate them and all the good casting that goes with that.

Run by Kody Keplinger and Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Put together because I love them for the same reasons: the girls look identical to the characters and do a great job of giving you a sense of their personalities by the poses and their proximity to one another, the backdrop…just looking at the cover tells you so much about the book and I adore it.  Continue reading “Top Ten: Favourite Book Covers With Models!”

Top 5: Authors We Want to Read More From!

In order to bring some life back to this blog, (it’s exam revision time and that means that all blogging motivation is zapped right out of our system by evil flashcards and quote tests), we thought it might be time again to participate in the classic weekly ‘Top X No.’ posts! This week’s is all about authors you’ve read marvellous books from already and want to devour more…not a hard list to make when there’s so many books on our TBR that fit the bill!

Richelle Mead
Maddie: I’ve been meaning to pick up the Bloodlines series for the last…forever. When did I finish Vampire Academy? *checks Goodreads* November 2015?! Oh wow. Yep, Bloodlines needs to be my next series to conquer. The whole six book thing is a little off-putting, but if I’ve done it once, I’ll do it again, and I absolutely love how much voice Richelle Mead manages to give her characters. They really leap off the page!

Victoria Schwab
Maddie: This fabulous woman keeps coming out with new books and I’m tripping over the little V TBR pile I have. This Savage Song, Vicious, A Conjuring of Light…all books I’m itching to get round to, especially because Our Dark Duet is coming soon and there’s nothing sweeter than finishing a series. Two is way more manageable than six! (You hear that, Richelle Mead?)

Josephine Angelini
Bee: Maddie has already read the Starcrossed series, and we own all three of the World Walker books so it’s about time I got round to them. Starcrossed comes with a glowing recommendation (if I’m willing to put up with some angsty romance!) and World Walker is all about witches, my favourite of all the supernatural beings and a total buzzword.

Cat Clarke
B & M: Between us, we’ve almost managed to read all of Cat Clarke’s books, and already have our hands on Girlhood, her next release, but we’d both really like to read the ones we’re missing. For Maddie, that’s The Lost and Found, about a girl who’s sister went missing when they were kids and has suddenly returned to a media frenzy around the family. And for Bee, that’s Undone, about a girl dealing with the loss of her best friend to suicide. Heavy stuff, but from what we’ve already read, it’s guaranteed to be good!

Nina LaCour
B & M: The only thing we’ve both read from this author was her short story in the Summer Days and Summer Nights collection, edited by Stephanie Perkins. But, that little taster was enough to have us hungry for more, especially because her most recent release We Are Okay has been getting a lot of praise, and it’s focused on a college-student which is awesome because finding YA set out of high school is almost impossible. Nina La Cour’s first book Everything Leads to You is also on our radar because of the lesbian protagonist (and the set designing career) because we can’t get enough of diverse books!

Interview with Michael Grant!

So, earlier this month Egmont reached out to us about Michael Grant’s Soldier Girls series, and as part of that we had the opportunity to ask Michael a few questions, and here they are:

  1. For those that haven’t read the series, what three words would you use to describe it?

Intense. Accurate. Entertaining.

  1. What triggered you to write Front Lines?

Actually my father-in-law was pushing the Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson on me, and I thought nah, I’ve read enough about World War 2, but then I started reading it and very soon decided that I wanted to write about it.  It’s just so much story!  So many fascinating and strange and intense stories.

  1. Did you have any real life inspirations behind Rio, Frangie, and Rainy, and if so, who were they? 

Rio is based a bit not on the actual Audie Murphy, who was the most decorated American soldier in the war, but on the idea of Audie Murphy who was this short, squeaky, somewhat effeminate-looking kid from nowhere Texas.  The Marines rejected him, the Navy rejected him, and even after he was accepted in the Army and had been through training and was deployed to Italy, his officers tried to keep him out of combat because he was this little guy who stood 5’ 5” and weighed less than eight stone, which incidentally is about the size of a typical American woman.  Murphy won every medal they had, including the Medal of Honor, which is our equivalent to the Victoria Cross, and is not the sort of thing they hand out as prizes in Happy Meals.

  1. What was the most challenging and the most rewarding part of writing Front Lines?

The most challenging bit was getting the historical details right.  Practically every page required me to go and check some fact.  I suppose the most rewarding part was the feeling of having done something a bit outside my comfort zone.  Also, I’d never written in third person present tense before. You have no idea how many times I had to go back and correct myself for slipping into past tense.  But going with present was part of making the books feel more immediate, less sepia-toned.

  1. What was your favourite scene to write?

I think less in terms of scenes than characters and relationships.  I liked the relationships within Rio’s platoon.  I liked Frangie trying the square the circle between her basic gentleness and faith, and the fact that again and again she is patching soldiers up only to send them back into the fight.  And I liked Rainy’s coldly analytical way of thinking.  I liked all my main characters.  I would definitely like to buy them all a beer and sit in a pub and listen to their stories.

  1. In what ways did writing Front Lines differ from writing your other series?

Well, normally I just make things up.  That’s sort of my job description:  make things up.  The only time I’ve had to do much fact-checking was for the BZRK series, but even there I had much more control over how everything played out.  For FRONT LINES I went to a lot of trouble to get it all right.  In addition to reading and sifting through war videos I went to a number of locations:  Sicily, Luxembourg, Oradour-sur-Glane, Buchenwald.  And all tax-deductible.  Yay!

  1. If the Front Lines girls lived in contemporary society, who would they look up to?

Well, they would have voted for Hillary Clinton.  I’m sure of that much.


If you haven’t started this series yet, then we would highly recommend it and you can read our reviews of Front Lines and Silver Stars, if you need extra persuading!

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My Top 5 Historical Couples by Sophia Bennett, author of Following Ophelia

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Hey everyone! Something very exciting for today’s post – Sophia Bennett joins us for the penultimate stop on the Following Ophelia blog tour to talk about her favourite historical couples. Romance was one of the strongest elements of the book, so we can’t wait to hear what inspired Sophia for Ophelia’s love story.

(Check out the banner on our blog to find out where Sophia’s stopping next!)


Thanks for having me, Bee and Maddie, and thank you for your review of Following Ophelia. I loved it!

It wasn’t until my seventh book, Love Song, that I wrote a proper romance. I’m interested in girls who make things or do things and they never (not even in the romance) rely on a lover to sort their lives out. But there is something wonderful about love.

I’m lucky that I ended up with my soulmate – someone I trust absolutely, and who makes me laugh every day. He also put up a light for me yesterday, but knows that I could perfectly well have put it up myself, if I didn’t happen to be gardening. He is awesome. It took a while to meet him though. We didn’t marry until I was thirty-nine.

Before that, I experienced all the ups and downs of love. I want my readers to feel the heady thrill of lust, the joy of feeling a connection – but I don’t want them to think that automatically means ‘happy ever after’. It’s usually just the start of a roller-coaster, so I wanted Mary’s experience in Following Ophelia to follow mine a little bit. She’s only just started on the journey of love. I have more to write, and she has further to travel.

It’s been fun setting her story in the 1850s, with all the complications of class, money and sex the Victorians experienced. Here are some of my favourite couples from history and legend, whom I got to know while researching various books. It’s not always easy being in love.

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  1. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – from Following Ophelia. I’ve always loved the strong connection between Victoria and Albert. Albert is underrated, I think. He was highly intelligent, curious, and passionately supported the arts. We have his energy and support to thank for the V&A Museum, for example.

    Victoria became boring and distant after he died, but she was quite different while he was alive. (Check out Daisy Goodwin’s fantastic TV series about them if you haven’t already seen it.) If only he’d lasted longer than 1861 …

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  2. Persephone and Demeter – from Following Ophelia. I had to research this Greek legend for the book, as Mary takes on the name and inspiration of Persephone. She was a daughter of Zeus and Demeter, stolen by Hades and taken to the Underworld.

    Demeter, the goddess of the Harvest, desperately searched the world for her missing daughter. Eventually, she found her and begged for her return. But there was a catch, involving 7 pomegranate seeds … It’s a tragic story, driven by a mother’s love. I won’t spoil it if you don’t know it, but there’s nothing like a Greek legend for drama. And isn’t this statue of mother and daughter unusual and beautiful?

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  3. David Bowie and Iman – from Love Song. It can’t be denied: they look incredible together. This could have gone so wrong, the pop star and the supermodel, but as she said, she married David Jones, not David Bowie.

    They kept their relationship fairly quiet – no big Hello spreads – but I never saw them look anything less than deeply in love. He always seems so utterly entranced by her company.

    It might seem odd to have them as a historical couple, but when David died last year it felt as though a special period of history had come to an end. RIP David. We still miss you.

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  4. Sah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal – from Beads. He loved her so much he built the Taj Mahal as her monument. That says it all, really.

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  5. Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé – from Threads. Researching fashion designers as I did for the Threads series, I became fascinated that so many of them – almost all, in fact – had a brilliant business manager by their side, who was often their lover too.

    It takes a combination of creative flair, passion and cold business sense to make a fashion house work, and very few individuals have that in one package. Yves needed Pierre, and Pierre needed him. They were so lucky to find each other. If you’re a creative person, it really helps to fall in love with someone who appreciates and supports what you do!


After getting all flustered by how adorable all these couples are, you’re probably dying to read Following Ophelia, right? Check out our reviewFollowing Ophelia‘s Goodreads and find Sophia Bennett on Twitter!

Our First Book Unhaul!

As the new year has rolled around, and we got plenty of new books for Christmas, it was about time to re-evaluate some of the books on our shelves, and which ones were itching to find new homes via our local charity shop. We wanted to go through some of the reasons we decided to get rid of these books, and questions we’ll now ask ourselves when considering whether a book is worth keeping or not! Continue reading “Our First Book Unhaul!”