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.

Review: Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy

1239697Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Family
Published by: Puffin
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★.5

Maddie and I have wanted to start reading more Middle Grade recently, so we decided to start with some of our favourite books from when we were tweens! Cathy Cassidy was a complete staple in my reading life when I was 11-14. I loved her(!) and Scarlett was the first of her books that I read, so I decided to start here.

Scarlett follows an angry girl who is misunderstood. She’s been booted from one school to the next and lives with her single mother who’s a little tired of Scarlett’s antics, so she sends her to live with her dad. But Scarlett’s dad started a new family…in Ireland.

Continue reading “Review: Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy”

Series Review: The Chocolate Box Girls by Cathy Cassidy

Cherry Crush, Marshmallow Skye, Summer’s Dream, Coco Caramel, Sweet Honey, Fortune Cookie
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Romance | Published by: Puffin
Pages: 272, 304, 288, 304, 304, 288 | Format: Hardback | Rating: ★★★★

The Chocolate Box series is one of my favourite middle grade series. I remember when Cherry Crush was being teased on Cathy Cassidy’s website and getting so excited at the idea that she was going to be writing a series about sisters! I also remember in 2010 (when I was 12-13) thinking, ‘oh my goodness, I’m going to be 18 by the time I finish this series!’ (Though I was 19 in the end because she added a half-brother to the mix which bumped the series up to six.) I stopped reading when Summer’s Dream came out…I’m not entirely sure why… but it felt like finally the right time to complete my Cathy Cassidy reading experience! I’m so glad I did, because it’s chocolatey and beautiful.

Continue reading “Series Review: The Chocolate Box Girls by Cathy Cassidy”

Review: Looking Glass Girl by Cathy Cassidy

looking glass gielLooking Glass Girl by Cathy Cassidy
Genre: Retelling, Contemporary
Published by: Puffin
Pages: 260
Format: Hardback
Rating: ★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Eight years ago when I read my first Cathy Cassidy book, I promised myself that no matter what I age I was, I’d always try and read her books. Although I’m no longer the target audience of the stories, her books never fail to make me feel happy in a giddy, cute way. I managed to snag ‘Looking Glass Girl’, the Alice in Wonderland retelling, from my local library, and I have to say it has become one of my favourites!  Continue reading “Review: Looking Glass Girl by Cathy Cassidy”

Reading Origin Stories

It’s pretty much guaranteed that if you’re a British girl, you spent your childhood reading the likes of Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Cassidy or Jean Ure from the Children’s section. One of the things I used to worry about when I was younger was what I was going to read once I’d grown out of those books. I didn’t like the idea of going from ‘Sundae Girl’ to ‘Twilight’ and in 2009, the majority of the YA section was being eaten away by vampires and werewolves. But, somehow, among the paranormal, we managed to find our feet in with YA, and thought we’d share with you the books that started us of. Our YA Origin story if you will.

Kisses_for_LulaKisses for Lula by Samantha Mackintosh
The cover of this book screams ‘I’m-so-cute-read-me-now’ to a thirteen year old. It’s an excellent contemporary, and we recommended as part of UKYA Day! Lula is a adorable and funny character, who gets up to a lot of mischief over the school holidays. There’s romance, a complete make-over, and a mystery to be solved; what more could you want?

journal bestsellerHow My Private, Personal Journal Became A Bestseller by Julia DeVillers
The title pretty much sums up what happens to Jamie Bartlett in this book. Even though for her it seemed like a nightmare, this was the kind of thing I daydreamed about. Becoming a famous author, doing interviews and TV spotlights and writing articles for big magazines…this book is so inspiring for anyone that wants to be a writer, and always makes me want to power on with my novel! But, it also discusses different friendship dynamics, the woes of high school and internet safety – overall, an excellent read!

wings_cover_UKWings by Aprilynne Pike
I will always love this series. I fondly remember buying Wings and Wild thinking that was the sequel and then having to get my Mum to drive me to the nearest book shop (30 mins away by car) because it was actually the third! Destined was one of my most anticipated releases ever and I just cried and cried! Wings was also the first love triangle I read, so I’d be quite interested to re-read it and see how my opinions may have changed in light of other not-so-successful love triangles that I have read since. This series really rekindled my love of faeries and I can’t even think about what my reading life would be like without these books; I will cherish them forever!

i'd tell you i love youI’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
It seems that the books I went for as a young teen, all had super long titles. I have such a vivid memory of seeing a girl reading this in my secondary school library and desperately wanting to grab it off her and read it. This Gallagher Girls debut sparked my love of spies and boarding schools, and spy boarding schools. I adored the mixture of a clandestine lifestyle and a secret romance! This book can definitely stand on its own in the series, as the rest of the books take on a more serious tone as the readers, as well as Cammie, got older. Perfect!

inkheartInkheart by Cornelia Funke
Wasn’t this just the book for all book lovers? I can’t even describe how much I loved ‘Inkheart’ when I first read it and how much I wished I could reach characters out of books, or, even better, read myself into books! I think this was the first book of over 500 pages I’d read too, so holds a small record in my mind. I must get on to reading the next in the series – it’s really interesting that more characters are adults rather than children.

percy-jackson-and-the-lightning-thief-rick-riordanPercy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
While Bee managed to get through ‘Order of the Phoenix’, and I was still stuck on Hagrid’s Tale, I moved on to Harry Potter’s American equivalent: Percy Jackson. I was interested in watching the movie when in came out in 2010, but thought I’d better read the book first, and, boy, was I glad I did! Although this golden cover is no longer available to the world, it will forever be one of my favourite things I found as a young teen, and has given me the wonder that is ‘Mark of Athena’. Excellent for any age, PJATO is something I think I’ll always come back to when I’m in need of adventure!

Review: Love, Lies and Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon

Love, Lies love lies and lemon piesand Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published By: Stripes Publishing
Pages: 329
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

I haven’t found a book that I’ve been completely in love with in a while. This is that book. I LOVED everything ‘Love, Lies and Lemon Pies’ had to offer!

First of all, the setting. It all took place within a secondary school and the majority of characters were in Year 11, so not too distant from my own year group and age. I really liked how natural everything was, and the personalities of the teachers, as well as the students were so believable.

This book reminded me of books written by Cathy Cassidy, because the main character, Lottie, was dealing with something difficult at home – her dad had died and her mum had taken to hoarding junk. I feel that in a lot of young adult books now, the focus is on the character’s romantic relationship, rather than any other relationship and parents are almost non-existent. LLLP had the perfect mixture of the two.

The romance between Lottie and Mac was endearing. I loved how we got to experience them as friends before we saw them as a couple – the romantic gestures of Mac were the most adorable things ever. Although their relationship could be quite circular, as neither participant was telling the truth about their home life or reputation, everything was resolved in a way that didn’t make me want to bash my head against a wall.

The minor characters, especially Jasper and Ella, were all significant, and it turns out that Grace stars in her own novel, ‘Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines’, the next book in this school club series. I’m excited to get to know more about her, as she was one of the less prominent members of the Bake Club. They all had their own stories to tell, after all, and I’m glad they all got exposure.

Which brings me on to the Bake Club in general. Over the last two years, I have been completely obsessed with The Great British Bake Off, so this was the perfect book to satisfy my love of watching people bake. It was so quirky that this book also included the recipes for everything the characters made, which I hope to try out sometime soon!

There’s nothing more exciting than a competition, especially if it involves baking, cakes and romance. Yay!

Gosh, I don’t know how I could give this book any less than 5 stars. It made me feel so warm and sparkly, with its cute couples and underlying messages of truth telling and supporting your friends. This novel delivered on all levels, and I can’t wait to see what Katy Cannon writes next! – Stay tuned for a review of ‘Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines’ soon!