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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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!”

Review: The Hetty Feather Series by Jacqueline Wilson

The Hetty Feather Series by Jacqueline Wilson
Genre: 
Historical
Published by: Doubleday Children’s
Pages: 400 | 400 | 432 | 304 | 512
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★
Note: As this is a review of the entire series, certain plot points and outcomes are discussed that may spoil the series for first time readers, or people that haven’t completed the series!

H  E  T  T  Y     F  E  A  T  H  E  R

Hetty Feather is such a change of pace from anything Jacqueline Wilson has written before. Set in the 1890s, it is the first in her Victorian series, featuring Hetty, a foundling girl with ambitions to join the circus and becoming a published author, whichever comes first. Hetty Feather is so unique because it reads like usual middle grade fiction, but has the makings of a classic. Hetty’s journey is structured very much like Jane Eyre’s, except it spans across three books! The first book is pastoral, fascinating and exciting. The circus makes such a wonderful setting, in stark contrast to the Foundling Hospital. Reading as Hetty gets torn away from everyone she loves: her mother, foster family and beloved Jem, is heartbreaking. No matter what she goes through, mischief, mayhem or injustice, you always root for her! It’s hard to think that the sequels are going to match up to such a marvellous beginning!  Continue reading “Review: The Hetty Feather Series by Jacqueline Wilson”

Review: Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson

28501489Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson
Genre: 
Historical, Middle Grade
Publisher: Doubleday Childrens
Pages: 400
Format: e-book
Rating: ★★★★
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

After reading and loving the Hetty Feather series, we were both super excited to dive into Jacqueline Wilson’s latest Victorian historical adventure, that even promises a cameo from Hetty herself. This year, we’ve been rediscovering our old favourite Jacqueline Wilson books, along with keeping ourselves up to date with all the releases that came out the decade we stopped reading. It’s so exciting to read the most recently release, and Clover has worked her way into our hearts just as Hetty did. Continue reading “Review: Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson”

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: Stella by Helen Eve

StellaStella by Helen Eve
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Macmillan Children’s
Pages: 268
Format: Paperback
Rating:
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Books about boarding schools are usually my kryptonite. I love the friendships that build between than characters as they dorm together and I adore the movie ‘Wild Child’ (along with every other 2007 Emma Roberts movie.) I thought that this book was going to be original. The first two chapters, which introduced the main characters made me laugh out loud. I had high hopes.

However, this book definitely peaked too soon. And by peaked to soon I mean from Chapter 3.  When I thought it was going to be original, I was completely wrong. This book is a ‘Mean Girls’ remake, tied in with ‘My Sister Jodie’ by Jacqueline Wilson.

The story line was divided between Stella, the Regina, and Caitlin, the Cady. I don’t need to tell who how the story goes. It was the classic ‘an-unpopular-girl-usurps-the-popular-girl-and-turns-the-social-system-on-its-head-but-then-just-becomes-popular-and-conceited.’ Along with a tragic back story that acted as a self fulfilling prophecy for Stella concerning her dead sister, Siena.

This book went back and forth between Stella being powerful and Caitlin being powerful. It disgusts me to think that schools could actually be like that, and people could dote on one girl or guy for recognition and reassurance of their own popularity. How does someone get to the position Stella held?

Urgh.

I would have liked this book a lot more if there wasn’t such a focus on appearances. Vanity and narcissism were huge themes throughout this novel – the fashion labels and references alienated me as a reader that isn’t well versed in fashion. I think that the characters were way too self involved and conceited, that they couldn’t see past their own trauma.

As for Stella and Caitlin as popular dictators of boarding school society, it is NOT OK to put down someone that isn’t carrying the latest Pucci Gucci Juicci whatever handbag. It is NOT OK to make other people feel like rubbish because they don’t have a lot of friends or they had braces or lacklustre hair.

I saw every ‘plot twist’ coming. If you’ve watched ‘Mean Girls’, you will to. For that reason, among with many others, I gave this book only 1 star. Seriously, I can’t give it any higher because I am against everything it stands for. Popularity is not the most important thing. Back-stabbing girls and fickle friendships are not what I want to read about.

If you want to read a book about boarding schools with good messages, read ‘Secrets of St. Jude’s’ series by Carmen Reid instead.