The Hungry Bookling

A journey through books and the imagination

When my mum was a little girl she loved to draw, but not having much money she had to wait until Christmas to get a drawing pad. Her precious drawing pad had to last all year and so often she would have to find other things to draw on. No not people. I could tell you were thinking that. It mostly involved the corners of old newspapers and if all else failed there was always the pavement (or sidewalk: for my American friends).

It was about the time of the Queen’s coronation. My mum is sat outside her childhood home, her chalks in hand, when a family friend walks over and begins to study the pavement at his feet. It peaks back at him with a mask of brightly chalked horses. 

’Did you draw these?’ 

‘Yes’ my mum responds. 

‘They really are very good – do you draw anything else?’

My mum opens her drawing pad. ’I have drawn a picture of the Queen’, she says, holding up the freshly torn-out picture for him to take. 

He studies the drawing for a moment.

‘I wish to buy your drawing.’ A smile breaks from his lips as he produces a shiny shilling from his pocket and hands it to my mum. 

My mum’s eyes grow wide as she reaches out to take it. 

The man carefully folds the drawing and tucks it into his jacket pocket with a reassuring pat. He nods to my mum and goes on his way. 

Much later on, the family friend told my grandma that he carried the picture with him always. 

My mum has never forgotten that. I hope that was true and my mum’s drawing was next to his heart for many years. 

That was my mum’s first art commission and it all began with a handful of coloured chalk. 

I am so glad my mum shared that story with me and now I am sharing it with all of you. 

I think I get my love of drawing from my mum – to capture a moment and share it – well, it tells a story just like the written word, don’t you think?

And if I could choose any profession for my passport ’Storyteller’ would be it. 

Those of you who have read my earlier post: ‘Some Hobbies and a Happy Monday’ (click here if you want to read it) will know I talked about the importance of hobbies. Following this post, you could say I have been sharpening my own skills. 

I was happily surfing Twitter when I came across a very inspiring tweet of an urban sketcher named Róisín Curé she had posted a video of her sketchbook and the drawings were truly brilliant. They certainly did inspire me to start my own sketchbook. I have been sketching on a digital tablet for a few months now and so the idea of starting my own urban sketchbook intrigued me. I sent a tweet saying I was interested in urban sketching. I was looking for advice and also some book recommendations. To my good fortune, Róisín amongst others kindly responded. Twitter at its best and I was grateful. Róisín kindly shared the following advice (which I really hope she does not mind me sharing too!) : 

  1. Draw what you want to draw, not want you think you should draw. 
  2. Only draw on site (and better to paint too) No photos after the event! 
  3. Join urban sketchers on Facebook and share.
  4. Feel the fear and do it anyway. 

After seeing her beautiful sketches, I was also intrigued to read her book ‘An Urban Sketcher’s Galway’ and I have shared my (unbiased) book review of this and another urban sketching Twitter recommendation towards the end of the post. 

I tried to adhere to Róisín’s advice (Apart from number 3, but I am sharing with all of you so I hope that counts!)

I found it initially harder then I thought, for some reason choosing the subject matter was difficult for me – maybe it was being stuck inside or maybe I was just nervous to get started and then I saw the sewing kit. I wanted to draw it, but for some reason I held back, then I remembered Róisín’s advice – draw what you want to draw – so I pushed on. 

Some could argue that it is not technically urban sketching if you are not out in the elements and drawing life as it buzzes around you, but I drew where I was at the time and on the spot and there will be plenty of time to build up my sketchbook. 

So, I am sharing my first sketch with you now:

(Hopefully, it will work, it is my first time sharing a video on my blog – fingers crossed!) I am also aware the video seems to take up the entire screen sorry about that! – You will stare at the video – ha ha!

I didn’t say I was perfect, did I! I think for my future sketches I will remember not to be so controlled and to not worry if the watercolour runs. 

Ok… moving on…so I have already mentioned the Queen in this post and now I would like to mention a King. 

Stephen King to be precise. 

In my humble opinion, one of the greatest storytellers on the planet. He has such a unique and compelling voice. 

In the interest of sharpening my skills I re-read ‘Stephen King On Writing’ and now I eagerly share with you my book review. Note I said: re-read. I read it a long time ago, but it is one of those books you keep around, bugging you, until you read it again.

Enough chatter and onto my book reviews: 

An Urban Sketcher’s Galway by Róisín Curé

‘An Urban Sketcher’s Galway’ is a collection of stunning sketches brought together with the authors personal experience of her life in Galway, Ireland. This is not a how-to-book on sketching although the author does share some tips on becoming an urban sketcher. However, I would say it definitely falls into the categories of inspiration and pure enjoyment. This book is stunning. When you first open the front cover you know you are holding something rather special in your hands. The paper is thick and luxurious. It definitely fits the bill as a coffee table book you would happily leave this book out for guests to leaf through – if you don’t mind sharing that is! You get an incredible insight into the every day life of Galway and its histories and it is all bought together with lively sketches that are truly one of a kind. The author’s love for Galway springs from the pages. This is a truly lovely book and that fellow booklings is my honest and unbiased opinion as always! 

‘The Urban Sketching Handbook: 101 Sketching Tips: Tricks, Techniques, and Handy Hacks for Sketching on the Go’ (Urban Sketching Handbooks) by Stephanie Bower. 

This is a perfect little companion for the novice urban sketcher or even those more experienced that need a reliable reference guide. It is, as the title would indicate, a culmination of 101 helpful tips relating to urban sketching. There is some really useful stuff in here and yes, I can see myself referring back to it time and time again. The tips are supported with excellent. clear to follow examples so you always fully understand the author’s point and the sketches are beautiful and inspiring too. I also loved the little ‘Challenges’ section at the back of the book. The book itself is very easy to hold and flickable too if you want to carry it around with you. 

‘Stephen King On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft’ by Stephen King 

‘Stephen King On Writing’ is crammed with the author’s personal life stories and writing advice for the aspiring writer. I urge you to read this book whether your are a writer or not. Mr King’s life stories are incredibly engaging and told with a raw, honest, jab to the jaw originality that is very addictive. I also find it a very funny read in parts. The book is a fascination, a must read and boy would I have loved to see this book on the school curriculum when I was a kid. Not so sure it would thrill all the teachers though! In short Mr King: I love your book – note the present tense! Thank you. 

So – how to end this post – well as I read this, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ by The Clash is playing in the background. I think that is my cue.

I hope you enjoyed reading it…until next time… stay safe…stay well. Does anyone one else think of ‘Gandalf’ from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ (and Sir Ian McKellen of course) when people say that? It just seems to me something Gandalf would say. 

I would really love to end this post with a video clip of Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf saying ‘Stay safe…stay well.’ But alas I do not know him. So imagine it in your heads please. Thanks so much. 

Hope and Butterflies

It feels like we are stuck in a waiting room. 

Ok, millions of waiting rooms and we are waiting…

Waiting for things to change, to be told we can see loved ones again and trying to get our lives back on track. 

And we all know at times it can be hard to endure, but it is how we use the time while we wait that really makes all the difference.

I am determined to come out of these difficult times a new improved version of myself. So I have created a mental to do list. 

Losing weight, getting fitter, new hobbies, new skills, learning a language and the list goes on…

And yes at times I still reach for that bar of chocolate, (ok, if I am honest quite a few times!) but I am going to keep trying and see where I end up at the end of all this. What can I say – I have hope. 

I think at the top of my list and what I want to remember most is to be appreciative and grateful for what I have. 

I appreciate family and friends so much more now than I ever did, those moments of laughter, the funny texts and the conversations and support that keep us going that remind us we are all in this together. 

Because we are all in this together. 

I remember when I was a kid, there was a friend of the family, an elderly man in his late seventies who lived alone and he would walk a mile every other Sunday to join us for Sunday dinner. Of course my mum would always offer to drive and pick him up, but he insisted on walking to us because he enjoyed the walk in the countryside (unless of course it was raining and then he relented – he also did agree to be driven home)

I remember that he always brought with him a large bagful of broad beans for the dinner. My sisters and I would sit outside (if it was sunny!) shelling them from their pods into a big bowl ready for cooking. The sweetly fragrant smell of the broad beans as they popped from their pods – I still remember it now. 

Those Sundays meant something to him and to us as a family too. It’s the moments we share that we remember the most and I think that is what friendship is – knowing that you are not alone and sharing moments together no matter how small. It gives us hope. 

So I guess what I would also like to say at this point is – I appreciate all of you. At the time of writing this my little blog has surpassed 200 followers and that is HUGE to me. Considering when I started this last October I never thought I would last the month nor would I even get one follower, but I’m still here…so thank you. I appreciate you for reading this and supporting my blog. 

I haven’t got as many book choices this time, because I am working on something a bit different for an upcoming post, but I am very pleased with my choices all the same and so here they are:

Violet by SJI Holliday: Adult Fiction/Psychological Thriller. 

‘Violet’ is a psychological thriller following two women Violet and Carrie who due to a series of events they end up meeting and travelling together onboard the Trans-Siberian Express. This is an incredibly intense and uncomfortable thriller that had me speeding through the pages. Told mainly from the perspective of Violet but interjected throughout with Carrie’s emails – the storytelling really gives you an understanding for both characters and has enough shocking moments that keep you on the edge of your seat. It also serves a stark warning to anyone travelling alone to be careful of who you get to know. I also loved the setting, it was highly unique and well researched and this aided in the realism of the book. This is the first time I have read one of SJI Holiday’s books and t I have already found myself looking for more, although I need a cup of tea first, my nerves need to recover. This thriller is not for the faint hearted, but a very worthy read!! 

Nocturnal by Wilder Poetry: Poetry 

‘Nocturnal’ is a striking compilation of poetry with delicate black and white illustrations. The poetry is raw and unapologetic in its telling, with finely spun imagery throughout that stays with you long after reading. Whether you are new to poetry or a seasoned reader I think you will all find something to love and appreciate about this collection. 

I was inspired to write some more poetry myself which you will find, as always, on my imagination page. 

Let me know what you think if you choose to read any of the above, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! 

Until next time!…

I have happily spent the day drawing this little fellow…

Building a collection

And it occurred to me while I was drawing just how much we need hobbies in our lives, now more than ever. Those few hours of contented squidgy moments in-between the fragments of brittle responsibility and sharply pointed reality. 

I have seen some incredible artwork, illustrations, photography, creative writing and poetry lately, both on Twitter and – a nod to all my fellow awesome bloggers – on so many blogs. I look at them in awe, the talent and uniqueness of so many is very overwhelming. At first, it all left me and my little blog feeling rather inferior. I am not an expert by any means and my drawings are simple to say the least. I have a ridiculous love for books, writing and art and that is about it, but is that enough? Especially when I am surrounded by so many who are so much more talented than I am. 

The answer is yes, it is enough. 

My drawings do not compare to the likes of the greatest illustrators or artists of my generation or beyond. Nor does my creative writing match the so many talented authors I read every day…but it makes me happy and that is enough for me. 

So, I would encourage anyone thinking about starting a new hobby, but talking yourself out of it simply because you feel you aren’t good enough to start now! Pick up then pen, knitting needle or paintbrush and get going. We all have that spark inside us and we are good enough! 

Thank you to all the writers, artists, photographers and bloggers out there that continue to be a constant inspiration to me. 

I’m off to start reading my new selection of books…yay!

Happy Monday Everyone!!

‘Someday’

I have always loved the sea. I am fascinated by it. It draws me to it in a hypnotic rhythm of froth and foam. I could happily sit and watch it for hours with only the salted breeze for company. It calms and re-focuses my mind like nothing else I have known, maybe its the vastness, its apparent endless nature the way it sticks to the skyline beyond my reach. I have always had a dream of having a small writers cottage by the sea, just the view would bring me contentment enough. Sadly, I do not live by the sea and I must admit that being in lockdown has made me think more about it then I ever have. It’s amazing how your mind can focus on something so strongly and seemingly out of the blue. 

Hmm. Or out of the blue ocean?

Anyway, I guess I know where I will be headed when the lockdown is over. I hope!

Photo by Travis Rupert on Pexels.com

The seaside holds good memories for me. We had a few trips to Wales when I was a kid and yes it was a little cottage within walking distance of a small beach and needless to say I loved it. We would all pile into the car, somewhat sleepily I may add, but as soon as my mum’s ‘Fleetwood Mac’ playlist was on we knew the holiday had started. 

And yes, every time I hear ‘Fleetwood Mac’ now it reminds me of holidays. Of freedom.

Those trips to Wales were some of my happiest memories, aside from the soggy cornflakes and bowls of sharp grapefruit my dad was so keen that we ate every morning. I have never been a fan of grapefruit, it makes my eyes twitch, but I was eager to get to the beach and if eating grapefruit got me there then so be it. I never even minded the walk down there. The cottage owner used to let me and my sisters take care of the horses in the field opposite and I remember one time we even got to ride them down to the beach. Heaven. 

And we even flew a kite on the beach. 

Wait. 

We attempted to fly a kite on the beach. 

I remember it hitting the sand. 

A lot. 

Ok, it was on the sand more than it was in the sky.

You could say our aspirations were higher than the kite went.

Moving on…

Thinking back, those holidays mean even more to be now because I can no longer walk and I guess there is an undeniable appreciation that I got to experience it at all. 

That is why I am always reminding people (and myself!) that life is too short you have to make memories whilst you can, because well… memories they stick to you like wet sand. 

Even when the tide goes out. 

And so some of you may have already guessed, but there are a mixture of books with a seaside theme and although you may be thinking what on earth am I doing reading books about a place I can’t go to right now? My answer is this, because reading about it is better then not having it all! 

When I read a book its like being there and I guess that is why I read so much! 

I’m only encouraging you to travel in your mind! So stay safe and well, sending you all a virtual hug in these difficult times. Thankfully I have a plentiful supply of virtual hugs. 

As always fellow booklings thanks for reading!

Your support for my blog means so much!

Now, I am off to put some music on. 

Here are my book reviews:

For those of you who may have noticed, I am no longer an Amazon Associate so their book image links will no longer appear on my site.

Think of it this way, I am helping you to not judge a book by its cover.

Did I convince you?

Don’t worry you still have my drawings to look forward to…lucky you…ok…ok my attempt at drawings. What can I say…I try.

And so onto my book picks and if you choose to read any of the following books I would love for you to share what you think of them too!

The Things You Find in Rockpools by Gregg Dunnett: Fiction/ Psychological Thriller 

‘The Things you find in Rockpools’ is a psychological thriller told mainly from the perspective of eleven year old Billy who lives with his dad on Lornea Island. Billy is a somewhat quirky and very bright kid who embroils himself in a local investigation into the disappearance of a girl and tourist Olivia Curran. 

From the outset this is a cleverly told and well written thriller with a wave of twists that I most definitely did not see coming… and I read a lot! The story kept me hooked and eager to read the next chapter. The setting of Lornea Island is so descriptive it became so vivid and real in my mind.  The writer is an expert at delivering a well rounded character too. Billy is so believable, loveable and funny, his character was a joy to read. This is a highly addictive thriller that has you caught in a whirpool of events. Or should I say rockpool?

This is a stand alone story, but I did not realise when I read it that there is also a followup book – ‘The Lornea Island Detective Club’ needless to say, I’ve downloaded this already. Without a doubt, this author has quickly made his way onto my must read list. 

This book has also made it on to my top book pick for April – see my ‘Pick-nic’ page.

It is that good. Enough said.

All The Colours of Polynesia by Jasna Tuta: Travel Writing 

‘All The Colours of Polynesia’ is Jasna’s personal account of a three year sailing adventure along French Polynesia. Even if you have never read travel writing before I would urge you to read this book. Jasna writes with such an honest ease that you can’t help but become absorbed in the adventure – the words practically glide on the page. I got a real sense of the cultural and personal side to French Polynesia as well as a unique insight into sailing life. There is a lot to enjoy about this book and the beautiful photography makes it all the more appealing. A captivating and inspirational treat for all. Travel writing at its best. 

The Shark That Walks on Land and other strange but true tales of mysterious sea creatures by Michael Bright : Marine Life/Science 

This is an ocean lover’s dream of a book, with a jam packed blend of scientific study with accounts of tales of sea creatures, incredible events and fascinating facts. This book feels like I have unearthed an oceanic treasure. Told in an appealing manner, with the occasional witness account and including sweet hand drawings, this certainly is a fascinating and enjoyable read. I feel this would appeal to adults and children alike. I would have loved to read this as a kid, but again I would advise that you parents read it first to make sure it is suitable, I guarantee you will want read this book! It is also the kind of versatile book where you can dip in and out of chapters, if you so wish. I read it from start to finish because I found it a compelling read, but I can see myself looking back at certain chapters that particularly caught my interest. This should be a book on your bucket (and spade!) list! 

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge: Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy 

‘Deeplight’ is a science fiction/fantasy concerning two teenage friends Hark and Jelt who make a living on the island of Lady’s Crave as sea scavengers, searching for and selling artefacts from the Gods. Hark is drawn into a fantastical adventure through a series of events which are somewhat initially instigated by his best friend Jelt. 

For young adults/adults who are fans of the science fiction/fantasy genre this is an interesting and highly unique read. Due to the writing style and some of the events that occur I think this is not for young children, but fits well within the young adult market. Again, parents I suggest you read and judge for yourselves. Although, I do imagine this book may appeal to some adults too.  I must admit science fiction/fantasy has never been one of my favourite genres to read, however, having said that I can appreciate Frances Hardinge’s intelligent writing style and her dedication to creating a fantasy world with such intricacy and imaginative detail the likes of which I have rarely seen. ‘Deeplight’ is certainly a uniquely original book of imaginative depths. 

Perhaps I am the one that is being foolish here. After all, here I am again letting you know that my ‘imagination page’ has been updated, in my usual subtle way…

Straight to the point. That’s me.

I only ever meant ‘The Swimming Pool King’ as a piece of short fiction, I kind of like the idea of leaving the reader guessing. Then again, who am I to deny the request of anyone kind enough to read my work?

And so I added just a little bit more and this time from Karen’s perspective.

Click here for quickness. After all, I don’t know how much time you have when you read this, you could be on your lunch break, homeschooling the kids or attempting to homeschool the kids whilst trying to get black marker out of the carpet/clothing/off the dining table. Take your pick. Who’s idea was it to let them have marker pens?

And don’t even think about giving them glitter.

There will be more of my fiction and poetry of course. Aren’t you lucky. As if lockdown wasn’t enough.

It’s ok, you wont be bombarded just yet, the ideas have yet to deem me worthy enough to appear in my brain.

Someone pass me an oil can, my thought process is a little rusty.

Wait, don’t tell me it’s out of stock, or someone’s stockpiling it somewhere along with the nations toilet roll? Typical.

Oh well in the mean time, back to the drawing board or in my case the graphics tablet. I had a mild panic when I realised my pen nib was nearly used up, but then I remembered the spares in the cap.

Don’t even think about stockpiling on my graphic pen nibs – ok.

No one likes an angry bookling.

Ooh by the way, the book I am reading at the moment is fantastic so far. I will update on my next post.

I had the idea to include a few different genres in my next set of book reviews, something for everyone (or there abouts!)

On that note, let me know what you think to the ‘Swimming Pool King Part 2’ when you have a minute. It sounds like it would benefit from a dramatic sounding voice over, but I don’t have the budget. Maybe it would also benefit from a red editing pen. I will let you decide. Comments welcome.

Let me just go hide first please.

Have the best day you can,

And as always, stay safe and well everyone!!

**Update: As of 23.04.2020, I am no longer an Amazon Associate and so their image links will no longer appear on this site. Thank you.**

The stars have always fascinated me. No, I am not talking about the latest shiny actor or musician. I am talking about the night sky of course. My childhood bedroom used to have the best view of the night sky, at least I thought it did!, so much so, I moved my bed underneath the bedroom window so I would get a better view of the night sky. My mum wasn’t best pleased with me moving my bedroom furniture around, but I think secretly she understood why. No matter what my worries of the day were, I could get lost amongst the stars – just for a moment or two, sometimes even longer! I can still picture that same view from my bedroom window now, with just as much appreciation for it as I did then ( maybe more!). 

I remember that all I wanted for Christmas one year was a telescope, I wanted it so much and I would not consider anything else. I remember my mum telling me that we could not afford a telescope and it was too expensive. That night I cried, and for a few days after that too. Somewhere along the way I realised how selfish I was being and although I still wanted a telescope I realised I would have to buy one myself when I got older and I could earn my own money. 

Then arrived Christmas morning and I remember being excited (but not much as my usual hard to tolerate over-enthusiastic – every Christmas was ‘The Best Christmas Ever!’) self!)  

After opening a few gifts (some books and socks of course!)  Mum passed me my final and rather large gift. It was a sleek plastic case and I remember wondering what it could possibly be and as I flicked the catches and opened the lid – there it was my telescope! I was in awe. I looked at my mum in disbelief and I remember her saying ‘It’s only second hand’- as though that was something to be ashamed of! What she did not realise is that it being second hand meant so much more to me than any newly bought gift could ever have. My mum, knowing how much I wanted a telescope and knowing she could not afford it, had spent months tracking down a second hand telescope to make my dream come true! And let me tell you it was the best telescope ever! (I still have it to this day) I also have a great appreciation for how fortunate I was back then.

The view from my bedroom changed eventually with newly built houses in the distance obscuring much of my lovely night sky view. Eventually and inevitably I grew up and moved out of home, but I still look up at the night sky with awe and wonder and I think back to the stars from my bedroom window. 

Mostly I think how grateful I am to my lovely mum and the day she gave me the stars. 

‘Stargazer’

I hope that since we are all spending our time at the moment on the inside looking out that you get to appreciate the night sky too!…and with that said I have chosen some science books to review for this post. It is only fitting after all! 

And I personally think you don’t have to be a science whizz to enjoy these books!! 

Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand: Fifty Wonders that Reveal an Extraordinary Universe by Marcus Chown

This is pretty much self explanatory in the title, but the author ‘Marcus Chown’ crams fifty scientific facts into this book and yes they have to be read to be believed. The author has done the near impossible with this book and that is make science interesting to the masses. His narrative is very likeable with punchy one liners and short chapters which prevents the science from overwhelming the reader. This is a highly entertaining read with little snippets of scientific smarts written with a considered approach to a larger audience. A must read of astounding facts! 

What if? : Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

The author of this book is a cartoonist with a scientific background and he brings the two together in his book perfectly, providing scientific and often humorous answers to hypothetical questions that have been submitted to him via the public. The quirky cartoons and the scientific facts make for an interesting read and although I did not relate to some of the questions – which were indeed absurd – as stated in the book title and somewhat worrying! the answers are still fascinating and enjoyable! I am sure this book will have a wide appeal and it certainly gets you thinking! 

The Art of Urban Astronomy: A guide to stargazing wherever you are by Abigail Beall

Again, I can’t hide the fact that the title sums it up perfectly, but this little ‘star’ of a book – see what I did there! – holds so much more within its pages. The author has managed to present what can sometimes be a dry and hard to understand subject in a very easy to read and intriguing way. She breaks down the subject matter into easy to follow and engaging chunks of text highlighted with the occasional diagram for good measure. There is a lot here for you to get your teeth into (not literally!), the author does not skim over subjects and her enthusiasm for the topic is very clear which is sure, in my opinion, to come across to any reader! If you have an interest in astronomy you will want to read this! 

I feel like I say this a lot, but it would be great to hear from you if you decide to read any of the books I recommend! I would love to hear your thoughts.

In case you did not spot it already I have added another page to my blog aptly named the ‘Pick-nic’ page, there you will find my personal favourite book pick of the month…

Also, the ‘Imagination’ page will be updated again soon, so look out for that!

Until next time, fellow booklings stay well, stay safe and enjoy reading!! 

Ok. I just have a small message before I begin my blog today.  I know we are all experiencing difficult and unprecedented times due to the Coronavirus. I have been reassured by the acts of kindness I have seen and I would like to think that kindness, decency, consideration and compassion for each other are the traits that will shine through the hard times ahead. I would like to personally thank the NHS/medical workers, care/support workers, supermarket workers and all front-line staff, whose handwork and dedication is truly inspirational. Stay safe everyone. 

In my small part I will be posting more over the coming months in hopes that my blog posts will provide some lighthearted relief and company for for you all. 

I hope you enjoy and so on that note I shall begin….

Let me tell you about Jasper. He was not just any cat…yes I know every pet owner will say that about their pets…you will just have to trust me I guess. He was an unusual, fat ginger fluff ball of a cat with a quirky personality. Jasper was not a lap cat by any means, he would grace you with his presence by sitting near you, but he never suffocated you for attention. I always had the opinion that Jasper was an equal, if not slightly superior to me!

‘Jasper’

When I was a kid, the bus stop was only a short walk up the path from my house and so every morning I would walk to the bus stop and wait for the school bus. On occasion Jasper would accompany me. He would trot along behind me and then sit on the wall behind the bus stop staring at me through the glass until my bus arrived. I would often tell him to go home – worried he might run out into the road, but he never did. He simply sat patiently staring at me, with his green eyes, through the glass. Then when the bus arrived and I was in my seat I would watch him through the window, he would turn and casually trot back home. Was he my security guard?…who knows!  But, I often wondered what if one day he got on the bus with me. Just me and my travelling cat and all the adventures we would have together! I think that is what being a kid is all about – a sense of adventure and imagination. 

Let’s face it, I think we all could do with some imagination right now – kids and adults alike. In uncertain times it is good to escape in a good book and so my book reviews this time are some fantastic children’s books that I think adult’s will equally enjoy. Plus, it will keep the kids occupied for a time – you are welcome homeschooling parents! As with any children’s book review I do I always recommend the parent read it first and judge for themselves! I am particularly proud of my book choices as I think I have discovered some real gems! 

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying images when using the image links on this site. **Update: As of 23.04.2020 I am no longer an Amazon Associate and so their image links will not appear on this site**

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson 

This is a children’s fiction fantasy book aimed at 9-12 years olds and centres around a young girl called Marinka who lives with her grandmother Baba Yaga in a magic house with chicken legs. Yes you heard correctly. Baba Yaga’s purpose in life is the guiding of spirits to the beyond and Marinka is struggling with accepting that it will soon be her future purpose too. 

So, I need to start by saying everyone – children, young adults and adults alike should all read this book! I read this book in one sitting and could not put it down and yes I would happily read it again…and again. This is an incredible work of fiction and is a life affirming, highly imaginative, joyous, emotional masterpiece quite simply there is magic in these pages and it transcends the reader to a highly unusual and fascinating world. The characters are all believable and freshly written. The whole book has such an ease of reading that it is a shame to finish it. I want to shout it from the rooftops about this book, but the rooftop of the house with chicken legs would be even better please… When can I move in? (I would say I travel light but that wouldn’t be truthful!)

To all the parents out there your child will love this book and to all the adults out there so will you! I was surprised at how much I truly loved this book and I cannot wait to read more by this author. 

The Pear Affair by Judith Eagle 

This is a smartly written and highly appealing children’s adventure story. Penelope ‘Nell’ is a young girl who goes on an adventure in Paris in the hopes of tracking down much loved and missed Perrine ‘Pear’ who helped to bring her up. In my opinion, the story flows so easily and is well-plotted. It has all the elements that children will love bought together with a really likeable central character and her misfit bunch of friends all set in the fantastic location of Paris. The author’s love for Paris is evident in her writing and is so enjoyable. I loved making dens and hideouts when I was a kid and this book has a unique take on this! It is aimed at 9-12 year olds but I as an adult loved it too! I think, ‘The Pear Affair’ is a sweet treat of a story that children are sure to love! 

The Longest Night of Charlie Noon by Christopher Edge 

Charlie, Dizzy and Johnny are three kids who following a series of events end up lost in the woods and there the real adventure begins. This is is so much more than a mystery adventure. This is a remarkably told and surprising story at every twist and turn. There are many coded messages within the book with the final message being the strongest of all. This is an incredible, must read to say much more would ruin it (so don’t judge the book by the shortness of my review!) I will simply say this – discover the adventure for yourself! Aimed at ages 9-11 years, but, wow adults have to read this too – seriously, You will see what I mean!

I am so happy to have read the above books, I cannot tell you how much. They are just what I needed!

I would love for your feedback and if you have chosen to read any of the books I recommend I would love to know what you think, as always! 

Just a quick reminder, you are still able to vote for your favourite genre of books for me to review on my previous blog post. For those of you have already voted…thank you!… I will be reviewing all of your genre choices in upcoming book reviews. So stay tuned!

On a final note, I just want to wish all my readers the very best…stay well my fellow booklings and thank you as always for supporting my blog. 

Updating again very soon – watch this space! 

Surprise….

I bet you did not expect to hear from me again so soon!

I was just settling down with a cup of tea and getting ready to start the books for my next post when…

I had a

little

idea.

Yes, I am messing with font sizes again, I can’t help it.

Wouldn’t it be good (i pondered) if I asked you the readers (fellow booklings) what book genres you would like me to review in the near future…

So….(drum roll please)

TA DAH!

[Total_Soft_Poll id=”2″]

That is exactly what I am doing! ….Ok so that was fun.

Yes, my amazed readers I am asking you to let me know if there are any genres you would like to see reviewed. Now, there is a chance I have missed off your favourite genre. For that I am sorry. I am tired. Do not fret. Just send me a comment!

Sorry for the unexpected interruption…now where is my cup of tea?

Until next time!

Sometimes the smallest and simplest things in life develop into the strongest and dearest of memories without you ever realising it at the time. It occurs to me we have no choice as to which stay with us. 

My grandma liked fish and chips with bits on. For those of you who don’t know, it is chips with crumbs of fish batter. (And for my American friends: think fat fries with crumbs of fish batter!) On occasion, I would deliver them to her wrapped in a vinegary soaked newspaper parcel. (This was obviously a time before the fish and chips shopped stopped the use of newspapers in their wrapping) 

I don’t know why but chips in newspaper wrapping always tasted better to me, or is it just nostalgia?…maybe.

As I kid I remember looking down at the neatly wrapped parcels and at their distorted print with warped photos, wondering if the people in those stories ever realised they ended up as greased food wrapping. 

I spent a lot of Sundays with my grandma, she lived a couple of streets away and it meant I could walk up to her house by myself. A personal freedom I relished.  I never felt like going shopping with my mum and my sister and so staying with my grandma for a few hours was the obvious choice. 

My grandma was unapologetically real and strong willed, gifted with a wry smile. A smile shared by my mum. Grandma had a strength and an unrelenting surety of character that became so reliable to me. I would always find her wedged into her wingback chair the closest position to the horse racing on a crackling television. I would make a cup of tea for us both and then I would sit at her feet, legs crossed, reading my book until her race had finished. She had a small display cabinet in the corner of the room and occasionally my eyes would drift over and investigate all the little ornaments within its grasp. I always hunted out my favourite: a small wire tree with foil leaves. She called it her money tree, but to me it was a wishing tree and every now and again she would allow me to open up the glass doors to the cabinet and make a wish on the tree. A foil leaf trapped hopefully between my fingers. 

No, I am not going to tell you what I wished for…because I honestly do not remember!  

When the horse race on the television had finished and my grandma in turn had finished shouting at the tv, we would chat and the afternoon would run its course with the pair of us greedily watching episodes of ‘Columbo’ and ‘Murder She Wrote’ discussing the plots as they developed.’  She loved a good murder mystery and the television adaptations of Agatha Christie’s stories were also some of her favourites. Perhaps that is why I love a story with a twist. I loved the guessing game and the surprise at the end. 

Still, to this day whenever I see one of those programmes on the television it is an odd comfort to me, it reminds of those happy Sundays spent with my grandma and the wishing tree. 

I don’t know what ever happened to my grandma’s wishing tree, but if I ever found it again, I know  what I would wish for… one more Sunday spent just like that. 

In honour of my grandma and her love for good mystery/thrillers I have reviewed the following thriller fiction books for this post.(Not for children!) One of the books I shared the title of, in advance, in my previous post with hopes some of you would read along with me. Maybe I like the idea of getting to discuss the plot again with someone? Who knows! 

The Empty Bed: A Novel (The Burial Society Series)  by Nina Sadowsky : Thriller/Fiction

The ‘Empty Bed’ is the second book in the Burial Society Series by Nina Sadowsky’. However, this is the first book I have read of the author (and of the series) and in my opinion this book stands for itself, so feel free to be a rebel like me and read out of series order! You should also know I chose to listen to this book as an audiobook as I am trying out different formats. So whilst I do say I have read the book, I actually mean I ‘listened’ to the book. I will talk more about the audiobook version later, but I will say this: whether you choose to listen to or read the book, in my opinion, this story is worth it in whichever format. 

Catherine is the leader of ‘The Burial Society’, a witness protection programme, who’s team is called into investigate the disappearance of married American woman: Eva Lombard. Eva has gone missing overnight during a romantic holiday with her husband in Hong Kong. 

I must admit the plot appealed to me on this one, it just seemed my kind of book and I am happy to say this book had me hooked from the first line. There is something about Nina Sadowsky’s writing style which I instantly enjoyed. There is an intricate web of well thought out characters. As this book is part of a series Eva’s storyline shares centre stage with the already established back story of the ‘Burial Society’ however, I think this works well. I found the author’s description’s fresh and original and the story is engaging with a clear style of its own. It has made me want to read more of the series and perhaps I will invest more time in ‘series’ fiction which as a genre is new to me.  I would certainly not ‘bury’ this book to the bottom of the pile – get it? 

In regards to the audio book version of the book, I am new to audiobooks, but my eldest sister is a big fan so I thought I would give them a go. For me I tend to find with audiobooks that I can be occasionally be put off by the narrator’s voice and this can impact on my enjoyment of the book, however I am pleased to say on this occasion I thought the narration was well delivered and not off putting.

Deep Dark Secrets by Keri Beevis: Thriller/Fiction 

‘Deep Dark Secret’s by Keri Beevis is the book I shared in an early post,  in the hopes that some of you would read along with me. 

The book’s central character is Nell, a middle-aged woman haunted by both an abusive relationship and a tragedy that occurred when she was a teenager: Nell’s best friend Lizzie was murdered during a night’s babysitting gig that Nell should have been babysitting for. What is prevalent in this book is the consequences of actions and how those actions impact massively on not just the person, but those around them. Occasionally, in my opinion, I felt the pace dropped slightly in places within the story, but I thought the storytelling shone through with well developed and realistically unique characters that were well expressed. This is an interesting, thought provoking romance thriller with many intriguing characters and enough to keep you guessing. I would read this author again. I am keen to know, for those of you who did read with me, what are your thoughts on the book?

The Donor: Quick Reads 2020 by Clare Mackintosh: Fiction, Thriller/Short Story

Want a quick read on your commute to or from work? In my opinion, I think this short story will fit the bill. Lizzie Thomas’ daughter Meg has a heart transplant and needless to say the family are incredibly grateful. Then the donar’s mother Karen gets in contact and events begin to spiral. This is a brilliantly written short story, told in the main from the perspective of Lizzie, I found it to be a fast paced and exciting read, which I would eagerly recommend. These quick read books are a fantastic idea, perfect for those readers with little time on their hands and also a great mini introduction to the authors – I will be definitely picking up more books from Clare Mackintosh after reading this well crafted short story.

As always I would love to hear from you, comments welcome and if you do read any of the books I have blogged about I would love to know what you think of them too!

I can’t believe I am actively and blatantly encouraging this but here goes…

Subtle huh…

I couldn’t put up a neon flashing sign.

Some of you may have already noticed the ‘Imagination’ tab on my blog, this is where some of my poems and short fiction are stored for your amusement. Granted, I haven’t being updating it as much as I should, (no surprise there) but that changes now. I have just updated one of my pieces of short fiction ‘The Swimming Pool King‘ and there will be more poems and short stories to follow.

What I have quickly come to realise is that it is so much easier commenting on other people’s stories than the mere thought of other people commenting on mine, but you have got to put yourself out there right? Even if it is slowly but surely! I have always written stories and poems since being very little and I have always dreamed of being a writer. So, I guess in some small way this blog is giving me the opportunity to do just that.

So I guess this is my giant leap.

Ha ha I just like using the big font. I welcome any comments ( I can’t believe I am typing this!) No seriously I do.

Also, just to change things up a bit. I decided to share early one of the books I am reviewing in my next post, in the hopes that some of you may want to read along with me?

Deep Dark Secrets by Keri Beevis

Just a note, for those of you viewing my blog in America, when you click on the book images it should now take you to Amazon.com, for you UK viewers it should still take you to Amazon.co.uk. I am not a whizz kid at this stuff so let me know if you have an issues with this! **Update: As of 23.4.2020 I am no longer an Amazon Associate so their image links are no longer provided on the site**

And lastly, just a thank you to all you readers out there, your likes, comments and support means the world to little me!

**Update** Ok so there may be the slight chance that some of your genuine emails to my contact@thehungrybookling.co.uk email have been enthusiastically eaten by my ambitious spam folder and I too have enthusiastically deleted them in error. If you have emailed me and I have not responded please do get back in touch. Unless of course you are spam, then please don’t. It is bad for my digestion.