Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit

Yes, this is going to be a regular thing! I love lists, and I love books, so this could not be better suited to anyone but me – this meme was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and will be lovingly carried out by me.

March 24: Top Ten Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit
Interesting question; at what age does your childhood end? Surely you can’t put a number on it? Regardless, my definition of childhood for this list, was books that I read before I was a teenager, that I would certainly look to re-read again in the future – again, they are in no particular order!

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I actually still have eight of the ten books I mentioned in this list, all battered and bruised, and thoroughly well loved

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Obviously I could have included all seven books, but that wouldn’t have made for a very interesting list, so I just went with where the magic started. Nothing says childhood like Harry Potter. I was introduced to the magic aged seven by my auntie, who often bought me a book when my family went to see her. I began reading the book before I saw the film in 2001, and I was entranced there and then! To me, Harry Potter will always spell childhood (and adulthood).

2. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
As I understand it, this book has been heavily edited recently to suit 21st century children, regarding political correctness. This is highly disappointing to hear, as I absolutely loved it the way it was. The main issue I gather was with the names of two of the children, but I’ve got news for you, Dick and Fanny were common names in the early 1900s! How are kids going to learn things like this if they are removed unnecessarily? Anyway, I absolutely loved these magical stories. I still own the copy my Granny bought me when I was about six, and I certainly feel a re-read is imminent.

3. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
I’m not all about magic and contemporaries. I loved the Alex Rider series of books (my favourite was probably ‘Eagle Strike’) , so much so that I’m actually in the process of re-reading them. These are the brilliantly written, fast-paced adventures of a 14-year-old spy, who gets deployed to missions worldwide. I’d still highly recommend them!

4. Best Friends by Jacqueline Wilson
It would have been wrong to write this list without mentioning one of my favourite childhood authors, Jacqueline Wilson. I read the majority of her early books, and then looked forward to her (usually) annual releases. My favourite of her novels for a long time was ‘Best Friends’, which was then made into a TV series.

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
This book was pure magic when I was a kid – I actually recently re-read it, and still thought it was marvellous. I absolutely loved the whole plot, and the simple fact that Charlie came from such a poor background, and ended up owning a chocolate factory was simply mind-blowing. What child wouldn’t want to spend a day in Willy Wonka’s factory?!

6. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
I simply couldn’t not fail to include this little gem. ‘Dear Zoo’ was my favourite book when I was under-2. I have a very vague memory of loving the ending with the puppy, and wishing I could be the main character in ‘Dear Zoo’ just so I could hang out with animals, and then end up with a puppy. It’s definitely a book I’ll be reading to any future children, should I have them.

7. Holes by Louis Sachar
‘Holes’ was the first book I can recall reading at school as a group. We had reading groups based on level (I was always in the highest level) so myself and a few friends read this novel when we were seven or eight, and our teacher guided us by providing some stimulating questions for us to think and talk about. I remember loving our daily 30-minute reading and discussion sessions, and they were almost certainly were a contributing factor to me book blogging years later.

8. Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy
Cathy Cassidy was dubbed the next Jacqueline Wilson, and for good reason. Her books were generally more mature than Wilson’s, dealing with themes such as drug abuse and parental issues. Her characters are always well fleshed out, and the stories are intriguing. ‘Scarlett’ was my favourite, but I thoroughly enjoyed all her stand-alone novels.

9. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
I only read the first two books when I was about ten, but having read some of Meg Cabot’s adult books since then (as well as my love of the movies) I think I’d enjoy them much more now. I do remember them being very funny and cringey, so I’m not really sure why I didn’t continue with the series.

10. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Hands down, my favourite of the ten books mentioned – yes, even more so than ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!’ I could talk about this book all day, I just love it so much. I don’t love it any less with re-reads either. It simply is an outstanding read, whatever your age. It is hands-down the most interesting, important and thought-provoking book I’ve ever read. Out of any book I’ve ever read, it is the one book I’d urge you to read!

What books from your childhood do you view with nostalgia? And if you haven’t read ‘Noughts and Crosses’ yet, what are you doing? Get on with it!

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

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We Are Wembley

As well as my love and obsession with books and concerts, I am also a passionate football fan, and season ticket holder at Bristol City.

Bristol’s road to Wembley (in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy) began on October 8, 2014. With four wins secured, a second-leg draw with Gillingham was enough to confirm their place in the final, on March 22, 2015.

The date rolled around extremely quickly – suddenly, my family and I were Wembley bound, to watch our team play in the final, against Walsall. Bristol were firm favourites going into the match, being 15 places, and 37 points ahead – and I for one was confident going into the match that we would end as Champions!

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We arrived well ahead of time, so we enjoyed watching the 6-a-side match that preceded the main event, followed by the players warming up. Bristol City brought a magnificent following of 40,000, so the atmosphere was electric (however, I didn’t think it was as loud as the FA Cup tie with West Ham at Ashton Gate earlier in the season).

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Come 3.15pm, when the television transmission began, it all grew very serious. The teams came out of the tunnel to rapturous applause, we sung the national anthem, and at 3.30pm, the match kicked off.

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City were in control from the first whistle – Walsall hardly touched the ball. It was only a matter of time before we broke the deadlock. Flint headed in Pack’s corner on 15 minutes, and the Bristol fans went wild. Both sides came close to scoring next, but the half-time whistle was blown on 1-0.

The second half brought more of the same. I never once got overly nervous that Walsall would equalise, and when Little netted Bristol’s second on 51 minutes, the party started. Unsurprisingly, that goal effectively killed the game. The only surprise was that City didn’t get a third.

2-0 at full time. What a great day to be a Bristol City fan!

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We had an absolutely magnificent day. One trophy bagged, one to go!

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#17 Great Recommendations (#18)

I love a good book recommendation. What I love even more, is a great one!

My eighteenth read of 2015 fulfilled #17, a book a friend recommended, in the 2015 Reading Challenge. That book: “Point Blanc” by Anthony Horowitz. This book was a re-read for me, but the series was originally recommended to me by my younger brother. It was relatively difficult to find books that my brother actively wanted to read, but this series was one of his absolute favourites – and it quickly became one of mine too!

My Goodreads Review
“‘Point Blanc’ is the second book in the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. Alex is a spy, working for MI6 – he never wanted to be in his profession, but was blackmailed following the death of his guardian.
This second book follows Alex’s second mission; this time he’s sent to the Alps to investigate a private school, run by the formidably named Dr. Grief, following the unexplained deaths of two of the boys’ fathers. Alex is enrolled using a fake identity, and equipped with a number of useful gadgets, has to unearth the secret surrounding the school.
The plot itself was more believable than the first book. It was fast-paced and action-packed. These books are excellent for younger readers, but equally they are brilliant quick reads for young adults. It was easy to guess the direction of the story, but the writing style allowed the plot to advance well. The novel’s conclusion was brilliant. There was plenty of action, a great resolution, which was followed by a cliffhanger, which made me want to begin book three immediately.

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I thoroughly enjoyed Alex’s second adventure, and it’s just a matter of when, not if, I pick up number three, “Skeleton Key”. Even better, “Point Blanc” was on the BBC Big Read Top 200, so that marks off my first Top 200 read of 2015 (I’m aiming to check off five this year). Despite this series being marketed towards children, I would honestly recommend it to anyone who is in a reading slump (and anyone who simply enjoys a fast-paced, action packed read). These books will have you hooked from page one! Great recommendation, bro!

#17 A book a friend recommended – Point Blanc by Anthony Horowitz (7/10)

Seventeen down, thirty-three to go. (Eightteen read)

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

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#34 Solar Eclipse (#17)

I’ve deliberately held off finishing book #17 (#32 A book with a love triangle) in my 2015 Reading Challenge until today. There is method in my madness, just bear with me.

This morning, the UK and much of Northern Europe experienced a partial solar eclipse. Since for the last few weeks I have been reading “Eclipse” by Stephenie Meyer, I thought there really couldn’t be a better day to finish reading that book than today, and tie it in with the astronomical event that is the solar eclipse. See, method!

My Goodreads Review
“Following on from where ‘New Moon’ left off, ‘Eclipse’ follows the ever-increasingly apparent love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob. It initially deals with Bella’s emotions regarding Edward’s return, and follows their plans to change her into a vampire upon her graduation. Meanwhile, it also follows Jacob’s acceptance of being a werewolf, and inviting Bella to listen to the legends of his tribe.
The premise of this book surrounds a newborn army of vampires that have been created in Seattle, but the Cullen’s are unable to deduce what for. Alice’s visions are clouded, and there is an air of mystery, until Bella deduces the newborns are in fact after her. In a brave move, the vampires and werewolves work together to protect Bella and the humans from the newborns, who are under the control of a more powerful force.
An overarching theme of this book is that Bella finally realises she is in love with Jacob, so the love triangle between the three of them is played out (very well I might add). Both Jacob and Edward concede to be the bigger man, allowing Bella to make her decision solely for herself.
Whilst I did enjoy this book a great deal, there was an awful lot of buildup, for not much of a conflict. Since the book is told from a first person narrative (Bella’s), we miss the main fight, concerning the vast majority of the vampires, werewolves and newborns. The arrival of the Volturi is also (almost) without casualty. However, prior to, and following, the outcome of that battle, there is a great deal of character development for Bella and Jacob, which is great.
At times I did feel that Bella was a little whiney about her situation – like having two people being in love with you, and you being in love with them both, is such a terrible, earth shattering thing. As usual, I loved Alice, and in this novel we were introduced more to Rosalie, which was brilliant, as it allowed the reader to understand why she is so against Bella becoming immortal. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and am thoroughly looking forward to reading the concluding novel.

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With a great book (thankfully) came some great photos of the real thing – which are completely unedited and filter free! Have a great day, wherever you are!

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#34 A book with a love triangle – Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (7/10)

Sixteen down, thirty-four to go. (Seventeen read)

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List

I’ve seen this meme floating around the blogosphere lately (created by The Broke and the Bookish), and I’ve decided to jump on it. Basically, as the name suggests, every Tuesday there will be a new Top Ten list, for which I will dutifully give you my answers. Lets go.

March 17: Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List
Spring is springing. Kind of. This is England after all, and our weather is always a talking point. Regardless, in no particular order, here are ten books I’m intending to read before June 21st.

1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I’ve been putting off this series for far too long. I think I’m simply intimidated by the six long (and getting progressively longer) books in this series. I have heard absolutely amazing things, so I think it’s time I put away my reservations and jump headfirst into the world of shadowhunters.

2. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
I’ve been meaning to read this book for about a year, as I was intending to read it before its sequel, ‘The Mime Order’ was released earlier this year. Clearly that didn’t happen, but since there are no firm plans for a release date of the third book, I’m fully intent on getting up to speed with this series before then.

3. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
I read ‘Anna’ last year, and thought it was surprisingly cute. Whilst I felt that I am slightly older than the target audience, it was still a sweet, quick contemporary read, so I’m hoping I have the same feelings about ‘Lola’.

4. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
I’ve tried, and failed, to read ‘The Hobbit’ several times, but now the movies are all out, I’m going to try again (and I will succeed this time). I love the world this and ‘LOTR’ are set in, and the characters are absolutely brilliant, so I really don’t know why I’ve been unable to read it. That will change!

5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this book. Not one person I’ve spoken to has had a bad word to say about it. I’m not sure I’m fully prepared for the emotional rollercoaster I keep hearing about, so I may have to wait until my exams are over to dive into this one.

6. Looking For Alaska by John Green
Having read ‘TFIOS’ and ‘Paper Towns’ at present, I have one foot in the camp that John Green is slightly overrated. I desperately want my opinion to change, so I’m going for attempt number three.

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7. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
I love, love, love this series. I’m almost done with ‘Eclipse’, and I can’t wait to read the conclusion to this series – I love the movies, so I’m sure I’ll love the final book just as much. So far I’ve really been questioning my decision to be Team Jacob (as I always was when I’d just watched the films).

8. The Death Cure by James Dashner
I have no idea why I’ve neglected to finish this trilogy. I really enjoyed both previous two books, even though I disliked the writing style. I want to be fully caught up (including having read the prequel) before ‘The Scorch Trials’ is released in cinemas.

9. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
I have heard so many amazing things about this book, and Rainbow Rowell in general. I read ‘Fangirl’ last year, and while I enjoyed it, I was slightly disappointed due to the hype it had been receiving, but I have no doubt that I will enjoy this novel.

10. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The BookTube world has been going mad about this series in the last year or so, and having owned all four releases for a while, I figured it was about time to see what all the fuss is about. I love fairytale re-tellings – you really must read ‘The Bloody Chamber’ by Angela Carter if you do too – and I’m interested, if not hesitant, about the cyborg aspect.

Have you read any of these ten books? Did you enjoy them, or have reservations? Please let me know in the comments!

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

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#20 A Distinct Lack of Clashing of Kings (#16)

Probably one of the challenges I was least looking forward to completing in my 2015 Reading Challenge was #20 A book at the bottom of your to-read list. My TBR stands at well over 100 books, so how was I supposed to pick the book I least wanted to read? Technically, the book I least wanted to read, I started reading in 2013. That book, “A Clash of Kings” by George R.R. Martin. All 911 pages of it.

I don’t usually have a difficult time getting into books, but if we’re talking about how long it took me to read “A Clash of Kings” from the first page until the last page, it took me 19 months to read this book! 19 months! That has to be some kind of a record.

My Goodreads Review
“Where on earth do I begin? I thoroughly enjoyed ‘A Game of Thrones’, the first book in the series, and (rather naively) believed that I would enjoy the second instalment just as much. I was wrong.
Where ‘A Game of Thrones’ was rife with character development and action, ‘A Clash of Kings’ was distinctly lacking in the action, and the character development was slow. I am however incredibly thankful that this book is told from the perspectives of approximately 10 different characters, or I’m not sure that I’d have finished this monster of a novel.
At times I did very much enjoy this book (those occasions were primarily when I was listening to the audiobook, which to its credit is fantastic) but more often than not, it felt like a chore! The title really couldn’t be further from the truth. The vast majority of the time, the characters were walking or whining or worrying, with very little in the way of axe-wielding.
Will I be continuing on with the series? It is not a priority of mine. I will catch up on the TV show, and if the mood strikes me, I may well pick up #3, and pray to the old gods and the new gods that it is better than this volume. It was dull, dry and, at times, downright dire.
If you enjoy repetitive storylines, with almost no action, then you may well enjoy the build up this book creates – well, I’m assuming it’s build up…

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Before we go any further, can we talk about the insane cuteness of my Pop Vinyls please?! Thank you.

Maybe now you’ll understand why it was at the bottom of my TBR list. At least now I’m not concerned about reading the books before I watch the TV show (as I won’t be doing that!) Part of me believes that this novel is yet another prime example of Second Book Syndrome, but given the hundreds of thousands of positive reviews, I know I must be in the minority of people who didn’t really enjoy this nook. Am I’m missing something?

#20 A book at the bottom of your to-read list – A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (4/10)

Fifteen down, thirty-five to go. (Sixteen read)

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

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The Hogwarts Express: A Preview

About three weeks ago I received an invite to Warner Brothers Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter, for the VIP preview of the Hogwarts Express. I was never going to say no to that, was I!

Yesterday, the day came. I had an absolute blast: meeting fellow Potterheads I know through Twitter, having the entire tour to our select group of 120 people, enjoying a drinks reception in the Great Hall, and of course seeing the newest additions to the tour, the Hogwarts Express and Platform 9 ¾.

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The guest of honour was Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley), who was so lovely, taking photos with fans and signing books and tickets.

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Tour complete, we dutifully headed to the shop – a huge part of the attraction – where, for once, I was reasonably reserved with my purchases.

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I cannot recommend Warner Brothers Studio Tour highly enough! The staff were extra friendly tonight, (possibly because there were fewer visitors, so they could afford the extra time and energy to chat with us), laughing and joking along with us, and generally being massive Potterheads (which I guess they are, working there!) Every time I visit I am overcome at just how amazing it is – and regardless of whether you’ve been previously or not, the Hogwarts Express is certainly worthy of a visit! It truly is magical.

*Disapparates*

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