I haven’t been reading as much as I wanted to, so I decided at the start of April to change this and made sure I set aside more time to read. I do find when I’m writing a lot I read less, so I need to find a balance between the two. There’s nothing that can help your writing more than reading other great books.
Discovering audio books has been great for me, and added lots of extra hours to the week for books. So between audio, real copies and kindle I managed to read loads, here’s some mini reviews of some of my favourites (an eclectic mix!)…
The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye Volume 1 by Robert Kirkman and Tom Moore
I’m a huge fan of the TV programme, and have dipped into the comic books over the years online, but this is the first time I’ve actually read an actual printed version. I brought them for my teenage son who is dyslexic and struggles with reading, in the hope that it might capture his imagination. Whilst the TV series followed the comic book quite well, it’s interesting to see the changes that have been made from page to screen, and which characters are different. I must say I prefer the on screen Carol to the book! Well worth a read if you’re a fan of the show.
Wigglesbottom Primary – The Shark in the Pool by Pamela Butchart and illustrated by Becka Moor
A fun little book following the overactive imaginations of the children of Wigglesbottom Primary, where it seems just about anything might happen, from a shark in the school pool to dinosaur bones in the playground. Fun storytelling with lovely illustrations, I enjoyed this, and so did my youngest two who are 5 and 9.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Get your tissues at the ready if you’re going to read this. A beautiful love story between two teenage cancer patients. It’s not quite as depressing as it sounds, though there is plenty of sad parts, and I did cry an awful lot. It’s a poignant look at relationships and flawed people with the fragility of life told from the viewpoint of a very strong and determined 17 year old Hazel.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
I must confess I came to this book after discovering that Tim Burton was making a film of it, and I am a huge Tim Burton fan, and generally love anything a bit different and quirky and this doesn’t disappoint. A bit of a slow start giving us the main character’s background but once it gets going it’s brilliantly dark and gently macabre, with enough mystery to keep you wondering what’s coming next and why these things are happening. It’s a strange book with haunting photographs throughout which add to its unusual quality. I found it a refreshing book and relieved that there’s more books in the series and can’t wait to read these too.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
A very different viewpoint to the usual stance in YA of the unusual or ‘different’ teenager discovering they have a special power or some other deus ex machine. It’s a powerful story of what if you weren’t the chosen one? Mikey just wants to go to prom and on to college and have an uneventful life but strange things in the town keep happening. It’s a book full of hope and empathy, but focusing on the everyday struggles of a teenage boy.
Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
I couldn’t help but re-read this as my daughter is enjoying the Georgia Nicholson series at the moment. It is such a joy to read, such a fun and playful book following the day to day disasters of Georgia and her quest to get a boyfriend whilst trying not to make a complete idiot out of herself. Georgia has the usual problems of a teenager, spots, are her parents getting divorced, will she get to a have a birthday party and most importantly the full frontal snogging! I love this book and I dare say I’ll be re-reading it again at some point.
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
I don’t really read self-help books, but this was recommended by another writer so I gave it a whirl. I do find that it has helped me a lot, and I have changed the way I think after reading it. I shall endeavour not to dwell on bad things and focus on all the positives and follow my dreams!
Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones
Diana Wynne Jones is one of my all-time favourite writers. I have devoured her books since childhood and luckily for me, I still haven’t read them all as there are so many. This is a fun little story of a witch called Earwig and is classic Wynne Jones, quirky, funny, bright and full of magic!
Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr
I had to get Mog in here, as Mog is read on a weekly basis in our house. All of my children have loved Mog and I dare say even the older ones still do really as they still listen in when I read the books aloud to my younger children. I know I love Mog!
The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones
This was to be Diana’s last book, and at the time of her death it hadn’t been completed, so it was finished by her sister Ursula. The writing is seamless, at no point could I tell that the writer had switched. Again, it is Diana’s classic style at its best, adventure and magic and strong characters on life changing journeys, and the all-important witches! I do love a story with witches in.
Della says: OMG by Keris Stainton
I read this after joining Keris’ online YA course and I’m so glad I did. The characters are wonderful, I loved Della from the word go and wanted her to get the boy and find out who the diary thief was. It’s a lovely, teen book which covers many aspects that teenagers might be experiencing, I especially like the gentle way Keris handled the sex in the book, it wasn’t warts and all but did deal with the awkwardness. I’m looking forward to reading more books by Keris.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
There’s been a lot of hype about this book, particularly as it has won the Costa Book Awards, and really helped gain more coverage for children’s books. I love the style, the writing is beautiful and has an almost poetic quality to its descriptions. I do think the start is quite slow and could probably lose some of it, but it’s well worth sticking at it as the story picks up to a murder mystery and the unusual and quite unique story surrounding the Lie or Mendacity tree. A strange, dark and typical Hardinge quirky book.
Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
After enjoying the Lie Tree so much I thought it was finally time to get round to reading a book that has been in my to be read pile for years. My husband has already read it at least three times, which speaks volumes for yet another fantastically written book. It’s the first in a series too, so more adventures with Mosca Mye a feisty young girl with her goose who live in The Fractured Realm, which resembles for the most part, eighteenth century England. It’s fast paced, full of witty dialogue and Hardinge’s quirky but lyrical voice.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I’ve not actually seen the film of this book, but it was form seeing adverts of the film that brought me to the book. It seemed such a strange concept I wanted to see how it was actually possible and played out. Strange is definitely the word to describe it, odd, very odd, but interesting. It was a quick read as it was a short book, so I would have liked more character development or background on some of the situations or characters, but otherwise it’s a book I’m very glad to have now read, and might watch the film too!
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
As I write this it is just past 6.30am, and thanks to this book I have been getting up at 6am to write each day as part of ‘the miracle morning’. I am only in my first week of it but it’s working so far. It follow the same sort of approach as The Secret which I’d read earlier in the month. Positive thinking and approaching everything in your life expecting it to work out well seems to really help.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
Another bedtime (or any time of day) favourite that my children select to read on a regular basis. It’s a fun story, and I like the fact that it’s dated now but can still be enjoyed. My children never question why on earth a tiger would come to tea, more who or what else might just turn up on the doorstep!
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon
This is the first book I’ve read (or listened to I should say) by Liz Pichon and I’m so glad there are many more! Really enjoyed it, and will share this one with my five year old, in fact, I think, 9 and 11 year olds would probably quite like it too. I thought Rupert Grint was a fantastic narrator for the audio version of this book. I enjoyed it so much I had to get a paperback too!
That’s all for April, and a lot more than I’d normally get through in a month. I am going to try and maintain a good balance between my writing and reading from now on, as I think reading such a varied range of books has really helped my own writing to stay fresh.