Top Ten Tuesday: Top Five Scottish Books I Hope Santa Brings Me!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

Happy Tuesday everyone, and welcome to this week’s top ten! This week’s list is all about books I hope a certain bearded man in the red suit will bring me. To keep things interesting, and so that this list doesn’t just repeat my book choices on recent Top Ten TBR lists, I have decided to make this week’s top ten a top five and choose a selection of Scottish books which I really want to read. Hopefully Santa will see my list and bring me some of these titles!

The Last Witness – Denzil Meyrick

“James Machie was a man with a genius for violence, his criminal empire spreading beyond Glasgow into the UK and mainland Europe. Fortunately, James Machie is dead, assassinated in the back of a prison ambulance following his trial and conviction.

But now, five years later, he is apparently back from the grave, set on avenging himself on those who brought him down. Top of his list is his previous associate, Frank MacDougall, who unbeknownst to D.C.I. Jim Daley, is living under protection on his lochside patch, the small Scottish town of Kinloch. Daley knows that, having been the key to Machie’s conviction, his old friend and colleague D.S. Scott is almost as big a target. And nothing, not even death, has ever stood in James Machie’s way.”

Hings – Chris McQueer

“From the streets of working class Scotland, and on occasion, a little beyond our solar system, comes one of the country’s most hilarious debut writers. Putting surreal and witty twists on the everyday, Chris McQueer creates recognisable characters you will love and want to avoid like the plague.

Peter’s earned his night off, and there’s not a bloody chance he’s covering Shelley’s shift. He just needs to find some pals for the perfect cover story. Deek is going to be at the forefront of the outsider art movement and do Banksy proud. Davie loves tattoos and his latest is going to be a masterpiece. Tam is one of the most creative minds in the galaxy (apparently), but creating parallel universes can cause problems. 
Everybody on Earth wakes up with their knees on backwards.

He caught folks’ imagination on Medium with his stories, had rooms howling with laughter on the spoken word circuit, and now it’s time to put Chris McQueer on the page. Are you ready?”

Mary’s the Name – Ross Sayers

“An eight-year-old girl and her granpa are on the run…

“When me and Granpa watched James Bond films, he told me not to be scared because people didn’t have guns like that in Scotland. That must’ve been why the robbers used hammers.”

Orphaned Mary lives with her granpa, but after he is mixed up in a robbery at the bookies where he works, they flee to the Isle of Skye. Gradually, Mary realises that her granpa is involved. And the robbers are coming after him–and their money.

Mary’s quirky outlook on life, loss, and her love of all things Elvis, will capture your heart. Full of witty Scots banter, Mary’s the Name will have you reaching for the hankies, first with laughter, then with tears.

Heart-warming and heart-breaking, this darkly comic debut is from a fresh voice set to become Scotland’s answer to Roddy Doyle.”

The Wages of Sin – Kaite Welsh

“Sarah Gilchrist has fled London and a troubled past to join the University of Edinburgh’s medical school in 1892, the first year it admits women. She is determined to become a doctor despite the misgivings of her family and society, but Sarah quickly finds plenty of barriers at school itself: professors who refuse to teach their new pupils, male students determined to force out their female counterparts, and—perhaps worst of all—her female peers who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman.

Desperate for a proper education, Sarah turns to one of the city’s ramshackle charitable hospitals for additional training. The St Giles’ Infirmary for Women ministers to the downtrodden and drunk, the thieves and whores with nowhere else to go. In this environment, alongside a group of smart and tough teachers, Sarah gets quite an education. But when Lucy, one of Sarah’s patients, turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into a murky underworld of bribery, brothels, and body snatchers.

Painfully aware of just how little separates her own life from that of her former patient’s, Sarah is determined to find out what happened to Lucy and bring those responsible for her death to justice. But as she searches for answers in Edinburgh’s dank alleyways, bawdy houses and fight clubs, Sarah comes closer and closer to uncovering one of Edinburgh’s most lucrative trades, and, in doing so, puts her own life at risk…

An irresistible read with a fantastic heroine, beautifully drawn setting, fascinating insights into what it was like to study medicine as a woman at that time, The Wages of Sin is a stunning debut that heralds a striking new voice in historical fiction.”

2020 – Kenneth Steven

“IN 2020, BRITAIN IS AT BREAKING POINT…

In a country sorely divided, what happens to empathy and tolerance, to generosity of spirit? And can hope survive?

In 2020, years of economic turmoil, bitter debates over immigration, and anger at the political elites have created a maelstrom, a dis-United Kingdom. The country is a bomb waiting to explode. Then it does.

As the nightmare unfolds, a myriad of voices from across the political and social spectrum offer wildly differing perspectives on the chaotic events… and unexpectedly reveal modern Britain’s soul with 20/20 acuity.

Thoughtful, compassionate and sometimes provocative, Kenneth Steven’s 2020 is a parable for our times.”

Over to you – what books are you hoping Santa brings at Christmas? Feel free to comment below or on social media!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favourite Books 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

Well, it’s that time of year again – Christmas is upon us and soon after 2018 will follow. A perfect opportunity, I think, to reflect on the most enjoyable books of the year with this week’s Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favourite Books of 2017.

This week’s top ten selection is an eclectic mix, pulling from different genres – contemporary, historical, fantasy and even crime – and a variety of authors. Some books are bestsellers, some are perhaps less well-known. Some are published traditionally, others are self-published (can I get a cheer for indie authors – woop!). But all are amazing. Ready? Let’s go!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

I know I have probably raved about this book to anyone who will listen to me this year but honestly, it’s just amazing. I have never read anything quite like it and it gave me a total book hangover which is always a good sign. I believe this book has done pretty well this year, topping the bestsellers’ lists and winning accolades aplenty, including a spot on the shortlist for the Costa First Novel Award and WH Smith’s Book of the Year 2017. Not bad for a debut novel, I’d say. Read my full review here.

The Sewing Machine – Natalie Fergie

Another debut novel and another book that I have recommended to many, many people this year. I loved this book so much that I bought a copy for my mum for her birthday. It is such a sweet  and unusual story, and I adore how Fergie builds the narrative around an object. Published by the crowdfunding publisher Unbound, this book seems to be cropping up on readers’ choice lists around the internet, and deservedly so. A refreshing, cheerful read. Read my full review here.

Click Date Repeat Again – KJ Farnham 

The second installment of indie author KJ Farnham’s Click Date Repeat series was a real treat. A lovely, funny tale flawlessly told,  filled with memorable characters and plenty of online dating mishaps! A great read to curl up with during the festive season. Read my full review here.

The Words in my Hand – Guinevere Glasfurd

Probably my favourite historical novel of the year, Glasfurd’s tale of philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes through the eyes of maid Helena is as thought-provoking as it is enjoyable. A beautifully drawn story which was nominated for the Costa First Novel Award in 2016. Read my full review here.

The Secret Language of Stones – M J Rose

Well, we were only ever going to get so far into one of my top ten lists before an M J Rose book would crop up. The second installment in her historical fantasy series, Daughters of La Lune, had me transfixed. Highly recommended.

Three Sisters, Three Queens – Philippa Gregory 

The stories of Margaret Tudor, Mary Tudor and Katherine of Aragon beautifully interwoven by the Queen of historical fiction. I always enjoy Gregory’s books and often find that they spark new interests in me, urging me to learn more about everything and everyone from Katheryn Parr to the Wars of the Roses. This book was no different and I have read widely about Margaret Tudor in particular since.

The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire – Sandra Hutchison

Another great story from an indie author, Hutchison’s coming-of-age tale about the relationship which grows between a teenage girl and an older man as they both grapple with grief and trauma is mesmerising. I read this book during my summer holidays and struggled to put it down.

Avelynn: The Edge of Faith – Marissa Campbell

The second book in the Avelynn series from Canadian author Marissa Campbell is as action-packed as the first. Expect romance, magic and so much danger that you will be on the edge of your seat! Loved both books in this series and would strongly recommend them for lovers of Viking/Saxon historical fiction.

The Reincarnationist – M J Rose

Yes I know, another one from M J Rose – sorry, not sorry! I really do love her books, and my first foray into her Reincarnationist series did not disappoint. Plenty of action, plenty of magic, plenty of twists – just the way I like my books.

Whisky from Small Glasses – Denzil Meyrick

Whilst I’m not much of a crime fiction reader, this book was recommended to me by a friend and it really did not disappoint. Great gritty characters, grizzly murders and a gripping ‘whodunnit?’ all made for a fabulous read. Check out my full review here. 

Over to you! What were your favourite books of 2017? Feel free to comment below!

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on my Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

I’m going to be honest from the outset: it’s unlikely that I will manage to read ten books over the winter. Between the craziness that is Christmas and my writing commitments, I’ll be doing well if I manage to read half that number of books. After all, I have barely made a dent in my Autumn TBR. Therefore this week’s top ten is going to be a more realistic top five. I’ll also add in a couple of books I’m looking forward to, which haven’t been released as yet.

Into the Water – Paula Hawkins

Like millions of others I loved The Girl on the Train. I can’t wait to read this next book by Paula Hawkins.

Days to the Gallows: A Novel of the Hartford Witch Panic – Katherine Spada Basto

This looks like the perfect book with which to indulge my love of historical fiction based around witch trials.

Warrior Daughter – Janet Paisley

I read Paisley’s White Rose Rebel a few years ago and recently stumbled across her other works on Goodreads. A novel based in Iron Age Scotland – perfect for winter nights.

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept – Paolo Coelho

Coelho’s Veronika Decides to Die is one of my all-time favourite novels. It’s Coelho’s titles which always catch my eye and I’m very intrigued by this one.

Love at First Flight – Tess Woods

Something a bit lighter and perhaps not my usual genre, but I have heard good things about Woods’ books. I suspect this will be the perfect read to go with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie.

And I’m really looking forward to…

By the Time We’re Forty and A Case of Serendipity, both by K.J Farnham. No release date for these novels as yet, but both books now have pages on Goodreads. As I have enjoyed all of Farnham’s previous works, I can’t wait to read both of these and I’m sure they will appear on a future TBR list.

While you’re here…

Thursday November 30th 2017 will see the release of my third novel, Ethersay. To celebrate I am holding an online launch party on Facebook, to which you’re all invited! Join the party here, and apologies for the shameless plug.

So what about your own Winter TBR lists? Please feel free to share your own plans in the comments or via social media.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Leaders of the Revolution

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

Radical, independent, visionary – this week’s chosen characters stand out for their sheer drive, determination, stoicism, fierceness and spirit. In short, stick them in the midst of a revolution and they’d probably emerge victorious! Here’s my top ten leaders of the revolution:

Matthew Shardlake – Dissolution by C J Sansom

The single-minded lawyer turned investigator successfully navigates the shady and complex world of Tudor politics to solve a succession of murders and mysteries in C J Sansom’s acclaimed series. Matthew is a man who always sees things for what they are, even if he doesn’t much like what he finds.

Thomas Paine – Citizen Tom Paine by Howard Fast

Now I admit I’m cheating a little with this one, since Paine was a literal revolutionary; an influential Enlightenment thinker who was a pivotal force in both American and French politics in the eighteenth century. However, Howard Fast’s historical novel gives me a great excuse to include him.

Katheryn Parr – The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

Queen Katheryn Parr was the last wife of Henry VIII – infamous in history (and in the popular rhyme) as ‘the one who survived’. Yet Gregory’s novel shows us that there was far more to Katheryn than mere nursemaid to the ageing King. She was a complex, passionate and intelligent woman, and an accomplished writer and thinker who was the first English Queen to be published in her own name.

Aliena of Shiring – The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Beautiful, resourceful and independent Aliena shines in Ken Follett’s medieval historical novel about the building of a cathedral in the fictional English town of Kingsbridge. For me, one of the recurring and engaging themes of historical fiction is how women living in difficult, prejudicial times sought success and tried to overcome the limits placed upon them because of their gender. Aliena is no exception – a determined businesswoman who overcomes hardship, cruelty and the trauma of sexual assault to find happiness and success.

Margaret Tudor – Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory

Daughter of Henry VII, sister of Henry VIII, wife of King James IV of Scotland – from a young age Margaret’s life is ruled by the whims and schemes of powerful men. Then her husband dies on the battlefield and suddenly Margaret is the regent of Scotland, mother of a King and, for the first time, the mistress of her own destiny. What follows is a story of passion and folly but above all it is a story of bravery. Margaret’s choices weren’t always good ones but at least they were her own. And she even defied the wishes of her tyrannical brother! Surely for that alone she deserves a place in the revolution.

Helena Jans – The Words in my Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd

She was the lover of Rene Descartes, a Dutch maid who was so determined to read and write that she made ink from beetroot and wrote on her skin. And, in some ways, that makes her more interesting and impressive than the great thinker himself. History only records her as the mother of Descartes’ only child but thanks to Glasfurd’s novel, I get the feeling that there was so much more to her than that. If there was a revolution, she’d be writing coded notes – using beetroot.

Anne Farquharson – White Rose Rebel by Janet Paisley

Colonel Anne, as she is known to history, takes up her sword for the Jacobite cause in 1745. The only problem is that her husband is fighting on the other side. This is a wonderful novel full of passion, romance and bravery which gives a rare insight into the military role of Scottish women in the eighteenth century. Anne is spirited, fierce and determined – key revolutionary qualities.

Matilda Wormwood – Matilda by Roald Dahl

Dahl’s infamous character is precocious, intellectual and magically-powered. A beautiful and hilarious tale of the empowerment which comes from knowledge and learning, young Matilda leads the charge against her world’s injustices, personified by her neglectful parents and cruel headmistress, Agatha Trunchbull.

Elizabeth Bennett – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

No list of this sort would be complete without Austen’s famously stubborn and single-minded character. Just imagine her living in the twenty-first century! She would be formidable.

Jane Eyre – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Another woman who knows her own mind, Jane’s individualism comes at a painful cost. Orphaned and unloved, she has learnt to fend for herself, but these qualities are what stands her in good stead when she meets and falls for the charming, Byronic Mr Rochester. Whilst the love story is the most famous part of the plot, I felt I learnt most about Jane in her role as a teacher and a governess, trying to instill some independence of mind in the next generation of girls. Even within the constraints of her historical context she is illuminating – just imagine what she could bring to the revolution!

So there you have it – this week’s top ten! Who are your favourite revolutionaries? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Unique Book Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

Welcome to this week’s top ten! I’ve had a bit of a hiatus from Top Ten Tuesday over the past couple of weeks due to taking some holiday time and being pretty busy getting my next book ready for publication.

This week I am back with the latest top ten theme – top ten books with unique book titles. This one was quite tough, as in many ways lots of book titles are unique. To narrow it down a little, I picked a selection of books from my reading list over the past couple of years which I chose to read in part because I was drawn by their unusual-sounding title. So, without any further ado, here is my top ten:

The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire by Sandra Hutchison

This was one of my holiday reads this year. A coming-of-age novel set in 1970s small-town America, the story revolves around the unexpectedly close relationship which develops between a thirty-something grieving widower and a teenage girl. The title is a quote from To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.

Don’t Call Me Kit Kat by K J Farnham

This is a young adult novel which I read a couple of Christmases and I was so hooked on it that I read it in two days. This is a heartbreaking emotional rollercoaster of a story about a teenager’s descent into depression, anxiety and eating disorders. A very honest read which stuck with me for a long time afterwards. ‘Kit Kat’ is the unwanted nickname of the protagonist, Katie Mills and this title, for me, captures a lot of what the book is about.

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie

This is a sweet novel, bringing together the stories of Jean and Donald, Connie and Alf, and Fred, all taking place across different periods of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, but all connected by one thing – A Singer Sewing Machine. I loved the novel’s title and its unique telling-point, the way that it is an object rather than a person which acts as a sort of inanimate protagonist, grounding the story and cementing the history which brings these characters together.

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier

The Virgin Blue is Isabelle Tournier, known as ‘la rousse’ because of her similarity to the Virgin Mary. The story follows Isabelle and her descendant, Ella, born centuries apart but whose lives follow interesting parallels. A book full of tragedy and sadness which always left me wanting more, but I did love the title.

Whisky From Small Glasses by Denzil Meyrick

This is one of these great titles which draws you in but which, upon reading the book, seems to have no obvious link to the story! Nonetheless this is a great crime novel set on the west coast of Scotland, and the first in Meyrick’s DCI Daley thriller series.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Frankly, this is probably my book of 2017. It is, in short, a beautiful story about a very unconventional, flawed but likable character who, the reader realises very early on, has a terrible past to come to terms with. The title is quirky and completely evokes the tone of the novel.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Based on the true story of Eyam, the English village struck by plague in 1666, this is a story of survival and a year of catastrophe becoming instead an ‘annus mirabilis’, a year of wonders.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory

The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the story of Anne Neville, youngest daughter of the Earl of Warwick or the ‘Kingmaker’, and later wife and Queen of Richard III. A really enjoyable read about the short but relentlessly exciting life of a woman at the centre of late medieval English politics.

Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Coelho

At the beginning of this story, Veronika attempts suicide. What follows is a journey through despair, emotional discovery and ultimately liberation in a novel which questions the very meaning of madness and conformity. I have read this book so many times that I probably know it by heart.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

This is a ‘Salem’ novel with a bit of a difference. I love books which are named after objects and this is no exception, the ‘physick book’ being the central physical tenet which binds Connie Goodwin and her ancestors together in a tale of mystery and revelation.

So what are your favourite unique book titles? Please feel free to share in the comments or via social media.

Top Ten Tuesday: Romantic Heroes

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week’s top ten is all about favourite romantic heroes. For me, this means indulging myself in some of those wonderful romantic leads of classic literature, many of whom have graced our television screens in modern times, capturing our attention and making many of us swoon! However, in amongst the Regency and Victorian stalwarts, the breeches and wet shirts, there is some diversity, including a Viking, a Jacobite, a chef, an architect and a journalist. There is even one romantic hero of my own creation! Ready? Let’s go!

William Braithwaite in A Woman Named Sellers (Sarah L King).

I know plugging my own book in a top ten list is pretty shameless but honestly, you have to meet William. He is kind, honest, outward-looking and refreshing. And above all he loves Jennet, who is more than deserving of a little love in her difficult, traumatic life. A Woman Named Sellers is a historical novel and as such most of the characters are based on people who really existed. Unfortunately William is one of the exceptions to this and is completely my creation. However, that hasn’t stopped readers contacting me to request a sequel all about him. It is lovely to have created a character who is so well-liked.

Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen).

Made infamous by Colin Firth in THAT lake scene, Darcy is the epitome of a regency gentleman; intelligent, refined and intense. Yet Elizabeth Bennett finds him ‘most disagreeable’ and, prejudiced by the tales of others, initially dislikes him. However, the twists and turns of the novel’s story ensure that eventually Elizabeth sees him in a far more favourable light and, inevitably, so does the reader.

John Thornton in North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell).

A story about another pair of characters who get off on the wrong foot, initially Hampshire-born Margaret Hale cannot warm to Thornton’s rough northern ways. In time, however, she learns that there is more to Thornton than meets the eye. Thornton’s character was played wonderfully by Richard Armitage in the 2004 television adaptation, proving to me once and for all that I am a sucker for brooding Victorian men.

Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte).

As historical male leads go, Rochester is a tricky one. After all, he locked his insane wife in the attic and pretended she didn’t exist. But…but…but he and Jane are very good together, and by the end of this novel I was rooting for their Happily Ever After. Rochester is also another example of a complex male lead in period costume – I see a pattern of obsession developing here. The television adaptation starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens captures the novel perfectly.

Allan Woodcourt in Bleak House (Charles Dickens).

Woodcourt is an all-round good guy –  a surgeon by profession who is utterly devoted to Esther. He is one of those guys who the female protagonist doesn’t seem to notice half as early as the reader does. Dickens isn’t famous for writing romances and admittedly there is far, far more to Bleak House than a simple ‘will they, won’t they?’ with Esther and Allan. Nonetheless, as creating romantic heroes goes, he did a fine job with Woodcourt.  Woodcourt was also portrayed fabulously by Richard Harrington in the 2005 BBC adaptation.

Sawyer in Click Date Repeat Again (K J Farnham).

The Click Date Repeat novels are funny, romantic stories about online dating and as such, there are a good number of male characters to choose from. However, the one who stood out for me was Sawyer, the sardonic chef who Jess meets in the bar where they work. In my mind he was slightly broody, slightly grungy and just the right amount of fun. I warmed to him from the first encounter. A modern favourite of mine.

Julien Duplessi in The Witch of Painted Sorrows (M J Rose).


Julien and Sandrine’s intense, passionate relationship captivated me in this novel. This book was more erotic than my usual reading choices; however, in this case it seemed right. Architect Julien is a charismatic , creative delight and against the backdrop of Paris during the Belle Epoque he is, well, irresistible.

Alrik the Bloodaxe in Avelynn (Marissa Campbell).

A hunky Viking with just the right amount of sexy. He makes Avelynn crazy and it’s easy to see why.

Jamie Fraser in Outlander (Diana Gabaldon).

Another character made infamous by TV adaptation, Jamie Fraser is the kind-hearted Highlander who sweeps accidental time-traveller Claire off her feet. What can I say? I can’t resist a man in a kilt.

Reeve Wilder in Tiffany Girl (Deeanne Gist).

Reeve is an interesting choice and to be honest, I agonised over whether to include him. Tiffany Girl is a story about Flossie Jayne, an art student in 1890s Chicago who is hand-picked with other female students to work on the stained-glass mosaic chapel after the glass-workers go on strike. There is a definite feminist strand running through the story, with Flossie striking out on her own as an independent woman in a world which frankly isn’t quite ready for her. Reeve is very much a man of his time and, in this sense, initially I wasn’t keen on him. But as in all good books his character develops, the love he has for Flossie softening some of his more traditional views. He is a little odd and a bit repressed but in the end I really liked him. I suppose the Reeves of the literary world are there to remind us that not all romantic heroes wear wet shirts or have warrior muscles!

Okay, okay…I’m going to be bad here and include an 11th choice because I couldn’t decide who to eliminate and because, well, it’s my list 🙂

Ross Poldark from Ross Poldark (Winston Graham).

Ross is the irrepressible, bombastic, stubborn and slightly revolutionary hero of the Poldark novels. Revived recently by Aiden Turner in the BBC adaptation, Ross is a more than a little bit sexy, too. In Ross’s case, no shirt rather than wet shirt is the order of the day.

So who are your favourite romantic characters? Please feel free to share in the comments or via social media.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Feature Characters that are Pigs

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week’s Top Ten is a bit special, as it is a collaboration between me and two fabulous guests – my kids, Jennifer (8) and Alexander (6). Jennifer and Alexander are daft about pigs; without doubt, pigs are their favourite animals. So when I asked them for suggestions for what type of character I should base this week’s top ten theme, I suppose I should have guessed what sort of characters would come top of the list!

Without further ado, our top ten books that feature pig characters:

Wibbly Pig’s Silly Big Bear by Mike Inkpen (Alexander’s choice)


This is a regular feature at bedtime; in fact, I have read it so often that I know the words off by heart. Wibbly Pig has a bear so big, he can hardly fit on the page….

Piglet’s Big Movie Storybook (Jennifer’s choice)


This one stands out from Jennifer’s toddler years. I remember her crying at the idea of Piglet going missing, and then shrieking with delight when he and his friends were reunited.

The Super Amazing Adventures of Me, Pig by Emer Stamp (Jennifer’s choice)


We bought Jennifer this book at a school book fayre a couple of years ago. I just remember the raucous laughter coming from her bedroom whilst reading it. It’s very funny, apparently.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (Alexander’s choice)


This book features a pig and a spider. And that makes it excellent. Enough said.

Animal Farm by George Orwell (my choice)


A less light-hearted addition to the list, and definitely a different take on pigs from the Piglet or Babe ilk. I elected not to explain much about this book to my kids. Perhaps when they’re a bit older.

The Sheep-pig by Dick King-Smith (my choice)


I was a Dick King-Smith fan as a child. I loved this book, and I still love the films inspired by it.

George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl (Jennifer’s choice)


Now admittedly, this one doesn’t have a pig as a central character. But Jennifer was very enthusiastic in declaring that it had pigs in it. My kids see pigs everywhere.

The Great Monster Hunt by Norbert Landa (Alexander’s choice)


A group of animals, pigs included, make a monster out of a mouse in a tale of Chinese whispers. Another bedtime favourite.

Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Christmas (Jennifer’s choice)


A seasonal favourite for all of us since I will admit that I love Peppa Pig as much as my children do. It’s just so funny…

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (my choice)


I read this book at school and remember feeling horrified by the boy’s primitive behaviour. “Kill the pig, kill the pig” – please don’t tell my kids…

So can you think of any other pig characters from the world of literature? Please feel free to share in the comments or via social media.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Autumn TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

Today’s top ten is basically the top books that I plan to read in the coming months. To be honest, I doubt I will get through all these books by the end of the year as I have my first contemporary novel, Ethersay being released in late Autumn but I will give it a good go.

Death Of A Ladies’ Man by Alan Bissett

Death Of A Ladies' Man

I picked up a signed copy of this book when I met Alan at an event in Edinburgh a month or or so ago. He specifically warned me about the racy content although this just made me even more intrigued!

Whisky from Small Glasses by Denzil Meyrick

Whisky from Small Glasses

I don’t normally read crime fiction so it will be quite a different experience for me but this was recommended by a friend so I have decided to give it a go.

Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr by Linda Porter

Katherine the Queen

This is a biography of Katherine Parr which I will be dipping into  over the next few months for research into a future novel that I am planning to write.

The Library of Light and Shadow by M.J. Rose

The Library of Light and Shadow

The third instalment in the Daughters of La Lune series. I loved the first two books and have been looking forward to getting a chance to read this one.

The Words in My Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd

The Words in My Hand

This novel had me intrigued as it features Rene Descartes who I studied at University. It was also short listed for the Costa prize so I have high hopes for it.

The Seymours of Wolf Hall: A Tudor Family Story by David Loades

The Seymours of Wolf Hall: A Tudor Family Story

As with the previous book in this list about Katherine Parr, this is a research book I plan to work through over the next few months to help me plan a future novel.

One More Minute by Scott MacLean

One More Minute

I came across this on Facebook and it caught my eye although it has sat on my shelf so long that I can’t remember why that actually was. I suppose this means it will be an interesting surprise when I do start reading it.

Pale Rose of England: A Novel of the Tudors by Sandra Worth

Pale Rose of England: A Novel of the Tudors

This is a book I previously started but ended up getting distracted by something else. I hope to finally finish it before the end of the year.

The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose

The Hypnotist

This is the 2nd M.J. Rose book in my list and funnily enough is also the third book in a series I am thoroughly enjoying.  Although this time the series is The Reincarnationist.

The Life and Death of St. Kilda by Tom Steel

The Life and Death of St. Kilda

Another research book for what is hopefully going to be my next contemporary novel.

So what about your own Autumn TBR lists? Please feel free to share your own plans in the comments or via social media.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read Before I Was 18

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

Today’s top ten revolves around throwback freebies – books from any time in our lives that made any impact. I chose to pick the books I read before my 18th birthday as these were the books which shaped my love for literature.

Anyway, in no particular order.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Birdsong

This book was actually one of the first books I recommended to the man who would become my father-in-law. When I did this I forgot how explicit it could be and was slightly embarrassed when he told me that he was surprised that I enjoyed a book he described as a “porno”.

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Sophie's World

An amazing, beautiful book for introducing young minds to the history of philosophical thought.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Are You There God? It's Me Margaret

The ultimate handbook on teenage angst, first crushes and menstrual cycles.

Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers

Postcards from No Man's Land

One of the first historical, generation-crossing books I ever read. I still love books like these, ones which weave through the decades, pulling characters together and making their stories collide.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda

The Trunchbull was the stuff of nightmares but the idea of being a kid who can move objects with the power of your mind was just mesmerizing.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

I was almost a grown-up when I read this, which is probably just as well. Tragic, moving, and filled with flawed characters. Kind of like real life.

Sophie’s Snail by Dick King-Smith

Sophie’s Snail

Sophie was small and very determined, just like me.

Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted by Mairi Hedderwick

Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted

Katie throws her favourite ted away in a bad mood (well, who hasn’t?). My siblings and I loved this book as children, and it is a firm favourite with my children now. Beautifully illustrated and very witty. And some great nicknames, just like the sort children give to their relatives – Grannie Island and Grannie Mainland, anyone?

The Big Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook by Shirley Hughes

The Big Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook

This book still conjurs images of jumping in leaves, building dens, and visiting Gran. Every child should have a childhood like a Shirley Hughes character.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank

An inspiring, heart-breaking book. This had an enormous impact on me.

Do you remember the books that you loved during your childhood and teenage years? Please feel free to share your own memories in the comments or via social media.