53. On the Road – Jack Kerouac (100 book challenge)

Finally something completely different! And written within the last 100 years.

Compared to the Hugos and Austens and Dickens and Hardys I’ve been reading lately, this epic road trip novel was a refreshing and modern change.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under 100 book challenge

52. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks (100 book challenge)

‘It’s a great story set in France during World War I.’

If I had heard those words ten years ago there is no way I would have picked up the book and given it a go. But that’s been the best thing about this #100bookchallenge – it makes me read (and enjoy) books that would have never ever made it to my bedside table.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under 100 book challenge

51. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy (100 book challenge)

After finally conquering Les Misérables, I needed something a bit easier to read. I had loved Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, so I thought I’d choose another book from the list by the same author.

And I was not disappointed!

Continue reading


Filed under 100 book challenge

50. Les Misérables – Victor Hugo (100 book challenge)

Fifty books! I am now officially halfway through my 100 book challenge, where in July 2014 I set myself the goal of reading the top 100 classic books that BBC determined I must read before I die. No one said it would be easy (it hasn’t been), but now that I’ve made it this far I actually believe that I will achieve my goal.

For my 50th book I wanted a challenge, and Les Mis was absolutely the right book for that…

Continue reading


Filed under 100 book challenge

Top ten books loved by my (other) 5 year old

Our little girl still loves reading! She likes listening to stories, telling stories, writing stories and, now that she’s started school, reading stories. Reading to her is one of the only ways to keep her still.

1. Olivia’s Secret Scribbles: My New Best Friend by Meredith Costain

Olivia’s Secret Scribbles makes the list for a second year in a row! We’ve read every book in the series at least three times, and I have to say they still manage to keep both of us interested. There’s something so sweet about Olivia and the challenges she has at home and school – perhaps because they mirror everything our daughter is going through.

My New Best Friend is a particular favourite, as our little girl started school this year. Just like Olivia, she has had to navigate the difficult and wonderful ways of playground friendships.

2. HotDog Book 8: Art Time! by Anh Do

Another Anh Do series, Hot Dog is about a sausage dog and his two friends Lizzzy the lizard and Kev the cat. This bizarre grouping solves mysteries, goes on camping trips and performs in the circus. It has simple yet entertaining stories that are easy to listen to before bed.

When the baddies stole the Llama Lisa, a priceless painting of a llama, our little girl was captivated by the action. When the Mona Lisa was mentioned on the TV a week later she shouted, ‘Mummy, they’ve copied the Llama Lisa from Hot Dog!’… How dare they!

3. Ten Little Princesses by Mike Brownlow

I’ve tried to encourage our little girl to be gender-neutral, but it’s almost time for me to give up on that noble goal. When she was three, Ten Little Pirates was on the Top 10 list. Now she’s five, it’s all about pink, princesses, dancing and a lot of Katy Perry music.

Ten Little Princesses is still a good story to read, even though I cringe at how one princess gets distracted by a handsome prince. I guess there are worse things that can happen, like being eaten by a troll (as one of the poor princesses discovers)!

4. In My Heart by Jo Witek

This is not a book she asks for every night, but whenever I pull it from the bookshelf she’s very happy to turn the pages and listen to the feelings.

This book made it on the 1-year-old list and the 3-year-old list, and here it is again – when she is five. Her feelings have evolved over this time, and she’s much more aware of the range of emotions she now feels. When I ask her at the end of the book how she feels right now, she usually answers sad, which is her way of saying she’s read enough and now wants to drift off to sleep.

5. I really like slop! by Mo Willems

The Piggie and Elephant books are hilarious! They are easy for beginner readers to read themselves, and they match our daughter’s sense of humour.

Piggie loves slop and is sad when Elephant says he doesn’t want to try it. Eventually Elephant caves and agrees to try the tiniest amount. Unlike Green Eggs and Ham, the slop turns out to be actually quite terrible. Our favourite line? “How do you get that old shoe taste?” Old shoes.

6. Ella Diaries: Christmas Crackers by Meredith Costain

Ella, the older sister of Olivia from Olivia’s Secret Scribbles, has a series of her own. Even though Ella has a lot more in common with our daughter – she likes craft, dressing up, and hanging with her friends – the books are not quite as fun to read.

The Christmas Crackers book is sweet though, as our daughter absolutely loves Christmas. By reading this one in the middle of the year we were able to trick ourselves into thinking that her favourite time of the year was just around the corner.

7. The Bad Guys: Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey

These books have a great concept – a wolf, a snake, a shark and a piranha get together to prove to the world that they can actually be good guys, and maybe even save the world. The banter between the four of them is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and our daughter loved having these read to her before bed.

Even though I’m disappointed that the only female characters are a sexy fox (blergh!) and an old crocodile with no teeth (OK, that’s kinda funny) overall, this is a pretty good series to read.

8. Hen in a Hat by Speld Decodable Readers

When our son learnt to read in kindergarten three years ago, the books sent home were mainly about matching the words with photos and learning through repetition. This has now changed, with much more of a focus on phonics and sounding out words, even if they’re not commonly seen words.

My daughter has flown through these ‘decodable’ readers and is reading so well after just 6 months at school. Hen in a Hat is one of these books that she now reads so easily on the tablet at school and home.

9. The Day the Crayons Came Home by Oliver Jeffers

Our fact-loving son didn’t care for these books much, but our daughter, with her sense of humour and love of colour, thinks these books are just wonderful. Duncan’s crayons that left home in the previous book, are now sending postcards back, describing they’re amazing adventures.

Our daughter is becoming quite the little artist, so what can be better than a book about crayons that talk?

10. Wolf Girl 1: Into the Wild by Anh Do

Another much-loved series from our favourite author, Anh Do. This one featured in the Top 10 Books Loved by my 7-year-old son, so I thought I’d try them out on my daughter too. We’ve been reading a chapter or two a night before bed and have just finished the first book.

Gwen is separated from her parents in the forest, a mystery that continues for the whole first book. She befriends a pack of dogs who become her family and learn to live in the wild. My daughter hangs off every word as I read.


Our daughter is at the time where she’s close to reading whole books on her own. Next year I have no doubt the list will be full of books that she’s read herself, and our nightly ritual of reading together will come to an end.


Filed under Top ten books

49. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (100 book challenge)

I’ll apologise in advance. I’m sorry.

This book was terrible.


Maybe I missed something big. Was there a metaphor that was too subtle for my simplicity? Did the translation from French to English mean the genius was lost? Were my expectations just way too high?

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under 100 book challenge

Top ten books loved by my 7 year old

Another year has passed and our boy has another year’s worth of knowledge packed into his little brain. He’s a sponge when it comes to facts, and despite spending 99% of his life in our home town, his knowledge of geography has now officially bypassed mine. He reads widely and quickly (and makes his parents very proud in the process).

Here are his Top 10 favourite books for when he was 7.  


1. Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe

Now this is a great book for an inquisitive 7-year-old that loves learning about how things work! It goes into intricate detail of machines, animals, processes… but using only 1,000 of the most commonly used words in the English language. My 7-year-old had learned so much about the world from this book, and I’ve had fun trying to work out what exactly is being described (the “strange animal” entry on the Tree of Life page had us stumped for a while).

The diagrams are beautiful – easy to read and extremely detailed. It’s a great book for children and adults alike.

Continue reading


Filed under Top ten books

Top ten books loved by my (other) 4 year old

Her love of books continues! We’ve had another wonderful year of reading, writing and sharing books together. Trips to the local library are still a weekly activity and every day must end with a book. It’s been fun exploring fiction and fantasy stories – her older brother was all about facts and the real world – so this is a welcome change.

In the last year she’s become quite the creative storyteller. She loves drawing pictures and writing words, then turning them into elaborate stories. Each night she relays her stories to her stuffed toys in bed, before finally drifting to sleep.

1. Olivia’s Secret Scribbles: Unicorn Parade by Meredith Costain

Now these books are delightful! They’re about a 7 year old girl called Olivia who loves inventing, exploring and hanging with her friends. They’re so Australian and so current that you could use these stories to explain my kids’ lives right now. They have easy-to-understand language, and are visually beautiful – with a bright accent colour for the illustrations and the stand out words.

In these stories the children are kind to each other, the teachers love teaching, and the parents share the parenting equally. It’s full of role models for us all!

Continue reading


Filed under Top ten books

48. Winnie The Pooh – A. A. Milne (100 book challenge)

Winnie the Pooh is one of those stories from my childhood that I remember so dearly. I think it was my Granny and Grandad bought me ‘The Pooh Gift Box’ for my birthday one year and I’ve treasured it ever since.

When I saw the book on the 100 book challenge, I saved it up for a time when my kids would enjoy the story as much as I did. This year, at 7 and 4, I decided it was time to tick this one off the list by (literally) dusting off the gift box.


Continue reading


Filed under 100 book challenge

47. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (100 book challenge)

Many people had recommended this book to me that I decided to take a pause from the 100 book challenge and read this book instead. Months later, as I was looking through the list to see what book I should read next, that I found this book WAS actually on the list. So it was an accidental achievement and another one ticked off the list!

remains of the day

Continue reading


Filed under 100 book challenge