The Lasses take on the Summer Reading Challenge

Six books in six weeks? We can totally do that! Or can we…? Turns out it’s not as easy as it seems, especially when you add in an extra challenge that involves reading a favourite book from each of the other Lasses (just in case you’d forgotten what they were, you can remind yourself all over again by reading our Top 5 books).

So did we complete the challenge? You’ll have to keep on reading to find out! Pun totally intended…😂

Claire 🐘
It’s fair to say that the two books I had were so different you couldn’t make it up. The first was a historical book about a maid working at a big house, and the second was young adult (YA) fiction about vampires in a college town! Luckily, I’ll generally read absolutely anything so wasn’t phased and approached the challenge with total relish – who doesn’t love a challenge?! I’ve finished both books now (yay, challenge completed!) and here’s what I have to say about the books. 

The Observations by Jane Harris
Historical? Maids? Big fancy houses? Even though I stick by my above point that I’ll read absolutely anything, I definitely never pick up books of this kind. They just never seem that appealing and so I have to say I was totally surprised when I really got into this book! The maid, Bessy, was an incredibly entertaining voice and the whole premise behind the book had me so intrigued that I had to keep turning the pages to find out how it all ended! At 521 pages it was no light read either, plus of course, feeling all the fear when you borrow a book from someone and you want to return it in the same state it arrived in…however I digress. I would absolutely recommend this book, maybe even more so as it took me by surprise how good it was. Give it a try. It might just be your ideal late summer/early autumn read. 

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Vampires? ✔️
Teenagers? ✔️
Angsty teenager versus popular girls? ✔️
Angsty teenager falls for hot boy with deep rooted issues? ✔️
Other hot boy turns out to be a ghost who can’t leave the house as it’s providing protection against the vampires…ohhh-kay, now I’m interested! 

If I had to sum up Glass Houses I’d say it’s a cross between Twilight, Mean Girls (if Mean Girls were vampires who ruled the town) and a wannabe True Blood (but not full on True Blood as hello?! YA fiction alert). I’m not mocking, as I actually kind of love all of those things – no shame. I raced through this in a couple of days and because it ends on a massive cliffhanger, I’m now going to have to find the next in the series so that I know what happens next! 

My thoughts about the reading challenge? Turned out to be fun and I’d definitely be up for doing it again. Just as long as there are no classics involved… *shudders*

Emma 🍫

Any Human Heart by William Boyd
Before I start on my thoughts, I would like to remind everyone that I have a rather short attention span for books that are more based on real life that anything else, keep that in mind when reading this.

I have to say, this was a very well written book with a good plot and a lot of plot twists – imagine a country road and that’s how many plot twists you have. I also learnt a lot from this book – there was a Spanish Civil War? – and it showed parts of historical life that I never even thought of. At the same time, I wasn’t quite invested enough in the book and the plot to be able to enjoy it, it just seemed like I was reading for no real reason. I still finished the book, but I didn’t personally enjoy it – each to their own. However, for those of you into biography style books, or books based more on real life, this is perfect for you and I would reccomend you read it; it’s just not for those who are more into sci-fi/fantasy style books.

Carrie by Stephen King (warning – possible spoilers)
I am not very good with horror, so this was a leap of faith for me. Luckily it’s quite difficult to be scared when reading on a bus in broad daylight.

I have to say, Stephen King is very invested in clothing for a horror author – I guess it’s all in the detail.

It didn’t take me all that long to read Carrie, I feel like I could have done it over a weekend solidly. I think my favourite part of this book is how real it is – even with the supernatural aspect – it really tackles the problem of bullying and shows how it make the victim feel, rather than more recent books showing strong female characters in dystopian universes fighting ‘The Man’.

It was refreshing to read about a vunerable, young, and clueless girl being bullied and eventually just breaking, because that is real and relatable.

King – you did a good job with this book and writing its themes in a true and honest fashion. Recommended to those who aren’t squeamish – or those who read on the bus.

Rachel 🐱

Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley (spoilers below)

Apparently this is a book for children/young adults, which unnerves me a little bit, because it really is quite scary, although I’ve definitely got less able to cope with scary things as I’ve got older. Aside from that, I definitely enjoyed reading it!

I loved how inventive it was; the stories weren’t your typical demons or zombies or whatever else people generally tend to find scary. I found they were more stories to mess with your mind and make you think ‘what if’, rather than just straight up blood and guts and gore, but they’re the kind of stories that stick with you (trying not to think about them right now tbh because chills 😳). I was particularly unsettled by the story of the boy who was chased across a mountain by a horrible, mangled figure until he fell to his grisly death…whereupon we realise that the figure was his body after death. Massive shudder. 😱😱

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Let me start by saying that this book is a pretty long way from my comfort zone; ‘laundromat Lotharios, pot-growing landladies, cut throat debutantes, and Jockey Shorts dance contests’ are unlikely to ever be my thing, but I wanted to give it a fair chance – especially since Claire did the same with my book, The Observations.

It’s hard to describe how I actually feel about it, mostly because I haven’t finished it yet. I must admit, I got a bit demotivated when I realised that there were a lot of books in the series, and even if I got through this one, I wouldn’t have any closure on what happened to the characters! I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, per se, but I still wanted to know what happened to the characters and how their stories played out. I guess that means that although it wouldn’t be my choice of topic, it was well written and engaging enough to make me want to carry on reading. And who knows, if I finish it, it might turn out that I liked it after all!

So there you go – 6 books in 6 weeks (kinda) for the Love Middlesbrough Lasses Summer Reading Challenge! 📚📚

We hope you enjoyed our thoughts, and now we’ve got the reading bug, we’ll be reviewing some fab Boro books in the near future (Claire has already started with The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper). Stay tuned!

Top 5 books from people in the know!

‘Tell us your Top 5 books’, the Love Middlesbrough Lasses asked. How hard could it be? Very hard, as it turns out…

Ha! We do love a good challenge, so we decided to ask Middlesbrough library staff and librarians what their favourite books are as part of our brilliant #BoroReads project this summer. They’ve come back with some great titles if you’re looking for some reading inspiration. As you can imagine from people who love books, it’s a long post so grab yourself a cuppa and a sweet treat before you start … over to you, lovely library peeps! 

favourite books

Ruth
As a librarian I read an awful lot of books and choosing five favourites took me a while! Here they are in no particular order:

Anne of Green Gables by L.M.Montgomery
As I child I loved reading about Anne’s adventures on Prince Edward Island where she’s adopted by a brother and sister and discovers what it means to be part of a family. She gets into scrapes such as dying her hair green and selling the neighbour’s cow by mistake but charms everyone she meets with her kindness, humour and imagination. Written in 1908 it continues to enchant and I recently read it with my daughter who loved it too.

The Power by Naomi Alderman
The winner of the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. This is a book I’ve been recommending to anyone who’ll listen. Set in the near future teenage girls suddenly develop an extraordinary physical ability and the balance of power between men and women shifts with devastating effect. If you think you don’t like science fiction I’d give this a go – you might just change your mind!

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Composed by Shelley when she was just nineteen as part of a challenge to write the scariest ghost story, Shelley examines what it means to be human and the monstrosity of man. Scientist Victor Frankenstein sets in motion a destructive sequence of events when he ‘plays God’ and creates a man. His creation is abandoned and subjected to the worst of mankind’s behaviour. The horror doesn’t come from the creature but from the men around him. A perfect introduction to classic fiction – it’s not too long and the plot moves quickly.

11/22/63 by Stephen King
Stephen King is one of my favourite authors but this time travel story broke away from his usual horror novels. High-school teacher Jake Epping travels back to 1958 and becomes embroiled in a thrilling race to prevent the assassination of John F Kennedy on 1963. King’s writing always creates empathy with the characters and this is no exception. From the first page I was hooked.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
This is a murder mystery novel like no other. Christopher Boone is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. The reader is drawn into Christopher’s world in this deeply moving but also very funny story. Christopher ‘s life is turned upside down as he searches for the truth about a dead dog and discovers truths about his own family. A great read for teens and adults alike.

library book shelf

Jenny
I work at Central Library and am so privileged to have access to a wide variety of books every day – it means I often have a pile to get through when I take too many home!

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
This novel is extraordinary, it centres on four characters whose lives all intersect during World War II. Moving backwards through the war, we are introduced to the complex lives of glamour girl Viv, big hearted and caught in an impossible situation; Duncan, who has a mysterious past that he is coming to terms with; Helen, always searching for true love despite a jealous nature, and Kay, who has never left the war behind and misses the comradery of the Blitz spirit. The level of historical detail and rich character portrayals make you feel as though you are living it with them and leaves you wondering what is coming next.

This must be the place by Maggie O’Farrell
This book is very funny, and O’Farrell captures perfectly and succinctly just how chaotic and weird families can be. In a criss-crossing story stretching across Ireland, L.A., and New York, to name a few, we are introduced to Claudette, an ex-film star who is prone to shooting anyone who ventures near her secluded property, and Daniel, whose love for another woman 20 years ago throws their lives into disarray. Can their unique family unit be saved? Full of warm humour and moving insight into the reality of relationships – this is a love story unlike any other.

Horrible Histories (the series) by Terry Deary
This series of books opened up a subject I had previously little interest in as a child. From the ‘Vile Victorians’ to the ‘Measly Middles Ages’, I couldn’t put them down. They are so funny and full of amusing facts, especially the cartoons that help to keep your attention and break up the text. I still love them, and recommend them to junior borrowers now, who have very often seen the TV show on CBBC.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
I recently read this book out of curiosity, having spotted it on our Reading Group shelves. This tale of double standards, rich and poor, longing and love, all set in the Dorset countryside, reminds you that though time and practices change, people and relationships never do. Naïve and poverty stricken Tess is put under the spell of wicked Alec D’Urberville, leading to events that will test her ideas of morality, and possibly the love of her beloved Angel Clare. This book has stayed with me, and I was rooting for Tess throughout. Classical literature can be a daunting prospect, but once you dive into such a book, you are completely absorbed in it and eager to see how it develops.

The Power by Naomi Alderman
The central question of this novel asks what would the world be like if women had more power? What would happen if women ruled absolute, and could use electrical charges from their palms to physically shock and kill their enemies? Governments fall, rebel groups form, and women take their revenge on patriarchal society. There is Tunde, a young Nigerian journalist risking his life to understand the phenomenon; Allie who finds meaning despite her troubled childhood; Roxy, London tough girl who does what she has to in order to survive; and Margot, who is trying to make her way in the male dominated political world. This book is unique, and not always comfortable to read due to there being some graphic elements in the book, but it is a real eye opener. Fans of Margaret Atwood would love this, as she acted as a mentor to Alderman during the project. It also won the 2017 Bailey’s women’s prize for fiction. [LML Claire note: this was already on my list but with two library recommendations – I’m deffo adding this to my pile!]

favourite books

David
My top 5 books? Here goes…

Fair Stood the Wind For France by H E Bates
Contact by Carl Sagan
The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C Clarke
Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
The Whales’ Song by Dianne Sheldon, illustrated by Gary Blythe

[LML Claire: ooh there’s some authors there I’ve never heard of *hurries to library catalogue to investigate further*]

book shelves

More books related content? 

Find out what the Love Middlesbrough Lasses love to read. 

Love libraries? Love Middlesbrough Lass Claire does too! 

Vote for your favourite books with #BoroReads

Boro Superheroes!

This week we asked our young bloggers to create their very own Boro Reads Superheroes! We absolutely love the characters they’ve created and we just can’t even deal with the pictures they have drawn. So. Much. Cute. 😍 See for yourself…

Katie
If I could be a superhero I would be called Supertastic Girl! Her super powers would be flying powers,  read people’s mind,  be super stretchy and reading powers. My super hero costume would be pink and blue with lots of stars 🌟💫✨

Isobel
My superhero would be Captain Bookworm! His superhero power would be to have a super memory and telekinesis. He goes around saving the world and getting people interested in reading! 

Captain Bookworm

Julia
My superhero is a robot who does all the washing up, the ironing and loads of other household jobs. My superhero is called The SuperBot! because it helps around the house and looks after people too. [Claire asks if The SuperBot can come and help with all her housework please…?] Here is a picture of The SuperBot.

The Superbot

My superhero is helpful and kind and can answer any question you give it. He solves difficult problems and cures people in hospitals who have been told that there is no cure for them. SuperBot is designed to save and help anyone in need and do the best it can for mankind. SuperBot is a secret and is worth a lot of money. Hopefully, in the future, there will be robots like SuperBot working in hospitals all around the world and helping millions of people and animals.

Holly
Invisible Hulk! Incredible (ahem), I mean Invisible Hulk blows your mind with her reading skills. She can read up to a 368 page book in 3 minutes! Invisible Hulk can read this fast because of a special setting on her head (marked on the picture with a red arrow). Don’t worry she NEVER STOPS reading, because if someone shouts, “stop what you’re doing it’s time for lunch” she’ll turn on her invisible power so no one can find her and whatever she touches becomes invisible too!

Invisible Hulk

Jack
My Super hero is called Captain BORO! His superpower is x-ray vision and he can read books without even opening or turning pages! #UTB 

Captain Boro

Big shout out to Jack’s sister Katherine who helped to create Captain BORO and drew this fabulous picture! Jack reckons she will be an artist one day and we think so too! Thanks for joining in this week Katherine ❤️

Remember to vote for Boro Reads – the top 10 most popular books will be designed into book benches and we can’t wait to see them! 

See you next week with more adventures from our young bloggers! 

 

What’s your favourite book…?

If we asked you to tell us your favourite book and why you love it so much would it be really easy, or the most difficult question anyone can ask ever in the world of questions? We already shared our Top 5 books in a Love Middlesbrough Lasses post so this time it’s the turn of our BoroReads Young Bloggers. Over to you, guys…

Julia
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is my favourite book because it is exciting and the plot is great. There are lots of twists and turns in the book which I find really cool. There is a lot of backstory and there is always a deeper meaning to what the characters say and do. I think that J.K Rowling is the the most amazing writer ever because she kept on trying and trying to get her book noticed when everyone just turned her down. I have a lot of posters and Harry Potter stuff in my bedroom including Dumbledore’s wand (Dumbledore is a very famous wizard and fights with the dark wizard Lord Voldemort), a collection of toy owls and a Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry uniform and wand. As you have probably guessed, I am in love with the Harry Potter series ❤️ and have read all the adjoining books and watched all the films. I highly recommend this book to all adults and children because it is the best book that anyone has ever written and I just couldn’t put it down!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Katie
My favourite book is Mr Stink by David Walliams and you should read this book because it lets you know how homeless people live and that they all have a story. I like this book because I love how the girl Chloe gives him a home which is in his shed, also I like it because Mr Stink gives her the inspiration to keep writing her amazing stories.

Mr. Stink by David Walliams

Reece
A book I have really enjoyed reading is Captain Underpants and the Talking Toilets.  It’s about 2 boys called George and Harold. They have a head teacher called Mr Krupp who they play tricks on. Whenever someone snaps their fingers near Mr Krupp he turns into a super hero. Mr Krupp thinks he can save the world but George and Harold end up having to save him when the world gets attacked by talking toilets.  The only way to stop him being a superhero is to pour water on his head.  George and Harold also make comic books in their tree house. Sometimes they sell them at school and get money for them.  I like this book because it is funny and Mr Krupp looks silly as he just wears a cape and his pants! There are lots of Captain Underpants books and they are all good to read but this is my favourite from this collection. 

Captain Underpants and the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey

Holly
My favourite book of all time is Katy by Jacqueline Wilson. I love this book, every night I said ‘one more chapter and then I’ll put it down…’ three chapters later, ‘ok just one more chapter…’ three chapters later, ‘ok! NOW only one more chapter!’ And so on and so on. The main character is of course Katy. She’s a tomboy like me. She doesn’t get on that well at all with her stepmum, but that changes because of a dramatic twist in the story. I like how Katy gets up to a lot of mischief such as when she puts her enemy’s clothes into the water at school. There are parts of the book that are funny and other characters are annoying like when Katy turns up to swimming in her little sister’s swimming costume and someone says ‘you look like a giraffe in a thong!’ The book made me feel excited and wanting to know what happens next. Jacqueline Wilson rewrote an old book called ‘What Katy Did’ as a modern version for this book.

I definitely recommend this book to girls around my age (or boys if they want).

Katy by Jacqueline Wilson

Jack
I am currently taking part in the summer reading challenge with my siblings (this is our 3rd summer reading challenge so far). I signed up at the Central Library (during the #Mela) and afterwards met Authors Paul Cookson & Liz Million – they both did talks which we all found very entertaining. Obviously whilst at the Mela we enjoyed some delicious food (“Nom Nom”)

Over the school holidays, our weekly trip to the Acklam Library is our family ritual. Our Library is very family friendly which is a good job because my younger brother and sister find it hard to stay quiet when choosing their library books. I think that the summer reading challenge is good because you get to choose what you read and at the end you get to rate the book.

At the moment I am enjoying the tale of Greyfriar’s Bobby. I have been told about the monument in Scotland by my family and it’s good to read the story behind it. One day I hope to visit the monument and take a #selfie with Bobby himself as I love dogs. Finally, I just want to give a shoutout for everyone to vote for Boro Reads because we have 2 vibrant book benches in our school and they’re awesome!

greyfriars bobby by eleanor atkinson

What are your favourite books? Tell us in the comments and give us some ideas of what to read next!

Meet our new bloggers!

We’ve been keeping this one under our hat for a while now, so it’s super exciting that we can finally introduce you to our new bloggers! These are not just any normal bloggers either, nope, they’re very special bloggers! Over the next few weeks they’ll be sharing all sorts of posts with you and we can’t wait for you to meet them all. Enough chit-chat from us, without further ado, we proudly present our Boro Reads Young Bloggers!

Julia
Hi, my name is Julia. I’m eleven years old and I love reading! I have recently passed my grade three piano exam with a distinction and are still awaiting the results of my grade one cello exam. I am a chocoholic [Love Middlesbrough Lasses (LML) note: So are we, Julia!] My favorite chocolate is Lindor because it is so smooth and delicious. My favourite books are the Harry Potter series [us too 😍] I know more facts and theories than most people do! I’m currently reading Anne Frank’s Diary which is so sad! I’m also reading Evie’s Ghost which is really good and I can’t wait to find out what happens.

Holly
My name is Holly and I am 10 and a half years old. I enjoy playing roller hockey and unicycling [Wow!] I like reading, especially anything by Jacqueline Wilson, Paul Cookson and David Walliams.  My favourite movie is Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest. I like art and my favourite things to draw are narwhals!

Narwhal

Isobel
Hi my name is Isobel and I am 10 years old and I LOVE to read . One of my favourite hobbies is to write, swim and to draw. I have read a ton of books so I am super excited to be a book blogger [we’re super excited to have you!]

Katie
I am excited to be a book blogger this summer [we’re so excited too, Katie!] My name is Katie and I am nine years old. I love to read , sing and play the piano I also am very creative.

Reece
My name is Reece and I am 9 years old. I like playing football. My favourite position is left wing.  I love my dog, Coley, as he is cute and fluffy [😍 LML Claire is ALL about the dogs]. I go to Green Lane School and will be in year 5 after the holidays.

Jack
My name is Jack, I am 10 years old and I have lived in Middlesbrough all my life! I have a younger brother and sister (they are twins). I am a Cub Scout and I like to help others, I am a keen gamer and I am learning computer programming (using Python) [LML Rach is SUPER impressed!] which is an interest I share with my Dad. Although, I am not sporty I come from a family of Boro-supporters [#UTB] and my Grandad is the biggest fan of all! I have always loved gadgets and learning how they work!

My Hobbies: Cooking, computing, movies, travelling, photography

My Likes: DanTDM, PUGS!!! Sheep, Visiting RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve, Pirates of The Caribbean (with Dad), Food @ Mela [LML – all three of us – we totally agree!], Gadgets, GAMES!!! Music, DISNEY WORLD FLORIDA!!!, Baymax & Big Hero 6

Pug puppy

We hope you’ve enjoyed meeting our Boro Reads Young Bloggers. They’ll be back again next Friday so make sure you keep an eye on the blog for their next update!

Remember to vote for your favourite books too for Boro Reads! The top ten books selected are going to be made into beautiful book benches and we can’t wait to see them!

Vote now!