Today it’s my great pleasure to welcome Karen Cole to the blog to help spread a little BookLove. Karen blogs at Hair Past a Freckle which is a wonderful blog with a wide range of books, including some of my all time favourites. Before we find out whcih books have made Karen’s all time greatest books list, let’s find our a bit more about Karen.
My name is Karen, I write about books on my blog, Hair Past A Freckle and I’m a mum to three daughters, aged 9, 15 and 18. I’m a midday supervisor in a primary school and from September I will also be a teaching assistant there, mostly 1:1 with a child in Reception but I’ll also be the whole class TA for a few hours a week, and I’m going to be the cover TA for the other classes too so I’ll be kept busy! Before having my daughters I was a veterinary nurse in a mixed practice – my claim to fame is I once asked Michael Kitchen (of Foyle’s War) if he had gas! (Gas was his cat’s name, so it wasn’t an entirely random question but I could have phrased it better!) I originally started Hair Past A Freckle as a blog about anything and everything but I fell in love with book blogging. I love being able to writing about and recommending books, and reviewing them is my way of thanking authors for the hours of pleasure they give me. The vast majority of book bloggers are wonderful too and it’s a real pleasure to be a small part of such a friendly community.
Favourite book from childhood
I read voraciously as a child and loved nothing better than rifling through second hand book stalls at summer fetes. That old book smell lured me from a young age! I adored Shadow the Sheepdog by Enid Blyton – I loved several of her books but the story of Shadow and his fellow sheepdogs, Bob, Rafe, Tinker and Dandy enthralled me and I reread it many many times. I also loved The Winter of Enchantment by Victoria Walker, I lost my original copy years ago and for a long time thought I’d never replace it as it was out of print. Fortunately Fidra Books republished it so I was able to buy a copy for my own daughters.
The first book you fell in love with
The Outsiders by S.E Hinton. We read That Was Then, This is Now in class when I was in the third year at middle school and I was blown away by this book that featured teenagers who, while still a world away from my sheltered life in rural Dorset, felt more believable and more relatable than anything I’d read before. I immediately read the rest of her books and while I loved them all it was The Outsiders, with Ponyboy, Johnny, Sodapop and Dallas that really won my heart.
Biggest book crush
The book character you’re totally in love with
My heart will forever belong to Remus Lupin. I still haven’t really forgiven J.K. Rowling!
Weirdest book crush
There’s possibly a theme going on here as if my biggest book crush is a werewolf then my weirdest is faun – namely, Mr Tumnus. He was always my favourite character in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe but I must admit seeing James McAvoy portray him on screen probably cemented this crush.
Hardest break up
The book you didn’t want to end
I’m not there yet but I’m eagerly anticipating while simultaneously dreading the last of Paul E. Hardisty’s Claymore Straker series. I wasn’t sure I’d really enjoy his first book, The Abrupt Physics of Dying as I’m not always a fan of adventure thrillers but he completely won me over, and then with The Evolution of Fear and Reconciliation for the Dead got better and better. I’ll be devastated to read the last Straker book but I’m consoled by the knowledge that whatever else he writes will be equally wonderful.
The one that got away
The book in your TBR or wish list that you regret not having started yet.
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer. I bought this after it won the Costa Prize but it wasn’t long after my brother Simon’s death by suicide and the description on the back, ‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’ meant that although the circumstances between my real life tragedy and that in the book are different, I wasn’t emotionally ready to read it. I’m in a much better place now and have read so many good things about the book, I really should read it soon.
Guilty Reading pleasure
I don’t really believe in being embarrassed my book choices. We should all choose the the right book for the right time. Sometimes you may want something deep and thought-provoking, other times may call for a lighter, easier read. That said I don’t often mention Going West with Annabelle by Molly Douglas. My mum bought me the paperback when I had the flu as a teenager and I loved the real life story of Molly, her husband, Christopher and their family as they moved to Canada in 1953 to start a new life. Annabelle was their goat! Originally published in the late seventies it’s very dated now but it was my comfort read when I was ill for years.
Love one, love them all
Favourite series or genre
This is difficult! I’ve loved lots of different series over the years – Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers and St Clare’s books, The Chronicles of Narnia of course, Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter, Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy… I think though I’m going to choose a publisher here. I’ve read several books from Orenda and have loved every single one. Karen Sullivan and her team seem to have been blessed with a bookish (and therefore not a curse at all) version of the Midas Touch. I may not know where an Orenda author is going to take me but I always know I’m in for a fabulous read.
Your latest squeeze
Favourite read of the last 12 months
I can’t just pick one, that would be like choosing a favourite child! So here’s a few that have really stood out for me this year (in no particular order) Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty, Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson, How to Stop Time by Matt Haig, The Unquiet Dead, and The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan and The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen. There’s a lot of Orenda Books there! I could have easily picked several more books too, this is such a hard question to answer!
Blind date for a friend
If you were to set a friend up with a blind date (book) which one would it be?
I’ve already told my brother he should read Western Fringes by Amer Anwar. The book is set in Southall and I’m sure some of the locations will be familiar to him as he lived on a canal boat in the area for about a year. It’s a brilliant contemporary thriller too so I recommend it to everyone, not just my brother.
Greatest love of all
Favourite book of all time.
Now this is an easy choice! It has to be The Humans by Matt Haig. The first book I reviewed for Hair Past A Freckle, without The Humans I may not have become a book blogger. It was the book I needed to read when I most needed books and will always hold a special place in my heart.
Thanks Karen. Some absolutely great choices in here and I totally agree about Orenda Books. Karen and her team of fabulous writers have produced some of my favourite books of the year, if not all time. You’ve also inspired me to go a purchase another book so now have the latest Ausma Zehanat Khan book in my collection – whoops.
What do you think guys? Any suggestions for Karen. As you can see she’s a true book-a-holic and like all good book-a-holics, can’t pick just one book, so perhaps a brilliant series that you think might catch her eye?
Have a brilliant week all. Hope it’s full of bookish wonders