Top 10 Books From My Childhood (Or teen years) That I Would Love To Revisit

This week (for possibly the first time ever) I’m joining in on The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday!  What’s Top Ten Tuesday, I hear you ask?

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!


Each week we will post a new Top Ten list  that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is all about books from your adolescence that you’d like to go back to and reread.  Boy, do I have a lot–this exercise really threw up some surprising books for me!  Choosing just ten was slightly difficult but mine are:
Top Ten Compiled
A Dog Called Kitty – Bill Wallace – I’ll be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot about this one other than the fact I bought it at a Scholastic Book Fair (remember those?) and it’s about a dog and it made me cry.  That’s it.  Probably worth going back to reread.

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank – I loved this book and I read it quite frequently growing up.  I haven’t read it in a few years but it’s one of those I know I’ll eventually get around to reading again for the hundredth time.

Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson – Another one that made me cry as a kid (we read it in class).  So tragic!  Never have seen the movie, and I’m ok with that.

Flight #116 is Down – Caroline B Cooney – I totally attribute this book as being one of the main reasons I’m scared of flying.  A teenage girl takes charge when a passenger plane crashes on her family’s property.  I remember it being fairly grisly and graphic.

Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes – I was actually talking to N about this one not too long ago.  The first time I came across this book was in a sampler that we read (I think) in 7th grade.  It wasn’t the full book, just selected bits from the beginning, middle and end.  I only read the full book for the first time a few years ago.  Absolutely haunting.

Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh – This is one of those rare instances where I loved the movie just as much as the book.  Harriet made me want to be a journalist (and a spy!).  I still have my old paperback copy of this one.

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years – Rachel Field – Ok, I’ll be honest.  I’m not 100% sure that this is the book I’m thinking of.  I remember a book about a doll who could think (and talk when people weren’t around) and who got into various situations–the only one of which I remember being left in the backseat of a taxi.  I thought the cover was yellow, but maybe not.  I read it back when I was in 2nd grade.  If anyone has any alternative ideas as to what this book could be, let me know.  I’m going to try and score a copy of Hitty to see if it’s what I’m thinking of.

Matilda – Roald Dahl – Quite possibly my favorite book of all time.  Matilda never gets old and she’s totally my role model.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 – Beverly Cleary – I loved the Ramona books as a kid and still do.  They’re clever, lovable and just all around a joy to read.

Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt – God, this book was so mysterious to me!  I remember having to read it for school (weirdly, I was in Catholic school) and absolutely tearing through it.  Another movie I haven’t seen and don’t care to.

What books do you remember most as a kid?  Which ones would you want to reread??
steph2If you’re interested in getting in touch or writing a guest post for The London Diaries, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or email me at emailthelondondiaries [at]!  I love getting emails and am always open to new ideas and post pitches.

Book Review: The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson

23864903The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson
Publisher:  Penguin
Release Date:  
4 March 2015 for ebook and 9 April 2015 for paperback
Annie has a secret. But if she’s not going to tell, we won’t either. It’s a heart-breaking secret she wishes she didn’t have – yet Annie isn’t broken, not quite yet. Especially now there’s someone out there who seems determined to fix her.

Kate has run away. But she’s not going to tell us why – that would defeat the point of running, wouldn’t it? It’s proving difficult to reinvent herself, however, with one person always on her mind.

Scratch beneath the surface and nobody is really who they seem. Even Annie and Kate, two old friends, aren’t entirely sure who they are any more. Perhaps you can work it out, before their pasts catch up with them for good…

A gripping and unpredictable story of two young women running from their pasts. We defy you to guess the twist…

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of Lucy Robinson‘s books.  Personally, one novel a year just isn’t enough, but I can appreciate all of the effort and hard work she puts into writing her books.  Trust me, it definitely shows in her newest offering The Day We Disappeared which is, by far, her most mature, complicated and heartfelt work to date.

The Day We Disappeared centres around two young women, Annie and Kate.  Both women are very different from one another but are in the same boat–they’re both running away from something and they’ve both got mega secrets.  The book is told in chapters alternating in narration with a bit of flashback thrown in for good measure.  It’s intense and fast paced and kept me turning pages despite wanting to enjoy this one slowly.

As ever, Robinson’s come up with a very well written, exciting book. For me, one of the things I think Robinson does the best are her side-characters, always a group of supportive and quirky friends.  Each of her books has a crew of well-meaning, crazy and amazingly awesome friends who crack me up.  I sincerely hope that she’s drawing from real life when she writes these guys.  We should all be so lucky to have friends like Annie and Kate’s!

I do have to be honest–this book did trigger some baggage for me.  I found myself tensed, grinding my teeth and wincing at various parts because they were all too familiar though not as extreme.  I can’t say more than that for fear of giving anything away, suffice to say the second half of the book strongly affected me.

It’s hard to talk about this book without being vague–but oh lordy I don’t want to ruin that twist which, unlike me, I totally didn’t see coming.   Read this slowly, folks… you’ll want it to last.  I can’t wait to see what Robinson has in store next–her writing continues to grow and impress me.  Now to wait another year for the next book….

A massive thanks to Penguin and NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

steph2If you’re interested in getting in touch or writing a guest post for The London Diaries, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or email me at emailthelondondiaries [at]!  I love getting emails and am always open to new ideas and post pitches.

Guest Post: Lick My Dip… spicing up your post

There’s a broil of creativity in the air when you walk through a London market. You can almost taste it. The passion for good food and the zeal in traders’ eyes as they tell you about their dish is infectious, and there’s one sustained theme that burns brightly across the board: Spicy!

bottleLondon has long had a taste for spicy food attributable to a rich cultural history and open-minded population. This combined with individuals’ ever-empowered ability to create and share sees a growing community of ‘cottage industry’ and start-ups in food and drink that promises innovation, diversity and quality.

Where our choices were once blinkered into what was available on the supermarket shelves or the four or five beers the brewery supplied to our local, we are now seeing our options expand exponentially; Micro breweries pump delicious blends of unique, fresh beer into our glasses, coffee is bespoke ground and delivered to our door fresh, full ingredients and recipes delivered into our kitchens to cook at home. Life is being made easier and more enjoyable by a more sociable culinary marketplace.

Unlike ketchup, hot sauce is a talking point. Aside from diversity of brand and flavour its heat stimulates conversation about preference and inspires playful competition! With sales growing year on year, amounting to £18m last year in the UK alone, it only makes sense to echo this diversity of choice on people’s dinner tables. The average hot sauce user is broadly aware of cupboard staples such as Tabasco, Heinz and Encona – they’re great sauces and easily available, but why settle for Echo Falls when you can have Don Perignon? Why not try something new every month from a plethora of the innovative micro-manufacturers popping up all over the country?

LMD_2I want to see happen with hot sauce what’s happened with craft beer. To champion the small manufacturers of these gastro masterpieces and diversify the nation’s palates. To leave behind the monotony of opening cupboard doors to the same bottle every week. And to see hot sauce take it’s place on the map of our culinary revolution.

If this strikes a chord with you follow the link below to my Kickstarter and find out what I’m doing about it.

Dave Rotheroe is originally from Liverpool but now lives in London.  He’s chosen to escape his career in IT to pursue various food ventures in and around London.

(Ok, ya’ll.  I love a good subscription service (Spicery, Pact Coffee, I’m looking at you) and I LOVE hot sauce.  Let’s get this thing off the ground, eh?  I need to spice up my cupboard a bit and Lick My Dip is totally up for the challenge.)  

steph2If you’re interested in getting in touch or writing a guest post for The London Diaries, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or email me at emailthelondondiaries [at]!  I love getting emails and am always open to new ideas and post pitches.

Wherever you go, go with all your heart – Confucius

N and I travel a few times every year and, when we do, we’re always on the look out for a great place to stay that isn’t… well… expensive.  Enter in Airbnb, a fantastic website where you can not only look for places to stay all over the world but also list your property for travelers to rent!

The website is super easy to use and anywhere you could possibly want to visit Airbnb will have a presence there.  Want to rent a private island?  Have a thing for retro trailers?  Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to play damsel in distress in your very own castle?  Airbnb have you covered on all fronts… even down to a bedroom in someone’s flat in Paris.

Full disclosure, our first Airbnb experience was less than fantastic.  Airbnb itself was fantastic, it’s just the guy whose apartment we rented was less so.  To be fair, had we read all of the reviews for the property, we most likely wouldn’t have booked it.  Despite that, we used Airbnb twice more over the next year–once for Madrid and for Seville.  Both places were absolutely what we were looking for–clean, modern, great locations and brilliant owners.

As if having gorgeous, amazing properties wasn’t enough, they also hosted the Waterstones Sleepover last October.  Truly one of the best nights of my life, for sure!

Recently, Airbnb posted a brilliant and creative video showcasing their personal service, making the world feel like a much smaller, accessible place for their guests.  I just love it.

How cute is that??

And for my fellow behind the scenes geeks:

Have you ever used Airbnb?  We’re always looking for new places to explore…

steph2If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or email me at emailthelondondiaries [at]!

February 2015 Book Wrap Up

Well February was a bit of a bum month for me with reading… only three books this time around.  I have to admit, Brick Lane was a bit of a slog for me.  That one came under the ‘book you started but never finished’ category for me and, as I’ve tried to read this book three times, I felt I really should just power through and finish.  I’m not sure what it was for me, loads of people rave about Brick Lane, but it just wasn’t doing it for me.  Ah, never mind.

Feb 2015 books

Books Read:  3

Currently Reading:

And because I’m all about the visuals, here’s an update on the Reading Challenge list:

January Challenge

What did you guys read this month?  Do you have any suggestions on what I should read in March?

steph2If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or email me at emailthelondondiaries [at]!

Can you spot the signs of stroke?

As family and some friends will know, The Stroke Association is a charity close to my heart.  In 1997, my granddad suffered a stroke and it changed all of our lives.  Thankfully he survived but the effects have stayed with him since. In the past I’ve done events to raise money for The Stroke Association, but today, I want to raise a bit of awareness and help out TSA’s FAST Forward campaign.

Let’s start with the basics.

What’s a stroke?
Put simply, a stroke is a ‘brain attack.’

It happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. It can be caused by a blockage in one of the blood vessels leading to the brain or a bleed in the brain.

Blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen to your brain. Without blood your brain cells can be damaged or destroyed.

Strokes affect people in different ways, depending on the part of the brain that is affected, how widespread the damage is and how healthy the person was before the stroke. A stroke can affect the way your body functions as well as your thought processes and how you feel and communicate. (source)


Can you spot the signs of stroke?
Just remember, FAST:FAST_infographics_Jan%202015_FINALBeing able to identify someone’s ‘funny turn’ as a stroke may not only save their life but help aid them in recovering quicker.  Getting a stroke victim the proper medical attention they need as fast as possible is absolutely crucial.

Did you know…
…that there’s such a thing as a mini-stroke?  Also known as TIA (transient ischaemic attack), mini-strokes have the same signs and symptoms as above–only they last for a shorter amount of time.  This does not make them any less dangerous and mini-strokes can be signs of a larger stroke to come.  1 in 12 people who have had a mini-stroke have had another stroke within a week.  TIA strokes are also known as ‘warning strokes.’

Other symptoms of a mini-stroke include:

  • sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • sudden weakness or numbness on one side of your body (including in your leg)
  • sudden memory loss or confusion
  • sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms.

For more information on mini-strokes, be sure to check out TSA’s fact sheet here.

Finally, I think this video says it all:

If you’re interested in learning more about strokes or how you can help, check out The Stroke Association online.  Their website offers valuable, life-saving information as well as support for those who have had a stroke as well as for carers and family members.  For those of you based in the US, you’ll want to check out the American Stroke Association.

steph2If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or email me at emailthelondondiaries [at]!

Guest Post: Top 4 Swimming Pools in London

Swimming is one of the best kinds of exercise because it uses many muscle groups, rarely results in injury and provides an excuse to find out what your crush looks like in a swimming costume.

Seriously though, swimming strengthens the respiratory system and kicks your metabolism in to gear, helping you break down that winter puppy fat. One of the many great things about living in London is that there are so many swimming pools to choose from. Indoor or outdoor, luxury or plain old pond, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Here are the top 4 swimming pools in London:

LondonFieldsLido1. London Fields Lido
If you want to swim outside all year round, but you don’t want nipples with the carbon density of diamonds, then this might be the place for you. This heated Olympic sized outdoor pool is even open in the winter months.

But it’s even better in the summer, particularly if you live in Hackney. You can spend a lazy day in Victoria Park, followed by a brisk swim and a visit to some of the trendy hipster pubs in the immediate vicinity of the Lido.

Hampstead Heath, Pond Number 3 (The Mixed Bathing Pond) - - 17184342. Hampstead Heath Ponds
OK, so these are literally just some ponds in a park, but they are something special and uniquely London. The ponds are open all year round for swimming, but there have been medical warnings given to the “polar bear clubs” which swim in sub zero temperatures. Make sure you have a strong heart before you try anything like that!

In the summer, it’s a truly delightful place to cool off. You can choose from a unisex pool frequented by fun loving young people or male only and women only pools around the corner, the latter sheltered from prying eyes by surrounding foliage.
Natural swimming is coming back in fashion and this is the most urban place to give it a try.

York Hall, Old Ford Road, E2 - - 3948833. York Hall in Bethnal Green
The pool in this historic building has been there since it opened in 1929. It was reopened in 2005 after York Hall underwent a major multi-million pound refurbishment in a joint project between Tower Hamlets council and Greenwich Leisure.

Many of the building’s historical features were also lovingly restored making it a truly exceptional place for a swim. Don’t be surprised if you see some rough looking old blokes going in and out the hall though, this is also one of Britain’s best known and oldest boxing venues.

4. Golden Lane Leisure Centre
Close to the ominous towers of the Brutalist beast that is the Barbican, you can find this attractive, light filled roof top swimming pool. It may be only 20 metres long, but it’s quite cheap for the area at £8 a swim, especially if you live or work close by. This small pool is a good for beginners as there are a variety of swimming lessons taught throughout the week.

If you want to get a beach body in time for summer, then now’s the time to put some work in. Strap your goggles on and step into your Speedos, the water’s lovely!

tom rowsell profileTom Rowsell is a writer and film maker living in London. Keen on health and fitness, he ran the Rome marathon in 2013 and writes for several sporting blogs. His background in language and history led to him becoming manager of the Empowerlingua translation blog


steph2If you’re interested in getting in touch or writing a guest post for The London Diaries, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or email me at emailthelondondiaries [at]!  I love getting emails and am always open to new ideas and post pitches.