Tag Archives: top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Classify As ALL TIME FAVOURITE BOOKS from the past three years

My reading in the past three years has been quite varied featuring classics, ya, contemporary, and children’s so it was quite hard to settle for just ten. The amount I’ve read has also been very varied; thirty in 2014, only fourteen in 2013 (don’t know what happened there!), and forty-seven in 2012. These are the books that I would be most likely to re-read and the ones that I had the most emotional connections to.

1. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell-

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 If you’ve ran out of Austen’s to read then I’d heartily recommend Gaskell to you. Her writing has the same bite of humour while satirising society although I’d say Gaskell is a bit softer. Cranford is a town in which there are not very many men and so society is ran by a tight knit community of spinsters. Each character is wonderfully crafted; I felt as though I was also at their dinner parties trying to get the scoop on other neighbours. It really is a brilliant book so go and pick it up!

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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This ya novel follows Liesel a book thief living in Nazi Germany who is being taught how to read by her foster father and Max who is a Jewish man that they are hiding in the basement. Add in a foul-mouthed foster mother and Liesel’s best friend Rudy who wants to be Jesse Owens and you’ve got a cast of very interesting characters. Oh, and the book is narrated by Death.

3. Persuasion by Jane Austen – 

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Anne Elliot is the door mat of her family. She goes along with decisions to appease her family even when it costs her the love of her life. I loved reading as she started standing up for herself. Captain Wentworth and Anne will squeeze your heart until it can’t take any more. It’s one of the best romantic novels I’ve ever read while still retaining that essence of Austen.

4. The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling

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A lot of people don’t like this book but I loved it. I actually live in a town very much like Pagford which definitely added to the reading experience. I know people like Samantha, and Krystal, and Gaia so it all felt so real to me.

5. 1984 by George Orwell-

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 I did find some parts of the book a bit boring but I think it was supposed to be. Winston is constantly bored because Big Brother doesn’t allow him to have a personality. The whole story was just so disturbing especially because it felt as if it could actually have happened in the aftermath of  WWII especially with all the fear of the Red Button. Reading this book is an incredibly tense experience but a worthwhile one. Just stay clear of Room 101.

6. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

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This book explores just how powerful love can be and how it affects a persons life. In this dual narrative we have Alma Singer a forteen year old who is named after all the female characters in a book called The History of Love, and Leo Gurtsky an old man who is the author but doesn’t know that the book still exists. This book is truly beautiful and I often think about it and want to re-visit it. Krauss is a stunning writer.

7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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This is dark, disturbing, funny, and grotesque. I absolutely loved it. Wilde is also quite Austen-like with his humour but is a lot more forthright and cheeky, He rips late Victorian society to shreds whilst also seeming fond of it. All the characters in this novel are horrible but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Viewing racism in the deep south of the US through the eyes of an eight year old was so effective at showing that prejudice has to be taught rather than it being engrained. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read; it’s beautifully written, so innocent and yet so sad and disturbing.

9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green- 

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Hilarious and gut-wrenchingly sad. Hazel and Gus learn to see themselves and others beyond their cancer to just be normal teenagers. Their romance with each other and their friendship with Isaac is just lovely. I think it deals with cancer in a way that doesn’t make it gross tear-porn like a lot of other novels that feature characters with cancer and in many ways isn’t even about their illnesses.

10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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When I first picked up this book I was expecting a terrifying horror story but what I got instead was a character study on how society treats those who look physically different and who have mental disabilities. You grow attached to Creature even though he makes abhorant decisions whilst you feel disgusted at Victor who created and then abandons Creature. It feels like an epic story and one that I can’t wait to read again.

Top Ten Tuesday- Best Bookish Heroines

This Tuesday the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish are celebrating the pluckiest of female heroines in literature. My picks are all young women that I’ve looked up to in various times of my life and star in some of my favourite books. I’d encourage everyone to read these novels.

1. Lyra Belacqua from the His Dark Materials trilogy

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She sets out to save her friend and ends up going on a massive adventure to save her world and ours. Despite not being especially equipped to do the saving she marches on because she knows it’s the right thing to do.

2. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series

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The brightest witch of her age. As well as that she is a great friend and fiercely brave. She never abandons her principles and even makes her parents forget her in order to protect them. Others put her down and even Harry and Ron aren’t particularly nice to her but she always takes the higher ground.

3. Alma Singer from The History of Love

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She set out determined to make her Mother happy again and ended up improving the life of another person. Alma meets lots of obstacles and dead ends trying to find the man that she thinks will make her Mum happy but never gives up. I think that shows a lot for a fourteen year old.

4. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice 

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Passionate and outspoken, Elizabeth Bennet wasn’t going to settle for just anyone. She knew that she couldn’t do much to change her situation but that didn’t stop her from letting people know what she thought. Her opinions of others weren’t entirely correct but she had the grace to apologise when she realised she was wrong.

5. Matilda from Matilda

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She was miserable in her home life but never took it out on others. Instead she developed a passion for learning through reading and used her knowledge to defeat Mrs Trunchbull and get her happy ending.

6. Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird

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Didn’t just take people’s word for it but worked out how she felt about the court case and race tensions in her neighbourhood. She always tries to be kind to others which is particularly prevalent in how much respect she gives the objects in Boo’s tree. Her behaviour isn’t always perfect as she’s only eight after all but she’s still pretty great.

7.  Sara CreweA Little Princess

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She had self belief and never became spiteful despite how badly others treated her. Her situation was pretty bleak but she still endeavoured to look on the bright side and continued to have faith that her Dad would come back for her.

8. Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series

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She was the baby of her family and constantly teased by her brothers (not maliciously), rejected by the boy she was in love with, and overcame the horror of being brainwashed by Tom Riddle’s diary.Despite that she became a strong, independent woman who stood up for what she believed in. She stood by Harry no matter how much it probably hurt and was always the bigger person. She grew on her own becoming intelligent, brave, an incredibly talented witch, and a professional Quidditch player.

9. Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief

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She saw beyond stereotypes and treated others with the kindness they deserved. Her relationships with others were very touching as was her little way of standing up against the holocaust and providing comfort to her neighbours during air raids.

10. Violet Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events

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She’s very clever and resourceful using her inventive mind to create things that will help her and her siblings escape whichever horrible relative they’ve been sent to live with. She loves and cares for her family and trusts them explicitly even when others try to break them apart and endures all the crazy plans Count Olaf comes up with to marry her to get to the family money whilst still overwhelmed with grief for the loss her parents.

7 Authors I Haven’t Read Yet

1. Neil Gaiman

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He is one of the kings of fantasy and everybody loves him. I’ve heard him speak many times and read one short story by him. There is no way that I won’t adore his work. It’s just a matter of getting them in my hands!

2. Patrick Ness

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I own the first book in the Chaos Walking series and can’t wait to get stuck in. I was spoiled over something a while ago which is probably why I haven’t started it sooner.

3. L.M Montgommery of Anne of Green Gables fame

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I’d never heard of this series until I was a late teenager but I know it was a lot of people’s childhood staple. I love novels like A Little Princess and I,Capture the Castle so this will be right up my street.

4. Catherynne M, Vilante

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The Fairyland series sounds amazing as does her other works. I adore Russian fairy tales and folk lore of which she incorporates beautifully in her books.

5. David Levithan

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I’m already a massive fan of John Green so I want to start with Will Grayson Will Grayson and then maybe Boy Meets Boy. 

6. Markus Zusak

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I finally, finally own The Book Thief which I’ve coveted for several years now. I knew I’d love it but I think I was scared that I wouldn’t love it as much as I want to but with the movie coming out soon I figured that now would be the best time to read it.

7. Margaret Atwood 

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I own The Handmaid’s Tale but just haven’t got around to it yet. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to love it. Atwood is a literature staple and I feel like it would be wrong not to give at least one of her books a go anyway.

This idea is from Ariel Bissett on Youtube. Go check her out!

Top Ten Books I Was Forced To Read (And Am Grateful for it)

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1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (college)

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (gift from teacher, not forced but felt compelled. I had a feeling it was especially for me. I might be wrong but I read that book at the right moment in my life and it helped me sort out my messed-up brain a bit)

3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (GCSE)

4. An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley (GCSE)

5. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (college)

6. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (college)

7. Animal Farm by George Orwell (year 7)

8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (gcse)

9. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian (year 6)

10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (college)

Top Ten Tuesday: Buzzwords and Attention Grabbers

These are the top ten topics and buzzwords that make me want to pick up a book immediately. You can see all of the other posts on this topic at The Broke and the Bookish over on blogspot.

1. WWII

eg. Anne Franks Diary, The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

I studied the Second World War in history a lot and I’m fascinated with that time. The fear, the sense of community and the bravery of people always makes me want to explore it further within fiction.

2. Castles
e.g. I, Capture the Castle, Harry Potter, The Castle

Castles are vast, imposing and grand. I love that they are full of history and I’m always intrigued about what characters will discover in them.

3. Magic
e.g. Seraphina, The Girl who circumnavigated FairyLand, The Magicians

Everyone loves magic. Fact.

4. Time travel

e.g. Ruby Red, A Wrinkle in Time, The Eyre Affair

I’m a massive fan of Doctor Who so I love time travel. The ability to go anywhere and any time is so compelling. It opens up endless possibilities for adventure and I’ll never get sick of it.

5. Child narrators
e.g. The Land of Decorations, Matilda, Charlotte’s Web

Child narrators can help to explore dark subjects without the story becoming too despairing. Their innocence in the way they interpret the things that go on around them can be very poignant and beautiful.

6. Fairy Tales
e.g. The Land of Stories, The Bloody Chamber,The Goose Girl

I love all fairy tales and the darker, sillier and obscure they are the better!

7. Road trip
e.g. Paper Towns, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, Saving June

These are perfect summer reads. It’s like going on a holiday without leaving the house.

8. Boarding School
e.g Gemma Doyle Series, Looking For Alaska, Never Let Me Go

I don’t know why but I’ve always wanted to go to boarding school. I think it might be because I thought that it meant that I’d get to live in a castle. Or that it would secretly turn out to be Hogwarts… Anyway, reading about it is the next best thing.

9. Coming of age
e.g. To Kill a Mockingbird, A Catcher in the Rye, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I love reading about characters who are going through difficult times and reflect upon it until they come out the other side. I found myself gravitating towards them more and more in my late teens and I think that they helped me a lot,

10. Parallel Worlds
e.g. Neverwhere, His Dark Materials, Alice in Wonderland

The contrast between the real world and the “other” one always piques my interest. I love anything secret and magical.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

This is my first time participating in Top Ten Tuesday which is ran by BrokeandBookish over on Blogspot. It seems like a really fun way of thinking about your books in different ways so I look forward to making more of these posts in the future!

Okay, so I decided not to include any of the Harry Potter books because I assume that you will already have read them (if you haven’t, why not?) or any of John Green’s novels because The Fault in Our Stars is probably on everybody else’s lists already. I do highly recommend these though.

Moving on…

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1. I, Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (first published in 1948)

This is my all-time favourite stand-alone novel. I read it two summers ago in my back garden feeling the warm breeze around me, inhaling the lavender and brushing my toes in the grass. It was the perfect reading experience.

Cassandra Mortmain is a seventeen year old girl living in 1930’s England in a ruined castle with her sister, eccentric stepmother and her father who is suffering from crippling word block. We as the reader, get to read her precious journal and discover what happens when two American men arrive on the scene. It is a coming of age story of first love and growing up.

2. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (the first novel was first published in 1995)

This is a trilogy comprised of The Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in the USA), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. 

I was given the books as a gift by my year six teacher who knew how much I loved Harry Potter and so he wanted me to read these too. At eleven, I was a little too young and so I didn’t get past the first few pages but when I picked it up again a couple of years later I was absolutely enthralled.

The first book depicts the journey that Lyra and her dæmon, Pantalaimon take from a parallel Oxford to the North in order to find her friend Rodger. Lots of kids keep going missing and she discovers that scientists are conducting terrible experiments on them. When she meets Will they team up and form an amazing bond determined to end all of the horrible things that are happening around them.

3. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (first published in 1817)

Most people are at least familiar with Austen’s most famous novel Pride and Prejudice but this is my favourite. I read it last year as part of Ariel Bissett’s (find her on youtube) Austen Adventure series and I adore it.

Catherine Morland gets invited by an older family friend to spend a couple of weeks in Bath. There she meets Isabella who may not be as great a friend as Catherine first thinks and John Thorpe who is most definitely not a welcome suit. She does, however, make friends with Eleanor Tilney and her dashing brother Henry.

When Catherine is invited to stay at Northanger Abbey which looks just like a setting from her gothic novels that she is obsessed with her wayward imagination sweeps her off into trouble.

This is a coming of age book about maturing into an adult without losing your special quirks, falling in love and not succumbing to peer pressure.

4. The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (first published in 1890)

This is Oscar Wilde’s only novel which tells the tale of a man that destroys himself and those around him through vanity. It is a commentary on the lavish lifestyle of upperclass Victorians and the superficialness of it.

I went on a Wilde kick last year and read anything of his that I could get my hands on, I’m reading A Women of No Importance at the moment and still can’t get enough. His writing is so beaufitul, melancholy and superbly witty.

5. An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley (first published as a text in 1987 but first performed in 1945)

This is a play set in 1912, just before the sink of the Titanic and takes place over the same day. The Birling family are questioned by Inspector Goole over the suicide of Eva Smith who is also known as Daisy Renton. As the play unfolds it transpires that they all knew this woman and so did they all have a part in her death?

I studied this play as part of my English Literature GCSE and enjoyed it immensely. The 1954 film is excellent as well.

6. The Faraway Tree Stories by Enid Blyton (first published in 1939)

My year three teacher used to take the class outside during the afternoon to read this to us under a big oak tree at the bottom of the playground. When we were done with it I made my Mum buy me a copy so that I could read it again myself. A few years ago I re-read it and enjoyed it just as much.

I still dream of adventures in the tree with Fanny, Jo, Bessie and Moonface.

7. Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo (first published in 1999)

This was read to both year six classes in the shared area by the other teacher. I became fully immersed in Michael’s world as he ended up stranded on a desert island and had to fend for himself. With the at first reluctant help of Kensuke, who has been on the island for years, he keeps himself going and learns lots of new skills whilst waiting for his parents to rescue him.

Again, I made my Mum buy it for me as soon as the teacher had finished and have read it several times since.

8. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger (first published in 1951)

I first read this when I was about fourteen or fifteen and hated it. Absolutely hated it. Every page felt like a chore and I found Holden Coulfield to be a whiny, ungrateful brat.

Then when I was eighteen I re-read it because it was a classic and so many people loved it that I felt the need to uncover what I was missing from it. I’m so glad I gave it that second chance because this time I did understand.

Holden was going through the same things I was and so I could relate this time. We both had good families, we never went without anything and we were smart but something was slipping. We couldn’t cope with the pressure of school or of growing up and the anxiety was draining us.

Holden, as a character, helped me a lot in that time of struggle and I hope that any young adults reading this who are seeing hints of themselves in this will pick it up.

9. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I was assigned this in my English Literature class at college but ended up spending most of my time reading this instead of actually doing my work.

Scout is an engaging narrator who navigates the world around her with curiosity and innocence. When her father, who is a lawyer, takes on the case of a black man accused of raping a white woman she must learn that doing the right thing is not always easy but should be done regardless.

Seeing a young girl’s perspective of living in a small southern American town in 1935 amongst racial hatred was very enlightening and her observations were profound without the author losing the integrity of Scout’s voice in terms of her age.

If you are getting into classics, are a history buff or you enjpy law then I would definitely recommend this.

10. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (first published in 1890)

The protagonist has been sent to a mental institute (although she thinks it’s a quaint hotel) for a while by her husband who is a doctor. He thinks that she is suffering from hysteria but we now recognise it as being post-natal depression.

While she is there she keeps a secret journal in the room that she is locked in, the room with the horrid yellow wallpaper that seems to come alive at night and strangle her.

This is a feminist text that comments on the treatment of women as lesser and how the protagonist was never allowed to make her own decisions. I also studied this in English Literature and read it over and over again during class instead of paying attention.

It’s gripping, thought provoking and just… sad, really.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope that it wasn’t too long!

Also, thank you to FlightyPig for helping me with the pictures 🙂