Top Ten Tuesday: Most owned authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is ‘Top ten authors by whom I own the most books’. This is a fun topic which has prompted me to survey my bookshelves!

1-5 authors6-10 authors

Here’s my list with the number of books that I own by that author in brackets. The pictures above show my favourite book by each author.

  1. Harlan Coben (25)
  2. Anne Tyler (19)
  3. Robert Muchamore (17)
  4. Ben Elton (14)
  5. Anita Shreve (13)
  6. Jennifer Crusie (12)
  7. Philip Pullman (12)
  8. Roald Dahl (10)
  9. Alice Hoffman (10)
  10. William Boyd (10)

I should probably have included Ann M Martin and Francine Pascal on this list by all my Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books are in a box under a bed at my mum’s house, so I decided they didn’t count!

Do any of my authors feature on your list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Desert island characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is ‘Top ten characters I would want with me on a deserted island ‘.

This stumped me a bit; I tend to remember the settings and plotlines from the books I love; but, unless they are really iconic, the characters don’t tend to stay with me as long.  Plus, all the best books are about miserable, troubled people and who wants to be on a desert island with someone like that?! So, I really had to rack my brain to come up with this list and on another day it might be completely different.

1. Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Viggo Mortensen is very good looking, and Aragorn is the kind of self-sufficient, live of the land type man who could help protect us from any danger,

Finnick2. Finnick from The Hunger Games trilogy

Along the same principles, another character with great survival skills and a kind, loyal heart. Plus he’s pretty easy on the eyes too.

3. Homer Wells from The Cider House Rules

Homer WellsJust because it’s one of my favourite books and it would be fun to hang out with the main character from it. He’s also got a bit of medical knowledge, which might come in handy (although hopefully no-one would be getting abortions on my desert island!).

Will and Lyra4. and 5. Will and Lyra from the His Dark Materials trilogy

Because they could be together on my island, plus they are pretty resourceful and well travelled.

Hope Clearwater6. Hope Clearwater from Brazzaville Beach

For her knowledge of zoology; she could help with any animals we encountered on the island.

Mary Poppins
7. Mary Poppins

We’d never have to clean or tidy as she could do it all by magic, plus she’d have everything we need in her carpet bag.

John Thornton8. John Thornton from North and South

Simply because Richard Armitage was so gorgeous in the TV adaptation of the book. This is my suggested ‘pure hotness factor’ entry.

Manchee9. Manchee from The Knife of Never Letting Go

The island wouldn’t be home without a pet dog.

Agnes Crandall10. Agnes Crandall from Agnes and The Hitman

She’s a fantastic cook and could whip up delicious food from whatever we could find on the island. Plus she might bring her cute boyfriend, Shane, along as a bonus island resident.

Who would you want to be stuck on a deserted island with? What criteria did you use to make your choice?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite movies based on books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is ‘Top ten favorite movies or TV shows’. I like to keep my posts book themed, so I’ve decided to do my top ten movies based on books. I’m generally of the opinion that books are better than films, but occasionally the films (especially children’s films and biopics) get it almost right

10 Things I Hate About You1. 10 Things I Hate About You

A bit of a cheat as it’s only loosely based on Shakespeare’s play ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. Thank heavens because the play is a hideous reflection of 16th century gender politics but the film is the sweetest, funniest romantic comedy. I love it. Plus, Heath Ledger is divine.

Willy Wonka2. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Love the book, love the film. I want to go to the chocolate factory! Roald Dahl is a genius and Gene Wilder brings the creepy Willy Wonka to life perfectly.

Mary Poppins3. Mary Poppins

This was one of my favourite films when I was a child, I basically watched it on repeat. I also had the book, but never managed to get into it, probably because I knew the story so well from watching the film so often.

The Sound of Music4. The Sound of Music

Another of my all time favourite childhood movies. The music is fabulous and the fictionalisation of the real-life storyline raises it above Maria Von Trapp’s autobiographical work.

Battle Royale5. Battle Royale

This film does a really good job of reflecting the content of the original book. It’s such a great book, shocking and compelling, really different (until The Hunger Games came along!).

Fellowship of the Ring6. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

When I first saw this film, I was so annoyed with the ending, it just stops! But after viewing the sequels and seeing this more than once, I’ve grown to really love it. I particularly enjoy the relationships between the members of the fellowship. It also does a really good job of editing out some of the extraneous material from the original book.

Stardust7. Stardust

I’ve not read the original book, but I love the film, it’s really feel good and conjures up a fantastic fantasy world.

12 Years a Slave8. 12 Years a Slave

This is a stunning and important retelling of Soloman Northup’s story. It probably makes my top ten because I’ve seen it in the past year. It was a toss up between this and Brokeback Mountain for this slot.

Stand by Me9. Stand By Me

I love coming of age films (and books) and this is the one which all others try to live up to. The music, the period setting, the young River Phoenix, it’s all perfect. I’ve not read Stephen King’s original story but I’d be surprised if it is better than the film.

Atonement10. Atonement

This does an amazing job of making a film out of a seemingly unfilmable book. I thought it got the tone of the book perfectly and I loved clever use of sound and music. Both the film and the book are complete sobfests.

That’s actually a pretty great collection of movies; maybe films based on books are better than I thought! What’s your favourite film inspired by a book?

Review of ‘A Discovery of Witches’ by Deborah Harkness

WitchesThanks to Bookbridgr and Headline for the review copy of this book.

I knew I was going to love this book as soon as I saw it described as “Twilight for grown ups”. I have not been this engrossed in the world of a novel for a long time! It definitely has a lot in common with the Twilight books but it has a lot more depth, with interesting themes of literature, history and science.

The similarities to the Twlight series include:

  • Overprotective male vampire protagonist
  • Seemingly normal, slightly whiny, female protagonist who actually has stunning abilities which could save the world
  • Loving vampire family
  • Vampire doctors
  • Questions over whether vampires can procreate
  • Lots of kissing but no sexual consummation of relationship
  • Evil authoritarian powers trying to divide the main couple and the question of whether to turn the female into a vampire in order to solve this problem

I also thought the book had a lot in common with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, with its authoritarian male love interest and intellectual middle-aged female lead. That comparison is likely to grow even stronger in the next book which appears feature time travel more heavily.

I absolutely loved the first two thirds of this book when reticent witch Diana meets ancient vampire Matthew. The love story builds slowly and beautifully. The story is told mostly from Diana’s point of view but there is the occasional chapter about Matthew written in the third person, which helps to move the story along and breaks up the repetitiveness of Diana’s thoughts.

I found the last third slightly less compelling. This may be because it’s less interesting to read about a couple who has got together and is happy, but also because there are a lot more characters in this section, so the story is less focused. Also, I did not enjoy the out-dated gender politics which come to the fore at the end of the book. It’s fine for a 1,500 year old vampire to believe that he should be in charge and single-handedly make all the decisions but it’s not OK for a 21st century woman to agree to these conditions so quickly and happily.

I also loved the settings for the first two thirds of the book. I thought academic Oxford and ancestral France were beautifully drawn and really atmospheric and also grounded in reality despite the fantastical storyline. However, the haunted Bishop house in Madison was a less convincing setting as was the plot line in this section setting up the next book, which involves time travel. I don’t think the mechanics of the time travel were explained well enough, people seem to travel back into their own bodies, yet they can still travel back to before they were born?

That said, I still have high hopes for the rest of the series. The writing in the first half of this book is masterful and the storyline is intriguing and I can’t wait to read more.

Top Ten Tuesday: Classics I want to read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is ‘top ten favourite classic books or top ten classics I want to read’. I’m not much of a classics reader, I’m pretty lazy and prefer to read contemporary books written in clearer language and with a modern take on gender politics, so I have picked ten classics I want to read, or really I should have read.

When I was a child I read a lots of classic children’s literature, I’m not sure when this love of classics began to die – but the last nail in the coffin was probably when I had to study early American literature for my degree and had to read Moby Dick. I read every word of that mammoth mind-numbing book but didn’t follow or care about what was happening at all and don’t even get me started on William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. American literature definitely made a vast improvement in the second half of the 20th century!

A couple of years ago I set out to read 1 classic book for every 5 contemporary books I read, it was an epic failure, I read 1 classic for 38 contemporary books. These were the other books on my list which I wanted to read but which never quite captured my attention.

North and South and Anna Karenina

1. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. The TV series based on this book is possibly my favourite TV series ever, Richard Armitage is magical in it. I have been meaning to read the book since watching it but I have never quite got around to it.

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I really should read one of the great Russian classics, particularly one with my name in the title!

A Town Like Alice and A Tale of Two Cities

3. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. There aren’t many classics set in Australia, plus my dad lived in Malaysia for a while as a child, so this one really intrigues me.

4. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I’ve never read any Dickens. When I was about 15 I tried to read Oliver Twist; I must have read the first two pages about 50 times before finally giving up. Everybody says that A Tale of Two Cities is his greatest work and I was very frustrated reading Cassandra Clare’s A Clockwork Princess that I didn’t understand the constant references to it.

Moonfleet and Catch 22

5. Moonfleet by John Meade Falkner. I heard this mentioned in passing on a podcast a few years back when Radio 4 asked authors to nominate their best ‘neglected classic’ and thought it sounded fantastic, just like a book I would have loved to read as a child. Plus, I love the Vintage cover, it’s beautiful.

6. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I’m amazed I didn’t have to read this piece of classic American literature for my degree (in American Studies). I have an inkling it’s probably fantastic and modern enough that I would be able to read it quite easily.

Middlemarch and Cold Comfort Farm

7. Middlemarch by George Eliot. I’ve heard this book referred to as ‘the greatest novel ever written’ so many times but I know nothing about it, which makes me very ignorant.

8. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. I think I’d probably enjoy a book which parodies other classics and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Persuasion and 1984

9. Persuasion by Jane Austen. I’ve never read anything by Austen but I really feel like I should. I’ve picked Persuasion because it’s the only one of her books which I haven’t seen adapted for film or TV, so I am not familiar with the storyline.

10. 1984 by George Orwell. I think there are probably so many references from 1984 used in modern life, things like ‘Big Brother’, that I should probably have read this in order to have a fuller understanding of modern society.

So, if I only read one book from this list this year, which should it be?