Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’d Like to Meet

  

I know I’ve not been great at these but jumping in and doing another Top Ten Tuesday today as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish (full info can be found here

Without further ado, here are my 10. I decided not to limit this to authors who are still alive. 


1) J. K. Rowling

I think this one is fairly obvious.  I love the Harry Potter series and from following Rowling on Twitter I think we’d have a lot to talk about and I hope I’d be able to hold my own in a decent discussion with her. 
2) Louisa May Alcott

I would have loved to have been able to sit and have a chat with Alcott about “Little Women”. It is one of my absolute favourite books and I’d love to learn more about the March family straight from the horses mouth, as it were. 
3) Stephen King

I love pretty much all of King’s books and have done since I was quite young. I think I’d be a little in awe if I ever actually did meet him, I have so many great memories connected to his books and I’m really glad my Dad first put me on to him. 
4) Marian Keyes

I follow Keyes on Twitter and I get the impression she would be so much fun if I was ever lucky enough to meet her. She seems so funny and down to earth.  I would ask her all about the Walsh family and about her adventures in baking. 
5) Kathy Reichs

Meeting Kathy Reichs would be doubly awesome for me. Not only do I love her books but she is the inspiration behind one of my favourite TV shows, “Bones”. I’d have so many questions for her and I think I would likely have a bit of a fan girl moment and probably make a complete fool of myself! 
6) Enid Blyton

My childhood was filled with Enid Blyton books, like “The Famous Five”, “Mallory Towers” and “The Magic Faraway Tree”. I loved them all and I’d love to have been able to have a chat with the woman who created them. 
7) Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern’s books never fail to make me smile. I love the hint of magic and hope they contain.  I’d love to talk to her about where she gets her inspiration from. 
8) Dean Koontz

I’ve read lots of Koontz’ books but my favourite has to be “Lightning”. I’d love to meet the man behind that book and ask him where the idea came from. 
9) Roald Dahl

Another of my childhood favourites. “Matilda” was one of my faves.  As a bookish kid myself it really spoke to me and I often wished I had powers like she did. 
10) William Shakespeare 

Surely this one is obvious?! 
Do you agree with any of my choices? Who would you pick instead? Let me know in the comments. 

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Top Ten Tuesday: All Time Favourite Authors

  

I’m a little late with this I know but was busy yesterday and didn’t get chance to finish the post. 

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish, full info can be found here

This week’s top ten list is all time favourite authors.  This is a little tricky as I do have a lot of authors that I love and a lot of them I love in equal measure it just depends on the type of book I want to read so it was hard to cut it down to 10 but I have managed it. 


1) Stephen King

Stephen King is an easy entry for me.  I get my love of reading from my Dad and King was one of the first adult authors he introduced me to so a lot of his books are tied in with memories of me and my Dad discussing King’s books and him recommending which ones to read next.  I love the way he weaves a story and mixes in little references that his regular readers will spot.  


2) Marian Keyes

I love Marian Keyes.  I follow her on Twitter and she is always posting funny things.  I love her writing style and the way she deals with sensitive issues such as domestic violence, rape, alcoholism and depression.  She is extremely open and honest about her own battles with depression and alcoholism and I think this allows her to write in a more realistic way. I love the way she manages to lighten the mood sometimes without taking away from the seriousness of the issue at hand.  I absolutely love her books about the Walsh family, the whole family makes me laugh so much.  Her recipe book is also my go to book whenever I bake cakes.


3) J. K. Rowling

Although I’m not a massive fan of “The Casual Vacancy” and I haven’t tried the books she’s written as Robert Galbraith, I love the Harry Potter series.  I think she has done an amazing job at creating this world that manages to appeal to adults as well as children.  I read them as an adult and came to them a little late as I kept assuming they were just for children and couldn’t understand why so many adults were reading them.  When I finally decided to give them a go I was so glad.  I’ve re-read them all a few times now over the years and I love them just as much on re-reading as I did the first time.  I really enjoyed the growth of the characters right through from “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”.  


4) Kathy Reichs

I started reading Reichs’ books because I loved the TV show “Bones” and had obviously heard that it was based on her books.  Obviously as soon as I started reading them I could tell that “based on” wasn’t really right.  I would say it’s more accurate to say that they are based on Reichs’ herself.  The character of Temperance Brennan, who is the only one who appears in both the TV show and the books, is very different in the two formats and I would say TV Brennan has more in common with Reichs in that they are both Forensic Anthropologists who also write novels.  That being said, I still love the books and I find the crimes are always very interesting and the subplots around the crimes, dealing with Brennan’s love life, etc, are good.  I have also started reading the young adult series that Reichs has written, Virals, based around Temperance Brennan’s great niece, Tory Brennan.  I’ve really enjoyed those as well and am currently looking forward to the paperback release of the final book in the series.


5) Dean Koontz

Koontz is another author my Dad introduced me to when I was starting to get an interest in more adult books.  The first one of his that I read was “Lightning” and I have loved that ever since. I haven’t been as keen on some of his more recent books as I feel they are a little too black and white with the “good” characters being absolute paragons of virtue and the “bad” characters being evil right through to the bone with no redeeming qualities.  I like my characters to be a bit more complex than that. I’ll always have a soft spot for some of his older work though, especially “Lightning”, which is one of my favourite books.


6) Louisa May Alcott

“Little Women” is pretty much one of my most favourite books ever.  I must have read it a hundred times over the years but I’ve never tired of it and whenever I re-read it, it feels like I’m meeting up with an old friend who I haven’t seen for a while.  I love all the characters and when I was younger I was desperate to grow up to be like Jo March.  Jo and Laurie were the first couple I ever “shipped” (way back before shipping was even a thing!) and Beth makes me cry every time I read it.  Although I’ve read all of the books she’s written about the March family I’ve just realised I’ve never actually read any of her other books so maybe my mission this year should be to try and read something else she has written.


7) Cecelia Ahern

I think sometimes everyone needs a little romance and magic in their life and I get mine from Ahern’s books.  My friends would probably say I haven’t got a romantic bone in my body, I don’t necessarily agree with that I think I just have a different idea of romance to them and I am also happily single and happy to remain that way.  I don’t think that means I’m not romantic though. I love the romance in Ahern’s books and I think if I were to be in a relationship I would be very romantic with that person but for the time being all the romance in my life comes from books.  I fell in love with “P.S. I Love You” from minute I started reading it and my love affair with Ahern has just grown from there.  She is one of the few authors where I am so desperate to read their newest book that I buy the hardback as soon as it has come out.  No, she doesn’t really deal with complex issues but everyone needs a bit of escapism sometime and I think Ahern does escapism perfectly.


8) Jodi Picoult

Again, Picoult’s books are kind of easy reading but at the same time she has dealt with many topical issues.  Her books tend to follow a similar format with the characters and the issue at hand being introduced and there is usually a Court case to follow.  She tends to write in first person narrative but from a couple of different viewpoints so that you get both sides of the argument.  Over the years she has covered school shootings, euthanasia and raising a child within a homosexual relationship, amongst many others.  She gives equal weight to both sides of the argument and really allows her readers to see all the facts and make their own decisions.  Personally, I love “My Sister’s Keeper”.  


9) James Patterson

I love the Alex Cross series written by James Patterson.  Again, they are not complex books, I can usually blast my way through one in a day quite easily, but they get you hooked and you don’t want to put them down.  I think his writing structure of having quite short chapters helps as I constantly find myself thinking, “just one more chapter” and before I know it the whole book has gone.  I also quite like the Women’s Murder Club series as I’m always happy to read books with strong female characters in them. I do think they have gotten even better since he took on a female co-writer.  I’m not saying men can’t write women or vice versa but the female characters do feel a little more fleshed out since Maxine Paetro started co-writing those with him.


10) Irvine Welsh

I’ve read four of Welsh’s novels, “Skagboys”, “Trainspotting”, “Porno” and “Filth”, and I’ve loved each one just as much as the previous one.  I first read “Trainspotting” because I liked the film and it just grew from there.  I’ve also seen the film of “Filth” and loved that too, although, as usual, the book is better in my opinion.  At first I found Welsh’s style of writing in Scottish dialect a little difficult to get my head round but once I got into it I got used to it pretty quickly and it really helps you to hear the characters voices properly.  This is another author who I’m going to pledge to read more of this year.  

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Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Like to Check In With

  


I’ve decided instead of my extremely sporadic Top Five posts I’m going to start doing Top Ten Tuesday, created by The Broke and the Bookish (for more info click here.  They set the topic so it saves me thinking of things as well! 


So, for my first Top Ten Tuesday, it’s “Top Ten Characters I’d Like to Check In With”.  Often times when a book ends I do find myself wondering what would happen to the characters next so this post gave me a chance to really think about it and who I would most like to catch up with.  As with my Top Five posts these are in no particular order.  It’s difficult to write a post like this without spoilers.  I have tried to minimise spoilers as much as possible but I would say if you haven’t read the book the characters are from it’s probably best to skip over the description.  


1) Molly Weasley, The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

I know at the end of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” we get the flash forward and find out where the main characters are and what they are doing but I’d love to catch up with Molly Weasley and see how she is getting on with things once the children are all grown up.  I can imagine her sat at home, happily surrounded by grandchildren and knitting them all some lovely jumpers for Christmas! 


2) Nick and Amy Dunne, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I couldn’t pick just one of them as I feel their lives are probably still intertwined.  Ultimately, they are both so messed up I kind of think they deserve each other but I would love to see whether Nick really did stay and just how badly they messed things up after the end of the book. 



3) Bob Saginowski, The Drop by Dennis Lehane

Having just finished “The Drop” I grew quite attached the main character, Bob, and would love to see how things went with him, Nadia and Rocco and see whether he’s still working at “Cousin Marv’s”. 



4) Effie Trinket, The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I really liked Effie.  I know she was happy to be part of the Capitol machine but I felt like she softened slightly in “Catching Fire” and I’d love to know how she got on in the new order of things after the events of “Mockingjay”. 



5) Paddy de Courcy, This Charming Man by Marian Keyes

Things weren’t looking great for Paddy by the end of the book and I’d love to look in on him again and see if things got worse, as he deserved, or if he managed to turn it around somehow.  I hope that I would find that his Political career was well and truly over and that he was living alone somewhere with Alicia having left him.  I know it sounds mean but he really would deserve it. 



6) Holly Kennedy, PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

I love Holly’s journey during “PS I Love You” and I would love to see how she got on after Gerry’s letters stopped and she had to manage by herself.  There are so many possibilities.  I like to think she would eventually have moved on and remarried and maybe even had a couple of kids. 



7) Four, The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

I really enjoyed the Divergent Series and although I wasn’t happy with the end of Tris’ journey I’m intrigued as to what Four would have done next.  His whole world was changed and he was left with quite a lot to deal with so it would be nice to check in with him and see how he coped with everything. 



8) The Malfoy Family, The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

I know I’ve done a Potter one already but the Malfoy family were excellent and although we see a glimpse of Draco in the flash forward at the end of Deathly Hallows I’d love more detail as to exactly what happened with all the Malfoys in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Hogwarts.  It’s been hinted, and confirmed by Jason Isaacs who played him in the films, that Lucius had an alcohol problem following his time in Azkaban and it would be interesting to see how the magical world deals with things like this and whether he got help with it.  


9) Chief Bromden, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Can’t really talk about Chief without really spoiling the end of the book for anyone who hasn’t read it or watched the film but I would love to see what happened to him next. 



10) Ma and Jack, Room by Emma Donoghue

I would love to see how Jack and Ma have managed to reintegrate into society and see what kind of a man Jack has grown into.  It would also be interesting to see how Ma has coped and whether she has been able to get passed what was done to her and maybe find happiness in a relationship with someone or whether she is on her own.  


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The Drop – Dennis Lehane

After reading a couple of Marian Keyes’ books I decided I fancied something a bit more gritty next so I went with “The Drop” by Dennis Lehane.  I saw the film version of this, starring James Gandolfini and Tom Hardy, when it was out at the cinema and recently bought the DVD as well and would thoroughly recommend it.  Gandolfini is excellent, as always, in what was to be one of his final roles and, as well as being easy on the eye, I find Hardy is always brilliant. 

 

Now, this book is a bit of an oddity.  From what I can tell from a little bit of research online, the film “The Drop” was adapted from a short story of Lehane’s called “Animal Rescue” that appeared in a collection of stories, “Boston Noir”.  The setting was changed from Boston to Brooklyn for the film version, although I’m not sure why.  Then, the novel that I have read, “The Drop”, is an expanded version of the original short story, written to tie in with the film but keeping the original Boston setting of “Animal Rescue”.  Hopefully that makes sense to people!  It’s the first time I’ve known of this happen to be honest.  

 

Usually, I’m not keen on film versions of books but in this case, maybe helped by the fact the novel was expanded in line with the film, I found the film and the book were very close to each other.  Obviously the main setting was changed but the characters were the same, some of the lines in the book I remember being said in the film and the story on the whole was the same.  I liked that the book expanded a little more on the character of Eric Deeds but I can see why more of his back story wasn’t included in the film as, to be honest, it doesn’t really add anything to the plot except to explain a little about Deeds’ state of mind.  

 

I love the character of Bob Saginowski.  I think Hardy’s portrayal of him in the film is excellent and I couldn’t think of anyone better to play him.  He gets the nuances of the character perfectly.  I don’t want to say too much as I do prefer to keep my reviews clear of spoilers but my one complaint would be that the book gives away hints to the slightly darker side of Bob earlier than the film does.  

 

I also quite liked Cousin Marv, although I think this was mainly due to Gandolfini.  As a fan of “The Sopranos” I could sort of imagine the character of Marv as being Tony Soprano if he’d come on hard times some years after the series ended (any Sopranos fans reading this, I know it’s a contentious issue, but I firmly believe Tony survived the ending of the series).  Watching the film made me a little sad to think we won’t see Gandolfini bring life to any more characters like this, such a tragedy.  On paper Marv isn’t actually all that likeable if I’m honest.  He’s awful to Bob and permanently has a chip on his shoulder about his situation running the bar for the Chechen mob when he used to own it but there’s something about Gandolfini’s portrayal that means I can’t help but like him a little bit! 

 

This is the first of Lehane’s books that I’ve read but I’ve watched several film adaptations of his books so this won’t be the last, in fact I bought “Mystic River” for my Kindle at the same time as I bought “The Drop” so will probably read that next.  I’ve definitely caught the Lehane bug and would recommend both the film and the book of “The Drop”.

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The Other Side of the Story – Marian Keyes

Continuing with my Marian Keyes re-reading, next up is “The Other Side of the Story”.  I haven’t read this for years so had forgotten a lot of what happens in it but as soon as I started reading it was like visiting an old friend.  

 

“The Other Side of the Story” tells the slightly interconnecting stories of 3 different women; Gemma Hogan, an Irish woman working in Events Management and struggling to support her Mum after her Dad has left her for his Secretary; Jojo Harvey, an American literary agent based in London who is working hard to become partner at her firm and is also having an affair with her married boss; and finally, Lily Wright, an English author who used to be best friends with Gemma until she started a relationship with Gemma’s ex-boyfriend, Anton.

 

When I first read this book, years ago, I started to have ideas of becoming an Events Manager myself.  Gemma’s job sounds hard work but also more fun that what I was doing at the time and I am usually the one in charge of organising any kind of night out or event amongst my friends so I kind of felt like I was already doing it so may as well be getting paid to do it.  This is something that never actually came to fruition for me, I started an online course but didn’t end up getting all the way through it; life and work got busier and I just never had the time to do anything about it.  Re-reading this reminded me of those ambitions but I fear I’m a bit long in the tooth and have too many commitments for such a drastic change in career now. 

 

I felt a connection with all the main characters; I sympathised with Gemma juggling work and supporting her Mum; I was slightly envious of Jojo’s lifestyle and job but at the same time could identify with her guilt at having a relationship with a married man; and I could understand Lily’s guilt about her relationship with Anton and her struggle with the fact that neither she nor Anton had a “normal” job with a regular income coming in.  

 

The characterisation on the whole was good, as always, although I felt I could have done with seeing more from some of the characters.  Gemma’s love interest felt a bit one dimensional.  I didn’t feel like we found out enough about him to care whether they got together or not.  

 

I liked Keyes’ style of writing in this with 3 different stories being told but then overlapping in places.  She also uses this style in “This Charming Man” and I think it is a good way of seeing all sides of the story.  In this case everyone is connected to each other, whereas in “This Charming Man” the women telling the story were connected via Paddy de Courcyand not necessarily directly linked to each other.  Gemma and Lily used to be friends but aren’t anymore since Gemma thinks Lily stole her boyfriend, Anton, from her and Jojo is Lily’s agent and then later becomes Gemma’s agent when she too writes a book.  

 

“The Other Side of the Story” isn’t as hard hitting as “This Charming Man” but it’s an engaging read and I would definitely recommend it.

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This Charming Man – Marian Keyes

After struggling with “Moby Dick” I decided I needed to re-read a book that I already knew I loved so turned to Marian Keyes and “This Charming Man”.  I must confess I can’t actually read that title without singing it in the style of The Smiths’ song!  Anyone else have that problem? No? Just me then.  

 

Anyway, as I said, I have read “This Charming Man” before but not since I started the blog so I thought I’d give it another read and review it.  It tells the story of 4 women who are all connected to Politician, Paddy de Courcy, in one way or another.  There is journalist Grace Gildee, who has known Paddy since he was a teenager; Grace’s sisterMarnie, who was Paddy’s college girlfriend; Lola Daly, a stylist who was having a secret relationship with Paddy; and Alicia Thornton, the woman he has just announced he is engaged to.

 

This is the first book I think of if people try and pass Keyes off as a fluffy, chicklit author.  In this book alone she deals with domestic violence, alcoholism, rape and depression. This is not a throwaway, feel good, beach read.  She handles these subjects with sensitivity but also in an extremely realistic way.  Marnie struggles with alcoholism and despite reaching what many of us would think of as rock bottom (she loses her job and her husband moves out, taking their children with him), she continues to deny that she has a problem.  This is so true of many alcoholics.  They just can’t see that they have a problem, they think up excuses for why these bad things are happening to them and why it isn’t their fault and the more bad things happen the more they feel they need a drink to cope with it all and it’s a vicious cycle that many struggle to get out of.  Keyes has made no secret of the fact that she is an alcoholic, although fortunately for her she has remained sober for many years, so she is obviously in a position to be able to write this type of story with greateraccuracy.    

 

That’s not to say that this is a depressing book, it isn’t all doom and gloom.  Personally, I think one of Keyes’ strongestpoints is that she is able to write a book like this with many awful things happening to the characters in it and still manages to have some comedic moments to keep the mood a bit more lighthearted.  I particularly loved the storyline with Lola using her skills as a stylist to help a group of cross dressers.  

 

The issue of domestic violence is also dealt with very well.  I have no doubt there are a great many more men like Paddy in the world than I would care to think about.  The image he portrays to the world is so charming that nobody has ever guessed what he gets up to behind closed doors and I guess this is part of the reason why many abusive partners are able to get away with it for quite some time.  

 

I would definitely recommend this book.  It’s well written and despite the subject matter there are still a few laughs to be had as well.  

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Moby Dick – Herman Melville

“Moby Dick” by Herman Melville was on my “50 Books to Read Before I Die” list and also my “Top 5 Books I Meant to Read but Haven’t” list.  It was also free to download for my Kindle so I thought right, let’s get this one read and it’s ticked off on two lists for me then.  

 

Well, I’m sorry to say, I wish I hadn’t bothered.  I tried so hard but I just couldn’t get into it at all.  I mostly read in my lunch time at work so I would sit with my Kindle in hand and eat my soup and I was barely managing to maintain concentration for 10 minutes of my 30 minute lunch break.  After that my mind would start to wander, I’d check Facebook or Twitter on my phone, text a friend, basically think of anything else I could be doing rather than reading.  

 

I tried to stick with it, thinking it would surely get better once they got out to sea but every day was a struggle and I was getting nowhere fast.  Then I found a paperback copy of it on my bookshelf while I was tidying and realised just how thick this book is and, I’m not gonna lie, my heart sank.  The next lunch time I again sat and tried to keep at it but the chapter I was on seemed to basically be Ishmael describing the contents of a book he has read about whales.  No plot development, no real story at all, just old fashioned facts about whales.  I decided I just couldn’t take anymore. I sent a text to a friend of mine who is also quite bookish to see if she had read it and she said no she hadn’t, her husband had read it and told her not to bother as it was more facts about whales than it was any kind of a story.  That made up my mind for definite for me;that was already what I was thinking and I was only 200 pages in so if he had read the whole thing and still thought that there was no point in me continuing.  

 

So, although I didn’t finish it I’m going to mark it off my lists as there is no way I’m ever going to be able to read the whole thing so I may as well just admit that to myself and move on.  I know it’s a very popular book and lots of people love it but it’s just not for me.  

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