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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Top 5 Female Authors of my Lifetime

I know I’m a little late but in celebration of International Women’s Day I decided to do a list of Top 5 Female Authors of my Lifetime.  I am 30 years old so that means anyone who I love that has published work in the last 30 years.  As with all of my lists they are in no particular order.  

1) Marian Keyes

I love Marian Keyes.  Absolutely love her.  I know a lot of people write her books off as “chick lit” and “forgettable fluff” but these people clearly haven’t read them.  Marian (I feel like I can call her Marian because her books make me feel like I know her.  I also follow her on Twitter and find her tweets hilarious!), has covered a range of topics including alcoholism, depression, domestic violence and rape.  Her Walsh family books are my absolute favourites and I’ve read all of them more than once.  Just because she’s a female Author who writes books mainly about women and for women does not mean they don’t contain worthy messages.  Side note – her recipe book “Saved by Cake” is incredible and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to try their hand at a variety of different dessert based recipes.

2) Kathy Reichs

Regular readers of my blog will know I love Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series of crime fiction books and also her Virals series aimed at young adults.  I started to read Reichs books as I’m a fan of the TV series “Bones”, which is loosely based on the books and that Reichs consults on as well.  They are very different from each other, pretty much the only thing that is the same is the main character is called Temperance Brennan and she is a leading Forensic Anthropologist, but I have come to love the books and the fact that Brennan is a female in quite a male oriented environment and, for the most part, manages to hold her own.

3) J. K. Rowling

I don’t think any list of female Authors would be complete without Rowling.  I came to the Harry Potter series a little late as I just thought they were kids’ books and couldn’t understand why so many older people were getting into them as well.  I decided to give them a try for myself eventually and was hooked right from the start. On the plus side it meant I was able to power through from “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” right up to “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” before I ran out of books and had to wait for the next one to be released.  Whilst I wasn’t as big a fan of “The Casual Vacancy” and haven’t read any of Robert Galbraith’s books, I think the world and characters she created in the Harry Potter series were incredible.  Although she was writing about a magical world, most of the problems the characters faced were extremely relatable.  She also created one of my all-time favourite female characters in Hermione Granger so deserves a mention just for that!

4) Cecelia Ahern

I love the mix of magic and romance in Ahern’s books.  Yes, they aren’t the most highly nuanced works of literature but for me they are the ultimate in escapism.  I tend to blast through each of her books in a single day when they are released as I just don’t want to drag myself away from them once I start.  I have read all of them more than once and love them just as much on repeat readings as I did the first time.  I do, however, take issue with the film versions of her books.  Not only do they not do them justice, they make them barely recognisable from the books.  Not a fan!  I wish she was able to retain greater control of film adaptations, the way Rowling did with the Potter films, so they couldn’t stray so far from the source material.

5) Jodi Picoult

Picoult is another Author who I try to buy as soon as a new release comes out.  Each book does tend to follow a similar pattern, there is always some kind of social issue, usually something quite current, and a Court case.  Through the course of her books she has covered many topics, including school shootings, raising children within a same sex relationship and even Nazi war criminals who have escaped to the United States. Picoult’s books are always well researched and the issues sensitively dealt with.  She manages to remain impartial and give weight to each side of the argument in all the issues that she has covered.  A lot of the main characters are female and I like that her characters are made out to be perfect.  In reality, people have flaws and she depicts these flaws well within her characters.  

Do you agree with my choices or is there someone you think should be on there instead?  Let me know in the comments.

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Missing You – Harlan Coben

As regular readers of my blog will know, I recently read “The Woods” by Harlan Coben (for my review click here) and really enjoyed it.  “The Woods” was the first book of Coben’sthat I had read and it left me wanting to read more of his work.  As there are quite a few to choose from I figured it didn’t really matter which one I read next so I went with “Missing You”, which is a fairly recent one, published in April 2014. 


As with “The Woods” there were some twists and turns along the way, several of which I didn’t see coming.  The characterisation was okayI liked that the protagonist, NYPD Detective, Kat Donovan, wasn’t perfect.  It made her more realistic.  I loved her friend and Yoga Instructor, Aqua, and I also loved Brendan Phelps, the young boy who starts Kat off digging into what is going on with the dating website when he approaches her about his missing Mother.  The only thing I would say is there isn’t a lot of background work done on most of the characters, which isn’t a massive problem but it does make some of them a little bit one dimensional.  It’s hard to picture a person’s motivation for the behaviours we see when we don’t know much about what got them to where they are now, if that makes sense.  


I liked the way the different plot points converged and on the whole I was happy with the resolutions.  The ending was kind of open ended, normally I like being able to imagine what I think the characters would do next but with little in the way of background information regarding the characters in question it’s difficult to say what they would do.  To be fair to Coben, he delivers a fast paced crime thriller with plenty of twists and turns along the way and if he we were to spend more time building up the background of the characters it would definitely slow the pace of the book somewhat.  It isn’t a deal breaker for me, I enjoy the fast paced nature so wouldn’t want to lose that for the sake of some character development.  


Having a break from Coben now to get another book ticked off on my “50 Books to Read Before You Die” list but I will no doubt be returning to him at some point soon.

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