Interesting Tudor/Stuart Books

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If you know me well, you’ll know that one of my favourite eras of history is the Tudor period, and the Stuarts as well. Recently, I’ve been reading lots of books on those historical times, particularly the famous Kings and Queens. Here is a list of my recommendations if you’re also interested.

These books are in no particular order.

1.

The Tudor Court Novels by Philippa Gregory

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Widowed and alone in the avaricious world of the Tudor court, Katherine has to sidestep her father-in-law’s desire for her and convince him, and an incredulous Europe, that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, that there is no obstacle to marriage with Henry. For seven years, she endures the treachery of spies, the humiliation of poverty, and intense loneliness and despair while she waits for the inevitable moment when she will step into the role she has prepared for all her life. – from Goodreads.com

Philippa Gregory is perhaps one of the most famous historical novelists. I haven’t read the entirety of the Tudor Court novels, only from Katherine of Aragon to Kateryn Parr, as the series continues onto Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. Although their historical accuracy has been questioned many times, the scandal and political intrigue make these books excellent page turners!

2.

The Tudor Treasury by Elizabeth Norton

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This history begins when the dynasty was secured by the plotting of Margaret, the mother of Henry VII, who returned from exile to take the English throne. In time, a 17-year-old prince was crowned Henry VIII, ushering in a golden era that would gradually darken as the king broke away from Rome to establish the Church of England and dissolve the monasteries. – from Goodreads.com

This non-fiction book was a bargain buy from The Works. I got it for £3 and absolutely loved it. It’s a great resource book, but also if you want to get clued up and read from front to back, it’s not too long and very easy to digest. Everything is simply written to help you absorb the facts of a dynasty that lasted over a hundred years!

3.

The Royal Diaries by Katheryn Laksy

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A series of twenty books published by Scholastic Press from 1999 to 2005. In each of the books, a fictional diary of a real female figure of royalty as a child throughout world history was written by the author. – from Goodreads.com

Elizabeth, Mary, Anne Boleyn, in fact, all of Henry’s six Queens… the list goes on! Katheryn Lasky has written them ALL, which I find completely overwhelming and admirable. These books, in particular, are fantastic for children, as they highlight the day-to-day routine of the era and also inject facts about the Queen’s lives throughout.

4.

Mary, Queen of Scotland and The Isles by Margaret George

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Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles is the story of a woman born to rule a nation — and the glorious pageant of love and tragedy that followed in her wake. Mary’s beauty inspired poetry — yet her birthright engendered hideous treachery and terrible, bloody murder. This novel is Margaret George’s magnificent recreation of the life of one of history’s greatest legends. – from Goodreads.com

This is one of my most recent reads, and certainly the biggest. My copy weighs in at a hefty 880 pages. (Although it’s not quite Les Miserables or War and Peace, both over 1,000 pages). This book chronicles the life of Mary, Queen of Scots from her birth to her death. It’s written so beautifully that you skip through the pages easily, and doesn’t feel as heavy as it looks. It’s a definite must-read for those wanting to know more about Mary’s life.

So these are my recommendations for most interesting Tudor/Stuart novels. Do you have any you’d like to recommend to me? Let me know in the comments!

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Mary, Queen of Scots in Edinburgh

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My trip to Edinburgh in October 2016 was one of my favourite holidays I’ve been on so far. My friends Brendan, Dan and I spent a week in the Scottish capital and had so much fun looking around the city. There was plenty to do for Harry Potter fans but I also wanted to look at the Mary, Queen of Scots sites, as I’m also a huge fan of her era of history. For those of you who also are thinking of travelling to Edinburgh to see the sites of Mary, Queen of Scots, here is my round-up of places to visit.

1.

John Knox House, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

One of Mary’s greatest rivals was Protestant minister, who famously opposed Mary’s rule in Scotland, not only because she was a Catholic but also because she was a woman. The house itself tells the story of Knox’s life as you go through the museum, and you have the added knowledge that Knox also lived there for a period of his life. The biggest highlight is the ceiling in his bedroom, which is original.

2.

Holyrood Palace, Horse Wynd, Edinburgh

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(c) Dan Luxton

When Mary returned to Scotland after spending time at French court with her then-husband Francis II of France, she took to Holyrood Palace and married again, this time to her cousin, Henry, Lord Darnley, who also had a claim to the English throne. At Holyrood, you are able to see the chairs which Mary and Darnley sat, their beds and chambers. You can also see the spot where David Rizzio was murdered, which still has a shade of blood-red on the floorboards.

3.

Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

Edinburgh Castle is where Mary gave birth to her son James VI, fathered by Darnley. In the castle, you can see Mary’s apartments and the side room where she actually gave birth. You can also see the Scottish crown jewels which are held in the castle. Like most historical landmarks, the castle is open to the public and is a popular tourist attraction.

4.

Linlithgow Castle, Kirkgate, Linlithgow

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

Linlithgow is only half an hour from Edinburgh and was where Mary, Queen of Scots was born to James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise. At aged six days old she succeeded her father and became Queen of Scotland. Now, Linlithgow is virtually in ruins. The windows are open to the wind and when we visited the palace had extensive repairs being done to the exterior to keep it open to the public. In the grounds of the castle, there is a statue of Mary to commemorate this area in her history.

Are you fans of Mary, Queen of Scots? Do you want to visit the historical sites of Scotland? Let me know in the comments!

Promises and Wishes: 2017 Edition

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(Me in January and December of this year)

Once again, we find ourselves at the time of year where nostalgia and reflection overcome us! Every year on Christmas Eve, I round-up my yearly achievements and set some goals for the new year. To say I made a tonne of progress is an understatement!

Here’s my list from last year:

  • Learn to drive.
  • Go abroad again.
  • Visit Stonehenge.
  • Write another book.
  • Go and see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child again.

Let’s see how much I achieved:

Learn to drive.

Erm… the less said about that the better.

Go abroad again.

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(Dan, Brendan and Me)

Does going to Scotland count as going abroad? Some might agree, some may not. I didn’t use my passport, let’s just say that. But going to Scotland has definitely satisfied some of my wanderlust and has also given me the travel bug. In fact, Dan, Brendan and I are planning to go away in 2018 as well. We got to see a lot of Harry Potter and Outlander sites as well as some historical ones, particularly to do with Mary, Queen of Scots. (More on that later!)

Visit Stonehenge.

Nope. Didn’t happen.

Write another book.

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Yes. NEARLY. I did CampNaNoWriMo this April and managed to write fifty thousand words of a first draft for a book titled The Elementals. I also re-wrote another draft of my mystery novel Losing Lola. A 100k word count for 2017 ain’t bad!

Go and see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child again.

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Well, yes, Part Two anyway. I had a ticket for Part One but I couldn’t get the time off work, so I could only go and see Part Two, which I loved. Good job I knew what happened in Part One!

So, three out of five! Not too bad in my opinion.

Now, here’s my list for 2018:

  • LEARN TO DRIVE.

I really, really need to get around to doing that. Really, really.

  • USE MY PASSPORT.

As I said, Brendan, Dan and I are thinking about going on holiday again together in 2018, and there are a few European cities on the list so who knows!

  • Get into full-time work.

I’m already working part-time in schools which I’m absolutely loving. Ideally, I’d be looking to move into a full-time teaching assistant position. Let’s keep those fingers crossed.

  • Write another book.

If I could write a book a year. I’d be happy with that. I’m aiming to do NaNoWriMo 2018 and have an idea still developing in my mind, so I’m sure this would be an achievable goal for me.

  • Read 100 books. 

I’ve read 100 books the last two years and I really want to keep this number up, even if I’m going to be trying to get into full-time work. Reading is my greatest passion, and I want to keep my favourite hobby going at all costs!

So, let’s see what 2018 brings! What’s on your bucket list for this year? Let me know in the comments!

Most Anticipated Films of 2018

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2017 was a big year for film, but more about that in a few weeks time. I want to talk about the upcoming films of 2018 that I’m looking forward to seeing.

1.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

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Release Date: 26th January 2018

Young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as the “Flare”. – from IMDb

Ever since The Scorch Trials adaptation came out, I’ve been waiting and waiting for The Death Cure to drop. Unfortunately, due to the star Dylan O’Brien being injured on set, the release date was pushed back nearly a year! We’ve had a three-year drought since the second movie was released, but now it seems like we finally will be getting the third movie in the franchise! Hurrah!

2.

Avengers: Infinity War

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Release Date: 4th May 2018

The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. – from IMDb

We have been building up to Avengers: Infinity War for years now. Every Avengers film that gets released, there is some reference or credit scene that pieces the puzzle together for the final showdown for the Avengers. With an all-star cast and most of the characters coming together, this is set to be an amazing film!

3.

Mary, Queen of Scots

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Release Date: 2 November 2018

Mary Stuart’s attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution. – from IMDb

As you all know, I love Mary, Queen of Scots (thanks to Reign, tbh) and I’m fascinated by her and her place in history. Reign interpreted Mary’s life very differently to the biography I recently read by Margaret George, so I’m excited to see what take director Josie Rourke has on her life.

4.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

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Release Date: 16th November 2018

The second installment of the ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ series which follows the adventures of Newt Scamander. – from IMDb

I have to preface this selection. I WAS excited about seeing the second Fantastic Beasts movie. Then, I heard that the studio had chosen not to re-cast Johnny Depp in light of his domestic violence against his then-wife Amber Heard. JK Rowling posted a very vague response to his continued involvement in the franchise, and whilst there may be legal injunctions to prevent her from speaking about certain things, the fact remains that Grindelwald had another face (Colin Farrell) for ninety percent of the first Fantastic Beasts film, and it would be easy to re-cast with another actor and write into the script that Grindelwald had changed his face yet again. Contractual obligations can be broken, for example, Kevin Spacey was fired from House of Cards due to sexual abuse. It can be done. Anyway, we’ll see what happens between now and when the film is released. But as of right now. I’m not happy.

5.

Mary Poppins Returns

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Release Date: 25 December 2018

In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives. – from IMDb

The original Mary Poppins film is one of my absolute favourite films of all time. I adore it. It fills me with so much joy, and when Saving Mr. Banks came out a few years ago I loved it even more. Now, Mary Poppins Returns, with Emily Blunt in the title role, (perfect casting by the way), and Lin-Manuel Miranda as a chim-chiminy cheerful chimney sweep, I can’t wait to watch this film next year and have the Mary Poppins legacy live on!

So these are the movies I’m looking forward to in 2018. Are you looking forward to any of these? Or have I missed a few good ones off the list? Let me know in the comments!

My Literary Trip to Scotland

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Ever since I wrote about my top literary places to visit, I have been chomping at the bit to get exploring! I’m always drawn to places where people lived/live that I admire. For example, in August, I visited Oxford, home of CS Lewis, Tolkien, and various Harry Potter filming locations, and this October just passed I visited Scotland! I was drawn to Edinburgh in particular because of its literary links but also for its historical element, as it was the home of Mary Queen of Scots. (Blog post about her coming soon!)

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Above: On the train journey to Scotland.

Scotland is home to one of my favourite series, Harry Potter, as JK Rowling lived (and still lives) in Edinburgh whilst she was writing the stories. We went to various locations around the city that held history for Harry. The first stop we went to was the Greyfriars Kirkyard filled with graves which Rowling stole names from for characters for the series. We managed to find Tom Riddle, a McGonagall and a Scrimgeour! Victoria Street, just around the corner from the graveyard, also claims to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley.

Above: McGonagall, Riddell and Scrymgeour graves and Victoria Street.

We also visited The Elephant House where JK Rowling wrote a lot of Philosopher’s Stone and also another cafe named Spoon. But Rowling isn’t the old city’s claim to fame. Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer of Sherlock Holmes, was born in Edinburgh, in the home of 11 Picardy Place. To commemorate, there is a statue of Sherlock outside the home which has now become a restaurant. Across the road, there is also a pub, named the Conan Doyle, after the author.

Above: The Elephant House cafe, the Sherlock Holmes statue, and the Conan Doyle pub.

We also visited the Writer’s Museum (which is also free to enter!) which chronicled the lives of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Robert Burns. Having only read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he was the only author that I knew a little bit about but still didn’t know his full story. The museum was also doing an installation on Ian Rankin, another Scottish novelist.

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Above: The bust of Robert Louis Stevenson inside the Writer’s Museum.

There was so much to see and do in Edinburgh when it came to literary themes, not just history. There were even historical walks that lead you through the lives of writer’s, but we didn’t get a chance to go on that, and it’s something that I would really recommend any literary fiend doing.

As I said in my blog post on literary places, I’m hoping to work my way through them and so next on the list is hopefully Haworth where the Bronte’s lived!

Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Or have I made you want to take on your own literary pilgrimage? Let me know in the comments!

Netflix and Chill: My Week with TV

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I spend a lot of time on Netflix, like most of the population, and I love nothing more than sitting in front of my laptop binge-watching my favourite shows. In fact, I take pride in my well crafted TV Schedule that keeps me ticking over for weeks on end, (until the mid-season finales and season breaks, that is.) You may thing a schedule is incredibly sad, but this is coming from the girl who does monthly lists of her top five/ten/fifteen favourites. And I’m a Virgo, get over it.

Sunday

Once Upon a Time

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If someone were to say, ‘Clare, we’re going to create a TV show just for you‘, I would have chosen something along the lines of Once Upon a Time. Fairy tale characters in the real world? Totally up my ally. The huge ensemble cast of the show and the varied characters not only from fairy tales but from Oz, Neverland and Wonderland, are what makes thing show so special.

Monday

The Fosters

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I watched The Fosters, firstly, for the diversity it brought to television. Then, as I got more invested, I watched it for Callie and Wyatt. Now, I still watch it for the diversity in the show and I live in hope that Callie and Wyatt will get back together and Callie will forget all about Brandon and we’ll all pretend like it never happened. Okay? Okay.

Tuesday

Finding Carter

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Sadly it was recently announced that, Finding Carter is not being picked up for a third season, but I wanted to give this beloved show an honourable mention.

I used to watch Kathryn Prescott in Skins many years ago, and I spent most of the first season marveling at her slick American accent. Although I love Max/Taylor as much as the next person, I’m still hoping for Max/Carter to drive off into the sunset like a teenage Bonnie and Clyde. Although the show has wandered far from it’s original premise, there’s something lovable about these characters that keeps me coming back.

Also on a Tuesday is:

Pretty Little Liars

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Although the Big A mystery is over, (and we’re all still not sure quite WTF happened in that episode), our Pretty Little Liars continue convince themselves that telling the truth will get them killed for another season and a half. I’m just hoping we get a bit more backstory/information re: the first five and a half seasons because let’s be honest, we’re all a little bit confused. That being said, it’s the PLL quintet of friendship that keeps us watching, especially after the scene where they all said goodbye before college. Don’t talk to me. I’m welling up.

Wednesday

Catfish: The TV Show

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My non-fiction pick of the week. For me, the mystery side of the show is what appeals to me (along with Max and Nev’s bromance), and whether or not the the love interest is Catfish-ing or not. I’m always thinking up wild ideas of who could be behind the profile before the reveal the identity, but some of them are so bizarre you just couldn’t call it.

Thursday

How to Get Away with Murder

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I wanted to watch this originally because of Alfred Enoch who starred as the lovable Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter movies. Then, when I watched the Pilot, I was hooked on the mystery that surrounded the Keating Five and binge-watched the whole of the first season. Then the second season came out, and I didn’t think they would be able to top the neatly packaged, perfectly paced story line of season one – but they did. The writers of this show are genius. They manage to keep the suspense moving, keep the character development deepening and seem to go bigger and better.

Friday

Reign

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Mary Queen of Scots, fiercely portrayed by the wonderful Adelaide Kane, shows what life was like for the young Queen at French Court, and the short-lived marriage she had with Francis II of France. I originally wanted to watch this show for Anna Popplewell, who played gentile Susan Pevensie from the first two Chronicles of Narnia films, but soon I fell in love with the whole ensemble of characters, from Mary’s ladies in waiting, the Valois family and the nobles at court. And as an already established Tudor fan, this show was just my style.

Saturday

Doctor Who

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Watching Doctor Who on a Saturday is a habit I’ve let slide. When David Tennant and Matt Smith occupied the role I was an avid watcher, and I’m not for one minute saying I don’t like Peter Capaldi. I do like Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. The issue I have is with the content of the show, as some of the science-based narratives often get lost on me, so I prefer to sit down and binge-watch the whole season after it has aired so I can at least remember what happened between each episode, rather than have them weeks apart. I love each Doctor for different reason, and I won’t participate in a who-I-like-better debate because, for me, the Doctor is the Doctor, no matter who’s face he has, and he’s the reason why I still watch the show.

And then we go back to Sunday and do it all again! Let me know in the comments what TV shows you like to watch, and did I miss any out that are on your TV schedule?

Honourable Mentions to Shows Not in Transmission

FRIENDS

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For me, Friends is the mother-ship of TV shows. The best of the best, the cream of the crop, I can put any episode or season of Friends on and laugh my ass off. The characters, their lives, their love of coffee, the New York City apartment life. Everything about this show is perfect. (except for the episode where Joey “speaks” French. I mean REALLY?!)

One Tree Hill

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I missed the boat when the show was airing but I spent a long, long time watching and re-watching this show. I still can’t decide whether I wanted Peyton/Lucas to Brooke/Lucas to be end-game, and it’s something that still keeps me up at night, but maybe that’s the power of a good TV show. It keeps you thinking long after it’s finished.

Top 5 OTP Ships

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In every book, in every TV show, in every movie, I always end up ship-ing at least once. Whether it be a friendship or a relationship, I often see deeper layers to character’s interactions than what is played out in front of me. I’ve (tried) to list my top five OTPs, although let’s be honest, it really could be a top 123,456, but I’ve narrowed it down to these few who always tug on my heart strings.

These ships are in no particular order.

1

Ron and Hermione

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The mother-ship of all ships. The OTP of all OTPs. I ship-ed this for ten years before it became “officially” cannon, and I, in fact, didn’t even know what ship-ing was until I entered online fandom. I simply wanted Ron and Hermione to be together forever and ever and have millions of lovely ginger haired children. Luckily they did. (Well… two…)

2

Tris and Four

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One of the main things I loved about the Divergent series is the fact that there is NO LOVE TRIANGLE. Tris and Four fall for each other and live happily ever after. (Don’t talk to me about Allegiant. Allegiant and I are not friends.) Tris and Four don’t play mind games, they don’t play each other, they come together and stay together and fight for/with each other. That’s what makes me love them.

3

Snow and Charming

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Back in season one of Once Upon a Time, when Misthaven/Enchanted Forest/Storybrooke was much less confusing, Emma and Henry tried to restore the memories of our beloved fairy tale characters and bring back the happy endings. Snow and Charming were MEANT TO BE TOGETHER. It is practically written in stone. They physically share one heart. All the to-ing and fro-ing made me dizzy, but they got there in the end.

4

Mary, Queen of Scots and Francis II of France

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History books don’t paint (literally) Francis, or Mary, in a very good light. Francis, in his infancy, is a weak and sickly boy, who apparently was unable to consummate his marriage to Mary as he had not yet reached puberty. Mary on the other hand, was described more favourably, but later in life was considered to have murdered her second husband Lord Darnley. So imagine my happiness when Toby Regbo was cast as the young Dauphin of France and played opposite Adelaide Kane as Mary in hit TV show, Reign. Their on screen chemistry cemented my deep love for their short-lived romance and no, I’m still not over that episode.

5

Hanna and Caleb

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Spencer had it right when she said Hanna and Caleb draw strength for each other and if IMK doesn’t make Haleb end game then I’m going to have some serious beef. All PLL fans have beef with some aspects of the show already, so don’t go making it worse, IMK. Let’s be honest, in the translation from books to TV show, adding Caleb was one of the best things the show-runners did. What makes Hanna and Caleb even more perfect is that they’re not only romantically involved, but they’re also great friends as well.

Honourable mentions go to: Sirius/Remus, Mary/Bash, Bash/Kenna, Greer/Leith, Carter/Max (Finding Carter), Nathan/Haley and Keith/Karen (One Tree Hill), Aravis/Shasta (The Chronicles of Narnia), Hazel and Gus (The Fault in Our Stars) and so many more!