My Unpopular Bookish Opinions

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When you read as much as I do, you’re bound to develop some opinions that others might not agree with. In fact, it happens quite a lot, so I’ve rounded up some of the most unpopular opinions I have on books. Quick disclaimer, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If you disagree with me, that’s great, but please respect my opinion just as I vow to respect yours. Now, let’s get under way!

Please beware, this post may contain spoilers.

  • I did not like the Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare.

I’d heard so much about the Mortal Instruments Series before I had even read it. It was an equal amount of good and bad feedback, so I can’t say that it swayed my mind either way before I picked it up, but it was definitely a series that people were talking about. I was apprehensive at first, because books with a crazy amount of hype can sometimes end up being disappointing, but after I saw the movie, I thought I’d give it a go. Never the less, I read the first two books and ultimately felt as though the series wasn’t for me. At the grand old age of 25, I can’t help but think I’m not exactly the target audience anyway.

  • I liked Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

I would like to lay a foundation before I go into my explanation of this. The Cursed Child is a play, not a novel, and therefore should not be compared to Rowling’s original works, as it is a completely different medium to the Potter books. Not only is it a different medium, scripts are supposed to be bare and factual, because the play comes to life when you see it performed, with costumes, lighting, staging and props etc. You’re really only getting a fifth of the experience when you read a play. I have been fortunate enough to see The Cursed Child performed live and enjoyed it much more than I did when I read it, because I was getting the whole experience, the whole vision that Rowling has co-created. Finally, the point I would like to finish on, is that the any spin offs from the Harry Potter series will be destined to be unpopular. We’ve spent ten years theorising what happened after Harry said goodbye to his children at King’s Cross, and the result of whatever JK Rowling created next would not please everyone. I’m just thankful we have more produce from the Potter-verse to get excited about.

  • I liked that Tris died at the end of the Divergent Series. 

Everyone I have spoken to about the ending of Allegiant has been up in arms about Roth’s decision to kill off Tris Prior, rather than go for a happily ever after ending that we craved for her and Four. With the Divergent series, Roth has never been about sticking to the status quo when it comes to the Young Adult genre, for example, her books don’t include a love triangle for the main character, which has been one of the most overused tropes in the genre. Tris dying at the end of Allegiant fits with the character arc that Roth set up for Tris since the start of Divergent. Tris had been searching since the day of the Aptitude Test what it meant to be “selfless”, something which she struggled with on a daily basis being born and raised in the Abnegation faction. Ultimately, Tris released that selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different. So Tris sacrificing herself for the good of Chicago, so that others may live free from the Bureau, is the perfect send off for the character, and brings Tris’s arc, quite literally, to a close.

  •  I thought The Maze Runner films were better than the books.

I read all three of The Maze Runner books and have seen the two films that have currently been released, and it’s safe to say, I prefer the films. I know that sentiment is practically book-lover blasphemy but it’s the truth. I think a lot of what was weak about the original books was erased or changed in the films, and I think that Wes Ball, who directed both The Maze Runner film and The Scorch Trials film, made, not only great adaptations, but also great science fiction and dystopian films.

  •   I like John Green’s books and style of writing.

John Green was the first author I read before heavily getting into the YA genre. I read Looking for Alaska back in 2011, and then read The Fault in Our Stars in 2012 along with Paper Towns, and Abundance of Katherines and Will Grayson, Will Grayson in quick succession. I found his writing, although at times repetitive in themes and structure, to be very poetic, lyrical and philosophical, which is just my taste. I’ve noticed in reviews that a few readers have found him to be pretentious, which I can understand, but for me, his writing really speaks to a part of my soul, and I’ll always treasure his books as they opened the door to the YA genre, and widened my reading tastes.

So these are my unpopular bookish opinions! Do you agree with me on any of these points? Or do you disagree? I’m happy to start a judgement free civil conversation in the comments!

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Top 5 Places I Want to Travel To

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I’ve done my fair share of travelling in my time, but there are plenty of places I have my eye on for future wunderlust adventures. Here I’ll list my top five places I want to travel to before… well, before I die, hopefully!

These places are in no particular order.

1

Amsterdam

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(c) teleport.org

I want to visit the ‘Dam (or more commonly known as Amster-dayyum) for a number of reasons. One of the biggest draws for me is the Van Gogh museum, as he is one of my favourite artists, couple this with staying in the Van Gogh hostel next door and you’ve pretty much ticked every box. I would also love to visit the Anne Frank Haus (it’s kind of blasphemy not to when travelling the ‘Dam), and, of course, it’s one of the settings for one of my favourite books The Fault in Our Stars.

2

Agloe, New York

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Another pin on the map (see what I did there…) from man himself, John Green. I have technically driven past Agloe when I traveled around New York state a few years ago, but I would love to go back and spend some time there, get a photograph with the famous sign and relive the experience of Paper Towns.

2

Franklin, Tennessee

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Yet another place in America that I didn’t get the opportunity to visit. Franklin is a small town south of Nashville, home to one of my favourite all-time bands Paramore. They grew up here, went to school here, created their first album here, and their roots are still very much planted in this lovely little town. I would love to go and soak in the atmosphere that made Paramore the band they are today.

4

Disneyland California

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Quite a specific location, don’t you think? Well there is method in my madness. I’ve been to Disneyland Paris, once, when I was ten years old, and two years ago I went to Disneyland Florida, specifically to MGM studios, and had an amazing time. My next Disney-themed trip, I hope, will be to the California resort, just to complete the golden trio. Also, Disneyland California is host to Sleeping Beauty’s castle, one of my favourite Disney princesses!

5

Hahei, New Zealand

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Again, this pick is literary themed. I would love to visit Hahei, specifically Cathedral Cove, where a lot of the exteriors for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian movie were shot. Every time I watch this movie, I am completely breath taken by the landscape and would love to visit myself, and step into a real (almost) Narnia.

These are my top five picks (so far!) let me know if you think I’ve missed any vital photo ops down in the comments.

Top 10 Young Adult Book to Movie Adaptations

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I’ve already counted down my favourite YA standalones and series, so it only seems fitting to count down those that have been made into films. Most successful YA authors usually sell the rights to their books pretty quickly, but some get shelved for years before production gets underway. Having said that, the popularity of adapting YA has increased in the recent years. Some we can see why, and some we probably wished had stayed shelved.

It would be very easy to examine which films were closely adapted from page to screen, but using that template sometimes doesn’t always make a good film. I’ll be trying to take into account not only the “adapting” part of the film process, but also what makes the end product a great film in it’s own right.

I’m also deciding not to include the Harry Potter films in this list because they would take up eight of the ten! Don’t forget, I’ll only include films I’ve seen and can vouch for.

These are the books that have gone from page to screen, counting down from ten to one.

10

How I Live Now

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An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her. – from IMDb

As with most adaptations, a lot from the book gets lost/cut in the translation. Osbert was written out, and a certain character death was added in, but these are small prices to pay for seeing our beloved books getting worldwide success. How I Live Now is an excellent film, and a brilliant re-imagining of the original.

9

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

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As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance. – from IMDb

As I said in my 2015 film wrap up, I had a few issues with the final Hunger Games film. In my opinion, the film was too closely adapted from the book (which I wasn’t a fan of), and a lot of things didn’t make sense. Having said that, it was a brilliant action movie and good installment to a fantastic series!

8

Insurgent

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Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart with the help from others on her side. – from IMDb

Once again, as I said in my 2015 film wrap up, Insurgent was a difficult book to adapt. It’s so fast paced which allows the reader to fly through the narrative, but on film can look messy. A lot of changes were made to try and accommodate the nature of the book. Some say it worked, some disagree. For me, it was still pretty exciting to see my favourite book from the series be adapted into film.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

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Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage. – from IMDb

For some, this may be the least popular Hunger Games film, but for me it perfectly captures the calm before the storm. Katniss spends a lot of time underground with District 13, and for me this is where the real revolution begins and we see Katniss, not only have a personal journey, but also she her turn from tribute to victory to Mockingjay!

6

Paper Towns

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After an all night adventure, Quentin’s life-long crush, Margo, disappears, leaving behind clues that Quentin and his friends follow on the journey of a lifetime. – from IMDb

Another one I’m repeating from my 2015 wrap up is Paper Towns, John Green’s second venture into the world of cinema. I really enjoyed the adaptation, and I loved that the production decided to stay true to the themes of the book and not give into Hollywood. Bravo! The chemistry between all the actors and actresses that worked on the film really made it special to watch.

And now for my top five:

5

The Hunger Games

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Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death. – from IMDb

Yes, the original Hunger Games movie starts off the top five with a bang. It’s a wonderful adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s book, who puts Katniss in the arena for the first time to fight for her life.

4

The Fault in Our Stars

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Two teenage cancer patients begin a life-affirming journey to visit a reclusive author in Amsterdam. – from IMDb

The first John Green adaptation that got the ball rolling for Paper Towns. I don’t think this film could have been more perfect, the casting, the narrative, the soundtrack, everything. I came away feeling incredibly satisfied.

3

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem. – from IMDb

I know what you must be thinking. Why is the second Hunger Games movie higher than the first? For me, Catching Fire is the best Hunger Games movie. I know it draws similarities from the first film, as we see Katniss and the gang go back into the arena, but for me, everything was bigger and better.

2

Divergent

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In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she’s Divergent and won’t fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it’s too late. – from IMDb

When Divergent dropped, many people wrote it off as a Hunger Games Wannabe, but after the movie was made, it established Roth’s faction-based dystopia in it’s own right. I absolutely loved the book and film version of Divergent, and the adaptation between the two was seamless.

1

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world. – from IMDb

Perks is my number one book to movie adaptations. I’m not sure whether it’s because Stephen Chbosky wrote the book and the screenplay, or if it’s because Charlie’s story is one that touches us all right in the feels. But there’s something about this book/film combo that speaks to all the wallflowers inside of us.

And that concludes my top ten list of young adult book to movie adaptations. Do you agree? Have I left any off the list you would consider worthy of a title? Let me know down in the comments.

Top 15 Favourite Books

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At the age of (almost) 25, I have read a lot of books. I have read books I’ve loved, books I’ve hated, books that left me feeling ‘meh’, and books that I’ve abandoned. In my first quarter of a century, I’ve accumulated many books that I declare among my favourites, but these are the fifteen most loved ones that I want to share with you.

These books are in no particular order.

1

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis

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I’m seven years old, accompanying Lucy Pevensie through the wardrobe and into the Western Wood. I try to reason with Edmund as we walk towards the Witch’s castle. I sharpen my blade with Peter as we prepare for battle, and I fight alongside Susan, shooting my arrow through the hearts of Narnian traitors. As I grow older, I ride alongside Shasta and Aravis as we made the journey across the desert into Archenland. I’ll see Narnia come to life, hearing the sweet sound of Aslan’s song, singing the world into creation with Digory and Polly.

2

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

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I’m eleven years old, getting my Hogwarts letter with Harry in the cupboard under the stairs. We get the train together at 11 o’clock on the 1st September, and meet Ron and Hermione along the way. I defeat Voldemort with Harry, once, twice and three times. I escape to the Burrow with the Weasley’s way too often, and tag along to the Quidditch World Cup. I stand by Harry through the rise of Voldemort and fight along side him in the Battle of Hogwarts.

3

Looking for Alaska by John Green

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It’s 2011 and I’m in Treehugger Dan’s bookshop in Budapest, Hungary. I’m 19 years old, nearly no longer a teenager, my childhood soon to be over, marked by an epic InterRail experience before university. I’m in the sale section, I see a book called Looking for Alaska by John Green for 200F, equivalent to about 50p. What draws me in is… well, everything about it. I buy it and head back to my hostel, a cute, quirky loft converted from an old town house. I sit in the bay window and devour Looking for Alaska in one sitting. I realise why I want to be a writer. I realise that grief will never leave me. I continue to seek my Great Perhaps.

4

The Phantom of Manhattan by Frederick Forsyth

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I have now “become” an adult. I’m twenty years old. I’m in my first semester of university and I have just been exposed to The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, both of which I’ve read. Somewhere online, I find that the Phantom of Manhattan is the unofficial sequel to Gaston Leroux’s original novel and I fly through it in one sitting. It becomes my guilty pleasure, and much to my enjoyment, enables the musical-sequel Love Never Dies to come to fruition.

5

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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It’s the summer of 2012 and I’ve just completed my first year at university so I head into Waterstones to celebrate. I browse the shelves, when this book catches my eye. I’ve heard it’s being made into a movie, and once I read the synopsis I’m sold. I buy this in a two for one deal along with Fifty Shades of Grey, which I soon regret, but this novel serves as a reminder why picking Creative Writing as my degree is a good decision.

6

Paper Towns by John Green

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After I realise John Green has written not one, but four other books, I head to Amazon and go on a book binge buy spree. I buy An Abundance of Katherine’s, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson and The Fault in Our Stars, his latest novel. Paper Towns arrives first, and on that first page, John Green becomes my second Auto-Buy author. Sitting in my porch/bedroom, as Spring turns to Summer in 2013, I delve into Q’s world, sitting next to him in the mini van as we make our way along the East Coast to find Margo.

7

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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It’s Christmas 2013 and I’m in New York. I head into Barnes and Noble on 5th Avenue and browse the shelves aimlessly. Outside it’s snowing, and I know we have to get the Croton-Harmon train back before peak times but I can’t tear myself away. Most people are gazing up at the Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller Center, but I’m gazing up at the rows of books before me. I’ve always wanted to read The Bell Jar, and so I buy it there and then before I could talk myself out of it. I read it on the train all the way to Tarrytown.

8

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

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It’s 2014 and I’m in my final semester of university. In our Creative Visions module, we’re exploring futuristic words and thus my love for dystopian fiction is born. I spend my time trying to escape the pain of assignments and dissertation talk by curling up with this book, finding a whole new definition of the word escapism. As I read, Tally and I hover board along the skyline, wondering what exactly it is that makes a person “pretty”.

9

Flowers in the Attic and the Dollanganger Saga by VC Andrews

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Despite trying to escape talk of my pending dissertation, I can’t, but I find respite in “reading for research”. Flowers in the Attic is the first book in the Dollanganger Saga, and fills my head with rich, luxurious, gothic mansions, plot twists and betrayal. I lap it up, and am reminded that my final piece for my degree is MINE, and take notes on delicious description from Ms Andrews.

10

The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

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I’ve finally left university. My dissertation is handed in and now I’m waiting on my results. Now I can read whatever books I choose, and the thought of that alone is so liberating. When I hear that Divergent is to be made into a movie, I figure it’s just another book series jumping on the coat tails of The Hunger Games, but after I decide to read the series, I realise it’s so much more. Tris goes on a journey unlike any other. She questions what it means to be selfless and brave, and questions her identity along the way. The ending to the Divergent series is heartbreaking, but proves it’s not just another book series. It’s a social commentary on human nature.

11

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

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Three years worth of assigned reading stopped me from buying any new books, so as my graduation fast approaches in the Autumn of 2014, I look for exciting books to catch my eye. Rediscovering authors seems to be a habit of mine. Many years ago when I was in secondary school I read a booked called The Boyfriend List, now nearly ten years later I find We Were Liars by the very same E Lockhart. It’s my first trip into psychological thrillers and I LOVE it. I don’t realise the twist and it blows my mind.

12

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

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I’m at my very first Writing Weekend as an alumni of the University of Winchester, and Belzhar has been my most anticipated read of 2014. A YA novel, inspired by The Bell Jar, set at boarding school, and it’s right up my street. Sometimes I wish I could go back to school, just so that I could choose to go to boarding school. Or sometimes I wish I could move back into Halls of Residence, where life was much more simple.

13

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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My graduation has come and gone. I really am a full fledged graduate, so I retreat to a place that makes me feel safe. I’ve spent much of the past ten years online. Not just online but ONLINE, participating in forums and chat rooms, writing in online journals, and writing, writing, writing. I never thought anyone would understand my “life online”, and I didn’t know how to communicate to anyone what that time in my life meant to me, but Rainbow Rowell does it with one swift novel: Fangirl.

14

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks… by Jack Kerouac and William S Burroughs

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It’s almost Christmas again and I’ve just finished watching Kill Your Darlings with Daniel Radcliffe. I quickly become obsessed with the Beat Generation and haul a tonne of books from that era. This book is the fictional account, similar to the Kill Your Darlings, of the murder of David Krammerer and the Beat Poets growing up in the underbelly of New York City. I adore this book the moment I read the first page and the moment I read the last.

15

Cinder and The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

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I’m twenty three going on ten years old again. I’m scouting the scrapyard for junk metal with Cinder and Peony when she gets taken. I’m running with Cinder to warn Prince Kai about Levana. I’m sitting in the cell with Dr Erland when he tells her she’s the lost Princess Selene. I’m reminded that you’re never too old for fairy tales.

Did I mention any books in this list that you love too? Let me know in the comments.

Top 10 Young Adult Standalones

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I have read many fantastic young adult books over my time, and many not so fantastic, but today we’re going to focus on the positives and examine my top ten favourite young adult books I’ve read so far.

These books are in no particular order.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. – from Goodreads.com

Both Stephen Chbosky’s book and film are very near and dear to my heart. He manages to sum up perfectly what in England we call an “inbetween-er” and express feelings I couldn’t find the words to say myself.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

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Miles “Pudge” Halter is abandoning his safe-okay, boring-life. Fascinated by the last words of famous people, Pudge leaves for boarding school to seek what a dying Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Pudge becomes encircled by friends whose lives are everything but safe and boring. Their nucleus is razor-sharp, sexy, and self-destructive Alaska, who has perfected the arts of pranking and evading school rules. Pudge falls impossibly in love. When tragedy strikes the close-knit group, it is only in coming face-to-face with death that Pudge discovers the value of living and loving unconditionally. – from Goodreads.com

In May 2011 I picked this book up second-hand in Budapest for less than a British pound. I read it practically in one sitting and fell in love. I had been yearning for something to express all the feelings and unanswered questions I had surrounding the death of my father, and reading this book felt like coming home. It has become my holy grail YA, my go-to recommendation and what made me realise WHY I wanted to be a writer. I can’t sing it’s praises enough.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids. But Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? – from Goodreads.com

I didn’t know I needed this book until I read it. I needed Rainbow Rowell to write a book detailing my life in online Fandom, how it laid the foundations for my writing career, allowed me to talk to others about the books/films that I loved, and how it gave me more confidence to be myself and not be ashamed of my obsessions. A must-read for anyone who has spent time online, written fan fiction, and ship-ed characters into OTP-dom.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. – from Goodreads.com

 I don’t think I’ve met someone who hasn’t read The Fault in Our Stars (commonly shortened to TFioS). If you want a tear-jerking story that will fill your heart with sadness and happiness in equal measure then this is the book for you. I felt physically hungover after reading this book, but don’t let that stop you from immersing yourself in the delectable story of  Hazel and Augustus.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. – from Goodreads.com

This is one of the most important books I’ve read on rape culture. (Don’t shout at me. (Not) Asking for It by Louise O’Neill is on my TBR!) Written lyrically and beautifully, we are taken on Mel’s journey as she narrates her own internal monologue and eventually has to face up to the truth of that night. 

Paper Towns by John Green

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Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew… – from Goodreads.com

 A cat and mouse chase-type road trip full of fun and friendships. This novel poses some really important questions, especially since the rise in popularity of social media, and the lines between virtual reality are becoming more and more blurred.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and illustrated by Maira Kalman

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Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped. – from Goodreads.com

Poetic, vivid and expertly written, this novel, complete with beautiful illustrations by Maira Kalman, narrates Min’s journey as she details all the reasons why she broke up with charismatic jock Ed.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. – from Goodreads.com

Thrilling, exciting and completely engaging. This breakout novel from Jay Asher makes it’s mark on the young adult genre and is a must-read for any readers looking for a book full of mystery and intrigue.

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

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A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. – from Goodreads.com

Another gripping read from one of my almost-auto-buy authors E Lockhart. With a massive twist at the end that is set to make your head spin, it’s impossible not to envision this as a film in the coming years.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

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Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way. – from Goodreads.com

This book is as electrifying as it sounds. It breaks the mould of the dystopian genre and a becomes one-of-a-kind book that leaves you wondering about the future of our world, and draws you into a love story as delicious as the idyllic farm where Daisy and Ed’s romance is born.

That concludes my top ten young adult standalone books. Are there any you’ve read that missed the short list? Which books do you agree are worthy of a recommendation? Let me know in the comments.

My Top 5 Auto-Buy Authors

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The term auto-buy has been coined by many in the bookish online community, and refers to an particular author whose books, regardless or topic, theme or genre, you will automatically buy upon release. In my time of reading, specifically since I began buying my own books, I have accumulated many auto-buy authors who, should they publish it, could re-write the yellow pages and I would read it. Simples. So here are my top five authors who I await with baited breath for books.

These authors are in no particular order.

JK Rowling

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I know this one seems like an obvious choice, but it’s obvious because in my eyes there is no one greater than Ms Rowling herself. From Harry Potter to the Casual Vacancy, to Robert Galbraith’s Comoran Strike novels, JK just knows how to write.

John Green

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Again, another obvious choice, but do I care? No. John Green has not failed me yet, which makes the anticipation for his next novel even greater. Nothing has been confirmed, but Mr Green recently did take a social media hiatus to further his writing progress, which only makes the wait for his next release all the more agonizing now that we know something is in the works.

Marissa Meyer

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Cinder was my number one book that I read in 2015, and the news that Marissa Meyer is releasing another retelling in 2016 bumped her up to auto-buy status. Yes, November 2016, Heartless will be released, a retelling of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, and I think it’s my most anticipated release of 2016.

Dorothy Koomson

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I read my first Dorothy Koomson book over ten years ago, and I’m still reading her catalogue to this day. Dorothy started out predominantly a romance writer, and has made a steady shift to more thriller-type novels and found commercial success when her novel The Ice Cream Girls was adapted into an ITV series. (The less said about that, the better. ITV changed the ending completely, which is fine, but it didn’t make sense.)  That being said, I love how quickly Dorothy churns out her books (usually one a year) and they are always an incredible standard.

E Lockhart

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E Lockhart is another author I’ve been reading for many years. I read The Boyfriend List when I was in school, and then We Were Liars dropped and I was catapulted back into E Lockhart’s writing once more. Frankie Landau-Banks was in my top five books of 2015 and I then went onto read Fly on the Wall which is was odd but charming and completely intoxicating. I can’t wait for what E Lockhart releases next!

So that is my top five, are there any on my list that are also on yours? Have I missed out anyone you think is worthy of the title? Let me know in the

Top 10 Films of 2015

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Going to the cinema is one of my favourite pastimes. So loved, in fact, that I have recently purchased a Cineworld card. I saw lots of films in 2015, some I had planned to see and some were spontaneous surprises, but which films made it to my short list? As usual, I will only list films that I’ve seen and can vouch for.

10

Far From the Madding Crowd

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I was excited for this film for two reasons. One, Carey Mulligan. Need I say more? Two, I thoroughly enjoyed the adaptation of the adaption of this book… I am, of course, talking about Tamara Drewe, which was based off of a graphic novel, based off of the original book Far From the Madding Crowd written by Thomas Hardy. I wouldn’t say this film was my brand new favourite period drama, but it was certainly entertaining to watch.

9

Paddington

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Ever since Paddington THE MOVIE was announced, I had been on the edge of my seat waiting for a release date. I got even more excited when Colin Firth was announced as the voice of Paddington, and deflated when I heard he had parted from the project. Having seen the movie, and being blessed with hindsight, I can see that his voice would have been a bit too mature for an endearingly naive bear like Paddington. This film was always going to be a win for me, and even now I still wish I had my very own Paddington. (Although as long as he stays out of my bathroom, we’re alright.)

8

Pitch Perfect 2

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I don’t think this has ever been said before, but, I enjoyed Pitch Perfect 2 more than the first Pitch Perfect movie. There. I said it. The first movie for me was good but the second installment, of what will now apparently be a trilogy, was much more entertaining. I’m not sure whether it was the growth of the characters, the depth of the dynamic between the girls, or the rags to riches… to rags again, and back to riches, story of the Barden Bellas, but something about this movie did more than just click.

7

Cinderella

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After the success of Maleficent, Disney’s announcement of more live-action-remakes made me feel a bit on edge. Disney had it so right with original animated classics, that a lot of them felt untouchable, but when Cinderella became first on the list, I felt warmed to the idea. Cinderella is the quintessential Princess story, but on review the original story seemed to lack depth, something which the new live-action-remake totally makes up for. We see more of a back story to Cinderella’s past and are blessed with a new moral-of-the-story mantra, “have courage and be kind.” 

6

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

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One of my most anticipated films of the year falls outside the top five? Yes, unfortunately it does. I wasn’t totally disappointed by the last film in the Hunger Games quartet, but I did have some problems with it. Another thing that I never thought I would say: it was too closely adapted from the book. Yes, I know that sounds ludicrous, and that’s what book-to-movie-adaptation fans yearn for, but the Mockingjay book was a complete let down for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books and the three films that were conceived as a result. I actually thought, dare I say it, the films were better, so my expectations for Mockingjay Part 2 were high, and unfortunately weren’t met. Having said that, I did really enjoy watching the film and it was really sad to have the series come to the end. I’m still in denial that there’s not going to be another Hunger Games film. Don’t touch me. I’m grieving.

5

Insurgent

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Another one of my most anticipated films of 2015 was the second installment to the Divergent series. This set of books really got me well and truly into the dystopian funk and Divergent the movie was an absolute cracker. Insurgent, in my eyes, was a very strong but complicated book and I didn’t envy the screenwriters when the time came to adapt it. Trying to repack a book into a film is like getting a leopard to change it’s spots, and when the negative reviews for Insurgent came flooding in, I wasn’t totally surprised. However, I do feel as though all of the changes made in the translation were for the good of the story. They weren’t changing things just because they could, the writers tried to make a complicated book into a streamlined visual narrative. I admire their effort, but this film wasn’t up to the standard of it’s predecessor.

4

Inside Out

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I didn’t know about this film until my great friend GracieActually told me how amazing it was, and we took my Mum along to revel in the joy (literally) of this film. What stood out most for me was Joy and Sadness’ relationship, and how closely it mirrored my own relationship with my Mum. As many of you know I’m currently battling depression, so to see a character like Sadness be sad, and yet completely lovable and charming, was so amazing for me and my self esteem.

3

Paper Towns

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Picture the scene. I have just recovered from the emotional roller-coaster that was The Fault in Our Stars, and almost immediately afterwards it is announced that Paper Towns, another of John Green’s books, it due to be adapted to the big screen. Well, it took me a long time to stop screaming with excitement. Once again, this was one of my most anticipated films of the year and I was lucky enough to attend the Paper Towns Movie event in London ahead of it’s release and see twenty minutes of the finished movie before anyone else. I knew from those twenty minutes that I was going to love the movie, and when I finally got to see it in it’s fullest form, I was not disappointed. Many people said the film was “anticlimactic” which to me was kind of the point. Q had made Margo up in his head to be this wild and precious being, when really she was, in fact, a girl. The fact that the producers chose to end the film in that way, rather than have Q and Margo drive off to New York City as the sun sets, and keep the original themes of the book shows a massive step forward for future adaptations.

2

The D.U.F.F

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Is it surprising that this is another YA book-to-movie adaptation? Probably not, but I actually didn’t like the novel The D.U.F.F written by Kody Keplinger. I gave it one whole extra star on Goodreads.com because I was SO HAPPY that someone had coined the term. I have spent my whole life feeling like I was The D.U.F.F and to potentially have some strong YA female bad-ass characters to commiserate with made excited. The book was a let down, but luckily the film was everything the book was not. Mae Whitman was the perfect choice for Bianca and Robbie Amell’s charisma oozed from the screen. He was the Wes I’d been waiting for, and his and Whitman’s double act type chemistry made this an amazing film.

This leaves the top spot, the number one film I watched this year, which was…

1

Into the Woods

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Disney. Musical. Fairy Tale Retelling. James Corden. Meryl Streep. Emily Blunt. Anna Kendrick. The list titled “Why I Love This Film” is endless. When I heard that Sondheim’s classic Into The Woods was going to be made into a film, not just a film, but a film with an all-star cast, I was ecstatic. I had seen a version of the stage show that did not paint the story in a very flattering light, so I had high hopes for the film, and I was no disappointed. This film was so well crafted, with talented all-around performers and was nothing short of perfect in my eyes. It was everything I wanted it to be and more!

And that concludes my top ten list. Did you get a chance to see any of these this year? And did any of them make it to your top ten? Let me know in the comments down below what you think.