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.

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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!

Which Harry Potter film is my favourite?

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Picking your favourite Harry Potter movie (or book) is like trying to pick your favourite child. I don’t take the decision lightly, hence why it has taken me SO LONG to write this post. Whichever film is left last, I immediately feel guilty for, and to be honest, each film has their strengths and weaknesses, which makes the decision even harder. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to rank them. Finally.

I would just like to take a moment to say that just because your favourite doesn’t come near the top, doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the film or think it’s good. I love all of the Harry Potter films dearly, but my reasons for ranking them in this order is down to my own personal taste. With that in mind, let’s get underway.

8

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Order of the Phoenix marks David Yates’ debut on the Harry Potter franchise, and unfortunately he was met with a difficult task. Order of the Phoenix is the largest book in the series, and so trying to condense the plot into a streamline film was going to be challenging for any director. Couple that with the fact that this was David Yates’ first Harry Potter film, I find Order of the Phoenix to be the weakest.

Scenes I Love: Dumbledore’s Army practicing in the room of requirement, watching their friendship develop and grow stronger. The Order at Grimmauld Place, especially Christmas with the Weasleys.

7

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

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I know, I know. The climax of the Harry Potter franchise charts so low on the list? Yes, but only because I cannot bear to watch my beloved characters die in the final battle. It is an amazing action film, with incredible special effects, moments of humour, and it completely charming – but I have to mentally prepare myself before I put the DVD on!

Scenes I Love: Dumbledore’s Army camping out in the room of requirement, led by the silver trio Neville, Ginny and Luna. Neville generally being a bad-ass beauty in his cardigan. Ron and Hermione FINALLY getting together. Lupin, Sirius, James and Lily walking with Harry into the Forbidden Forest. Narcissa betraying Voldemort!

6

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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The film that kick-started it all. Watching the young golden trio is just a delight, and it’s so comforting to revel in the pure innocence of the Wizarding World before Voldemort’s return. Christopher Columbus managed to make the first film timeless, and no Christmas is complete without watching this film by a roaring fire and wearing a Weasley jumper.

Scenes I Love: Hagrid putting the Dursleys in their place. Harry’s first experience of Diagon Alley. Harry meeting Ron and Hermione on the train. Harry standing up to Draco (multiple times). The gold trio sleuthing around the castle figuring out the mystery.

5

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Prisoner of Azkaban stands out, not just visually, but as the turning point of the Harry Potter franchise. Alfonso Cuarón creates a stunning film, that sees the trio not only come into their adolescence but also gives the collection a mature tone. It’s a shame that Alfonso Cuarón didn’t stay on for more Harry Potter films, as his vision was something that was universally loved by all of the fans. 

Scenes I Love: Hermione being rubbish at Divination, yet mastering all of her classes by using a time turner. The introduction of the Mauraders, and seeing Remus and Sirius come to life. Ron and Hermione going on “dates” in Hogsmede as Harry can’t visit without permission.

4

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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The second film, also directed by Chris Columbus, steps up a gear with the Chamber of Secrets. Harry, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts with more knowledge of Voldemort, the Wizarding World and the dangers that surround Hogwarts. With Hermione being petrified for a portion of the film, we see Harry and Ron haphazardly try and navigate their way through the next mystery, and ultimately (without realising it) destroying a Horcrux.

Scenes I Love: The introduction of Dobby. Dobby is free! The Weasleys rescuing Harry from the Dursleys. Spending time at the Burrow. The Weasley’s in general. Harry’s derp moment trying to get to Diagon Alley. Lockhart being inept throughout the whole film.

3

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

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A lot of people were opposed to splitting up the Deathly Hallows book into two films, and I can understand why. From a business perspective, it would seem as though Warner Brothers wanted to make more money by issuing two separate films, but had they not made that decision, we would not have had Part 1 in all it’s glory. I know lots of people think that the “calm before the storm” films are boring, as I heard lots of complains about Mockingjay Part 1 as well as the first Deathly Hallows film. Personally, I absolutely adore this installment. There are so many moments of light and shade, and comedy mixed with fear as the final battle looms ever closer. The dynamic between the trio strengthens as their friendship is put to the test, and even though we’re out of our usual Hogwarts setting, we’re still left with the amateur sleuthing that the trio partake in throughout all the books and films.

Scenes I Love: The flight of the seven Harrys. Preparing for the Wedding at the Burrow. The return of Dobby and Kreacher. Camping in the Forest. Harry and Hermione dancing together. The silver doe. Ron returning, destroying the Horcrux, admitting his deepest fears and feelings, and Hermione giving him hell. Ron and Harry making up and talking in the tent. The tale of the three brothers. Basically any romantic Ron/Hermione moments.

2

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Trying to decide between my number two and number one was THE MOST difficult decision ever and to be honest I switched these around a number of times. Probably by the time this post goes live I will have changed my mind again. When the Goblet of Fire DVD first came out, I watched it over and over again, so I probably know the film inside out. Mike Newell created a fantastic film, and I’m sad he didn’t stay on for more films after Goblet of Fire.

Scenes I Love: The entire Quidditch world cup sequence. Harry falling for Cho Chang and Cedric and Harry looking out for each other, despite the fact that Cedric is dating Cho. The Yule Ball sequence. Ron and Hermione arguing. Cedric’s funeral and Dumbledore’s speech. The ending with the golden trio watching Durmstrang and Bauxbatons leaving Hogwarts.

1

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Half-Blood Prince is my favourite Harry Potter film, (although closely followed by Goblet of Fire). David Yates, who tackled the task of adapting the remaining Harry Potter movies, really hit his stride with this film. Once again, this film is the calm before the storm, as we see Harry and the gang return to Hogwarts after the events of Order of the Phoenix. This also marks the last time Harry is at Hogwarts before the Final Battle.

Scenes I Love: Harry and Dumbledore out on their adventures. Harry trying to flirt with the waitress. Harry returning to the Burrow and flirting with Ginny. The trio taking potions classes and Hermione getting frustrated at Harry because he is better than her (thanks to the Half-Blood Prince). Ron being rubbish and then awesome at Quidditch. Hermione and Ron fighting, flirting, trying to get back at each other. Ron being under the influence of a love potion. Harry being under the influence of Felix Felicis. And so many more!

That concludes my ranking of the Harry Potter films. Do you disagree with my choices, and think a different film should be number one? Or do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments.