The Books that Built the Blogger with Rachel from Confessions of a Book Geek!

 

 

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This week on The Books that Built the Blogger, I have the fantastic Rachel from Confessions of a Book Geek. I had been following Rachel for a while before we realised that we both live in the same town in Northern Ireland! She is a font of all YA knowledge and I love her enthusiasm and insight.

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Hi! I’m Rachel from Confessions of a Book Geek, and I’m here to share with you five books that have shaped my reading, or had an impact on the kind of books I tend to gravitate towards. As a kind-of millennial (I think I’m just a little too old to be considered a “proper” one), it’s so tempting to shout “Harry Potter!” for any and all questions relating to my favourite books, books that made me, books that shaped me, books I’m obsessed with, etc. I’m not sure if it counts as a book that has shaped my reading… but it’s a book that has shaped my life, and that has to count for something, right? I’ve decided to challenge myself with this post though, so I’m not including HP in the official five (though do you like how I still snuck it in there? Had to be done).

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This is a massively under-rated YA novel, set in London, telling the story of four teens; Brie is in love with her best friend, Charlie, who is gay. Charlie lusts after Walker (a bit of a bad-boy), who is obsessed with Daisy, a lesbian. I read this when I was about 15 or 16, and it was the first time I’d ever read anything with LGBT characters. I read a lot of books, and all these years later, I remember the characters and story vividly. It doesn’t feel like that long ago, but the past ten years have made a big difference to LGBT awareness, and back then, this book pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me want to read more books that represent diverse communities.

 

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I always enjoyed History as a subject in school, but I never really engaged with how it was taught, or the fact that we had to memorise lists of names and dates for exams. It made History dull, and often boring. I fell in love with The Tudors TV series, and then The White Queen TV series, so when I realised it was based on Gregory’s books, I HAD to get my hands on them. I fell IN LOVE instantly, and my experience made me chase down more fantastic historical fiction reads. Ones based on true stories are even better (such as my favourite book of 2016, The Double Life of Mistress Kit Kavanagh, *hint hint*).

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This was the first Picoult book I ever read (I’ve since gone on to collect many books by this author), and it introduced me to the world of family sagas/dramas, or “issues” books, as I like to call them. I bawled my eyes out to this book, and I’m not a crier. Picoult led me to Diane Chamberlain (who I got to interview on my blog!), and now if any book is compared to either of these authors’ work, I’m interested. These books are typically very well researched, and focus on a key family dynamic, illness, or struggle, that broadens the reader’s horizons and gives you a new perspective on life.

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This was recommended reading in my school Book Club when I was 17. When I read it, I was surprised our teacher was allowing us to read this, let alone recommending it, but I’m so glad she did. It’s dark, gritty, and incredibly complex. A fantastic novel that recounts a school shooting and mass murder, told from the point-of-view of the perpetrator’s mother, which really examines the “nature v nurture” debate. Not only has this particular book stayed with me, but it opened my eyes to psychological thrillers, and also started my interest in true crime.

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Until Colleen Hoover, I didn’t know “New Adult” fiction was even a thing. In case you’re not familiar with New Adult, check out a guest post I wrote for Dani Reviews Things that goes in to more detail. New Adult essentially focuses on protagonists aged 20-30, who are dealing with all sorts of new experiences as they transition from adolescence, into being adults. At 26 years of age, as you can imagine, these stories are usually pretty relatable for me (even if the romance plots are not!). As with all genres, there are some crappy NA books out there, but when you find a good’un (Hoover is my QUEEN), they could open your eyes to a whole new category of books for you to devour.

What a great list from Rachel and I am delighted to see We Need to Talk About Kevin on there, such a fantastic book. Are any of your favourites on Rachel’s list?

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Get yer own book!

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WARNING: This weeks post contains spoilers, particularly for Rebecca!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is Top Ten Characters You Wish Would Get Their OWN Book. I think most books would be interesting told from another character’s viewpoint, but these are the ones I’d be most interested in reading.

  1. Rebecca DeWinter from Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The unseen titular character, from Daphne Du Maurier’s classic novel could more than hold her own in a spin –off book. Maybe a prequel? A stunning beauty, who appeared to be the perfect society wife, was actually a cruel promiscuous liar, taunting her husband with her various affairs, faking a pregnancy and eventually driving her husband to shoot her so she doesn’t die of cancer. Mrs Danvers can stand aside; Rebecca DeWinter is the true villain of this tale and the most interesting character!

2. Lolita from Lolita by Nabokov
The fact that we never get to hear anything from Lolita’s point of view in Nabokov’s novel makes her all the more intriguing. Is she a shallow and manipulative young girl, using the men around her to get what she wants, or a confused, lonely victim of all the adults who are supposed to protect her? An attempt has been made in the critically mauled Lo’s Diary to give her a voice, but it reimagined the events of the book. How great would it be to hear the same book from Lolita’s point of view?

3. Miss Havisham from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Ah, Miss Havisham. That wedding dress, the banquet, those stopped clocks. Miss Havisham is less a character and more a walking manifestation of the pain of grief and the ravages of time. Her character is supposedly based on an Australian woman who left the wedding feast on the table and the door ajar in case her fiancee should return and her story is an intriguing one that captures the imagination.

4. Lucky from Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
While there is probably no point in hoping for back story in a play by Beckett, Lucky is one of the most intriguing characters in theatre. He speaks only 2 lines in the whole play, the trick being that one of those lines is over 700 words of gibberish. Why is he slave to Pozzo? Why can he only think when a hat is placed on his head? Why Lucky?

5. Kevin from We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
The central question in We Need to Talk About Kevin is this. Is Kevin born evil which makes his mother unable to love him? Or does Kevin become evil because of a lack of love from his mother? Only Kevin can answer that and I for one, would love to read what he has to say.


6. Melquíades from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
It takes a great character to stand out in a book covering seven generations of the one family, but the gypsy Melquíades has no problem doing so. He travels the world all year round, coming to Macondo once a year with the marvels he has discovered. He dies twice but still returns to guide the generations of the family whose lives he has foretold in prophecy. Yep, he’s a pretty cool guy.

7. Sick Boy from Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
Of all the addicts in Trainspotting, Sick Boy is the one who seems to be using heroin as a lifestyle choice rather than due to addiction and when his mate Renton tries to kick the drug, Sick Boy does it too, just to show he can. He’s amoral, charming and cool and he knows a lot about Sean Connery but who can say how much the death of his daughter influenced his later scams?

8. Gertrude from Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Everything in Hamlet is Gertrude’s fault. She kicks off the entire story by marrying her brother in law shortly after her husband’s death and we never hear any reasoning for her choices. What do we make of her? Domineering, incestuous mother or victim of the men around her? I’d be intrigued to hear about the State of Denmark from her point of view.

9. Julian Morrow The Secret History by Donna Tartt
This enigmatic, charismatic and brilliantly intelligent teacher of ancient Greek comes across less like a professor and more like a cult leader to his hand-picked students. He is like a pastiche of the perfect university teacher – unconventional and cosmopolitan, friend of the famous (the Sitwell’s and Marilyn Monroe) and high priest of learning.

‘I hope we’re all ready to leave the phenomenal world and enter into the sublime?’

I know I am.

10. Sylvie Todd from Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
I found Sylvie to be quite an intriguing character throughout Life After Life, but it wasn’t until the end that I realised quite how interesting she might be. Is Sylvie time travelling as well as her daughter Ursula? All it takes is one little line in the final chapters of the book to make us rethink her entire character. ‘One must be prepared’.

Is there any character you would like to get their own book? Or a book you think would be improved by being from another viewpoint?