[BOUT OF BOOKS 14] Challenge 1: Fictional World Travel

“The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team”

The first challenge this week is to find 3-6 books that are set in a country other than where I live. I wanted to avoid fantasy or completely fictional worlds because that’s just no fun. I had a lot of dystopian American places (Chicago, New York, rural Ohio…) that I left alone as well – it was more of a challenge to find real cities!

I thought this would be a breeze to begin with, but looking through my bookshelves I realised that there are a lot more fantasy books set in England than I first imagined! In the end I was really happy with the places I chose and I’m pretty pleased with the variety I managed to pull together.

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
From the charming French village of Trouville-sur-Mer to the sprawling house on Pinnacle Lane, Seattle.

All the Bright Places
All over the wonder-filled state of Indiana.

The Accident Season
Set in a small Irish town, Cara dreams of running away to Dublin.

Slaughterhouse 5
Mainly Dresden, Germany, with the occasional visit to Tralfamadore thrown in for good measure.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters
The most well-travelled of all my choices, Karou and her army make their appearance all over the world. Rome, Prague and Marrakesh all feature alongside the many magical places in Eretz.

Let me know where your books took you travelling.

Charlotte x

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[TOP TEN TUESDAY] Books that should be required reading

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My memories of required reading in High School extend to an entire anthology of poetry, a lot of Shakespeare and Holes by Louis Sachar. Hopefully nowadays kids are encouraged to read a wider variety of books in their English classes! In no particular order, here are my ideal picks for the modern Required Reading List.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling

One of the first books I independently read for pleasure, the Harry Potter series is fantastic for younger readers first breaking away from Primary School books and holds so many positive messages to carry through High School.

1984 – George Orwell

One of my favourite books, best for slightly older readers who can understand and appreciate the original dystopian fiction. Father of so many modern novels, programmes and ideas I think kids would really identify with the tone and themes of 1984.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

I adore this book. High School can be a tough time and so many teenagers feel alone and unable to talk about their emotions. The Bell Jar struck a chord with me as a 13 year old, made me feel hopeful for the future and showed the true power of a great novel.

Dracula – Bram Stoker

Real vampires do not sparkle.

Animal Farm – George Orwell

Animal Farm explained more to me in a much more enjoyable way than any history class ever did. It’s short but packed with strong messages that an English Lit teacher couldn’t help but love pulling apart.

The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

The father of all modern fantasy and adventure novels deserves recognition. Perfect for students graduating from Hogwarts, JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit is the perfect introduction to the original world of elves, magic and unsuspecting heroes.

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

Funny and powerful, Stockett vividly captures the two sides of life in the Deep South throughout the Civil Rights Movement. A history lesson and a great novel all in one, perfect right?

Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut

I will never stop professing my love for Slaughterhouse 5. It’s completely stuffed with messages to decode, a strong anti-war declaration and the perfect scifi slant that keeps the reader guessing. It will be forever relevant and I will never stop recommending it!

Since I didn’t quite make it to ten choices this week make sure you comment below with your thoughts!

[TOP TEN TUESDAY] Most memorable secondary characters

BlogMy first ever Top Ten Tuesday, hosted weekly by The Broke and Bookish, was a tough one. I spent a lot of time thinking about my choices and remembering why I absolutely adore, or despise, these secondary characters! I hope you like my choices and I look forward to reading everyone else’s picks!

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10. Caleb Prior – Divergent Series (Veronica Roth)

Tris spends so much time thinking of herself (forgivable, she is the narrator after all) we never get a chance to pick her brother’s brain. Even though he regularly pops up throughout the series his motivations remain a mystery, and it would be interesting to hear the thoughts behind his, often surprising, choices.

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9. Ron Weasley and Hermione Grainger – Harry Potter Series (JK Rowling)

No list about secondary characters would be complete without a nod to JK Rowling. Harry Potter is rife with minor characters as friends, enemies and creatures, arguably the most influential and important of which being Ron and Hermione. They’re the brains and heart behind Harry’s quest, always pushing him onwards and keeping him alive until the next challenge is thrown at him.

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8. Moiraine Damodred – The Wheel of Time Series (Robert Jordan)

This slot could have been filled by a number of similar characters, the classic mysterious and wise mentor to the protagonist. I chose Moiraine as she’s a complete badass, an incredibly powerful Aes Sedai who made it her mission to find and train the Dragon Reborn, fending off Trollocs and Forsaken with barely a bat of an eyelid and trailing all over The Westlands to keep Rand in check.

7. Dorothea SaDiablo – Black Jewels Trilogy (Anne Bishop)

Evil in the way only a woman can be, Dorothea is cut throat and devious, taking pleasure from her power and the ways she can wield it. The main antagonist in The Black Jewels Trilogy and The Invisible Ring prequel, she is memorable for her cruel and unusual ways of controlling men.

6. Kelsier – Mistborn Trilogy (Brandon Sanderson)

Vin’s mentor in Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy is a rebellion hero. Powerful and dangerously charismatic he inspires a full scale revolution, giving us the most unforgettable scene in The Final Empire which encompasses everything he stands for.

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5. The Tralfamadorians – Slaughterhouse 5 (Kurt Vonnegut)

Without these little green men Slaughterhouse 5 is a completely different novel. It is the philosophies and beliefs of these aliens that shape the novel, whether Billy is hallucinating or not. Billy used the Tralfamadorians to cope with the horrors he’d seen in Dresden, without them he would never have ‘travelled’ through the fourth dimension or learnt about the illusion of free will. Perhaps an unusual choice but the science fiction slant on what would otherwise be a literary anti-war novel is definitely unforgettable.

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4. Rue – The Hunger Games (Susanne Collins)

Easily the most heartbreaking moment in The Hunger Games, Rue’s death symbolises everything Katniss hates about the Capitol. Innocent Rue was not only a memorable character but created, for me, the most memorable scene of the entire series.

3. Zuzana – Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series (Laini Taylor)

Zuzana is the perfect sidekick. She’s fierce, loyal and most importantly, hilarious. She offers the comic relief to an otherwise heavy series with her animated ways and is the reason Karou has such an affection for the human world.

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2. Joffrey – A Song of Ice and Fire (George RR Martin)

No one who has read or seen Game of Thrones could forget Joffrey. The truly abhorrent eldest child of Cersei Lannister, he is cruel, spoilt and hated by his kingdom. Joffrey is without even one redeeming, humanising feature. Perhaps the most through-and-through evil character I’ve ever encountered and definitely memorable for it.

1. Tiny Cooper – Will Grayson, Will Grayson (John Green and David Levithan)

There is no other place than first for Tiny Cooper. He is loud, fabulous and completely steals the show. He stages the biggest school musical to ever grace Chicago, falls in love four times a week and eventually becomes the glue which holds the entire story together. Tiny is the embodiment of a memorable secondary character as he struts his giant way through life.

Make sure you comment below with your suggestions and most memorable secondary characters!