What’s your Favourite Book? Feat. Rebecca Reads!

Welcome back to my cruel, cruel interview series where I ask book people the most difficult question of all- what’s your favourite book? I’ve loved seeing everyones reaction to Jenny’s answer and I love Beckys answer. I think it’s fascinating how people answer this question and the reasonings they have behind their choices.

Becky blogs over at Rebecca Reads with a focus on childrens literature as she is a trainee teacher. I think this is such a wonerfully unique perspective, as most people reading this age group probably don’t spend as much time around so many different kids. I know when I read MG, I haven’t got a clue what kids these days would think! So, Becky, what’s your favourite book?

Becky: As a reader, whenever someone asks me the question, what is your favourite book? I panic. It’s one of the most difficult questions you could ask me. It’s like asking a parent who is their favourite child! So when faced with this question for this blog post, I had a really long think about my answer. So I decided to narrow it down a little more, to just children’s literature. And how could I choose between two?

As a trainee teacher, I love reading children’s literature, and over the past couple of years it’s brought me so much joy! I have two favourites in children’s literature, Wonder by R.J Palacio and The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange.

I first discovered Wonder 2 years ago thanks to Twitter! I thought it sounded interesting and I very quickly added it to my tbr list! It’s about a boy called Auggie, who has a facial disfigurement and is going to school for the first time. The book follows his early experiences in school and how those around him react to this transition. I love this book, because it covers such unique and difficult topics to discuss with children, but in a way that makes it more accessible for them and allows them to connect with a character who is experiencing difficulties. The lessons that can be learnt from this book are immense! You can read a full review here.

The other book, the secret of Nightingale Wood, is a book about a young girl, Henry, in 1919 who has experienced great loss and her father has gone away for work. She is at home with her mother, who is seriously ill. Doctor Hardy wants to take care of her, but Henry suspects that the doctor isn’t treating her mother correctly. Then she discovers that there is a fire lit in the woods just beyond her house, which may hold all the answers she needs. I again loved this book because it dealt with such difficult topics, such as loss and mental health, but in an accessible way. Lucy’s writing style is so lovely and the book flows really well. You can read a full review here
I have never really had favourites in other genres, I don’t know why, I just don’t think I’ve found ‘that book’ yet. The one that really sticks with me and I want to re-read constantly. Obviously Harry Potter is another favourite, and whilst I watch the films all the time, I don’t have the urge to constantly re-read the books, maybe the length puts me off a little!

As a child, my favourites were the famous five series by Enid Blyton, I couldn’t get enough of her books, and constantly re-read them, but now I struggle to get into them as much, maybe it’s because the writing style is quite old fashioned, and I’m used to a more modern writing style. My favourite books are ever changing. Who knows if these two books will be my favourite this time next year?
Make sure to check out Becky’s wonderful blog here and her Twitter too! I’m definitely going to have to pull out my old Enid Blyton books, she was such an influence on my childhood so I wonder if I’ll still like them now!

What do you think of Beckys choices? Were you an Enid Blyton fan?

What’s your Favourite Book? Feat. Jenny in Neverland!

A question I get asked a lot when people find out I like to read is: ‘oh! What’s your favourite book?’ and I never have a great answer. I can narrow it down to top ten, I can give you my favourites within genres, I can tell you my top-rated. But my favourite? Not a chance. So I’m starting a new series of blogger interviews with one question: What’s your favourite book? In hopes of finding new favourite books, introducing my readers to my favourite bloggers, and seeing how other people answer this impossible question.
I’m starting the series by asking Jenny, from Jenny in Neverland. She was one of the first book bloggers I ever followed when I started and is one of the most hardworking women I know. I was super nervous when I first internet-spoke to her but you’ll not find a bigger champion for small bloggers anywhere. So, Jenny, what’s your favourite book?

Jenny: I have so many books that I would consider favourites. I have a shelf dedicated to my favourite books (which is slowly getting more and more full with the more books I read!) and when someone asks what my favourite book is, I usually find myself rolling off book after book after book. Some of them include; The Beach by Alex Garland, The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson-Walker, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and basically everything that John Green has written.

But when I think about it, there’s only one book that I come back to time after time after time. I’m sure we all have them; that one book we slip into conversation at whatever chance we get. That one book we reference to all the time. That one book that holds the largest part of our bookish hearts. So that being said, although there are tons of books I would consider favourites and all of them are incredible and beautiful in their own way, there’s only one book which for me, is endless and timeless in my little world of “favourite books”. That’s The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. 
I think Markus Zusak is an incredible writer anyway as his other novel, I Am the Messenger is also up there amongst my favourites. They’re both very different books but The Book Thief holds a very special place in my heart. I may sound presumptuous here but I honestly don’t think another book will compare to that one for me for my entire life. It’s so beautifully written, such a unique way to read a book (if you’re not familiar with the book, it’s narrated by Death and Death is very much personified throughout the book so it’s really unusual but gives you a massively different insight and perspective) and the characters… My gosh. The characters. 
The Book Thief is my favourite book for so, so many reasons if I were to list and talk about them all I’d be here all day. I love the writing style, the unique approach, the setting, the storyline but most of all I think I love the characters, their relationship with each other and what that all means. I love Liesel, the main character. I love her passion for books and reason and her deep desire to know more, read more and learn. I know stealing isn’t condoned (she does literally steal books in the book) but I would confidently say that Liesel is quite a role-model, considering everything she goes through in the book. Everything she loses, everything she has to see and witness in a time where tragedy tore through the streets. Despite being so young, she’s definitely someone to look up to. 
I’m going to wrap it up here but above all else, I love The Book Thief because it shows and teaches you what the power of books and words can do. They’re magic. They can pick you up, lift your soul, even in times of absolute desperation. Books are there to save you and The Book Thief definitely portrays that perfectly.
Check out all the pages Jenny has turned over for quotes she loves!
Make sure to check out Jenny’s wonderful blog here for book, lifestyle, travel and blogger tips posts! And follow her on Twitter. I’m off to find my copy of The Book Thief and add it to my immediate TBR. Thank you Jenny!

Have you read The Book Thief? What did you think?

Fiction Friday: An Interview with Lauren Oliver!

Last Friday I had the amazingly unbelievable opportunity to interview Lauren Oliver, the New York Times bestselling author of Panic, Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy. Her latest book, Panic, has come out in paperback in the UK this month and after reading it I had some questions about it- as well as some general ones. So without further ado!

Where did the idea of Panic come from?
The idea of Panic came actually from kind on an unlikely source, it came from a rather humorous fairytale by Grimm’s, one of his lesser known ones called, ‘The Boy who went forth to learn about the Shivers’, and I saw it’s an unlikely source only because Panic is not very humorous and it’s pretty gritty and real. But the fairytale, basically, is about a boy who is literally too “simple” i.e. stupid to experience fear and so he basically goes out, his father is kind of embarrassed and ashamed of him, so he goes out to earn his fortune and and ends up managing to spend three nights alone in a haunted house with very comedic results and thus marries a princess, so he ends up very well of. But I started thinking about fear and mechanisms of fear and why some people are able to embrace or at least withstand fear whereas other people kind of move away from it or do all that they can to minimise fear. So that’s where the idea of Panic came from!

I found it really interesting that in Panic you gave Nat some kind of form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Why did you choose that?
I chose it because I wanted to show, I do think mostly everybody is afflicted by, has their own kinds of deamons and things to deal with and I think for Nat that was a way of kind of deepening her character and also understanding to myself why she would play. Essentially she’s playing for money so she can go out to LA but I felt that she also needed to have something else that she too was running from, fears and anxieties that in her case express themselves through a desire to be really in control.

In the first chapter you used phrases like ‘rewind back to the beach and pause,’ and ‘turn the camera slightly’. What made you choose that form of narration?
That’s a good question! I’m not sure, first of all, it’s in the third person which was a departure from some of my earlier books. And I think unconsciously perhaps, kind of in the language of film, there is a spectator element obviously- this is a game that’s enjoyed by the spectators, way more so than the players. I was inspired by shows like Survivor where there’s alliances and people backstabbing each other and I wanted to show the ways that friendships can deteriorate over time because of the competition- so I think I may have unconsciously been parodying the language of spectatorship.

I heard that Panic has been optioned by Universal, which is amazing, is there any news on that?
We’re just waiting on script provisions now actually!

How did you get started in writing?
Basically my love of writing grew out of a lifelong love of reading, as I’m sure many peoples writing did. I mean really, for me, for years, writing was a personal way of exploring worlds that I loved. So I started doing predecessors to fan fiction. When I was a kid I would find a book that I loved and when it ended I just felt so sad that I kept writing it so I was definitely doing a version of fanfiction. And I just never stopped, after that I started writing stories based on my life which again, I think is very typical and it just grew into an extension of stories that interwove my own experiences with the fantastical or imaginative constructs. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I really really wish my advice was less boring than it is, I mean, I wish there were some spell or certain magic trick, but the thing about being a writer is that you don’t actually need any qualifications. You don’t need to study at school, you don’t need a certain degree, you do need to just read and absorb as much as you can and you also need to write. You actually need to put pen to paper and practice.

Do you have any favourite books?

Yeah! I have plenty of favourite books. I love 100 years of Solitude, I love Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, I love Henry James’ The American, the Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, I love Jane Austen- especially Pride and Prejudice, Agatha Christie, the Harry Potter series, His Dark materials. Lots of stuff. I love Roald Dahl. Yeah.

You had Dodge and Nat talk about if a Bear and a Shark had a fight, which is one of my favourite questions to ask people, so if a Bear and Shark had a fight- who would win?
In which medium? Or in a neutral medium? Neutral medium? 
If the shark could be in water and the bear could be on land.
Er- I think the bear would win! I don’t know. But bears aren’t as aggressive. I don’t know, I really don’t know. I mean the thing is that sharks, I feel like they’re clumsier. I think the bear would win. If they were both given equal territory and equal amount of aggression, like they knew they were fighting I think the bear would win.
Yeah, cause bears catch fish don’t they.
And they can go in multiple directions and they’re speedy, they can see and they don’t have that limitation of their eyes being in the side of their head. I would say bear. Is that what you would say?
Yeah, I think I would say bear.

Thank you to Lauren for giving me some of your time and bearing with my very bad interview skills! 
Have you read Panic yet? What do you think?

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