Top 10 Villains

Wow its been a while between Top 10 posts huh?

My humble apologies oh beloved Bookbaggers of mine! This was meant to be a companion piece to the Top 10 Heroes post, but at the time I got so distracted that it remained forgotten in my drafts – until now! And how fitting is it for a list of villains to rise again after lulling everyone into a false sense of security where they were content to live with the assumption that those dastardly devils had vanished for good?

Well I’m sticking with that convenient theory anyway.

1. Goth

The Trinity Trilogy by Fiona McIntosh

I couldn’t have Torkyn Gynt on my Top 10 Heroes list without having his polar opposite in the villains category. Despite the fact that Goth is not the official grand-supreme-bad-guy which usually features in fantasy sagas (that title goes to Orlac, a God who Tor is destined to defeat should he escape imprisonment and wreak havoc on all mankind) he stands out as the most despicable and disgusting character in the trilogy. From the start of the first book, Betrayal, Goth establishes himself as a hate-able character as the Chief Inquisitor, a powerful individual elected by the king to inflict his brand of  cruel ‘justice’ on suspected Sentients (people with heightened mental powers like telepathy). He then further earned his villain stripes by brutally raping one of the main characters (also in the first book) and from then on kept topping himself with even more dastardly, deplorable deeds. A character that made me cheer when he finally got what was coming to him!

Goth looking mighty evil atop a pissed off horse

2.  Inspector Fumero

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Inspector Fumero is one of those villains who is so awful because he isn’t some crazy caricature of a baddie, he’s an example of someone who could very well exist – a corrupt, sadistic cop. Some of the most unsettling and painful moments in this beautiful book were the responsibility of Fumero and I very quickly started to hate him. But sometimes doesn’t that make a book more interesting? Books would be pretty boring without someone truly rotten to hate, and Fumero certainly met The Shadow of the Wind‘s rotten bastard quota.

I couldn’t find anything to represent Inspector Fumero so here’s a cover of The Shadow of the Wind that I don’t think I’ve posted before

3. Gorgrael

The Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglass

Gorgrael is the perfect fantasy saga grand-supreme-bad-guy. Firstly he is the hero’s half-brother. Secondly he is also called the Destroyer, a powerful evil that Axis (the hero) is destined to defeat. This alone would make him a classic villain but since the first book of the trilogy (Battleaxe AKA The Wayfarer Redemption) starts with him being born by eating his way out of his mother’s womb, he goes straight to the upper tiers of evilness. Also he’s all horned and demon-looking which always helps when identifying a villain.

Since I couldn’t find a picture of Gorgrael, here’s another one of his nemesis Axis rocking yellow

4. Voldemort

The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling

Just like HP had to be on the Top 10 Heroes list so does his arch nemesis – and for very similar reasons. While Harry is a hero because at a tender age he faces the big bad over and over and over, Voldemort deserves the title of Big Bad because he just keeps coming back! Not only did he kill countless powerful witches and wizards and terrorise the entire magical world before Harry was even born, but when he meets his match he drags himself virtually back from the dead to kill an terrorise all over again! This is a man so evil that from his teen years he splits his soul into pieces to ensure that he’ll never truly die; lives off unicorn blood to stay somewhat alive; inhabits the back of another guys head and gets him to do his bidding; gets another minion to kidnap a couple of teenage boys so that he can reclaim his old form; forces another teen boy to kill his headmaster; and otherwise tries to bloody murder the crap out of as many people as possible. And he’s damn creepy to boot.

Ralph Fiennes is way too good at being creepy

5. The White Witch

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis

The terrifying White Witch that terrorised the inhabitants of Narnia and plunged the realm into perpetual winter is one of the first villains that really gave me the creeps. Ever since I was a kid I always kind of pitied and rooted for the baddies in Disney films (I loved Ursula, Maleficent, and the Queen in Snow White), but there was something instantly hate-able about the White Witch. I remember reading the book and listening to the audio tape at my friend’s house, and shivering inside a little every time she popped up. Maybe it was how she used Edmund against the other children by innocently offering him Turkish Delight and cocoa (similar to the witch in Hansel and Gretel), or how she could turn people into statues that she grotesquely displayed, or just that she was so cold and heartless, she just seemed so evil and I couldn’t find a shred of pity. And it certainly didn’t help when I saw the film adaptation – Tilda Swinton played her way too well O.o

Tilda Swinton portrayed the perfect cold-hearted White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

6. The Queen of Hearts

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

My love of Alice related things has already been well established, so there is no way that this list could exist without a nod to the furious Queen with an obsession for beheading! I think turning a simple Queen of Hearts in a deck of cards into an insane tyrant is a fantastic idea (kudos Mr Carroll/Dodgson) and thanks to the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, the outrageous monarch has been re-imagined in many terrifying forms. My favourites include Kathy Bates’ quietly seething majesty in the mini-series, Alice (2009) ; the fat, pompous, bad-tempered old  tyrant in the Disney film; the sinister Redd Heart from The Looking-Glass Wars series by Frank Beddor; and, even though I was slightly disappointed with Tim Burton’s 2010 movie, Helena Bonham Carter’s big-headed Queen was a hoot!

There are so many incarnations of the Queen of Hearts/Red Queen that I just couldn’t decide and went with somethin a bit different – Redd Heart from The Looking Glass Wars – truly terrifying!

7. Bill Sikes

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

When I said that the White Witch was probably the first villain that creeped me out as a kid, Bill Sikes would be the other contender. I’m not sure which one I encountered first, but as a child (heck, even now) if I was in a dark alley faced with the White Witch at one end and Sikes at the other, I very well might pick the Witch (maybe she’d make me one of her minions?). The scary thing about Sikes is that he’s so real. Unlike most of the characters on this list, in the time that Oliver Twist was written there was plenty of men (and women) like him – and there’s plenty today. Bill Sikes used young orphans and street urchins as portable burglary tools, and unlike their master, Fagin, he didn’t care a jot what happened to them. The clincher for me was when Sikes killed his lady, Nancy, the kind-hearted prostitute/bar-maid who is the only soul who truly loves him – especially because she was my favourite character 😥

Oliver Reed as Sikes in the 1968 adaptation, Oliver! That stare just… *shudder*

8. blueeyedboy/Gloria Green

blueeyedboy by Joanne Harris

This one is tricky because I can’t really explain why I listed both without completely giving away the ending of the book O.O I almost didn’t include them because of this, but the book left such a huge impression on me because of the “villains” that I couldn’t leave them out. What I can say is that throughout blueeyedboy your mind is in a constant state of confusion over what is “real” (as in real within the story) and fiction, and who is the real villain of the piece. I can’t say any more but I would urge anyone who is intrigued by this to go read it – It’s a great book!

You wouldn’t think this little boy would be on a list of villains O.O

9. Big Brother

Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

Big Brother is a unique villain because he is so prominent in the book, without actually being physically present – in fact Big Brother may not even be a real person, but instead the face of the controlling Party. Nineteen Eighty Four and Big Brother has spawned so much pop culture since its publication, that were it not for George Orwell, the world today would be a very different place. On the one hand this would be good – I don’t think Orwell would be happy with the deluge of reality TV, especially not the insipid show named after Big Brother, and the ways our society is constantly monitored by CCTV, phone and online bugging and other technologies probably would chill him to the bone. On the other hand, his book has helped create a similar flood of post-apocalyptic and dystopic fiction which makes people question our current ways, which may have given Orwell some hope. Anyway, the whole concept of Big Brother is damn creepy…

10. Count Olaf

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Ah Count Olaf. He is probably the most ridiculous villain in this list, but nevertheless he is quite the crafty fiend! Through 13 books Olaf concocts a multitude of intricate and bizarre plans, complete with increasingly clever disguises, so he can get to the Baudelaire fortune (with most of the plans revolving around killing the Baudelaire children, aged between infancy and 14). While I of course despised Count Olaf and sympathised with the Baudelaire children, I did enjoy Olaf’s ridiculous antics and the series would’ve been much less fun if he wasn’t so villainous 🙂 Despite the film adaptation being a bit lacking (I would’ve liked to see each book explored more and squishing the first three into a film and ignoring the other 10 just didn’t satisfy) I thought Jim Carrey was spot on!

The adoptive parent from hell

Well, I hope the really, really, ridiculously long wait was worth it! I do plan on doing more Top 10 lists because I have plenty more ideas, but I think in 2013 I won’t attempt to do a pair each month as it just doesn’t happen. Fear not! They are not gone for good, and I will try and post at least one half of a pair (or a stand alone) more often, and perhaps after a while I will be able to do them at the end/beginning of each month once again 🙂

Until then, feel free to share your own favourite baddies in the comments, and as always:

Happy Reading!

Advertisements

Top 10 Heroes

1. Axis Rivkahson SunSoar

The Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglass

Axis is the epitome of a fantasy hero – strong, brave, willing to do anything to protect his loved ones and his country/land, surprised and humble about his heroics and of course very handsome with a mane of golden hair, strong features and a muscular form. He was the first hero I thought of when compiling this list because he was the first hero I read about that really made me go “wow, what can’t this guy do?”. Before reading the Axis trilogy (also called the Wayfarer trilogy) I had only encountered the “unlikely hero” (as seen farther down this list) and this was the first really meaty, adult fantasy series I read where the hero knew he had to step up and fulfil his duties. While there were moments in the series where Axis didn’t want to be the saviour of all the land (fair enough) ultimately he stepped up to the plate and lived his destiny. After all he was the subject of a prophecy – why fight it? 😛

Axis on the cover of Enchanter, the second book in the series (he’s the non-female one in the back rocking yellow :))

2. Torkyn Gynt

The Trinity Trilogy by Fiona McIntosh

Tor is another classic handsome/brave/strong hero but unlike Axis he must hide the main thing that makes him heroic – his Sentient powers (telepathic and related powers of the mind) – because they are forbidden. Because of this he has a level of caution and humility about him paired with the ego of a man with vast abilities. He embraces his destiny (as The One – an individual destined to defeat the mighty Orlac, a powerful sentient who is close to breaking free of his imprisonment) quite readily and goes to some pretty extreme measures (such as being stoned to death and nearly dying another half-dozen or so times) to fulfil it as well as to save and/or protect his one true love Alyssa. He also manages to attract a bevy of gorgeous ladies (when he is not with Alyssa of course); use his wit and cunning to get out of some sticky situations and come up with some great one-liners.

Tor cutting a fine heroic silhouette on the cover of Betrayal, first book of the trilogy

3. Lyra Belacqua AKA Lyra Silvertongue AND Will Parry

His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

I couldn’t choose between these two pre-pubescent heroes as they are equally heroic in the last two books of His Dark Materials (The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) so I thought I’d cheat and choose both 😛 Through several dimensions Lyra and Will face endless perils from soul-eating Specters to Harpies in the Underworld, to deadly Angels as well as several full-grown adults trying to kill them and take what the possess. In the process Lyra almost has her daemon (an animal companion that every person in her dimension has and are deeply connected to) taken from her; Will looses two fingers and is forced to kill a man; and they both must die to enter the Underworld. Pretty heavy stuff for a couple of 12-year-olds but throughout it all they are brave and determined to do what is right – go Lyra and Will!

Lyra and Will on an old cover of The Subtle Knife

4. Bilbo Baggins

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

Bilbo had to be included in this list as he is the ultimate reluctant hero. He doesn’t want to travel with a bunch of dwarves to face a dragon miles from his home just because a wizard tricked him into it. He’d much prefer to stay in his cozy hobbit  hole, enjoying plentiful teas throughout the day. But despite his reluctance he still goes and survives giant spiders, a creepy cave-dwelling riddle master and a dragon to get the job done, and return triumphant. I can’t wait to see the upcoming movie 🙂

Martin Freeman as Bilbo in the upcoming movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

5. Harry Potter

The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling

I know HP related stuff pops up a lot in these Top

Continue reading

Top 10 Books that made me Cry

Before I start I should tell you all that I am a giant softie. I cry at movies (both sad ones and happy ones, even cartoons), TV shows (including the Simpsons a couple of times) and of course, books. I guess I’m just a sensitive soul 🙂 So, while these 10 books are ones that made me cry (amongst others) that doesn’t mean that any of my loyal Bookbaggers would tear up. Also, the reason these books have made me cry is normally some shockingly sad event which would be a huge spoiler, so while I will try not to mention the event, sometimes it will be vital to do so. So, just in case *Spoiler alert!*

1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I touched on how much this book affected me in my Top 10 Books of All Time post, and how it made me cry and gasp many times because I became so involved in the characters’ stories. What I didn’t say was that at a certain point near the end of the book (in fact over the last couple of chapters) I didn’t just cry a couple of elegant tears but did what Oprah calls “the ugly cry” (I’m not a huge Oprah fan but I love that description!). I spluttered, I made little gulping noises, there was some snot action, the whole ugly cry show was in full effect. The reason I cried that much was that there was a very traumatic event that involved the main character, and while I had been warned that it was coming (at the end of a chapter when I was meeting people for lunch and so couldn’t read on!) it was still a big shock. The tears then turned to those of relief and happiness when the following chapters turned the event into a satisfying and happy conclusion. I won’t say anymore, but if you want a read that really connects you to the characters and draws you in to a beautiful world of its own then I’d recommend The Shadow of the Wind. it would also make a great Book Club book 🙂

Winner of the Ugliest Cry award

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It’s easily to see that a book set in Nazi Germany whose main character is a little orphaned girl would be a sad one, but it was not so much the subject matter that made me cry during this book but the way this subject matter was conveyed. As I have said previously the narrator of this book is Death and it is a very fitting voice for that time and place in history. At many points during the book I found myself close to tears because of the fear and death that hung over the small village that the story is set in, but it wasn’t til the end, when there was a series of dramatic and sad events that I actually burst into tears. A beautiful book that made me grateful to be alive and that I didn’t live through World War II.

Because Nazi Germany is so damn cheery!

3. Mister God This is Anna by Fynn

I praised this book in a review a while back and most likely it will pop up again as it is one of my favourite books, but it was one of the first books that came to mind when compiling this list, coz oh boy did I cry! This was another one that warned me about the sad ending – in the first paragraph and all! – but it was still such a shock that I started to sob on the train (how embarrassing :S). Possibly it could’ve been that I was already going through a hard time, or possibly it was the way the ending happened, but either way it was like a floodgate had opened, and at the time I didn’t even care that I was on the train (tho I was in an almost empty car so it wasn’t that bad). If the possibility of crying puts you off a book I can assure you that even ‘tho Mister God This is Anna does have a heartbreaking ending, it is also very hopeful and uplifting throughout and does end ultimately in that way.

4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

I only read and reviewed this book recently, so it was fresh in my mind when I started to make this list. I won’t go into it that much because I have already reviewed it, but I will just say that this was another time I cried on the train but I was much more restrained as there was more people. Even with restraint a few tears did manage to escape as I read the end of this book that was a complete surprise and was one of those endings where you keep thinking “no no! It’ll change at the last moment right?…..right?”. I won’t spoil it, but even ‘tho It was a sad and tragic ending, it did wrap up the story in a more natural and poignant way so in the end I was glad for it to finish that way, even if it did make me the crying chick on the train again!

5. Charlotte’s Web by E B White

We’re now getting into the tear-jerkers from my childhood, when I was a fledgling softie 🙂 I read Charlotte’s Web when I was in Year 3 as part of a school project we were doing. The project involved reading excerpts from the book (which I then found and read completely); doing activities based on the book; watching the movie (the original not the one with Dakota Fanning); and then putting on a play/musical number based on a scene from the movie for the school assembly. If you haven’t read this children’s classic then be warned, I am going to spoil the ending because It’s too tricky to explain otherwise. I cried twice during this book. First when Wilbur had to be given to the Zuckerman farm, because as an animal loving kid it broke my heart to think of having to give away a beloved pet. And then at the end when Charlotte died 😥
Even ‘tho this book made me cry (and probably still would now) I still think it is such a beautiful little book that teaches kids about life and death and the truth behind farm animals, as well as teaching them to be whatever they want to be and follow their dreams.

6.  Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

This is another book that we read at primary school and them performed at assembly, but it is about a much sadder subject – the bombing in Hiroshima. The basic plot of the book is based on a true story of a young girl called Sadako who develops leukemia after the bombings. She is hospitalised and spends her time folding origami paper cranes because it is said that if you fold a thousand cranes you are granted a wish. Unfortunately, after folding 644 cranes Sadako becomes too weak and dies shortly after. Her friends and family fold the remaining cranes and Sadako is buried with the full thousand, and a statue of her is erected in Hiroshima Peace Park. Understandably this story brought tears to the eyes of most of the children in class and the teacher when she read it to us, and I also struggled to maintain composure when we performed it at assembly because I was one of the kids that narrated Sadako’s tragic tale. Even ‘tho it’s so sad  it is a wonderful book for kids to read, especially for new generations that may not know much about Hiroshima or the effect of nuclear bombs.

I like to think that since Sadako was buried with a thousand cranes she still got her wish and is having a beautiful afterlife 🙂

7. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

This book had many moments that had me close to tears because it is told through the eyes of a teenage girl who was brutally raped and murdered and is watching her friends and family from “heaven” as they deal with their grief. This makes for a very contemplative and melancholy story, but it was the scene where the main character is killed (which happens quite early on) that really made me cry, mostly out of shock and anger. Despite making me cry and get pretty angry, The Lovely Bones was a great book, and I also keep meaning to see the movie (which I’ve heard mixed reviews about).

8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling

Yes, I cried at a Harry Potter book – I told you I cry at everything! – and actually I cried at the last one as well, but this one made me cry more and the reason….Dumbledore 😦 I’m not going to beat around the bush with this one because this spoiler has been spreading around since before the book came out, and now that the books and movies are finished I think its well and truly out there. However, If you somehow have missed the spoiler and you plan to read the book or see the movie in the future, then just close your eyes and scroll down for a few lines and everything will be fine. So…Dumbledore dies. In fact Dumbledore doesn’t just die but is murdered right in front of Harry. So yeah, I shed a couple of tears, and yeah, I sat there for a while in shock convincing myself that in the next book it would turn out ok and he wouldn’t be dead. Don’t judge me 😛

NO!! Not Dumbledore!!!!

9. The Shadow in the North by Philip Pullman

This was another one that involved a shocking event at the end, and it was so upsetting (especially because it was right after everything coming together really nicely, as all the tricksty writers/moviemakers love to do!) that I laid awake for a couple of hours, not sleeping and feeling a tad maudlin and I have yet to read the next book in the series because I’m afraid that it’ll be too sad. However, the event would not have been so upsetting if Philip Pullman hadn’t developed the characters and setting so well so you care about their well-being, so props to him….even tho at the time I wasn’t so understanding.

Damn you Philip Pullman for writing such likable characters!

10. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Oh my gosh! I had forgotten how sad this book was and how much it made me cry when I was little, until my brother gave me the movie on DVD for Christmas a few years ago. My brother hadn’t seen it before or read the book, and I had forgotten the plot so at a certain point (which I won’t say) we both blubbered away like little girls. Bridge to Terabithia is a lovely tale of friendship and childhood imagination, but be warned if you want to give it to your kids – at some point near the end they will probably come to you crying or looking shocked and ask some awkward questions. Just so you know.

There you go folks, the Top 10 books that really made me blubber. Sorry it wasn’t up right after the Top 10 Books that made me Laugh as planned, my Internet cut out halfway through writing it and I was only able to get it back today :/ Join me next month for my Top 10 Book to Screen Adaptations and the Top 10 Books I would like to see Adapted for the Screen, and in the meantime I will review The Secrets of the Chess Machine and probably lots of other Book Polygamist stuff 🙂

Happy Reading!

Top 10 Fantasy Series’

This month for my Top 10s I thought I’d honour one of my favourite genres: Fantasy. So first I will be chronicling my Top 10 Fantasy Series’ and then tomorrow will be the Top 10 Fantasy Realms 🙂 May all you heroes, villains, maidens, witches and wizards enjoy!

1. Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglass

I bought the Axis trilogy (which consists of Battleaxe; Enchanter and Starman) at the annual Cat Haven fête when I was 15, for 50 cents a piece! They were in a box of bric-a-brac and at the time I had never heard of Sara Douglass (a prominent Australian fantasy writer) but I was interested in starting a nice meaty fantasy series and at 50 cents each how could I lose? I took book 1 – Battleaxe – to one of the school camps my school held every term and the first chapter blew me away. So much so that I couldn’t sleep and instead recounted the whole thing to one of my best friends who was in the bunk next to me and we even talked about it the next day over dodgy camp breakfast (this may have been because the chapter described the violent birth of the demonic baddy of the series and we were joking that it was just like the birth of another friend of ours, but still).
The series follows a young man called Axis (surprise, surprise) and his journey to find and kill his polar opposite, Gorgrael the Destroyer as it is prophesied. Along the way he also seeks to find his “true love”, Faraday who has been forced into marrying Axis’ cruel half-brother; and is trained by the Icarii, a wise long-lived race of winged people. Because the Axis Trilogy was the first adult fantasy series I read, it is the benchmark I measure all others by, and it’s a mighty series to live up to as all three books were nominated for Best Fantasy Novel in the Aurealis Awards and Enchanter and StarMan both won the award in their respective
years. If you’re a fan of classic fantasy or are looking for a place to start in this sometimes daunting genre, then the Axis Trilogy is a quality read to look for, filled with all the important fantasy elements: a brave hero; a creepy bad guy; epic battles; tragic love stories; large-scale magical events and a well-formed world.

The one that started it all - and at 50c!

2. Trinity Trilogy by Fiona McIntosh 

I talked about this series a bit when I did my Top 10 Animal Characters, especially the trials I went through to find the second two books: Revenge and Destiny and there was no doubt that they would be on this list. The series is classic fantasy (battles of good and evil; magic powers etc. etc.) but is also a little different. Fiona McIntosh doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of (imagined) life in the Trinity Trilogy, with some truly horrific things happening to key characters throughout, and this was one of the aspects of this series I really loved, because fantasy novels can sometimes succumb to nicely wrapped up “happily-ever-afters” where all the main characters are alive and happy, which is a little hollow. Like the Axis Trilogy the main theme of this series is a journey leading to the predestined fate of a main character, but unlike the Axis Trilogy the hero, Tor, is not the only focus and his love interest, Alyssa, is often given just as much page time. The Trinity Trilogy also has a bit more humor in it that the Axis Trilogy which was quite a serious affair, and it is really needed it to balance out the darker parts.

A quality trilogy

3. Aspect of Crow series by Jeri Smith-Ready 

I read this series pretty recently, starting with Eyes of Crow in late 2009, then Voice of Crow midway through 2010 and ending with The Reawakened early this year, and they have been some of the most enjoyable reads of those years. I initially borrowed Eyes of Crow from the library and had no idea it was the first of a series as the other books weren’t mentioned anywhere on or in the book and it worked very well as a stand alone. Then I was looking for a different book one day and spotted the spine of Voice of Crow – it must have been out when I borrowed the first book so I didn’t see it, and it was one of the most exciting library discoveries I’ve ever had! Amazingly, Voice of Crow was just as good as it’s predecessor – filled with the same intricate mythology, complex characters and relationships as well as a neat blend of humor and drama – in fact, it may have been even better. Unfortunately the library didn’t have the third and final book, but that didn’t stop me – I just found it and bought it on Amazon 🙂
This series is a refreshing detour from the traditional medieval-swords-and-maidans style of fantasy, so if you like some elements of the fantasy genre but are a bit sick of all those epic battles and dragon stuff, then this series could be for you. I especially loved the take on Native American culture and mythology, revolving around Spirit Animals. Great stuff.

I'm so glad this wasn't a one off 🙂

4. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman 

It took me years to get to this controversal but highly praised series, but I had wanted to read them since I was in my early teens. It was just after the movie The Golden Compass that I was finally prompted to read them, when my little bro got the box set for xmas and didn’t show much interest – swoop! I was surprised by how involved the story was for what is defined as a children’s series – and how violent! There has been a lot of criticism of this series, mainly claiming that it is anti-christian and promotes this to children. I can see how people could get this idea, as the Church in the world of His Dark Materials is a quite evil organisation and there is a secret plot to kill its version of God – “The Authority”, but I don’t think that they strive to condemn christianity to children or that children hate the church or God after reading them. It is a very deep but also very exciting and fun series, and I think anything that makes kids read is a good thing. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Controversy shontroversy

5. Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody 

I have shown my fangirl status when it comes to this series before and I will probably continue to sing its praises long after Isobelle Carmody (finally!) releases the last book. The Obernewtyn Chronicles is the longest series in this list so far with five books published and two more due. In the US and Canada book 5, The Stone Key was split into two volumes, The Stone Key and Wavesong, which I understand because the books got bigger and bigger and The Stone Key was around 1000 pages long and felt like a couple of books rolled into one, but it can be a bit confusing when looking for the books online.
There are a few elements that make this series really great, in my opinion. Firstly it is a classic children’s fantasy idea, with children/young adults who have special abilities rising up against the cruel adult rulers of The Land. Secondly, the books have  really poignant messages behind them – 1. that it doesn’t matter if you are different, everyone is special in their own way and can do great things; and 2. that we need to care for our environment, as the books are set in a post-apocalyptic future where much of The Land is poisoned.

The US/CA covers (last two are yet to be released)

6. Deltora Quest series’ (Deltora Quest; Deltora Shadowlands; Dragons of Deltora) by Emily Rodda 

I have included the three series’ by Emily Rodda that are set in Deltora because they are a continuation of the same story, with the same characters, and also I loved them all so much I couldn’t choose 🙂 I read the first Deltora Quest series (which consists of 8 short novels) several times over my tweens/early teens, often devouring whole books in a couple of hours. The series is about a young boy called Lief who is on a journey to complete the legendary Belt of Deltora with his gruff mentor, Barda and wild orphan girl Jasmine. Each book chronicles their travels to key areas of Deltora where the various gems that make up the belt can be found, and along the way there are a range of trials, battles and puzzles they have to solve. The best thing is, the reader also gets to solve the riddles and puzzles because they are introduced gradually as if you are right there with Lief, Barda and Jasmine and the books are filled with little pictures to help you along. The second series is three books long and follows Lief, Barda and Jasmine as they travel beneath Deltora to reunite the three pieces of an ancient pipe that suppresses the evil of the Shadowlands and was also really interactive and action-packed even tho it was a lot shorter. The whole Deltora saga then concludes with the Dragons of Deltora series, where the gang must track down the Four Sisters, creators of the evil Shadowlord, and kill them using the legendary Dragons of Deltora. Quality reading for even the most reluctant readers.

The 8 books in the original Deltora Quest series

7. Rowan of Rin series by Emily Rodda

The Rowan of Rin series is in a similar vein to the Deltora books (which is understandable as they’re both by Emily Rodda) but the Rowan books are a little more simple and each book is a stand alone story. They all revolve around Rowan, a quiet boy in the small village of Rin who herds the Bukshah, a kind of cattle native to the area, but who keeps getting caught up in vague prophecies foretold by the villages creepy recluse, Sheba. There are five books in the series: Rowan of Rin; Rowan and the Travellers; Rowan and the Keeper of the Crystal; Rowan and the Zebak; and Rowan of the Bukshah and each of them follow a simple but effective path: the set-up, where everything in Rin is fine and dandy; something kind of odd starts to happen; Sheba makes a prophetic announcement that features Rowan in some way; Rowan and often other people of the village go on an epic journey to rectify the strange happenings which includes lots of puzzles and problem-solving; Rowan saves the day. Just like the Deltora books, this series is great fantastical fun for reluctant readers and has some hidden morals to boot. All the books have been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year, which I discussed in a recent post and Rowan of Rin won the year it was shortlisted.

Poor sweet Rowan - everything happens to him!

8. The Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce

I also talked a bit about this series in a Top 10 because it’s a pretty memorable one. Unlike most fantasy series out there the “hero” of these books isn’t a strong young man but a scruffy little girl with no real skills at fighting (at least at first) who is slow to develop her latent powers. It is this gradual growth of the main character, and the layers of her powers and background that unravel through the books that really attracted me – it felt more natural than some examples of the genre. It’s a great series for young adults, especially those that love animals.

Wild magic = awesome 🙂

9. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling 

I really couldn’t have done a list of fantasy series’ without mentioning Harry Potter, even if I wasn’t a huge HP fan because there isn’t many fantasy series’ that have made as much of an impact on pop culture and children’s reading habits. There is a reason the Harry Potter books are among some of the highest selling books of all time – they may not be the most well-crafted novels but they are filled with action, emotion and magic of course! and that is a recipe for a hit (or series of hits) with the young set, and with plenty of adults too. I think I’ve read the first four books four or five times each (mostly while I was waiting for the last three to come out) and most likely I’ll read them all again, and again in my lifetime. There’s just something about the tale of an unwanted, underappreciated boy who finds out he’s a wizard and goes to a magical school that’s so enjoyable and addictive to read. HP forever! 🙂

Accio Harry Potter box set!

10. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

Even ‘tho i’ve only read the first 6 of this 39 book strong series there is no way I could forget it because even in those 6 books I have fallen in love with Pratchett’s quirky writing style, the hilarious characters and the wonderful world on the Disc. Many people might find the sheer number of books in the series too daunting to dive into, but beleive me if you like quality fantasy that’s a bit tounge in cheek and oddball it’s worth it. And the good thing is, they mainly make sense as individual books so you don’t nessesarily have to read all of them or in order.  Of the once I’ve read I would recomend Mort the most, mainly because as I’ve said before I love Pratchett’s personification of Death 🙂

A Grim Reaper that's almost cuddly

Top 10 Animal Characters

1. Cloot

Trinity series  by Fiona McIntosh 

I bought the first book in the Trinity series, Betrayal, randomly at an op-shop years ago, because I thought it looked and sounded interesting. Once I started it I was totally hooked, but couldn’t find the second book, Revenge no matter how hard I looked and had actually read Betrayal several times before I finally found Revenge in a second-hand bookstore. The third book, Destiny, was even more of a battle and there was actually a gap of a couple of years between reading Revenge and Destiny, which is very confusing with a fantasy trilogy! One of the reasons I persevered was the quality of characters such as Cloot. Cloot was originally a crippled man who the hero of the books, Torkyn Gynt, rescues from a pack of men torturing him. When Tor and Cloot travel to the Heartwood, Tor finds out his true destiny and the significance of Cloot appearing in his life, and  Cloot is transformed into a Peregrine Falcon. Cloot is a great character both as a man and as a falcon (tho he’s much more majestic as a falcon). He’s like Tor’s conscience because he’s always at his side giving advice and stopping him from getting a big head or loosing his temper, especially because he can only talk inside Tor’s head. He also has some of the best one-liners!

Cloot in the flesh 🙂

2. Fiver

Watership Down  by Richard Adams

The character of Fiver was what drew me into Watership Down at the beginning. As a weird little kid I loved that he was the runt (the fifth in the litter) and that he ‘knew’ things that the other didn’t. I rooted for the little guy all the way through, and was thrilled whenever Hazel (the main character in the book and Fiver’s brother) stood up for Fiver or helped him go on and he grew stronger as the tale went on. Also to this day whenever I think of Watership Down I see Fiver’s poor little face from the very dramatic (and at the age I was, traumatic!) scene in the movie when he has a violent prophetic episode 😦 poor Fiver!

Oh Fiver, you adorable little weirdo 🙂

3. Warren

Rhubarb and The World According to Warren by Craig Silvey

Warren the golden lab provides a healthy dose of humour in Rhubarb, a book that could easily become depressing, and he must have been universally popular because shortly after Rhubarb Craig Silvey’s publishers produced a picture book all his own 🙂 I haven’t found The World According to Warren yet, but I’m sure it is very cute because Warren is such a unique character. For a guide-dog he’s kind of lazy and easily distracted, but his devotion and love for Eleanor is so clear from the start and he has a definite pride in his work.

I would love to see the world through his eyes

4. Horatio

Corinna Chapman series by Kerry Greenwood 

It was hard to pick a singular pet from this series as the books are filled with a host of colourful cat characters, from Belladonna the elegant companion to resident witch Meroe; to the insane ginger kitten, Lucifer who is quickly running out of nine lives; to the Mouse Police, Heckle and Jeckle who diligently catch vermin in the bakery in exchange for noms. But I just couldn’t go past Corinna’s tabby and white tom, Horatio, who quietly rules the whole lot of them, including all humans 🙂 Horatio is the quintessential princely cat. His perfect day would consist of waking to a dish of milk lovingly poured by his mistress, followed by a leisurely morning of snoozing and fur maintenance until his adoring public started to flow through the bakery, at which point he takes his place by the cash register to receive sufficient worship, and then ending by retiring to the roof as his mistress sips a G & T and strokes him to blissful slumber. Oh! and exquisite fish for dinner of course!

I imagine Horatio to look something like this 🙂

5. Hedwig

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Weirdly enough it wasn’t all the cool magic and flying on broomsticks and stuff I envied in the Harry Potter books or movies it was the fact that owls brought their mail!! If I was going to Hogwarts I totally would’ve gotten an owl rather than a toad or rat (didn’t work out so well for Ron!) or cat (even tho I love cats) because, come on, when else can you have an owl except when you’re a witch/wizard?! Hedwig is (was :() such a beautiful owl and even tho she couldn’t speak and wasn’t involved in much action, she played a very important part and is one of the most memorable parts of the books to me.

I want a goddamn owl!

6. Maruman

Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody 

Maruman is the grumpy, one-eyed and somewhat insane feline companion of Elspeth Gordie, the main character in the fabulous Obernewtyn Chronicles. From the first book (Obernewtyn) Maruman is by Elspeth’s side communicating with her telepathically and cryptically predicting her future. As the books go on it is also revealed that Maruman is the Moonwatcher and as such is destined to protect Elspeth on the dreamtrails. Maruman is a very ancient, often cantankerous and quite loony cat, and that is why I like him 🙂 I don’t think the Obernewtyn Chronicles would be the same without him. I am still waiting for the next  book in the series – The Sending – whose release keeps being delayed 😦 The latest date that has been announced is November 2011, but I’m not holding out hope that this is correct as there has been many dates announced before, but even still I will be waiting with bated breath until it is released.

Come on already!

7. The Doorman

The Messenger by Markus Zusak 

The Doorman is the faithful companion of Ed, the protagonist in The Messenger. He is a huge, old and smelly Rottweiler, German Shepard cross that enjoys a good long snooze and sharing a coffee with his master. The Doorman is the comic relief in The Messenger, providing Ed with perspective as he lives through some very strange happenings. He is non-judgemental and almost immobile most of the time but he has a quiet, unashamed dignity. He doesn’t care that he stinks to high heavens and is surprisingly unfazed when Ed’s mate has to kiss him after loosing a bet. But most of all he is a loving, loyal dog – the classic man’s best friend 🙂

A fine likeness of The Doorman

8. The Librarian

Discworld series by Terry Pratchett 

The Librarian is an interesting character to be on this list as when he is introduced in the first Discworld novel – The Colour of Magic – he is human, and only becomes an Orang Utan in the second book – The Light Fantastic – when the powerful magical book, the Octavo, erupted with a beam of magic. Despite being an Orang Utan the Librarian remains at his post caring for the unpredictable and sometimes volatile spell books at the Unseen University and actually finds that his new form is perfectly suited to climbing the high shelves. The Librarian’s vocabulary consists of the single syllable – Ook – (with the occasional Eek! at times of panic or anger) but it is amazing how many emotions or phrases can be conveyed in that syllable and most of the wizards at the University have no problem understanding him or are phased but the fact that an ape is running the library.

I would certainly welcome an Orang Utan Librarian 🙂

9. Gylfie

The Guardians of Ga’Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky 

Gylfie was one of my favourite characters in book one of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series – The Capture – and in the movie. She has so much spunk and bravery for such a small and young owl and she always seems to know how to put the main character, Soren, in his place. She is very sharp and intelligent in both the books and movie as well as having a dry sense of humour, but she is not tolerant to jokes about her size and can be quite self-conscious. Plus, being an Elf Owl she is very adorable!

Gylfie in the movie - Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

10. The Great A’Tuin

Discworld  series by Terry Pratchett

The Great A’Tuin, Sky Turtle, is much more than an animal character as she carries the whole Discworld (perched on four elephants) through space on the back of her shell. When the series begins it is made clear that the sex of the Great A’Tuin is not known but many adventurers and scientists have tried to discover it by venturing over the edge of the Disc, with unsuccessful results. However it is discovered that the Sky Turtle is female (or at least assumed so) at the end of The Light Fantastic when A’Tuin travels to the hatching site of her eggs which all contain little Sky Turtles with their own elephants and Disc. I personally think that having a Disc-shaped world on the back of four giant elephants who in turn stand on the shell of a gigantic turtle swimming through space, is one of the most unusual and creative ideas in literature and is a real testament to Terry Pratchett’s imagination.

"Great A'Tuin the turtle comes, swimming slowly through the interstellar gulf, hydrogen frost on his ponderous limbs, his huge and ancient shell pocked with meteor craters."

Top 10 Female Characters

1. The Hon. Phryne Fisher

Phryne Fisher Mysteries  by Kerry Greenwood

Phryne Fisher is an unflappable flapper in 1920’s Melbourne. She has a beautiful house with loyal attentive staff and a wardrobe of stunning dresses and pant suits. Oh, and she’s a private detective who drives fast and carries a well-concealed gun. I freakin’ love Phryne Fisher! She is such a witty and clever character and she somehow solves crime while looking fabulous and sleeping with an array of beautiful young men. If I could have the wardrobe of any book character it would be Phryne Fisher’s (with the figure to match :P), but besides that and her gorgeous home, she can keep her life – she encounters murder WAY too often! I have read the first 8 Phryne books and so far Kerry Greenwood has written 18, so I have plenty of Phryne fun ahead of me 😉

Even glamorous while taking tea

2. Corinna Chapman

Corinna Chapman Mysteries  by Kerry Greenwood

As I have said before Corinna Chapman is my kinda woman – a plus-size gal who enjoys a good muffin, G & T’s and cats. She also is a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer which gives us something else in common 🙂 I’m on the 3rd book now (Devil’s Food) and once again loving Corinna’s pop culture references and accidental detecting. There’s only 2 more books published 😦 but since Kerry Greenwood is a machine when it comes to churning out series, I’m sure there’ll be more 🙂

Corinna on the cover of the first book: Earthly Delights

3. Flavia de Luce

Flavia de Luce Mysteries by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is the coolest 11-year-old I have ever read about! She is a budding chemist with a special passion for poisons and she spends most of her time day-dreaming about poisoning her two awful sisters (or performing practical jokes on them involving chemistry). In the first book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Flavia develops a new passion – detective work – when she discovers a corpse in the pumpkin patch. By the second book, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, Flavia is quite confident in her detective skills as she rides about town on her trusty bike, Gladys, looking for clues. The novel’s are set in the 1950’s in the English countryside and it is this setting that makes Flavia’s character all the more wickedly funny. She definitely isn’t the typical good little English girl, and that’s why I love her! I look forward to reading the new book, A Red Herring Without Mustard and the upcoming I Am Half-Sick of Shadows.

Flavia on trusty Gladys

4. Sally Lockhart

Sally Lockhart Mysteries by Philip Pullman

Another female detective! Sally Lockhart is another woman who doesn’t fit the mold of her time. Even before her detective work she worked as a Financial Consultant, which is thought to be a job not befitting a Victorian lady, but Sally isn’t an ordinary Victorian lady. She uses her good looks and the fact that she’s an innocent-looking 16-year-old girl to find out things that would be impossible were she a full-grown man, and she does so with her trusty pistol close at hand. I’ve loved Sally’s spunk in the first two books: The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North, and I look forward to more adventures in The Tiger in the Well and The Tin Princess.

Billie Piper as Sally in the tv adaptation

5. Sookie Stackhouse

The Sookie Stackhouse Series/Southern Vampire Mysteries  by Charlaine Harris

Regular readers probably saw this one coming! Sookie is a great character both in the books and in True Blood, but mostly in the books. She is a great mix of sweet Southern belle and kick-ass vampire/were-loving part-faerie telepath. She has a hilarious inner monologue, and while she makes some stupid mistakes, mostly she’s quite smart and strong. If you read my recent post you will know that I’m nearing the end of the Sookie Stackhouse series, but once I’ve finished all the current books I will wait patiently for more 🙂 plus I always have the 3rd season of True Blood and seasons after 😛

Not your average waitress

6. Valkyrie Cain (AKA Stephanie Edgley, Darquesse)

Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy 

Valkyrie Cain is the kick-ass partner of skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleasant. She is an Elemental (which means she can throw fire, control air to lift herself and other neat stuff) and since the 4th book (Dark Days) she is also a Necromancer and stores shadow power in a ring. Her real name is Stephanie Edgley but she had to take another name when working with Skulduggery so that her name wasn’t used to control her, and she chose Valkyrie Cain. Darquesse is her “True Name” and has only been known to her in the last two books. That’s plenty to make her one of my fave female characters, but I also love the back and forth she had with Skulduggery (or any one else that takes her on) and pretty much everything else about her 🙂 Basically, she rocks.

A kick-ass fire-throwin' gal 🙂

7. Mma Precious Ramotswe

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall-Smith

I’ve only read the first book or this series (which has the same title as the series) but even from that (and I have to admit from the wonderful tv adaptation) I have grown fond of Precious Ramotswe. She is bright and vibrant and larger than life, and she always seems to make solving mysteries look like a piece of cake. I also love how she’s so tricksty when it comes to making criminals spill their guts – it makes me laugh every time! There is currently 12 books in the series with a 13th to come, so I’m sure as I go on I’ll love her more and more.

I think the cartoon her is so cute!

8. Anna

Mister God This is Anna  by Fynn

I’ve already gushed enough over this book in a review and my Top 10 books of all time post so I won’t do it again, but I’ll just say that Anna has to be in this top 10 because she’s such a special, memorable character. I recently found out that there are 2 other books in the Anna Biographies when I didn’t even know it was part of a series! So I will be finding Anna’s Book, and Anna and the Black Knight and will most likely fall in love with her even more. I wish I knew an Anna 🙂

So cute!!!

9. Sophie Hatter

Howl’s Castle Series  by Diana Wynne Jones

Sophie Hatter from Howl’s Moving Castle (as well as the sequels Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways) is a hilariously feisty character that had me laughing out loud many times. I loved the  Hayao Miyazaki animated movie Howl’s Moving Castle but until I saw it in the library I didn’t even know it was based on a book. If you’ve seen the film and thought Sophie was a riot then you must read the book, because she is even funnier on paper and it is such a magical story. She isn’t in Castle in the Air much til the end but every moment that she is, is gold! I haven’t gotten to House of Many Ways yet, but it is in one of my piles so I hope to get to it soon 🙂

Sophie as she looks in the film (before the spell)

10. Luna Lovegood

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling 

Ever since “Loony Lovegood” popped up in the beginning of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix I’ve thought she was the bees knees! Luna is just so wonderfully weird and a space cadet (which I identify with) and she has come out with some classic lines. I also like her odd accesories such as the butterbeer cork necklace, dirigible plum (radish) earrings, and the Spectrespecs.

Loony is awesome 🙂

Top 10 Male Characters

1. Jeffrey Lu

Jasper Jones  by Craig Silvey

Jeffrey Lu was the first character that came to mind when I started to compile this list because despite not being the main character of Jasper Jones (Which is Charlie Bucktin) or the character that the book is named after, he is the character that stuck in my mind the most. Jeffrey Lu is Charlie’s best friend and neighbour, he’s Vietnamese and obsessed with cricket. The reason why he’s so memorable is he is so funny, goofy and resilient and I cheered him on throughout the book when I wasn’t wishing that he was my best friend when I was that age (13)! Because of when and where Jasper Jones is set – rural Western Australia in the ’60s – Jeffrey has to face a lot of racism, and this prevents him from enjoying his one true love, cricket, as the other boys won’t alow a “gook” to play. The scene when he is finally allowed to play a game (because they lost a player and he’s the only one there) and absolutely saves the team is one of the highlights of the book and had me cheering out loud (which says a lot as cricket is like a foreign language to me :P)

unfortunately there has not been a movie or tv adaptation of Jasper Jones (yet!) so no pic of Jeffrey. I imagine him as a short Vietnamese boy with a giant grin 😀

2. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin

Ender’s Game  by Orson Scott Card

I read this book late last year and was instantly intrigued by the protagonist, Ender. Ender is the “third” in his family in a futuristic Earth society that only allows two children per household. Ender was allowed to be born because his two older siblings, Peter and Valentine were incredibly intelligent but not suitable for military training. Ender however is chosen and is shipped off to a space station to begin extensive war “games” in preparation for fighting the “buggers” an insect-like alien race. Ender is a very complex character – at first he seems quiet and somewhat sinister, and he is undoubtably highly intelligent. As the book goes on you discover so many layers of his character and reasons behind his actions. I don’t think I’d want to be best friends with Ender like I do with Jeffrey Lu, but he would be interesting to talk to 🙂

Ender in the Battleroom (picture from a video game based on the book that has been put on hold indefinitely)

3. Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

A love the sometimes anti-hero of this series – the teenage criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl the second. From the first book I couldn’t get enough of his fiendish money-making/blackmail schemes, his posh irish schoolboy demeanor and his softer side that appears when people he loves (such as his family or bodyguard Butler) are in trouble. The witty back-and-forth between himself and various other characters is classic, whether he’s the bad guy or the good guy. I’m only up to the 5th book (out of 7) and I’m loving how his character is changing and maturing, because of age and his gradual shift to the good side.

Gotta love a criminal mastermind that hasn’t left school yet!

4. Arthur Dent

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams

Ah Arthur Dent – possibly the most unfortunate Englishman in the Universe. I can’t help but love his bumbling helplessness and constant longing for tea, whether it’s in the book series, the BBC tv series (1981) or the movie (2005). I’ve read all the original Hitchhiker’s books (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe and Everything; So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish; and Mostly Harmless) as well as the last book that was written by Eoin Colfer (And Another Thing…) and through them all the character that really made me laugh was Arthur. I don’t know what it is about him – maybe it’s the fact that he’s a human surrounded by a cast of bizarre aliens, or the fact that absolutely anything bad that could happen to him does, or that he does all his adventuring in an old bathrobe – but most likely it’s that the poor bugger never gets a proper cuppa!

“I just want a bloody cup of tea!”

5. Rubeus Hagrid

Harry Potter  series by J.K. Rowling

From the onset of the Harry Potter series Hagrid has been one of my favourite characters and I think he’s one of the only characters that was cast perfectly in the movies (go Robbie Coltrane!). I love everything about him – his giantness, his crazy hair and beard, his flying motorcycle, the pink umbrella that he hides his wand in because he’s not meant to do magic, his love/blind-spot for dangerous beasts, and how he will do anything for Harry, Hermione and Ron. I was sad when several of the HP characters died *SPOILER ALERT!* like Sirius, Dumbledore, Hedwig, Dobby, Lupin, Tonks and Fred, but if Hagrid had died I don’t know if I would’ve kept reading. I want my very own Hagrid!!!

Awww look at his giant button-hole flower! ^-^

6. Adrian Mole

Adrian Mole  series by Sue Townsend

The Adrian Mole diaries (namely The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole) were a guilty little pleasure of many kids my age (when I was about 11) because they really did bare all! Adrian wrote about pimples, his parents failing marriage, his love for Pandora and even the changing size of his penis! His slightly pathetic, nerdy, sentimental character was always endearing to me which is why I bought Adrian Mole : the Cappuccino Years when I saw it years later. Even at 30 Adrian’s diary is still very personal and filled with hilarious misfortune. The series has 7 books in all, taking Adrian from 13 and ¾ to 39 and ¼ (Adrian Mole : the Prostrate Years which was published in 2009) but I’ve only read about half of them.

Gian Sammarco as Adrian in the tv adaptation

7. Roux

Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris

If any of you have seen the movie Chocolat (2000) you will probably remember the handsome gypsy nicknamed Roux, played by Johnny Depp. The character is slightly different in the book, but I love how Johnny Depp played the mysterious playful wanderer that is cautious of sympathy and “handouts”. I can’t resist a gypsy – I love the folklore, the camaraderie, the music, the magic and the romance of them – and the gypsy troupe that Roux is a part of are river gypsies which I thought was even more romantic. I thought his untamed passion and mystery was a perfect match for Vianne, the main character of Chocolat, so I was pleased when he reappeared in The Lollipop Shoes. If I were to turn straight I would run off to live with Roux on his travelling riverboat 🙂

Johnny Depp makes a good gypsy 🙂

8. Christopher John Francis Boone

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

Christopher is a very unique character. Firstly he has Asperger’s Syndrome which is a type of Autism, and with this comes an incredible intellect and attention to detail hand in hand with a misunderstanding of people and emotions. The book is narrated by Christopher and in it he tells us about himself while trying to unravel the mystery of his neighbours dead dog. Christopher knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He likes animals but doesn’t understand people, especially the faces they make, and he hates to be touched. He likes red but can’t stand yellow and brown. The book is really an exploration of Christopher’s character and his growth throughout. I was intrigued with him from the start and loved how the book was set out as if it really was written by him, with writing being interspersed with diagrams and mathematical equations.

A great book – worth a looksie

9. Brian Robeson

Brian’s Saga by Gary Paulsen 

I was amazed and inspired by the survival instincts of 13-year-old Brian in Hatchet, because I was almost 13 at the time and couldn’t imagine going through what he did! In case you haven’t heard of Hatchet or haven’t read my Top 10 books from childhood post, the book tells the tale of 13-year-old Brian Robeson, who while on the way to visit his dad the pilot of his light plane has a heart attack and the plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness. Brian then has to learn how to survive with only the clothes on his back and a small hatchet that his mother gave him. Brian’s character grows tremendously throughout the book as he has to face some harsh truths, and then is explored more in the 4 sequels – Hatchet: the Return (also called The River); Hatchet: Winter (also called Brian’s Winter); Hatchet: the Call (also called Brian’s Return); and Brian’s Hunt (the only one I haven’t read).

Brian kicks Canadian wilderness ass!

10. Charlie Gordon

Flowers for Algernon by  Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon is a beautiful book and you would have to be heartless not to feel for the book’s main character Charlie Gordon. Charlie is a intellectually disabled man who undertakes a procedure to increase his IQ. The procedure had previously been done on a lab mouse called Algernon, that at the start Charlie resents as he sees him as a smarter rival, but learns to love. The book is written as a series of progress reports written by Charlie as he is getting treated and you can physically see his progress as his spelling and sentence structure improves. In the beginning Charlie is blissfully ignorant of how others treat him but as he gains intelligence he slowly realises that his work-mates, which he considered friends have been ridiculing him and leading him into situations that would result in him making a fool of himself. He also starts to develop feelings for his adult literacy teacher, Miss Kinnian and discovers that the adult world and intelligence is more complicated and harmful then he thought. I’ve read Flowers for Algernon a couple of times and have seen a performance based on the book, and Charlie’s various struggles always make me cry.

Cliff Robertson as Charlie Gordon in the 1968 adaptation, Charly