Discussions: The Best 20 Books From The Last Two Decades?

Fourth Estate, 2010.

Fourth Estate, 2010.

Vintage, 2004

Vintage, 2004

This week, the Independent published a list of the best novels from the past two decades. A panel of literary experts have put together the list which helped mark the 20th Anniversary of the Bath Literature Festival.

The list was topped by Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel which has ‘transformed the literary landscape’ according to artistic director, Viv Groskop.

I have to admit, I’ve only read one of the books listed below and that is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (which I very much enjoyed.) There are a few that are on my TBR pile though. Do you agree with this list?


Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

American Pastoral by Philip Roth

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Only One Book?

rp_Jornal-300x18011.jpgToday’s discussion – Are you able to only pick one?

We will read many things in our lifetime, get engrossed in many stories, care about a variety of characters as if they were real people – friends we’ve known, loved or lost and we will visit lands and countries without even leaving our homes.

Books have that magical ability to completely transport us to somewhere else. Novels give us a glimpse into another world.

Of course, if you ask anyone who is into reading, they will probably be able to list many books that they have enjoyed or not liked and will give you many reasons for their decisions.

There are also so many lists Continue reading

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E-Readers Vs Bookshops

rp_Jornal-300x1801.jpgWill e-readers spell the end for bookshops?

With the invention of the e-reader and companies like Amazon, Kobo and the iTunes stores giving us instant access to books, it’s making it easier to get books without even having to leave our homes.

Bookshops and Libraries have struggled as a result – the latter suffering closures due to budget restraints and Borders was certainly an example of a high street store losing the pricing war with the online retailers.

We have seen many well-known stores disappear from the high street in recent years. Places like Woolworths, HMV and Blockbusters have all struggled and failed to stay ahead of the game when it comes to keeping up with online rivals like Love Film and Netflix. Even supermarkets are posing a big threat not only to them but to bookshops.

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Only Six?

How many of these have you read?

rp_Jornal-300x18011.jpgThere are many  surveys about how many books you should have read. Everyone’s list will be different. The BBC (probably based on an average thing,) have claimed that you would have only read six of these hundred books listed. I spotted about fourteen that I’ve read (that’s if you count The Harry Potter series as a whole.) There are a few I’d like to read ( I turn my head in shame at some of the titles that are on this part of the list,) and then some others that I have no interest in at all and will probably never read – War and Peace for example. That’s not my cup of tea. How about you? Which ones have you read? Are there any you feel should be on this list but aren’t?


Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Persuasion – Jane Austen

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis Continue reading

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Stick With What You Know?

As a new author, should you stick to what you know? 

rp_Jornal-300x1801.jpgSo you want to write a book? You have an idea, so now what? I have read so many fantastic books through my life so far. I have read romance, mystery, crime and historical novels and the one thing they have in common is that the author makes the act of writing a book look so easy… of course, it isn’t. It can be rewarding and fun but can be frustrating; sometimes banging your head against a brick wall seems more productive than trying to complete the word count you’re trying to write. 

Writing what you know may in many ways make it easier, right? Does it though? Yes, I think in some ways it can. Having previous knowledge of something adds depth to a plot or character.

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Which Classics?

rp_Jornal-300x1801.jpgWhich Classic Novel Should You Read?

There are many novels that are considered classics. When I began to list the ‘great novels,’ it amazed me to see how many of them I’d not read. Despite reading many things about it, I’ve not read A Catcher in the Rye. I own a copy but have never got past that. It just sits on my shelf hoping that one day I will get around to reading it.

Lord of The Rings is another example. I read The Fellowship of The Ring but then gave up in the middle of The Two Towers and never got to The Return of The King. I decided to watch the movies instead.

There are many other great novels Continue reading

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A Novel Ending?

DiscussionsWhich Novel Has The Best Ending?

The beginning of any book is important. That first sentence is used to draw your reader into your story, but it’s usually the ending of the book that stays with me. The great ones have you thinking about them long after you’ve read that last page and put the book down.

The Hunger Games is one example. A surprising ending (especially with the changes in power. I don’t want to give too much away,) and as a consequence, one that I am still thinking about and I finished that in the middle of last year.

I adored the ending to PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern. I was sad that Gerry was gone but optimistic that Holly was going to be OK.

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Right Casting?

DiscussionsDoes it ever live up to expectation? 

When I write, I cast my characters. I find it helps to develop the person in my head. I also like to have a clear vision when I am reading a book. Imagination is great as it allows for so many possibilities. I try to read the book before I see any kind of adaptation, otherwise, I can’t visualise the characters correctly – as was one of my problems when I tried to read Twilight. 

I watched the trailer for the upcoming release, Continue reading

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At Which Point Can You Call Yourself A Writer?

When Can You Call Yourself A Writer?

When Can You Call Yourself A Writer?

When Can You Call Yourself A Writer? 

I have been trying to write a novel for a while but I would still class myself a beginner. It’s a big step to go from an idea for a novel or a short story to getting it down on paper. Getting it out to a publisher is an even bigger step. 

When people ask me what I do, the voice in my head wants to scream out loud, ‘you’re a writer.’ However, I find myself trying to hide the fact that I am a writer and so I will omit it from any job description Continue reading

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Setting Writing Goals?

Are setting goals important or a distraction? 

Many writers approach their writing in many different ways. Some plan whilst others wing it. Others set goals when others wait to see what happens.

Setting goals is important for me. I lack focus when I don’t have something to work toward, like a deadline. I don’t have the discipline to not set goals.

I find them important.

That’s not to say I am not always good at keeping my deadlines  Continue reading

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Do You Keep a Diary or a Journal?

JournalDiaries or Journals have always been a popular thing to keep.

I have kept a diary on and off since I before I was a teenager. If something is bothering me, I tend to want to write it down. This is common practise amongst many – whether it’s to work through an issue or simply to keep a memory of your life at the time of writing. Some write for themselves and others write on a blog for public viewing. My blog tends to be about general thoughts and opinions Continue reading

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Opening Lines



The Top Ten Opening Lines… 

I recently found an article from The Guardian from April 2012, about the best opening lines in fiction. The first sentence of a book sells it. It can be the difference between someone buying your book and putting it back on the shelf, or deciding to carry on and finish. 

There are many first lines I like, one of my favourites is the line from Pride and Prejudice. It’s one of the most famous ones for sure. Below is the list of the ten from The Guardian. Do you agree? Are there any that aren’t in there that should be? 


James Joyce: Ulysses (1922)

“Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.” This is the classic third-person opening to the 20th-century novel that has shaped modern fiction, pro and anti, for almost a hundred years. As a sentence, it is possibly outdone by the strange and lyrical beginning of Joyce’s final and even more experimental novel, Finnegans Wake: “riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.”

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Which Fictional Character Would You Be?

Which fictional character would you be?

Which fictional character would you be?

There are many fictional characters but which one would you want to be? 

Being a big reader I meet so many amazing characters. At the end of The Fault in Our Stars, I had fallen in love with Hazel and Augustus. I want to have a drink with Bridget Jones and I want to go to Hogwarts with Harry Potter – no, on second thoughts, I want to be Hermione Granger for a day. 

That’s what I love about being a writer. I get to create characters that come alive in my head (it’s like being able to have imaginary friends in adulthood,) even though Carrie, the main character in my current work in progress, won’t shut up. 

It has me thinking… Continue reading

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Your Ideal Christmas Guests

christmas_cake_cakes_birthdayWe’re less than a week away before all of the festive celebrations begin and we’ll be opening presents, seeing family and friends or nestling down in front of the TV or snuggling with a book. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to Christmas so much this year. It has got me thinking about (aside from family and friends,) who I would want to have over for Christmas dinner? Ideal dinner guests is one of the questions I like to ask the most as the answers are always so varied.

Mine would be: Tom Hiddleson (as Loki. It would make it interesting.) John Lennon, Queen Elizabeth 1, JK Rowling and Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock.)

Who would you have over for a Christmas Dinner Party?

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Character Vs. Plot

discussionsWhich one is more important? 

It’s one of the decisions you have to make when sitting down to write a novel. Some books are character driven whereas others are moved along by the strong plot. When you read something like Lord of The Flies for example, it’s ultimately the actions of the characters that drive the plot. I am still trying to figure out which one should come first but saying that, my main character is strong-minded so if I had to choose at the moment, I would say character is more important. 

Which one do you think is more important when writing a novel? Which one do you tend to focus on more? 

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Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.

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