Tag: bookreview

Audiobook Review: Cilka’s Journey – Heather Morris

Today’s audiobook review is for my second historical fiction novel by Heather Morris. I loved listening to The Tattooist of Auschwitz despite its subject matter, so I knew I had to listen to Cilka’s Journey as well!

As if the events of Auschwitz aren’t harrowing enough, Cilka’s Journey centres around a young woman who is imprisoned in a labour camp after being liberated from the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau site. She is imprisoned for helping the Nazis – her crime: prostituting herself to them… like she had a choice!

 

Cilka’s Journey – Heather Morris

Goodreads – Cilka’s Journey

In this follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, the author tells the story, based on a true one, of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again.

Cilka Klein is 18 years old when Auschwitz-Birkenau is liberated by Soviet soldiers. But Cilka is one of the many women who is sentenced to a labor camp on charges of having helped the Nazis–with no consideration of the circumstances Cilka and women like her found themselves in as they struggled to survive. Once at the Vorkuta gulag in Sibera, where she is to serve her 15-year sentence, Cilka uses her wits, charm, and beauty to survive.

 

My Thoughts…

The first thing I loved about this story is that it taught me something new. I didn’t actually know about the labour camps and the trials men and women such as Cilka went through. So much is known about the conditions and the treatment of prisoners in Auschwitz-Birkenau and I think it’s overshadowed other events following the Second World War. I have read a few books around the subject now, but nothing like this.

As with The Tattooist of Auschwitz, the tale is based on a real person’s account of what happened to them. Reading about it in a fictional sense is upsetting enough, but knowing that many people lived through such a terrible experience is even more harrowing. There is a lot of detail to the narrative, which I really enjoy; it validates the authenticity of the events and conditions people were forced to live in. It also makes it very easy for us as listeners/readers to put ourselves in Cilka’s shoes, feel her pain, sorrow, and a few moments of joy.

The bleak descriptions of the bitterly cold Siberian labour camp are haunting. Living in such cruel conditions made the lives of these women very difficult, especially for those left weak from their time in the concentration camp. It’s frighteningly easy to feel the isolation these women have from the rest of the world. Not all is bleak, however, as many strong friendships are forged between them in their common suffering. They have few personal possessions of their own, but readily give up what they can to help others. They find solace in each other and help one another through their darkest days.

This is an audiobook review, so it’s only fair to comment on how well the audiobook is narrated. The narrator Louise Brealey’s narration style is fantastic. Cilka’s Journey is an emotional account of horrific events and her ability to encapsulate the emotion makes it even easier for the reader (listener) to immerse themselves with the story.

As I hope you can tell from the review, this was a five-star read (listen) for me. I absolutely loved it and I’m sure it’s a book I will go back and read again!

Have you read Cilka’s Journey or The Tattooist of Auschwitz? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Book Review: Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Today’s book review post features a book I very gratefully received from Orion Books in October last year. I took part in a promotional competition by sharing a post on Twitter about the upcoming release and I was chosen to get an early access copy of the book via Netgalley! I have to say before I go further that my review is an honest one.

I did actually start reading this at the end of that month whilst on holiday, but it has taken a while to catch up with all my reviews to get my thoughts to you all. No doubt my Netgalley rating will look a little healthier after I share this with them. I’m not a big Netgalley user, but it does come in handy for blog tours and such.

Some of you may know Stephen Chbosky for another popular book he has written – The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I haven’t read this myself, so this was my first experience of his writing. As the genres of these two books are so different, I don’t think it matters whether you have read this, or any of his other books, or not.

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads – Imaginary Friend

Imagine… Leaving your house in the middle of the night. Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she’s just as scared as you.

Imagine… Starting a new school, making friends. Seeing how happy it makes your mother. Hearing a voice, calling out to you.

Imagine… Following the signs, into the woods. Going missing for six days. Remembering nothing about what happened.

Imagine… Something that will change everything… And having to save everyone you love.

 

My Thoughts…

When the promotional email I received for the book likened Imaginary Friend to Stephen King’s IT, I had very high expectations of the complexity and creepiness of this thriller novel. Glad to say those expectations were met entirely, but what I didn’t expect was the length of it! Granted, IT is an exceptionally long novel at 1,396 pages. Still, Imaginary Friend weighs in at just over 700 pages. Compared to other horror/thriller novels I’ve picked up, it’s EPIC! There were some sections of narrative that were stickier than others to read. Could it be shorter? Perhaps. That said though, I do think it all adds up to the overall ending, so it’s not wasteful content. It’s relevance just isn’t known at the time.

The content of the book is sinister enough, but what gave me the chills more was the protagonist subject to the horror and paranormal goings-on is a child. It made me question what was going on; could it be nothing more than Christopher’s vivid imagination, or was it real? I can’t say this novel gave me nightmares because I’m not really affected that way when it comes to horror. I know it to be fiction and so it doesn’t bother me that way. Judging from other reviews though, not everyone can say the same!

As can be expected with such an epic, there are a lot of characters that play their part in this story. Whilst Christopher and his immediate family are probably the most developed throughout, there is still plenty of time put into the ‘minor’ or ‘supporting’ characters. The detail that went into establishing each of the characters and their relations with others to build the whole dynamic of the town is astounding. I feel like I know everyone like I’ve lived amongst them myself! I absolutely had my favourites – Ambrose, special shout out to you. I invested heavily with the characters, and knowing the plot is heading towards a cataclysmic event spurs you on to find out what happens!

There may be some readers that don’t like some of the religious undercurrents towards the end of the story. I’m quite happy to put out there that I’m not religious at all, but I didn’t mind its inclusion or influence on the plot at all. I personally think it made it more interesting.

Have you read Imaginary Friend? What did you make of the book?

 

 

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Blog Tour Book Review: Magical Intelligence – M. K. Wiseman

I’m really excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Magical Intelligence by M K Wiseman. Today kickstarts the blog tour for Magical Intelligence, which will be running up until its publication next week! As a huge fan of fantasy, magic and the concept of wizard spies, I have been looking forward to reading this book and sharing my thoughts with you about it.

Before I start these posts I always like to take the time to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and to the author for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

Would you like to find out a little about Magical Intelligence before we jump into my thoughts of the book?

 

Magical Intelligence – M K Wiseman

Goodreads – Magical Intelligence

When you are a member of Britain’s first team of wizard spies, every mission might be your last. But as the dawning of the 20th century draws ever nearer, magic grows weak. Violectric Dampening, the clash of man-made electricity with the Gifts of magekind, threatens M.I.’s existence. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve now been discharged from their own government. Obsolete. Distrusted.

And now hunted by one of their own.

Myra Wetherby has always feared her so-called fits, strange visions of people and places that she cannot explain. It is the emotional manipulation, however, a strange empathic connection to those around her, which threatens her very sanity. A danger to her family, Myra runs away, falling straight into the hands of the newly ousted Magical Intelligence team. Who just so happen to need an ability like hers.

Which makes Myra one of them . . . whether she likes it or not.

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-LocPwqQiU

 

My Thoughts…

The first thing that caught my attention about the book was the plotline. I love how it revolves around magic and how scientific discovery (electricity) has a negative impact on wizardry. Those of you that read my other reviews may remember that one of my favourite things about fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson is that his magic systems have a physical element or limitation to them. I love when magic interacts with the world we know and love. It lends a sense of realism to what is going on; it has rules and that way it can’t be used to make a plothole problem disappear randomly. For this reason, I really enjoyed the concept behind this story.

Myra is an Empath. She has the ability to experience other’s emotions as well as manipulate them. I really liked this power in our protagonist. I would say I am quite an empathetic person so even though she is a teenage girl, we have common ground and that makes her relatable. As I am sure all women can tell you, handling emotions as a teenage girl is no walk in the park. It’s a confusing, ever-changing mess – just like Myra’s emotions for a good portion of the book. But again, this all adds to her being an overall relatable character.

The age and circumstance are perfect for allowing Myra to mature and really show off her development as a person and with her powers. Having grown up being misunderstood, Myra finds a sense of belonging amongst a ‘family’ she never knew existed. I’m looking forward to seeing how she grows throughout the rest of the series, as well as find out more about her past. There are a few little hints, but a lot of mystery as to how she ended up on her own. Hopefully, all will be revealed!

The Violectric Dampening also serves to build and differentiate a number of characters within M.I. Some of the wizards within the group are more prone to it than others. As Myra quite literally lands herself in the action from one of her visions, she is chucked in the deep end. We are introduced to a number of different wizards and magical abilities that, up until now, have served them in serving the Crown. Now working in an unofficial capacity to protect their magic from one threatening it, they train Myra to control her abilities as well as teach her about their own to aid them in their difficult mission.

Magical Intelligence is a fun read for fans of fantasy, magic and action-packed adventure! I really enjoyed the unique storyline, the setting and how well this whole package comes together. Thanks again to the author for the opportunity to read and review the book!

 

Author Bio

M. K. Wiseman has degrees in animation/video and library science – both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, her office is a clutter of storyboards and half-catalogued collections of too, too many books. (But, really, is there such a thing as too many books?) When she’s not mucking about with stories, she’s off playing brač or lying in a hammock in the backyard of her Cedarburg home that she shares with her endlessly patient husband.

 

Social Media Links –

Website: http://mkwisemanauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FaublesFables/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/FaublesFables

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/faublesfables/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7073540.M_K_Wiseman

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Hey guys and welcome back to another review post! I’ve already reviewed one book (audiobook) this week and I’m back again in an effort to catch up with the number of reviews I need to write! Today’s review is going to be a joy to write because I absolutely loved this book! In fact, I loved the whole series! I wouldn’t describe myself as a binge reader particularly, but I read this series really quickly by my standards. I read this on holiday in October last year and I read the remaining two books in November and December respectively. I can tell you now that it’s one I will be picking up time and again.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Goodreads

Purchase Links:  Amazon UK    Amazon US     Waterstones

My Thoughts…

If I haven’t already made it clear from the intro, let me say this one thing first. Ahem. I LOVED THIS BOOK! I was already a huge fan of Laini Taylor’s based on her Strange the Dreamer duology. She really has a way with words, beautiful descriptions and great characters/storylines. If you are a huge fantasy fan, please, please read at least one of her books. Whilst they are marketed at a young adult audience, I didn’t overly perceive them that way. I don’t typically read YA but I’m glad I did on this occasion!

In Daughter of Smoke and Bone Laini Taylor reinvents the classic angels vs demons conflict. Where typical stories have clear cut good and evil sides, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is riddled with moral ambiguity and grey areas on both sides. It makes the conflict element of the storyline really interesting. What makes it even better is that our main character Karou is largely ignorant of what is going on within this conflict for most of the book. To us readers, she begins as a mostly normal young woman studying art in Prague. However, as Karou accidently learns that there is more to her existence than she first realises, we readers are thrown into a whole new world where enemies appear as friends, and friends as enemies. Who is Karou really, and who can she trust?

I really enjoy how well Laini Taylor gives her female characters plenty of sass! If you want an example, I shared a great opening quote from one of the later books in a First Lines Friday post. It’s just one of many brilliantly funny moments that had me laughing out loud. I’m pretty sure I had a few quizzical looks whilst reading this, not least from my sister!

As someone that isn’t a huge advocate of romances in novels, I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of the Karou/Akiva relationship alluded to in the synopsis. I was pleasantly surprised though. It is quite a significant part of the narrative, but it isn’t awkward, forced or uncomfortable to read. I’ll hold my hands up and say that I just get awkward reading romances when they’re overly sexualised. It just makes me cringe. Karou and Akiva’s spark isn’t like that at all – it’s born of longing, a half-remembered past. A re-kindling. That’s all I can say without spoiling anything, but the one thing it is not is sexual. Works for me!

I’m glad I bought Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the rest of the series later, in paperback. I will definitely be revisiting this series again – that’s how much I loved it. Now that I know what happens, I also want to read it again to see what I missed the first time.  

Have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone or any other books by Laini Taylor? Let me know in the comments!

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Audiobook Review: Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Today I am sharing an audiobook review for Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I listened to this audiobook last year and finished it in September. It’s been a little while since I finished this, however, I have listened to its sequel Crooked Kingdom more recently.

I really enjoyed listening to Six of Crows and today’s post is all about sharing what I loved about it! Before that though, here are the details of the book: –

 

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads – Six of Crows

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK     Amazon US     Waterstones

 

My Thoughts

My favourite thing about this particular book, and series, is the depth and detail of the world that has been created. Whilst I have only listened to this duology from Leigh Bardugo, my understanding is that it ties in with another series she has written (The Shadow and Bone series). It really shows in the detail. Those that read my reviews regularly will know that I talk about the setting and history of a novel a lot. It’s a big factor on whether I enjoy fantasy stories such as these or not. It worked really well for me, and I think I will be reading or listening to her other series based on what I have enjoyed listening to already.

As I listened to the audiobook version of Six of Crows, I got the benefit of a variety of narrators to add to the overall diversity in characterisation. I really liked that the story was split into several perspectives, but not so many that it becomes difficult to understand who our perspective is narrated by and what is going on. Each perspective is distinct, unique and adds to the storyline.

The daring, impossible criminal heist element of the storyline really drew me in and I’m glad I picked up Six of Crows. This was the first book I have read by Leigh Bardugo and I’ll be reading more of her books based on this one. It’s nail-biting and exciting. I agree with some of the reviews offering criticism about how events play out – it does seem a little unrealistic given the circumstances. However, I didn’t really think about it at the time – it was still enjoyable all the same!

Have you read or listened to Six of Crows? What do you think of it?

 

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Book Review: Circe – Madeline Miller

In today’s book review post, I am sharing my thoughts on Circe by Madeline Miller. I read this book on holiday last October and it’s finally time to share my thoughts on the book! I had heard and read so many great reviews on it, so I was optimistic that I would really love it!

 

Circe – Madeline Miller

Goodreads – Circe

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

 

My Thoughts…

Whilst I did enjoy reading Circe, my perception of the book definitely suffered from the hype it got from others. It’s always a little disappointing when that happens, but it does happen occasionally! This is still a solid 3-star rated read – don’t think I am not saying I didn’t like it! I just… expected a bit more considering all the fuss over it.

I enjoyed the premise of the book and how Circe does not fit in. She makes her own way, and her own mistakes too. Plenty of them, in fact. Her independence is one of her only redeeming qualities in my eyes, however. I found it really difficult to relate to Circe, and that’s why I think my overall feel of the book is a lower rating than normal. Circe is vain, selfish, and really not all that endearing. No character is ever going to be perfect and flaws add realistic dimension, but I didn’t think there was much in the way of development throughout.

Despite my feelings for Circe’s character, I do have to give credit to the author for how well she includes so many of the Greek gods into the story in an uncomplicated manner. If you don’t know much about Greek gods, I’ll tell you this much – there’s a lot of them! I don’t have extensive knowledge of them; I’ve read one book about them (Mythos by Stephen Fry). Even so, I didn’t get lost in the plethora of characters as Circe interacts with them at various stages. Each God is introduced and explained in the narrative where relevant, so I don’t think any background knowledge is needed. Although, I won’t deny it was helpful.

The book itself is written very well. The flow of the narrative and the chapter sizes are very easy to read. I read this within a couple of days on holiday. That is a testament to how easy this is to read. I was able to pick it up and get straight back into the story in between reading breaks.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to, but Circe was still an interesting read and I liked the cleverness of the storyline.

Have you read Circe? What are your thoughts on it?

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: iRemember – S. V. Bekvalac

Happy weekend readers! I hope you are having a good one? Since we are all in the middle of lockdown, what better way to spend your time than curled up with a good book? That’s how I am spending mine anyway.

If you are looking for book recommendations, then I hope I can help you here. Today I am taking part in the blog tour for iRemember by S. V. Bekvalac and sharing my thoughts on her book. iRemember is perfect for science fiction and/or dystopian fiction fans… so if that’s your cup of tea please read on!

Quickly before I jump in, huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

 

iRemember – S. V. Kekvalac

Goodreads – iRemember

The city of iRemember shimmers in the desert haze, watched over by the Bureau, a government agency that maintains control through memory surveillance and little pink pills made from the narcotic plant Tranquelle.

It looks like an oasis under its geodesic dome, but the city is under siege. ‘Off-Gridder’ insurgents are fighting to be forgotten.

Bureau Inspector Icara Swansong is on a mission to neutralise the threat. Her investigation leads her into iRemember’s secret underbelly, where she finds herself a fugitive from the very system she had vowed to protect. She has to learn new rules: trust no one. Behind every purple Tranquelle stalk lurk double-agents.

A sci-fi noir with a psychedelic twist, iRemember explores the power the past holds over us and the fragility of everything: what is, what once was, and what will be.

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

For a limited time, iRemember will be available for only 99p.

 

My Thoughts…

iRemember has all the elements expected of dystopian fiction novels – the means to subdue a population and then control it. iRemember was created to allow citizens to protect their memories. The human mind is far from perfect, so why risk losing your precious moments to time and degradation or forgetfulness when you can upload them? That was the idea anyway… and citizens signed up in the thousands.

Helena Frome is the head of the totalitarian government now governing the City. iRemember has become her means of surveillance. Citizens own thoughts and memories can betray them if picked up by those monitoring the data being uploaded to iRemember. Icara Swansong is an agent of the Bureau working for Helena Frome, to rid the world of corruption, but she is fighting a losing battle. Beneath the calming Tranquelle fumes, a dark side of the city simmers away, longing to be forgotten and will do whatever they can to achieve it.

As a huge fan of both science fiction and dystopian novels, iRemember was a great read for me! Set in a futuristic world, the Bureaucrats have all the latest, fancy technology and software. Primitive versions of tech and traditional weapons we know today are relegated to the city’s forgotten underbelly, the Sub Urbs. Despite being more advanced, the technology used in this futuristic universe is very similar to some of the more sophisticated technology we have now and is therefore familiar.

The narrative of iRemember is so twisty that you don’t know who to trust at any given moment. Who is in whose pocket and undercover influence shape the story in an exciting way. Character relations are complex and you’ll find yourself second-guessing people’s motives constantly! I certainly did! There is a vast array in the characters within the novel too. I really enjoyed Lucian’s personal history and cynicism, especially paired with Icara’s overzealous optimism.

The overall story is written really well and draws the reader into the complex web. I really enjoyed reading iRemember and the combination of genres it encompasses. Nothing is ever as it seems and the narrative keeps you on your toes throughout! iRemember is a twisty tale full of deceit, lies and corruption… and cover-ups!

 

Author Bio

SV Bekvalac was born in 1987 in Croatia, in what was then Yugoslavia, but grew up in London.

She studied German and Russian at Oxford, and went to film school in Prague. After almost becoming a film-maker and then an academic, researching cities and films, she found herself writing fiction about cities instead. She started off with screenplays and short stories, but they got longer and longer. iRemember is her first novel.

She has lived in cities all over Europe. Now she lives in London, or in one of her own imaginary cities.

 

Social Media Links Twitter @sandra_bek @EyeAndLightning

Book Review: These Are Not the Trinity Papers – Vale Zalecki

Today’s book review post features a science-fiction/thriller/horror novel that I gratefully received from the author in exchange for an honest review. The synopsis is really intriguing and very unlike anything I have ever picked up before. These Are Not the Trinity Papers is a real mix of genres, so even my best guess about what to expect from the synopsis was blown out the window… in a good way!

 

These Are Not the Trinity Papers – Vale Zalecki

Goodreads – These Are Not the Trinity Papers

Isaac Beringer knows the thesis he penned during his psychotic fit was utterly absurd and he was right to be laughed out of academia. Yet decades later, he finds himself summoned to the United States by Elias Cohen, the CEO of a multi-billion dollar technological giant who just happens to be his biggest fan. Elias may be beautiful and brilliant, but Isaac knows he must also be extremely batty to consider Isaac’s thesis the greatest scientific work of the 21st century. He soon finds out how deep the rabbit hole goes; a rabbit hole that houses a sprawling neural network of servers designed to emulate human learning, human corpses 3D-printed with flesh and blood, and a monumental amount of effort to resurrect one particular person from the dead. And Elias isn’t even his only fan.

Isaac might have shaken off his insanity, but unfortunately, the world around him has just fallen in love with it.

 

Purchase Links:   Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

Isaac Beringer lives a reasonably quiet and comfortable life on his farm with his wife. He doesn’t remember much about his psychotic episode all those years ago but frankly, he is happy to forget about the whole damn thing. Other people have different ideas though. Isaac and his ideas have acquired an intense following and there are several parties interested in a piece of his madness. Yet some are willing to go further than others to get it…

I really enjoyed the futuristic world-building of the novel. The technology is more advanced but the world itself is very familiar and not-too-distant to what we know. In my opinion, there is the right balance of technological advancement; Isaac and Elias’ work fits in with the current climate as a feasible possibility but isn’t so far along that the reader becomes alienated from the setting of the book.

Isaac has lived without the technological frills the world at large is used to; his way of life is very much like our own now. As a character, he is very affable and relatable. Elias is at the other end of the spectrum, with every kind of technology at his fingertips. Elias introduces Isaac to a whole new way of living and lifts him out of his monotonous life. His position lends his character a degree of arrogance initially, but as the book progresses we see more of the man behind the billion-dollar company and more about his personal ambitions and motivations.

Those that like LGBT representations in books will enjoy a particular character relationship in this book. It’s a little unusual given the age difference between the characters as well. But at the same time, it felt completely natural. It isn’t forced in any way. Their situation draws them together and it feels right. You know sometimes how LGBT representation is championed as normal (which it is), but then hyped up so much that it stands out like a sore thumb? Yeah, me too. It’s so contradictory it bugs me. However, if you want to read a narrative where this isn’t the case, I’m pointing you in the right direction. I’ve seen the LGBT relationship in this book described as understated, but I don’t agree with that. I’d say other LGBT relationships are overstated… but that’s just my opinion.

I really enjoyed the blend of genres that came together in this novel. They complement each other really well! I had no idea where this whirlwind of a story was going to end up and I was surprised constantly by what happened next! I really didn’t expect some of the elements of the book, so it definitely has the capability to surprise most readers.

 

 

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Book Review: Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Today’s review features a book that I was really unsure of when I borrowed it from my library in August last year. That’s precisely why I borrowed it from the library really. I didn’t want to purchase it in case I didn’t enjoy it. By picking it up I was trying something completely out of my comfort zone.

So, if it was completely out of my comfort zone, why did I want to read it? Well, I’ve read and heard great things about it, for a start. Not only that, but I was drawn into it by the fact that it handles a very sensitive subject: euthanasia. I’m glad I read it too! Whilst it was a gamble, it was one that paid off massively!

 

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Goodreads – Me Before You

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

 

My Thoughts…

If I were asked to liken myself to a book character, I would have to say Louisa. She is a ditzy, clumsy, optimistic young woman who always tries to please others. She doesn’t always succeed, but she does her best. From the very first few pages, I felt like I knew her – I liked her. Her bubbly personality makes her instantly likeable and her evident flaws have you laughing along at her. Good naturedly, of course. Will is very much her counterpoint. After the accident that left him paralysed, he feels he has very little to live for. His friends and ex-girlfriend have long disappeared, his family broken apart from the strain of it all and he is trapped in the middle with no escape. His pessimism and sarcasm make him an entirely different character to Louisa, verging on unlikeable.

When Louisa takes on the job of caring for Will, she has no idea how that decision will change both of their lives. Did I expect to enjoy the romance element of the book? No. I didn’t really. It’s not my cup of tea, and yet, I couldn’t help but find myself warming to the two of them. Their relationship builds subtly over time. At first their differences set them miles apart but Louisa’s persistence wins through. We see a side of Will that he has tried so hard to close off, to make things easier at the end. Their feelings for each other don’t stem from a shallow physical attraction. It’s an emotional bond all about companionship. They see the worst of each other and it doesn’t matter.

Will’s position and views are difficult for a lot of people to come to terms with. His choice must be an impossible one to make. You would think his very contrary position would make him difficult to relate to, but I didn’t find that at all. The subject is handled so well. Me Before You is a very emotional book. I knew the ending, so I knew what I was getting myself in for anyway. Don’t worry; I made sure to finish this at home so I could bawl my eyes out without being judged. If you’re judging me now for it, you clearly haven’t read this book. I challenge you to read Me Before You and not cry.

 

 

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Book Review: The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

It’s rare that I pre-order books ahead of release, but The Testaments by Margaret Atwood was an exception. I’m glad I did too! Not only was I eagerly awaiting it for months, but it’s unique in that it has been written thirty years after its predecessor, The Handmaid’s Tale.

I was super excited to get my hands on this in paperback the day of release. I even joked that day that I had subconsciously dressed in the colours of the cover! When I went to go and get my copy though, my day got better. Waterstones stores had one signed copy each, and one person who pre-ordered won the competition to that copy. I wouldn’t count myself as lucky, but I do that day. I won the signed edition!

 

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

Goodreads – The Testaments

When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” –Margaret Atwood

 

My Thoughts…

I’m glad Margaret Atwood didn’t try to emulate The Handmaid’s Tale too much. Trying to write a book in the same setting thirty years on just wouldn’t have been the same. It would have been disappointing. Furthermore, I really enjoyed exploring how Gilead’s society had progressed since the first book!

Having multiple narrators struck me as unusual when I first picked up the book – especially since The Handmaid’s Tale gives us just one perspective. Having read the book though, it works. It’s necessary too. There is no one person with all the information needed to tell of Gilead’s future. Each narrative voice is clear and identifiable from each other. Having each different perspective breaks up the story nicely. The length of each chapter is perfect to include all the action needed, but short enough to keep luring you in with “just one more”.

I feel sorry for this book in a way as it has a lot of poor reviews. Why? Because it isn’t a regurgitation of The Handmaid’s Tale… that it’s different. I feel like these people really don’t appreciate the sentiment behind the novel at all. You all have missed the point! Is The Testaments a necessary follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale? Perhaps not. It is fitting though. Society in 1985 was a lot different than it is today. We have far more freedom to be who we are without repression from others. Society isn’t static so why expect Gilead to be in a time warp? The fact is, the changes in Gilead and personal perspectives mirror the kind of changes in our own society.

I think The Testaments is the kind of book you are either going to love or hate. To be expected, I suppose. High profile books are often hit or miss on how well people rate them. Normally I am disappointed, but not with this one! I hope you readers love it as much as I did.

 

 

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