Thursday, 28 January 2016

Book Review- And All the Stars

Title: And All The Stars
Author: Andrea K. Host
Pages: 204
Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Dystopian,

Rating: 4.5/5


Come for the apocalypse. Stay for cupcakes. Die for love. Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings. None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world - and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind. Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending. -Goodreads

I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley in return for an honest review.
It's been such a long time since I requested this book, that I'd completely forgotten what it was about (sorry about the delay Net Galley!!). However I actually really enjoyed picking up a book without having any idea what the story was about.
This novel is the story of Madeleine, an aspiring artist, and how she copes with an alien invasion, and her developing powers, from her home in Sydney.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I really enjoyed this novel. It was an alien invasion story with an excellent group of characters and an intriguing alien invasion set up.
The novel begins with Maddie in an underground tube station where she has gone to meet her cousin. There is what appears to be some sort of explosion or bomb which knocks Maddie unconscious. Having no idea what the premise of this novel was, I must admit this beginning reminded me quite a lot of the 7/7 bombings in London. I was more than a little grateful to find out it was actually an alien invasion. This beginning was action packed and did an excellent job of drawing me in to the novel and keeping me intrigued, even if it was a little confusing and disorientating at first.
I also enjoyed the fact that that this YA novel was set in Sydney, Australia. It made a pleasant change from most of the YA I read which is set in the USA.
In my opinion this novel has one of the most enjoyable group of main characters I've read about in a long time. They were diverse in terms of Nationality, Sexuality, Gender and personality. They were all enjoyable, and gelled well together, but were different enough to mirror real life. They had humour, sarcasm, anger, brains and they were just a really perfect set of characters. The main character Maddie was a really good main character too. I am trying to think of something that I didn't really like about her but I can't actually think of anything. She was caring and thoughtful but also shy and socially awkward, which I thought was a nice touch, I don't read enough novels with a character who doesn't just charm their way through any social situation they find themselves in.
There was a nice element of romance in the novel between a couple of characters, which didn't feel rushed, and actually felt like real feelings between the characters. Although I feel the story didn't really require this romance, it was a nice addition, which made the epilogue at the end a nice touch.
The plot of this novel is action-packed, there was a lot of fighting, running, hiding and puzzling over the aliens, but it moved at a fast pace which meant I was able to speed through it in a couple of days.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised by just how good this novel is, it was exciting and intriguing, and I definitely recommend it for a fascinating take on the alien invasion genre!

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Sunday, 10 January 2016

Book Review- All The Light We Cannot See

Title: All The Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Pages: 530
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWII

Rating: 5/5

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZEFrom the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.- Goodreads

Thank you to Net Galley and Harper Collins UK for my copy of this novel.
First off, I have to let you know that this book is incredible, it is definitely one of the best books I have ever read, and I just know it's going to stay as one of my favourites for a very long time!
This novel is about a blind French girl and a German orphan during World War II, and the way their lives change during the course of the war. The plot is full of details about geography and language, but also military details, which is a credit to the amount of research the author must have done before and during writing. 
This novel is told through split narratives, from Werner, the German orphan, from Marie-Laure the French girl, and from an ill Nazi Officer. This split narrative worked well, we got to know these characters very well, and I felt very involved in their stories. The plot is also not told chronologically either, which adds to the way we come to understand the story and the characters featured, and also adds some tension to the story as we don't know how the situations characters find themselves in are going to end until we read the next section in the timeline. This allows the plot to be suspenseful in places, and although I feel that the novel does read quite slowly, it never lost my attention or interest, and the slow pacing allowed me to savour every single second of the novel!
The author is a beautiful writer, the prose is elegant and haunting, and the author's descriptions, especially of Marie-Laure's experiences and what she senses of the world are some of the most sensory and well-described I have ever read.
This novel has a great mix of characters too, my favourite would probably be Marie-Laure, her narrative voice is wonderful, and she had strength and bravery to rival most heroines. I also appreciated her attitude to life and her blindness, she struggled at times, but she fought on, and she never gave up, and I really appreciated that. Her relationships with other characters in the novel were important to her character, and they also added to her story, and the plot of the novel overall. Her father and Etienne were two very important characters to her, and they were influential in how she coped during the war. Their love and care for Marie-Laure was heart warming especially in the desolate situation and cruel acts being committed around them during WWII. The other main character in the novel is Werner, a German orphan who is interested in radios, and becomes very prolific in building and fixing them. Werner showed a different side of what happened to people caught up in WWII, and I liked the contrast between him and Marie-Laure, not just in terms of nationality, but in terms of what happened to them. Also the way the author managed to intertwine the storylines and the characters was a marvellous feat of writing which made the whole book into a rich tapestry depicting the Second World War for these particular characters.
Overall I gave this novel 5/5 stars, and I will definitely be recommending it to absolutely everyone as I think its a novel that deserves all the praise and critical acclaim it gets!

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Happy Reading!!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Top 10 Books of 2015

Happy New Year!!
I hope you all had a lovely time welcoming in the new year wherever you were. I was originally going to do a top 15 books of 2015, but honestly I didn't read that many books that I enjoyed immensely, so I decided to lower it to a top 10 instead. These are not in order, they're just my favourite 10 of the year.

1.
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

2.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen











3.
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman











4.
And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host











5.
Dominion by C.J. Sansom











6.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare











7.
Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl











8.
Mr Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester











9.
The Elite by Keira Cass











10.
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas












Happy Reading!!

My last review

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