Books

Book Review – The Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen (ARC)

36523097Book: The Taxonomy of Love

Author: Rachael Allen

Format: eBook

Rating: 4/5

Review: To begin with, I want to point out that this book was an eBook I received as an ARC from NetGalley for free, but all thoughts are still my own. The release date for this book is the 9th of January 2018. This book is from the perspective of Spencer Barton, a 13-year-old boy with Tourette’s Syndrome. This book is in 6 parts plus an epilogue, so we go through the book from him aged 13 to age 19. It revolves around him meeting his new neighbour, Hope Birdsong when they were both 13 (at the beginning of the book) and their developing friendship, but Spencer struggles with the feelings he has developed for her, as well as suffering from his Tourette’s. The book also contains messages and letters from Hope (and her sister) during a very tough and traumatic time in her life, but Spencer wants to support her. At times their friendship was very confusing and the book really did have you feeling for Spencer and Hope. Hope seemed like the only person who truly understood and accepted Spencer, which is a massive thing within this novel, and Spencer just wants to fit in as he is teased because of his Tourette’s and because he knows so many things about bugs and random facts and hope accepts that and even is as ‘weird’ as he is made out to be by other people. This book isn’t just about love, but acceptance, understanding, growing up and friendship and finding a passion for something, which Spencer most definitely does. Both Spencer and Hope go through so much together (and apart) but they remain friends, even though their friendship could be a bit rocky and confusing at times like previously said. They develop as characters and as you would between 13 and 19, and Spencer overcomes so many things to do with his Tourette’s and I felt like you could really root for him and I felt so happy for him at times even though he’s fictional. It was a lovely book and had so much more involved than just love. I highly recommend this when it comes out in January.

-Laura

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Book Review – The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (ARC)

36582334Book: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Format: eBook

Rating: 5/5

Review: To begin with, I want to point out that this book was an eBook I received as an ARC from NetGalley for free, but all thoughts are still my own. The release date is the 11th of January 2018 and is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, who are survivors of Auschwitz. It begins in 1942 and we follow Lale who is a Jew who works as the tattooist between Auschwitz and Birkenau. It’s in a third person perspective with occasional insight into the thoughts of Lale. I absolutely loved this book and thought it was a powerful and emotional story of survival in such an awful time. I’ve always found books and information to do with the Holocaust and that era very interesting because it amazes me how people could be so cruel and how horrible it must have been to have been punished for being something you can’t help, whether that be your skin colour, ethnic background, religion or sexuality, it horrifies me that people were treated so cruelly but it is so inspiring to see how people survived such terrible events. Lale is such a wonderful, amazing man who uses his power as the tattooist to help others, he is truly an amazing man and Gita is also such a strong woman and they have such a powerful connection. I will say now that this book has themes of violence, bad language, sex, death and love, so it may not be suitable for younger readers, but still, it was such an amazing and interesting book. The dates are frequently mentioned throughout the book, which really gives an insight into how long Lale and Gita have had to deal with what has been thrown at them during their time in the camps and how amazing it is that they have survived so much. The hope of freedom, which is something a lot of us really do take for granted, is something that helps them get through the day, it gives them a reason to survive and wake up and do whatever they can in the hopes of being free. This story is such an emotional one that I found myself really pacing through this book, I found it so difficult to put down. The ending even contains an epilogue for what happened after the book to the real Lale and Gita and how he just wanted to get his story out there and how strong their love was. It was beautiful and inspiring and I hope others pick up this book when it is released next year. I highly recommend this, especially if you find this sort of thing fascinating.

-Laura

Book Review – Tarkin by James Luceno

25614845Book: Tarkin

Author: James Luceno

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

Review: This book is basically about how Wilhuff Tarkin (known in the book as Governor Wilhuff Tarkin and Moff Tarkin) and how he became Grand Moff Tarkin, as we know him in Star Wars. It’s in a third person perspective and most of the time is focalised through Tarkin himself, as it contains an insight into his childhood/teenage years and how it shaped him into the man we know in Star Wars. It did jump from past to present quite suddenly at times which could be confusing but it was nice having that insight into his younger years. The writing was both detailed and straight to the point. It was very factual as you’d expect from a Star Wars book to do with Tarkin but I did at moments find it to drag a bit. I also couldn’t help but picture Tarkin as Peter Cushing (as he is portrayed on the cover) and just imagining that made it enjoyable as I am a fan of Peter Cushing. Both Darth Vader and Palpatine are involved in this book and it’s interesting to see how the relationship, particularly between Vader and Tarkin, develops, especially as Tarkin is somewhat intrigued by Vader and has his suspicions that Vader is indeed Anakin Skywalker (who he once fought beside). The book is pretty much a Vader and Tarkin adventure and is filled with action in places and can be quite suspenseful! Although some places, as previously said, are a tiny bit confusing and are very heavy on the descriptions. Overall, I did still enjoy this book and I do recommend it to Star Wars fans as getting to learn more about Tarkin was very interesting and it does kind of give insight into why Darth Vader actually listens to Tarkin. It was nice to see a book about the evil side without necessarily portraying it as such.

-Laura

Book Review – Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

34443972Book: Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Format: Paperback

Rating: 5/5

Review: This book is to do with Diana, who is an Amazon born from dirt on the island of Themyscira to the queen, so she is a princess. In this book, she is a teenager and so are the mortals/humans she meets. It’s from a third person perspective and gets focalised around not only Diana, but from the main mortal in this book, Alia. It revolves around Alia being a descendant of Helen of Troy and being a ‘warbringer’, which means she is dangerous. They meet because of a tragedy and Diana must make the moral decision of letting a mortal human live or die, unaware of what Alia is. Both Alia and Diana are characters that can relate to each other as they both feel as if they are outsiders (Diana because she didn’t earn her right to be on the island like her warrior ‘sisters’, and Alia because of what she has discovered of her own past as well as her Race, as she is black) and a huge part of Diana in this book is that she wants to prove herself to her ‘sisters’ and to her new friends, she wants to be a hero and save the day. And because of the relation to Helen of Troy, a lot of this book revolved around Greek Mythology and Greek Gods, but it also mixes with science. The book is also based around modern day, which is different to the film starring Gal Galdot, as that was set around WW1. The characters in this book have such variety, with the main people being people of colour and one even being LGBT, it’s very interesting to have that variety and they’re all very well written. The plot twists in this book were incredible and I couldn’t believe some of it, and the character development of Alia and Diana was amazing to see, I found myself really rooting for them! In all, this book is action-packed, well written, interesting, fun and has a beautifully sweet ending. I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of Wonder Woman or just DC in general.

-Laura

Book Review – Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

7954376Book: Cleopatra’s Daughter

Author: Michelle Moran

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

Review: This book is from the perspective of Kleopatra Selene, one of the three children of Queen Kleopatra/Cleopatra and Marc Antony. The beginning revolves around the defeat of Egypt by Octavian, and her and her twin brother Alexander and their little brother are taken to Rome. There’s a strong theme of family and it does contain the historically accurate suicides of her parents and although she tries not to mention them much because of the pain it causes her, her parents are clearly never forgotten. This book is easy to understand, even if you have little knowledge of that period like me, although this means I am not completely sure of the historical accuracy, although, at the end of the book, Michelle Moran has included a historical note which contains some information on how she developed the personalities of the characters, and how she mixed fact with fiction. The novel contains some mature themes of death and ‘romance’ so that is something to look out for, but as well we see these children develop into adults and even when they are young (12) they are still very mature for their age, which is a demonstration of their education. There are themes of jealousy in some places but also a huge mention of love in both a family and romantic sense and the story contains so much hope you really feel for these characters. Selene (as she is known in the book) has this huge love of architecture and this means that because it’s all from her perspective, you get beautiful descriptions of the buildings in Egypt and Rome. There is tension and emotion and it’s so beautiful and I really did enjoy this book and it ended in a perfect place. Michelle Moran also includes a small section on what happened after the book with the characters which I would assume is historically accurate from what we can gather from that time. Overall, if you are a lover of Egypt, Rome or general history, I really recommend this book, although something about it just wasn’t 5 stars for me but I can’t think what.

-Laura

Book Review – Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

30516970Book: Victoria

Author: Daisy Goodwin

Format: Paperback

Rating: 5/5

Review: This book is a dramatisation of the early reign of Queen Victoria. It was written alongside the ITV Show starring Jenna Coleman (and Tom Hughes as Prince Albert), so it is a mix of fact and fiction, although I am unsure as to how accurate it is, as I don’t know much about Victoria. It’s written in third-person, so we not only gather some of the thoughts of the Queen herself but other characters, such as Lord Melbourne, Sir John Conroy, Prince Albert and Leopold. We get to know how the Queen is easily influenced by Melbourne in the beginning and we see the hints of a relationship which cannot be and both of them understand this. We also see the change in the relationship between Victoria and her mother, the Duchess of Kent once Victoria becomes more comfortable and confident as queen. Although this book is written alongside the series, it does not end where the end of series one does, although it is fairly close. The book ends in a good place but I wish Daisy Goodwin continued it up until the point where the series ends, or I at least wish she would continue writing the books to go alongside the TV series. The last quarter-or-so of the book really focuses on Victoria’s family wanting her to get married and introducing her/reintroducing her to potential suitors such as Prince Albert (her cousin). She does initially explain to multiple people that she wants to be like her predecessor, Queen Elizabeth I and remain unmarried (as Elizabeth I was known as ‘The Virgin Queen’) but of course, as we know from real history, she develops a strong love for Albert and that is where the book ends. Overall I think that the book was so brilliantly and beautifully written and I really wish Daisy Goodwin wrote more for Victoria and I am a big fan of the series as well and the book and show match up pretty well! I highly recommend this book and the TV Series, as Jenna Coleman portrays Victoria beautifully and you can really tell that she is with Tom Hughes in real life as there is such an amazing chemistry on screen like there was between the real Victoria & Albert.

-Laura

Book Review – The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

17465450Book: The Husband’s Secret

Author: Liane Moriarty

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

Review: This book revolves around a secret that Cecilia Fitzpatrick discovers about her husband John-Paul from years ago. It affects multiple people within the book so she’s going through this moral debate of does she tell or does she not? It could wreck her life but the lives of her family members and others. It’s from a third person perspective with slight focalisation from the characters. We get focalised writing by 3 characters, Cecilia, Rachel and Tess. All separate yet somehow linked through this story. At first, I had no idea how the characters linked and I didn’t fully understand the point of these 3 different characters, but as the book went on I began to understand why, and it was very cleverly done. It’s a full adult genre book and contains a theme of sex and contains some swearing, and I haven’t really fully delved into adult books, I’ve always kind of stayed with young-adult fiction so this was very different yet exciting for me to read. I did find it a bit slow at first so it took me a very long time to read but after about the halfway point, I started to pick up the pace a little. I did find some bits a little boring but I liked the addition of an obsession with history, particularly with Cecilia’s family & the Berlin wall. Overall it was a fairly interesting book and I liked the 3-way perspectives and the links between characters, it was very emotional in a way as all the characters really do seem driven by emotion, and I liked the writing style but for me it just wasn’t a 5-star book because I found the first quarter to half a little dull but it did definitely get more interesting as I progressed through the novel.

-Laura