Opinion

Book Review – My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih (ARC)

39346604Book: My Real Name is Hanna

Author: Tara Lynn Masih

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 15th of September 2018.

This book is about a young teenage girl named Hanna, who is a Jew, and it is a story about her and her family’s survival during the Holocaust. This is slightly different to what I’ve read before with Holocaust books, as this does not feature within a Nazi concentration camp. Her family and extended family are forced to hide in a forest and survive as well as they possibly can. It’s a beautiful story about family, friendship, strength and survival. I feel as if I learnt something when reading this book, and although the characters are fictional (minus Hitler), it is based on true stories of survival of such a horrific era in history.

It’s written from the first person perspective of Hanna, who is telling her story to her daughter. Because of it being written in the first person, we really get to know Hanna. We read her thoughts, feelings, memories and more. She’s a strong and intelligent girl who really helps her family during their time in hiding. I highly recommend this book, as it is well-written, educational and emotional. It’s a wonderful book.

-Laura

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Book Review – Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book

34187776Book: Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Format: Paperback

Rating: 5/5

Review: This is a book that was on my list of top 10 books to read this year and I decided I had to get round to it as quickly as possible. The book sticks with part of the film where the Beast gives Belle the library and he seems to be becoming happier. It’s about Belle finding a book she’s never seen in the library before and she’s able to go into it. She does, as it provides a sort of escape into a new world, it gives her a break from her life in the castle. It helps her discover who her friends really are and it makes her realise how much she cares for Mrs Potts, Chip and even the Beast himself. It also opens up her determination as she wants to understand this new world she’s discovered but also opens an inquisitive side to her as she discovers things that aren’t quite right with this new world and the whole story can get very tense in some places. Belle seems much more open to discussing her past with those who live in the castle and that moment where she does talk about her life before the castle is a really sweet moment. Going away from Belle and more onto the Beast, we see more of a transformation of the Beast. There are more humorous moments with him and we see how much he truly cares for Belle and that he cares more for Belle than he lets everyone see. In all, the book is really well written and interesting and is a wonderful addition to the story of Beauty and the Beast.

-Laura

Top 10 books I want to read in 2018

Like most book lovers, my tbr is huge, and there are always some books we want to read more than others on our tbr piles. So here are my top 10 books I want to read this year! Most of these I own but some I don’t yet but will do. This is in no particular order…

1. Still Me – Jojo Moyes

2. Beauty & the Beast: Lost in a Book – Jennifer Donnelly

3. Victoria: A Life – A.N Wilson

4. Leia, Princess of Alderaan – Claudia Gray

5. Stalking Jack the Ripper – Kerri Maniscalco

6. Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance – Oliver Bowden (a reread because I want to finish the series)

7. Fallen – Lauren Kate (as I want to read the whole series)

8. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII – David Starkey

9. Saucy Jack: The Elusive Ripper – Paul Woods & Gavin Baddeley

10. Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tails – Justin Richards

Those are my top 10 although I want to read so many more books than that. As you can tell I like history and I’m weirdly fascinated by Jack the Ripper (and love Victoria & the Tudors) and there are 2 series in particular that I do really want to complete. What books do you really want to read this year? Please let me know!

-Laura

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

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

Thoughts on the Kindle Voyage

For a few years I had the Kindle Paperwhite but I missed the press of buttons (or kind of buttons) that I experienced with my first Kindle (the Kindle 4), and I wanted a screen with a higher PPI, so I upgraded to the Kindle Voyage (kindly donated by my dad who didn’t use it as he prefers the fire tablets).

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In all honesty, the Voyage isn’t much different from the Paperwhite, but even when setting up the Kindle and transferring my books over, I noticed a significant difference in the screen. I’m not sure of the PPI in the Paperwhite as I have an earlier version of it (I think), but I know the PPI of the Voyage is 300. Whether they are the same or different, to me the writing on the Voyage looked more crisp and clear, therefore making it a much more enjoyable reading experience.

I love the little ‘buttons’ to turn the pages. It’s much more reminiscent of what I remember from the Kindle 4, where you could turn the pages forward or backwards one handed and you didn’t need to touch the screen. With the Voyage, it is a one-handed experience because of that and because it is so light. The Kindles have never really weighed much and have always been comfortable for me to hold one-handed (even with my dodgy wrists). This is much better than the Paperwhite, which although is very light, requires two hands, as you press on the left of the screen to go back a page, and right of the screen to go forward a page. I know this is a very lazy thing for me to make a comment on, but for a lot of people, it makes multitasking easier. People can eat their food or drink something or stand up on the bus/train and still read. If you travel and are on a train and have to stand up, you’ve got one hand supporting you while having the other hand able to turn the pages no matter which way you need to go.

wpid-kindle-voyage-00f-us-thin-780x840Another thing I really love about the design of the Kindle Voyage is the bezel being flush against the screen. It makes the Voyage thinner and if anything I think it makes the words sort of pop out at you more, so even if the Paperwhite has the same resolution, because the screen is flat with the bezel and not further into the Kindle (like with the Paperwhite), it makes the screen look nicer and crisper.

Although both the Voyage and Paperwhite have a light, there has definitely been a significant improvement since the Paperwhite with the addition of auto-brightness. Although during the day this may not be particularly useful, at night it’ll mean it slowly adjusts to the brightness around you, meaning your eyes will slowly adjust to the darkness and the light of the screen will be suitable for your eyes, meaning it’s not too bright or too dark for you, making it a comfortable experience. The light of the Kindle is, of course, my favourite feature because back when I had the Kindle 4, I struggled to see the screen properly in dimmer lights, and I caused my eyes to strain in darker lighting (like when travelling).

Overall, I do recommend this Kindle, yet I still recommend the Paperwhite too, although the Voyage feels like more of a premium experience. The price for the Paperwhite as of writing this is £109.99 vs £169.99 for the Voyage, and although the functions do not differ much, I do prefer the Voyage. The pagepress sensors, auto-brightness and overall sleek look and feel are worth the extra money, but if you want an e-reader with a light, I see no problem with anyone purchasing the Paperwhite, and it is up to the budget of the potential purchaser as to whether they think the features and slightly more premium build are worth the extra £60.

-Laura