Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR List


September brings with it the changing of the seasons and thankfully means longer nights, sunny days and the wild and windy weather Wellington is known for! Surprisingly despite the coming warmth my to be read list is looking pretty dark. Take a look at this week's Top Ten Tuesday!

The Power by Naomi Alderman :: A sci-fi novel about a diverse group of teenage girls and how their lives change when they inherit the physical power. Seemingly overnight the world changes. I love this take on feminism and whether the world would change for better or worse, if women were physically dominant.

The Girl Who Takes an Eye For An Eye by David Lagercrantz :: Continuing on the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, David Lagercrantz delivers the fifth book in the series. I read The Girl In The Spider's Web a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

The Break Down by B A Paris :: It's been a while since I've indulged in reading crime fiction and The Break Down has come up in my media feeds a lot lately.

Room and The Wonder by Emma Donoghue :: I absolutely loved Frog Music by Emma Donoghue and have always wanted to read more from this compelling author. Although Room and The Wonder are two very different books I love discovering authors who write a broad range of fiction.

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins :: Another crime book! I really enjoyed The Girl on The Train.


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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Top Ten Books: Featuring Students


This Top Ten Tuesday has a distinctive student theme. Here are ten great reads loosely featuring students!

Armada by Ernest Cline
I am 45 pages into Armada but this science fiction novel from the author of Ready Player One has sparked my interest. Zack Lightman a student (with a most excellent moniker) sees a flying spaceship from his favourite video game while daydreaming out the window one day.

Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell
A coming of age story about a young girl who writes fan fiction. It's a cute, easy read that deals with all the anxieties of starting university and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Oh, and young love.

Harry Potter by J K Rowell
Having recently binge watched the entirety of the Harry Potter movies it might be time to revisit these timeless books.

The Catcher in the Rye by DJ Salinger
16 year old Hayden Caulfield's story of teenage rebellion is a modern classic.

Paper Towns by John Green
A snappy road-trip coming-of-age novel from YA master John Green. I preferred the book to the movie.

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan
A post-humous collection of writing from Yale graduate Marina Keegan whose essay of the same name went viral.

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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Girl At War by Sara Novic and Why You Need Tissues


I have read a few war novels over the years but Girl At War stands out for a few reasons - the main one being it's a much more personal experience. Told from Ana's perspective, Girl At War follows her journey from a carefree ten year old living in Zagreb in 1991, to surviving the ethnic atrocities and fleeing to America. As a college student Ana can't escape from her past, and returns to Croatia to lay her ghosts to rest.

I can't tell you how many times I cried during this book. I think in the end my eyes just had a permanent watery state about them. Watching the war through Ana's eyes was heartbreaking and yet, she is such a strong character, resilient and determined in many ways. I think it was her strength that sometimes upset me, that a child of ten becomes used to the backdrop of war, death and terror. I remember watching the war unfold on television as a child and it dawning on me for the first time that there were people around the world living in fear, persecuted simply for their race or religion. I was about seven at the time. Maybe some of those childhood memories came back to me while reading this, I'm not sure. But, whatever it was, Girl at War was an emotional reading experience.

There were other reasons this book stood out to me. Sara Novic touches on the themes of grief and resilience. As Ana struggles to adjust to life in America she learns to bury the ghosts of her war for the sake of those around her. Like grief, empathy for Ana's situation is shortlived, with most people wanting to move on - her adoptive parents refer to the war never directly for fear of not wanting to upset her. Unfortunately, as anyone who experiences grief knows, these feelings don't just fade away. There is no getting over losing someone, including your home and culture. Ana struggles with feelings of loss - both for the family she has left behind and being an outsider in her new home and guilt at not feeling grateful for the new life she has been given.

I hope I haven't painted this book as a depressing read, because it's not but Ana's story will stay with you long after closing the final chapter. There is death, but there is also hope and peace in Ana's story. Overall Girl at War was a stunning read, unlike any war novel I have read before.
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