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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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Book to Film Recommendations


Top Ten Tuesday returns! While the rest of the world is basking in summer, down here in the south pacific we're rugged up on the couch with a blanket and a good book. With so many book to screen adaptations this year, here's my picks of what you should read first. Check out more from Top Ten Tuesday on the Broke on the Bookish.

Big Little Lies :: Liane Moriarty
An Australian novel that follows the lives of a handful of women and the suspicious circumstances around a murder. The movie version was set in California and has a stunning cast (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon) but the book is really great and deserves a look in. Liane has a lighthearted writing style but manages to tap into the emotional heart of a story. I love that this book delves into the lives of 'normal' women, they are mothers and wives all balancing their own identities with those of their family and kids.

Ready Player One :: Ernest Cline
When I saw the trailer for this move a while ago I made a mental note to read the novel before I see the movie. Sci-fi and fantasy is something I have been pushing myself to read more and the fact that Ready Player One has a fun 'retro' element to it with references to the 80s makes it more palatable for non-science fiction readers.

The Handmaiden's Tale :: Margaret Atwood
I'm going to suck it up and just buy this damn book as every visit to the library has it checked out. Surely a classic that I would *probably* read again and again.

The Circle :: Dave Eggars
Staring Emma Watson, The Circle was a book I read earlier in the year and couldn't put down. It's a fast paced thrilling science fiction novel that had me questioning the future of privacy and sharing information online. The Circle is a giant tech company that encourages the use of shared information online but the loss of privacy comes at a cost.
  
Live by Night :: Denis Lehane
With Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, The Drop and Shutter Island all successful movies adapted from Lehane's novels, it's no wonder there's another film the pipeline this year. If gangsters, prohibition and 1920s America sounds like your cup of tea then Live By Night might be too.

The Snowman :: Jo Nesbo
I love Scandinavian crime fiction and this adaptation makes me very happy since Michael Fassbender plays Detective Harry Hole. Dt Hole is called in to investigate a woman's disappearance, of which the only clue is a scarf left behind on a snowman. This is a Jo Nesbo book I haven't yet read but if it's anything like The Leopard I think I would enjoy it.
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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Other People Recommend #1


Today I'm stealing my favourite people's book recommendations and passing them on to you! I love seeing what books my friends and family love reading. Being a book lover the subject of reading often comes up so from now on I thought I wouldn't keep these gems to myself. Here are 6 recommendations that don't come from me:

Norwood by Charles Portis
If you're into gritty reads my Dad recommended this to me because of my love for Cormac McCarthy. It's a very slim book so maybe a good idea for those who haven't dipped a toe into the western genre before.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
I have only even read one article by David Foster Wallace. It was about lobsters. It was brilliant. This is a hugely intimidating book at over 900 pages but if the man can make half a dozen pages on lobsters entertaining then I'm pretty much sold.

Goodmorning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
A science fiction novel set between the polar regions of the Arctic and outer space. This recommendation comes from one of my fellow writing students and it sounds amazing!!

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mendel
This book was doing the round as a great read on Youtube when it first came out. More recently Books and Quills had it as her End of the World Bookclub pick (great name by the way). She has great taste in books so this is sure to be a winner.

The Plague by Albus Camus
I bloody love a good Favourites Youtube video and stumbled across some recommendations from Arden Rose. Her top picks included Catch 22 and Lolita so I felt like this classic book could be a great recommendation.
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