The Book Thief

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Title: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Where to buy it: Amazon, Book Depository (Free Shipping)

Synopsis:

HERE IS A SMALL FACT – YOU ARE GOING TO DIE

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.

Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION – THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH

It’s a small story, about:

a girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter and quite a lot of thievery.

ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW – DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES

My thoughts: This books became one of my favourite books of all time. It is beautifully written and the story is just heartbreaking, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a good while (it gave me what you can call a “major book hangover”).

I have always been very curious about the II World War time period, I love reading about it and I felt like this book gave a very good and accurate description of the environment in Nazi Germany, the fanatical behaviour, the hate, the fear and the  heart wrenching decisions people had to make in order to protect themselves and/or their families.

Even though this is not a fast paced book, it will be hard to put it down and you can’t help but become attached to some of the characters.

If you haven’t read this book I really recommend picking it up, I doubt you will regret it.

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, Dreams of Gods and Monsters

daughter of somke and bone trilog

Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Author: Laini Taylor

Where to buy them: Amazon, Book Depository (Free Shipping)

Synopsis:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

Days of Blood and Starlight

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war. This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is–and “what” she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed “Daughter of Smoke & Bone,” Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, “Days of Blood & Starlight” finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For “hope.”But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Dreams of Goods and Monsters

Common enemy, common cause. When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz …something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world. What power can bruise the sky? From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theatre that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

My thoughts: This is another trilogy I went into without knowing anything about it, and I do believe that is the best way to read it as you are slowly introduced to the world and it’s history. It is different from anything I have read so far and it became one of my favourite trilogies.

It is well written with a myriad of diverse characters (some funny and lovable, others… you just want to kill) and great world building. Of the three books I would have to say the second was definitely my favourite, it was a very good depiction of two armies exhausted of centuries of fighting and bloodshed, one fighting for survival the other under the rule of a tyrannical power hungry lord who’s reasons  they are finally beginning to doubt.

A great read, especially for fantasy lovers.

Vicious

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 Title: Vicious

Author: Victoria (V.E.) Schwab

Release date: 24 September 2013

Where to buy it: Amazon, Book Depository (Free Shipping)

Synopsis: Victor and Eli started out as college roommates brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same ambition in each other. A shared interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl with a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the arch-nemeses have set a course for revenge but who will be left alive at the end?

My Thoughts: I was really intrigued by the premise of this book. Twisted people (psychopaths even) who acquire superpowers through near death experiences, witch also leads to interesting, though far from likeable, characters.

The story is well written and engaging, constantly alternating between flashbacks and the present time in the narrative, building up to the climax of the final encounter between the main characters. It is a fast addictive read, I couldn’t put it down until I was finished. 

The Spiritglass Charade

spiritglass
Title: The Spiritglass Charade

Author: Colleen Gleason

Release Date: 7 October 2014

Where to buy it: Amazon, Book Depository (Free Shipping)

Synopsis: After the Affair of the Clockwork Scarab, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes are eager to help Princess Alix with a new case. Seventeen-year-old Willa Aston is obsessed with spiritual mediums, convinced she is speaking with her mother from beyond the grave. What seems like a case of spiritualist fraud quickly devolves into something far more menacing: someone is trying to make Willa “appear lunatic,” using an innocent-looking spiritglass to control her. The list of clues piles up: an unexpected murder, a gang of pickpockets and the return of vampires to London. But are these events connected? As Uncle Sherlock would say, “there are no coincidences.” It will take all of Mina’s wit and Evaline’s muscle to keep London’s sinister underground at bay.

My Thoughts: I reviewed the first volume of this series on a previous post and everything I said about that book applies for this one. The descriptions of steampunk 1889 London are fantastic, the characters are intelligent, strong and the story interesting. In this second volume we also see change in the relationship between Evaline and Mina, they are getting to know one another better and learning to work together, which in turn leads to some fun exchanges between them as they now know how to better provoke/respond to each other.       

The Clockwork Scarab

clockwork scarab
Title: The Clockwork Scarab

Author: Colleen Gleason

Release Date: 01 October 2013

Where to buy it: Amazon, Book Depository (Free Shipping)

Synopsis: Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood, so to speak. And when two young society girls disappear, one dead, one missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate. Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen and solve a murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The pressure is on and the stakes are high, if Stoker and Holmes don’t figure out why London’s finest sixteen-year-old women are in danger, they’ll become the next victims.

My thoughts: As a fan of Sherlock Holmes and Steampunk novels I was very intrigued by this book and obviously had to read it. I was not disappointed (just sorry I hadn’t picked it up sooner).

The description of steampunk 1889 London, with all it’s steam powered gadgets and the way people used them to go about their lives is very well written and you almost feel as if you are actually there.

The female lead characters are intelligent, strong and independent. Miss Holmes is logical and takes her time to carefully analyse the situation while Miss Stoker is more rash and action hunger; these differences in character lead to very amusing interactions and dialogues between the two characters.

The story itself was also interesting and very entertaining, as a Sherlock Holmes fan I specially loved the chapters narrated by Miss Holmes.

I really enjoyed reading this book, in fact I enjoyed it so much as soon as I as done reading it I immediately bought the second book on the series.

Another aspect of this book I love is the cover, I found it absolutely stunning.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

mr penumbras 24h bookshop
Title: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Author: Robin Sloan

Release Date: 24 September 2013

Where to buy it: Amazon, Book Depository (Free Shipping)

Synopsis: The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything–instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.

My Thoughts: I went into this book without knowing anything about it, it turned out to be a wonderful surprise and become one of my favourite books.

The characters are fantastic, diverse, multi-layered and introduced in very different sceneries making the book dynamic and very fun to read.

The story is interesting and even moving, I just couldn’t put it down until I finished it.

Another thing that I loved about this book was he cover (this one in particular). Not only is it beautiful in it’s simplicity, It was awesome to discover, completely by accident, that it also glows in the dark. However I could not find this edition in the UK Amazon, which is the store I usually link to, but it is available at the German one (which is the on I actually use) here.

The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish

assassin's curse doulogy

Title: The Assassin’s Curse, The Pirate’s Wish
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Where to buy them: Amazon, Book Depository (Free Shipping)
Synopsis:

The Assassin’s Curse

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her. And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

The Pirate’s Wish

After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather “unusual” ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach. Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.

My thoughts:  I loved the setting, the magical element and the mythical creatures in thsese books. Ananna is a strong, sassy and independent girl who speaks her mind, however her insecurity was sometimes exaggerated and a little frustrating. Naji is mysterious and also sarcastic which leads to very entertaining exchanges with Ananna. Marjani and the Manticore were also very fun characters to read.

Anana and Naji’s romance develops very slowly and only really picks up in the second book, which is a refreshing deviation form the instalove that happens in so many YA novels.

Both books area mix of action packed scenes and less dynamic moments depicting their journey in search of a solution to break the curse (however in the first book there were some parts that felt unnecessarily long) and both characters progress and grow as the story develops.

If Pirates and Assassins are “your thing” I recommend giving these books a try. Unfortunately the publisher Strange Chemistry has been discontinued and will no longer be printing these books so you might want to get your hands on a copy while they are still in circulation.

 

Fangirl

fangirl
Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: 9 October 2013

Where to buy it: Amazon, Book Depository (Free Shipping)

Synopsis: In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Thoughts: I picked up this book because I needed something light and fun to read and I was not disappointed. It’s a cute, sweet and well written story, exactly what I was in the mood for.

If you are looking for a quick and easy read I recommend giving this book a try.

 

The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni
Title: The Golem and the Jinni

Author: Helene Wecker

Release Date: 23 April 2013

Where to buy it: Amazon, Book Depository (Free Shipping)

Synopsis: New York, 1899. Two strangers, one destiny.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem & The Djinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

My thoughts: I loved reading this book. Even though it’s pace is relatively slow, the story is so beautiful you just can’t stop reading. It takes you on a marvellous journey of growth and discovery as these two magical creatures discover the city and learn to live inconspicuously among it’s inhabitants.

The ending was a little unexpected though, but I will let you discover that for yourself as I don’t want to risk giving away spoilers.

It is wonderfully written with amazing descriptions of New York and it’s different communities in the 1880’s. This fantastic mix of fantasy and historical fiction e perfect for those who like the genres.

I obviously could not end this post without mentioning the cover. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it, and not just the artwork on the cover, the whole paperback edition is one one the loveliest I have seen so far.

 

Ready Player One

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Title: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Release Date: 16 August 2011

Where to buy it: Amazon, Book Depository (Free Shopping)

Synopsis: It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

My thoughts: This book struck a chord in my geeky/gamer  little heart. The long descriptions of 80’s music, movies and old videogames might be to extensive to some readers and hinder their enjoyment of the book. Personally I don’t mind, I like reading about it.

The action is fast passed (apart from the descriptions) and even though there is nothing really especial about the writing, the theme made the story really entertaining for me. As someone who loves games and spent several years immersed in a MMORPG world I really enjoyed reading this book.