All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

So to start off here is a little backstory on why I picked this book up. I hadn’t heard of it prior to this happening. I was in London in August seeing The Cursed Child with my best friend Jess and her mum. We were sitting in a nice vegan restaurant just talking about my blog because it was still relatively new at that time, and then Jess’ mum mentions a book that someone she met at her work mentioned to her. She couldn’t remember what it was called or what happened in it just that it contained the word “light”. I hopped on Goodreads and literally searched the word light and this was the first book which came up and was the book she was thinking about. So then it was stuck in my head, and it sounded like a book I might want to read so I picked it up from the library.

Marie-Laure is a blind girl living in Paris with her dad and she has to move at the beginning of the war due to circumstances from her dad’s job at the Natural History Museum. Werner is an orphan who lives in a mining town in Germany and develops a talent for engineering. Some Nazis discover his talent and take him to a very severe Hitler Youth Academy. Their stories run concurrently and flick back and forth between current book time, when they are both on an Island off the coast of Brittany which is about to be bombed, and past book time.

I thought this was a really interesting take on WW2, a kid who was forced into being a Nazi just to survive being an orphan and a blind French girl just trying to live wasn’t something I had thought about. I liked learning about Werner as an engineer, I loved reading from Marie-Laure’s perspective because Doerr wrote perfectly what it was like for her being able to hear what was going on but not being able to see. It was a scary POV to read from in the setting.

I can see why it won the Pulitzer Prize and can see why others would absolutely adore this book but for me, it didn’t sit right enough for me to completely love it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it but something didn’t gel with me, everyone who I’ve seen speak about this really loved it and a customer saw I was reading it in work and waxed lyrical about it and I was just like “yeah it’s ok”.

Though I knew Marie-Laure and Werner were eventually going to meet up because of course they were, it felt like it was taking a very long time for this to happen. There was a lot of build up for them meeting up and when they did it felt a bit of a let down to be honest. The whole book just felt a bit slow for my liking, I had issues with pacing. The past parts of it were so slow but then the current parts were fast and it was jarring at times.

Objectively I can see why people love this book, but for me I liked it and that’s it.

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The 2016 & 2017 Tag

Thank you to Lindsey for the tag!

Here are the rules:

  1. Mention the creator of the tag —  David at theguywhosaidalwaysno
  2. Use the image that you find in this article.
  3. Mention the blogger who has chosen you.
  4. Answer the questions.
  5. Mention 9 bloggers/friends and let them know through a comment on their blog.

The questions:

1. Describe your 2016 in 3 words.

Hard, exciting, tiring.

2. Write the name of two people that have characterized your 2016.

Jess and Joanne

3. Write the most beautiful place yoou have visited in 2016 and why you liked it so much.

Kondalilla Falls in Queensland, Australia. They’re just so gorgeous.

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4. Write the most delicious food you’ve tasted.

I can’t even think for this? I’ve had a lot of great food I can’t think of anything specific.

5. Write the event that has marked you most in 2016 (even a global event).

Marked me? Probably the Brexit vote followed by the US election, I spent most of last year very stressed out about the state of the world and the racism.

6. Write the finest purchase you made in 2016, and if you want, link a photo.

Probably my flights to Australia they were bloody expensive hahaha.

7. Write 3 good intentions for 2017.

I’ve gone vegetarian, I’m trying to become healthy again after falling off the wagon, and hopefully get my mental health to a good place.

8. Write 1 place you want to visit in 2017.

I’m really excited to visit Seoul!

9. Write 1 plate/food you want to eat in 2017.

Patbingsu!!!

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From the Stars by C.S. Wilde

I was sent this novel by the author in an exchange for an honest review, so thank you C.S.Wilde!

James falls in love with this girl he works with at his office job, Miriam. They start to hang out then she tells him her secret: she’s an alien. Things begin to become complicated between them

I’ll be completely honest and say that this book wasn’t my cup of tea, there was a bit too much romance and not enough sci-fi for me, but that’s just me.

One thing I liked was that the aliens had both human and their alien names, I often find with sci-fi books that they’re either given human names, which isn’t really realistic or they have just alien names and you can’t pronounce it to save yourself.

The book shows a lot of potential, it was fast paced and engaging. I just found it hard to believe at times. I liked James, he was a character that I understood. He was happy to just be friends with Miriam if that’s what needed to happen. Whereas I found myself getting annoyed by Miriam a lot, she felt less like an alien and more like a self-aware robot sometimes.

I would also say it felt quite short, the book itself is short but it could have been fleshed out in places and though the pacing was fast I feel like some of the speed could’ve been sacrificed to add more to immersion and connection with the characters.

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Always With Love by Giovanna Fletcher

Thank you to netgalley and Penguin/Michael Joseph for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I would say this was better than the first book. I could definitely tell that Giovanna’s writing has gotten better. Again, this was an easy read and I liked it for the most part, as with the previous book. However it did fall a bit flat compare to other British “chick lit” writers.

I found the characters still a bit annoying. Sophie was so insecure at times that I wanted to jump into the pages and shake her. I couldn’t imagine being in a relationship with her because you wouldn’t be able to do anything without her worrying that you were going to sleep with someone else. Billy was a lot better in this, he didn’t make any stupid decisions like he did in the previous novel.

I liked getting to see more of the Hollywood side of Billy, it kind of felt like that didn’t exist in the first novel. I liked getting to see his life there and his family. Overall I’d say the characters felt a lot more adult in this novel, they actually tried to work through their problems instead of just shoving them under the carpet.

I’ll be honest, if you’ve followed me for a while you’d know that I schedule everything and have a huge backlog of reviews, so I read this in December and I’m writing this in February, it wasn’t very memorable as I’m struggling for words. It wasn’t a terrible book by any means, and the writing was good, it just didn’t feel like anything new. That’s not a problem really, it’s just not what I’m after.

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The Blogger Aesthetic Award

Thank you to The Orangutan Librarian and Lauren for the tag!

THE RULES:

  • Collect any number of images that you feel represent you as a person—your personality, aspirations, favourite things, anything at all that makes you you.
  • Put your chosen images together into a collage of whatever size and shape you find pleasing.
  • Share your masterpiece with everyone, in all the places.
  • Maybe nominate other bloggers as a way to tell them, “Hey, you, I think you’re awesome, and we should celebrate that awesomeness.”
  • Share these rules (and maybe the below tips, if you’re feeling helpful).

TIPS:

  • Find inspiration by spending (minimum) three hours scrolling through aesthetic Tumblr posts relevant to you.
  • Two great places to hunt for pictures are Pinterest and WeHeartIt. Pinterest requires an account; WeHeartIt does not.
  • PicMonkey’s collage editor is free to use and doesn’t require an account, heck yes. YouTube has plenty of tutorials on how to use it; I watched this one (which begins with tips on how to find decent photos).

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  • I have a golden retriever named Lia, she is my one true love, I wish I could spend all day every day with her.
  • All Time Low are my favourite band and I’ve been to see them about 23 times, this photo is one of the times I went to see them. In general I just love live music.
  • Legend of Zelda is and always will be my favourite game franchise, my dad used to play Ocarina when I was little and I would watch him play it, completely entranced and also a bit scared and I continued to do that with every new release until I was old enough to play it. I picked a picture of Breath of the Wild because it just came out and it’s all I’ve been doing for the past week.
  • I come from the Isle of Skye and it was difficult for me to find a picture that wasn’t heavily edited so here is a pic of the Old Man of Storr.
  • I’m pansexual, in case you didn’t know, and it’s a very important part of my identity.
  • I’ve spent the majority of my new adult life living in Glasgow for Uni and it’s where I’ve met most of my closest friends and has came to be like a second home.
  • I’m a mathematician, I love maths a lot.
  • I go to every home Scotland rugby game that I can. My dad was a rugby player and rugby has just always been part of my life growing up so naturally I found a love for it.
  • I feel in love with kpop a few years ago and Girl’s Generation were the first group I discovered so whilst I enjoy many groups these days they will always be near and dear to my heart.

I tag:

Fadwa
Megan
Raven
Cassie

The One We Fell In Love With by Paige Toon

Someone I work with absolutely adores Paige Toon’s books so I thought I would give her a try.

In short 3 sisters fall for the same guy but it’s more than that.

So basically the writing was really easy to read and it was fairly quick to get through and I will read more Paige Toon stuff in future. It’s not as funny as other British romance novelists I like, but it’s not just romance made to make you cry so it was ok for me.

I found all 3 of the sisters really just not great. I didn’t mind reading them but as I was going along all I could think was “these are terrible people”. Eliza was probably my favourite of the 3 because she was pining for Angus for years and didn’t try to do anything to break up Angus and Phoebe, all she wanted was to live her life the way she wanted and not have to go into a career she didn’t want to be in. Whereas Phoebe came too close to cheating which is never ok. And I don’t want to even talk about Rose reading Eliza’s bloody diary, and how she was obsessed with Angus and thought that meant she could nose her way into things that weren’t her business.

There is a time jump about a quarter of the way through, after Phoebe dies, which isn’t much of a spoiler as it happens quite soon after the beginning. I found the time jump really jarring, you get used to the past and getting to know what was happening just before the death and then suddenly it’s a few years later and I had no idea what was going on.

I knew who was going to be endgame probably from the beginning, it was pretty obvious but it was still good to see their relationship blossoming. And there was some good conflict that didn’t seem thrown in there just to elongate the book, which I find a lot of romance novels suffer from.

Some people may find it a bit silly that 3 girls fall for the same guy and the guy has involvement with all 3 of them but hey sometimes that happens, life can be awkward like that.

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I loved this book. I loved the characters. I loved the writing style. I loved the world. I just loved it.

In order to save her brother’s life after he is arrested for treason Laia makes a deal with the rebellion to become a slave to spy for them so they will find him. Elias is in training to be the governments version of police but no longer believes in the cause and wants to leave but can’t due to his family. The two find their lives intertwined in more ways than they think.

I don’t understand how this is a debut. It’s so good?

I really loved the characters in this book. Every single person was so well developed, the main villain was so believable I wanted her dead. It’s hard to get me to feel like that about a villain, many have redeeming factors but the commandant didn’t have any. She’s an awful person and that’s only highlighted by the way she treats her son. I loved how Elias was a bit morally grey at times, he obviously wants to get out of the life he’s living but to begin with didn’t seem to have the ambition to do so and it was great to see him grow. He was my favourite POV to read from because not only did you have his internal struggles but you also got to see him taking part in the trials and the few fantastical elements. It made me excited to see where Tahir goes with it as I enjoyed getting to get little snippets of the magic without being overwhelmed. There was times where Laia was really naive but she grew from her errors and you could really feel her need to save her brother. She isn’t your typical “strong” female YA lead, she’s strong in her own way but she’s not a bold character, she’s not a big fighter, itwas really nice to read a character like that.

THE PACING WAS SO GOOD. It wasn’t ridiculously fast that it missed or skipped over things but it wasn’t slow. It slowed down when it needed to slow down it sped up when it needed to. I could not put it down.

There was romance but it wasn’t central the plot in anyway, it just happened and was a thing but didn’t become to the only thing that was important. Tahir could’ve made it so much more but didn’t preferring to focus on the actual story and I really respect her for that.

The world building was so good, I could perfectly imagine everything. As I previously said I loved getting to see the magic in little ways instead of being thrown in the deep end. I also really liked learning about the different lands beside the one focussed on in this novel, I can tell that in A Torch Against the Night that there is probably going to be travelling to the different lands and getting to see the cultures hinted at. There were some really horrible themes dealt with in this novel, like slavery and rape but it never once felt like Tahir was glancing over them, they were shown in a bad light and never romanticised. This world is brutal, it’s so violent but that’s part of the world.

I went to my library when I returned it and was like “so hey do you have the sequel in stock if not ORDER IT NOW”.

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