MAY WRAP UP

Hello! I know that this is a little late, but I can finally say that I have finished my University Degree! May was incredibly hectic and stressful for me. That being said, I now have all summer to read (and learn driving theory). Despite having numerous assignments to complete in May, I was able to read 11 books!!! Not only that, but they were all pretty good (mostly 4 and 5-star ratings!).

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood 

RATING – 5/5 Stars

2. The Nickel Boys – Colson Whitehead

RATING – 5/5 stars

3. The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern 

RATING – 5/5 Stars

4. They called us enemy – George Takei 

RATING – 4/5 STARS

5. Hey Wait – Jason 

RATING – 5/5 Stars

6. Circe – Madeline Miller 

Rating – 4/5 Stars

7. Saga Volume 1 

Rating – 4/5 Stars

8. #Girlboss – Sophia Amoruso

RATING – 3,5/5 Stars

9. All Your Perfects – Collen Hoover 

RATING – 4/5 Stars

10. Shadow of Night – Deborah Harkness 

Rating – 4/5 Stars

11. The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes 

RATING – 5/5 Stars

INSTAGRAM – GLOBALBOOKMANIA

GOODREADS – Katerina Turner 

My Favourite Stand-Alone Books

I often prefer reading standalone books as opposed to book series purely because I hate having to wait for the next book to come out. With this in mind and with the current global pandemic, I thought I’d share a small list of some of my all-time favourite standalone books. I read a variety of books, so this list has no set theme.  Let me know if you have read any of these and whether or not you liked/disliked them!

If We Were Villains – M L Rio

SYNOPSIS 

Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago.

As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else’s story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life.

When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper – Hallie Rubenhold

SYNOPSIS

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.
What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.
Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women.
Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight and gives these women back their stories.

Song for Night – Chris Abani

SYNOPSIS

Trained as a human mine detector, a boy soldier in West Africa witnesses and takes part in unspeakable brutality. At 12 his vocal cords are cut to prevent him from screaming and giving away his platoon’s presence, should he be blown up.

Awaking after an explosion to find that he’s lost his platoon, he traces his steps back through abandoned villages and rotting corpses and through his own memories in search of his comrades.

Song for Night is a lyrical, poignant journey through the nightmarish landscape of brutal war.

Childhood’s End – Arthur C Clarke 

SYNOPSIS 

Earth has become a Utopia, guided by a strange unseen people from outer space whose staggering powers have eradicated war, cruelty, poverty and racial inequality. When the ‘Overlords’ finally reveal themselves, their horrific form makes little impression.

Then comes the sign that the Overlords have been waiting for. A child begins to dream strangely – and develops remarkable powers. Soon this happens to every child – and the truth of the Overlords’ mission is finally revealed to the human race. . .

Swastika Night – Katherine Burdekin 

SYNOPSIS

SWASTIKA NIGHT takes place seven hundred years after Nazism achieved power, by which time Adolf Hitler is worshipped as a god. Elsewhere, the Japanese rule the Americas, Australia, and Asia. Though Japan is the only rival superpower to the Nazi West, their inevitable wars always end in stalemate. The fascist Germans and Japanese suffer many difficulties in maintaining their populations, because of the physical degeneration of their women.
The protagonist is an Englishman named Alfred on a German pilgrimage. In Europe, the English are loathed because they were the last opponents of Nazi Germany in the war. Per official history, Hitler is a tall, blond god who personally won the war. Alfred is astounded when shown a secret, historic photograph depicting Hitler and a girl before a crowd. He is shocked that Hitler was a small man with dark hair and a paunch. And his discovery may mean his death…

Educated – Tara Westover 

SYNOPSIS

Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals.

As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education and the price she had to pay for it.

Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neil

SYNOPSIS

eves are designed, not made.
The School trains them to be pretty
The School trains them to be good.
The School trains them to Always be Willing.

All their lives, the eves have been waiting. Now, they are ready for the outside world.
companion . . . concubine . . . or chastity
Only the best will be chosen.
And only the Men decide.

We Were Liars – E Lockhart

SYNOPSIS 

We are the Liars.
We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.
We are cracked and broken.
A story of love and romance.
A tale of tragedy.
Which are lies?
Which is truth?

Between Shades of Grey – Ruta Sepetys 

SYNOPSIS

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.

An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.

Lina hopes for her family.
For her country.
For her future.
For love – first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose…

Will hope keep Lina alive?

Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray, is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini  

SYNOPSIS

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.

 

INSTAGRAM – GLOBALBOOKMANIA

GOODREADS – KATERINA TURNER

Books I would like to read…

So, since we are nearly halfway through 2020, I would like to mention some of the books I would like to read by the end of the year. This list only consists of 10 books so I’m sure it’s a manageable TBR (even if some of the books are absolute beasts!). If you have read any of these and liked/disliked them, then let me know!

  1. The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree (Paperback)

2. The Book of Life – Deborah Harkness (All Souls Trilogy/ book 3)
3. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
4. The Girl with all the Gifts – Mike Carey
5. The Binding – Bridget Collins
The Binding (Paperback)
6. Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo
Girl, Woman, Other (Paperback)
7. A Brief History of Seven Killings – Marlon James
8. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
Shantaram (Paperback)
9. Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
Picture 1 of 1
10. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

The Complete Maus – Art Spiegleman

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SYNOPSIS 

Combined for the first time here are Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale and Maus II – the complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler’s Europe. By addressing the horror of the Holocaust through cartoons, the author captures the everyday reality of fear and is able to explore the guilt, relief and extraordinary sensation of survival – and how the children of survivors are in their own way affected by the trials of their parents. A contemporary classic of immeasurable significance.

GOODREADS RATING – 4.55/5 STARS 

REVIEW 

This is a must-read for everyone! Spiegelman approaches themes of memory, genocide, war, relationships, ethics and identity with a lot of respect and in a truly beautiful way. 

Individuals are represented as either mice or cats (or dogs and pigs) through the masks they wear. By representing humans as animals, it strips everyone’s humanity to a certain degree and reminds us as readers that people’s actions were not always their own choice due to the inherent need to survive. Identity is a construct and can be manipulated. The concept is brilliant, but in terms of the graphics, it sometimes became confusing or fuzzy because of the number of graphics on each page.  

Spiegelman’s graphic novel depicts both the hardships of the Holocaust that his father (Vladek) has experience alongside his own guilt as a second-generation survivor. Art tries to understand his father and respect his past. This is shown through a few real photographs. This hit me hard as it reminded me that although the graphics are beautiful, this story tells the life of real people and a real family. 

RATING – 5/5 STARS!

INSTAGRAM – GLOBALBOOKMANIA

GOODREADS -KATERINA TURNER 

The Accident Season – Moira Fowley-Doyle

Goodreads Synopsis –

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

Goodreads rating – 3,65/5 stars

My review – 

Despite the low rating, I want to say that in my opinion this book was great! It was highly addictive and rather hard to put down at times, which is great because it is pretty short and the kind of book you read in a day but stays with you for a long time. Only thing that I found a little odd about it was the relationships between the characters.

The main thing that turned this into a successfully haunting read was the writing style. Doyle’s writing will make you fell both absolutely terrified and as if you are trapped in some parallel universe where everything is a little screwed up and things happen without logical reasoning behind it. Personally, I was so drawn into the story that at times I became scared to read because it felt like I was one of the characters in the book and there was no escaping it. 

Moving onto the characters… They were really unique and did not follow any of the conventional teenage stereotypes, however they were also rather weird in the sense that they all kept kissing each other and had weird relationships between them that I found a little difficult to understand. Each character was portrayed well and had strong character development. It was impossible to confuse the characters since they were all so different and each had a backstory. 

This book also had romance in it ( no love triangles… I think… everyone was kissing, it got confusing) I didn’t love any of the relationships but I didn’t mind them being there. They didn’t necessarily add anything to the story and rarely occurred (maybe 2x), but they didn’t take the spotlight off the mystery which was great. 

The thing I loved about the book was that it was really creepy and mysterious yet at the end, everything made sense and the novel ended with all of the questions answered… The mystery behind the book is actually quite sad and the book is quite dark, so be warned. The writing is magical and I would recommend this to everyone! 

My rating – 4,5/5 stars 

Goodreads – Katerina Turner 

Instagram – Globalbookmania