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

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GOODREADS – Katerina Turner 

Popular Book Series I Am Yet Too Read…

These book series have been sat on my shelves for longer than I care to admit! I honestly can’t wait to read all of them as I’ve heard amazing things, but I’m currently finishing off the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. In other news, I have officially submitted all of my university work and am now free to enjoy my summer, so hopefully, I will be getting round to all, if not most of these books.

Are there any series you are yet too read?

 

The Raven Cycle – Maggie Stiefvater

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas

The Illuminae Files – Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

The Mistborn Trilogy – Brandon Sanderson

The Kingkiller Chronicles – Patrick Rothfuss

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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.

 

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How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia – Mohsin Hamid

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SYNOPSIS

From the internationally bestselling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, the boldly imagined tale of a poor boy’s quest for wealth and love.

His first two novels established Mohsin Hamid as a radically inventive storyteller with his finger on the world’s pulse. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia meets that reputation, and exceeds it. the astonishing and riveting tale of a man’s journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, it steals its shape from the business self-help books devoured by ambitious youths all over “rising Asia.” It follows its nameless hero to the sprawling metropolis where he begins to amass an empire built on that most fluid, and increasingly scarce, of goods: water. Yet his heart remains set on something else, on the pretty girl whose star rises along with his, their paths crossing and recrossing, a lifelong affair sparked and snuffed and sparked again by the forces that careen their fates along.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is a striking slice of contemporary life at a time of crushing upheaval. Romantic without being sentimental, political without being didactic, and spiritual without being religious, it brings an unflinching gaze to the violence and hopes it depicts. And it creates two unforgettable characters who find moments of transcendent intimacy in the midst of shattering change.

GOODREADS RATING 

REVIEW

I’m not really sure how to write this review. Let me begin by saying that if you have seen Slumdog Millionaire, you have effectively read this book. I’m not saying this in a bad way at all! I love that film so much, and I really enjoyed this book. The premise was really interesting. It was fast-paced and well written. This book tackles a lot of themes including but not restricted too socioeconomic issues, social class and relationships. 

It’s a great self-help book that allows an individual to reflect on their lives whilst learning through someone else’s narrative. Overall, I would definitely recommend this! 

Rating – 4/5 stars

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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean – Dominique Bauby

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
SYNOPSIS 
‘Locked-in syndrome: paralysed from head to toe, the patient, his mind intact, is imprisoned inside his own body, unable to speak or move. In my case, blinking my left eyelid is my only means of communication.’

In December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor-in-chief of French ‘Elle’ and the father of two young children, suffered a massive stroke and found himself paralysed and speechless, but entirely conscious, trapped by what doctors call ‘locked-in syndrome’. Using his only functioning muscle – his left eyelid – he began dictating this remarkable story, painstakingly spelling it out letter by letter.

His book offers a haunting, harrowing look inside the cruel prison of locked-in syndrome, but it is also a triumph of the human spirit.

GOODREADS RATING  – 4.01/5 STARS
REVIEW
This book was written by Jean Dominique Bauby not long before he passed away. After a tragic stroke left him paralysed, the protagonist reflects on his life, his family, his past and his future. If I’m being honest, not a lot occurs in this book. Despite this, it is a really moving and raw piece of prose. I could sense the protagonist’s anger, frustration and understanding. I tried to understand the physical exile he felt. His body had let him down. Psychologically, the protagonist’s inability to communicate must have been unbelievably difficult. This book truly shows how a few minutes can change your life. It was hard to read (emotionally speaking) and I would definitely recommend it as it’s a great book. 
My Rating – 4/5 stars

Song for Night – Chris Abani

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SYNOPSIS 

“Not since Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof’s Notebook Trilogy has there been such a harrowing novel about what it’s like to be a young person in a war. That Chris Abani is able to find humanity, mercy, and even, yes, forgiveness, amid such devastation is something of a miracle.”—Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth

“The moment you enter these pages, you step into a beautiful and terrifying dream. You are in the hands of a master, a literary shaman. Abani casts his spell so completely—so devastatingly—you emerge cleansed, redeemed, and utterly haunted.”—Brad Kessler, author of Birds in Fall

Part Inferno, part Paradise Lost, and part Sunjiata epic, Song for Night is the story of a West African boy soldier’s lyrical, terrifying, yet beautiful journey through the nightmare landscape of a brutal war in search of his lost platoon. The reader is led by the voiceless protagonist who, as part of a land mine-clearing platoon, had his vocal chords cut, a move to keep these children from screaming when blown up and thereby distracting the other minesweepers. The book is written in a ghostly voice, with each chapter headed by a line of the unique sign language these children invented. This book is unlike anything else ever written about an African war.

Chris Abani is a Nigerian poet and novelist and the author of The Virgin of FlamesBecoming Abigail (a New York Times Editor’s Choice), and GraceLand (a selection of the Today Show Book Club and winner of the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award). His other prizes include a PEN Freedom to Write Award, a Prince Claus Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He lives and teaches in California.

GOODREADS RATING – 3.98/5 STARS

REVIEW 

This book broke me! Abani’s writing is so beautiful and haunting that once you pick this book up you won’t be able to put it back down. Chris Abani presents a very realistic depiction of a young man named My Luck, who is a mine diffuser and a child soldier. Straight off the bat, Abani describes the physical mutilation that child soldiers experienced wherein their vocal cords were cut so that they could not scream and alert the enemy of their presence. The rest of the book follows My Luck as he tracks down his platoon and remembers how he got to where he is now. The horrors Abani describes are hard to read about and yet, you can’t help but read them. I would recommend this to everyone but perhaps aged 18+. This book covers a lot of heavy and adult themes that may be unsuitable for a younger audience.

Rating 5/5 STARS!

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The Complete Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi

The Complete Persepolis (Persepolis, #1-4) by Marjane Satrapi

SYNOPSIS 

Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling, internationally acclaimed graphic memoir.

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

GOODREADS RATING – 4.39/5 STARS

REVIEW

This is an incredibly powerful graphic novel about a young woman growing up amidst the Islamic revolution in Tehran, Iran. Through various political issues, conflicts and personal exile, the protagonist, Marjane, develops into an intelligent and brave woman. We see Marjane from a young age as someone who is devoutly religious and has a lovely relationship her family, especially her grandmother and uncle. Throughout the novel, we see Marjane move abroad, struggle with her teenage years, struggle with exile, struggle with dehumanisation. Alongside this, we also see her experience her first love, her attending university as a woman in Iran, and many more accomplishments. The art is brilliant and if you are interested their is also a movie adaptation of this novel that uses the same art/graphics. This book really contemplates the battle between modern and traditional values and the political beliefs of Iran. Definitely a must-read! 

Rating 5/5 Stars

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Romanov – Nadine Brandes

SYNOPSIS

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it. 

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

REVIEW

This is my first Nadine Brandes novel and I’d seen it a lot on bookstagram so I thought I’d pick it up. I enjoyed reading this book and I found the plot interesting and I loved both the historical side and the spell casting side. This was a really interesting interpretation of the events that occurred!

In terms of characters, Anastasia is a strong willed protagonist who tried to protect her family and remain strong throughout her exile. Her relationship with her brother and father was portrayed really well and it keep me wanting to read more. Alexei’s character annoyed me because he did not resemble a thirteen year old boy. I understand that with the pressure of his royal status and his health condition, it was expected for him to be a strong character, however, he did not come across as a child at all, therefore it made the writing confusing at times.

I personally like that the author used Russian words throughout the book as it really hit home for me and added a sense of authenticity, however, I can also understand that sometimes it was too much and for people with little to no knowledge of Slavic languages, it may be confusing.

One thing that I really did not like was the romance. It seemed forced and both Anastasia and Zash did not click. I felt like the romance was unnecessary because the characters would have been better off as friends. That being said, I loved Maria’s romance with Ivan!

I would say that for the first 200 pages the book primarily focuses on portraying the Romanov’s hardships and their day to day lives in exile, however, as the book progresses, we encounter the magical side and a bit of a chase. The history of the Bolsheviks, The White Army and the Romanov’s was not described much, which I think was a bit of a let down, however the plot was exciting and I enjoyed the book overall.

3/5 stars ⭐️

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The Anari – Adrianna J. Tetnowski

SYNOPSIS

Ariadna Vikander was once a Priestess of the Sisters of Aphur, but her longing for a new life in which she was free to explore the glorious brutality of the world forces her to make a fatal choice.

Now part of The Anari – a guild of expert assassins and thieves – Ariadna is slowly becoming one of the best. But her place in the institution came with a price. 

When she forsakes her oath in order to kill the family who had betrayed her instead, Ariadna’s fate entwines with that of a young girl on the run from a demon dictator, who has the unholiest of intentions for her.

REVIEW

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I remember reading the blurb and thinking, “this sounds so fast paced, unique and exciting”! Luckily, it did not disappoint. I you are a fan of Game of Thrones or The Throne of Glass series, then you will absolutely devour this book. Some things worth mentioned is that there is some adult language through this and a lot of sexual reference so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under the age of sixteen.

I found the protagonist – Ariadna, an interesting and complex character. An assassin with a difficult past is not a uncommon theme, however I really enjoyed how she is a strong woman who stands up for herself and really develops as a character throughout the novel. The main development is shown through her relationship with Preeya, who is also a great character and goes through a lot of changes throughout the book.

The romance is good and although it was a bit fast paced, it fit the plot and the characters personalities. Despite this book being centred around mercenaries and assassins, they characters constantly make their own minds up and live by certain codes of conduct. I loved the way Kanra was portrayed, it was very creepy and added a lot to the plot. He is definitely a scary villain, which was refreshing in a way, since a lot of novels portray the villain as some tall Greek God!

Overall, this book was great, however, I did have a few issues with it. There were certain phrases that were used multiple times and became slightly repetitive. At the start of the book, a lot of characters are named that are part of The Anari, and it was hard to keep track of who was who, even though as a read further, I realised that they weren’t really relevant.

Definitely would recommend this book! 4/5 stars ⭐️

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Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

SYNOPSIS

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

REVIEW

I didn’t like the Grisha Trilogy at all but everyone told me that the Six of Crows duology was completely different and a lot better. I trusted the recommendations and headed into this book with relatively high expectations. I was not disappointed! Six of Crows was interesting from page 1 till the very end!

The biggest flaw (in my opinion) when it came to the trilogy was the lack of character development. Everyone was annoying (except Nikolai) and it made me not care about the plot or what was going to happen to the characters. When It came to Six of Crows, I loved every single character and simply could not stop reading when one of them was in danger.

I adore Kaz! He is so mysterious and tough. I love how he is so powerful, yet he is also so young. He has lived a life of hardship and struggles to care for people yet he protects his crew. He is just and fair when it comes to them. Inej was awesome! She’s so badass and kind. She was hurt in her past which made her strong and I loved the fact that she knows what she wants. There is no insta-love in the book or love triangles! It was refreshing!

I loved the chemistry between Nina and Matthias! They both amazing characters and really clicked well. There back story was so interesting and it was great to see how their relationship evolved through the book.Wylan and Jesper were both great characters! They were really funny and added a bit of lightheartedness to the group. I can’t wait to see their relationship blossom in the next book!

Overall I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read Crooked Kingdom!

5/5 ⭐️

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