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 

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

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD – COLSEN WHITEHEAD

The Underground Railroad (Whitehead novel).jpg

SYNOPSIS

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
Like the protagonist of 
Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share. 

GOODREADS RATING – 4.02/5 STARS 

REVIEW

I read this for my contemporary fiction module for university and was apprehensive as I usually struggle to read novels about slavery in the US. Despite my initial reservations, I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Whitehead’s novel was fast-paced and character-driven which is something that I truly enjoyed. A lot of novels that I have read on a similar topic often have a lot of descriptive passages which sometimes lose my interest. The constant moves, the tense situation, the powerful and likeable characters, etc; all made this novel truly great. 

The plot twist, in the end, took me by surprise and I found the novel to be more powerful with the final revelation. Overall, I would definitely recommend this as it is a great theme, with a great steampunk/sci-fi element. 

Rating – 4/5 stars. 

INSTAGRAM – GLOBALBOOKMANIA 

GOODREADS – KATERINA TURNER 

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!

INSTAGRAM – GLOBALBOOKMANIA

GOODREADS – KATERINA TURNER

 

 

The Moomins and The Great Flood by Tove Jansson

SYNOPSIS

The Moomins and the Great Flood is the first book about the Moomins, originally published in 1945. It´s the story about Moominmamma and Moomintroll´s search for the missing Moominpappa and how they found their way to the Moominvalley.

GOODREADS RATING – 4.03/5 STARS

REVIEW

I read this book a while ago for one of my university modules. I really enjoyed the artwork – it was beautiful. I had never heard of Tove Jansson before, or the Moomins, so it was certainly an interesting read. The language was simple and seeing as this is a translation, I can imagine the writing is more lyrical in it’s original Swedish. The story follows a lot of small adventures with many characters joining and leaving along the way. The fact that this was published in 1945, goes to show how Tove Jansson represented exile during war as a key theme throughout the book. Overall – definitely read this, because it’s short, entertaining and memorable.

RATING – 4,5/5 STARS

INSTAGRAM – GLOBALBOOKMANIA

GOODREADS – KATERINA TURNER 

 

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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GOODREADS – KATERINA TURNER

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 ⭐️

INSTAGRAM – GLOBALBOOKMANIA

GOODREADS – KATERINA TURNER

A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

SYNOPSIS

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

REVIEW

I adored this book, it was very amazing! It was so magical and romantic!

I loved all of the characters. I really liked Diana as a character because she was a storing character. You can really tell the difference between Young Adult and Adult books when it comes to character development. It was refreshing to read a book about adults as opposed to teenagers. Diana is an intellectual who studies the occult and alchemy, which I found fascinating! I know some people did my like this book because it becomes quite scientific in some places but I thought the explanations were great and really interesting.

Matthew is a vampire. Need I say more! He was a typical possessive and protective man who runs off his vampire/animalistic instincts. I found it interesting that he was French as it really added a lot to his character. So did his love for wine! I love that he has his non-biological family that he cares for and they all just took in Diana despite the bad blood between Vampires and Witches.

This book is a beautifully complex love story. The romance is beautifully portrayed and although I did think that it was fast paced, it did my annoy me because it was animalistic and was not supposed to be realistic.

I can’t wait to learn more about Diana’s magical abilities in the next book and I love the concept of time travel! I love Elizabethan England so I’m really excited to read the book in this series. I general I feel like this book was an incredible beginning and so cannot wait to learn more about Witches, daemons and vampires!

4,5/5 stars ⭐️

INSTAGRAM – GLOBALBOOKMANIA

GOODREADS – KATERINA TURNER

Swatika Night – Katherine Burdekin

Synopsis

Published in 1937, twelve years before Orwell’s 1984, Swastika Night projects a totally male-controlled fascist world that has eliminated women as we know them. Women are breeders, kept as cattle, while men in this post-Hitlerian world are embittered automatons, fearful of all feelings, having abolished all history, education, creativity, books, and art. The plot centers on a “misfit” who asks, “How could this have happened?”

Review

I read as part of my modern science fiction course for university and I didn’t know what to expect but I absolutely loved it!

I love the discussions about religion and how Christianity is portrayed. The way women were portrayed reminded me off the way the Jews were treated in concentration camps. It physically disgusted me and shocked me.

I found it interesting that there are heavy homosexual undertones throughout this book, which considering the time it was published, was shocking.

Overall, I loved it and would highly recommend it!

5/5 stars ⭐️

INSTAGRAM – GLOBALBOOKMANIA

GOODREADS – KATERINA TURNER

A Reaper at The Gates – Sabaa Tahir

SYNOPSIS

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.

REVIEW

This book was so good! 🖤

When I began this series Helene Aquilla was portrayed as an antagonist but throughout this series I have forgiven her for everything and began praying that she stays alive! Her new romantic interest is so subtle and beautifully portrayed! I’m so happy she finally got over Ellias and is has someone that truly cares about her!

I find the supernatural element of this series so interesting and with each book there are more and more revaluations! There is so much magic and secrecy throughout this series! Each book so far has dropped a massive bombshell of a revaluation and I for one can say that I did not see it coming.

Laia has grown so much as a character and she is a lot less annoying now! She has become strong and a leader yet throughout all of the trials she’s been through, she hasn’t lost her morality! Her and Ellias are simply perfect and I hope they have the chance to finally be together with no issues.

Marcus is also such an interesting character and he is descending further and further into madness through his guilt. If anyone has ever seen ‘Reign’ (The Tv Show), then you’ll know what I mean when I say that Marcus reminds me of the king.

The only downside to this book was that it lost me a little bit at times! It was very political and there was a lot of plotting and planning which sometimes got a little confusing. Overall this was a very emotional book. I can’t wait for the final book to come out!

4/5 stars! ⭐️

INSTAGRAM – Globalbookmania

GOODREADS – KATERINA TURNER