Classic/Historical · Fiction/Science Fiction · Mystery/Crime

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

18709559| GOODREADS | MY RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ |

Goodreads synopsis: It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky. Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner.

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My thoughts: If you are looking for a fast paced book with an easy mystery and exciting suspense, this is not the book for you. But if you are looking for a slow burn, with a complex mystery, a lot of characters and fates, this is a choice for you. It is slow, but still in a good slow kind of way. There is a lot of characters to keep track on but Catton have written it really well so that it is not that confusing when you get into it. There is a lot of information and counter information so it can be hard at some points to remember who of the characters know who and what. Who did what, when, where and who knew about it? I would not say that the book is hard to understand, your mind just needs to be a 100% awake so you won’t miss some details. This is a lot of book and many pages but it is affordable and don’t let the many pages scare you off.

My biggest problem with it, however, is still that it is so slow, even tough it is a good kind of slow, and it didn’t really grab me. I have told you before that I have no patience when it comes to slow books. And I didn’t really feel anything for the book. It was the reason that my goal was to read this before I turn 30, that got me through it. And I feel like I missed something big. Maybe it was about the stars angle. Because all that did not quite make sense to me. And I really did not understand why the book is named Luminaries. I believe I missed something, but I’m not curious enough to find out what. My favorite thing about the book is all the characters and their fates. There is a lot of sad and happy events and a lot of history about how they came to New Zealand and all. And it is interesting how their lives changed and connects to each other in ways that I don’t think many of them understood. And how their lives changes just because of some stuff that’s happened to one character affects another character and then it just goes on and on in a kind of domino effect. I loved some characters and hated others. Some of them I did not understand and some of them felt overrated.

But all in all it was an great story to follow. I do believe that this book, with the right director, would be great as an movie. It is an mystery and quite well one to. Hard to anticipate how it all hangs together until the end. And quite confusing. I don’t feel that my review is any less confusing, this is an hard book to put in words.

Classic/Historical · Fantasy/Paranormal · Fiction/Science Fiction · Romance

Drums of autumn – Diana Gabaldon

10988.jpg| GOODREADS | MY RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ |

Goodreads synopsis: It began at an ancient Scottish stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Dr. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice.

Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became a legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in the American colonies. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century—their daughter, Brianna….

Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the circle of stones and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history … and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past … or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong….

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My thoughts:

HAPPY ENDINGS?

 

There are no happy endings.

Endings are the saddest part.

So just give me a happy middle

and a very happy start.
-Unknown

I needed to take some time to think over the book before writhing this review. It is a lot of feelings floating around and it was a little hard to get it sorted out.

I am one of those few who have not yet seen the tv series. I wish to get further into the book series before starting to watch it. Right now I’m not even sure I will ever see it. Every time after ending one of these books, I feel mentally exhausted. My heart hurt and even though the story is so great and I do not wish that I ever started it, I feel so broken down for a while after that it is hard to start something else. I almost feel a little depressed.

I guess it is a great ability as an author to really effect your readers as this series affects me. That her written word can insinuate oneself so far in my mind and body is unbelievable. And rare. Even though I often feel so bad after her books, I also feel so good. And I still want to read more. Just need a break or two before I start the next one.

WARNING! This review contains spoilers to book one, two and three. No spoilers on this fourth book however so you are safe. You have to have read the three books in order and if you don’t have read them yet, I do recommend you do NOT read further. You have been warned. 🙂

So in this book Claire has found Jamie and is in America where we left of in the third book. They are trying to put some roots down among mountain, miles of forest, fields and Indians. If not Indians are trying to kill them, the white man is or if not, the nature is doing its best. It is a hard life but they have finally found peace. After years and years of misery, surviving and loneliness, they are finally at a great place. Claire left Brianna behind in the year 1969 in the third book, to live her life in her own time. Brianna however discover something that takes her back in time to find her mother and father. In 1969 she got to know Roger even better and when he discovers she is gone, he follows her.

After the third book (which so far is my least favorite) I was wondering if the series was worth to continue. It was still good but I was just not sure if it was good enough. Now i’m so glad that I choosed to continue. Because this fourth book is so, so good. It is up in the same favorite spot as the first book.

I love that in this book you get to follow both Claire and Jamie and Brianna and Roger. I love to see peace and love at one end and the relationship between Brianna and Roger at the other. It is a great story, hard sometimes and there is a couple of horrific events happening that made my heart race and I just could not stop. I needed to know how it would end. It totally surprised me but in a good way. A little unsatisfying however. I mean have you spent 800 pages building it up, you could spend another couple pages to end it satisfyingly. Some parts felt a little forced but overall I’m happy.

I will continue the series, but as I told you, I need some time. 😉

Classic/Historical · War/Military · Young, New adult/College

Goodnight Mister Tom – Michelle Magorian

23718102| GOODREADS | MY RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ |

Goodreads synopsis: The gruff and surly Mr Thomas Oakley is less than pleased when he is landed with a scrawny little city boy as a guest, but because it is compulsory that each villager takes in an evacuee he reluctantly agrees. It soon becomes obvious to Mister Tom that young Willie Beech is hiding something, and as the pair begin to form an unlikely bond and Willie grows in stature and in confidence he begins to forget the past. But when he has to return to war-torn London to face his mother again he retreats into his shy and awkward ways once more.

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My thoughts: Goodnight Mister Tom is my all-time favorite book from when I was a child. I think I read it for the first time when I was around 10 years old, maybe younger and before my 18th birthday, I must have read it at least three times more. I loved it. But I have never read it on English. My copy of the book probably has been lost throughout the years or is at my mothers. So I though, since I’m going to by a new one, why not on English. And I’m really happy because the way it is originally written, certainly put some life in the story that me as an reader not could get from a translation. And it blew my mind how good it made it.

The book is a really sad story, but still a really happy one to. It takes place in the WW2 and for the most part you get to follow Will. He is an evacuee from London, who goes to live with this old and grumpy man who really do not want a kid in his house, but has to due to regulations. Mr Oakley is not as bad as everyone thinks. He just hit a ruff spot when young and never really got the help he needed to get out of it. He just found a way to survive through the years but never really live. Will and Mr Oakley finds a way to survive with each other and later on it turns to not only surviving but also living. There is a lot of characters in the book and they all have their own traits and personality’s. They are great described and funny to follow.

I don’t know why I loved this book so much as a kid. Maybe because it gave me the knowledge that in a bad situation, there is always hope. And even if they say blood is thicker than water, it has nothing to take too when it comes to friends and people who choose to be your family. Not are family just because you was born in to it. Wonderful, wonderful story!

I love Mr Tom so much and it is the book who really sparked my love for reading I even named my Kindle, Mr Tom, due to what that book has done for me. And this is such a cry story. Just saying. 😉

Do you have one of those story’s from your childhood that somehow changed you?

Classic/Historical · Fiction/Science Fiction · War/Military · Young, New adult/College

Salt to the sea – Ruta Sepetys

25614492.jpg| GOODREADS | MY RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ |

Goodreads synopsis: World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in one another tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

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My thoughts: Wilhelm Gustloffs shipwreck is the greatest in maritime history. Over 9000 people (that’s almost 8000 more than Titanic) lost their lives and yet, almost nobody knows anything about it. I certainly didn’t. My interest for war, historical fiction and that I didn’t know anything about this disaster, was a big reason for me to choose to read this book.

In this book we are following four characters  who all seek peace and freedom from the war that are breaking there country and family’s apart. Some of them, I like more than others but that I think was done with purpose and I understand it in the end. It is a great story, that do play on my emotions and now after i’m done, I do feel a little emotional drained.

It was a really thrilling read and as first book for me to read by Ruta Sepetys, I’m really pleasantly surprised. It started off quite slow and it is a slow burner through most of the book and I did lose interest there for a while, but I really wanted to know how it would end, so I picked it up again. The last chapters went past extremely fast and suddenly the book was over. I do not usually like books that are slow and then all the action is happening right before the book is ending. But it did work in this one. It is a really good book and that I lost focus has really nothing to do with the book itself, but with me who sometimes don’t have the patience for slow burners.

It is a hard read, just have to warn you. There is some terrible human fates that are happening and even if the book is fiction, it is hard to deny that this and probably even worse have happened in real life. I understand why Sepetys won the Goodreads Choice Award 2016 for this book. It is that good.

Classic/Historical · Fiction/Science Fiction · Romance · War/Military

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

2728527.jpg| GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ |

Goodreads synopsis: “I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

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My thoughts: This is an brilliant, work of art. Brilliant! That you could write a complete story like this, with good character development and fantastic environments and different story lines, just by the form of letters, is beyond me. It is really fantastic and I’m completely in love. I love Juliet, Isola, Kit, Sidney and not at least Dawsey. I love them and that the book eventually ended, made me a little sad.

In this book you get to follow Juliet. An unmarried writer who tries to find herself now that the war is over. London is a broken city and she lives temporarily in a borrowed apartment since her old one got bombed to ruins. She is an strong minded book lover who will not settle, but feels lost in the new world. We get to follow her trough letters to her best friends Sophie and Sidney. Later on to her new friends on the island Guernsey. She wants to write a book but are not happy with the subject she first had chosen. In a pursuit for something she care and want to write about, she travels to the island too meet hear new friends and finds more than just a book to write.

To write a book completely trough letters is an brilliant idea in my opinion. I cannot see the book been written in any other way now that I have read it. I must say that at first I was skeptical. But it gave me as an reader the freedom to imagine and use my mind to fill in the blanks that where not written in words. It felt liberating somehow. The book is written with warmth and humour even though the aftermath of the war is a huge part of this book, and it makes it emotionally hard sometimes.

But as great as it is, it has one flaw in my opinion. First I gave the book a five star rating but after my emotions had settled down and I started to really think about it, I wanted to end it to four stars. That is because of the ending. It ended perfectly, but it went to fast, did not fit in with the rest of the book and I got the feeling that the authors just wanted to get it done. Be over with. But then I looked in the book and wondered, should I really take of a star for ten pages in the end that was not to my complete liking? It felt unfair so I left the rating as I first had put it.

This books also comes as an movie in 2018. I love movies made on books I have read and really looking forward to it. 🙂

 

Classic/Historical · Fiction/Science Fiction

The underground railroad – Colson Whitehead

30555488.jpg| GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY RATING: ♥ ♥|

Goodreads synopsis: Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish 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 and, 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. 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.

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My thoughts: I’m sad that I didn’t like this more. Maybe I had too high hopes for it but I thought it would move me more than it did. Since Whitehead won a Pulitzer prize for this one there are obvious people who think this is literature art with some beautiful sentence, genius structure and intriguing story. However, it did not work for me and my biggest problem with the book is that it is written in this type of macro view, the chapters are jumbled and there is a big historical “fault” in the book. If the chapters were in a “correct” timeline order (except Mabel’s chapter) it would not have been too much jumping back and forth for me. I hate broken structure and time jumping like that when it isn’t done with smooth finesse.

So, let’s start with the historical “fault”. I read this book as an historical fiction because that is how it was presented to me. Now however I wish someone would have told me that it is more of an allegory. Then I would probably not have irritated over the fact that in this book the underground railroad is an actual railroad underground with train and everything. I didn’t think I was so bad on American history so I had to dedicate some time to google and find out what was true. No there was no real underground railroad as I thought. And this irritated me boundlessly.

The next thing is that I felt the book somewhat unemotional, distant, meek and cold. No real thoughts or feelings. Nothing that really moved me. Maybe it is me who are to jaded and cold for a book like this, or maybe I can’t relate on the same level since I’m not American or black and my history, family’s history and my country’s history is a lot different. If it would have been written from first person perspective, so that me as a reader would get some thoughts and feelings and not this cold storytelling, I would find it a lot stronger and more relatable. Because feelings I can relate to.

It is still an uncomfortable read with a terrible story and it do make you think. So, Whitehead have done something right. The book is not a graphic read and even though I felt somewhat detached, I think Whiteheads goal was to start some thoughts and of all the discussions I have found on the internet, he has certainly succeeded.

Classic/Historical · Fiction/Science Fiction

1943 – D. Clarke

37794122.jpg| GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥|

Goodreads synopsis: The book doesn’t have a fulfillment synopsis so I will try to write something short about it.

Here we meet Letty. A young teenager who is thrown back in time from 2017 to 1943 Harlem, New York. The time is completely different than what he is used to and you get to follow Lettys struggles to adapt to this hard times. He make friends in a world where being a woman or black is like a sin and you get to follow his struggle to find a way to get back to his own time. We meet some nice characters in this modern time travel story.

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My thoughts: I received this book from the author against an honest review and I must say that I am pleasantly surprised even though I had some big problems with it. I really like time travel books and that is one of the reasons I choosed to read this book.

First off, the language is really weird for me. Let me remind you that English is not my first language and even though I mostly read in English, it will always be a second language to me and this book was just a little too hard. There is no good flow in the language and it keeps switching from proper use of words to slang and in between there are some big words, which I feel don’t belong in the telling of the story. The lack of easy use of the English language and flow did the story hard for me to read and I had to take breaks ever so often due to the strain it put on my mind. I also feel that the book is missing some depth. Both in character reactions, feelings and story wise. This can of course be a result due to the language and my inability to read the book with ease. Unfortunately, I would not recommend the book to someone who do not have English as first language or is a stronger reader than me. Oh and I don’t like the cover. It doesn’t do the book justice.

I do however like the story itself. It is an entertaining idea and it is quite exciting. Even though there is nothing new in the theory about time travel and Clarke have clearly choosed the way that is the most simple and easiest to understand it is likable. I like Letty and I like the characters he meet in 1943. They made the story come alive. I also like the little twist with “Red” and that I didn’t know who he was until the end of the book. The story is also a little sad and it makes you think, which I see as an positive thing.

Would I read anything by Clarke again? Yeah probably. If the book have gone trough some heavy editing first by a professional who could ease up the language for people like me. Until then, No! 🙂

 

Classic/Historical · Fantasy/Paranormal · Fiction/Science Fiction · Young, New adult/College

The horse and his boy – C.S Lewis

587315| GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥|

Goodreads synopsis: A wild gallop for freedom. Narnia… where horses talk… where treachery is brewing… where destiny awaits. On a desperate journey, two runaways meet and join forces. Though they are only looking to escape their harsh and narrow lives, they soon find themselves at the center of a terrible battle. It is a battle that will decide their fate and the fate of Narnia itself.

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My thoughts: This is so far my favorite among the three books I have read. I really like it. The story is set in the Golden age and it takes place in the south outside of Narnia’s borders. Because Narnia is actually not that big. The book has a completely different feeling. It is somewhat darker and more medieval with fairies, horses, King and Queens and of course, War! They have swords and complete knight equipment. The ladies have big, flowing dresses and they live either in castles or poorer in small houses. They are fishermen’s, farmers or have other, not so legal ways to provide for them self’s. The story is simple and just about a Boy and a horse. Who talks by the way and it makes the story just better. More magical.

They are on an adventure through danger from both people and nature. They meet a girl also with a talking horse and decides that four are better than two. The book is about staying alive, do the right thing, friendship and fight for the weaker people.

There is also a mystery that you don’t get to know the truth about until the end of the book and it made it all more real. A little darker but still with the learning that there is light in the end of the tunnel and if you fight for what’s right, yourself and your friends, you have done alright. And even though the book is a lot darker than what I associate with Narnia, you still get that Narnia feeling.

Classic/Historical · Fantasy/Paranormal · Fiction/Science Fiction · Young, New adult/College

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis

100915| GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥|

Goodreads synopsis: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy find their way through an old wardrobe into the world of Narnia. There, they unite with Aslan to fight the White Witch and save Narnia from perpetual Darkness.

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My thoughts: This is the second book (chronological order) in the children series about Narnia. I have never read the books before but I have seen some movies, which this is the one I remember the most. I did not expect that the book would be so short and actually a little meager. I remember the movie as so much more and even better now after I’m done with this book. I do not know if that is true so I need to watch the movie again.

But yeah, it went to fast, was a little meager and actually a little bizarre. I feel that the emotions of the children that was in the first book was more realistic and here, this kids just took it all a little to easy. But I do have to say that the movie (as I remember it) is a great and match the book perfectly.

I have to remember that these books are written for children and that I am not a reader of the genre children and young adult. I try but I cant lie to my self and you when it comes to the rating, just because everyone else loved it. I do however think that children to appreciates this book so much more than me, and that I will read this for my children in the future.

Classic/Historical · Non-fiction · War/Military

War’s unwomanly face – Svetlana Alexievich

4025275.jpg| GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥|

Goodreads synopsis: This book is a confession, a document and a record of people’s memory. More than 200 women speak in it, describing how young girls, who dreamed of becoming brides, became soldiers in 1941. More than 500,000 Soviet women participated on a par with men in the Second World War, the most terrible war of the 20th century. Women not only rescued and bandaged the wounded but also fires a sniper’s rifle, blew up bridges, went reconnoitering and killed… They killed the enemy who, with unprecedented cruelty, had attacked their land, their homes and their children.

Soviet writer of Bychorussia, Svetlana Alexiyevich spent four years working on the book, visiting over 100 cities and towns, settlements and villages and recording the stories and reminiscences of women war veterans. The soviet press called the book”a vivid reporting of events long past, which affected the destiny of the nation as a whole.” The most important thing about the book is not so much the front-line episodes as women’s heart-rending experiences in the war. Through their testimony the past makes an impassioned appeal to the present, denouncing yesterday’s and today’s fascism…

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My thoughts: I feel bad for giving this book only an three in rating. But it is not like I rated the history or something like that. It is the books broken structure that bugs the hell out of me. Let me start from the beginning.

In 2015 Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel price in literature. I bought this book back in 2014 (yeah it as been in my bookshelf for 3+ years) and that she later on won a Nobel price has just gone pass me. Maybe I would have read it earlier if I knew it but oh well. Got to it eventually.

It is hard to write a review on a non-fiction book. This is history. This is true stories from a female perspective. Stories about how they stood at the front line with all the male soldiers and fought for their land. It is hard to believe. Some of them wasn’t even older than 16 year. I’m lucky enough to be born in a time where the war still was “fresh” and people who survived it still live and remember. In a time where most followers on Instagram, biggest lips or most money not was the most important in the world. I do, however, regret that I did not ask them more about that time. How was it for my family? Now, I have the stories in books and movies and it is not until now that I realized that all those stories is mostly told by men. And non of them is told by my family. So I will probably never know.

I’m not gonna talk so much about the books contents. It is hard stuff to read, hard stuff to hear and terrible. Just so terrible that there is no words to describe it. It gives you nightmares and it is hard to image a time like that. Hard to image that type of patriotism where you fight until death for your country. I left my country on my own free will, I don’t even know if I would be willing to fight for it if it ever came to that. That is how different our countries and time has taken us. We women (and men) today, should respect and celebrate those women who stood up like that, with fear and children on there backs. Fighting for what was theirs. Fighting for there country and a future for their children.

The big problem I have with this book, and the reason for its low score, is the structure. It was hard to remember who is who, it kept jumping back and forth in time and place and was just mostly confusing. Eventually, so that I would not quit the book, I started to ignore names. I started just to read the stories and listen for the history. Now I can’t say who did and said what. That is to bad, but the stories and history that these women told, is forever lodged in my head. And even if the structure is bad, I feel that everyone should read the book. Not for the history of it but for the perspective. And to have something who weighs against all the stories out there, who have been told by men.