Review: Heimat by Nora Krug

IMG_9942[1]I like to think that I’m a pretty broad reader, but when I actually sat down and thought about it I realised that there was one specific genre that I really don’t pick up; graphic novels and graphic memoirs. I’m not entirely sure why that is and I was never really aware of it as a conscious decision. I fell in love with words and language at a very young age so perhaps prose has always held my attentions since then. Either way, when I was contacted by a member of the team over at Penguin to see if I would like to review a graphic memoir I was thrilled. Firstly, it was an excellent chance to branch out in my reading, and secondly, I am a massive history buff!

Heimat: A German Family Album by Nora Krug is written from the authors own perspective. After growing up as a second-generation German after World War Two, we follow Nora as she struggles to come to terms with the past of both her country and her family. Across the book Nora comes to realise that she cannot come to terms with who she is without confronting the realities of where she’s come from. Delving deep into the history of her family members living under the Nazi regime, Nora is determined to face whatever the truth may hold.

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Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

IMG_9941[1]Right now my Instagram is pretty exclusively full of Autumnal reads, Halloween TBR’s and spooky book covers. Everytime I open up the app I am in heaven; Autumn is my favourite season and I love darker reads. That’s why it made complete sense for me to pick up a small but powerful book that I’ve had on my shelf since last Christmas. I’ve been holding off reading it as I waiting for the perfect reading opportunity, but now that Halloween is almost upon us the time is most definitely ripe.

I’m talking of course about the classic ghost story that is Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black. Coming in at just under 200 pages this is more of a novella than a novel, but don’t let its small stature put you off as this book really does pack a powerful punch within its pages. Many of you may have seen the film or theater adaptation (both of which I really enjoyed), but for those of you that haven’t I highly recommend starting with the book first. The story is told by Arthur Kipps, recalling the time when he was a junior solicitor sent to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the only inhabitant of Eel Marsh House. The house is a solitary figure standing at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and uncertainty. When Mr Kipps first glimpses the figure of a young wasted woman, dressed head to toe in black, a sense of mystery and unease begins to creep upon him. This feeling is only heightened by his time spend alone in Eel Marsh House and the horrors he witnesses; horrors which the locals still refuse to talk about . . .

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Review: Scrublands by Chris Hammer

IMG_9909[1]As the weather turns colder I think most of us tend to change out reading habits somewhat. I know that personally I find myself reaching for darker reads as the nights get longer, often wanting something gritty I can sink my teeth in to. October in particular is the month I revel in all things gothic, horror and crime.

When I was recently lucky enough to be sent a proof copy of Chris Hammer’s novel I was thrilled. The blurb sold it to me from the very first line and I knew this would be a perfect chance to start my Autumnal reading. As the blub so effectively states ‘In a country town ravaged by drought, a charismatic young priest opens fire on the congregation, killing five men before being shot dead himself’. Gripping, right? The novel then starts a year later, with journalist Martin Scarsden travelling to the town to write about how the the locals are coping a year on from the murders. Yet soon as Martin begins to gather his story together he realises things don’t make sense. The stories he hears from the locals are far from the accepted version of the priest and his actions, making him question everything that’s already been reported. It’s as Martin is grasping at clues that another terrible discovery is made; the bodies of two backpackers are found dead in the Scrublands, causing the media to swarm upon Riversend once more. Can Martin really hope to uncover the truth behind all of these crimes?

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Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

IMG_9908[1]In one of my last posts you would have seen me raving about Becky Chamber’s debut novel The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet. I actually really love sci-fi but it’s a genre I never seen to pick up as much some as others, so delving into this series has been great for making me remember just how much I enjoy it. This actually worked so well in fact, that I wasted no time in delving straight into Becky Chamber’s second book.

Whilst A Closed and Common Orbit is a sequel of sorts, it doesn’t follow the same central characters that we meet upon the Wayfarer in the first book. Having said that, it does follow two main characters that we were aware of in the first book, shifting the focus here to follow these much more intensely. The novel actually picks up pretty soon after the final events of the first book, with the AI Lovelace having entered her kit and agreed to go off with the engineer Pepper as she acclimatises to her new situation. Lovelace’s exists threatens everything, her new life strictly against the Galaxy laws. If she were discovered it would mean the end, but Pepper is determined to stop this from happening. Pepper understands what it’s like to go against the rules, being born into a slave class created by a rogue society. She will stop at nothing to give Lovelace the start in life she deserves.

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Review: The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

IMG_9907[1]Fantasy and science-fiction are two different genres that we see grouped together quite a lot in the literary world. It’s easy to see why, as they share many similar elements and ideas despite their differences. Anyone who reads my blog or follows my Instagram page will know by now that I’m a massive fantasy lover, but what you may not see is that I’m also a huge fan of science-fiction. For some reason I always seem to end up reading a lot more fantasy, but this is something I want to try and improve on. With that goal in mind I was really excited to start The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.

This is Becky’s first novel, and I remember seeing it get a lot of praise on BookTube a few years ago. The novel opens with the character Rosemary Harper joining the crew of a ship that looks like it’s seen better days. She isn’t expecting much, but it’s a chance for her to escape her past whilst roaming the galaxy as part of the crew. What she doesn’t realise is that whilst the Wayfarer indeed looks somewhat chaotic, life on board can be just the same. With an array of species and personalities working together it’s a miracle that peace can exist. That is, until the crew are offered the chance to work the job of a lifetime; the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distance planet. If they can navigate the long trip through war-torn space, as well as pull off the high risk job, they’ll have hit the big time, but nothing is easy in a world still at war with each other.

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Review: The Sellout by Paul Beatty

IMG_9820[1]I love literary prizes, The Man Booker and The Women’s prize for Fiction being particular favourites of mine. Even so, there are still a fair few winners of these prizes which I’ve yet to get around to reading. I try not to put pressure on myself to read certain things but it does always irk me somewhat that these books have been chosen out of many other fabulous books for their quality, and I still haven’t read them! I find quite often each year that if I’m trying to read the entire longlist I often run out of steam, which means that by the time the winner is announced I’m normally ready for a literary prize break!

On the plus side it does mean that sometimes I’m left with great prize winning books on my shelf to look forward to still. Paul Beatty’s The Sellout was one such book I was eager to read. Winning the Man Booker Prize in 2016, The Sellout wasn’t initially one of the books I was most drawn to from the entire longlist, and it seemed to split people’s opinions quite a lot. It follows our male protagonist who was born and raised in Dickens, an ‘agrarian ghetto’ on the outskirts of LA. Out narrator was brought up by a father whose studies in psychology and racism led to an extremely unconventional childhood. When his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he sets out to reclaim his hometown of Dickens, for Dickens has been wiped off the maps to save LA the embarrassment of such a place. What follows is the narrators attempts to put Dickens back on the map, with the rather crazy outcome of reinstating slavery and segregation.

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