REVIEW: Bitter Eden by Tatamkhulu Afrika

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Bitter Eden is different to most books set during WWI or WWII that I have read. Of those books, the majority were set in Europe, mostly France and often from the perspective of a young British soldier. While these stories were poignant and offered an insight into parts of history the textbooks don’t feature, Bitter Eden felt like a new side to the story. Explicitly describing the experiences in a prisoner of war camp, Afrika’s novel explores the effects long-term imprisonment has on a person. Social dynamics and close relationships develop under this unique set of circumstances. Continue reading “REVIEW: Bitter Eden by Tatamkhulu Afrika”

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REVIEW: Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

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The relationship between mentor and protégé is often a complex one, founded at least in part on mutual respect and admiration for the other’s work, but it can quickly sour when personal feelings become intertwined. In Sarah Stovell’s Exquisite, successful author Bo Luxton sees the potential in young writer Alice Dark, and recommends her for a full scholarship at a writing retreat. When the two meet they are drawn to each other, and find their fascination with each other goes deeper than the writing itself. Continue reading “REVIEW: Exquisite by Sarah Stovell”

REVIEW: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

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Rebel of the Sands was not the Western, gun-slinging saloon shoot out I was expecting. There were guns, train heists and showdowns, but there was so much more to the story than that. The town of Dustwalk is home to the people who have spent their lives amidst an endless sea of sand. Amina is one of those people, but her blue eyes mark her out as something different. Girls are considered the property of the men in their family, and with both her parents gone, Amina’s future is set to be decided by her uncle. But when she sneaks out at night dressed as a boy, to win a sharpshooting competition so she can escape to freedom, she inadvertently teams up with her opponent, Jin the Eastern Snake, when things don’t go to plan. Their chance meeting pulls her into a rebellion against the Sultan, led by one of his own sons. She has always wondered what the world has to offer, but her journey with Jin makes her consider what she might have to offer the world. Continue reading “REVIEW: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton”

REVIEW: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

EtheringtonHeaders-ReviewsDSC_0790It’s easy to think of past centuries as the dark ages, a time when superstition took precedence over logic, but Victorian Britain is not the black and white place you might expect it to be in Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. It’s a time of enlightenment, when advancements in science and technology are moving the world into the modern age and the Great Exhibition showcases ideas of the future. Surgeons like Dr Luck Garrett perform pioneering procedures that will revolutionise medicine, a recent widow, Cora Seaborne is fascinated by the Earth’s ancient history and collects fossils, and her companion Martha fights for social change. These are people who look outside religion for answers. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry”

REVIEW: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

EtheringtonHeaders-ReviewsDSC_0761There are quite a few films I didn’t see at the cinema because I hadn’t read the book first, and there are plenty I still haven’t seen because that book is helplessly floundering in the vast sea of my TBR pile. But I watched the film adaptation of The Duff before I knew it was based on a book. It wasn’t a film I expected to like, I just thought it would pass the time, but I was surprised how much I connected with the main character Bianca. I thought we shared a lot of the same qualities, and even when she was being stubborn and unreasonable, I liked her. So when I started reading the book I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t the voice of the sarcastic, flawed girl I was expecting. Book Bianca had animosity dripping from every word, but it seemed wrong to judge the book based on what I had come to expect from the film. Characters change and grow through stories, so I was expecting a similar journey for Bianca. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Duff by Kody Keplinger”

REVIEW: The Power by Naomi Alderman

EtheringtonHeaders-ReviewsDSC_0736Naomi Alderman’s Baileys Prize-winning novel The Power, is a dark, powerful story of how one thing can change the world forever. At first there are isolated incidents, girls across continents realise they have a new ability to release an electrical discharge that can inflict pain on others. It’s an epidemic that spreads across countries and generations. Younger girls wake up the power in their mothers and grandmothers. It’s been buried in them all along, a genetic mutation that sits at their collarbones, waiting, and when it finally emerges the balance of power in the world suddenly shifts. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Power by Naomi Alderman”

REVIEW: The Outsiders by S E Hinton

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Ponyboy and his gang of long-haired Greasers are the lost boys of urban America. They have the freedom to do what they want without parental supervision, but are ultimately limited by their circumstances. They are intelligent boys with nothing to do and nowhere to go. It’s no surprise they resent the socs; the privileged kids with fancy cars and money to go wherever they want. Their rivalry is founded on prejudice and miss-directed anger. It’s a feud that’s been going on as long as Ponyboy can remember, but when the violence suddenly escalates he realises its more than just his pride and reputation at stake Continue reading “REVIEW: The Outsiders by S E Hinton”