Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Release date: May 6, 2014
Author links: Goodreads - Website
Publisher: Scribner
Age group: Adult
Pages: 531
Purchase the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When Marie-Laure is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.



Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015.
Goodreads Choice Winner. 
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. 
62 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list for Hardcover Fiction (as of 22 July 2015).

All the Light We Cannot See definitely comes with high credentials. In addition to all the official acclaim it has gathered, it is one of those books I feel everyone who has read it has loved. All over the book blogosphere and booktube, this book has been praised since it came out. And the praise just continues. And for a very good reason.

All the Light We Cannot See must be one of the best, most well-researched and magical books I've ever read. The way Doerr writes continually took my breath away. The way he can turn simple things into something magical astounded me and page after page I fell in love with the book itself and reading in general more than I thought it would be possible.

The short chapters following the lives of Marie-Laure, an intelligent and blind French girl, and Werner, take you on a journey to a time in history that we all know something about. Through their very different positions in life, the reader gets to experience the side of those who are "evil" and those who are the "victims". The narrative visits Parisian museums, schools for the Hitler Youth, seaside French villages and the war zone. It jumps in time from the days before the war to the war itself, and eventually its aftermath. 

Despite the fact that the years surrounding The Second World War have been written about extensively, I felt like All the Light We Cannot See took a whole new approach to that time period. I loved the way Doerr leaves things for imagination. He provides just enough for the reader to figure out what is happening, and it felt, at least to me, that the fact that he does not spell everything out made matters much more grim that they would have been if he would have spelled them out in detail. An example of such a scene and one that will stay in my mind comes in the book after Marie-Laure and her father get separated:

On the fourth day, all the prisoners are piled onto a cattle truck and driven east. "We are close to Germany", the man whispers. They can glimpse it on the far side of the river. Low clumps of naked trees bracketed by snow-dusted fields. Black rows of vineyards. Four disconnected strands of gray smoke melt into the white sky. 
The locksmith squints. Germany? It looks no different from this side of the river. 
It may as well be the edge of a cliff.
Despite the fact that the synopsis somewhat lets to assume that Marie-Laure is the sweet, good girl and Werner is the boy who gets sucked into the ideologies of Hitler, the situation is not quite as black and white. What makes this book excellent, in addition to the vast amount detail and research Doerr has put into it, is the complex characterization and character development that takes place within the pages. As the time goes by and the book processes, these characters grow up in so many different ways.  They suffer, they learn from their mistakes, and they make discoveries that have huge impact on their destinies.

It was extremely interesting to see how Doerr entwined the two stories together. For most of the book, Marie-Laure and Werner are separated by ideologies, nationalities and locations, but still manage to share something that later on becomes very fundamental to their survival.

This book took my breath away with its magnificent writing, engaging characters and the amount of information and research it includes. It made me laugh, cry, hate humanity and trust in the goodness of people. It made me appreciate literature and fall more and more in love with reading.

All the Light We Cannot See is, no doubt, one of the best books I've ever read.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#36) - When We Collided by Emery Lord


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
For more information, click here



Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.

EMERY LORD


"JONAH HAS BEEN BURDENED BY RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS FAMILY EVER SINCE HIS FATHER DIED"


"SUDDENLY LIFE SEEMS BRIGHTER AND BETTER"


"VIVI'S ZEST FOR LIFE FALTERS, AS HER ADVENTUROUSNESS BECOMES TRUE DANGER-SEEKING"


"THERE'S SOMETHING IMPORTANT VIVI HASN'T TOLD HIM"



What are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (#38) - Ten Character Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

For more information, click here


This week Top Ten Tuesday celebrates those who love books. 

Here is my list of then character who are bookish - five of them you can find from books, five from TV shows. 











Which book nerds made your list this week?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

ARC August Sign-Up!

If you want to know more about ARC August, hosted by Read Sleep Repeat, click here


Netgalley and Edelweiss are AWESOME, but sometimes you can go a bit overboard...right?
You hear the call of upcoming titles and often find yourself drowning in titles you have requested... or at least I do. 

To help you get through that never-ending list of ARCs, there is ARC August. The rules are pretty simple:
  • Read eARCs or physical ARCs, as long as you read ARCs
  • It can be an ARC of a book that has been released already
  • HAVE FUN!
  • Updates are up to you (once a week, every other week, just once in August, blog or tumblr post, vlog, Instagram pic.... the choice is yours!)
So, the question is, what will I read in August? I have a feeling that I will sneak in a couple of titles that are not ARCs (I have an awesome book order coming soon), but I will mainly try to devote the month to reading the ARCs I have requested. 

List of ARCs:

  • Armada by Ernest Cline (Netgalley) (July 14th, 2015)
  • This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (Netgalley) (January 5th, 2016)
  • Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Schreier (Netgalley) (September 1st, 2015)
  • We'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean (Edelweiss) (October 6th, 2015)
  • How To Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo (Netgalley) (August 4th, 2015)
  • The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens (Edelweiss) (November 3rd, 2015)
  • Future Perfect by Jen Larsen (Edelweiss) (October 6th, 2015)
  • Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers (Netgalley) (September 1st, 2015)
  • Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman (Edelweiss) (September 1st, 2015)
  • Weird Girl and What's His Name by Meagan Brothers (Edelweiss) (October 13th, 2015)
  • Paperweight by Meg Haston (Edelweiss) (July 7th, 2015)
  • Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (Edelweiss) (September 8th, 2015)
Are you participating in ARC August? What are you planning to read?

Stacking the Shelves (#31)


"Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!"

For more information, click here


Purchases (aka last Edinburgh haul)

You by Caroline Kepnes

From debut author Caroline Kepnes comes You, one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2014, and a brilliant and terrifying novel for the social media age.

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak. 

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto

From the creator of the hit HBO series True Detective comes a powerful, gleaming-dark thriller rich with Southern atmosphere.

Roy Cady is by his own admission 'a bad man', with a snow flurry of cancer in his lungs and no one to live for. Following a fling with his boss's lover, he's sent on a routine assignment he knows is a death trap. Yet after a smoking spasm of violence, Roy's would-be killers are mostly dead and he is mostly alive.

Before Roy makes his getaway, he finds a beaten-up woman in the apartment, and sees something in her frightened, defiant eyes. Together they go on the run from New Orleans to Galveston, Texas, entwining their fates along a highway of seedy bars and fleabag hotels, treacherous drifters and ashed-out hopes, with death just a car-length behind.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.
 


In  Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Controversial and compelling, "In Cold Blood" reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote's comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly drawn by Capote, are shown to be reprehensible yet entirely and frighteningly human. The book that made Capote's name, In Cold Blood is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative.





The Complete Stories by Truman Capote

A landmark collection that brings together Truman Capote’s life’s work in the form he called his “great love,” The Complete Stories confirms Capote’s status as a master of the short story. 
Ranging from the gothic South to the chic East Coast, from rural children to aging urban sophisticates, all the unforgettable places and people of Capote’s oeuvre are here, in stories as elegant as they are heartfelt, as haunting as they are compassionate. Reading them reminds us of the miraculous gifts of a beloved American original.







Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Humbert Humbert - scholar, aesthete and romantic - has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady's gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.






The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

The time has come for one winner to be crowned.

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants.







Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. 

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
 

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When Marie-Laure is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Come Back To Me by Mila Grey

Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend's sister, Jessa - the one girl he can't have.

But Kit's not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa's falling for his irresistible charms.

What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.

When summer's over and it's time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa's finally following her dreams and Kit's discovered there's someone he'd sacrifice everything for.

Jessa's prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they're forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.

A breathtaking, scorchingly hot story about love, friendship, family and finding your way back from the edge of heartbreak.

The Kite Runner: Graphic Novel by Khaled Hosseini, Fabio Celoni & Mirka Andolfo

The perennial bestseller-now available as a sensational new graphic novel.

Since its publication in 2003, nearly 7 million readers have discovered "The Kite Runner." Through Khaled Hosseini's brilliant writing, a previously unknown part of the world was brought to vivid life for readers. Now, in this beautifully illustrated graphic novel adaptation, Hosseini brings his compelling story to a new generation of readers.





From my ex-roommate:

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees...
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

In this compelling sequel to Unearthly, Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are.

Easy by Tammara Webber

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex's frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night - but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound.

When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he's hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.
 

The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long—at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right—and wrong—in the present.
 

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do—and they are just as determined to stay together.

Within the confines of a cave they're using as a makeshift refuge, they struggle to reconcile their people, Dwellers and Outsiders, who are united only in their hatred of their desperate situation. Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. Then Roar arrives in a grief-stricken fury, endangering all with his need for revenge.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble an unlikely team for an impossible rescue mission. Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival--he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her earth-shattering Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She's about to find out she's also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy who enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of thin air. Trouble is, the enigmatic and gorgeous Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin. An equally hunky—and equally dangerous—dark faerie soldier named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre. Sworn enemies, Luke and Aodhan each have a deadly assignment from the Faerie Queen. Namely, kill Deirdre before her music captures the attention of the Fae and threatens the Queen's sovereignty. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is James, her wisecracking but loyal best friend. Deirdre had been wishing her life weren't so dull, but getting trapped in the middle of a centuries-old faerie war isn't exactly what she had in mind . . .

Lament is a dark faerie fantasy that features authentic Celtic faerie lore, plus cover art and interior illustrations by acclaimed faerie artist Julia Jeffrey.

Talon by Julie Kagawa

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

Everyone in the small town of Central City, Texas loves Lou Ford. A deputy sheriff, Lou's known to the small-time criminals, the real-estate entrepreneurs, and all of his coworkers--the low-lifes, the big-timers, and everyone in-between--as the nicest guy around. He may not be the brightest or the most interesting man in town, but nevertheless, he's the kind of officer you're happy to have keeping your streets safe. The sort of man you might even wish your daughter would end up with someday.

But behind the platitudes and glad-handing lurks a monster the likes of which few have seen. An urge that has already claimed multiple lives, and cost Lou his brother Mike, a self-sacrificing construction worker fell to his death on the job in what was anything but an accident. A murder that Lou is determined to avenge--and if innocent people have to die in the process, well, that's perfectly all right with him. 

In THE KILLER INSIDE ME, Thompson goes where few novelists have dared to go, giving us a pitch-black glimpse into the mind of the American Serial Killer years before Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, and Brett Easton Ellis's American Psycho, in the novel that will forever be known asthe master performance of one of the greatest crime novelists of all time.

What did you add to your shelves this week?