All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr *****
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History. 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 she 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. 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. Werner travels through the heart of the war and to Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
I LOVED the writing in this book. I mean the story was good too but this is just one of those books where I couldn’t get over how well written it was. It’s the kind of book where you find yourself stopping and rereading passages because the prose is just so beautiful. It flicks around timelines and POVs which I know people can find annoying (and if you’ve been reading my reviews you’ve probably seen me complain about in other books too) but I think it’s done well here. I’ve seen another review which says that the prose is hauntingly well written and that’s a perfect description. My favourite line is still: I am only alive because I have not yet died.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman *****
Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.
Neil Gaiman always makes great adult fairy stories. I’ve read a number of his books but to be honest, I prefer the stories he creates to the way he actually writes. There’s nothing wrong with it, just personal preference I guess, but I feel like his books could be epic if he went into it a bit more. Instead he tends to skim over things in search of making the books lighter. It was a good, quick read, I just wish we were given a bit more to get our teeth into.
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo *****
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha and the secrets of her heart.
This book is set in the same world as Six of Crows (which is amazing you should go read it) so when I saw it in the kindle sale for 99p I thought I’d give it a go. My verdict: It’s okay. Definitely not in the same ballpark as Six of Crows. It’s a pretty generic YA book. Female nobody suddenly discovers shes the most important girl in the country, grueling training and love triangle ensue. It reminded me a lot of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard but I think maybe that one was done a little better. It was an enjoyable enough read but pretty forgettable to be honest.
Agent 21 by Chris Ryan *****
When Zak Darke’s parents die in an unexplained mass murder he’s left alone in the world. That is until he’s sought out by a mysterious man: ‘I work for a government agency,’ the man tells him. ‘You don’t need to know which one. Not yet. All you need to know is that we’ve had our eye on you. There’s a possibility you could help us in certain . . . operational situations.’
Zak becomes Agent 21. What happened to the 20 agents before him he’ll never know. What he does know is that his life is about to change for ever .
I had pretty high hopes for this book. I was a massive fan of both the Alpha Force series and the Code Red series that Chris Ryan had written so when I saw this I thought brilliant, another great book series to dive into. At the same time I want to say that I wasn’t expecting too much, contradictory maybe, but there are a lot of teenage spy books so I wasn’t expecting anything massively original. Just well written and exciting. But I was disappointed. The set up for the story is awkward, the main character has almost no reason to do what he does (It really feels like the he does things because the author wants him to rather than him being a fully developed character). It gets better as the actual mission starts but even then it’s predictable. Inevitably I’m going to compare it to other child spy books and it just doesn’t stack up against them. Though the plot is incredibly similar to Stormbreaker, the first book in the Alex rider series, its no where near as good. If you’re looking for books about kid spies and similar check out the two other series by the same author that I’ve already mentioned, the Alex Rider series or the Cherub series instead.