Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis

The Earth is Singing

I promised Papa I would survive to tell our story 

I was recommended this book by a colleague and I was pleasantly surprised. This is completely different from Vanessa's other works that I've read. Long-listed for the Carnegie Award I think it is a real shame it didn't make the short-list. 

Told from the viewpoint of Hanna as her family experience first hand the persecution of Latvian Jews by the Nazi Party. Hauntingly written, you feel completely invested in the story from the start. Expertly told Hanna and her families story is full of shocking moments that leave your heart in your mouth and a tear in your eye. 

As a History student I studied the Holocaust as my specialist subject at university. However, I did not do as much on the systematic persecution of the Latvian Jewish population. Unlike many a non-fiction book on the Holocaust this brings to the forefront the emotional upheaval, turmoil and utter fear that the Jewish people must have felt during the persecution. The story is poignant, thought-provoking and had it made the short-list (as it should) I think it would have been in contention to win.

Heart-wrenching page turner - Must Read!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake

There Will Be Lies

And then there will be truth...

Oh Nick Lake you have done it again! That is all I could think whilst reading this book. I have only read one other book by Nick Lake and I had the same thoughts about that one as I did about There will Be Lies. For some reason I find Lake’s writing style a bit of a chore to get into.  Like In Darkness it took me a really long time to get through the first few chapters of this book but once I had made it halfway I was flying through it. Part of me enjoyed it but part of me was just so desperate to understand what on earth was going on that I could not put it down. I had to know.

There will be lies is nominated for this year’s Carnegie Award. Unlike The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge which I adored this one has been a real battle for me to read. Shelby Cooper has lived a very sheltered life. Her mum has wrapped her up in cotton wool shielding her from a normal life. She doesn't have friends, she is home schooled and she follows the same routine with her mum week in week out. All this changes when Shelby is involved in a car accident and from that moment on her life spirals into a journey of lies and truths and Shelby must learn along the way about who she really is and who she wants to be. 

For me the style of first person writing was not to my taste. I felt Lake really tried to make Shelby almost too teenage so a lot of the time some of what she says felt garbled and nonsensical and there is definitely a thing as too much sarcasm. I found it irritating. The story jumps between Shelby going on the run with her mum and going into a place called The Dreaming. I really struggled with The Dreaming, I found it tedious and an unnecessary distraction from the thrilling part of the story. For a good three quarters of the story I was pretty lost (much like Shelby). Frustratingly though I had to keep reading. I could not put the book down as I just had to understand what on earth was happening. 

I know many people who loved In Darkness and I think would love this too as it’s very quintessentially Nick Lake in style.

Not my winner but at least I finished it!