Book Review- The Hunger

Thursday, 19 April 2018
Title: The Hunger
Author: Alma Katsu
Published: 5th April 2018
Pages: 376
Genre: Horror, Historical Fiction

Rating: 4/5

Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere. 
Tamsen Donner must be a witch. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the pioneers to the brink of madness. They cannot escape the feeling that someone--or something--is stalking them. Whether it was a curse from the beautiful Tamsen, the choice to follow a disastrous experimental route West, or just plain bad luck--the 90 men, women, and children of the Donner Party are at the brink of one of the deadliest and most disastrous western adventures in American history. 
While the ill-fated group struggles to survive in the treacherous mountain conditions--searing heat that turns the sand into bubbling stew; snows that freeze the oxen where they stand--evil begins to grow around them, and within them. As members of the party begin to disappear, they must ask themselves "What if there is something waiting in the mountains? Something disturbing and diseased...and very hungry?"-Goodreads
My thanks to Transworld Books and Netgalley for the review copy.
This novel is based on the Donner Party Tragedy. I will be honest and say that when I read this it meant nothing to me. It is an important part of US history, but not something I was aware of. The Donner Party were a group of people, mostly made up of families, who were making the move across the US heading to a new settlement in California to begin their lives again in the mid 1800s. They packed up their belongings into wagons, and drove their livestock across the wilderness to reach their new life. As the name of the party suggests, things don't end that well!!
This novel isn't just a historical retelling, the novel is marketed as a horror, and the author has taken some artistic liberties with the facts in order to spin a tale of something hunting down the travellers. 
Katsu does a wonderful job of writing a tense, atmospheric horror novel. The atmosphere is intense and brooding from the first page, and this intensity does not let up until the final page. This is not a bloody, gory horror, it's a psychological, pressing horror, the threat and danger is there on every page. When the author needs to scare the reader, she does so not with bloody, graphic imagery, but with subtle chilling images and language.
The plot is fairly simple, there is the main narrative thread in which we follow the Donner Party, there are some flashbacks which give more of certain characters' backstories and help flesh out these characters, and there are some letters interspersed throughout the novel from a character to his wife, which help the reader piece together exactly what is haunting/killing the members of the party.
The reader follows quite a few characters during the novel but I never found this overwhelming. Katsu does an excellent job of making all the different POVs included in the narration read differently, so the characters are clearly defined.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel. If you enjoy horror novels, or historical fiction I would highly recommend this novel, it blends both genres together with ease.  

Book Review- Estoril

Thursday, 12 April 2018
Title: Estoril
Author: Dejan Tiago-Stankovic
Published: 8th March 2018
Pages: 352
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5 stars

Set in a luxurious grand hotel just outside Lisbon, at the height of the Second World War, Estoril is a delightful and poignant novel about exile, divided loyalties, fear and survival. The hotel's guests include spies, fallen kings, refugees from the Balkans, Nazis, American diplomats and stateless Jews. The Portuguese secret police broodingly observe the visitors, terrified that their country's neutrality will be compromised. 
The novel seamlessly fuses the stories of its invented characters with appearances by historical figures like the ex-King Carol of Romania, the great Polish pianist Jan Paderewski, the British agent Ian Fleming, the Russian chess grandmaster Alexander Alekhine and the French writer and flyer Antoine de St Exupery, who forms a poignant friendship with a young Jewish boy living alone in the hotel. -Goodreads
My thanks to Head of Zeus and Net Galley for the eARC of this novel in return for an honest review.
This was a really interesting and unusual idea for an historical novel- it seems at first glance to be a spy novel, or a tale centred around a hotel, but in fact it has many more layers to it than that.
I enjoyed the setting of this novel, Estoril which is a town on the Portuguese Riviera. This is a WWII novel, although none of the novel features any actual fighting. As Portugal was neutral during the War, this offers a fascinating insight, and a nice twist on the usual WWII novels. I haven't read many novels that take this perspective on the War, and this is definitely an eye-catching aspect to this novel.
This novel reminds me a lot of The Grand Budapest Hotel movie. If you were a fan of the style and imagery and characters of that movie I would highly recommend this novel, as its very similar in those ways!
There is a huge ensemble of characters feature in this novel, most of whom appear and reappear throughout. I loved reading about some of the characters, the little boy Gaby was one of my favourites. However, there's a particular problem with this great number of characters in my mind, and that's the overwhelming nature of such a number. The mix of historical figures and fictional characters makes for an interesting read, but I felt that there were too many characters, some of whom only appeared for a few pages and then disappeared for long lengths of the novel, was a tad confusing to keep up with. Another problem I had with the characters was specifically the character of Dusko. I actually really liked reading about him, but he had so many code names and pseudonyms that weren't clearly described, that I ended up getting quite confused about which character I was reading about, which I found really irritating, and it definitely reduced my enjoyment of the book. 
Another issue which reduced my enjoyment of this novel was more a formatting issue. I'm not sure if it was just the way my eARC was formatted, or if it's like this in every copy, but the chapter breaks were not clearly defined, so it was very difficult to see where the chapter was ending, and as a result it was very difficult to see when the POV changed and the narrator shifted. This was another aspect that made the novel a little difficult to read, and definitely disrupted the flow while reading it.

Happy reading!!

Down the TBR Hole | Week 2

Tuesday, 10 April 2018
This is a blogging meme created by Lia at Lost in a Story. The aim is this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
One of my 2018 resolutions is to reduce my TBR pile, both physically, and the digital one I have created on Goodreads, and this meme will hopefully help!!


Incarceron- Catherine Fisher
This looks like an intriguing YA Fantasy novel which I haven't heard much about, so I might bump this up my list a bit!!

Verdict: Keep








A Great and Terrible Beauty- Libba Bray

I absolutely love The Diviners by Libba Bray, so I'm not entirely sure why I haven't read any of her other books! This one is definitely staying.

Verdict: Keep






Anna Dressed in Blood- Kendare Blake

I remember seeing loads of people reading this quite a few years ago, and I added it to my TBR as a result. However, I never got around to reading it, and now I'm not sure I really want to anymore.

Verdict: Go





Let It Snow- John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

This is a collection of YA short stories set during Christmas time, and it seems like a cute wintery read!

Verdict: Keep







Bleeding Violet- Dia Reeves

This is a novel I don't recognise, it appears to be a YA paranormal novel, which I probably added to my TBR during my paranormal phase! I don't think it's really my thing anymore!

Verdict: Go





Impossible- Nancy Werlin

This is another book that I don't remember adding to my TBR, it appears to be a YA fantasy/romance style novel. I don't think this is really my thing anymore!

Verdict: Go






Test- William Sleator

This is a YA sci-fi novel that I remember adding to my TBR. It features a society in which you have to pass a test or suffer the consequences, which I have always enjoyed reading about. However, I'm not sure this is a novel I will actually get around to reading!!

Verdict: Go




Atlas Shrugged- Ayn Rand

This looks like a pretty intense read, and it gets seriously mixed reviews on Goodreads, and honestly I'm not sure I'll ever get around to reading it!

Verdict: Go






Catch-22- Joseph Heller

I'm ashamed to say that this book is still on my TBR pile, and although I keep trying to start reading, I just always end up picking up something else! But it is a classic, so I'll leave it for the moment!

Verdict: Keep





Moby-Dick- Herman Melville

This is another novel that I've tried to read a few times, and even though it's only small, I just can't seem to finish it. I'll leave it for the moment, it might end up being removed later!

Verdict: Keep

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Monday, 9 April 2018
This meme is hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.
~~~
I'm still studying and completing coursework so I don't have loads of time to read, but this is what I'm up to!


What I Read Last Week:


The Hunger by Alma Katsu
This was a fascinating horror story based on the Donner Party who crossed America during the mid 1800s.





Savage Island by Bryony Pearce
This was a very enjoyable YA read about a group of teens who sign up for a weekend of challenges on an island in the North of Scotland, with the aim of winning £1 million each.









What I'm Currently Reading:

The Accidental Recluse by Tom McCulloch











Up Next:


Tree Dreams by Kristin Kaye










Happy reading!

April Anticipated Releases

Monday, 2 April 2018
Spring is officially here, I can finally put away my scarf, hat and gloves (hopefully!). This months' book releases are super exciting, and here are some of my most anticipated!


In The Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt







The Hunger by Alma Katsu









Savage Island by Bryony Pearce








Tree Dreams by Kristin Kaye







You, Me, Everything by Catherine Isaac











Happy reading!!

March 2018 Anticipated Releases

Friday, 2 March 2018
These are a few of the books I am most excited for in March!


Estoril by Dejan Tiago-Stankovic









Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi









The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin










Murder in Belgravia by Lynn Brittney










Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood




All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church








How I Lose You by Kate McNaughton











Bitter by Francesca Jakobi











Freefall by Robert Radcliffe











Kin by Snorri Kristjansson











Brother by David Chariandy











The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven











Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park










From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan










The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti











The Trick to Time by Kit De Waal












Happy reading!!

Some of my TV/Movie Faves of the Year! (So Far)

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

It's half way through February, and I've only read 4 books in the whole of 2018. In previous years this would be stressing me out, I've challenged myself to read 60 this year, and according to Goodreads I'm 3 books behind schedule! But I'm not bothered this year, I'm happy to read when I have time, and while I'm at Uni I know this isn't that often, but that's ok. One thing I have been doing in my free time is watching tv and movies. So, as a break from the usual book related posts, please enjoy this chatty post about some of the things I have enjoyed watching in 2018!

TV

Peaky Blinders Series 3- I started watching this tv show at my brother's recommendation late in 2017, and although I think it took a bit of a dip in series 2, series 3 is definitely Peaky Blinders back to its best. Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy are so good in this show, and I would highly recommend it!






Dirk Gently's Hollistic Detective Agency Season 2- This is one of my favourite Netflix shows, and I waited patiently for the second season to be released in the UK (the US got it so much earlier!!), and season 2 did not disappoint. Its such a quirky and interesting show, and to be honest I spend most of the show with no idea how all the events are linked until it is unbelieveably and painfully obvious! I'm gutted that Netflix have decided not to make any more of this show, but hopefully they will change their minds, as I think the show could run for plenty more seasons!



Travelers Season 1- This was a random watch for me, I was looking for a new show to start on Netflix, and this one just caught my eye. The description doesn't really do this show justice, it is much more exciting than it appears, and it has a really great cast of characters who really make the show.







Altered Carbon Season 1- This is a new Netlix show, which came out in late January/early February, and it is something special. It's a sci-fi tv show, but it brings up loads of interesting topics, some which are very philosophical. It's also action packed, and features a diverse and kick-ass cast! I'm already excited for Season 2!!





Movies

The Promise- I watched this movie over the New Year, but it's really stuck with me. It follows three characters during the Armenian Genocide in the 20th century. Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale and Charlotte Le Bon are all perfectly cast in this movie, they all perform wonderfully well. This movie also taught me a lot about the Armenian Genocide, which according to the studio was the main purpose of the movie.






Logan- I love Hugh Jackman, and I love the X-men/Wolverine, so when this came onto the tv over the New Year I had to watch it. I had also heard so many good things about it, and it did not disappoint. It's darker and grittier than previous Wolverine movies, but that's what makes it so good. Also it has such a perfect relationship between Wolverine and Laura, and such a beautifully acted ending, I highly recommend it!!





The Man from U.N.C.L.E- This is a movie that I've looked at on Amazon Prime quite a few times, but for some reason I've never actually watched it. Which was a terrible decision on my part, as it is exactly the kind of movie I enjoy, with action, drama and a great cast.







Journey's End- I went to see this movie at the cinema (I know, I was as surprised as you are!) and I loved it. It's one of my favourite plays, and this adaptation is almost perfect. I highly recommend you see it in the cinema if you can, but it is worth watching in any form you can!



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