Review: Nataša Dragnić – Every Day, Every Hour

WP_20150103_001Before I start, a little book-related rant, which will probably make you all think I’m slightly crazy! I’m never a fan of books that remove the blurb from the back and fill it with reviews instead, relegating the blurb to the inside cover. If I wanted to read praise for your book, I’d go online and look at reviews, I just want to know what the book is about!!!

Am I just crazy to find this annoying? It doesn’t seem to happen very often, but it really bugs me!

However, my sister bought me this book for Christmas and when I turned it over to see what it was about, the back of the book lacked a blurb and instead contained quotes such as

“A lush, flowing elegant novel, Every Day, Every Hour shows a world where love is stronger than will”

and

“It is rare to find such a beautiful and romantic love story so wonderfully told…A true discovery”

However, it was hard not to be swept away by such glowing reviews and forget about my brief book-induced-anger and look forward to what promised to be an epic love story.

But my book induced anger was soon replace by book induced uneasiness, when I realised after the first few chapters of the book that we’re supposed to believe that a 5 year old and a 9 year old fall so deeply in love that when they are parted, their lives fall to pieces slowly but surely. First of all, if their parents realised for a second how much time these two children spent together, why in the world didn’t they write letters to each other after Dora was forced to move to Paris leaving Luka behind in Croatia. I find it hard to believe that any parents would be so intentionally cruel as to break up such a strong friendship (it’s too creepy to call it love).

And then throughout the book, Dora and Luka’s lives intersect again and again. But instead of doing what they both want and what we’re supposed to believe they’re destined to do and actually just get together, they seem intent on making each other’s lives miserable, all the while believing that they’re just doing the right thing.

It seems like the message of this book was always supposed to be ‘Love Conquers All’, but the amount of adversity thrown their way is slightly ridiculous, and entirely of their own making. I mean, you can’t really use your girlfriend as an excuse for why you can’t be together, when you’re still going to spend an entire weekend sleeping with Dora anyway. You’ve already cheated on your girlfriend in bed and in your heart, so what’s the point of staying together and making everyone bloody miserable!!

I just failed to see the romance in this book and simply wanted to bash both their heads together and save us all the time. Don’t get my wrong, the book was well written. I liked the way that paragraph by paragraph we could be changing from Dora to Luke, getting the perspective of one moment from both sides. And I did like the way that both characters had similar thoughts and actions that were continued throughout the book, tying them together and making them seem like a perfect matching pair.

The concept was excellent, I just wish the two main characters and the obstacles in their path to true love weren’t so damned annoying!

Sorry to Vicky though, I didn’t mean to go on such a rant about the Christmas present she bought me, especially since her buying me books in the first place was pretty awesome and unexpected! But the other book she bought me contained references to Bridget Jones and Pride and Prejudice, so I’m almost certain to enjoy that one!

2/5

Review: Ayşe Kulin – Last Train to Istanbul

17779550This was a beautiful and uplifting tale of love and family and the ties that hold us together.

The story took quite a while to get going, we are introduced to Selva and Sabiha, two sisters from Muslim Turkey, who are about as alike as cats and dogs. Sabiha has always been jealous of Selva, but when Selva decides to defy her parents and marry a Jewish man, she is cut off from her family without a second though. She decides to move with her husband to France to be away from both their disapproving families, but it soon becomes clear that it might have been a mistake when France is occupied by the Nazi Germans.

Once the book got going, the tension was palpable, and you felt all the heartbreak, trepidation and fear felt by the characters. The risks that some of the took to save their fellow countrymen and friends made you wish more than anything for their safe journey.

Although the train journey itself was the most thrilling part of the book, I did very much enjoy the first part of the book where we find out more about family ties and the structure that holds the family together. I do think that we possibly spent a bit too much time stuck inside Sabiha’s head, but it did make sense I guess. I would have preferred to have more of Selva’s thoughts and fears though.

Although the book wasn’t based on real-life characters, the plot about the Turkish government rescuing it’s citizens on trains from France was based on real life events. I found it to be quite heart-breaking that these things could need to happen. And the stories of some of the citizens on board the train really wanted to break my heart.

The only negative I have was not of the book, but of the audio book. The narrator of the audiobook made a valiant attempt to do the accents, but they came off sounds incredibly dodgy, especially the women. It made me want to laugh out loud, I’d much rather they used an actual woman (turkish or not) for the voices.

Considering I only decided to read this book because the cover caught my eye, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and I would definitely recommend it. As I said before, it takes a while for the story to get going, but it’s definitely worth sticking with it!

4/5

Review: Alastair Reynolds – Century Rain

alistair-reynolds-century-rain1When Mike lent me this book, he thought that I might not like it, but it actually turned out to be my favourite of the four books. I have definitely found a whole new genre of books that I will be trying more of this year – I couldn’t put it down!

The first few chapters introduce you to the two main characters, Verity Auger and Wendell Floyd, and the respective worlds that they live in. It didn’t make much sense to me to start with, but I’m glad I stuck with it because after a few chapters you start to see the links between the ‘Paris’ in both worlds.

The Paris in Auger’s world is way in the future after Earth has already been destroyed by a build up of weather control machines designed to reverse global warming, but end up destroying the earth in an event called the Nanocaust. Auger is an archaeologist exploring the ruins of Paris for any remaining artefacts, and when a girl she is working with dies in her care, she is offered the chance to get out of the tribunal and inevitable punishment and carry out a mission. She is initially given no real information about this mission, but doesn’t really have much choice but to accept, knowing the alternative.

The mission is to Floyd’s version of Paris, which is 300 years back in 1959, and turns out to be a copy of Earth made before the Nanocaust wiped out all traces of life on Earth. E2 (as it is known) was frozen in time until 23 years prior, when suddenly it came back to life again.

After Auger has completed the mission she is sent to E2 to complete (with many hiccups and a LOT of help from Floyd), she and Floyd end up on a mission to save E2 from complete destruction by the Slashers. The Slashers believe that they should embrace all new technology, whereas the Threshers (to which Auger belongs) believe that they should never embrace any technology which could lead to a repetition of the Nanocaust. These two sides are now at war with each other in a battle to keep control of the Earth.

There are many nail biting moments along their journey, including many times when I absolutely couldn’t stop reading because I had to know what happened next. I won’t say too much in case you want to read the book, but I will say that I didn’t expect the book to end up quite how it did, although the way that it ended was brilliant.

It’s hard to pick my favourite part of the book, but I do have a favourite quote which jumped out at me as soon as I read it. Auger (a Thresher) is reflecting on the help that she has had from Cassandra (a Slasher), and the feelings that she had towards her from the start of the story.

The simple fact was that she no longer hated them as a matter of principle. It was also a source of shameful amazement that she could ever have wasted so much energy on groundless prejudice, when acceptance and tolerance would have been the easier, even the lazier, course.

Pretty meaningful, it definitely stuck in my head, and I think it’s something that we could all take to heart at times.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in sci-fi novels, but also to anyone who likes a good nail-biter with plenty of action and a bit of romance thrown in. It’s definitely changed my mind about reading sci-fi novels in the future.

5-5