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The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. - Jane Austen

Review: Ay┼če Kulin – Last Train to Istanbul

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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: Markus Zusak – The Book Thief

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20140227-085013.jpgI honestly had no idea what to expect from this book, I only really bought it because I saw a poster for the film and I thought that if I was going to see the film, I’d rather read the book first.

What I didn’t expect was a book which would take me on a journey leading to me sitting at my desk on my lunch break reading the final few chapters and trying not to cry (and failing miserably).

I’m not going to talk about the plot, because there’s a lot that happens and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you if you want to read this book (and you really, really should).

The book was quite unusual, in that it was narrated by death. When I read this on the blurb, I thought it might be strange, and it was at first, but then it made perfect sense. I loved the main character Liesel and how we see the war through her childlike innocence, with that innocence slowly being eroded away as the war encroaches on her world and becomes more personal to her. The relationships between Liesel and Max, Liesel and Rudy, and Liesel and her Papa were precious, and the way that Zusak developed them through the story was genius.

I loved how ‘death’ kept giving you glimpses throughout the book as to what was coming at the end, seemingly to soften the blow. Not soft enough though. Obviously with the book being set in the war, you know there’s most likely going to be some horrific things happening. But because the novel is so well written, you feel like you are along for the journey with Liesel, and every heartache that she feels, you feel too.

I can’t really say any more without turning into a gushing idiot, I absolutely loved this book and I can’t really say anything else but that. If you’ve already read the book, you probably know what I’m saying, and if you haven’t read it, get out there and do it. Right now. You won’t regret it.

5/5