Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside of the US

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the team over at The Broke and the Bookish. The theme for this week is books that are set outside of the US. The advantage of living outside of the US is that I have a lot of Aussie YA books (set in Australia) that I can use for this list. But I chose to go with a variety of different locations and settings for my TTT today. Be warned: I have a lot of WWII historical fiction novels on this list…

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Hehehe I’m so predictable. Of course, my favourite book of all time makes it on to this list. This WWII historical fiction masterpiece is set in France and Germany, as well as parts of Russia. READ IT!

2. Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Just One Year is the companion sequel to Just One Day. The reason why I’ve chosen to go with Just One Year is because it’s set completely outside of the US, whereas Just One Day was set partially in the US. In Just One Year, our protagonist, Willem, travels around Europe, India and Mexico and overall, it’s just a great time.

3. The Lake House by Kate Morton

This novel is set in Cornwall and was one of my favourite releases of 2015. It’s a historical fiction novel that’s set in the 1930s and has a great atmosphere and setting! The writing is absolutely beautiful too.

4. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Another WWII historical fiction novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is set in Australia as well as Japanese POW camps in South East Asia. It was the Man Booker Prize winner of 2014.

5. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf is an alternate history WWII novel that’s set across multiple continents. The story begins in Germany (I believe?) and features a cross-continental motocross race. We follow the characters across the Middle East, through South East Asia and into Japan. It’s fast-paced and exciting and I can’t wait for the sequel!

6. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This novel isn’t my favourite of Stephanie Perkins companion series (I love Isla and the Happily Ever After the most) but I’m pretty sure that this one is set entirely outside of the US? I think it’s set entirely in France and I really enjoyed it when I read it.

7. Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali

And yet another WWII historical fiction novel, Max follows the story of a baby who was born as part of the Lebensborn program. We follow his journey from before birth, up until the end of the war. It’s a super interesting and eye-opening story and I highly recommend it. This one is set in Germany.

8. The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

The Sidekicks is an Aussie YA novel that’s set in Australia. It’s a really short read but gives you a good kick in the feels. It’s about friendship and grief and is so, so good!

9. Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

This is my last WWII novel, I promise! In this novel, we follow Anna and a mysterious man known as the Swallow Man as they wander around Poland for years during the war. It’s a bit of a confusing book but it’s definitely worth the read.

10. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

And finally, I had to include an urban fantasy novel and I’ve chosen The Infernal Devices. This trilogy is set in the London Institute during the 19th century and I love this series so much!

Review: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

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Publisher: Corgi Children’s
Release date: January 28, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 240
Goodreads || Book Depository || Dymocks

Kraków, 1939, is no place to grow up. There are a million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. And Anna Lania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father and suddenly, she’s alone.

Then she meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall. And like Anna’s missing father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgement, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous . . .

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I received a copy of this book for review from Dymocks via the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The premise of this book is simple. Seven-year-old Anna is left with a friend of her father, while he attends a meeting at the university where he works as a linguistics professor. However, he never returns from his meeting and Anna is left alone in the middle of Kraków when her father’s friend abandons her. She meets a tall stranger who speaks multiple languages and reminds Anna of her father, and ends up following him around Poland for years. But while the premise and the plot of the book are simple, there’s a lot that’s left to interpretation. And it was this aspect of the book that I enjoyed and felt moved by the most.

Although this is classified as a young adult novel, it had a very literary feel to it. The writing was beautiful and conveyed so many emotions, while still remaining simple and easy to read. There was very little dialogue and lots of description that really transported me to WWII Poland. I felt like I was there with Anna and the Swallow Man, trekking through the snow in the winter with an empty stomach. And books like these are my favourite to read because it’s very rare for me to read a book and feel like I’m experiencing everything that the characters are going through. The book had a very slow-paced historical fiction feel to it, so if you like the genre, you will enjoy the pacing of this book.

The plot of this book may seem banal to some readers, but I highly enjoyed every moment of Anna’s story. The Swallow Man takes Anna under his wing and the two of them set off on a journey around Poland. Though the Swallow Man seems to be leading Anna around with purpose, there doesn’t seem to be a destination and the two wander around aimlessly for years and years. We do get a small glimpse of the reason behind this trip around Poland towards the end of the book, but much of it is up to the interpretation of the reader. I’m very satisfied with my own interpretation of the conclusion of the story, which was why I enjoy this book so much. But I can also see readers not liking this novel at all because it can seem quite pointless.

Anna still was not certain what precisely was meant by this word “war,” but it seemed, at least in part, to be an assault on her cookie supply, and of this she simply could not approve.

Anna was a wonderful character. You really get to see her grow and mature quickly throughout the book. She starts off as an innocent little girl who isn’t really sure what the war really means and what it means to be on the run. But she quickly learns to shed her identity, to blend in, and to survive. I enjoyed seeing things from her perspective, and I enjoyed that we didn’t really get to see the things that Anna learnt and or went through in her first two years with the Swallow Man, but slowly got to see more as she matured. It showed her maturation and how she was starting to think for herself, rather than following and imitating the Swallow Man’s every action and order. It was wonderful to see her incorporate her experiences and her interactions with other people into her identity and personality. Anna is a character who you will want to root for, no matter what happens.

The relationship that she had with the Swallow Man was a unique and puzzling one. It was beautiful to see their connection and how they treated each other like father and daughter, despite the Swallow Man’s aloofness and the distance that they placed between them. They really felt like kindred spirits who were meant to share this tough journey together. The way that they took care of each other and were responsible for each other really moved me, and even destroyed me at certain parts of the book.

If you’ve read Anna and the Swallow Man, I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you thought of the ending. I enjoyed the whole book immensely, especially the bond between Anna and the Swallow Man.

Top Ten Tuesday: Last Ten Books I Added To My Wishlist

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the group at The Broke and the Bookish. This week I am featuring the ten books I have most recently added to my Book Depository wishlist. I don’t always add every book that I’m interested in to my wishlist, so these are the ones I actually plan to buy or pre-order soon.


1. The Winner’s Kiss – Marie Rutkoski

If you have seen my recent reviews of The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime, you will know that this is currently my most anticipated release. I need to know what happens next and I will probably die if I don’t get my hands on it as soon as possible. This one is out on March 29 in the US, but March 23 in Australia?!!!

2. The Raven King – Maggie Stiefvater

This is another series finale that I am highly anticipating after reading The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue in December. I wanted to pre-order this one as soon as I had finished the first three books, but I might wait a bit closer to release date before placing an order. This one will hopefully be released on April 26.

3. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour – Morgan Matson

This is actually one that I’ve wanted to buy for ages but it never made it on to my Book Depository wishlist. After reading Second Chance Summer last week, I now need to get my hands on everything else by Morgan Matson that I haven’t read yet ASAP, because Since You’ve Been Gone was also a hit with me.

4. Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend – Katie Finn

Like I said above… MUST. READ. EVERYTHING. BY. MORGAN. MATSON. Also, this one sounds like it’ll be hilarious.

5. The Hidden Oracle – Rick Riordan

I am slowly making my way through everything Rick Riordan has written and I absolutely need The Hidden Oracle! Apollo is probably my favourite of all of the gods so reading about him as a regular teenage boy would make my year. This book comes out on May 3.

6. Anna and the Swallow Man – Gavriel Savit

This book is right up my alley. World War II historical fiction is something that I cannot pass up. I won a proof copy of this book from Dymocks in exchange for a review on their website so I might not have to buy this one… Anna and the Swallow Man is released on January 26.

7. All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders

This book mixes magic and science and that’s all I need to know, really. This one is also out on January 26.

8. Love, Lies and Spies – Cindy Anstey

This book sounds so intriguing! It’s set in the 19th century and features two main characters who are so much more than they seem. Juliana is secretly a scientist and researcher, and there’s really nothing I like more than women in STEM in the 19th century. Spencer is not your average 19th century gentleman either. He’s an undercover spy and omg, I need this book. This one comes out on April 19.

9. Forever, Interrupted – Taylor Jenkins Reid

I saw CW @ Read Think Ponder’s review of this book and I must have it right now! It sounds heartbreaking and emotional, and there’s honestly not much I love more than a good ugly-cry.

10. My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

This one is marketed as perfect for fans of The Princess Bride and I LOVE The Princess Bride!! I love historical fiction novels and I love them even more when they’re funny. My Lady Jane is released on June 7.