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!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Historical Fiction Novels

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Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres and I’m so happy that this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) topic is past or future. I’m not a huge reader of sci-fi, so I thought I’d feature 10 of my favourite historical fiction novels this week. I haven’t included any historical fantasy novels. These are all purely historical fiction, though some do have some magical realism elements. And in case you couldn’t tell, I love WWII historical fiction!!!

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This one is a no-brainer. It’s my favourite book of all time so it has to appear on this list. This book is set in France and Germany during WWII.

2. Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali

This book is another WWII historical fiction novel but is one that is written from a very unique perspective. This book follows Max from his time as an unborn foetus inside his pregnant mother, until the war ends when he’s 10. Max is a Hitler youth whose conception and upbringing was heavily monitored in order to produce the perfect little soldier.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Another one of my favourite WWII historical fiction novels – I’m sure you all know what this one’s about. This was the first required reading that I actually enjoyed and it sparked my love for WWII and historical fiction. This book is set in Germany.

4. The Lake House by Kate Morton

I thought I’d give you a break from the WWII fiction… The Lake House is a mystery novel about a child who disappeared in Cornwall in the 1930s. A detective from the present day hears about this mysterious disappearance and decides to uncover what really happened.

5. Goodnight, Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

This is a children’s book that I read when I was 12 and absolutely loved. I don’t remember too much of what happened but I was deeply affected by it and I remember begging my parents to buy me a copy of it. It still has a proud place on my shelves and I hope to reread it sometime this year. This book is set in Britain during WWII and is about a boy called Willie who is evacuated from London to the country. He is cared for by an elderly man, Mister Tom, and the bond between them grows.

6. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

This novel is set in Amsterdam in the 17th century. The descriptions in this book are so vivid and I really felt like I was there in 17th century Amsterdam. I’ve only read a handful of books set in the Netherlands and this one was truly unique.

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

Another WWII historical fiction novel… The Narrow Road to the Deep North is the 2014 Man Booker Prize Winner. It’s a heartwrenching story about Australian soldiers in Japanese prisoner of war camps.

8. A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

This novel is set in Cornwall during WWI and is about a friendship between a 90 year old woman and a young soldier who floats ashore near her home. This was beautifully written and made me realise that I love WWI fiction almost as much as I love WWII.

9. Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice by Kathleen Benner Duble

As you can probably tell from the title, this book is set in France during the French Revolution. While there were some aspects of the book that kept me from giving it more than 3.5 stars, I thoroughly enjoyed the setting of the novel and it was a time period that I’ve read very little about.

10. Rurouni Kenshin by Nobuhiro Watsuki

I couldn’t talk about historical fiction without mentioning my favourite manga, Rurouni Kenshin. This one is set in the Meiji era in Japan, which is a time period and setting that I love to read about. It’s definitely my favourite period of Japanese history, with Taisho as a close second. I love all mangas, animes, novels that are set during Meiji and Taisho.


Let me know what some of your historical fiction novels are. I’m always on the look out for more WWII fiction and other historical fiction in general! And if non-fantasy historical fiction isn’t your thing, let me know what historical fantasy novels you love! My favourite is probably The Infernal Devices ❤

 

The Burrito Bowl Book Tag

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The Burrito Bowl Book Tag is the brain child of Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts and Cristina @ Girl in the Pages.  I was tagged by Summer @ Xingsings a couple of weeks ago, but I needed to stock up on chips, salsa and spicy guacamole before I could write up this post.

RULES TO DEVOUR THIS TAG:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you to make your own burrito bowl, linking back to their site
  2. Answer the tag questions
  3. Tag 5 others to create their own bowl
  4. Food coma

THE BURRITO BOWL BOOK TAG

RICE: THE FOUNDATION – “THE BOOK THAT GOT YOU INTO READING (OR BOOK BLOGGING)”

blinky-billthe-magic-faraway-treeBlinky Bill by Dorothy Wall and The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton were both books that were read to me when I was about 5 or 6 years old.

These books really made me interested in reading, and I think as soon as I could read for myself, I read nearly all of Enid Blyton’s books and I followed them up with lots of Roald Dahl as well.


BEANS: THE FILLER – “A BOOK WITH A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING HAPPENING”

a-little-something-different A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall was a whole book of nothing.

It’s a story about two college students falling in love and their journey towards being together… Except they fall in love in the first 5 pages, and the rest of the book is just 200 pages of them staring at each other longingly across the room, talking about mundane things and eating at the same cafes and restaurants. It was actually the most boring romance ever. Definitely not worth your time.


PROTEIN: THE BUILDING BLOCK – “A BOOK QUOTE TO LIVE BY”

I had the hardest time choosing a quote for this question. There are a lot of quotes from books that I like, either because they’re funny or because they make me go all soft and squishy inside. But it was really hard to come up with a quote to live by… I ended up going with a Throne of Glass quote:

My name is Celaena Sardothien,” she whispers. “And I will not be afraid.
The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas


FAJITAS: THE CRUNCH OF TEXTURE – “A BOOK WITH IMMACULATE WORLD BUILDING”

harry-potter-and-the-philosophers-stone Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling was the obvious choice for this one. Although I was going to choose Six of Crows and the Grisha world by Leigh Bardugo, since I read that one recently.

The whole wizarding world in Harry Potter is so well thought out. I mean who doesn’t love Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and the rest of the world? The magic system is amazing… and OMG just everything about the Harry Potter world is perfect.


SALSA: THE DANCE OF FLAVOUR – “A BOOK THAT KEPT YOU ON YOUR TOES”

six-of-crows Okay Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo wins this one. It was super hard to choose between this one and Winter but the whole heist story in Six of Crows definitely kept me on my toes.

There’s so much that happens in this book and there are twists and turns everywhere. Even though the characters have a plan that they need to execute, there are so many surprises and unexpected turns of events that made the book unpredictable!


CORN: THE EXPLOSION OF SWEETNESS – “A MEMORABLE SCENE INVOLVING FRIENDSHIP/ROMANCE”

carry-on How could I choose anything but SnowBaz from Carry On by Rainbow Rowell?!

Every single scene with Simon and Baz are my favourites but I think the scene that made my heart melt the most was their first kiss. It was so heartwarming to see Simon be led by his feelings and nothing else. There was no hesitation on his part, and it was just the most unexpected but perfect scene ever.


CHEESE: THE BOND OF CALCIUM – “TWO CHARACTERS FROM DIFFERENT BOOKS YOU WISH COULD BE FRIENDS”

I have so many friendships that I want to see happen but I chose two characters that I’ve read about recently. Cress from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and Inej from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. They’re both kind of badass in their own ways, but they’re also both really quiet, sensitive and loyal to their friends. They’d be really great besties!


SOUR CREAM: THE TANGY TOPPER – “THE QUIRKIEST CHARACTER YOU’VE EVER READ (PROTAGONIST OR SUPPORTING)”

winter Yes, I chose Winter from Winter by Marissa Meyer (I actually cannot shut up about this book).

Winter’s not quirky as much as she is just plain crazy. She has some crazy hallucinations due to her not using her Lunar powers. She frequently sees blood on the castle walls and also sees herself freezing into a block of ice all the time. But she does some really strange things and also has some crazy one-liners. I love her.


GUACAMOLE: THE COST OF CREAMINESS – “A BOOK YOU PAID TOO MUCH FOR (BASED ON UTILITY EXPERIENCED)”

dream-cities The Dream Cities – Colouring for Mindfulness book was definitely a book that I’ve paid too much for.

I think I’ve coloured in about 20% of a page… and nothing else. I bought this one online and didn’t really like the illustrations in it. I much prefer the other two that I own: The Secret Garden by Johanna Basford and Tropical Wonderland by Millie Marotta. I’ve done a bit more of these ones.


LETTUCE: THE HANDFUL OF CRISPNESS – “A REFRESHING CONCEPT/THEME IN A BOOK”

the-rest-of-us-just-live-here The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

This was a fun and unique spin on the whole idea of the Chosen One in fantasy. It’s a satirical piece that makes fun of the concept of the special group of kids or “the indie kids” who seem to always be running into dangerous situations or saving the world. The Rest of Us Just Live Here focuses on the normal characters that are in the background while the indie kids are doing their thing.


CHIPS: LE PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE – “A MUST-READ RECOMMENDATION IF YOU LIKE [THIS BOOK/GENRE – YOU DECIDE!]”

the-lake-house The Lake House by Kate Morton is a book that I would recommend if you like historical fiction.

My go-to recommendation for historical fiction is always All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which is my favourite book of all time. But I thought I’d change it up this time. The Lake House is a wonderful historical fiction novel about the mysterious appearance of a baby in Cornwall in the 1930s and what really took place that evening.


TABASCO: THE KICK TO THE FACE – “YOUR FAVOURITE FIGHT/ACTION SEQUENCE”

queen-of-shadows I haven’t given enough love to Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas lately (btw I’m meeting her on Wednesday!!!)

I absolutely loved the last action scene of Queen of Shadows. It was such an epic climax and ending to the book! My favourite part of that scene was when you know who transforms into a ghost leopard and comes racing through the streets to save the day. That was so epic and it made me love that character even more!!!


I TAG:

I’m going to go back to my old method of sharing the love. Today I’m tagging 5 of my recent followers to make their own burrito bowl 🙂

Wrap Up: October 2015

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Hello everybody. Wow, the month has flown by pretty quickly! Where did all the time go? Before we get into what I read in October, I should share my exciting news that I announced last week. I am now a co-blogger at Happy Indulgence! Head over there to see more from me! My first post (a review of The Next Together) is now up!

I had a fabulous reading month in October. I read some pretty high quality books and I’m now 30 books away from my 2015 reading goal of 200 books! I think 15 books in November and December sounds doable (I’ve already finished my first book of November, this morning at 2am!)

Let’s get started with what books I read this month. As always, these appear in the order that I read them throughout the month and my reviews are linked.

October15

Reading summary header

1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs  45 stars

A wonderfully mysterious and creepy book about a cast of peculiar children with peculiar powers living in the 1940s. It contains some amazing black and white photographs and beautiful writing!

2. Hollow City – Ransom Riggs  5 stars

The second book in the Miss Peregrine’s trilogy. This was my favourite book in the trilogy and definitely was not a ‘filler’ book in the series. It had me dying to read the next book.

3. Library of Souls – Ransom Riggs  45 stars

The final book in the Miss Peregrine’s trilogy. This was action-packed and thrilling, and everything I wanted this last book to be. Has a completely resolved ending and I’m sad that the series is over.

4. Zeroes – Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti  35 stars

The first book in a new series about a group of kids with special abilities. It was exciting and filled with action. I fell in love with some of the characters and cannot wait to read more about them in the next book.

5. A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness  5 stars

This was a really dark and emotional read for me. It had a wonderful story with beautiful writing.. and it gave me all the feels.

6. Chewy Noh and the Fall of the Mu-Dang – Tim Learn  35 stars

The first book in a middle-grade series by an indie author. This book features a Korean main character with a unique superpower and how he deals with his bullies!

7. Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter – Tim Learn  4 stars

The second book in the Chewy Noh series. It did a great job of blending in Korean mythology and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Korean culture.

8. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo  4 stars

The first non-fiction book I’ve read in a while – this book had lots of great tips and tricks on storage and decluttering.

9. A Little Something Different – Sandy Hall  15 stars

This was an extremely disappointing new adult contemporary. It was written from 14 different perspectives and was done quite unsuccessfully. I had many problems with the plot, characters and writing.

10. Outspoken – Lora Richardson  4 stars

This is probably the best self-published novel I’ve ever written. It was an incredible YA contemporary debut about finding your own voice.

11. Ice Like Fire – Sara Raasch  35 stars

The second book in the Snow Like Ashes trilogy, this book fell a little bit flat for me. There wasn’t very much that happened plotwise, and many of the characters went through some massive changes.

12. The Next Together – Lauren James  4 stars

A unique blend of contemporary, sci-fi, mystery and historical fiction. This book follows two characters that are reborn over and over, but end up together each time. It was filled with little notes and email exchanges and I thought it was a great debut novel.

13. Illuminae – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff  4 stars

The first book in a sci-fi trilogy, Illuminae is written completely as a collection of classified materials. The formatting and graphics in the book were amazing and it was a unique reading experience.

14. The Billionaire’s Forbidden Desire – Nadia Lee  4 stars

It’s been a while since I’ve read an adult romance book and this one caught my eye as I was browsing through the iBooks new releases. It was good but had too many sex scenes for my liking.

15. The Lake House – Kate Morton  5 stars

This was my favourite book of the month. It’s a fantastic mystery, with the most beautiful writing and very realistic characters. I also loved the historical elements of the book and really enjoyed the 1930s Cornwall setting.

16. Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo  35 stars

The first book in the Grisha trilogy, Shadow and Bone didn’t really wow me. It has some interesting characters and a world that I enjoyed reading about, but I found it to be a little bit lacking. A full review will be up soon.

T10T

This month I did four Top Ten Tuesday posts:


Thanks for visiting. Did you read any of these books this month and what did you think of it? What was your favourite book of October?

Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

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Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release date: October 21, 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN13: 9781742376516
Pages: 608
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia (RRP: $AU32.99)

A missing child…

June 1933, and the Edevane family’s country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much anticipated Midsummer Eve party. Alice Edevane, sixteen years old and a budding writer, is especially excited. Not only has she worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she’s also fallen helplessly in love with someone she shouldn’t. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever.

An abandoned house…

Seventy years later, after a particularly troubling case, Sadie Sparrow is sent on an enforced break from her job with the Metropolitan Police. She retreats to her beloved grandfather’s cottage in Cornwall but soon finds herself at a loose end. Until one day, Sadie stumbles upon an abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace.

An unsolved mystery…

Meanwhile, in the attic writing room of her elegant Hampstead home, the formidable Alice Edevane, now an old lady, leads a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Until a young police detective starts asking questions about her family’s past, seeking to resurrect the complex tangle of secrets Alice has spent her life trying to escape…

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

I won a copy of The Lake House from Allen & Unwin in a Goodreads giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is the first Kate Morton book I’ve had the pleasure of reading and I’m now kicking myself that I’ve never picked up any of her earlier books, even though I’ve been walking past them at the bookstore for years and years! This book was mysterious, thrilling, endearing and just fantastic! I am also a big fan of historical fiction, and this book definitely doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

I very rarely read mysteries because I’m not very good with suspense – my heart just can’t handle these things – but The Lake House had me captivated. There is so much mystery in this novel, but there wasn’t anything that gave me a feeling of wrongness. Everything felt like it was in the right place. There are countless twists, turns and misunderstandings, and a constant sense of suspense and mystery, but everything fit together perfectly like a puzzle. I loved how clever the plot was, and every time I thought I’d figured it out, I would learn something new. The Lake House just never ceased to shock and amaze me.

The plot had me guessing the whole time. It was expertly created and it kept prompting me to think for myself. I did eventually guess what had happened, about 30 pages before the big reveal, but this wasn’t because the book was predictable. It was because the great plot and writing really made me try to solve the puzzle for myself, while the characters were doing the same thing. The reveal of what happened that night made complete sense and I thought the ending of the book was so heartwarming and I felt such a sense of closure that I couldn’t help tearing up a little. Everything was tied up neatly.

I thought the pace of the book was perfect. The mystery unravelled at just the right pace for me. It gave me enough time to digest what was happening without being too slow. I thought the pace of the book gave it a very historical and peaceful feel, which was perfect for the setting of the novel. I also thought the writing style really complemented the story and was just a joy to read. The flow of the writing is amazing and very comfortable to read. I’ve watched a couple of interviews with Kate Morton in the past, and as I was reading The Lake House, I could almost hear her voice narrating the book to me.

I was incredibly intrigued by all of the characters. I was fascinated by the story of the Edevanes and I wanted to know more and more about each of the characters and their stories. I loved all of the secrecy and the message that everybody has their own secrets to hide. I felt like I was there with each of the characters and I felt their sorrow, pain and anger along with them. It’s been a while since I’ve connected with the characters in a book as much as I did with the Edevanes.

There is romance in this book and there were so many scenes that made my heart flutter. There are many instances of insta-love but I didn’t really mind it. For me, historical fiction almost has this magical, unknown quality to it, and insta-love has the same magical feeling to it. Because of this, I didn’t mind the instant connections at all.

I highly recommend The Lake House to readers who enjoy historical fiction, mysteries and romance. But I think anybody who enjoys fantastic writing should pick this up, because The Lake House is 600 pages of the best writing.