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: Ten Favourite Character Voices

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This week is freebie week for Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week I’m going to feature some books with strong character voices that I really connected with.

1. Adam (The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten)

I read this novel very recently and Adam’s character and his voice really made this book for me. He’s probably one of my favourite protagonists of all time and I couldn’t stop rooting for him.

2. Simon (Carry On by Rainbow Rowell)

Another one of my favourite characters, I mostly love Simon because of his voice. He’s so incredibly funny and adorable, and I sped through this 500 page book because Simon’s voice was so great. I also really loved Baz’s voice too!

3. Todd (Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness)

The thing that you notice immediately when you read the Chaos Walking trilogy is Todd’s voice and the unique writing in the book. It’s very distinctive and really shows who Todd is as a character.

4. Max (Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali)

The thing that made Max such a wonderful book for me was the main character, Max’s, voice. He’s arrogant and vocal about his opinions but that’s kind of why I love him. His character and personality really come through his voice and it was just so interesting to read from the perspective of a fetus and really young child.

5. Solomon (Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley)

Solomon is an agoraphobic who hasn’t left his house in over three years. But that doesn’t make him a boring character. He was such a funny and interesting person and that really came through in his voice. I thought the writing in this book was super strong.

6. Simon (Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli)

Simon is hilarious. He’s somebody that you automatically connect with from the very first chapter. He has a great personality and his voice is extremely relatable.

7. Audrey (Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella)

Audrey is a 14 year old girl who suffers from severe anxiety and depression but she doesn’t come across that way in the book because her voice is so unique and interesting. You can feel her anxiety and shyness but at the same time, you also can feel that she’s a sarcastic and fun-loving character.

8. Frankie (Frankie by Shivaun Plozza)

If you’re looking for a spunky character with lots of sass and attitude, Frankie is the girl for you. Her voice is feisty and sassy and makes her a character who you can’t turn away from.

9. Allyson (Just One Day by Gayle Forman)

Allyson can seem like a little bit of a bland character to some, but to me, she’s so full of life and her voice was completely relatable. I really connected with her character and I thought her voice was really, really strong.

10. Alice (The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard)

In this novel, Alice has been through a traumatic incident and now has trouble expressing herself verbally. So she writes poetry to express herself. This book was super interesting and had a great mix of prose and poetry. Alice’s voice and personality was so unique and strong in this book, and is the main reason why I loved it so much!


What are some of your favourite character voices?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite 2016 Releases So Far This Year

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is favourite 2016 releases so far, which is one of my favourite things to post about. I love recommending books and I’ve rated all of these either 4.5 or 5 stars. These are in no particular order and my full reviews are linked.

1. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

This was my most recent 5 star reads. I absolutely loved everything about it. It’s a beautiful historical fiction novel set in the 1970s in Alaska, following four teens who are each dealing with personal struggles and how their stories collide. I’ll have a full review up on Thursday.

2. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson is one of my favourite authors. She’s an auto-buy author of mine because she writes the most beautiful and relatable summery contemporaries. The Unexpected Everything was amazing and I loved the characters soooo much!

3. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

This was my first John Corey Whaley book and it didn’t disappoint. Featuring an agoraphobic and a wannabe psychologist, this book was moving, powerful and absolutely beautiful. The friendships and relationships in this book are GOALS.

4. Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

This debut novel absolutely blew my mind. Frankie was full of spunk, attitude and just screamed Melbourne and Australia to me. The novel made me laugh and cry and it was just such an experience.

5. A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty

This is the third and final book of Jaclyn Moriarty’s A Colour of Madeleine trilogy. It was mindblowingly good and wrapped up the series so beautifully. There were so many twists and turns and my heart was just beating out of my chest the entire time. If you want something magical and whimsical, this series will give you exactly that.

6. Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali

I love my WWII historical fiction and Max is the standout WWII novel that I’ve read this year. It’s translated from French and has such an interesting premise. It follows Max, a product of the Lebensborn program in Germany, from before he was born until the end of WWII. It was amazing and more people need to read this because it’s so underrated.

7. The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard

This book broke my heart and mended it at the same time. It was so beautifully written and had such wonderful relationships. The relationship between Alice and her brother, Joey, made me cry for ages during and after my read. It’s a must-read in my opinion.

8. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Another series finale, The Raven King is the fourth and final book of The Raven Cycle. It wasn’t everything that I expected it to be but what Maggie Stiefvater did give us was absolutely brilliant anyway. The characters are definitely the standout and I’ve enjoyed their journey immensely.

9. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

I loved this new Shadowhunters book so much!! It was an awesome start to a new series. It wasn’t quite as good as Clockwork Angel for me but I thought it was a superb first book with some really diverse and interesting characters.

10. The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

Another amazing Aus YA book released this year. I really loved The Sidekicks, which is a story about three boys who are each dealing with grief in their own ways and what happens when they lean on each other.


These are just some of my favourite 2016 releases that I’ve read so far this year. I’m sure there will be many more amazing releases to come. What have been your favourite 2016 releases or 2016 reads?

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Recent 5-Star Reads

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It’s Tuesday, which means another Top Ten Tuesday post. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and I’m super excited about this week’s post because I love talking about my favourite books. I haven’t actually rated very many books 5 stars in recent weeks so some of these go back to January and December…

1. Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

This is Shivaun Plozza’s debut novel and I absolutely loved it. I read this one a couple days ago and was just immersed in the story from the first page. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking and I loved the characters. This book focuses on disadvantaged youths and those who come from a lower socioeconomic status. I thought it handled everything really well and I can’t wait to read Shivaun Plozza’s next book! (A review of this book will be up on Happy Indulgence tomorrow!)

2. A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty

A Tangle of Gold is the third and final book in The Colours of Madeleine trilogy. I thought the first two books were great but this third book blew my mind with its twists and how everything was tied up in the end. I loved it so much and it’s currently one of my favourite series.

3. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

I really enjoyed this novella bind-up. I’ve been going through The Lunar Chronicles withdrawals and Stars Above helped fill that hole in my heart. I enjoyed every single one of the stories and thought The Little Mermaid retelling and the wedding/epilogue story were absolutely amazing. I also enjoyed how the book came full circle, despite the stories being largely unrelated.

4. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

I didn’t write a review for this book because I loved it so much that I didn’t think I could put that love into words. This book has magical realism, which is one of my favourite things in the world. It was just really well-written, with lots of interesting and diverse characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. I thought it was a really magical and unique book.

5. Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali

Max is one of my favourite YA WWII historical fiction novels. This one was super unique and was written from the perspective of Max. We follow Max’s story from before he was born, up until the end of the Hitler regime. Reading from the perspective of a fetus was a really interesting experience and if you’ve ever wanted to know more about the Lebensborn program, I really recommend this one!

6. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

This book is now one of my favourite contemporaries. I love Morgan Matson’s writing and I think this one if my favourite of all of her books that I’ve read. It had the most wonderful coming of age story that had a great balance of romance, friendship, family and grief.

7. The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The second book in The Winner’s Trilogy, The Winner’s Crime is one of my all-time favourite books. It was so full of tension and anticipation, and I highly enjoyed the atmosphere and how epic the book felt, despite not having a lot of action. I can’t wait to read the final book and I have no idea why I haven’t picked it up yet.

8. Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

This was a highly entertaining guide to the major Greek Gods. It’s narrated by Percy and he just made the whole book really fun to read. I loved the learning experience and it definitely did not fail to make me laugh.

9. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

This is the third book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is my favourite of the three books that are out at the moment. It was just a really great continuation to the series and the pacing was just right for me. I love where this series is headed and I can’t wait to see how it all ends. Not long to go now!

10. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

The final book of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Last Olympian had everything that I could have wanted. It was a really epic end to a really fun and action-packed series. It had action from the very beginning and it made me really excited to pick up some of Rick Riordan’s other series.


Did you rate any of these books 5 stars? I hope I convinced you to read some of these because I really love them!

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 ❤

 

Review: Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali

max

Publisher: Text Publishing
Release date: January 27, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 464
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

Meet Max. Indoctrinated in Nazi ideology, he is about to tell you his story. In 1936, he is a baby inside his blonde, blue-eyed mother. His destiny is to become an exceptional being in the ‘Lebensborn’ (Fountain of Life) program, designed to produce perfect specimens of the Aryan race. But when Max meets Lukas, a Polish boy who rebels against the Nazi system, cracks start to appear in Max’s convictions…

Like The Book Thief and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Max is a compelling historical fable. It is the story of an orphan boy who personifies the evil that people can inflict on children in times of war.

Max was awarded twelve French literary prizes, including the prestigious Prix Sorcières for Young Adult Literature.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

I received a review copy of Max from Text Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Max is a historical fiction novel with a twist. This novel by Sarah Cohen-Scali (translated by Penny Hueston of Text Publishing) chronicles Max’s life from a fetus to 10 years of age. I should point out here that while we follow the story of a child in this book, Max is marketed as young adult (14+). It contains some very mature content including violence, rape and other sexual themes.

Everything about Max, including his conception and upbringing was carefully controlled by the ‘Lebensborn’ program and his purpose in life was to become an exceptional Hitler youth. Max has known this since he was an unborn child in his mother’s belly and he’s devoted his whole life to becoming the perfect little soldier under strict and regimented instruction. However, when he meets Lukas, a Polish boy who was snatched from his home to become Germanised, he starts to question some of the ideals that have been instilled into him from birth.

I should have been born yesterday, but that’s not what I wanted. The date didn’t suit me. So I’ve stayed put.

This entire book is written from the first person perspective of Max and I loved his character and voice from the very first page. His personality and sass comes through straight away and you just want to get to know him better. And you get a lot of Max in this book… including his perspective as a foetus still in his mother’s belly. You get all of his pride at being the first baby and star born into the Lebensborn program, his superiority at sharing the Führer’s birthday, his coldness and cruelty when it came to the weak and also his tender moments as an innocent child. Despite his being a child of evil, it is so easy to understand him and fall in love with him. He’s definitely a product of his upbringing and I couldn’t fault him for thinking and behaving the way he did. I loved his childish arrogance and the changes in his way of thinking as he grew up. The writing in this book was so insightful and Max’s voice seemed so realistic that I never found it unbelievable that a foetus and child knew so much about the world and the mature things he was discussing (even though it totally is).

This novel is confronting from the very first couple of pages. The author definitely doesn’t go easy on her audience or sugar coat anything. We get to see all of the atrocities that were committed against children and Jews during WWII and the Holocaust. The book was incredibly well-researched and if you’ve ever wanted to know more about what occurred in Germany during WWII, this book provides a lot of great information, weaved into a captivating story. It was confronting and extremely heartbreaking to see what had occurred and it was very interesting to read about it from a rarely seen perspective. My only other experience of reading from the perspective of a Hitler youth was Werner from All the Light We Cannot See, but to read about it from the point of view of a young innocent mind who didn’t know any differently, really affected me deeply. I enjoyed the honesty and insight that the author brought to the story and I really appreciated that she didn’t hold back and spare our feelings by keeping characters alive when it was unrealistic to do so.

This was one of the most unique and impactful books that I’ve read for a long time. Even though Max is a child of evil, it’s tough not to love him and care for him. The relationships he forges with those around him will tug at your heart strings and I challenge you all to not fall in love with Max and his story. Because it’s impossible.