GUEST BOOK REVIEW – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Guest Reviewer: Ami  (@mama_roach)

The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany and tells the story of Liesel, whilst she lives at her foster home in a small town called Molching at the onset of World War Two. Here, she meets an array of fascinating characters and as we read, we discover more about the war, but also the individuals who are punished because of it. The town gets bombed. Liesel dies.
Before you complain about spoilers, this book is full of them. The story is narrated by Death and initially I was taken aback by this, as I couldn’t quite follow the narrative. Death is an interesting narrator that reveals the story at the start of each chapter, but the best thing about it is that you need to know how the story gets to that point. Foreshadowing becomes a very clever device to use, even though it reveals the fate of many characters. However, this story is told so masterfully and creatively that you just have to read it and find out how the events took place.

I was drawn in by the characters and their stories. I laughed with them, cried with them and understood their motives, even ones that were morally wrong. Liesel and her book thievery is the main storyline, with Death narrating the fascinating, and sometimes devastating, events around her steals. All of the characters she comes across in Molching are truly believable, with Hans Huberman and Max Vandenberg being the most inspiring characters I have ever read about.
You’ve heard the hype. Now judge for yourself. I am pleased to say that this is my new favourite book. It is an absolute classic, which everybody needs to read. This book left a beautiful message behind. Thank you, Marcus Zusak.

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Out now from Black Swan
ISBN: 9780552773898


GUEST BOOK REVIEW – The Prey by Andrew Fukuda

Guest Reviewer: Ami  (@mama_roach)

Following on from one of my favourite books, ‘The Prey’ is the second book in this exciting series and tells the story of Gene after the ‘hunt’. Gene is still running from the rest of society, alongside the other surviving ‘hepers’ (humans in our terms). Being only safe in the day time, Gene and the other humans have to find their way to the Scientist’s ‘Land of Milk and Honey’, or is it all just a myth?
Fukuda’s writing style still grips the reader from start to finish. The journey to the refuge makes the reader question whether they will actually make it alive, for the predators seem to be getting stronger (and more inventive.) What comes later launches the reader into a world with more questions, more mysteries and more bizarre behaviour- but this time, from the humans.

Whilst the first book introduced Gene’s world, the second book expands the world further. Fukuda introduces us to a peculiar land full of surviving humans, who call themselves ‘The Mission’. Here, Gene meets unusual characters and learns more about the world he has survived in for so long. But is it all what it seems? You’ll have to read it to find out!
Although at first difficult to empathise with Gene in the first book, the reader will certainly want to find out if he is reunited with his father by the end. He struggles with fitting into the new society and in the process becomes closer to Sissy, making it even more difficult to contend with his feelings of guilt, after leaving Ashley June behind. However, by the end of the book, some of our burning questions are adequately answered. The sense of mystery and the non-stop action of this book will certainly set an appetite for the third and final instalment. The Prey is a mystery adventure that takes the reader on a wild journey across vast landscapes, although it’s best not to travel by train!

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Out now from Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
ISBN: 9780857075451

BOOK REVIEW – Hotel Alpha by Mark Watson

Over thirty years ago, the charismatic and flamboyant Howard York created the finest hotel in London…this is the Hotel Alpha. This is the hotel where anything is possible, midnight room-service…you’ve got it, newspaper with breakfast and a wake-up call to end all wake-up calls…you’ve got that too! Along with Howard, the other person behind the success of the hotel is Graham, the concierge. He has been at the helm of the good ship Alpha since the very beginning and has seen everyone come and go and has seen every aspect of the hotel’s progression right since day one.

Where the story turns sour is when we are introduced to Chas, Howard’s blind son. Chas has almost never been outside of the hotel and as we venture through the many years of the hotel’s history Graham and Howard have to decide whether the Hotel Alpha can keep pace with the world outside…has the hotel been built on a foundation of secrets and mystery…

Mark Watson has always been one of my favourite stand-up comedians so when the opportunity arose to read this preview version of the book I jumped at the chance. Typically I’m not a fan of fiction written by comedians as I feel that they’re trying too hard to surge away from their previous endeavors but this wasn’t the case here. For a stand-up comedian, Mark Watson certainly knows how to write a book!

There is a style that Mark Watson has established through his books that offers a definite wit and charm that his stand-up also does. All the characters in this book stand alone and because of this the story has a great depth that you don’t get from books that focus solely on one person. Each of the three main characters are as important as the others, they all have their secrets and this adds to the story immensely.

Another brilliant effort from Mark Watson and one that I’d like to give a second read at some point just to enjoy all over again.

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Out now from Picador (Macmillan)
ISBN: 9781447243298