Review: Harry’s War by Harry Drinkwater

Harry's WarTitle: Harry’s War – The Great War Diary of Harry Drinkwater

Author: Harry Drinkwater

Editor: Jon Cooksey

Publisher: Ebury Press

Published: July 2014

Genre: Non-Fiction HIstorical Diary

Source: Library

My Rating: 5/5

Harry’s War is nothing more than a diary kept by a soldier during the First World War; yet it so much more than that as it’s one of the few (if not only) vivid and descriptive firsthand accounts written by a soldier who not only survived the War but went back and edited his diary accounts.  Recently rediscovered and edited, Harry’s War was published for the centenary anniversary of the start of The Great War.

I have an interest in history, particularly accounts and memories of those who lived, rather than just names and dates. Because of this I’ve always felt a little annoyed there wasn’t more than metaphoric poetry to describe what life was like at the front during the First World War (I now know diaries were forbidden on the front which no doubt is why there are so few accounts). Perhaps it’s because so much is written about WWII that the utter lack of description from the First World War bothered me; though it is also the need to learn and understand.  Shortly into Harry’s War I understood why so many chose not to actively remember and discuss their experiences.

Harry Drinkwater honestly recorded as much of his experiences as he could, which in itself. However, I felt a lot of it lacked emotion, with gruesome details being plainly described (the one that will always stay with me is when his arm literally sunk into a dead German as Harry tried to use him to lever himself out of a hole). I expect this is because to survive living through something as horrific as the frontline during the First World War, the men must have dissociated themselves from what was happening on a day-to-day basis; but it makes reading this diary not only very uncomfortable and disturbing, but sometimes causes the reader to dissociate from the experience as well, making it an effort to truly accept the terribleness of what actually happened.

One thing I particularly liked about Harry’s War is that the diary doesn’t stop when Harry was on reprieve, so that it covers all of his experiences as a soldier rather than simply what happened to him on the front. In fact, Harry himself often comments on how the time spent away from the front is like heaven compared to the hell of being in the trenches, showing he had clarity and could understand how bizarre his situation was.

To bring together the diary, the editor Jon Cooksey includes notes which put the situations and places into context in regards to the war, and important events that were happening at the time.  I found this really useful as it gives the reader information to understand how Harry’s experiences related to what else was happening at the time. This, along with Harry Drinkwater’s voice, is gratefully the closest any of us can get to imagining what The Great War was like.

I would recommend Harry’s War to anyone with an interest in social history or the First World War, though I think almost everyone could benefit from reading this detailed account of man’s fight to create the world we live in today.

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Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

The 100 Kass MorganTitle: The 100 (The Hundred #1)

Author: Kass Morgan

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Published: 2013

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Source: Library

My Rating: 3.5/5

When Earth becomes uninhabitable due to nuclear war, humanity continues on spaceships.  These spaceships have strict rules, with crime being punished by death for adults and prison for those under 18; now 100 of those young convicts are being sent to Earth to find out if it’s habitable once again. While Clark, Wells, Bellamy and 97 others are trying to survive the dangers of Earth (including each other), Glass manages to escape back to her life on the spaceship only to find that has dangers of its own.

I watched the first season of the series a while back and quite enjoyed it, so when I saw the book at the library I had to pick it up to see if it was as good/better than the TV show.  Honestly I was surprised at how truthful to the book the series was, though it moves at a much faster pace (something that doesn’t really surprise me) to the point that spoiler: [the current inhabitants of Earth don’t appear in the book til the very end, whereas I remember them appearing quite quickly in the series]. The characterization and back stories were pretty much as I remembered them, to the point that at certain points it felt as if I’d already read the book.

The book is written through the viewpoints of 4 young people, all from different walks of life (guess I shouldn’t be surprised to know in the future the class system is more pronounced than ever).  It took me a while to work out who was who as I was reading as the narrative doesn’t change style and to begin with everyone is in the situation and it was only as the story unravelled I was able to distinguish which name went with who. For me this spoilt the book, especially at the start, as I was spending more time trying to work out which story I was following.

To be honest by the end of the book I didn’t feel I knew or connected with any of the characters, meaning I didn’t feel invested in the story enough to want to keep constantly reading. I think if I hadn’t already seen the TV show, I probably wouldn’t have bothered from reading the book.  While the scenario was interesting, the entire book felt more like a lead up to the main story – I know it is the first in the series, but in my opinion needed a little more action or emotional turmoil for the book to be able to stand on its own.

I don’t know if I’m going to continue reading the series, though will likely watch the next season when it becomes available. Overall, I liked the idea behind it, but just didn’t find the story or characters particularly engaging. However, if you are looking for a quick, light read and enjoy teen futuristic books, you might still want to check this one out.

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Review: Burning Embers by Hannah Fielding

ImageTitle: Burning Embers

Author: Hannah Fielding

Publisher: Omnific Publishing

Published: April 2012

Genre: Romance

My Rating: 3/5

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Coral Sinclair is a young woman making the journey back to her childhood home, Mpingo, in Kenya following her father’s death.  Travelling from England she meets a stranger she can’t help but feel an emotional pull towards, but when she reaches Mpingo she starts hearing rumours about the stranger, Rafe, and how he may have been connected to her father’s death.  However, Coral can’t help but become entranced with Rafe, despite all the warnings she receives to not trust him.

Burning Embers is a typical romance.  It is set in 1970, as change is starting to happen in Africa, but when there is still a society of rich white people, all with their servants and plantations.  Coral is a naive 25 year old who is aware of the changes, but doesn’t seem to be aware of how the changes will affect her life if she were to stay in Kenya which is her plan.  Instead, she becomes wound up with Rafe de Monfort, a handsome man with a very complicated and dark past.

To me this book felt a little bland as there is nothing unexpected in the slightest, though it could be argued that’s a trait of the genre.  One thing I really liked about Burning Embers was the attention to detail.  The author, Hannah Fielding, includes a lot of descriptions which means the reader can envisage this world that most of us would not get to experience otherwise (one reason I love reading).  The characters were a little more two dimensional than I would have liked, but nevertheless they do have believable characteristics (if somewhat exaggerated) and have enough back story to be realistic; I don’t think the novel suffered because of it.

One thing I would especially have liked to see would be more of how the political and social climates of the time affected Coral and her ‘yaha’ (nanny) Aluna, but it was only alluded to and not a main part of the story.

The majority of the book is told from Coral’s point of view, though there are the occasional sections in Rafe’s which, for me, made the book a little less interesting as I wanted to discover and learn about him along with the main character.  There is plenty of rumours and women, so it is easy to see why Coral is wary of Rafe, though I admit that other than her sexual attraction to him, I couldn’t work out why they were destined for one another, but that’s just my opinion.

In general, this book wasn’t anything special, though it was enjoyable.  I would recommend it to anyone who loves exotic romances, and those who enjoy trying to work out the truth amidst the lies, rumours and assumptions.

[I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]

Review: Grave Witch (Alex Craft #1)

Hello all! Michelle is back! 😀 The last five four months of 2012 was busy for me indeed I started working full time and I had hardly no time for myself but I made a new years resolution to get back into blogging and reading even if it its something I do part time.

What is it about?

As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself, nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high-profile murder when she’s attacked by the ghost she is raising – which should be impossible. Then, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, thwarted only by Death’s intervention. You know you’re having a bad day when Death is saving your life

To solve this case, Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Andrews seems to be hiding something, although it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex. Despite all that, Alex is going to need his help to navigate the tangled webs of real-world and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex not just her life, but also her soul . . .

Thoughts

So the first book of the year I decided to go for an adult book, sticking with the normal theme of the paranormal. First of all we are introduced to the books primary character from the get-go who goes by the name Alexis. My first impression of Alex was that she was a strong-minded and head-strong character. Throughout the book we see Alex go through strong character development as she tackles many problems to get towards her main goal. The main love interest for Alex I was not keen on to be honest, he reminded me of an ex boyfriend that I used to date and towards the end of the story he just pissed me off so much I found my self wanting to pull my hair out.  The book also takes a insight into Fae folklore which I really enjoyed. The writers overall writing style was fascinating which kept me hooked throughout. The story overall certainly provided me with entertainment with the mystery throughout.

Overall rating: 4/5

Review – Saved (Book #1 of The Shadow Vampires) – Allegra Skye

What is about?

Keira and Amanda, twins, move with their family to a new town, and start their senior year at a new high school. But though they are twins, the girls have different fates. Amanda, beautiful, popular, is sought out by everyone. Keira, who has always lived in Amanda’s shadow, is smaller, awkward, different. Even her mother, who is so close to Amanda, doesn’t know what to make of her other daughter. Keira turns to books, and to her journal, for solace, and to find out about other worlds.

Amanda makes friends easily at the new school, and quickly finds a boyfriend, while Keira is left alone, an outsider. But very quickly, it is clear that something strange is going on in Everstock. The town and the school are very divided. The popular, rich kids act as if they own the school and have nothing to do with the other kids, who are poorer and live in a different part of town. Not only are the kids meaner here, but an unknown infection has gripped the town, with more and more people going to the hospital. Something here is terribly wrong.

But things change suddenly, as there is a terrible accident involving the twins. Not only are Keira and Amanda’s lives changed forever, but a new dimension of life begins to open to Keira.

As Keira recovers, she begins to change in ways she can’t expect, receiving new and mysterious powers that no one can possibly understand. At the same time, a gorgeous, mysterious new boy, Cooper, appears at the school, who grips her imagination, and who refuses to tell her what secret he is hiding.

As Keira and Cooper grow closer to each other, it soon becomes apparent that destiny has brought them together—and that they may each have to sacrifice it all if they want to stay together…

My Thoughts

Now I have not read a vampire novel for such a long time and the reason why I read this particular novel was in hope that I thought it would ignite my passion for vampire fiction and therefore I had high expectations for this book because previous vampire fiction novels that I have read I have really enjoyed.

The main concept of the storyline is the same as most of the other Young Adult vampire novels that I have read in the past where a character moves to a new town, enrolls at the local high school and becomes infatuated with the male lead. A concept I enjoy however it does get a bit boring.

Keira, the main character is very like-able from the get go we learn that she is not a all like her twin (who I really dislike). Keira embarks on journey throughout the book which to me is pretty special for her. The only thing I would say on the negative about the character of Keira is she always seems to be moaning about something that has gone on in her life and it makes you as a reader scream, the words ‘Shut Up’ at her, which I really wanted to do! The male lead called Cooper who is very mysterious and of course we learn his secret. :P.

I loved the setting of the book it was in a town called Everstock and it certainly has that spooky atmosphere about it. Mysterious things happen in the town.

The overall writing of the novel was good, I wouldn’t say it was the best because there was like grammar and punctuational errors but the he way the author describes things is pretty amazing.

Overall apart from the few errors in the writing, the storyline is good and I enjoyed the book. 🙂

Overall rating: 4/5

Toodles!

Chelle xx

First Book Review

This post is a very special post and that is because it is the first official review on this book blog, I posted book reviews before on my personal blog 🙂 but this one is my significant and special. The reviews will be set up as the following – it will contain a section ‘What is the book about?’ which is basically the blurb of the book. The section ‘My thoughts’ is based on what I think about the book and finally at the end of the review it will contain my overall mark of the book, which will be based on a mark out of five. Anyway now I have got the official stuff out the way I can finally reveal the book I plan to review…..

Night School  – C.J Daugherty

What is it about?

Sometimes school can be murder…Allie Sheridan’s world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she’s just been arrested. Again. This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers. But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there’s the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch. When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer… more » ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what’s really going on at Cimmeria Academy

My Thoughts

I brought this book for my Kindle after reading another review on Books of Amber (Who is just lovely, so go visit her blog )  the book is set at another boarding school in the United Kingdom.  Now when I read the title of the book I was expecting something of the supernatural but the whole book turns out to be a mystery murder thriller type and I loved that! 😀 The first few chapters were a little bit hard to get into.

The main character Allie we are introduced to her from the get go, she is a teen rebel and you can understand why she gets sent away to the boarding school in the first place and also you get some insight why she turned into the teen rebel and you can’t help but feel sorry for her, I know I did.

Next on the character agenda is the mysterious Carter, Now I for one loved him. End of. I was not big fan of Sylvain to be honest, I don’t know, knew he was a bit of a dick and he so is, those who have read the book will see what I mean. Horrid Boy.

As for the author I have not got a bad word to say about her and she certainly did the book justice, apart from the slow start she certainly has a unique writing style and  the book overall is tremdrous for a debut novel!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Buy the book? Amazon Print/Kindle Edition

Toodles

Chelle xx