Book Review: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars – Yaba Badoe

Book Review: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars – Yaba Badoe

BOOK REVIEW (16)
Release Date: 7th March 2018
Publisher: Zephyr
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Sante isn’t sure where she comes from, but she has a recurring dream of escaping a shipwreck in a sea chest as a baby with her lifelong companion, golden eagle Priss. In the chest was an African bamboo flute, a drum and a dagger inlaid with diamonds. Sante was found and raised by Mama Rose, leader of a nomadic group of misfits and gypsies. They travel around contemporary southern Europe, living off-grid and performing circus tricks for money. Sante grows up alongside two twins, knife-thrower Cat and snake-charmer Cobra, whom she is in love with. During a performance in Cadiz, Sante recognises two men from her dream. They come after her to retrieve the treasures from the sea chest. Sante finds out that she is an Ashanti princess, whose parents probably perished in the shipwreck. After Cat rescues a beautiful red-haired girl called Scarlett from a gang, Mama Rose’s band are forced to flee the city. But Sante and Cobra stay behind, determined to find out more about her family and where she came from.

Review

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a magical realism novel that follows fourteen year old Sante and her friends as they live off the grid and travel around Europe. Sante has a recurring dream about a shipwreck and longs to know the meaning of her dreams and what really happened to her parents.

Untitled design (52)I really wanted to love this book, I thought it sounded like a really fascinating book and I loved the blend of real life and magic but in truth it fell a little flat for me. I thought the cover was stunning and the story was a wonderful mix of magic and folklore, but for I couldn’t connect with the characters and the plot felt a little chaotic for me.

Badoe has a really beautiful writing style and this was the part of the book I enjoyed the most. I liked our protagonist Sante well enough and she undergoes a massive amount of character development in the book but I just didn’t fall in love with the story the way I was really hoping to. I liked seeing her relationships with the rest of the circus troupe – how they look after each other and become such a close knit family.

The story highlights a lot of really important issues, focusing on human trafficking, refugees, friendship and family. The plot is pretty quick paced and the world building was interesting. Overall this book is a fascinating debut and I definitely want to read more from this author but was a bit on the disappointing side. If you’re a fan of magical realism or quick paced stories, this one might be just what you’re looking for.

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Book Review: My German Brother – Chico Buraque

Book Review: My German Brother – Chico Buraque

BOOK REVIEW (11)
Release Date: 5th April 2018
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 207
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Ciccio already has many problems: romantic failure, an older brother who seems intent on breaking the heart of every beautiful woman in São Paulo, a distant and larger-than-life father. When Ciccio finds, among the many of his father’s books that line the walls of their house, a troubling letter dated ‘December 21, 1931. Berlin’, his existential crisis only intensifies.

It seems that his father once had a child with another woman – a German son whose fate remains unclear. Ciccio sets out on a mission to locate his lost half-brother, and to win the respect of his father. But as Brazil’s military government cracks down on dissent, and rumours of arrests and disappearances spread, while Ciccio has been out looking for his German brother, he finds that he has taken his eye off his immediate family…

In writing My German Brother, acclaimed Brazilian novelist and musician Chico Buarque was driven by the desire to find out what happened to his own German half-brother – whether he survived the war in a bomb-ravaged Berlin, whether he had joined the ranks of the Hitler Youth. His novel has been a project of a lifetime, one that makes use of what happened, what might have happened, and pure imagination, in order to weave together the threads of narrative and arrive at a truth.

Review

Untitled design (38)This is a fascinating book about a young Brazilian man who discovers a letter suggesting that his father might have had another son whilst he was in Germany. The story follows his life as he becomes obsessed with this idea, imagining the life of his half brother.

The book was told in a really interesting way, My German Brother is an interesting come of age tale and one of the aspects I really enjoyed was that although the book is fiction it is partly based on the author’s life and his experience of finding out his father had a child in Germany. I found the idea so interesting as he imagined the endless possibilities of his brother’s life, especially at a time when Europe was dealing with the horrific events of the Second World War.

The author has a really great writing style and I loved some of the light-hearted aspects that counteracted some of the more heavy topics, they are quite a few sordid moments as well which I found a little off putting. Overall the book is a really fascinating read and at just over 200 pages it’s definitely worth picking up.
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Book Review: The Lost Witch – Melvin Burgess

Book Review: The Lost Witch – Melvin Burgess

Book Review (11)
Release Date: 2nd August 2018
Publisher: Andersen Press
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Bea has started to hear and see things that no one else can – creatures, voices, visions. Then strangers visit Bea and tell her she is different: she has the rare powers of a witch. They warn her she is being hunted. Her parents think she is hallucinating and needs help. All Bea wants to do is get on with her life, and to get closer to Lars, the mysterious young man she has met at the skate park. But her life is in danger, and she must break free. The question is – who can she trust?

Review

Growing up I really loved Melvin Burgess’s books. I’ve read Bloodtide and Bloodsong more than a few times so when I heard he was writing a story about a young teenage girl who discovers she has magical powers I added it straight to my wish list. I must admit that after reading it I was a bit disappointed and it didn’t really live up to my expectations.

I found the pacing for this book to be quite off, the first few chapters were incredibly slow and I had to put the book down for a week and go back to it – which isn’t really something I do. I then felt the later chapters that had quite important scenes in them completely raced through and I didn’t get enough detail.

I really liked the Norse mythology elements and the way that Burgess wove that into the world building and the magic the characters could do. I also found the characters really interesting, Bea has some tough decisions to make about her future and I enjoyed seeing her develop as a person and own up to her mistakes. I also really liked Silvis, the one character who seems to really want to help Bea survive. The writing style felt very different to other Melvin Burgess books I’ve read and although I enjoyed it I definitely preferred the style of his previous books.

The book also deals with some pretty difficult topics such as abuse both physical and mental, rape, murder and blaming the victim which came as a bit of a shock as it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. The book is certainly a dark one and was a bit of  a struggle for me finish. If you’re interested in witchy stories that touch on difficult issues, this could be just the book for you but for me it was big disappointment.

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Book Review: The Humans – Matt Haig

Book Review: The Humans – Matt Haig

Book Review (6)
Release Date: 23rd April 2014
Publisher: Canongate Books
Pages: 304
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones
Source: I picked a copy of this up from a second hand bookshop.

Synopsis

 After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, he is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst a crazy alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he’s a dog.

Who is he really? And what could make someone change their mind about the human race. . . ?

Review

I read How To Stop Time by Matt Haig and absolutely loved it. I’ve heard amazing things about The Humans so picked it up as soon as I saw it in a local bookshop. Our narrator is an alien sent to planet Earth to erase any mention of a mathematic equation that will far advance the human race. What follows is a set of awkward encounters as the alien attempts to navigate life on Earth.

This book was completely different to what I expected. There were plenty of really funny moments as the alien attempts to understand why we do the things we do and I really enjoyed this unusual concept, however the main focus of this story is what it means to be human. It read like an in depth study into human nature.

This is a really profound and original novel and one that will stick with you. It’s quite a short book and I read it very quickly, but I was still talking about it a few days afterwards. So many people love this book and have rated it really highly however I had a few minor issues that made me rate this book a bit lower. I in no way think this is a bad book, I was felt really put off by the incredibly short chapters – some are only a page. It felt a bit jarring to the story and that lessened my enjoyment. My second issue was the vague ending which I didn’t really like. I won’t say too much about that because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but it definitely wasn’t how I wanted things to end.

The Humans is an interesting look into human nature with a fun and humorous twist. If you’re a fan of science fiction novels this is definitely one to be on your wishlist.
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