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Sunday, 10 April 2016

Review: Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard

Anyone can betray anyone. 

It's a world where the colour of your blood directs the trajectory of your life, and standing out from the crowd is probably the last thing you want to do.

After a bizarre twist of events, Mare Barrow, a Red girl from an impoverished town, finds herself in the court of the Silver King and Queen. Since presenting with powers that only Silvers are supposed to have, she is caught in a dangerous web where the ability to tell lies is what determines whether she lives or dies. 

Betrothed to the second son of the King and Queen, she begins a deadly dance of learning court protocol while secretly volunteering herself for the Scarlet Guard, a Red terrorist organisation whom demand freedom and equality. 

Inevitably, she soon finds herself in deeper than she can handle. She doesn't know who to trust, even herself, and is surrounded by eyes and ears whom wish her harm. 

Though oppressed heroines aren't anything new, the nature of the story, the constant guessing of who is on whose side, the dilemmas of when to act, makes you turn pages almost faster than you can read them. I've never been so grateful for my baby taking long naps so I could finish this in two sittings!

If you're a fan of Queen of the Tearling, then read this. If you think a Hunger Games/X-Men crossover sounds like a fun idea, then read this. Definitely one to keep you up until the small hours.  

Review: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith

Focussing primarily on the Nolan family, particularly Francie, and their lives in Brooklyn in the early nineteenth century, this book is a touching and hopeful tale about how ordinary lives are still significant and leave their marks.

The Nolans are as poor as can be. Katie, the mother, is the breadwinner, determined and proud. Johnny, the father, is an alcoholic, generally hopeless but loves and adores his family. Neeley is the pride and joy of the family but it is through Francie, the eldest daughter, that we see life happening.

On the face of it, there is no real story in a plot sense, but the portrayals of lives so different from our own makes you keep reading. The grim determination of Katie to keep the family's heads above water; Francie walking twenty four blocks to and from school; Johnny's hopeless romanticism about life, and more. Though their struggles are far different, we can sympathise. Things such as the alcoholism and poverty are neither romanticised nor lamented; they just are. You can root for the characters without pitying them. Following Francie as she grows up resonates with your own childhood memories. It's almost as if Smith wrote a memoir than a novel, 

I think think this is a very lovely read, definitely one for long summer afternoons sat out in the garden with a cool drink.