Eating is the most pleasurable, gross, necessary, unspeakable biological process we humans undertake. But very few of us realise what strange wet miracles of science operate inside us after every meal. In her trademark style, Mary Roach breaks bread with spit connoisseurs and enema exorcists, stomach slugs, rectum-examining prison guards, and competitive hot dog eaters (how much can you eat before your guts burst?)- as she investigates the beginning, and end, of our food.
A Review By Maddy
This is a book that I had often picked up, flicked through the pages, ummed and aared about buying and then put back on the shelf for another day. Only recently did I actually purchase it and I can say with the utmost certainty that I could not have judged it more wrongly. My initial page-flicking impressions were that the book was boring and it looked like a slog. When I actually read the book for myself I found it nothing other than addictive, engaging and immersive. It was so good in fact that I bought the other two books in the trilogy (Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest) before I was halfway through the first.
You follow the story of Fitz, a royal bastard, who is taken from his mother when he was six and handed over to the royal household. It is not long before he is spotted by the king and is brought from his position as stable boy and trained to be none other than a highly secretive royal assassin. Fitz has the gift of the Wit, which allows him to communicate with animals, but such abilities are regarded as unnatural by the people of the Six Duchies. Fitz needs to keep his talent for the Wit a secret from everybody around him or else he may find that those who are currently protecting him from harm may decide to be more concerned with eradicating him instead.
‘Assassin’s Apprentice’, along with the rest of the Farseer trilogy, is a fantastic novel and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The Weight of Water
This is a beautiful and unusual book, written entirely in blank verse from the point of view of Kasienka, a thirteen year old Polish girl, who moves to Coventry with only a laundry bag, a suitcase and her mother, who is desperately searching for Kasienkaâ€™s estranged father.
In poignant and unflinching words, Kasienka describes how she is ignored by her new teachers, relentlessly teased by her classmates and humiliated by being placed in Year 7 because she cannot read English. Worst of all is the cramped and depressing one-room flat she has to share with her mother, who spends hours every day scouring the city for her missing husband.
The only thing that brings Kasienka joy is her talent at swimming, and it is this that brings William into her life – the mysterious boy who sees Kasienka for who she is and shows her that hope can be found even in the most desolate situations.
A novel that provides a raw and truthful insight into the lives of new immigrants in this country, The Weight of Water is an eye-opening read.
Empire of The Sun
A Review By Augustin Dubois
The Empire of the sun is a touching book about the life of an English teenager Jim, during the Second World War. Jim lives in Shangai with his parents when the city is taken by the Japanese. One day, he loses his parents and is captured by the Japanese. He is sent to a prison camp. The entire book is about what happens to Jim during the war. He must learn how to survive in the camp for three years. There, he encounters lots of difficulties: lack of food, bad health conditions, terrible treatment, bombing… It is a beautiful example of courage and willingness.
The book is targeted at teenagers. It is very interesting on a historical view and it is a message of hope. One can see how the desire to live is stronger than everything. Readers shouldn’t be too young as some parts are hard.
The book has been adapted by Steven Spielberg in a famous film.
This is a dark, deeply moving and, at times, utterly horrifying novel in which Faulks expertly portrays the realities of trench warfare.
We are first introduced to the main character, Stephen Wraysford, when he is twenty years old and staying with a wealthy French family in Amiens. He embarks on an intense and dangerous affair with Isabelle, the beautiful wife of his host. Not long after the two of them have eloped, Isabelle, feeling guilty and desperate to ease her conscience, packs her belongings and leaves whilst Stephen is at work.
Catapaulted six years into the future to 1916, the reader finds Stephen as a lieutenant on the front line, plagued by inner doubts and still haunted by Isabelle. Through his eyes, Faulks catalogues the horrors of war and the dehumanising effect that it has on the soldiers. He creates poignant relationships between the men, especially the strange, cold but tender friendship between Stephen and Captain Weir. Particularly affecting is the portrayal of the ignorance and naivety of the people back at home who might as well be a million miles away from the conflict.
Birdsong serves as an important reminder to people like us, who have not lived through such a war, of the devastation and bloodshed that broke the souls of millions of ordinary men in just a few short years. This is a novel that will stay with you for life.