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Highlights in the Charts

By Maddy McManus and Marisha Puk

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Reviewed by Marisha Puk

From the very first pages of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, you will know not to put it down. Narrated by Death, the reader is spoken to directly throughout, and the narrator creates nothing but intrigue.

The story is set during World War Two and explores the impact the war had on many different lives. Set in the suburbs of a German town, it is here that we meet the main character, Liesel. Liesel loses her family through various means: her father is taken by the Nazis for being Communist, and her brother dies, leading Leisel’s mother to give her up for adoption. She is adopted by a kindly couple, who later help a Jewish person, Max, by hiding him in the basement of their home. Leisel comes to know the kind person Max is, as he teaches her to read and write, something that Leisel takes great pleasure in. Leisel does not understand the Nazi views of him or the Jewish people in general. When Liesel witnesses Max being marched to a concentration camp, she questions the German Nazi values.

The novel is set against the pivotal backdrop of the Nazi book burnings, and Leisel becomes the titular book thief when she steals three books. Upon her death, Death gives her the manuscript she was working on in her youth but ultimately lost.

This novel was published in 2005 and continues to be a bestseller. This was cemented when, in 2013, the book was made into a movie. The book has been translated into sixty-three languages and has sold seventeen million copies worldwide – so it’s safe to say it’s a favourite across the globe.

My favourite thing about this book is the empathy it conveys through its story. It makes you realise that lots of people did have sympathy for one another in Germany at the time, but the strong and rigid rules enforced by the Nazis made it impossible for others to speak out – as doing so would risk their lives. Overall, this is not a happy book, so I would not recommend it as a light read. However, it is truly one of my favourites and it will challenge and change your perspectives.

Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros

Review by Maddy McManus

Our favourite romantasy book couple are back with a veracious bang, but there’s trouble in paradise…

The highly anticipated Iron Flame picks up where Fourth Wing left us hanging after the battle at Resson. The turmoil of being thrust into a war against creatures she thought were myths means Violet Sorrengail must battle those she loves to get the truth she thinks she deserves.

Having surprisingly survived the first year at Basgiath War College, the real training begins when Violet enrols in her second year there. Xaden-less (due to his graduation) and facing off against the new vice commandant, who makes it his mission to try to destroy her, it is shaping up to be Violet’s worst year so far.

This year’s training involves new dragon manoeuvres, ones that test her physically and serve as a cruel introduction to the brutal world of surviving interrogations, pushing Violet to her mental limit.

These new trials only lead her to realise that, in order to survive, she needs to rely on the support of her Iron Squad of friends. However, as well as her relationship with her friends being tested, so is her relationship with her family – and none more so than with her sister, Mira. But at a time when there is so much distrust and mystery, Violet has to decide who she wants on her side.

Violet’s got some new enemies, as well as the resurgence of some old ones, who try their hardest to find out how much she knows about the real secret that has been hidden for centuries at the War College. She’s starting to get an idea of who’s been responsible for keeping such a huge secret, too.

The distance between Violet and Xaden only grows further after his perceived betrayal at the end of Fourth Wing continues throughout Iron Flame. It doesn’t help that Xaden is sent to an outpost in Navarre, miles away, which means that when they do get to spend time together, it is anything but peaceful. Furthermore, adding Xaden’s ex to the mix makes things a whole lot messier.

Action-packed and full of revelations, Iron Flame has one shocking twist after another, with theories already swirling around in anticipation of the next Empyrean book.

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Dec 14, 2023

Loved these books! The Iron Flame Audio book is also very well done. Love the narrator.

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