BOOK REVIEW | Revolution by Piet Hein Wokke


Title: Revolution

Author: Piet Hein Wokke

Genre: Historical

Published: 1st May 2017

Publisher: Xowox Publishing

Format: Hardback

Rating:  4.5/5




“Do people ever really fight over religion?
Or do they use religion to fight?”


Beledar, 1942. 

War rages in the West, but the East is not immune to its call. In the capital of Beledar – Mayasin – the old Emir is dying, and his son, Jalal, British-educated and with modern sensibilities, is poised to take leadership over a fractious nation.

Growing up in the poorest streets of Mayasin, Abdullah ekes out a meagre living shining shoes, selling arak, and performing less savoury favours for visiting foreigners in the city. But one bloodied, fateful night when the course of his life changes forever.

In a remote desert village on the other side of Beledar, Khalid is witness to immense brutality, meted out by his elder brother. He is forced to go along with it and not yet a teenager, he already has blood on his hands.

Sunni and Shi’i, royalist and revolutionary. One is destined for the palace, the other for the army. As their nation grapples with a new world, new independence, new ideas, and new struggles, the lives of these two boys will become inextricably intertwined… and the fate of the whole country will hang in the balance.

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Venturing Out Into The World of Non-Fiction

Have you ever had that conversation, in which, after telling a person that you love reading, they reply by listing multiple books and asking if you have read them? Of course you have! And it’s a great conversation to have! But occasionally, it gets a little awkward (if you’re anything like me) when the books mentioned all have a common theme – they’re all non-fiction!

I get this a lot, which I think is partly added to by the fact that I am a history student, and often get asked about non-fiction books about historical events/periods.

It’s not that I don’t like non-fiction, I do. And it’s not that I don’t read non-fiction, I do. It’s just that, when given the option, I never choose to spend my free time, curled up with a non-fiction book, over a good old fictional story.

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BOOK REVIEW | Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys


Title: Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Genre: Historical Fiction

Published: 2nd February 2016 (US)
4th February 2016 (UK)

Format: Paperback

Rating:  star (1)star (1)star (1)star (1)star



“War had bled color from everything, leaving nothing but a storm of gray.”


Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.


Despite being a history student, I don’t tend to read historical fiction much, particularly that set in the World Wars. I think, perhaps, that I have read so much non-fiction, and written so many essays, that I tend not to find them as engaging to read. But sometimes it is important to read these stories, to bring some of the emotion and feeling back to such an awful time in our world’s not-so-distant past. And sometimes that can only be done through these fictional stories.

Salt to the Sea was interesting, because it took a very specific aspect of the Second World War (the Wilhelm Gustloff refugee ship) and some very real life issues surrounding it, and gave light to it with characters we could relate to today more easily. Sometimes that is what we need today to fully grasp how awful life was for people at this time; being able to relate to it and put ourselves in that mindset. Ruta Sepetys does that brilliantly through this novel, whilst still retaining an authenticity to the storylines.

I really liked the four different perspectives given throughout the book, and their different angles on the same devastating event. Each chapter is only two or three pages long though, which I personally thought made it harder to fully feel that I knew any of the characters very well. That said, I did still find myself attached to them as a whole (with the exception of one, whom I was hoping would have some more development by the end), and dreading how the ending would play out.

What I loved most though, was that I had not even heard of this ship, despite it being, statistically, one of the greatest maritime disasters ever. Worse even than the likes of the Titanic. This book really opened my eyes to all of the awful things that happened throughout WWII, and how few are taught and studied and shown on TV/film/literature today. I loved reading the Author’s Note on the history of the book, at the end, and felt like I had read a very well researched and thoughtful novel.

It wouldn’t call it the best book I have read, set in this period, and it was perhaps a little too short for me to fully connect to the characters themselves, but it was a beautifully written and delicate book that really gets you thinking about the atrocities of war that no one ever tells you.