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Review: On The Edge of Gone

May 4, 2016 in Dystopian Fantasy, YA

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: On The Edge of GoneOn The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
Published by Amulet, Abrams on 8th March 2016
Genres: YA, Dystopian
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one.

Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

It’s the end of the world as we know it. A comet is headed for Earth and those who managed to get a spot on a ship leaving Earth, whether through money, essential skills or via a lottery have long left the planet.  Denise and her mother need to leave the flat to make it to their allocated shelter before impact. Except Denise’s sister Iris isn’t here, and her drug addict mother wants to wait a bit longer before they leave.

Denise is autistic. Dealing with the end of the world is hard enough without these unexpected changes to their survival plans. Eventually Denise persuades her mother that they have to leave, but they are going to be cutting it fine to make it to safety. And where is Iris? Is she safe?

As they make their way along the deserted streets of Amsterdam they happen across a couple in need and stop to help them. It turns out that the couple is Denise’s former teacher Els and her partner who has broken her leg. Their shelter is nearby and though Denise and her Mum won’t be named on the list, Els reckons they will take them in temporarily for the impending impact. So they head off together in the car.

It transpires that their shelter is a private one, and moreover it’s a cloaked ship, the Nassau, preparing for launch at Schipol airport.

As the comet hits, Denise and her mother find temporary shelter aboard the Nassau, but it’s been made very clear that they can’t eat their food, use their water or stay. They are to leave as soon as it’s safe to do so and are sworn to absolute secrecy regarding the ship.

Denise makes it her mission to get a spot on the Nassau for herself and her family. But Iris is missing and her mother is high. She faces a race against time and a battle through what is left of the Earth to make it happen.

This was a really interesting read. It’s not just a dystopian, it’s a hugely diverse dystopian and I really enjoyed it.

I found it refreshing to read a book where the diversity element isn’t the main focus. This is a dystopian novel about the end of the world and it just so happens to have an autistic central character, a drug addict and LGBT themes. Personally, I feel this is the way books should be!

I found the post-comet world really interesting. Encompassed in the story are the technical aspects of what life could/would be like after a comet impact and genuinely the repercussions aren’t things I’ve ever considered!

Exploring the end of the world through Denise’s character was fascinating. Even although the world has been turned upside down, Denise still has to deal with her autism. She has to push through barriers to talk to strangers, deal with them touching her, not knowing about her requirements, lose her normal scheduling, contend with her food issues. It was a really interesting way to educate the reader about autism without being a book that jumps up and down about discussing the issue. Does that make sense? It wasn’t centre stage but it was a large part of the story; it’s who Denise is.

Likewise, the mother’s drug addiction was part and parcel of the story, but it educated too – not only allowing us to see from the point of view of her daughters but also how she was perceived by others.

Without spoilers, this book also touched upon LGBT issues. It wasn’t done in a dramatic way, but again as part of the story, exactly as I feel it should be.

I have nothing but praise for Duyvis and the manner in which she undertook this book. It’s a gripping dystopian and the diversity within its pages made me enjoy it all the more.

four-stars

Review: Salt To The Sea

April 28, 2016 in Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, YA

Review: Salt To The SeaSalt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Puffin on 4th February 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, YA
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

It's early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories.

The wartime sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff is the worst disaster in maritime history, and yet its story is largely overlooked. It was a German ship packed with refugees which was torpedoed by a Russian submarine during World War 2, resulting in the loss of over 9000 lives, of which an estimated 5000 were children. Ruta Sepetys has thoroughly researched the tragedy, and combines fact with fiction in this stunning, heartbreaking novel.

Salt To The Sea is told from  the perspectives of four young people, each with their own story, secrets and hopes of freedom. Through these short chapters a larger story is told – the story of refugees flocking to the coast of Prussia, fleeing the advancing Red Army, hoping to eventually find passage across the Baltic Sea to relative safety.

The paths of our four young people slowly converge. A Prussian whose backpack could seal his fate. A Polish girl trying to make her way undetected between the German and Russian armies. A Lithuanian nurse whose medical training proves vital. A German assigned to the Wilhelm Gustloff who dreams of being a Nazi hero.

There are other key characters in this book: an orphan boy, an elderly shoemaker and a blind lady who must hide her disability.

I honestly don’t know how to describe the impact of this book. I’m generally not one for crying while I read but this novel reduced me to tears. Knowing that this work of fiction is based around fact, that this overcrowded ship filled with refugees sank, that thousands of lives were lost and no-one talks about it. That alone is heartbreaking.

In her author’s note Sepetys writes “As I wrote this novel, I was haunted by thoughts of the helpless children and teenagers – innocent victims of border shifts, ethnic cleansings, and vengeful regimes.” So in writing this novel she is giving a voice to these young people and to those vulnerable people, the aged and disabled, who were caught up in a war that wasn’t their doing.

The four characters that Sepetys tells this story through are quite simply brilliant. She tells their stories and uncovers their secrets while capturing the fear, distrust, hopelessness and loneliness that their situations create. She also captures the mindset of a young, frightened boy, brainwashed into believing Hitler’s propaganda and desperately craving approval.

Sepetys paints honest, often distressing scenes within this novel. She does not shy away from the facts, or the realities of war. She truly captures the desperation of humans fighting for their lives.

However, she balances this with glimpses into normal life, scenes of compassion and love. You’ll smile and you’ll cry, and that’s one of the things that makes this book so special.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. They story of the ten thousand refugees aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff is one that everyone should know. Sepetys makes this historical details accessible to a wide range of readers through her effortless combination of fact.

You need to read this book, but be sure you have a handkerchief to hand.

five-stars

Top Ten Tuesday #44 – Bookworm Delights

April 26, 2016 in Bookish Posts, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. If you’d like to participate too, see here.

Top 10 Tuesday Strupag

This week the topic is…

10 Bookworm Delights

I love this topic! Just thinking about it made me smile 😀

1

reading outdoors 2

I love to read outside in the sunshine during the spring and summer months. When it comes to autumn and winter (and let’s face it Scottish spring and summers) though you’ll find me curled up by the fire.

Reading By The Fire

 

2

books as gifts 2

Receiving books from your wishlist as a gift. Or being gifted book tokens so you can go on a guilt-free shopping spree! (PS Yes that was the gift wrap from my family on my last birthday. Yes, I’m in my 30s. Yes, I’m super cool)

3

New Releases 2

NEW RELEASES! Who doesn’t love new releases? I love to start a wee most-anticipated list at the beginning of the year then add to it (a lot) as the year progresses. I like to keep a note of the new releases I’m reviewing in my diary, marked with some rather cool washi tape (see number 10).

4

Bookish Subscriptions

If I had the money there are a bunch of international book subscriptions that I’d sign up to. I adore my Illumicrate subscription though and all of the beautiful bookish items (& books) that have come in it so far (see previous Illumicrate posts here). I seriously can’t wait for May’s box!

5

Reading Snacks 2

I’ll use any excuse for a cup of coffee and some cake,  reading snacks are important though!

6

back catalogue (1)

When you discover a new-to-you author, love their work and find out that they have a bunch of other books already published – time for a binge read!

7

book haul (1)

BOOK SHOPPING! I’m not a huge fan of shopping in general, but give me a book shop and I’ll happily spend all day there (and all of my money too). Book shopping is even better if you have a book token (see number 2).

8

favourite quotes 2

I do love a good quote. I really need to find a better way of collating my favourite though, any ideas? Love this mug hubby gave me. He got it from Evie at Bookish Lifestyle‘s store. Sarah J Maas quote + coffee = best possible start to the day!

9

signed copies (1)

Signed books are one of my favourite bookworm delights. I’m slowly building a wee collection with some of my favourite authors.

10

bookish stationery

As it’s National Stationery Week it seems appropriate that my final delight is bookish stationery. I have a thing for stationery anyway, but make it bookish and I’m all over it!

 

What are your bookworm delights? 

Review: Sleeping Giants

April 21, 2016 in Book Reviews, Sci-Fi

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Sleeping GiantsSleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Series: Themis Files #1
Published by Penguin on 21st April 2016
Genres: Sci-Fi
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars

A GIRL NAMED ROSE IS RIDING HER NEW BIKE NEAR HER HOME IN DEADWOOD, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square-shaped hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved - the object's origins, architects, and purpose unknown.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand's code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the relic they seek. What's clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unravelling history's most perplexing discovery-and finally figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

This novel is formed through sets of interviews, logs and reports. While the interviewees vary throughout, the interviewer remains the same – anonymous, high powered individual.

When Rose Franklin falls into a crater as a child, she has no idea of the impact it will have on her life and the world as a whole. She landed on a giant, ancient, glowing hand – a hand that appears to be missing the rest of its body.

There is a lot of information in this book. I could imagine it being a bit much for some readers, but generally I enjoyed the information. I also enjoy a good mystery and there are definitely numerous questions waiting to be answered in this book. For this reason, I’m not going into the plot in this post, just some general thoughts on the novel.

I was slightly concerned that as the story is told through  interview transcripts and logs I wouldn’t connect with the characters. I was wrong though; I think you get a pretty decent feel of the characters of the main players in this book.

Personally, I really enjoyed the first third of the book. However, for me, there was a bit of a dip in the second third. I enjoyed the ending though and it has definitely left me wanting to read on in this series.

All-in-all a good read and I look forward to book two.

Oh and if you’re looking for a signed edition of this book, you can find a signed bookplate edition at Forbidden Planet, while Goldsboro Books have a limited edition with just 750 copies available.  As ever, these aren’t affiliate links, I’m just helping you get your paws on a signed copy! 😀

 

four-stars

Review: A Gathering Of Shadows

April 13, 2016 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Gathering Of ShadowsA Gathering of Shadows Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #2
Published by Titan on 23rd February 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

I’ve been so excited to read A Gathering of Shadows but I kind of wanted to hold off until I could savour it. So I’ve finally read it and guess what? It’s brilliant!

Now obviously this is the second book in the series so if you haven’t read the first book A Darker Shade of Magic pop over and read my review of it, then run to your local bookshop to buy a copy. Reading on in this post will result in spoilers for ADSOM so, seriously, stop reading and go buy a copy! NOW!

Still with me? Well then I assume that you have read and adored ADSOM too and want to know my thoughts on this glorious second book. The short version? I loved it.

More details? OK. We rejoin our beloved characters four months after ADSOM. Lila is sailing the seas, she’s trying to uncover whatever power Master Tiernan seemed to imply with within her. Kell and Rhy remain in Red London, coming to terms with this new magical bond between them. Kell is finding life in the Palace tough after the events of the last book. Not only does he find his relationship with his “family” strained, but the people of Red London look at him differently now: many blame him, most fear him. The King has placed Kell under strict guard. Any travelling he does is closely monitored and, obviously, his smuggling days are over.

Meanwhile Rhy is tasked with arranging the Essen Tach, a magical tournament between the three countries of Arnes, Vesk and Faro. It’s a tournament designed to help keep the peace between the neighbouring countries, who each pick their own magicians to represent them. Naturally, Rhy is going all-out to ensure an Essen Tach that no-one will forget.

All the while, in another London, shadows are reforming, and it seems that the problem with Black London isn’t actually resolved. In fact, it’s far from it.

There’s SO much to love in this book. New characters, brilliant old characters, fighting, death, magic, ships, kissing, secrets, deception… I’ll stop but I could go on. V.E. Schwab has once again pulled me into her incredible fantasy world, and now that I’m finished the book I can’t stop thinking about it.

Non-spoilery highlights for me include Lila being her bad-ass self, Kell smiling, Rhy embraced in an epic scene, Lila’s fashion choices and an interesting sea captain.

I must warn you though – the ending of this book almost broke me. It’s set up perfectly for the third book, but I don’t want to have to wait to read it!!

I’m fairly sure I’ve gushed for long enough. I quite simply loved it. I had no idea where the series would go after ADSOM and AGOS certainly didn’t disappoint.

Have you read A Gathering Of Shadows yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Be sure to check out V.E. Schwab’s guest post on strupag.com.

 

five-stars