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The Versions Of Us

April 19, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fiction

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Versions Of UsThe Versions Of Us by Laura Barnett
(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Weidenfield & Nicolson on 4th June 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars
What if you had said yes? The moments that change everything...

The Versions of Us is a love story told three ways. A young man is walking down a country lane. A woman, cycling towards him, swerves to avoid a dog. On that moment, their future hinges. There are three possible outcomes, three small decisions that could determine the rest of their lives.

Eva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. There is also David, Eva's lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply but cares more for his own talent. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first chance meeting. Lives filled with love, betrayal and ambition, but through it all is a deep connection that endures, whatever fate might throw at them.

The Versions of Us explores the idea that there are moments when our lives might have turned out differently, the tiny factors or decisions that could determine our fate, and the precarious nature of the foundations upon which we build our lives. It is also a story about the nature of love and how it grows, changes and evolves as we travel through life.

in-brief

 

5-words

EMOTIONAL, THOUGHT PROVOKING, INTELLIGENT, BRILLIANT

Things I liked

* the versions

* the interlinking of the different versions through main events

Didn't Like

* I can’t think of anything.

Who Should Read It

*everyone!

My Thoughts

Think Sliding Doors, except no Gwyneth Paltrow-style haircuts, 3 possible versions rather than two… oh and better!

So The Versions of Us follows the 3 different courses that the lives of Eva and Jim may take following a chance encounter. What if Eva falls off the bike? What if she avoids that dog? The Versions of Us branches from there – 3 routes that the lives of Eva and Jim could take.

The book takes us chronologically through these 3 potential paths. I love the way that Laura Barnett connects these 3 ‘versions’ through people and events that remain constant (that’s my scientific brain; I do love a good constant against which to measure variables). It ties everything together beautifully. I found myself smiling as I encountered the characters in the same physical place in each version, but in very different circumstances.

To be honest I had to remind myself of each version before I started its chapter. I would find myself so absorbed in version 3 (for example) that I needed to remind myself of what was happening in version 1 before reading on. Now, my brain doesn’t always cooperate with me, so in all likelihood it’s just me that finds the need to do this. However mentally summarising each version proved really helpful for me, and I know that I got the most from the book this way.

Barnett explores Eva and Jim, their lives, careers, loves, families, betrayals and dreams in each version. Three different ways the story could go, but through them all is one deep connection that binds the versions together.

In my opinion, it takes a lot of courage, and great talent, to tell three stories simultaneously. To be able to engage the readers, to write multiple-versions of the same characters and to absorb the reader completely in each story – that is a real talent and Laura Barnett accomplished it with ease.

This book took me on an emotional rollercoaster. There were times, and versions, where I was utterly frustrated by characters or turns of events. I laughed, I cried (I rarely cry at books), I considered the “What Ifs” of my own life but all the while I loved it.

This is a beautifully-written, thought-provoking and emotional novel. It’s hard to believe that it’s a debut. As far as I’m concerned this is a must-read for 2015!

about the author

About Laura Barnett

Laura Barnett

Laura Barnett is a writer, journalist and theatre critic. She has worked on staff at The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, and is now a freelance arts journalist and features writer working for The Guardian, The Observer and Time Out, as well as several other national newspapers and magazines.

Laura was born in 1982 in South London, where she now lives with her husband. She studied Spanish and Italian at Cambridge University, and newspaper journalism at City University, London. Her first non-fiction book, Advice from the Players - a compendium of advice for actors - is published by Nick Hern Books. Laura has previously published short stories, for which she has won awards. The Versions of Us is her first novel.

Top 10 Tuesday #10: 10 Inspiring Quotes From Books

April 14, 2015 in Bookish Posts

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 Inspiring Quotes from Books

So here are 10 of my favourite quotes from books. I didn’t trawl through the books to find them all, that’d take way too long, Goodreads helped me. Loved making these wee images this week!

 

1

every flight

 

2

 

Think of all

 

 

3freedom

 

4

Libraries, Sarah J Maas

 

5You never really understand a person (1)

 

6

expectation

 

7

a reader lives a thousand lives before

 

8

Love

 

9

the less you say,

 

 

10

courage is found in unlikely places

 

What are your favourite quotes from books? 

 

Red Queen

April 11, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fiction, YA Fantasy

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Red QueenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Published by Orion on February 2015
Genres: Fantasy, YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until a twist of fate brings her before the Silver court. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly ability of her own.

Fearful of Mare's potential, the king hides her in plain view: betrothed to his youngest son. Trapped, Mare decides to use her new position to bring down the regime - from the inside.

But this is a game of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart...

In Brief

5 words

REBELLION, DUTY, HATRED, PARANORMAL ABILITIES

Things I liked

* Mare, the main character

* The politics of the world

* The Princes

Didn't Like

* similarities to Red Rising (see “My Thoughts”)

Who Should Read It

* fans of YA fantasy

Rest of the series

* Yes, I definitely will!

My Thoughts

 

Red Queen is one of the books I was most looking forward to in 2015; in fact it was on my 2015 Book Wishlist. I’ll be honest though, for the first third of the book I wasn’t overly fussed on it. However the final two thirds definitely made up for it and I ended up really enjoying it.

So what didn’t I like in the first third? Well, I’ve read Red Rising and I found elements of Red Queen really echoed that book. In Red Rising the Golds are far superior and rule over all, including the poverty stricken Reds. In Red Queen the Silvers are superior, ruling over the poverty stricken Reds. In Red Rising the main character infiltrates the world of the Golds to help a terrorist organisation bring them down. In Red Queen the main character Mare is a Red, betrothed to a Silver Prince. She uses this position to help a terrorist organisation. Albeit Red Queen is different in that the Royal family know that Mare is a Red, unlike Red Rising where no-one knows the protagonist is a Red.

Once I got past this part of the book (which I’m sure I would have loved if I hadn’t recently read Red Rising),  I really enjoyed Red Queen.

So Mare is a Red, she’s a thief and lives with her family in The Stilts village. They live in poverty, suppressed and overlooked by the Silvers. Due to her lack of employment, Mare is to join the army. That is until she is summoned to the palace to work as a servant. One of her first duties is to serve the High Houses at the Queenstrial, where girls from each High House compete to become the wives of the two Princes, Cal (who is heir to the throne) and Maven, the second son. The Silvers in this world have special abilities. All of the families have different abilities and those of the High Houses are more powerful than the average Silver. So when Mare, a Red, inadvertently displays powers to rival the Silvers the Royal family are forced to keep her close, hide her in plain sight and so she is betrothed to Maven, the second Prince.

Mare wants to use her new-found position to help her people, the Reds. The Scarlet Guard are a group of rebels seeking fair treatment for Reds. Now that Mare is moving in high circles, perhaps she can work from within to bring down the Silver system?

I liked Mare as a character, a strong female with a bit of sass is always popular with me. I did, at times, find her a bit frustrating, but a good kind of frustrating, the kind that makes you want to read on.

I also really liked the world, the different abilities of the Silvers, the political system; it all worked well for me. As did the romance element… I’m not usually a big fan of love triangles but this particular one (well, it might have been a quadrangle actually) worked for me. It’s not overpowering to the plot either, which I like. In addition, I have a new bookcrush to rival Chaol from Throne of Glass, Cal.

All in all I really enjoyed this book, once I read beyond the first third. I liked the way the book ended, seemingly leaving things nicely set up for book 2, which I will definitely be reading!

Top Ten Tuesday #9: 10 Characters I’d Like To Check In With

April 7, 2015 in Bookish Posts

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 Characters I’d Like To Check In With

 

So 10 characters I’d like to catch up with and find out what they got up to after the book/series finished. In some cases their futures may have been alluded to in the books, but I’m greedy and want more details!

 

1

Liesel Meminger, The Book ThiefThe Book Thief
2Alina Starkov, The Grisha Series Alina

 

3

Pug, The Riftwar SagaPug

 

4

August Pullman, Wonderwonder

 

5

Lisbeth Salander, Millennium series – soon we will be able to check in with a 4th book written by David Lagercrantz (following the death of Stieg Larsson in 2004). Excited yet apprehensive about this. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

 

6

Violet Ambrose, The Body Finder seriesThe Body Finder

 

7

Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the RingsLord of the Rings

 

8

Jaqen H’ghar, A Song of Ice & Fire series

A Clash of Kings

 

9Harry Potter et al, Harry Potter series

Harry Potter

 

10Scout Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird – I didn’t think we’d ever get to see Scout in adulthood so finding out about the publication of Go Set A Watchman is one of my literary highlights of the year so far!
To Kill A Mockingbird

 

 

Do you have any characters you’d like to check in with? 

The Sin Eater’s Daughter

April 4, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fiction, YA, YA Fantasy

The Sin Eater’s DaughterThe Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
Series: The Sin Eater's Daughter #1
Published by Scholastic on 24th February 2015
Genres: Fantasy, YA, YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-half-stars

I am the perfect weapon.

I kill with a single touch.

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has its price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla's fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla's chilling role to the girl she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous as the queen's, some truths should not be told...

In Brief

 

5 words

FANTASY, DEATH, DARK, ROMANCE, CULTURE

Things I liked

* the sin eating

* the darkness

* the twists

* the world (well Lormere & its neighbours) & its culture

Didn't Like

* The Queen, except you aren’t meant to like the Queen..

* I’m not the biggest fan of love triangles

* also not a big fan of the romance, I didn’t feel it

Who Should Read It

* fans of fantasy

Rest of the series

YES

My Thoughts

From the moment I heard about this book I was intrigued. I’ve never read anything incorporating Sin Eating before, in fact my knowledge on the subject was pretty poor prior to reading this. Twylla is the daughter of a Sin Eater. Her mother is called upon to eat meals from the coffins of the dead, with each food representing a sin the deceased committed. Upon completion of the meal the sins are absolved.

Twylla has been training from a young age to be the Sin Eater upon the death of her mother. Her training has taken her to many places, including the Sin Eating for the late King of Lormere. Though a young child at the time, Twylla is fascinated by the castle.

However Twylla leaves the Sin Eating behind her when the Queen identifies her as Daunen Embodied, the reborn daughter of the Gods. She is betrothed to the Prince, lives in the castle, entertains the court with her beautiful voice and also kills those convicted of treason, with a single touch.

To prove that she really is Daunen Embodied Twylla once a month has to undertake The Telling. She is fed the lethal poison Morningsbane. By surviving this poison she proves that she is indeed the reborn daughter of the Gods. However the poison also remains in her system. She cannot touch anyone, save the immediate royal family, or they will die a horrible death.

Twylla is confined to life within the castle, which at first doesn’t seem so bad. However once part of the court she begins to see the true colours of the Queen, a woman who will set dogs on her ‘friends’ and have them pulled to pieces.

The Prince has been away for a while and upon his return Twylla is to get to know him; after all they are to be married. However Twylla takes a shine to one of her guards and a love triangle ensues.

I’m not a huge fan of love triangles so I wasn’t very fussed by this aspect of the book. I just wasn’t feeling it. However, beyond that I really enjoyed this book. A young girl acting as executioner for the crown, with poison in her veins that means that she cannot be touched. She lives a lonely life at court, feared by all around her. I really liked this concept and definitely felt for Twylla in her isolation.

I liked the way the religion and cultures of the world was explored. The Sin Eating may not be the main story in this book but it adds to the plot, fleshes out the world and is really very interesting.

Then there’s the darkness. The Queen is spectacularly evil. There were times when I thought of her like Cersei Lannister; manipulative, cunning, chilling, evil. She is a great character though and just when you think you couldn’t possibly hate her any more you do!

You know when you are reading and you’re trying to second guess where the storyline is going to go? Well, obviously I came up with a few thoughts but on the whole I was very, very wrong. There are twists and turns in this book, I spent the last quarter of the book gobbling up every page, I HAD to know how things were going to turn out.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Not a huge fan of the romance, but the rest was great!