Sunday, 14 July 2019

The Paper & Hearts Society

When Tabby moves to Dorset, she hopes to leave her old life behind. Her nan encourages her to make new friends, but she's perfectly fine by herself. At least she has her books.

Blogger Lucy Powrie's debut novel is adorable. It contains the best sounding book club ever, I want to join! They have themed meetings, don't force people to read books they don't want and are super kind and supportive. Oh yeah, they also go on a fantastic literary road trip.

There are oodles of mentions of books of course, and it's lovely to see a bunch of UKYA getting name checked. If I'm ever doing one of those "read a book mentioned in another book" prompts, I'm totally grabbing The Paper & Hearts Society.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any book lover in want of a good book will always find one in a library.

It does have a serious side too. Tabby is being bullied by her former best friend, who has made her feel worthless and undeserving of new friends. Despite moving away, she is still being targeted online, triggering panic attacks. She totally captures the way that trauma from bullying can become an obstacle to forming new relationships, even if you want to. And not all bullying is obvious to outsiders or extreme, it's more insidious.

ATY Rejects: Related to a deck of playing cards

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Book Source: Purchased

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Walking the streets of New York one night, April May stumbles upon a giant robot. She assumes it's an art installation, New York's like that, and calls her friend Andy to come make a video. She names the robot Carl. Little does she know that Carls have been appearing all over the world, and her video goes viral. Soon she's at the centre of a global mystery. Where did the Carls come from and what do they want?

I was really, deeply, honestly, and truly infatuated with having people pay attention to me.

I'm only aware of Hank Green because of his brother, John, and I have never watched any of their videos. However I can imagine a lot of what is in this book is based on their own experiences of internet fame. I was pleasantly surprised by An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, it's much more about fame than aliens.

April May's working an entry level job at a New York design firm when she discovers Carl. She's trying to keep connected to the creative life she wants, and being in New York feels like she is, even if she's struggling with low pay and long hours. She's not quite prepared for the whirlwind ahead and the strain it'll put on her relationships.

She maybe didn't start out seeking fame, but she craves the attention it gives her. She must be involved, guiding where the story about the Carls go. A puzzle inside an Wikipedia article, leads them to a whole world of puzzle that must be solved, hopefully to reveal the meaning of the Carls. April May is sure this is a sign that they want to be able to see if humans across the world can work together towards a common goal. However others believe they are not to be trusted.

The resulting online atmosphere is not unfamiliar, with polarising opinions getting out of hand and people crossing lines. April May has to deal with the online hate, but also the pressure to be ahead of the curve, to have new material all the time.

The power that each of us has over complete strangers to make them feel terrible and and frightened and weak is amazing.

I just noticed there is a sequel planned. I'm not sure how I feel about that, as I like the briefness of the ending, but I enjoyed it enough that I'll probably end up reading it.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is published by Orion and the UK paperback will be available on the 30th July 2019. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 39. A book revolving around a puzzle or game

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Tuesday, 2 July 2019

The Month That Was... June 2019

June has been a bit of a non-month for things on the blog. Sometimes we need a bit of a break, and with work being busy, I've not had the mental energy to think up even vaguely thoughtful reviews. I have read some stuff, I'll leave some brief impressions below, and you never know, there might even be proper reviews appearing soon.


Foxgloves in the New Forest

In non-book news, the garden has started to produce fruit and veg. I made blueberry muffins at the weekend from blueberries I grew myself! We've also had potatoes, broad beans, pak choi, courgettes, radish and lettuce so far this year. Oh and about 4 strawberries, but what they lacked in numbers were made up for in taste.

I also discovered a few new corners of the New Forest and went on a work outing to a local vineyard, which was lovely. They even produce red wine there which is pretty unusual for England, as most the wine is sparkling due to less ripe grapes. I'm very tempted to get a grape vine for my own garden now.


Baby grapes!

Reviews:


Also read:

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
ATY: 30. A book featuring an elderly character

I thought up-lit was meant to be uplifting?! I found this tale very sad, thinking about how we become forgotten or dismissed when we get old and are bundled up into a care home, with little independence. Florence is an unreliable narrator as she tries to find out what Gabriel Price is really up to. I figured out Elsie quite early on but I would definitely read more of Joanna's books.

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff
ATY: 14. A book with a title, subtitle or cover relating to an astronomical term
+ ATY Summer Challenge

A fun romp through space, I thoroughly enjoy anything this pair write together. More please!

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Popsugar: 39. A book revolving around a puzzle or game
+ ATY Summer Challenge

I was pleasantly surprised by this, it's much more about fame than about the aliens. Very apt if you want a peek into the life of a YouTube star, I can imagine a lot of this is from personal experience.

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
Popsugar: 44. Read a book during the season it is set in
+ ATY Summer Challenge

I find Jennifer's books a bit hit and miss, but I enjoyed Windfall and wanted something light. This one felt a bit lacking, I wanted a bit more detail on the trip.

Superior by Angela Saini
Popsugar: 40. Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading challenge (non-fiction)
+ ATY Summer Challenge

Angela Saini is such a good journalist, she makes sure she is never one-sided in her research even though you could forgive her for not speaking to far-right scientists. I found some parts more interesting than others, there's a lot of plain racism in some cases. I found the medicine parts the most eye-opening.

Exile by S.M. Wilson
Popsugar: 27. A book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature
+ ATY Summer Challenge

More dinosaurs and survival, this is so much fun just as long as you don't think too hard.

The Binding by Bridget Collins
ATY: 12. A book about reading, books or an author/writer

Not what I was expecting (historical fiction, maybe, I mostly bought it for its looks), it's actually a fantasy set in a world where bad memories can be bound in books. I took me an age to get into it but once part two kicked in, I was hooked. So nearly a five star read.

American War by Omar El Akkad
ATY Rejects: 4 books, one for each of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War
+ ATY Summer Challenge

You can tell this is written by a war correspondent, sadly nothing that happens in this alternate USA is anything new but instead the horrors of war play out across a familiar landscape. I didn't really connect with the main character but that didn't really matter.

The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie
ATY Rejects: Related to a deck of playing cards
+ ATY Summer Challenge

The debut from UKYA blogger Lucy Powrie is adorable. It has lovely grounded characters, the best book club ever and also covers bullying and how it can make you reluctant to make new friends.

Blogged about...

Top Ten: Most Anticipated
On My Radar: July

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

On My Radar: July

Is your TBR getting a little sparse? Haha, yeah right, but I bet you're still interested to see what's hitting the shelves next month. These are all books that have caught my eye, but as always inclusion is not an endorsement because I haven't read them yet. Dates are for the UK print edition unless otherwise noted.


1st

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren (US)
Five Midnights by Dávila, Ann Cardinal (US)


4th

Heartstream by Tom Pollock
The To-Do List and Other Debacles by Amy Jones


9th

The Survival of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson
Hope Rides Again by Andrew Shaffer


11th

Exhalation by Ted Chiang
Becoming Dinah by Kit de Waal
Syria's Secret Library by Mike Thomson
The Woman in the Photograph by Stephanie Butland
Wilder Girls by Rory Power (e)
The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd
The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg
Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich
All the Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Heartstopper Volume Two by Alice Oseman



18th

This is How You Lose the Time War Paperback by by Amal El-Mohtar + Max Gladstone


25th

The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard
Shadows of the Short Days by Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson
Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

26th

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott


(US) = no official UK release scheduled but US edition readily available
(e) = UK ebook release

Sunday, 23 June 2019

The Incredible True Story of the Making of the Eve of Destruction

The Arkansas town of Griffin Flat lives in the shadow of a nuclear facility. It's the 80s and Laura is convinced the Soviet Union will bomb America, living in fear of the end of the world. It's only natural considering where she lives and what her dad works on. One of her favourite books is The Eve of Destruction, about a nuclear accident in a town much like hers... and Hollywood is adapting it right there in Griffin Flat.

I so wanted to love this book, there's so much nuclear nerdery in it. I won't say as much as the official blurb does because it mentions an event that takes place nearly at the end of the book. So I was reading expecting something to happen and then the big event was so rushed. Seriously publishers, if an event doesn't happen in the first 100 pages, don't put it on the cover.

Laura wins a radio contest to star in the film, and much of it is about the anticipation of Hollywood coming to town. The narrative is interspersed with news articles and FEMA instructions (in case of nuclear detonation). There were great historical details, like people painting their houses white because they thought it would deflect the radiation. I also know that America had many close calls and it is not absurd to imagine them nuking themselves.

I'm really not sure what was going on with the side story of Laura's family. Her mother had an affair with black man, who she then married, so Lauren's step-brother is black, something she points out a lot. Maybe the author wanted to highlight the racism of the time, his presence is an inconvenience to the film-makers because now they have to justify a black person in the film. It just all feels a bit awkwardly inserted.

After the big event happens, it came across as a bit flippant. I dunno, was she trying to make light of a horrible thing? Why did no one notice it was happening? I'm not sure given the circumstances what happened afterwards was very accurate, biologically. And in the follow-up bit, there was no mention of any ongoing effects.

I picked this as my fiction pairing to read with a non-fiction book for Around the Year, so at least I can look forward something which takes its subject matter seriously. I'm going to pair it with either Command and Control or Full Body Burden.

ATY: 7. 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #1

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Book Source: Borrowed from library

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Top Ten: Most Anticipated

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Here are my top ten most anticipated releases for the second half of 2019 (I can't believe we're nearly half way already). There are some fabulous sounding books to look forward to. There are a few big autumn releases missing from this list that I'll be reading but I'm setting low expectations on...



Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers



The Rosewater Redemption by Tade Thompson
The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman



Monstress Volume 4 by Marjorie Liu + Sana Takeda
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo



The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Unleashed by Amy McCulloch



Heartstream by Tom Pollock
The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard


I did have The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin on this list but I think it's been moved to 2020? If not it's definitely one of my most anticipated!