Saturday, 20 July 2019

The Binding

Emmett is recovering from an illness when his parents receive the summons; he is to train as a binder. Those who wish to forget can have their memories bound in books.

The Binding wasn't really what I expected but I ended up loving it. It did take me a long time to get into it, but once I reached part two, I was hooked.

That's what a book is, isn't it? A life. A person. And if they burn, they die.

The first part introduces Emmett and the world in which he lives. He is a farm boy but unable to pull his weight after a mystery illness. He had been taught that books were evil and binders were people to fear, so he is surprised when he is requested as an apprentice. He goes to live with Seredith, who distances herself from the binderies of Castleford. Books should be looked after, but never sold. She teaches Emmett the practical aspects of book-making, end pages and foiling, and he starts to wonder if he'll ever learn how to bind.

When Emmett is exposed to other binders, he learns why they are feared. He becomes embroiled in a world of corruption, where the powerful abuse the weak, as is always the way. At end of part one an OMG moment happens and part two tells a story that reveals so much. Part three returns to the present from a different point of view, and I sped through the pages urging all the pieces to fall into place.

The setting is Victorian in feel but of course it's an alternate reality where books are something to be feared or revered. There are fakes in this world, called novels, but they are slow to take off as the bound memories hold a certain illicit allure to the kind of people who wish to read them.

It's one of those books that had me flicking back to the beginning after reaching the end. Those pages I struggled through, it all made sense! I highly recommend, but do have patience at the start.

ATY: 12. A book about reading, books or an author/writer

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Book Source: Purchased

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!


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.

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Top Ten: Most Anticipated
On My Radar: July