Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Trinity

Trinity was the code name of the US project to create a weapon to end all wars, the atomic bomb. Behind that invention was a man who had to come to terms with what he had created, J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Louisa Hall has chosen to create a portrait of Oppenheimer through the narratives of seven characters whose lives touched his at some point. These characters are fictional but weave together facts from the era to give a sense of who Oppenheimer was, as well as the sense of the time.

We tell our lives to other people like stories. We make characters out of ourselves. If we're skilled, we make ourselves almost lifelike.

I thought this was an unusual approach which worked to varying degrees. There's the FBI agent assigned to watch him, a WAF (Women in the Air Force) at the base in Alamo, a student who attends one of his lectures, acquaintances from his time on St Johns... It shows a man conflicted by pride in his scientific achievement, yet faced with the guilt of the destruction wrought on Japan. A man who was not always faithful, who was held practically hostage by his government, threatened with his links to communists.

I did zone out over the reporter's account of her marriage. I wasn't quite sure what this had to to with Oppenheimer, other than when she started the interview he reminded her of her husband. Maybe it was meant to represent Kitty or some other element of his life, I'm not sure. She talks of her husband's betrayal like Oppenheimer's betrayal by allowing the bomb to be used, which was a bit extreme. This meant it ended on a down note.

He said such boundaries were hypothetical in a day and age in which whole nations could be destroyed by one weapon. What about radiation? And what about fallout? Do they operate according to national boundaries?

I would say if you specifically wanted to learn more about the project or Oppenheimer, you'd be better off reading a biography. Trinity was interesting to read though, and if you like interconnected short stories, this might be your thing.

ATY: 10. A book featuring a historical figure

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Book Source: Purchased

Monday, 29 July 2019

Sadie

When Sadie's little sister is murdered and the investigation goes nowhere, she sets off to bring the killer to justice. Some months after, a journalist picks up the story of a missing girl and her murdered sister. Can he piece together what happened and where she is now? Or will Sadie just be another statistic...

I wish this was a love story because I know how it goes in one like mine, where the only moments of reprieve are the spaces between its lines.

First up, if you're interested in reading Sadie, do check out the audiobook version, it is so well done. Sadie has a stutter and Rebecca Soler reads it in a way that conveys Sadie's frustration at not getting the words out. It's full cast, so no dodgy fake accents for dialogue but also the podcast sections are totally believable as a podcast. There's even subtle background noise that you would expect if you were recording an interview out and about.

It alternates between "The Girls" podcast and Sadie's narrative, the investigation following Sadie's trail. It shows how difficult a missing persons case can be, they find loads of clues to Sadie's whereabouts, but each time she's moved on. People don't always come forward with the information they know, and not always for nefarious purposes. Sometimes they just don't know something's important.

But love is complicated, it’s messy. It can inspire selflessness, selfishness, our greatest accomplishments and our hardest mistakes. It brings us together and it can just as easily drive us apart.

Sadie had a tough life. Her addict mother had a string of boyfriends, and it doesn't take long to come to the conclusion of what was going on. She did her best to look after her sister, right up until the night she was killed. They live in a trailer and money is tight. However it acknowledges that her mother was a human being too, with faults and a huge amount of guilt at not being able to protect her girls.

Sadie's got a tough exterior, but her facade cracks under stress. She is really a lost young women who has had her world ripped apart. She feels adrift, and the only thing left is revenge, or justice. Full of tough subject matter, it's full of emotion. Although not one for people who like neat endings.

ATY: 41. A book from the 2018 GR Choice Awards
POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 30. A book featuring an amateur detective

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Book Source: Purchased

Thursday, 25 July 2019

N.E.W.T.s Required Reading

Magical Readathon is hosted by Book Roast.

I nearly forgot that the N.E.W.T.s protion of the Magical Readathon was happening, after all that hard work to get my O.W.L.s! It runs for the month of August and I'll be reading for the Magizoologist career which means I need O in Care of Magical Creatures, E in Charms and E in Herbology. Here's what I'm aiming to read:



Care of Magical Creatures

A: Follow the spiders! Why couldn't it be follow the butterflies!
Book title that starts with a letter A, for Aragog!

Authority by Jeff Vandermeer
BACK-UP: After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun

E: Book under 300 pages
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
BACK-UP: Broken Places and Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor

O: Grab onto Fawke's tail! Read a book with a bird on the cover
The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt
BACK-UP: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo



Charms

A: Read a book that you think has a gorgeous cover
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
BACK-UP: The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall

E: Read a comic/graphic novel/manga (or book under 150 pages)
Heartstopper Volume Two by Alice Oseman
BACK-UP: Finding Home Volume One by Hari Conner

BONUS: O: Spongify (softening charm) - read a paperback book



Herbology

A: Mandrake! Quick, put your headphones on! Listen to an audiobook (if not - green cover)
The Heartland by Nathan Filer
BACK-UP: Wilding by Isabella Tree

E: Read a book between 350-390 pages
Heartstream by Tom Pollock
BACK-UP: Unleashed by Amy McCulloch

BONUS: O: Read a book with a flower on the cover

Monday, 22 July 2019

On My Radar: August

Sometimes I think I spend more time looking for books to read than I do actually reading. Ah the perils of being a book blogger. Here is another month's worth of tantalising new releases for you to add to your wishlists and TBRs.

Dates are for UK print editions unless otherwise noted and books may be available earlier in different countries or formats. As always, inclusion is not an endorsement as I haven't read them!


1st

All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
The Spaces Between Us by Stacia Tolman (US)
We Walked the Sky by Lisa Fiedler (US)


6th

House Of Salt And Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

8th

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
Sanctuary by V.V. James
Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell
The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth L. Cline
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware


13th

Inland by Tea Obreht
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
The Warehouse by Rob Hart
Start Here by Trish Doller (US)


15th

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry (US)


20th

Empty Hearts by Juli Zeh (US)


22nd

Unleashed by Amy McCulloch
Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem


29th

The Burning Land by George Alagiah
The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy

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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