HOW TO STOP TIME by Matt Haig @matthaig1 #BookReview

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HOW TO STOP TIME by Matt Haig

Goodreads Description

“The first rule is that you don’t fall in love, ‘ he said… ‘There are other rules too, but that is the main one. No falling in love. No staying in love. No daydreaming of love. If you stick to this you will just about be okay.'” 

A love story across the ages – and for the ages – about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

So Tom moves back to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher–the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city’s history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.

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My Review 

Tom Hazard looks like a normal man in his 40’s but due to a rare and largely unknown medical condition, he is actually more than 400 years old. After surviving his early years in in medieval France and England  – where he worked for a brilliant young playwright called William Shakespeare and tragically fell in love – Tom became part of the Albatross Society.

The first condition of the secretive Albatross Society, made up of people like Tom, is that you can’t fall in love. Members are also forbidden from seeing a doctor, required to move location every eight years and must recruit new members for the Albatross Society in between each move.

After living this nomadic life for 400 or so years – which included sailing the seas with Captain Cook and encounters in jazz bars in Paris with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald – Tom just wants to go back to his old home in London and live an ordinary life as a high school history teacher. Being back home and a forbidden romance bring up painful memories of Tom’s past and he has no choice but to decide between the restrictive, and increasingly dangerous Albatross Society or begin his life again in the present.

I loved HOW TO STOP TIME and I’m already looking forward to re-reading it soon! Matt Haig has an insightful way with words and beautifully conveyed the range of emotions that Tom experienced living for centuries. Long enough to watch everybody he loved and care for die, and then to watch humanity make the same mistakes over and over again throughout history.

I loved the way that real-life historical figures featured throughout the novel through Tom’s memories, particularly the way that Shakespeare was portrayed as an eccentric but kind hearted genius with a keen sense of observation.

5 stars!

About the Author 

matthaig
Matt Haig

 

Matt Haig is a British author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 25 languages. It is being made into a film by Studio Canal and The Guardian called it an ‘instant classic’. His novels for adults include the award-winning The Radleys and The Humans.

He won the TV Book Club ‘book of the series’, and has been shortlisted for a Specsavers National Book Award. The Humans was chosen as a World Book Night title. His children’s novels have won the Smarties Gold Medal, the Blue Peter Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times

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My Book Review of THE CURSE OF TIME (Bloodstone #1) by M.J. Mallon @Marjorie_Mallon

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THE CURSE OF TIME (Bloodstone #1) by M.J. Mallon

 

Goodreads Description

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.

My Review

Amelina’s family is very unusual. Her parents seem to be cursed, especially after her father mysteriously disappeared and returned. A girl who used to go to school with Amelina is imprisoned in the mirrors of the family home and the family’s black cat seems to know far more than he should. When Amelina receives and invitation to visit the magical Crystal Cottage she meets a mysterious stranger and discovers the truth about her family.

I loved the main idea and concepts of this story. There are lots a of crystals mixed in with folklore and myths. I found that the book jumped around from one idea to the next a bit too suddenly and it was often difficult to keep up with what was going on. These issues could definitely be cleared up with another round of editing and proofreading.

THE CURSE OF TIME is a great concept for a young adult fantasy novel and a fantastic effort from a debut author. Many thanks to the author for sending me a review copy.

About the Author

 

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M.J. Mallon author of THE CURSE OF TIME (Bloodstone #1)

 

I am a debut author who has been blogging for three years at my lovely blog home Kyrosmagica: https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, middle grade fiction and micro poetry – haiku and tanka. I love to read and have written over 100 reviews: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheroes! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit,) second child and only daughter to my proud parents Paula and Ronald. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with my elder brother Donald. My parents dragged me away from my exotic childhood and my much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. In bonnie Edinburgh I mastered Scottish country dancing, and a whole new Och Aye lingo.

As a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit my abacus wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters. After such an upbringing my author’s mind has taken total leave of its senses! When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

 

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The Princess Bride by William Goldman

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Goodreads Synopsis

Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. So when she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts (no survivors) her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairy tale like no other, of fencing, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, bad men, good men, snakes, spiders, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles, and … a damn fine story.

Details

Title: The Princess Bride

Author: William Goldman

ISBN: 0345418263 (ISBN13: 9780345418265)

Published: August 2008 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 1973)

Pages: 317

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure, Young Adult

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts

The Princess Bride is possibly the only time I ever saw the movie before I read the book.  I must have watched the movie about a million times, as did most 80s kids, so I was a little bit apprehensive about reading the book around the wrong way after such a long time. I didn’t have anything to worry about because I enjoyed the book just as much as I loved the movie. I couldn’t help but picture the movie characters as I was reading, but I found that most of the action and classic lines in the novel were portrayed accurately in the movie.

Like this one!

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I found Goldman’s fictional great Florinese author, S. Morgenstern, and his “classic tale of true love and high adventure” an interesting technique. It’s definitely an interesting way of skipping through all the boring bits and adds an air of excitement to the story.

 

 

 

 

Conjuror #bookreview

conjurorI have to admit that I am a massive Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Captain Jack Harkness fan, so I was a little bit geeked out to have the opportunity to read John Barrowman’s latest novel written in collaboration with his sister, Carole E. Barrowman.

There were a lot of features that I loved about this novel. First of all, there was a really great mix of diverse characters. Considering that Conjuror’s target audience is mostly teenagers, it made me smile to find a bad ass female Indian policewoman, an African American teenager, and LGBT characters all in the one book like it was no big deal.

Secondly, combining magic, mystery, art, and music into the same book is a pretty interesting concept and not something you come across every day.

I did feel as though I had missed out on some of the general background of the characters, especially the twins, although I have recently discovered that they appear in the Hollow Earth series also, so that’s probably why I felt their stories just jumped right in.

I would recommend Conjuror to fans of YA fantasy. It was an enjoyable and quick read, with some really interesting and diverse characters and concepts. I will definitely be hanging out to read the second installment because I’m dying to find out what happens next!

Description

Sixteen-year-old twins Matt and Em Calder are Animare: they can bring art to life, and travel in time through paintings. They work for Orion—the Animare MI5—protecting the secrecy of their order and investigating crimes committed by their own kind. It’s dangerous work. But when they are sent to Edinburgh to find a teenage boy who can alter reality with his music, they are drawn into something more dangerous still. For this boy, Remy, is the Conjurer’s Son. And he carries something that could change humanity forever.

Details

Title: Conjuror (Orion Chronicles #1)

Author: John and Carole E. Barrowman

ISBN: 9781781856376

Published:  April 21st 2016 by Head of Zeus
Genre:  Science Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy
Pages: 320
Source: Review copy from publisher (HarperCollins Australia)

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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#Review: Broken Sky by L.A. Weatherly

Broken Sky is the first book of the Broken trilogy, set in a dystopian America that is brokenskyreminiscent of the 1940s. The book has a very noir feeling to it, the technology, dress and entertainment in this world are true to the 1940s war-time genre, but the world in Broken Sky has a lot of differences. In this world nuclear war has been banned after WWII and disputes between countries are settled by pilots who are known as Peacefighters. America has been split into sections, with the leader of the Central States running his country based on Astrology.

In the Broken Sky world having the wrong star sign can be fatal. Basically, everybody in the Central States has their Astrology charts done and if there is anything in their stars that could mean trouble they are labelled ‘Discordant’ and sent to concentration camps very similar to Nazi Germany. The evil leader of the Central States is looking to increase his power of course. I really enjoyed the comparisons between Discordants and Jews and how well it highlighted the inhumanity of the Holocaust and punishing a group of people simply for the circumstances of their birth.

The main character, Amity, is a Peacefighter for the Western Seaboard which once used to be part of the USA. Amity is a brilliant YA heroine. She’s tough but fair and is one of the best Peacefighters for the Western Seaboard. She has to battle deception, betrayal, and corruption to protect herself and her family.

Broken Sky is also written from the point of view of Kay who is an astrologist in the Central States. She doesn’t believe in Astrology in the slightest but she is skilled at reading people and telling them what they want to hear. During the novel she manages to work her way up to becoming the top Astrologer for the Central States, so we learn a lot about the evilly enigmatic Central States leader through her.

Broken Sky is perfect for all the dystopian lovers out there. There is plenty of action, adventure, deception, romance, and betrayal. The world is just similar enough to 1940s America to be familiar, but the Astrology spin added a refreshing point of difference. I was a bit disappointed there wasn’t much about my own star sign though. Hopefully somebody in the next book is an Aquarian! This is the kind of YA novel that can be enjoyed by all ages, with just the right amount of romance to add to the story. And make sure you’re sitting somewhere you will be able to hold onto your seats for the crazy twist at the end! I can not wait to read the sequel now…

Corrected to add that there is an Aquarian character and just as I suspected they are on the Discordant list!

Description

Welcome to a ‘perfect’ world.

Where war is illegal, where harmony rules.

And where your date of birth marks your destiny.

But nothing is perfect.

And in a world this broken, who can Amity trust?

From the bestselling author of the Angel trilogy comes Broken Sky – an exhilarating epic set in a daring and distorted echo of 1940s America and first in a new trilogy.

Details

Title: Broken Sky

Author: L.A. Weatherly

ISBN: 9781409572022

Published:  March 1st 2016 by Usborne
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 500
Source: Review copy from publisher (HarperCollins Australia)

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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1984 by George Orwell

I’ve decided to post a review of 1984 by George Orwell to kick off my David Bowie top 1984100 books reading challenge because it also happen to be one of my own favourites. I have read this novel many times, most recently in November. I wrote an essay about George Orwell’s Why I Write, blogging, and the collapse of the private and public spheres. It was just as heavy as it sounds, but do have a read of Why a Write if you haven’t already!

I have no idea how to write this review without including SPOILERS, so please stop reading immediately if you haven’t read 1984 yet.

1984 was the very distant future at the time it was written in 1948…see what he did there? Obviously the world hasn’t turned out exactly the way Orwell imagined, but I often suspect that he wasn’t too far off the mark either.

Point 1: Orwell claimed that technologies such as TV and radio would be used to spy on and control citizens:

Not TV and radio so much, but the Internet obviously has an enormous amount of privacy concerns. Privacy is certainly a different concept now than it was in 1948.

Point 2: The media will be increasingly used to influence public opinion:

I think that’s obviously pretty accurate these days.

Point 3: The world will constantly be at war, but there will be no world wars or use of atomic bombs:

Spot on.

Point 4: Countries will become allies with former enemies and vice versa.

True again

I’ve heard a lot of people complain that 1984 is too slow paced, but I think this was intentional. Living in a dystopian world such as Winston’s would be a grim and dull existence. I know we’re used to a bit more excitement and action these days, but Orwell wrote this novel with one purpose in mind. To deliver a strong political message and voice his concerns about the way he saw the world heading.

Believe it or not, I can see similarities between Orwell and David Bowie. They both wanted to make the world a better place and used art to deliver their messages. Orwell was obviously much more abrasive and in your face than Bowie though!

As the line in Space Oddity goes:

Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.

I see this to mean there are some truly awful and horrific things in this world. Make yourself aware of what’s going on around you, but that is often all we can do. Look for the good and the beautiful anyway.

I consider 1984 to be a must read. I have too many favourite books to have one book I would call my favourite, but 1984 is definitely a contender if I had to choose just one. Please don’t ask me to choose though!

Description

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

Details

Title: 1984

Author: George Orwell

ISBN: 0451524934

Published: 1949

Pages: 268

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy

Source: I own my copy

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Blonde Eskimo by Kristen Hunt

Fantasy and Eskimos!

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Img Source: Goodreads

17 year old Neiva is unhappy about having to stay with her grandmother in the tiny island, Spirit, Alaska, while her parents tour around Europe. She thinks Spirit is boring and a little bit creepy. It doesn’t help that she is the only blonde Eskimo on the entire island. Neiva decides that she will uncover the secrets of Spirit during her stay, but gets a little bit more than she bargained for.

Blonde Eskimo is packed full of adventure and rich in Eskimo customs and mythology. Underneath Spirit’s sleepy exterior there lies a magical world full of mystical creatures – both good and evil. Neiva discovers that she must do whatever it takes to protect her friends and family from the evil forces that seek to destroy Spirit and the rest of the world.

I really enjoyed reading about the Eskimo myths and traditions in Blonde Eskimo. The novel was full of action and adventure, plus romance. There were a couple of sections that I thought were a bit too detailed and difficult to follow. Besides from that, it was a great read.

Description

Part Viking, part Eskimo, Neiva Ellis knew her family’s ancestral home, the island of Spirit, Alaska, held a secret. A mystery so sensitive everyone, including her beloved grandmother, was keeping it from her. When Neiva is sent to stay on the island while her parents tour Europe she sets out on a mission to uncover the truth, but she was not prepared for what laid ahead.

On the night of her seventeenth birthday, the Eskimo rite of passage, Neiva is mysteriously catapulted into another world full of mystical creatures, ancient traditions, and a masked stranger who awakens feelings deep within her heart. Along with her best friends Nate, Viv and Breezy, she uncovers the truth behind the town of Spirit and about her own heritage.

When an evil force threatens those closest to her, Neiva will stop at nothing to defend her family and friends. Eskimo traditions and legends become real as two worlds merge together to fight a force so ancient and evil it could destroy not only Spirit but the rest of humanity.

Details

Title: Blonde Eskimo

Author: Kristen Hunt

ISBN: 1940716624

Published: October 13th 2015 by SparkPress

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Pages: 308

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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