The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories by Many Wonderful Writers!

TheDjinnFallsInLove
Click here to order from Waterstones

We all know of the Djinn, immortal beings can grant wishes but epitomise the moral of being careful what you wish for as your wish may have unforeseen consequences. This collection of tales bring us stories of Djinn in many parts of the world in the past, the present and the future. They are everywhere. Outside your back garden, on street corners, in the mosque, behind the wheel of a taxi, on mars, surrounding you on stage. Sometimes the divide between them and us is paper thin, their humanity more painful than our own, sometimes their omnipotence allows us to believe they are miles from us instead.

There are stories here from bestselling, award-winning and breakthrough international writers. Honestly when it comes to the quality of the writing you’ll be hard-pressed to know which is a breakthrough author and which has won awards. The standard is consistently high. The cultural diversity of the authors should be praised to with writers from a large variety of backgrounds, reading this is likely to lead you to discovering at least a couple of new favourite authors.

That being said there were of course stories I preferred. And part of the joy of a short story collection is that you can flick over stories that aren’t right for you at the moment without any guilt! You can’t really skip chapters in novels in the same way.

For me the ones that didn’t appeal were the futuristic ones. I think that’s a failing on my part though, or on my mood or expectations. When it comes to Djinn I want to read about magic, glamour not a grey cargo hold. I may revisit those stories in the future though when I’m feeling more open minded! If you’ve read them and think I’m an idiot for skipping them don’t hesitate to tell me!

My favourite stories were Kamila Shamsie’s “The Congregation”, the first story in the collection and a heart-achingly beautiful tale of a young boy finding his brother. Neil Gaiman’s “Somewhere in America”, a stand-alone extract from American Gods. Claire North’s contribution is the most reminiscent of 1001 nights so of course I loved it. But I was stopped in my tracks by Amal El-Mohtar’s prose-poem “A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds” which reminded me immensely of The Book of The Dead – one of my favourite books ever. Kirsty Logan’s “The Spite House” is really clever yet pulses with heart and anxiety. And Sophia Al-Maria’s “The Righteous Guide of Arabsat” is a vibrant, authentic and eventually scary look at a man’s fear of female sexuality.

Pick it up, rub it, and make a wish.

4 Bites

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Mr Eternity by Aaron Thier

img_2360Two young documentary makers have heard there is an old sailor in Key West who says he is 560 years old. They go to meet him with minds prised open against the cynicism 2016 is steeped in. If they do make a documentary about him, it won’t be mocking – it will be hopeful.

The old sailor, who tells people his name is Daniel Defoe, seems to be in the prime of his life. But if so it’s been a very long prime. Because then we’re introduced to him as the antagonist in a vengeful woman’s tale. He is in South America in 1560 when the Spaniards have destroyed the Aztec and Inca civilizations. Then we meet him again in 1795, a friend of John Green, a man passing for white in the plantations of Bermuda.

But the story of Daniel Defoe doesn’t end there. We meet him again in 2500 in the future Democratic Federation of Mississippi States. A time when the cities of the Atlantic coast are underwater, the union has fallen apart, and cars, plastics, and air conditioning are relegated to history. Then he is an advisor to the King of St. Louis.

Although many things change through the centuries, other things remain constant, and it seems like being on the edge of ruin is one.

This review is probably one of the hardest I’ve written. Not because the book is awful or impossible to figure out when you’re reading it (though I was a little confused at first! Just because it’s somehow really hard to explain. It is a great concept and it’s well executed but I wasn’t quite sure what the message was – was it that the world is always on the edge of extinction so there’s no point worrying about climate change etc. Or was it exactly the opposite? That it really is about tme we stepped back from the edge?

Part of it’s charm is that although Daniel Defoe is always an important character, he’s not the main character in any of the stories. But this is also part of the books failing, we never really know what Daniel thinks.

It is worth reading – but you’ll have to keep your mind open and make it up for yourself!

3.5 Bites

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews.

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Find Me by Laura van den Berg

cover63180-medium
Click to Order from Waterstones

In a hospital in Kansas there are a select group of patients that all seem to be immune to the epidemic sweeping Amercia. A sickness that begins with silver blisters and memory loss and ends with death has devasted the United States but these patients and their unorthodox Doctor might hold the key to a cure.

One of the patients is Joy. Before she came to the hospital she had a disatisfying job and an addiction to cough syrup. She’d never had much of a life having been in care and foster homes throughout her childhood so she’d figured a few weeks in hospital would be an easy gig. But it isn’t long until their isolation leaves all the patients longing for the outside.

Joy is an interesting protagonist, her flaws and vulnerabilities take centre stage and really are what push her forward in this strange adventure.

This is very much a book of two halves though, I enjoyed the first half set in the hospital, Laura Van Den Berg’s odd, almost dream-like writing style works well set against the institutional structure and feels right expressing Dr Bek’s treatment. But the second half of the book where Joy is trying to travel across the country it seems to lose it’s way a bit. Particularly when she meets another healer with a similar methodology to Dr Bek. It feels a bit repetitious and as the book ended just as she was about to find (or not find) the person she was looking for , it also felt a bit pointless.

I can be a fan of the ambiguous ending when it’s done well, but in this case because there was so much meandering in the second half of the book I really felt it needed a solid ending.

3 Bites

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The PowerOne day, Allie discovers she can inflict an electric shock with just her hand. Her adoptive father, who has been sexually abusing her for years, finds himself on the recieivng end.

In the UK, Roxy Monke, daughter of crime lord Bernie Monke, finds she has the same power – but it’s not enough to save her mother from the men sent to kill her.

Soon after hundreds of teen girls find they have the same ability and that they can wake up the latent ability in their mothers and grandmothers. Suddenly – the world has changed and the power to hurt is in women’s hands.

To say my little feminist heart was excited to read this is an understatement! I couldn’t wait to see how this question would be examined and what conclusions this book would come to. But before we ge to that let’s just look at it as a story.

Naomi Alderman is a good writer. There are a couple of clever stylistic twists but mainly she just gets on with the job of telling the story so it flows very quickly and pulls the reader along … even when there are moments that you might not want to read or only to read through your fingers!

The characters are great, I particularly liked Tunde, the young Nigerian lad who falls into becoming THE expert journalist on the subject by chance but takes the opportunity and runs with it. But all the characters are well written and easy to empathise with.

That’s partly why I ended up not really liking this book. It’s powerful, but it’s message seems to suggest that power corrupts everybody. That if women were more physically powerful as men we’d abuse that power just as much.

It’s a theory that does have a certain amount of validity, but nonetheless it’s one that my heart can’t accept. It’s also one that I think is dangerous in the current climate. There are too many ‘mens rights activists’ that already think we’re in a war and that feminists all need a lesson. This could become ammunition for them. After all, most of them aren’t brilliant at distinguishing fiction from reality.

3 Bites

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Second-Hand Bestsellers – Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm

You may remember that following my confession a few months ago about picking up bargain books at second-hand stalls I  made a bit of a challenge out of my vice.The criteria I set are:-

  • Each book must be bought secondhand for no more than £1
  • Each book must claim on its front cover that it is a bestseller, award winner
  • 12 books – one per month for a year

This is my Book #2. Do feel free to join me and share your second-hand bestsellers in the comments!

Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm- published 1977.

‘The Hugo Award Winning Novel’

Tagline – PLAY GOD: It’s the most dangerous game of all

Hugo Award Winner Locus Award Winner Click to go through to Amazon
Hugo Award Winner
Locus Award Winner
Click to go through to Amazon

Wow! This short book of just 250 pages is a brilliantly thought through vision of a post-apocalyptic rebuilding of the human species. A new society where a child is will never feel lonely or left out and is always one of a number of identical brothers or sisters. The idea of group telepathy was not new in 1977 and indeed was explored in John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos published in 1957.

The story starts shortly before the apocalypse and is set in the beautiful Shendoah valley. Famine and drought are causing international incidents, resources are being hoarded and countries are closing borders. Radiation in the atmosphere is high, pandemics are killing thousands daily and most countries are experiencing zero population growth. Those with foresight are realising that the masses cannot be saved and that human species is on the brink of extinction. The Sumner family is blessed with several brilliant thinkers, lots of wealth and plenty of fertile secluded land. The elders have planned ahead and stockpiled medical and computer equipment, generators, food, building materials, animals, seeds and tools and most importantly gathered together people with skills.

David has been studying in the field of cloning and when tests show that all the men have become infertile the full value of his research becomes clear. At first cloning of humans is vital for the survival of the species but in time sexual reproduction of the species is seen as inferior and those few clones who turn out to be fertile are removed from the society and used as breeding stock to carry the cloned fetuses.

Cloned and cloned again for the continuance of the particular skills of their forebear each new batch of identical sisters or brothers share an emotional and psychological bond bordering on telepathy that proves ultimately to make them not individual thinkers but one part of a functioning whole. In Wilhelm’s novel these groups of children are not sinister creatures with the ability to control the minds of normal humans as in The Midwich Cuckoos but groups of identically skilled beings. Specialism stifles diversity, the individual consciousness is lost as the group consciousness develops, and consequently free thinkers, unique skills and the ability to produce random ideas are eradicated from the new generations.

What makes us human? This becomes the central theme of the book as the decades pass and the new society realise that their continuing reproduction and therefore their very survival will depend on obtaining resources from the ruined cities. To leave their safe valley and go foraging hundreds of miles away in bombed out cities and radiation poisoned landscapes requires skills that these generations were not bred for. Their new utopia is in grave danger.

This book is not dark and violent as many dystopian novels are. It’s more subtle in its depiction of good and bad choices. At the end Mark, who is not a clone although both his parents were, says “You won’t understand this. No one’s alive but me who could understand it. I love you, Barry. You’re strange to me, alien, not human. All of you are… but I didn’t destroy them because I loved you.”

This novel is concisely written, not a word is wasted and yet Wilhelm’s descriptions of the desolate cities and the deep forests lack nothing. It is meticulously thought out and challenging. Presented in 3 main time frames she develops various protagonists as the new generations are introduced and the contrast between the individual and the collective deepens.

This book blew me away. I may not be a lover of sci-fi (though since the cloning of Dolly the sheep in the 1990s cloning has ceased to be fiction and has become a fact) but nevertheless I was immersed in this vision of the future. I can see why it won two awards and I recommend it whole-heartedly for anyone from YA up.

I wish it was longer – that’s my only complaint. I have to give it 5 bites

 

 

Tamara Thomas
I am the only girl and youngest of four children, I grew up in a home stuffed with books, and now some fifty years later, great piles of them still appear in every room I inhabit. I won’t waste my time reading books that leave me feeling sour, dirty or depressed; books are a source of light and inspiration in my world. Nevertheless, I love a book that makes me cry with loss or sadness such as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin or The Book Thief. Bliss is a winter’s afternoon on the sofa, snuggled in with my dogs, stove blazing and an absorbing book.

The Gradual by Christopher Priest

cover88297-mediumChristopher Priest is apparently one of the UK’s greatest writers – on the cover just there you can see that the Sunday Times considers him a ‘Novelist of Distinction’! I’d never heard of him before this book let alone read him. When I looked him up when I was about halfway through this I found he’d written over 15 books including one which was turned into the award winning film The Prestige. It just goes to show how easy it is to miss even best- selling authors!

Anyway this book is starts in a country called Glaund, a cold and controlled country locked in a permanent war. It follows the life of Alesandro Sussken, a composer whose older brother is sent off to fight, leaving his family bereft.

Alesandro is inspired by the Dream Archipelago, a string of islands that no one can map or explain.  He creates symphonies named for them, a somewhat subversive act as  all knowledge of the  islands is forbidden by the junta. Then he is invited on a cultural tour of them, an opportunity too good to miss but one that will not only change his perceptions of his country, but will lead to him losing years of his life too.

This book is written in first person, so Alesandro is telling us his story directly. It feels like he is telling it at a bit of a distance, not as if he’s overthe pain of his brother leaving and never coming back, more as if he’s perpetually distracting himself from it. Often this muffling of the main characters pain would make a book less exciting and harder for the reader to connect to, but in this case it reflects the dream-like quality of the mysterious islands.

This was an interesting read, it plays with time and travel in an unusual way, what made this really special though was the music, I’m no musician but like most people I recognise its expressive power. This book pays homage to that.

4 Bites

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Roofworld by Christopher Fowler

imageLondon in the 1980’s has a secret people never see. A refuge for the misfits and outcasts of society that towers above the dirty city. But Roofworld, with its complex laws and codes and decaying system of cables and wires is at war. And if evil wins it will take possession of the city below next.

Robert is looking for the author of a little known book to try and buy the film rights from her, sadly he is a little too late, she was murdered during a robbery the week before. But he does meet Rose, who tells him about her daughter who she thinks has been kidnapped and is being held in Roofworld. They get pulled into events up above – not always the perfect scenario for Robert as he  discovers he’s not good with heights!

This was Christopher Fowler’s first book – he’s gone on to become quite the prolific author having written more than 40 books including the ‘Bryant & May’ series. He specialises in unusual plots and peculiar happenings set in the real world so he’s a good bet for fans of Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch.

And this is certainly an unusual plot full or peculiar happenings! If I was rating this on plot alone it would definitely get 5 bites! If I was rating it  on writing alone it would probably get  bites too – even though he’s written so much this book was still peppered with lovely lines and fresh metaphors that made me feel like I was there.

The only thing this falls down on is the characters, they’re not awful, but they feel a bit lazy. Robert seems like a slightly less interesting version of Richard Mayhew – the protagonist of Neverwhere (written by Neil Gaiman in 1996 – though I’m not suggesting there was any plagiarism going on), Rose is cool but we never get beneath the surface and the police characters are very formulaic. The two dominant characters fighting it out on the roof tops could be fascinating but we don’t really get to learn much about them until too late.

I have to say that this would make a cracking movie though, or a graphic novel, but as a novel I can only give it 3.5 bites – readable, and fairly enjoyable but not earth-shattering. I’m interested to read some of his more recent works though now.

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

cover87393-mediumWoman on the Edge of Time was first published 40-years ago, it became a classic, painting a picture of two possible futures and how even the most downtrodden could fight for the happier one. Connie Ramos, a Mexican American woman living in New York. Connie was once ambitious and determined, she started college, but then she had her dignity, her husband, and her child stolen. Finally they want to take her sanity – but does she still have it to steal?

Connie has recently been contacted by an envoy from the year 2137 who introduces her to a time where men and women are equal, the words he and she are obsolete having been replaced by the word per (short for person). All forms of sexuality are celebrated as are all racial genetics. It isn’t quite a perfect world, there are minor jealousies and tensions between lovers and a war still being fought on the outer boundaries, but to Connie it’s a revelation. Now she’s been unjustly committed to a mental institution, and they’re putting electrodes into her brain, when she tries to reach the future next it’s entirely different, a horrific place for women to live. Does Connie hold they key to which becomes our future and if so does she have the strength to turn it?

Today Ebury Publishing have released a 40th anniversary addition, a new generation get to meet Connie. I have to applaud them, they’re having a great month for feminist literature, just a couple of weeks ago they also released Shappi Khorshandi’s Nina is Not Ok and now this!

To my shame I missed this first time round, I don’t know how, I’ve read a lot of feminist literature but this passed me by. I’m so glad to have read it. I have to admit that when I first started it I was in a dark place and the first few pages with their bleak portrait of exploitation was more than I could take. I had to set it aside for a couple of weeks. If I’d known where it was going I wouldn’t have, just a few pages later it blossomed and it would have lifted me right out of the funk I was in.

I can’t express how much I loved this book – it’s definitely one I’ll re-read and one I want passionately for you to read too. This isn’t just a ‘feminist book’, it’s also a brilliantly written sci-fi classic. It’s interesting to read this with fresh eyes in 2016, still over a hundred years away from the two possible predicted futures, and see our progress towards them. When Marge Piercy wrote this the idea of wearing computers as watches or using gender neutral pronouns was pie-in-the-sky as was the thought of the majority of women having plastic surgery. Reading it now it seems like it could’ve been written just yesterday. We’ve still all got choices to make – which future will you fight for?

5 Bites

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Smoke by Dan Vyleta

imageThe next huge YA crossover book! Those adults that loved Philip Pullman’s writing and JK Rowling’s world creation will love this.

It opens with a quote from Dickens’s Dombey and Son: “Those who study the physical sciences, and bring them to bear upon the health of man, tell us that if the noxious particles that rise from vitiated air, were palpable to the sight, we should see them lowering in a dense black cloud above such haunts, and rolling slowly on to corrupt the better portions of a town. But if the moral pestilence that rises with them could be made discernible too, how terrible the revelation!”

This book, set in an alternative Victorian England takes that premise seriously. Here sin appears as smoke on the body and soot on the clothes. Children smoke furiously from birth and the ruling elite are sent to boarding school to learn to control their desires and contain their sin. They are spotless.

Thomas and Charlie attend such a school in Oxfordshire but then on a trip to London, a forbidden city shrouded in smoke and darkness, they witness an event that makes them question everything they have been told. There is more to the world of smoke, soot and ash than meets the eye and it seems there are those who will stop at nothing to protect it.

There are a lot of great Young Adult stories and many older adults read them too (you’re only as old as the books you read? 😉). But few of them have writing as good as this.  For the first few chapters I found myself stopping and re-reading many sentences, smiling to myself at the simple joy of language used well. But then I became too engrossed in the story and then the damn book went and finished!

I utterly recommend this, it’s got it all, plot, characters, ideas, adventure, love, passion and a great villain!

5 Bites

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

imageIn a future where water is rare and the south-west of America is covered with sand. California, and all those still living there, are  stranded.

Luz and Ray don’t want to leave though, they’ve built a perfect personal utopia on each others love.

But when they come across a child they suspect is being abused everything changes. They know they need to find a better life for her.

I love a bit of dystopian fiction. For me it’s the ultimate ‘what if’ game, rooted in reality but branching into an unknown future. Claire Vaye Watkins has had good reviews for this book too – one even compared it to The Handmaids Tale.

There is a lot that’s good about this book, but it isn’t perfect. The author has written some complex and haunting characters and the world she describes is disturbing. Not so much for the lack of water but for the ways people act when they are isolated from a wider society, and either forced or allowed to create their own.

There were bits of this book that I wanted to skip over, and bits that didn’t quite hold my attention. A tighter edit could have shot this up to a 5 bite read for me.

But it is brave and worth reading, 4 bites.

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Book To Film: A Brief Look At Philip K. Dick

Philip K. DickIn the last week or so, the UK broadcaster Channel 4 has announced a new TV series based on the works of Philip K. Dick…

Channel 4 and Sony Pictures Television have today announced they are partnering on a hugely ambitious original drama series based on the short stories written by award-winning Sci-Fi novelist Philip K. Dick.

The ten-part anthology series, Electric Dreams: The World of Philip K. Dick, will be written and executive produced by Emmy-nominated Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander) and Michael Dinner (Justified, Masters of Sex), with Oscar nominated Bryan Cranston (Trumbo, Breaking Bad) both executive producing and appearing in the series.

Each episode will be a sharp, thrilling standalone drama adapted and contemporised for global audiences by a creative team of British and American writers. The series will both illustrate Philip K. Dick’s prophetic vision and celebrate the enduring appeal of the prized Sci-Fi novelist’s work.

Bryan Cranston has starred in many big films, such as Godzilla, but he is better know for his leading role in ‘Breaking Bad’.

If you are a big fan of Battlestar Galactica then you should know that Ronald D. More was the main force behind it.  He was also a major contributor to various Star Trek TV series and films.

Seems like the new TV show has some great credentials!

It’s not the first time that Philip K. Dick’s work has been developed in to films. Most of the time, it’s his short stories have been used as a basis for a script.

Let’s take a look at some of his work that has made it to the big screen…

The Man In The High Castle

This 1962 book was made in to a successful TV series in 2015.  It was developed for Amazon Prime and another series is due this year.

We Can Remember It For You Wholesale

This short story from 1966 was developed for film in 1990 and was released as ‘Total Recall’. It featured Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role and was in my opinion a fairly fun film. However, another version was made in 2012 which was much more serious and more liberal with the original story.

The Minority Report

After Blade Runner, this is possibly the biggest film based on a Philip K. Dick’s story. The original book was published in 1956 and made in to a film in 2006 starring Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell.

Blade Runner

You really can’t talk about Philip K. Dick and not mention Blade Runner. It has become a cult film, inspired and influenced Sci Fi films ever since the film was released in 1982. It’s based on the book, ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep’ that was first published in 1968.

A Scanner Darkly

This is the most quirky of all the adaptations of Philip K. Dicks works. Based on the 1977 book, the film was used the technique of interpolated rotoscoping. You can read more about it here. Basically, animators draw over each frame to create an animated look. This in my opinion is the closest anyone has got to the story and the ‘look and feel’ that was originally intended by the author

Bob Toovey
I started reading Sci Fi at around age 8, I’ve never looked back since. I was highly influenced by my father’s reading choices at the beginning. I soon branched out to many different authors and Sci Fi genre’s. Early influences include Asimov, Clark, Simak, PKD and other ‘golden age’ authors. On occasion, I like a good spy book and currently finding early religious history a fascinating subject – despite being an atheist.

The Ship by Antonia Honeywell

imageYoung Lalla is lucky. Although Oxford Street burned for three weeks under the new regime and British Museum’s artefacts are vanishing and being replaced by desperate homeless survivors, she has been sheltered from the harsh reality by her parents.

But with the regime getting harsher and food becoming more scarce her father has decided it is time to leave. The ship is not just a whispered dream, it’s real. But it can only carry five hundred people so only the worthy will be saved. To her surprise her father is the ships owner and the architect of the entire escape plan. He’s done it all to save her so her place is assured.  But before long she starts to question her place onboard, and the mission itself.

Antonia Honeywell has written a really interesting dystopian novel. Officially this falls into the Young Adult market but I think this is works just as well for the adult market.

It’s set in the quite near future and in a London that is recognisable and I think that adds to the credibility of plot. The main character is interesting and mostly likeable, but not perfect or omniscient, so it’s easy to stay on her side, even though you might sometimes want to shake her!

The purchase or the ship along with setting up stores for it and assembling the passengers isn’t focused on in the story, but that too is made believable by the telling of just a few details, the knowledge the reader is given of the surroundings chaos and by the character of Lalla’s father, if anyone can pull something like that off he is the man to do it!

This book doesn’t just tell a story though, it asks questions about how we live our lives, both in the world and personally. Questions that don’t have easy answers and the author doesn’t patronise us by providing her own.

4 Bites

NB I received a free copy of this book b through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews.

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

imageJohanna Sinisalo might not be well known in the UK yet but mark my words she will be!

She is exceptional both in her ideas and in her execution of them. I won’t lie, when I first read the blurb of this book I was intrigued, but I was also worried. Here is what it says…

“The Eusistocratic Republic of Finland has bred a new human sub-species of receptive, submissive women, called eloi, for sex and procreation, while intelligent, independent women are relegated to menial labor and sterilized so that they do not carry on their “defective” line. Vanna, raised as an eloi but secretly intelligent, needs money to help her doll-like sister, who has disappeared. Vanna forms a friendship with a man named Jare, and they become involved in buying and selling a stimulant known to the Health Authority to be extremely dangerous: chili peppers.”

I worried that it might either be a rip off of The Handmaidens Tale, or worse (much worse) 50 shades of grey.

Thankfully it is neither – it might share a little if the same DNA as The Handmaids Tale, but it is a completely different story. It also has a little of the DNA of 1984 and A Brave New World. It is a child of a great dynasty but Sinisalo brings her contemporary experiences to the table too. Vanna is a brilliant character, and you’ll really care what happens to her. Finland as an “eusistocracy”—an extreme welfare state—that holds public health and social stability above all else, is believable, and just as sinister as any other controlling state. I doubted that using Chili peppers as an illegal stimulant and possibly hallucinogenic drug would work, but by the end I was tempted into trying them myself!

This book blew hot panic and intense melancholy through me. Read it.

5 hot bites!

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

image“Word (wurd)

noun

1 A human relic, now obsolete.

2 archaic A discrete unit of meaning that when synthesised with other such units may make a small scratch in the skin of time.”

In a parallel New York books, libraries, and newspapers have already become historical items. Much as in our own world, most communication and entertainment is streamed to handheld devices known as Memes.  These devices are smart enough to dial the doctor before we know we’re sick, or prompt us with words we can’t recall. Of course not quite everyone is in thrall to them, Anana has endured numerous lectures from her father -the chief editor of what is going to be the last ever edition of the North American Dictionary of the English Language.

Then, just days before her father’s dictionary  is due to be released, he vanishes.

Anana, having recently been dumped by the popular and successful Max, turns to her bookish colleague Bart  to help. Soon they are embroiled in a bizarre mystery but can the find the answers they need before they, and the rest of North America, succumb to the growing “word flu” pandemic.

Ok, you all know I’m a book fiend! I devour them so quickly I should have a permanent case of book indigestion so I found the thought of ‘word flu’ fascinating. But I’m also a bit of a device fiend! I’m rarely seen without my phone or iPad near me even if I’m not using them. So I was also a little hesitant to start this, I was listening to the AudioBook version (on my phone of course!) and I was a bit worried it might turn into a 16 hour lecture on the perils of modern technology!

I was hooked by this though. It is clever, really clever, but at the same time it’s full of human foibles, unrequited love, complicated family relationships, sinister conspiracies, clumsy get rich quick schemes, scholarly superheroes, city life, nicknames and everything else the human condition entails. I found myself listening to it at every available opportunity.

It’s written for the young adult market, and I’d definitely recommend it for over 13’s, but it’s another one that bursts right out of that genre and can easily take a  place at the table next to any thriller.

Sink your teeth into it. You won’t regret it!

5 bites

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

The Tube Riders by Chris Ward

 

Click the picture to buy from Amazon
Click the picture to buy from Amazon

It is 2075 and Britain is now Mega Britain. Cut off from the rest of Europe and under the sole control of a man known only as the Governor. He rarely appears but rumours of his extraordinary powers keep the populace in check.

But teenagers must still blow off their frustrations so in the abandoned London Underground station of St. Cannerwells, a group of misfits calling themselves the Tube Riders meet regularly. They are a group of orphans, but together they are a family of sorts – Marta is their leader, a girl haunted by her brother’s disappearance. Paul lives only to protect his little brother Owen. Simon is trying to hold on to his relationship with Jess, daughter of a government official. Guarding them all is Switch, a young man with a flickering eye and a faster knife, who cares only about preserving their legend as they play their dangerous game with trains.

Everything changes the day they are attacked by a rival gang. While escaping, they witness an event that could bring war down on Mega Britain. Suddenly they are fleeing for their lives, pursued not only by their rivals, but by the brutal Department of Civil Affairs, government killing machines known as Huntsmen, and finally by the inhuman Governor himself.

Chris Ward has a good idea for a novel here and he executes it well to an extent. There is plenty of action with characters facing danger at every turn and surviving as much by luck as by skill. The characters are drawn well enough for us to care about them and their reactions are believable.

The only place this goes wrong is that the author tells the story from too many different points of view. His omniescent narration swoops down into pretty much every speaking role! Luckily he does this well enough for it not to be confusing but it does at times mean he’s doing too much telling and not enough showing. This would definitely have been better and even more compelling if he had limited the viewpoint to maybe three of the main characters or maximum five, not twelve.

A good read though – 3.5 bites.

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years since the release of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, it feels a little like this series of books has always been around- in fact, I wouldn’t mind it being around longer! Of course the fact that the trilogy was turned into a 4 film franchise starring the ever-popular Jennifer Lawrence has certainly helped!

With the fourth film released only a few days ago, I  thought I would pen a few thoughts on the third and final book. Clearly there will be spoilers for the previous two!

SPOILERS!!!
SPOILERS!!!

 

 

 

 

 

MockingjayMockingjay opens with Katniss walking through the ruins of District 12. It has been a month since she was rescued by the rebels with the aid of District 13. A lot has changed in Katniss’ world- the mere fact that District 13 even exists, let alone communicates with a network of rebels within the Capitol, is a bit of a game-changer.
As Katniss walks, she mourns the loss of her home, her friends and the potential loss of Peeta and the other tributes who were captured by the Capitol. She does not know if Peeta and Johanna are even alive and the thought, particularly with Peeta, fills her with despair.

As she settles in to District 13, a drab and depressing underground community still recovering from an epidemic that decimated their population, she must decide if she wants to become The Mockingjay and be the face of the all out rebellion against Capitol rule.
President Coin, leader of District 13, is not Katniss’ biggest fan but understands the power of image and the power of propaganda and needs Katniss to embrace her persona as The Mockingjay.

I won’t go much further into the plot, mainly because it is very complex and makes many twists and turns on the path to the conclusion of the trilogy. It is not as fast paced as either The Hunger Games or Catching Fire and for a lot of people this was a problem. Yes it does drag a little and is fairly repetitive and times but I found the underlying story to be compelling and thought the flashes of action amongst the slower paced recovery scenes were well placed.

The tone of Mockingjay has divided what feels like the entire internet. It is depressing, there is no getting around that. Mockingjay is relentless in throwing all sorts of trauma at Katniss and then focuses on what this does to her. So yes, Katniss spends a lot of time in this book being incredibly miserable, she makes poor decisions, she is often unlikeable, and there are times when you can’t quite believe she sparked off an entire civil war. Many people did not like this and wanted Katniss to shake it off, pick herself up immediately and crack on with saving the world. Sadly, war is not like this, and, rather than this being Suzanne Collins being lazy (as some reviewers think), I see this more as her being realistic. A lot of bad stuff happens to Katniss and she can’t deal with it particularly well. I don’t consider this to have been a betrayal of her character development in the previous two books but rather an acknowledgement that what is happening to her now is much worse and has consequences that matter much more now- if she makes a mistake now it isn’t just her life or Peeta’s life on the line.

Is this change in tone enjoyable? Well, not enormously. I wasn’t exactly giddy with laughter whilst reading this book but, although it was hard going at times, I did find it compelling. I was heartbroken for these characters that I had spent two books watching fight against the Capitol and the unfairness of their lives being beaten back with almost every chapter. Peeta is equally treated with relentless misery, and, as he has always been a much more likeable character, it is difficult to read.
I needed to know though. I needed to know what happened to Katniss and Peeta. I needed to know what happened with the rebellion, what happened to Snow and whether Coin was as ghastly as her first appearance made me think.

Did I enjoy it overall? Yes. Did I think it had flaws? Yes. Do I think those flaws outweigh the story and character development? No.

3.5 bites (and see the films too!)

Rachel Brazil
Although well-known amongst my family for my habit of falling asleep with a book on my face, I’ve not let the constant face bruises deter me from indulging in my favourite pastime. There is no famine, only feast, in my house with every flavour of book available for consumption.

I’m happy to sample almost anything from the smorgasbord of literature available but can always be tempted with a juicy murder mystery or sweet little romance.

1984 by George Orwell

Click to buy from Amazon or support your local independent book shop by buying it from them.
Click to buy from Amazon or support your local independent book shop by buying it from them.

This iconic book is renowned for its description of a dystopian future in which Big Brother and the thought police keep the populace under control.

Its protagonist is Winston Smith. A low-ranking member of the ruling Party, working in the Ministry of Truth, where he alters historical records to fit the needs of the Party. Like everyone,  Winston is watched by the Party through telescreens, even in his own home. The face of the Party’s  leader, Big Brother, is everywhere he looks. The Party controls everything.

He is particularly troubled by the Party’s control of history: they claim that they have always been allied with Eastasia in a war against Eurasia, but Winston recalls a time when this was not true. Frustrated, he has illegally started a diary. He is so intensely paranoid that he will be caught for this ‘thoughtcrime’ that when he notices a beautiful coworker staring at him, he becomes convinced that she is an informant. When she passes him a note saying ‘I love you’ his relief turns into a euphoric rush of love for her, for the hope that maybe he has found someone to be truly himself with.

1984 was written in 1948, when World War 2 had just finished, Russian and Chinese communism was in the news constantly and spying had become a national past-time world over. Feelings of suspicion and paranoia were rife and Orwell sharpens them to a fine point in this novel. No matter who reads it and what kind of government they live under this book will make them suspicious of it.

But under this is a story of why we fall in love and an examination of the difference between love and infatuation.  Winston falls in love because he thinks Julia is like him and loves him for his intelligence and rebelliousness. But those are aspects she could never have known existed before she passed him that fateful note. They try to be what each other wants but ultimately they each disappoint the other.

It’s a short book, but one in which every sentence is relevant. Anyone who hasn’t already read this should pick it up as soon as possible. Do it now – Big Brother is watching you!

5 Bites

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

image

A huge financial crash has devastated large areas of America. The north east has been hit especially hard with 40% of the population unemployed. The area has become known as the rust bucket. The population are increasingly homeless, jobless and without hope; crime and lawlessness have become the norm.

Stan and Charmaine are just two of the many people affected. Stan lost his job at Dimple Robotics, and Charmaine hers at the Ruby Slippers Retirement home. Now they live in their car, Stan in the front in case looters try to break in during the night. They move from car park to car park, relying on the small amount of money that Charmaine makes from her job behind the bar at PixieDust.

One day behind the bar, Charmaine sees an advert for the Positron Project: a twin city designed to help increase employment and decrease poverty. Inhabitants have a duel life: one month they spend in the walled town of Consilience, in a clean home with a bed and fresh towels, working in jobs that support the town. The following month they spend in Positron Prison. During their time in prison, their ‘alternates’ live in the house until the time comes to swap over. If you are accepted by the project and choose to stay then it is a permanent decision.

This is Margaret Atwood at her best. In a dystopian near future, she captures the bleakness, fear and desperation so well. Even once Stan and Charmaine are accepted into Positron, there is still a feeling of foreboding, a sense that all is not as it seems. The book is written mostly in the present tense which adds to this. You live alongside the characters, immerse yourself in their world. The characters themselves are great. Flawed; full of self doubt, jealousies, fear. I really enjoyed the way they develop over the course of the book.

If I had one qualm, it would be that Stan’s story flags a little bit about 80% of the way through. It is Charmaine’s story which takes over here and it is important that it does, but I wanted that continued build up of tension. Stan’s plot line took me out of the moment a little bit.

It tackles big questions. What drives us as humans? Charmaine and Stan want to be safe, ideally in a home with clean sheets. To be a useful member of society, to contribute. Positron offers all of this. But as the book progresses we start to ask more questions. Who decides who is useful and who is not? Money and power are the driving forces, even in this microcosm of society.
4 bites

Kelly Turner
My love of reading began at an early age. I am indebted to my parents for putting “Naughty Amelia Jane” by Enid Blyton in the loft when I was five, forcing me to read something else. At the age of sixteen I picked up my first Discworld novel and never looked back. As well as devouring anything by Terry Pratchett I am also a fan of other fantasy writers such as Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch. In addition I like to read historical fiction, and enjoy a love story or two.

The Cause by Roderick Vincent

image The blurb describes this a “dystopian technothriller”. It is set in 2022, America is on the brink of economic and social collapse. The blurb goes on to tell us that “African American hacker Isse Corvus enters a black-ops training camp. Hyper-intelligent, bold, and ambitious, Corvus discovers the leaders are revolutionaries seeking to return the U.S. back to its Constitutional roots. Soon the camp fractures. Who is traitor? Who is patriot? With no place to hide, Corvus learns that if he doesn’t join “The Cause” and help them hack the NSA’s servers, it could mean his life. If he joins, he becomes part of a conspiracy to overthrow America’s financial elite and uncover NSA secrets.”

I’m afraid I have to quote the blurb directly to you as I have very little idea of what actually happened in it. I tried to read it, I really did! I struggled on to chapter five before I gave up on it.

Grammatically this book seemed fine, the sentences were perhaps a little choppy for my liking but nothing is inherently wrong in that department. The story could potentially be good too, although for some reason I still didn’t have too much of an idea where it might go by the time I gave up on it.

For me the main failing this book has is its characterisation. I was surprised when re-reading the blurb for this review to find out that the main character is African-American, yet I’m sure that is important to the author in some way as it has been mentioned in the blurb. Isse Corvus has also been through an extremely traumatic personal incident – he accidentally shot his father and killed him. But although we are told this the author doesn’t make us feel it in anyway. I can’t comment much on the other characters in the book because although some were mentioned I knew as much about them as I did any other part of the landscape. They weren’t characters, they were just background noise.

If you want a high octane action book this one may well deliver, but for me it was just a couple of hours of my life wasted.

1 bite

NB this review is based on an author review copy sent to us free of any charge in return for an honest review.

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Click to buy from Amazon or support your local independent book shop by popping in to buy it from them.
Click to buy from Amazon or support your local independent book shop by popping in to buy it from them.
Being the only boy left in a town of men is a lonely existence, even when you can hear everything everyone else thinks. Still it doesn’t mean Todd wants the dog he’s just been given, particularly when he can hear his thoughts too. Who wants to hear the constant requests to be fed or to go for a poo that stream from a dogs consciousness? A knife really would have been better.
Men hadn’t always been able to hear each other’s noise. It was a side effect from the germ warfare the Spackle had loosed on them just before Todd was born. The same virus that had killed all the females. Every single one.

Todd will soon be a man, and he is hearing snatches of things in the men’s noise that make him uneasy. Suddenly his foster dads force him to run away from home, pressing a knife into his hands, insisting that he is in great danger and making him take the dog, Manchee, with him.

This is billed as a Young Adult novel and I think it would be readable for kids of about 11 and over. However it is one I would definitely recommend for adults too.

Put simply this is a masterpiece. Patrick Ness is as talented a writer as Philip Pullman and as imaginative as J K Rowling. He has created an utterly believable world and populated it with a variety of realistic characters. Then he’s shoved in more danger and intrigue than a body can easily cope with. He’s a brave writer too and doesn’t shy away from the moral of the story or from doing what needs to be done.

I listened to the audiobook version of it and I found the reader and the effects of the noise fantastic. So good that I listened to the whole 13 hours + of it within 4 days! My daughter had read the book and when she heard a snatch of the audiobook she didn’t like it as she had a strong impression of Todd’s voice from the book. So it seems that whether you read it or listen to it you will identify with it very strongly. It’s due to be released as a movie later this year and I hope the film will create equally strong reactions!

It’s the first of a trilogy and I am absolutely going to listen to the other two – no matter how many times that Patrick Ness fella breaks my heart during it! I thoroughly recommend you do too!

5 Bites.

 

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Tremor By Ryan Mark

tremor-mark-ryanTremor by Ryan Mark is a fiction book aimed at young teens.  The story is set in a dystopian future where a war has been fought over fossil fuels. As with the rest of the world, England is without Government and everything is falling apart, literally. Since the end of the war, every so often the ground shakes, due to the left over effects of the bombing. Buildings crumble and the earth splits open.

The only organisation left is Terrafall. Created to help the remnants of the population, it has put itself in charge of law and order and  rationing. However, they have become much more ambitious and it looks as though they want total control.

The young hero of the story, William, experiences fear, loss and danger in his quest to find out what happened to his parents. His travels, accompanied by his best friend Althea and her brother Orli, include bus rides through desolated landscapes, bandit infested forests and crumbling towns and villages. The group eventually finds out who is really behind the abductions and the truth leads them in to a great battle.

Want to find out more? Good, because this book is only 273 pages long and you’ll end up reading it in almost one go. Mostly because you care about the characters. That, and the fact that the story moves on at a fair pace  – you don’t want to put the book down!

What I really like about this book is that it met my expectations. It’s aimed at young adults and hits the mark dead on. The hero is a young teen, his friends are teens and the adults are there in a supportive role. We experience his emotions, fears and memories as the story develops. His character develops as he meets each and every challenge.

As with most young adult books, the plot is singular. The aim is to go from point A to point B.  For a ‘young adult’ reader, what is important is what happens to the hero between those points. How he deals with each difficulty, what he experiences and what he has to overcome. Normally that would involve friends and family, as is the case with this book.

A common trait amongst young adult books is that, once the initial challenge or mystery has been dealt with we find out that there is something bigger yet to come.  They have explored a small part of something that is larger than they could imagine. We’ve seen this in the Hunger Games and the Maze Runner.

Ryan Mark has followed suit and in my opinion, has done it very well. Of course I’m not going to tell you more about that. Best you go find out yourself!

Ryan has been writing since 16 and at 26, he has a very bright future ahead of him. He’s good with characters and world building. I was slightly disappointed with the major plot revelation but then I would be, I’m not a young adult! For target audience though, it’s not too bad and does provide the motivation for many of the characters.

All in all, this is a good first book from an aspiring author. As an adult I found it entertaining and I’m glad I read it.

A solid 4/5 for a well written book from an up and coming author.

Bob Toovey
I started reading Sci Fi at around age 8, I’ve never looked back since. I was highly influenced by my father’s reading choices at the beginning. I soon branched out to many different authors and Sci Fi genre’s. Early influences include Asimov, Clark, Simak, PKD and other ‘golden age’ authors. On occasion, I like a good spy book and currently finding early religious history a fascinating subject – despite being an atheist.

The Time Machine by H G Wells

This classic work should be easy to find in your local independent book shop.
This classic work should be easy to find in your local independent book shop.
One evening, our narrator attends a dinner party hosted by an acquaintance with a scientific obsession. He wishes to prove that time is a dimension and that it can be travelled through. The evening is full of spirited scientific discussion and culminates with the host showing his guests a model of a time machine he has constructed. When he turns the lever the “Time Machine” disappears. It has travelled in time the host announces.

The next week our narrator returns for another dinner party. But to his guests consternation, the host is not there, but he has left a note inviting his guests to start eating and promising his imminent return. Is he travelling through time? 

True to his note he soon returns, but he is dirty and disheveled and insisting on eating and bathing before telling them the story of his unbelievable journey through time.  

This tiny 1895 novella had a huge impact. With it, H.G. Wells invented the time traveling genre! And hugely strengthened the dystopian genre which at that time only had a handful of novels to recommend it. 

He used it not only to inspire the imaginations of his readers but also to provoke their intellects. Not so much to get them all working on building time machines of their own but more to make them think about the society they were living in and what might become of it.  His tale is a clear warning that inequality and the abuse of the poor would end with them rising up over a physically weak aristocracy. A warning that still hasn’t been heeded!

Regardless of its social message it is still a fantastic story. It cracks along at a heck of a pace and the scene setting is utterly believable. The characters though are a little thin, but not so much that it hampers the readers enjoyment.

4 bites

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Swan Song by Robert McCammom

Click here to go to Amazon to get a copy ormaybe have a browse in your local second-hand bookshop!
Click here to go to Amazon to get a copy ormaybe have a browse in your local second-hand bookshop!
When Robert McCammom wrote this back in the mid 80’s (it was published in 1987) he was already an established author specialising in writing horror stories that nodded towards the corruption of power. More than once he’d pitted angelic good against devilish evil.

Of course, back in the 1980’s the biggest fear everyone harboured was world war three. The war that would unleash nuclear fury to destroy the world. McCammom took this fear and married it to his already successful themes of demonic evil and magical good to create this epic tale.

After the bombs hit on July 17th the few survivors surface and try to scratch their existence. Not because they want to so much as because their human nature won’t let them just lay down and die. The first half of the book introduces us to hate-filled supernatural being overjoyed at the destruction of the world. Sister, an ex mad bag lady who finds herself on Fifth Avenue where she picks up a huge chunk of melted glass that enclosed huge jewels as it hardened, only realising later that the glass somehow has magical properties. Swan, a child who’s stripper mother has just left her abusive boyfriend, tearing Swan away from the only joy she knows, gardening.

Through the nine hundred odd pages (or over 33 hours if you listen to it on audiobook as I did) you follow these three and a host of supporting characters through their journey through the long nuclear winter. When they meet in front of ‘God’ a final showdown between good and evil will decide whether the world will be washed clean by another disaster or allowed to live.

What Robert McCammom does really well is to create believable characters that you care about. Although on the surface this seems to be about good versus evil he shows the negatives of his good characters and positives of his bad characters. He shows you what motivates them. This skill supports the reader through their long long read!

He also lays enough hints at what might happen to keep you curious, what is this ‘evolution of humankind’ spoken about? How come seeds sprouted where Swan slept? And why is Sisters glass leading her to Swan?

However, there are a few things that I did not like about the book. The beginning was all wrong and almost lost me, I knew the nuclear war was going to happen so spending time watching the President prevaricate about it seemed wasted. As it happens that thread is returned to much later in the story so it was necessary, but I still think the start of the book should have focussed on Swan or Sister. It would have made the president’s dilemma more tense if the reader already cared about some of the characters.

It is overlong, with some sharp editing the book could have been cut down by at least a quarter without losing much of importance. His writing is often overly descriptive too. He is particularly fond of metaphors and although some were good a lot were a little cliched.

I wouldn’t rush out to buy more of his books in a desperate hurry but I may well read him again in the future, I’d like to try something a bit more recent from him next time though to see if his writing has improved and his message become stronger.

2.5 bites

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

The Future’s Mine by L J Leyland.

Click here to buy directly from Accent Press. Or why not ask your local book shop to order you a copy?
Click here to buy directly from Accent Press. Or why not ask your local book shop to order you a copy?

Whenever an author gets in touch and asks us to review their work we have mixed emotions, on the one hand is the joy of getting a book free. On the other hand is the worry that we won’t like it, after all we’ve vowed always to do honest reviews.

This is how I was introduce to The Future is Mine, a debut novel printed by a small independent publishers. I gulped. This could be awful, but it could be good, I was intrigue by the dystopian theme so thought I’d give it a whirl.

The book is set in the near future. Sometime very close to now the ice caps had melted and a huge flood had drowned most of the earth. What’s left of the land and the population were largely controlled by the sinister ‘Metropole’ with help from easily bribed local bureaucrats.

Around fifty years later Maida is struggling to survive and support her younger brother and sister. She takes what comfort she can in plotting microscopic rebellions along with her friend Matthais

After an attempt to steal food from the home of the mayor goes dramatically awry, Maida is surprised that one of the mayors assistants helps her to escape. It seems he has plans of his own to overthrow the Mayor’s rule. Maida isn’t sure whether to trust him, particularly as he is part of the old ruling classes, but the pull of adventure and the chance to really stick it to their oppressors is too strong and both Maida and Matthais agree to help.

I won’t tell you any more than that about the plot, I don’t want to ruin the surprises if you read it. And I hope you do read it. I really enjoyed it, so much that I gave several people the “will you please naff off I’m reading” look when interrupted!

The story is well structured and cracks on at a great pace, the characters are wonderful (particularly the protagonist) and the writing is beautiful.

My only criticism is the the end could have been more engaging. It wasn’t bad at all but it wasn’t quite up to the standard of the rest of the book. Still a very satisfying read and I loved the very topical topics it tackled!

4 bites.

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.