Miles Away from You by A.B. Rutledge

IMG_2673Three years ago Miles fell for Vivian, a talented and dazzling transgender girl. Eighteen months ago she tried to commit suicide, the attempt left Vivian on life support. Now Miles isn’t sure who he is without her, but his mother’s think it’s time for him to figure out how to say goodbye.

They book him a solo trip to Iceland. At first he has a hard time leaving the refuge of his hotel room, but after a push from Oskar, the hotel concierge who is strangely alluring, Miles decides to honor Vivian’s life by photographing her treasured Doc Martens standing empty against the surreal landscapes. He travels Iceland, meeting people and trying to learn to love again and accept that Vivian, still in a coma and in the charge of her unaccepting parents, will never recover.

Miles’ story is told through a series of instant messages to Vivian, some hopeful, some heartbroken, some grateful, some angry, some drunk. In another writers hands this premise could of been gimmicky, and the that would have been awful. There’s been a upsurge in LGBT literature over the last few years but less that looks at the specific issues that trans people face, and even less that treat trans people as people first and trans second. This book does that, Miles loves Vivian. He loves her mind, her spirit and her body through all her dysmorphia.

The book also looks at Miles’ own confusion about his sexuality. Again it deals with it sensitively but also with no holds barred. Writing letters that will never be seen allows a person to be utterly honest and the author takes full advantage of that.

Thoroughly recommended.

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.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Scarlett Dragna is about to get married to a Count she has never met. That’s ok though, she’s hoping it will lead to safety for her and her sister away from her abusive father and the tiny isle of Trisda she has never once left.

But her sister Tella is determined to help her live a little and when an invitation arrives for them to visit the magical Caraval, a once-a-year, five-day performance where the audience participates in the show, she forces Scarlett’s hand so they have to go. But there’s a dark side to Caraval and although Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance when Tella is kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, she has to find her before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

This is billed as the perfect book for those that love The Night Circus, and honestly … it is!

It’s a little lighter and aimed more at Young Adults or at the fantasy market but the writing has some wonderful poetry to it. The world is absorbing and the characters are believable. If I wanted to be hypercritical I would say that the author could have dug deeper still into the motivations of the characters and fleshed them out even more.

That being said though I’d still thoroughly recommend it – it’ll bring a  flash of glorious colour to your winter nights!

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.

Star Sand by Roger Pulvers

imageIn the last months of World War 2, sixteen year old Hiromi sees a man on the beach at night about to shoot himself. He is rescued by another man and dragged into a cave.  When she follows to help she finds they are both army deserters—one American, one Japanese.

Though they should be enemies they bond instantly and  Hiromi, alone in the world herself, resolves to care for them. But when another joins them the dynamics are upset. Fatally.

Years later, three skeletons and a diary are found in the cave but it’s another 50 odd years before a young female university student notices something odd about the diary and finally solves the mystery of who died in that cave and who lived.

I was intrigued by the premise and more so because I’ve read very little fiction on Japan in the war. The beginning of the book, which is basically Hiromi’s diary is terrific. It’s well crafted, maybe a little too well-crafted to ring true as the diary of a 16 year old, but as it turns out that’s not a bad thing. The characters are immediate and vibrant and it’s easy to get caught up in their story.

But about thirds of the way through it switches voice to the modern day university student and her voice did not ring true to my ear. She sounded more like a sixteen year old than someone who must have been around 22 – and she most definetly did not sound like a university student.

It’s quite a short book, almost a novella, and I think more time spent with the characters in the cave, and a better university student (or a different device to show the plot twist altogether) would have served this much better.  In the end it all felt a bit rushed and slapdash, which is a shame as it starts as a lovely attempt to honour both the Japanese and the Americans that were dragged into World War 2.

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.

Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

image17-year-old Nina likes to party, even more since her boyfriend dumped her. So what if she doesn’t always remember what she did the night before? And who cares if sometimes she starts drinking earlier in the day? Nina’s exploits are legendary!

But then the talk about her turns darker and friendships are fracturing. Her family are away so even the shining light of her little sisters love feels dimmed. Nina is decidedly not ok.

Shappi Khorsandi is a talented comedian and I’m more than a little partial to her comedy. As she’s also president of the British Humanist Society I know she’s someone with a deep interest in and knowledge of human motivations. As you can imagine I was pretty excited to get a copy of this to review.

It exceeded my expectations. From the moment I started it I was hooked, it’s told in first person and Nina is someone you can imagine having as a friend. She’s easy to like even though she’s making some really big mistakes.

The story is darker than I expected, especially as it is aimed at the Young Adult market. (A word to the wise, there are some graphic scenes in here and I’d suggest it’s not suitable for most kids under the age of 15.) However it is very well constructed and spiked through with flashes of humour. Sometimes when a celebrity writes a book it reads as if it needs another edit or two – maybe the publishers have been too fawning or maybe the celebrity’s ego is too big to believe they need  help. This is not the case here, every word is as it should be.

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.