Sunday, 30 April 2017

Review: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Benedict Cumberbatch owns the films rights to this, and it hasn't even been published yet. Are you sold? Due to hype alone I'm expecting How to Stop Time to be HUGE this summer, and thanks to NetGalley and Canongate Books, I'm one of the lucky few to read it before everyone else!

'I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.'

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. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life.

Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover - working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he'd never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him. The only thing Tom mustn't do is fall in love.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.


REVIEW
This book wasn't what I was expecting, but then I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting. The narrative flits between Tom's present life as a London schoolteacher and his past, his lifetime of memories working for William Shakespeare, sailing with Captain Cook and drinking with F. Scott Fitzgerald. But Tom has suffered more than his fair share of tragedy and trauma as a result of his condition, and piece by piece and time by time we discover the events, and people who have shaped his life. It almost feels as if this book was written for the big screen - sci fi storyline, famous historical figures, a star-crossed love story, a vindictive villain, need I go on!? - and I'm not surprised at all by how quickly the rights were snapped up. I'm only assuming and hoping that Mr Cumberbatch has himself in mind to play the leading man.

I had visions of Tom's schoolteacher persona straying into 'Carpe Diem' Dead Poet's Society territory - not that that would have been a bad thing - and while the message is similar, it is conveyed in an entirely different fashion. Matt Haig is an incredibly talented writer, and one who understands and taps into the human psyche. The only other book of his that I have read so far is his autobiographical Reasons to Stay Alive detailing his battle with anxiety and depression, and it is a work that still resonates with me. How to Stop Time, although fictional, has a similar effect. It makes you consider your own life and mortality, what you have achieved and want to achieve - what you want, not what society dictates you should want - and how you want to live your life. Science fiction aside, the idea at the heart of this book is the importance of seizing every moment you get, of living your life in the present. Us mere mortals, the 'mayflies', have but a fleeting time on this earth and we should make the most of it. Dwelling in the past or worrying about the future will do us no good in the long run. Enjoy the now, do what you want to do, and be happy doing it. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things that Will Instantly Make Me Want to Read A Book

It's been too long since I participated in Top Ten Tuesday! Apologies for not being more active on here, time is in short supply at the moment. I am however a lot more present over on Instagram! If you have an account over there, my username is @readinginwellies. Expect to see lots of pictures of books with the occasional insight into country living.

Anywho, back to Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!


Today's theme is ten things that will make me want to read a book. I like to think that I'm quite open minded when it comes to books, but at the same time I know what I like and am consequently drawn to what fits the bill. If a book has one, or preferably several, of the following then it is a must-read for me:

1) Pretty covers. We all know the saying 'never judge a book by it's cover', but who are we trying to kid? Of course we judge by the cover! Or at least I do. The more eye-catching a book is, the more likely I am to pick it up. Simples.


2) Set in the past. Medieval? Plantagenet? Tudor? Victorian? Doesn't matter. If it's historical fiction I'm interested. Reading is escapism for me, and historical fiction is perhaps the closest we'll ever get to a time machine!

3) Strong female characters. I'm not a feminist per se, but no one wants to read about a spineless heroine. This may be why I'm not all that keen on Austen.


4) Strong male characters. Who doesn't love an alpha. Preferably in period costume. Sorry not sorry.


5) Hate-to-Love Romance. It may be cliché but you can't beat it. From Pride and Prejudice to The Hating Game hate-to-love is a age-old romance trope that I just can't resist.


6) Road trips. Two people stuck with each other on an epic journey? Especially if they hate each other. Yes please.

7) Pirates, Highwaymen, Musketeers, Knights, Outlaws etc. Yes please.


8) Anything to do with Peter Pan, Retellings, new editons, non-fiction. I'm well aware that I have a Peter Pan complex. I refuse to grow up, and while everyone else is awaiting their letter from Hogwarts, I'm still waiting for Peter Pan to show up at  my window and spirit me away to Neverland.


 9) Royalty. From ancient Kings and Queens to 21st century playboy Princes. I love it all and will read it all.

10) Author. Obvious answer is obvious. My favourites include Elizabeth Chadwick, Anthony Horowitz, Marina Fiorato and Tracy Rees, amongst many, many others, and I'm counting down the days until their next releases.




Thursday, 13 April 2017

Review: This Love by Dani Atkins

**Thanks to Jessica Barratt and Books and the City for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review!**
 
Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon - she's a single, thirty-one year old translator who works from home in her one bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a very long time ago, when she was fifteen years old and tragedy struck her family. Her grief has left her scared of commitment and completely risk averse, so she plays it safe and keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.

One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a random passer-by, Ben, luckily happens to spot and rescue her. Suddenly her cocoon is shattered - what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event?

Review
Spoilers aside, had I known the subject matter of this book I would have passed on it. But I am so glad that I went into it with an open mind, because I really, really loved it. It's good, cathartic even, to indulge your emotions occasionally, and this novel has emotion in spades.

Scarred by a family tragedy of her youth, Sophie Winter shuts herself away from the world, blocking  out emotion and refusing to let people get close to her. Until one night, and one more brush with tragedy, changes everything. Now Ben Stevens is part of her life, and he has no intention of leaving.

This is my first novel by Dani Atkins but it certainly won't be my last. This Love is beautifully written and I was captivated from the very start. I have to admit that I fell in love with Ben almost as soon as we met him. A literal hero and the perfect gentleman, what's not to love?

There's so much I want to say about this book, but daren't for fear of giving anything away. I soon picked up on the hints as to where the plot was heading, and knew that this was no straightforward love story. The message of this book is clear - that life is there to be embraced. You can't shut yourself off from the world, and this is something that, thanks to Ben and his friends, Sophie slowly begins to accept.

It's a story that certainly packs an emotional punch, yet it is surprisingly uplifting in its poignancy. The final chapter is one of the most beautiful that I think I have ever read, and one that will stay with me for a very long time.

Heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure, This Love is a novel about facing your fears and falling in love.