Review: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Tom Hazard has a condition. He ages slowly. Really slowly. He’s a 400+ year-old man who likes he’s only 40. He knew Shakespeare, Captain Cook and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He has lived many lives and he’s tired. He joined the Albatross Society of other people with his “condition”. They have few rules. 1. Is not to fall in love. 2. They have to move every 8 years so no one becomes suspicious and in between moves, they have to do an errand for the society. Tom is motivated to join the society because he believes they will help him find his daughter, who also has his “condition”. Tom decides that he wants to go back to London and become a history teacher. Who better to teach history than someone who has lived it right. It brings back memories of lives that are so painful, they give him headaches. He also meets Camille who is also a teacher at his school and he starts to question about what he’s been told.

It’s an interesting novel and idea. If you aged slowly and lived for centuries, what would you do with your life? After years of watching humanity make the same mistakes over and over again and centuries after your love ones have died, what would keep you motivated to keep on living? Tom in his lifetime would be a musician for Shakespeare’s company, an explorer on Captain Cook’s expedition among other things. He’s seen the world change for the better and for the worst and yes, he’s thought about ended it but keeps going because he knows that somewhere his daughter is out there. I like Tom. His world wearing experience has a different perspective on things but also doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still be na├»ve about things and still have a need for companionship and love. That even when we can be anyone we want to be sometimes we just want to go back to what’s familiar to us but we can never really go back. You can’t stop time. You just need to keep on living. I’m glad I finally read this. It had been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. It just another reminder to everyone once in a while, take a look at what’s on your shelves. There’s probably a hidden gem in there waiting to be read.

Review: Blood Red, Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick

This is based on the real life story of Arthur Ransome, British children’s book author who was a journalist during World War 1 in Russia and also a spy to both maybe Great Britain and the Bolsheviks. I’ll admit I had never heard of Arthur Ransome and I thought this was just another take on Snow White. This is what you get for buying books based on the title but it was interesting. Ransome, had an interest in Russia and before he became a journalist, wrote a book of Russian fairy tales. He wasn’t meant to be a spy but because of his position as a journalist that gave him access to people high in the Russian and Bolshevik’s government including Lenin and Trotsky he became an asset to the British government during the war. The thing he seems to never really know who he’s spying on. In true mediocre white man style, he stumbles into a exciting life thanks to being the right place at the right time and not necessarily based on skills or talent. While in Russia, he falls in love with Evegnia, the secretary to Trotsky. As things become more and more dangerous as Bolshevik revolution goes on, Ransome had many opportunities to go back to England but always goes back to Russia to be with Evegnia, which sounds romantic but we know nothing about her beyond she is Trotsky’s secretary and Ransome is in love with her. He gives up his life in England, his daughter, puts himself in danger for her and yet why? What is so great about her? What does he love about her? It’s almost like she’s afterthought in this story which is where things of this novel fall apart. I understand this is his story but motivations are important and supposedly he does a lot of what he did because she was in love with her but she’s barely a character in the novel. We get more of Trotsky and Lenin then we do her. It’s just disappointing but also not surprising that the stories and lives of women come second or not at all to the men in the lives. That they exist only to further the man’s story. Ransome would eventually marry Evegnia and they would be married until they both die and that’s great but I want to know her story. I want to know more about her. I’m tired of reading stories with full formed men and paper thin women. Male authors do better.

Quick Review: A Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

You thought the The Truly Devious series was over didn’t you? I did too. I’m not mad that Maureen decided to write another book but I’m also still waiting for the 4th book in her Shades of London series. I think I may have to let that go. Anyway, Stevie’s fame after solving the Ellingham murders is starting to fade and she’s back home for summer vacation when she gets the offer to work at a summer camp and help a new unsolved mystery. In 1978, four teen camp counselors went into the woods to smoke some weed and never came out alive. Stevie makes arrangements with the new camp owner that her friends from Ellingham also have jobs to help her with the case. Stevie is smart and clever and can deduce things that most of us would never think about but she’s also full of anxiety and even though she solved multiple murders, can she do it again? I like that Maureen is exploring this in her work because anxiety is a bitch. It doesn’t matter how successful you are, it never leaves you. I also really like Nate. I feel him. He just wants to be left alone in his treehouse and do nothing. He wrote one great book when he was younger and the expectations to write another great book have almost paralyzed him but it shows some real growth. I wish Janelle got a little bit more to do because she is also a great character. Here’s hoping that there are more and she gets a more central role. For mystery lovers, I do recommend this book. You don’t have to have read the first three books to know what’s going on as this is a standalone mystery but you should read the first three books because they are fun.

Quick Review: Mr. Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know Kate and I love Maggie Stiefvater. Especially me. And I especially love her Raven Cycle and it’s spin-off, The Dreamer’s Trilogy. Ronan character is such a good character. He’s such an asshole but also such a softie at the same time. He also has the power to make anything in his dream and bringing back with him when he wakes up. This has caused him a lot of issues throughout his life but most recently since the Ley Lines he uses to dream are dying and he and fellow dreamer Hennessy are on the run from those who want to kill them because they believe they will bring the end of the world. Honestly, with Ronan that wouldn’t be that shocking if he did. We begin Ronan and Hennessy are trying to learn how to control their powers from Bryde but things aren’t as they assume. They never are. Meanwhile, Jordan and Declan are trying to find solutions to keeping themselves and their loves alive if something should happen to their dreamers. It’s a fast paced and fun. I suspected who Bryde might have been but we still kind of shocked when the revealed happened because it definitely changes things. I can only hope that Ronan and others get their shit together soon because the end of the world is coming sooner than later.

Quick Review: Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard

Victoria Aveyard after finishing the very popular Red Queen series, she decided to go full blown fantasy. Not that surprising because if you follow her on twitter you know how much of a Lord of the Rings fan she is. Here we have a new Medieval type world that used to be one of many realms but hundreds of years ago the other realms were closed to them. But now Taristan who has old blood has been opening up the realms and now a rag tag group of underdogs have to stop him. Corrayne, the daughter of a pirate queen and Taristan’s neice is the only one who can stop him since she is of the same blood. She has Dom, an Elder and an immortal warrior. Andry, a squire who hopes to be a Knight. Sorasa an outcast assassin. They this strange team but also kinda affective. Corrayne is great. She is not the strongest or a great fighter but she’s smart and caring. When we first meet her, she tries to convince her mom to take her on her ship because she needs an adventure and boy she does. She doesn’t hesitate when she is told of what she needs to do to save the realm. She knows it’s the right thing to do so she goes out to do it even though she has no idea how to do it. It’s a good start to the series. I really love the dynamic of the characters and I can’t wait to see them grow more as a team as the series progresses. I also really love Queen Erista. She’s a young queen who is smart and very ambitious. Very ambitious and I love how she isn’t shy or embarrassed by it. Yes, she may be going about getting what she wants by embracing destruction of the realm but you have to love her confidence. Woman are often shamed for showing any kind of ambition. So ladies don’t feel bad about it. Go for it. Just try not take over any neighboring countries by opening the gates to other realms and other evils. okay?

What I’m Reading Now: Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick

I’m pretty sure when I bought this book a couple years ago at a Con, I thought it was a Russian retelling of Snow White. This is not that. Instead it’s the story of real life British children’s Arthur Ransome and his time being a reporter in Russia during the Bolshevik revolution. Very interesting but lacking in dwarfs.