Station Eleven

Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Published by Picador
Ebook
Published 10 September 2014
352 pages
Library book

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as The Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.”

OPENING 

THE KING STOOD in a pool of blue light, unmoored. This was act 4 of King Lear, a winter night at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto. Earlier in the evening, three little girls had played a clapping game onstage as the audience entered, childhood versions of Lear’s daughters, and now they’d returned as hallucinations in the mad scene. The king stumbled and reached for them as they flitted here and there in the shadows. His name was Arthur Leander. He was fifty-one years old and there were flowers his hair.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I really enjoyed Station Eleven. I’m a huge fan of apocalyptic fiction so knew this would be right up my street. I was impressed by the fact the author offers a refreshing scenario for the end of the world and chose something other than the old zombie apocalypse which has been done to death. Station Eleven is a breath of fresh air. What I also like was how simple and quiet the book was, moving back and forth in time showing the day the flu came and what happened to civilisation in the twenty years after the world ended. A trope of apocalyptic fiction is battles between survivors or survivors and something nasty left behind at the end of the world. There are no scenes with burning cities, epic battles or riots in Station Eleven. A refreshing change. Station Eleven is about people trying to find a place in a decimated world. I found it riveting and would highly recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Normandy Gold #1

Normandy Gold #1

Normandy Gold #1 by Megan Abbot & Alison Gaylin
Published by Titan Books
Ebook
Published 14 June 2017
32 pages
Review Copy

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I was given a review copy by the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

When her younger sister is found murdered in a D.C. hotel, relentless Sheriff Normandy Gold dives headfirst into the seedy world of prostitution and politics, soon discovering a twisted conspiracy that could lead right to the White House.

EXTRACT 

They were going to call me victory.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I must confess I rarely read graphic novels. I’ve read a few and enjoyed them but tend to forget them because there are so many things to read. Maybe I ought to read more? I really enjoyed Normandy Gold #1I, the first part of a longer story. I loved the character’s name by the way, Normandy Gold, genius. This first volume does a good job laying the foundation of what’s to come. Normandy Gold #1I sets up a lot of questions and not many answers so you need to read further volumes to get the whole picture. I was impressed by the quality of the images on my kindle as well as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to read it. I enjoyed Normandy Gold #1 and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Lost Boy ARC

Lost Boy ARC

Lost Boy by Christina Henry
Published by Titan Books
Ebook
Expected publication 4 July 2017
304 pages
Review Copy

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I was given an ARC by the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. Once I loved a boy called Peter Pan. Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. He wants always to be that shining sun that we all revolve around. He’ll do anything to be that sun. Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever. Peter will say I’m a villain, that I wronged him, that I never was his friend. Peter Lies.

EXTRACT 

Once I was young, and young forever and always, until I wasn’t. Once I loved a boy called Peter Pan.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I only have a vague understanding of the story of Peter Pan gleamed from Disney movies and the film Hook (which I love by the way). I thought Lost Boy was amazing. I loved that Peter comes across as the villain in the book when stories tend to paint him a hero, the boy who never grew up, who lived on a magical island with the boys who adored him. Lost Boy is darker than I expected. I loved it. I loved the way the most common ideas and themes from Peter Pan are twisted, distorted and a little darker. Jamie is a great narrator. Just when I thought I couldn’t love Lost Boy anymore, Jamie’s real identity is revealed at the end. I probably should have guess who he was but I didn’t so my jaw got bruised when it hit the floor. Well done for fooling me. Lost Boy is fantastic. I’d highly recommend it.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Fugitive Colours

Fugitive Colours

Fugitive Colours by Liz Lochhead
Published by Polygon
Hardback
Published 26 May 2016
112 pages
Owned

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DISCLAIMER: I am a rabid fan-girl of Liz Lochhead. Like seriously. She was born in my neck of the woods. Prepare for bias and projectile drooling.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Liz Lochhead’s new collection encompasses a life enriched with people, places and relationships; it is with humour and empathy that these relationships are captured, remembered and honoured in moments of joy and poignancy. There is sadness, truth, hope and optimism throughout the five sections in this collection, and each is varied in scope but are woven together as part of a life. This stunning new collection marks the end of Liz Lochhead’s term as Makar (Poet Laureate, 2011–2016) and features never before published work alongside poems written during her time as Makar. Throughout her career Liz Lochhead has been described as a poet, playwright, translator and broadcaster; she maintains that ‘when somebody asks me what I do I usually say writer. The most precious thing to me is to be a poet. As a playwright, I’d like to be known as a poet in the theatre.’ Fugitive Colours is a brilliant, masterful collection.

EXTRACT

From Favourite Place

We would be snaking up Loch Lomond, the
road narrow and winding after the turn at Tarbet,
and we’d be bending branches as we slid
through the green and dripping overhang of the trees.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I thought Fugitive Colours was amazing. The poems in this collection are quite intense and narrative which is not all that common in contemporary poetry where less is often seen as more. Lochhead is one of the few poets who can pull of narrative poetry and she does this over and over in this collection. Fugitive Colours is not what I was expecting as the style of the poems is very different from other work I’ve read by her. It was a joy to find some many new ways to appreciate one of my favourite poets. The collection is split into different theme sections. My favourite section was the first one, Love and Grief, Elegies and Promises. Highlights include the gun-wrenching opening poem, Favourite Place as well as Persimmons, A Handselling, 2006 and Lavender’s Blue. I loved this collection of poems and would highly recommend it.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

This Is The End Of The Story

This Is The End Of The Story

This Is The End Of The Story by Jan Fortune
Published by Liquorice Fish Books
Paperback
Published 1 February 2017
206 pages
Owned

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Belief is Cassie’s gift, so much so that she believes herself to be whoever those in her life tell her she is Cassie, Kat, Kitty, even, as Miriam insists, Casilda, an 11th century Muslim princess from Toledo. Cassie s loyalty to Miriam s extraordinary internal world survives a traumatic incident on a beach and a coming of age fraught with hostility, but is strained by an act of betrayal that propels her towards Liam, another person waiting to tell Cassie who she really is.

EXTRACT

 She watched Miriam sleep, hair a tangle of soot and pitch. Four years and many defeats ago, Miriam had told her she’d chosen her for three things: the thick fair plait that swung below her waist; that she was so small; and for her name. Cassie thinks of herself as the ram caught in the thicket, the replacement sacrifice when Abraham was no longer compelled to kill his son. She continually warns Miriam not to go looking for trouble. Let’s find another road, she says. But she hadn’t see trouble coming today.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I thought This Is The End of the Story was great. I found it absorbing. I loved the way the author portrays the intense almost disturbing friendship between Cassie and Miriam. It reminded me a lot of the relationship between the two girls in the movie Heavenly Creatures. The book uses an unusual structure, the narrative is non-linear and there is very little signposting to help ground you in a place or time. I would have expected this to be confusing but it works in This Is The End Of The Story. I loved the way the author portrays the friendship between Miriam and Cassie. I found their obsession with each other fascinating if a little disturbing. Miriam disturbed me. She sees Cassie as more than a friend and is obsessed to the point of jealousy almost as if Cassie is her lover. I loved the way the narrative gradually reveals information drip by drip especially the shocking incident at the beach when both girls are teenagers. I loved This Is The End Of The Story and would highly recommend it.#

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Ashes

Ashes

Ashes by Sarah Mitchell-Jackson
Published by Blue Moon Publishers
Ebook
Expected publication 9 June 2017
240 pages
NetGalley

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

When Eva emerges from a burning building, she is unable to remember anything that happened before Dan rescued her. Where will she go until someone claims her?

Dan wants to keep her to fill the space which is growing between him and his wife. Can they heal together or will grief pull them apart?

Carrie-Anne lives in a grainy fug of depression, alcohol and denial, sleeping through days and drinking away nights. Can she find the strength to tie up loose ends?

OPENING 

The house was well under way by the time they got there.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

Ashes is one of the saddest books I’ve read in a while. The ending actually made me cry. I thought something good was going to happen then the author took out my heart and ate it in front of me while laughing. I was not prepared for that. Ashes is really well written and a great read. Each time I sat down at my Kindle I got lost in Eva’s world. I liked the way the novel is structured with chapters written from Eva’s point of view, Dan who Eva lived with for a while and Carrie-Anne, her real mother. I like reading different perspectives. Ashes is an enjoyable read and I’d recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Published by Faber and Faber
Paperback
Published 2 March 2006
282 pages
Owned

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I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a book buy an author from a country you’ve never visited’.  

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.

Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have re-entered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day.

EXTRACT 

My name is Kathy H.

WHAT I THOUGHT

My confession: I saw the movie a few years ago and loved it so I knew how things turned out. A book is always a richer experience than a movie though. I absolutely adored this book. It’s one of the most unsettling books I’ve read in a while. Kathy H is a brilliant, unreliable narrator. She’s unreliable because she reveals so little about her society and Hailsham and being a carer or a donor while seeing to be sharing a lot of information. Kathy H is quite a detached person and she reveals what should be horrifying details about her world in a sort of detached, nonchalant kind of way, not bothering to get emotional or upset because this is just the way things are. What fascinated me the most and chilled me to the bone is how little information is given about what being a carer or a donor in Kathy H’s world really means. Nothing is clearly stated until about three chapters from the end and information is just drip fed along the way. Never Let Me Go is chilling and unsettling and horrifying plausible. I loved it and would highly recommend it.

RATING

5 STAR RATING