Halo Moon by Sharon Cohen

The Blurb On The Back:

There’s a hundred ways to start this story, a hundred ways to tell it.

Each one is impossible.

Each one, unbelievable.

But it did all happen and I promise it’s all true.

In Ethiopia, Ageze has unearthed an ancient device that can make predictions.  It tells him there is a date, there is a place, there is a moment when it will happen.  A disaster that will change everything.

Halo Moon loves stars, and the night sky is full of them in her remote Yorkshire village.  It’s a place where nothing interesting ever happens, let alone a catastrophe.

So when a stranger appears at the end of a near-impossible journey and tells her lives are at risk, she can barely believe it.  But if she doesn’t help Ageze, everything and everyone she knows might disappear for ever …

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Chernobyl: History Of A Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy

The Blurb On The Back:

There is no blurb on the back, but there are the following quotes:

”A compelling history of the 1986 disaster and its aftermath … plunges the reader into the sweaty, nervous tension of the Chernobyl control room on that fateful night when human frailty and design flaws combined to such devastating effect.”

Daniel Beer, Guardian

 

“Extraordinary, vividly written, powerful storytelling … the first full-scale history of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, one of the defining moments in the Cold War, told minute by minute.”

Victor Sebastian, Sunday Times

 

“An insightful and important book, that often reads like a good thriller, and that exposes the danger of mixing powerful technology with irresponsible politics”

Yoval Noah Harari 

 

“Haunting … near-Tolstoyan.  His voice is humane and inflected with nostalgia”

Roland Elliott Brown, Spectator

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla

The Blurb On The Back:

When life knocks you down, can you learn to fight back?

Told over the course of the ten rounds of his first fight, this is the story of amateur boxer Sunny.  A seventeen-year-old feeling isolated and disconnected in the city he’s just moved to, Sunny joins a boxing club to learn to protect himself after a racist attack.  He finds the community he’s been desperately seeking at the club, and a mentor in trainer Shobu, who helps him find his place in the world.

But racial tensions are rising in the city, and when a Far Right march through Bristol turns violent, Sunny is faced with losing his new best friend to radicalisation. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Heartstream by Tom Pollock

The Blurb On The Back:

Heartstream: The App That Allows You To Feel Everything

Amy Becker is a star. She’s used Heartstream to broadcast every moment of her mother’s illness. It’s the realest, rawest reality TV imaginable, and it’s everywhere.

On the day of her mother’s funeral, she goes home to find a fan of hers in the kitchen. She’s rigged herself and the house with explosives – and she’s been waiting to talk to Amy for a long time.

Amy is about to discover just how far true obsession can go.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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2018 In Books And Onwards To 2019

2018 was an emotional rollercoaster for me.  I don’t use this blog to talk about my personal life (and no doubt it would bore the pants off people here if I did) but let’s just say that my one take-away from 2018 is that nothing is forever, never ever say never and take your chances where you find them.

So with that trite lifeism out of the way, I’ll get to the good stuff.

I set myself a target of 125 books to read in 2018 and I actually beat that with 127 (full list is here).  I wanted 20% of the books I read in 2018 to be non-fiction and in the end, I hit 34 in total (so that’s 26%).  I am seriously starting to get into non-fiction, especially politics and social policy and 6 of my books of the year are non-fiction so you can definitely expect to see more of it on my blog in 2019.

I was less successful in reading writers of colour (WOC).  I’d set myself a target of 20% of my list to be WOC but in the end only 16 of the books I read were by WOC (so that’s 12%).  I’m disappointed in myself about that but I did search out more WOC for my To Read Pile and I definitely want to make that 20% target this year.

Gender wise my list was evenly split again – 49% by women and 51% men.  It’s relatively easy to hit that as a target though because I read a lot of children’s and YA and it tends to be female author driven.

Aspirations for 2019 reading wise is to keep with the thrillers and crime novels as I am still working on one in real life and they help me to think about structure, plot and character.  I’m looking at reading 20% of books by WOC and 50/50 male/female.

Because this remains a personal review blog, I’m not going to be scheduling posts and I’m not going to focus on any particular genre or market.  I do appreciate everyone who stops by the blog and many thanks to those of you who have liked my posts or left a comment.

I’ve set out below my favourite books of 2018 (in no particular order):

NON-FICTION

In Pursuit Of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer’s by Joseph Jebelli – this is a fascinating if at times awful and depressing read about Alzheimer’s and how we’re working towards a treatment for it.

Refuge: Transforming A Broken Refugee System by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier – given how often we see refugees dominating the news cycle, this is a timely and compassionate book about how the refugee system works, the political compromises that have contributed to the crises and looks at a potential way of reforming the international system.

The Gender Games by Juno Dawson – this is a fascinating and thought-provoking book that’s part memoir and part sharp critique on society’s roles on gender and which is hilariously funny and sharply observed.

The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Changes The Way We Think, Live And Die by Keith Payne – is an eye-opening must-read about the social psychology of poverty and income and how it impacts on inequality and discrimination and frankly, if Barack Obama has it down as one of his books of the year, then really who am I to argue?

 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS (9 – 12)

A Spoonful Of Murder by Robin Stevens – the Wells and Wong mystery series just gets better and better with this book seeing the detective duo head for Hong Kong when Hazel’s grandfather dies and Daisy discovering that, for once, she’s not the most important person in town …

The Legend Of Kevin by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre – just really tickled me.  It’s a lovely, simple story of the friendship between a young boy and a flying horse but there’s some great humour, the illustrations are fabulous and the sea monkeys are really very naughty indeed.

What Is Race? Who Are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions by Claire Heuchan & Nikesh Shukla – confronts questions of racism, difference and racists straight on in an easy-to-understand way that doesn’t talk down to the reader and doesn’t avoid hard questions while adding personal experiences that help build empathy and understanding.

 

ADULT FICTION

London Rules by Mick Herron – I am a massive fan of the SLOUGH HOUSE SERIES anyway and this latest instalment is another hilarious and sharply plotted affair about MI5’s embarrassments and how they are each trying to deal with the fallout from the previous book.

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – is a brilliantly plotted mash-up of QUANTUM LEAP, GROUNDHOG DAY and Golden Age Detective fiction that kept me thinking long after I finished it.

 

YOUNG ADULT BOOKS

The 57 Bus: A True Story Of Two Teenagers And The Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater – is an astounding non-fiction book about a real-life crime that looks at both victim and perpetrator with huge empathy and respect.

My To Read Pile for 2019 stands at a horrifying 570 (for reference, I started 2018 with 416).  I am going to cut down what I add to it during this year because I need to get it under control – I’m already almost out of shelf space and am reduced to piling them up around the house.  Anyway, full list is behind the cut for those interested and if there’s anything you specifically recommend then let me know and I’ll move it up the list.

Thank you again for reading and best wishes to you all for 2019.

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2017 In Books And Onwards To 2018

I don’t tend to do much “normal” blogging on this site because I figure it’s easier to just keep it to reviews but also because, if I’m being honest, I’m not convinced anyone’s really interested in reading my blathering on.  However, I’ve seen a number of book reviewers whose blogs I follow do a 2017 round up and thought it might be interesting to do the same.

I  had set myself a target of reading 150 books in 2017 and actually managed 152 – the most I’ve ever read in a single year.  The full list is here if anyone’s interested in checking it out.  The vast majority of books have been thrillers (58 of my reviews in total) – mainly because one of my “things” (I don’t do resolutions) for 2018 is to try and write a thriller of my own.  I wanted to read more non-fiction in 2017 and I succeeded in that (24 books read – so almost 16%) and I have found that very beneficial – exposing me to new ideas, theories and bits of information that I’d never normally have been drawn to and, at times discovering that sometimes the truth is indeed more fascinating and stranger than fiction.  Of the books I read, 76 were by female writers (so 50%) and 16 by writers of colour (so about 10.5%) – those aren’t bad statistics, but I’m aware that I can improve on that – particularly for writers of colour as I really need to read more diversely.

I’ve been very fortunate to benefit from being a member of the Amazon Vine Programme (119 of the books I read came courtesy of that) but I’ve also benefited from the kind folk at Faber & Faber, Scholastic, Shrine Bell, Simon & Schuster and Walker Books.  Many thanks to the PR and marketing people at all of them for thinking of me.

There’s a lot of on-line rumour about what Amazon is going to do with the UK Vine programme going forward (indeed 2017 was dogged by rumours that it was about to end at any moment).  I can’t complain if it does – I have had a very good run there and am grateful for the opportunities it’s given me – plus, it may well be better for me if it does finish because I have a massive To Read Pile for 2018 that I really need to make some inroads on (I’m not even joking about that – I’ve hidden the list behind a jump cut because it’s at the point where I’m quite ashamed about how out of control it is).

I moved my blog to WordPress from Livejournal at the end of 2017 (with a complete back up of my posts sitting on my Dreamwidth account) and didn’t really expect to get much in the way of traction.  This has always been a personal review blog that reflects whatever I want to read at a particular time so it’s a bit of a pot pourri of genres and markets when the trend in book blogging seems to be to focus on one or two particular genres.  Plus I don’t do scheduled review posts – fitting them in during my spare time so there may be a week between some posts and sometimes there’ll be several posts on the same day.  Anyway, I’ve been surprised and very pleased to see that a number of people have got enough of an interest in it to follow so hello and thank you to all 29 of you who have subscribed and another hello and thank you to the 1,664 visitors who have checked out the site at some point during 2017.  Many thanks as well to those who have taken the time to comment.

In terms of my favourite books of 2017, I’ve set out the ones I rated the most highly below:

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An All New And Shiny Review Blog

Thanks to Livejournal opting to locate its servers to Russia, I’ve decided to move the review blog that I’ve been running since January 2006 to WordPress and Dreamwidth.

The original LJ blog with all the links and master lists can still be found on Livejournal at http://quippe.livejournal.com or alternatively at Dreamwidth on Quippe.  Due to issues with trying to import my LJ to WordPress, I’ll be updating on Dreamwidth and cross-posting here.