Five reasons I’m nervous-excited about Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust

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In case you don’t keep up to date with all the latest in book news, here it is: PHILIP PULLMAN IS BRINGING OUT THE BOOK OF DUST, an ‘equel’ to HIS DARK MATERIALS. Guys, we get to adventure again with Lyra!!!!

I love Northern Lights so much, and the rest of the series not much less. Lee Scoresby. Iorek Bryrinson. The fantastic evilness of Mrs Coulter. The wonderful world Lyra lives in, then colliding with our world and others. I read and re-read these books so so many times as a teenager.

So I should be just over the moon about this, right? But my excitement is definitely tinged with some concerns… here we go:

Films have changed the way we read and write – Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan

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They’ve got half and hour left. Max and Carys fell in love – but love is not allowed. In their world relationships are only ever short term, and you only live in one place for one cycle. But they’re determined that their love can beat the system and change the rules, taking their case to the highest powers. They are sent on a mission into space together – a mission doomed to disaster. Is love worth it, in the end?

In a plot woven between the present moment and the story of their love, Max and Carys’ predicament fans out around the reader, with the elements of mystery becoming clearer and clearer. This book draws you in very cleverly, with you as the reader rooting for the couple more and more as you learning more about their past, making the outcome of the present moment more and more tense.

Tarnished time travel – All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

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Tom lives in a golden world of amazing technology and father is a genius who just invented time travel. Tom is lazy and does not apply himself, but finds himself on the time travel team – then after the love of his life abandons him, he takes her place and goes back in time. He finds himself in an alternate future – in the world we know. Now it’s up to him to return humanity to the future that we always dreamed of…

Gosh! Time Travel books, eh? So confusing!! This book wasn’t too bad though, and any internal mysteries were cleared up at the end. It was clever – but lacking enough warmth or character connection for me to be emotionally invested in what was happening. It became more like a puzzle than a story; I wanted the intellectual satisfaction of knowing the solution, but was not emotionally involved. Which is perhaps why I’m not very good at puzzles.

I don’t think I like these literary themed houseboats (and here’s three reasons why)

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I saw these two barges whilst walking along Regents Canal. At first it was a pleasant surprise, a feeling of connection. Someone else loves that book too, hooray!

But really, underneath, I wasn’t so keen, and I’ve worked out why:

When the Floods Came – a different treatment of a common trend by Clare Morrall

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Rosemary and her family have lived in the block of flats for as long as she can remember, safe from the scavengers and dangers of post-flood Britain. Despite the draw of Brighton, the last society around, they stick it out as a family – until a new arrival shatters their worldview. Rosemary’s world, her relationship with long-term finance Hector from Brighton who she’s only ever met online, her view of her family and her certainty in her future are all thrown into relief as they try to decipher the strange world around them.

The only other book I have read by Clare Morrall was just SO different to this!! It felt like an already established author taking a dip into the post-apocalyptic trend, but once I’ve got used to the idea, it definitely worked. It was more thoughtful and less action packed than other books I’ve read of the same premise, but all the more interesting for it. It was great!

I’m a bit annoyed that I’m hooked by Brian Guthrie’s RISE

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The mysterious queen summons a scribe to her, and entrusts her with a task. To find out the story of what happened to four of her friends, many years ago, to solve a current problem. The scribe travels between the friends: Micaela, whose Father’s interference into their planet’s water system got him killed, Sujith, the visitor from another disk who found himself embroiled in the action, and Quentin, well-meaning, but the most intractable of all. With dragons, coding, controlling governments, time-travel and more this is a vast world that we start to discover.

I’ve actually read this one and a half times. The first time was online, as Brian Guthrie, who stayed with us once, told me about it. I was suspicious, as I usually am with self-published books, but I had a look. And I got hooked. It was an extremely annoying way to read: tiny thin paragraphs on busy pages that I had to click through often – and yet I was hooked. I finally tore myself away before the end because it was too annoying to read like that – and the way it was, I had no way to see how much longer it was going to be – but when the book came out, I thought I’d give it another try.

What is it really like to be a Chinese person in America? I’m a little closer to knowing thanks to Peter Ho Davies’ The Fortunes

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Young Ah Ling, son of a prostitute and white man, lands in 1860s California and navigates his way through the laundries of his Chinese heritage and the railroads of the white men; never quite at home with either people. Years later Anna May Wong; Hollywood’s first Chinese film star, must take seductress roles and cannot kiss a white man onscreen – visits China, and her father, and feels alien. Years later again, Vincent Chin is murdered in a bar because he looks Japanese. And years later again, half-Chinese writer John Ling Smith visits China to adopt a baby girl.

Though in style this book was like a fictionalised documentary, it got me completely. I was hooked on every story, and so enjoyed the experience of entering into each of the four worlds it portrayed. And I think the fictionalisation probably made the points the more poignant: we were taken intoworlds and saw different themes and ideas that run through the whole thing. Like being offered the proof rather than the conclusions. I really enjoyed it!

Women are awesome in The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

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An illness hits earth, and 99% of men die. And 99.8% of women die. The remainder of humanity wander and scrounge from the earth, women enslaved and objectified. And endangered – if any of them become pregnant they and their babies die. An ex-midwife is one of the few to survive, and soon finds her mission; to travel in disguise helping the women she meets as much as she can; distributing advice, medicine and contraceptives as she falls in and out with various peoples trying to make a life.

So, here we are again. Most humans have died from a disease. I’m sure I’ve read at least two of these recently in the last couple of years. This one appealed to me because of the midwife: a profession that after having my baby I greatly admire. And it was interesting

After Alice by ‘Wicked’ author Gregory Maguire – amusing and clever but a bit exclusive

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Alice’s friend Ada is tasked with finding the fallen child, and finds herself tumbling down the rabbit hole to find familiar faces and new adventures. Meanwhile the search for Alice continues, as her big sister and governess search fruitlessly, and their father receives a visitor with a foreign ward. The worlds above and below turn to chaos as everyone tries to find or leave home…

Hmmmmm. I was super excited to read this, though my excitement was tempered by the fact that LOTS of people had told me that Maguire’s Wicked was boring. Now, this book wasn’t boring at all. The plot was interesting, the characters intriguing, the concept brilliant. And there was a lot of Carrollian absurdity, invention and wit. But I think that the problem people have with Maguire’s writing is his elitist prose.

Realia – more teen magic, adventure and friendship in Noni’s second instalment

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Alexandra Jennings is back for her second year at Akarnae Academy in the magical world of Medora that she stumbled into by mistake last year. The enemies are still out to get her, the professors to teach her lessons she never thought she’d need to learn, and her friends to support and surprise her along the way. We explore the world more, and understand a bit better what’s going on.

Here we jump straight back into the world and into adventure, with Alexandra once again in danger, in deep with her friends and fighting for what she believes is right. So much so that it hardly seemed like a separate book to the first one (and I’m having a little trouble separating them in my mind) and so, like the first, is basically just tremendous fun.