Category Archives: adventure

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

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Blurb:
Set again in the Alaskan landscape that she bought to stunningly vivid life in The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey’s second novel is a breathtaking story of discovery and adventure, set at the end of the nineteenth century, and of a marriage tested by a closely held secret.

Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska’s hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. The Wolverine is the key to opening up Alaska and its huge reserves of gold to the outside world, but previous attempts have ended in tragedy.

For Forrester, the decision to accept this mission is even more difficult, as he is only recently married to Sophie, the wife he had perhaps never expected to find. Sophie is pregnant with their first child, and does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband embarks upon the journey of a lifetime. She has genuine cause to worry about her pregnancy, and it is with deep uncertainty about what their future holds that she and her husband part.

A story shot through with a darker but potent strand of the magic that illuminated The Snow Child, and with the sweep and insight that characterizes Rose Tremain’s The Colour, this novel from Pulitzer Prize finalist Eowyn Ivey singles her out as a major literary talent

My Review:

Eowyn Ivey’s first novel, “The Snow Child” captivated me, so when I had the opportunity to buy her second offering, “To the Bright Edge of the World”, I did so with great enthusiasm and anticipation. I was not disappointed!
The story of Colonel Allen Forrester’s exploration of the Alaskan interior, following the course of the Wolverine River, is an exciting and intense tale of wonder, exhilaration and extreme hardship. The author brings the spectacular and treacherous landscape to life and offers insights into the lives and traditions of the native tribes of the region.
Hand in hand with the story of the Colonel and his small, intrepid group, is the heart rending account of Sophie Forrester’s months without her husband’s company. She is prevented from taking any part in the expedition and has to remain in the Vancouver Barracks, often without knowledge of her husband’s whereabouts and wellbeing. During this time, which brings her much heart ache, she shows us what a brave and resilient woman she is, as she develops an interest in the fairly new art of photography.
There is another aspect of the novel, which is right up to date. An ancestor of the Forresters wishes to donate the manuscripts left by Allen and Sophie Forrester to an Alaskan museum. This story is told through a series of letters between Walter Forrester and Joshua Sloan, the curator of the museum.
In fact, the whole book consists of diary entries, letters, newspaper cuttings and photographs. This was a style of storytelling that I found very effective. The Forresters came to life in their words and I found myself caring deeply about them. Even the more minor characters were real to me. This is style that Eowyn Ivey absolutely owned!
There is a mystical, supernatural aspect to the novel that I found intriguing. As Colonel Forrester and his team ventured into the interior, they came across some strange “happenings”. These were based on the myths and beliefs of the natives, developed to help them understand their environment. So, we are to ask: Were the “happenings” real? Or did the explorers superimpose the myths that they had heard onto their own experiences? Whatever, the novel was enhanced by their inclusion.
I thought this was a wonderful book and it is one that I will treasure. Thank you, Eowyn Ivey!

Meet the Author:
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Eowyn Ivey’s first novel, “The Snow Child”, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction and an international bestseller. Her newest novel “To the Bright Edge of the World” will be released August 2, 2016. Eowyn was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters.

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The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

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The Blurb:

We were in the square, in the square where I’d run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her – But there weren’t no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men…

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode…

“The Ask and the Answer” is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure. This is the second title in the “Chaos Walking” trilogy.

My Review:

As I suspected, I liked “The Ask and the Answer” by Patrick Ness more than the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy – and I came to like Todd Hewitt a good deal more in this novel.

When Todd carries a badly wounded Viola into Haven, they expect that their troubles will be over; that their questions will be answered; that Viola will be able to contact “her people” – colonists who are approaching the world of “Noise”. However, the young protagonists find something completely different to their expectations.

Todd and Viola are forced to separate and throughout the unfolding of this violent and often heartbreaking story, they rarely meet. However, the ties that bind them are extremely strong and their faith and trust in each other brings real life to this story. They meet many devious characters for whom power is the guiding light and Todd has to develop ways of dealing with awful situations and actions in which he had to participate.

In the first book of the trilogy, I was irritated by Todd, but the way his character developed in “The Ask and the Answer” provided much to like and admire. Although some of the things he had to do were despicable, he tried to show compassion. Viola continued to be a strong young woman, growing in strength even in the face of betrayal.

This book was written from the points of view of both Todd and Viola – I think this worked very well and helped to broaden the scope of the story. Their voices are quite different and there was no confusion for me, just added enjoyment. I have admired the work of Patrick Ness for a while now and have no reason to change my views. I think he is an extremely skillful, thoughtful writer and although the Chaos Walking trilogy is aimed at young adults, the questions that we are asked to ponder are applicable at any age.

Needless to say, I have now made a good start on the third book: “Monsters of Men”

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

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Blurb

Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

My Review:

I was intrigued with the idea of Noise in both men and animals – the ability or disability – to be able to hear what creatures are thinking. This plays a huge part in the development of the plot of “The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness.

The world that has been home to Todd Hewitt is a strange one. Not only is Noise prevalent, but there are no women in the town where Todd grew up. His thirteenth birthday is approaching – the date when he will become a man – when Todd encounters a girl in the nearby swamp. He is totally amazed by this being and also, by her silence. However, this unexpected meeting has enormous consequences for Todd and he is forced to flee from all he knows.

The story centres around Todd and Viola’s attempts to reach the town of Haven, where they are assured they will be safe and learn the answers to their many questions.

I was drawn in by the plot lines, but found that I didn’t like Todd very much; maybe I will warm to him in the next two books in the trilogy. I also found the constant running rather monotonous! However, despite these feelings, I’ve moved on to the next book, “The Ask and the Answer” straight away!

About the Author:370361

Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull – Blog Tour!

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I am delighted to feature Rebecca Mascull’s excellent novel, “The Wild Air” here today , as part of the blog tour.

My review:

Rebecca Mascull’s novel “The Wild Air” is set in the early years of the 20th century, a time of change in more ways than one. The major event of the time was the First World War, which saw enormous loss of life and changed people’s view of warfare forever. The years before the war were a time of daring and inventive changes in the history of flight, which was to impact on the coming years of war.

It is against this backdrop that we meet the characters of this interesting and captivating novel. The main protagonist is a young girl from Cleethorpes. Della Dobbs is the third daughter in her family; she is a plain, quiet girl, who is a disappointment to her embittered father. Mr Dobbs had been an actor, but an accident prevented him from continuing in this profession; undoubtedly, his attitude towards life changed. His two older daughters were leading successful lives and his only son – and the youngest in the family – was his pride and joy. Poor Della was just a disappointment!

Della’s life was rather dull, except when she was cycling as fast as she could around the town. The arrival of Aunt Betty, who had lived for much of her life in the American town of Kitty Hawk, opened Della’s eyes to the possibility of living a different life. Aunt Betty and Della found great satisfaction in discussing flight and developing and flying kites on the beach at Cleethorpes and it is here that Dudley Willow enters Della’s life. Although he is five years younger than her, they have a shared interest in aviation. It is through magazines that he sends her that Della learns about aviatrix – women who fly!

We follow Della’s life through the following years – her exciting career as an aviatrix, unfortunately interrupted by the war. We have horrifying glimpses into trench warfare, and we see the damage that this does to soldiers’ minds and bodies. We follow the changing relationships within Della’s family and also the development of her own relationship with Dudley Willow.

I enjoyed this novel very much. The characters were well-rounded and believable. I like to read books with strong female characters; it was especially refreshing to have a character, like Della, who was considered to be too quiet, a nonentity, who discovered her passion and followed it. I found that I really cared about the characters and how their lives unfolded.

“The Wild Air” is well written and meticulously researched. I was interested to read that the author used much of the expertise to be found at the Shuttleworth Collection. My family and I have visited the Collection many times in the past forty years and have seen many of the vintage planes mentioned in the novel. This certainly increased my involvement with Della’s flying exploits, which had a feeling of real authenticity.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical novels set in the more recent past. As well as good story, with romance, excitement and all the dynamics of family life, this is an informative work – one which could be the starting point for further factual study into early flight, the First World War and its devastating effects. I love novels that provide these sorts of “jumping off” points and will certainly be looking for more Rebecca Mascull novels.

I would like to thank NetGalley for enabling me to read and review “The Wild Air” and Hodder and Stoughton for enabling me to take part in the blog tour.

About the Author:

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Rebecca Mascull lives by the sea in the east of England with her partner Simon and their daughter Poppy. She has previously worked in education and has a Masters in Writing. Her previous novels are “The Visitors” and “Song of the Sea Maid”.

Find out more about her books by following this link:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&text=Rebecca+Mascull&search-alias=books-uk&field-author=Rebecca+Mascull&sort=relevancerank%5Bgallery ids=”1474,1475″ t<img

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

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The Ways of the World tells the tale of James “Max” Maxted’s efforts to uncover the truth behind his diplomat father’s death in Paris, during the 1919 peace talks. The city is full of international diplomats discussing what should be the outcome of Germany’s defeat in the First World War, when Sir Henry Maxted falls from a roof and dies. The French police have decided that suicide is the most likely reason for the fall, but Max uncovers certain clues which will not let him rest.

The novel is full of interesting characters, some of whom are not fictitious, but it is the plot which drives the story along. There are many strands to the story of espionage and murder and also, several surprises. It is a long time since I read a novel by Robert Goddard and I had forgotten his skill at authentically creating time and place. The dialogue, the descriptions and the style of writing took me back to the days when I read books by John Buchan! This is a real, old fashioned adventure story, which will please lovers of a good yarn.

The only disappointment I felt was when I realised, a few pages before the end, that it would be impossible to bring the novel to a satisfactory conclusion in these last pages. Then I came across the “To be continued” phrase and all became clear. I do hope there is not too long to wait!

I received this free from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

16246    Robert Goddard, English novelist.