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review 2017-11-22 18:52
Great addition to the World of Shadows
The Vatican Children (World of Shadows) - Lincoln Cole

This second book in The World of Shadows has a somewhat slower build than the first book, but that doesn't make it any less compelling. As Arthur and Niccolo search for the Bishop, they must also learn to trust each other. Niccolo soon finds that his naiveté about the world and the evils that lurk may either be his undoing or push him to lengths he never believed possible, while Arthur learns that his resolve to do things differently may not be so easy to accomplish. The story builds in suspense as well as action as our heroes uncover the Bishop's terrifying plans. With a heart-pounding conclusion unveiling a plot that is the stuff nightmares are made of, The Vatican Children is a solid addition to the series and has this reader anxiously awaiting what comes next.

As the World of Shadows is an ongoing story, I highly recommend reading The Everett Exorcism before starting this one. The series is wonderfully written and impossible to put down from the very first page.

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review 2017-05-06 08:00
Children Of The New World
Children of the New World: Stories - Alexander Weinstein

Children of the New World is a collection of shorts stories set in the near future with new technologies (think robots and sending messages with your mind). I was immediately taken in with the first story 'Saying Goodbye to Yang' which remained my favourite throughout the whole collection. It was surprisingly touching and I kept thinking about it.

This however set the bar quite high for the rest of the collection, and I didn't like all stories as much. Some seemed rather repetitive, always about someone loosing touch with reality due to the emerging technology. Others were rather absurd, like 'Rocket Night' (in which they shoot the least popular kid to space) which made me say 'WTF?!' out loud and resulted in me getting strange looks.

But all in all I enjoyed this collection and would certainly try the author's next book!

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2017-04-20 20:01
For those interested in history from the point of view of the people in the street and a reminder of why this should not happen to any children.
Children in the Second World War: Memories from the Home Front - Amanda Herbert-Davies

Thanks to Pen & Sword Books for offering me a copy of this book that I freely choose to review.

This book is the product of the author’s work in the archival collection of the Home Front at that Second World War Experience Centre in Yorkshire. It is easy to imagine what fascinating material the collection must contain, and how difficult it must be to choose some witness testimonies over others, but this collection offers a unique point of view, that of boys and girls who lived through the war in Britain. As the author explains, over 200 personal accounts have been used in its creation and they offer as many different points of view as children there were.

The book is divided into several chapters by themes. Although some are chronological (like the beginning, the end and the one about the bombing), some are more general and cover the whole period.

 The Beginning talks about the initial thoughts about the war and how life changed (many of the things were surprising to me although I’m sure many people will have heard stories about it. For instance, I knew about the blackouts, but it never occurred to me that the names of train stops would be removed and travelling at night with nothing to help you orient yourself in a city [no lit shop windows, names…] was not only difficult but also dangerous [light coloured cars were forbidden and pedestrians couldn’t be easily seen either]. The chapter ‘Air-Raid Shelters’ shows the steps the government took (steel shelters, Andersons, Morrisons…) and also what individuals themselves did (hide in the cupboard under the stairs, which saved quite a few people, simply ignore the alarms, dig underground trenches [especially soldiers who’d been in WWI], fortify a room, go to the underground in London) to try and keep safe. The pictures that accompany the paperback are an eye-opener to anybody who didn’t live through it. The chapter on evacuation is one of the most heart-wrenching, with a whole range of experiences, from the kids who left the city to face prejudice in rural areas, to those who found a second family and were made feel like royalty. In ‘invasion’ there is discussion of the plans families made in case of invasion (some determined to die rather than be taken prisoner) and also their home-spun anti-spy activities. ‘Shortages’ will probably be familiar to those with relatives who lived through the war, and it is a tribute in particular to mothers’ imagination and inventive when trying to make up for the things that were missing (I loved the mock banana sandwiches made by boiling and mashing up parsnip and mixing up some banana essence). ‘Schools’ emphasises the difficult experiences of those children who missed schooling or had to try and learn in classrooms with neither roofs nor materials, with children of all ages mixed together and hardly any teachers. ‘Entertainment’ shows that children can see opportunities to have fun anywhere. While some children were terrified, many others felt inspired and made use of shrapnel, diffused bombs, ruins of buildings, to role play or to design games and bombs. ‘War Effort’ shares the work older children (some as young as 12) did to help, including running messages, working for the post office bringing the dreaded bad news, girls helping in hospitals, and how many of them moved on to join the armed forces when they grew up. ‘The Bombing of Britain’ will bring memories to many and it covers not only London but many of the other cities, and phenomena such as the families who would leave the cities every night and go back in the morning. The resolution and the population and the way people took everything in their stride come across clear in these accounts. People who survived would dust themselves off and carry on. ‘The End’, talks about the celebrations for those who could celebrate and the sad moments of those who couldn’t.

The book has very funny moments, and sad and hard to read ones too, some inspiring and some not so much. The author is very good at remaining invisible, choosing passages that illustrate different angles of the same theme and letting speak for themselves, without interfering, and the approach increases the power of the accounts. I marked passages and quotes as I went along, but I ended up with so many it was very difficult to choose. But here are a few, to give you a flavour of the book:

Here, talking about taking refuge in cellars:

There was an element of risk sheltering in that cellar with an open fire considering they were ‘within six feet of an operating gas main and visible pipes’, but the general thinking in Charles’s cellar was that it was better to ‘be bombed in comfort’. (17)

Talking about the bombings and the state of disrepair of the houses:

Pamela had her house windows broken, then repaired and covered in sticky tape, and then had the lot of them blown out again. Her mother, being practical, merely commented, ‘Oh well, I will not have to clean them.’

And talking about the VE Day celebrations:

To Irene’s astonishment, one of the elderly church ladies ‘of staid and sober habits’ turned up resplendent in an eye-catching red dress and was later seen leading the conga up the street. (171) It seems the conga was pretty popular.

I am not a big reader of conventional military history (battles, strategy or detailed fight scenes) but I’m always intrigued by what happens back home during any wars and how the world carries on in some fashion for the rest of population while the fighting goes on elsewhere (at least in conventional wars). The memories of those children and their accounts of their experiences at the time might be tinged with nostalgia in some cases, but in others, it reflects the long-term effects of experiences lived so long ago and that have not been forgotten. It is impossible to read this book and not think about those children who, still today, live in a constant state of war and danger, and how disruptive this will be to their lives if they reach adulthood.

I recommend this book to anybody interested in the home front angle of the war (World War II in Britain in particular, but any wars), in stories about children’s subject to extreme situations, and anybody who enjoys history as told not by politicians and big names, but by the people in the street. A great and important book that should be required reading for school-age children.





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review 2017-01-23 02:22
Books for Children of the World: The Story of Jella Lepman - Sydelle Pearl,Danlyn Iantorno
  After WWII Jella Lepman returns to Germany to help determine what the children need. She learns they want books. This is the story of how she gets books into the hands of the children.

I enjoyed this book. I found it interesting how she found funding to start a library. I also liked that she took the initiative to get books printed that she could give to the children. The book was Ferdinand the Bull, which was a favorite of mine from childhood.

I recommend this book for 7-10 year olds.
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review 2016-11-19 00:00
Children of the New World: Stories
Children of the New World: Stories - Alexander Weinstein Fans of the show Black Mirror are bound to find something to like in Weinstein’s collection of stories. Each of these stories has something to do with technology, whether that be humanity’s reliance on it, the ways in which it warps our interactions with each other, or how we deal with a sudden loss of it.

Some of the stories do cross the line into the bizarre, especially the ones where technology affects the way people have sex, and one in particular where people can add additional genitals to various parts of their bodies in order to continually amp up the sexual experience. There are also plenty of dark themes and situations in which people are pushed to their most desperate of limits. Weinstein explores that breaking point, and looks into how far people might go to fix things, hinting at some pretty awful things but never spelling it out for readers.

But there are also some really touching moments showing how, when the shit really hits the fan, people from the other side of whatever the relevant divide might be, will still reach out a helping hand to other humans in distress.

The rest of this review can be found HERE!


-- Pre-review Breakdown --

Saying Goodbye to Yang - 5/5
This one had me in tears... a feat for a story that is only 22 pages long.
- Not realising how much you love something until it's gone
- Misjudging someone who's on the other side of a major societal norm from you
- In the end, people comforting people, because although we make different choices and have very different opinions, a loss is still a loss. And a hurting person deserves comfort from another human being.

The Cartographers - 4.75/5
Haha, who am I kidding? This is so very nearly 5 that I should just give it that, but after how much the first story wrecked me, I can't quite justify it. Great story, slow build, chilling. Though very close to some plots I've watched or read before, it was artfully done.
- Addiction
- Manufactured memories

Heartland - 3.5/5
The author definitely has a way with words, and in this one he paints a stark vision in which resources are becoming more and more scarce and making ends meet is a near-impossibility.
He uses words that don't so much say the horrible things, but in a way that the reader knows.
A little less to this story, and it feels almost as though the whole point of it was to get to that end paragraph, and without the rest of it, the reader wouldn't have been able to read between his lines.

Excerpts from The New World Authorized Dictionary - (No Rating)
I don't feel I am in the right place to judge this one before finishing the book. It's a collection of definitions accompanied by examples of their uses within the world of the book. One hints at a connection to The Cartographers (story #2), so it stands to reason that the others might do the same for the rest of the book.
There was one definition (and accompanying reference) that was SO close to a Black Mirror element that it's rather eerie.

Moksha - 3.5/5
Again, a well-told story, about a world where meditation and enlightenment are illegal, and people seek ways to find enlightenment through electronic means, for 15,000 rupee or more.

Children of the New World - 5/5
Raw and emotional and well told and engaging.
This takes a closer look, again, at relationships with those who "aren't real" and takes a chilling look at online viruses and just how much our "data" can really mean to us.

Fall Line - 3.5/5
Everything is filmed and streamed on a site called The Third Eye by contact lenses people wear. Snow is melting all the world over, and washed-up extreme skier Ronnie Hawks contemplates his choices between living fast and wild or dwindling into mediocrity.

A Brief History of the Failed Revolution - (No Rating)
Another of those not-really-a-story stories, in which there are lot of references that feel as though they relate to another story, but don't do much on their own.

Migration - 3.5/5
This one starts out rather bizarrely but has a heart-warming moment towards the end.
In a world where no one has ventured outside in years and everyone goes about their daily lives online, complete with body-suits that allow them to experience sex in that virtual world in a way like never before, the kid who wants to go outside and do things in the real world is the one they're worried about.

The Pyramid and the Ass - 4/5
Another one that has a rather bizarre sexual element to it, but in which reincarnation has been perfected into a science people pay big bucks for, and the Dalai Lama is seen as a terrorist.
The ending of the story didn't seem to fit in with the main character's goal.

Rocket Night - 5/5
Every year, a child from each school is launched into space. They're always the loners or the most annoying of the year, and the voice of the story is rather chilling in its coldness.

Openness - 4/5
An exploration of how technology changes our interactions and might take over normal conversation in the future, and how vocalisations might become old-school.

Ice Age - 3.5/5
In a future where an Ice Age has taken many lives and evicted people from their homes. A look at how desperation can lead to flaring tempers and a consumerism helps soothe a tortured soul.

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