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text 2018-07-17 20:32
Thrift Books Haul: July 2018

 

Hardy Boys Casefiles #14: Too Many Traitors

 

Goodreads

 

 

Sweet Valley High Manga Edition #4: Elizabeth's Secret Diary

 

Goodreads

 

 

Sweet Valley High Super Edition #4: Malibu Summer

 

Goodreads

 

 

Sweet Valley Super Stars #3: Enid's Story

 

Goodreads

 

 

Sweet Valley Super Thriller #5: Murder on the Line

 

Goodreads

 

 

Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys Super Mystery #7: Buried in Time

 

Goodreads

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review 2018-07-17 20:30
How to Stop Time
How to Stop Time - Matt Haig

“The longer you live, the harder it becomes. To grab them. Each little moment as it arrives. To be living in something other than the past or the future. To be actually here.
Forever, Emily Dickinson said, is composed of nows. But how do you inhabit the now you are in? How do you stop the ghosts of all the other nows from getting in? How, in short, do you live?” 

You know when sometimes it feels like a book chooses you rather than the other way around?  Apparently, the two books I picked up while dazed with exhaustion at Heathrow last month did exactly that. I knew little about either of them and both turned out to provide exactly the kind of world-critical comfort I needed.

 

And, yes, I tend to not turn to sweet or light reads for comfort. Never have, really.

 

Anyway, How to Stop Time tells the story of Tom who was born in 1581 and "suffers" from a rare condition that makes him age very, very slowly. So, he lives through the centuries, falls in love, looses his loved ones, sees the world change, and sees the world remain the same.

"I go on the BBC and Guardian websites. I read a couple of news articles about fracturing US and Chinese relations. Everyone in the comments section is predicting the apocalypse. This is the chief comfort of being four hundred and thirty-nine years old. You understand quite completely that the main lesson of history is: humans don't learn from history."

Tom really suffers with this condition. He finds it hard to invest his life in people that he knows will die so long before him. He also finds it hard to live in one place, because his condition means that he is looked up with suspicion by the people around him, at best. At worst, he and his loved ones are persecuted.

“Human beings, as a rule, simply don't accept things that don't fit their worldview.”

He lives through the plague and the witch hunts and several other catastrophes. He discovers new worlds with Captain Cook and sees them go to seed.

“And yet we had done what so often happened in the proud history of geographic discovery. We had found paradise. And then we had set it on fire.” 

I really enjoyed the book. The story struck a balance between bildungsroman as we watch Tom grow and learn about who he is and about his place in the world, mystery as we follow Tom's quest to find his daughter, thriller as watch Tom get caught up in a dubious organisation, and social criticism. I really felt for Tom as he, despite his wisdom of age, struggled to deal with each moment of new-ness in this world.

“As far as I can see, this is a problem with living in the twenty-first century. Many of us have every material thing we need, so the job of marketing is now to tie the economy to our emotions, to make us feel like we need more by making us want things we never needed before. We are made to feel poor on thirty thousand pounds a year. To feel poorly travelled if we have been to only ten other countries. To feel too old if we have a wrinkle. To feel ugly if we aren’t photoshopped and filtered. No one I knew in the 1600s wanted to find their inner billionaire. They just wanted to live to see adolescence and avoid body lice.” 

What struck me most about the book, tho, was that Haig inserted snippets of positivity into the story. Despite the general observation that humanity is doomed to forever repeat itself because it does not take lessons from the past, there is also some hope:

“Whenever I see someone reading a book, especially if it is someone I don't expect, I feel civilisation has become a little safer.” 

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review 2018-07-17 04:11
The Eye of the World, The Wheel of Time #1
The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, #1) - Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time has become one of my absolute favorite series. I read 'The Eye of the World' many, many times and spent countless hours dreaming about this world that Robert Jordan had created. As the series went on (and on) it suffered by comparison with other books, reading the last five or six books only once, but I've found myself coming back to it and falling in love all over again. This time around I'm following the reread by Leigh Butler and discovered a new blog on Tor.com where a reader is discovering the series for the first time. I've never had much luck convincing friends to read what I'm loving at the moment/forever, so its fun to read along and discover the fandom attached to this particular series.

The world is driven by magic, two complementary sources of the One Power divided between men and women. The man's half was Tainted thousands of years ago, cursing all men born to channel it to be driven mad and must be hunted down before they can cause another Breaking of the World. Women have power in 'The Wheel of Time', and there are no shortage of strong female characters, complex villains, and a lot of moral grey areas for a story about a conflict between the Light and the Dark. There is a legend that a hero will come, The Dragon, a reincarnation of a powerful male channeller who will save the world from the Dark One - but not without a terrible price.

Some time ago I parted with my crumbling mass-markets, so I'm taking advantage of my bookstore connections (I couldn't convince my friends to pick up a book, but I make a living that way now, ha) and am buying the trade paperbacks with the new cover art.

'The Eye of the World' has many deliberate parallels with 'The Lord of the Rings', and so starts out in the remote community of the Two Rivers. Summarizing of 'The Wheel of Time' is something best left to professionals, so I'll just touch on the very beginning:

Rand al'Thor doesn't have much more on his mind then meeting his friends for the festival of Bel Tine and figuring out his feelings for pretty Egwene al'Vere. He sees a frightening figure in black on the road to Emond's Field and his life is changed after that. There is a deadly attack on the village by monsters thought to be mythical, and they were looking for someone. Rand finds himself, along with his friends the mischievous Mat Cauthon, the steady and faithful Perrin Aybara convinced by Moiraine, an Aes Sedai (a powerful magic user) and her bodyguard, or Warder, Lan, to leave their home immediately in order to protect it and themselves. Egwene discovers their plan and insists on coming so she can see the world outside. A traveling storyteller, a gleeman named Thom, joins the party, too. They are not too far out of the village before they are tracked down, literally, by the young village Wisdom Nynaeve al'Meara. She has been a mentor to Egwene and a leader in the village and feels responsible for the young people being dragged out into the world for dubious reasons.

The series is known for its length, roughly 11,000 pages altogether, and it's detailed world-building, but there is a lot of action in these first books. The story is almost completely from Rand's perspective with only as-needed POVs from Perrin and Nynaeve. Later books featured dozens of POVs - there must be a count somewhere, I would be surprised if it was well over 100 - but 'The Eye of the World' was about Rand's journey into the outside and his first steps on the road to his destiny. He explores a cursed and ruined city, meets a beautiful princess named Elayne, travels incognito on the ship of a collector of antiquities, 'plays for his supper' in taverns on the run, is hunted by darkfriends (people sworn to the shadow), witnesses ancient magic, travels to the decaying Blight and witnesses monsters firsthand. Along the way he befriends an ogier named Loial. Ogier are ten feet tall, live for centuries, and revere the written word. Loial is impetuous and set out on his own to explore the world, but is often confused by how different the world is from the old books he's written. He's wonderful.

It is amazing to read these characters all over again and see how far they come. They are altered forever by this journey, and this first quest ends up being only the beginning of a long road. There are flaws and regrettable errors in this series, but they came from Robert Jordan wanting to create this diverse, inclusive, complicated world, and he was from a background where certain possibilities didn't occur to him. He gets a lot of respect from me. These books are such an achievement and opened so many doors for me as a reader. I'm thrilled that I'm loving this book just as much now, without reservation, as I did when I was 13.

The Wheel of Time:

Next: 'The Great Hunt'

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review 2018-07-15 07:53
Boystown 4
Boystown 4: A Time For Secrets - Marshall Thornton

”You’re mine.”

 

Easily the best and most intriguing mystery yet. But damn...my heart is getting a workout here. 

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review 2018-07-14 14:29
Review: “Boystown 4: A Time For Secrets” (Boystown Mysteries, #4) by Marshall Thornton
Boystown 4: A Time For Secrets - Marshall Thornton

 

~ 4 stars ~

 

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