Book Review: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Red Clocks

Five women. One question. What is a woman for?

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.

Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro’s best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling homeopath, or “mender,” who brings all their fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.

My Review:

When I first started to read Red Clocks, I wasn’t sure this was going to be the book for me. But then, I continued reading, and boy was I wrong!

I got a bit confused at first by the chapter changes — each chapter is from one of the four main character’s point of view and their name is never mentioned in that chapter. However, once I got to know the characters, their voices were so unique that there was no danger of confusing them.
I love the premise of the book — that in the near future (ie, anytime, really), the abortion laws in the US are repealed and embryos are granted person status, which changes everything around reproduction. Also, there’s a new law around adoption where “every child needs two”, meaning single people can no longer adopt. Red Clocks takes place just as these new laws are going into effect so that we can see their full impact.
By throwing the world into this kind of situation, combined with the story of the 19th century Icelandic Arctic explorer, Elivor. Zumas is able to explore the concept of motherhood from many different angles in a fascinating and thoughtful way. By about mid way through the book, I couldn’t put it down and just had to finish.
NOTE: I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley.

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Book Review: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

How to Stop Time

by Matt Haig, illustrated by Chris Riddell

“The first rule is that you don’t fall in love, ‘ he said… ‘There are other rules too, but that is the main one. No falling in love. No staying in love. No daydreaming of love. If you stick to this you will just about be okay.'”

A love story across the ages – and for the ages – about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

So Tom moves back to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher–the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city’s history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.

Review:
How to Stop Time is one of those cozy weekend reads full of interesting storytelling and thoughtful takes on love and life. This, combined with the amazing illustrations by Chris Riddell, make the book a real treat (I bought the illustrated version — well worth it!).

 

I love how Haig uses the character of Tom, a man who ages extremely slowly, to explore themes about what it means to really live and the value of love, things like the difference between existing and living, and is it worth loving someone if you will inevitably watch them age and die while you don’t. These are great questions to explore and Haig does it in a way that doesn’t seem “heavy”.

 

Tom was an interesting character — he’d seen amazing things and met influential people in his long life, but he lived in fear of being exposed and this influenced his every action and thought. The one criticism I have of this book is that sometimes Tom gets a bit dragged down in his thoughts and fears and it slows the book down and feels repetitive at times.

 

However, the ending more than made up for this and I would recommend this book for a thoughtful read, complete with historic adventures.

 

And, something new, here’s my review turned into a video! I’d love to know what you think.

 

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Recently I have been having a hard time getting into reading due to some health issues. Finally, I decided to re-read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I first found this book in high school and instantly fell in love with it. I’ve read it a couple of times since and still find it funny, compelling, and a great read.

Synopsis:

Seconds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together, this dynamic pair began a journey through space aided by a galaxyful of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed, ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian (formerly Tricia McMillan), Zaphod’s girlfriend, whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he’s bought over the years.

Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? For all the answers, stick your thumb to the stars!

Review:

It’s hard for me even to consider writing a review of this book — it was one of those pivotal books I discovered in high school that opened up whole new worlds of writing to me. I hadn’t read much fantasy or sci-fi before I discovered Hitchhiker. I remember racing through it, soaking up the humour, the adventure, the sheer quirkiness of the book. No one else I knew had read it, so I couldn’t talk to anyone else about it and I would have loved that. Instead, I devoured everything else written by Adams, then started on some other fantasy books.

Re-reading Hitchhiker recently was a lot of fun, reminding me of why I loved the book so much. It’s become iconic — so many people know the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything now, they know the importance of carrying a towel, or the tragedy of a bowl of petunia’s falling from the sky.

All as I can say is that I love this book and will continue to love it, re-reading it every so often when I need a light-hearted laugh. I love the simple, outrageous, hilarious brilliance of Adams’ work and how it’s still current, all of these years later. In fact, what’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide but an e-reader with Wikipedia?

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Author Interview: Iffix Y Santaph

Today I am fortunate to have fantasy author Iffix Y Stantaph on my blog.
iffixHello Iffix. Tell us about your books. Is there one in particular you are promoting right now? What is it about?
My series of books for middle graders and young adults is a space fantasy called Forgotten Princess. It is based loosely on the tale of Snow White.
Evil alien Queen Kalysta has been seeking to destroy her step daughter, and sent her assassin slave, called the “Shadow Man”, to kill the princess.
The Shadow Man, a mutant who is known as Gavyn to his friends, could not bring himself to kill the princess, but poisoned her temporarily, leaving her comatose and with amnesia. He hid her in an underground world where three alien teens joined together to rescue her.
But the past the princess cannot remember is coming back with a vengeance to destroy her. And the friends must fight for her survival. The first novella in the series is Impulse, and is available now from a wide variety of on-line retailers.

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