How To Stop Time

How to Stop Time

Really fascinating topic but sadly could have done so much more with it. Overall a good audiobook but I was always waiting for more. You would imagine after 400 years the protagonist would have been a little more insightful and planning an interesting future.

From Goodreads – I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.

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. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.

The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

The Hard Way

The Hard Way (Jack Reacher #10)

Never quite know if I like Reacher books or not. Sometimes it’s just too easy for the character to triumph yet he does, at everything. They are a bit of opium for that part of the mind that needs a quick thrill with a well known character – a Batman or Superman. Tom Cruise he is not – thank goodness – but if you like others you will find this enjoyable and quick.

From Goodreads:
A Jack Reacher Novel

Featuring Jack Reacher, hero of the new blockbuster movie starring Tom Cruise, as he comes to the UK.

Jack Reacher is alone, the way he likes it.

He watches a man cross a New York street and drive away in a Mercedes. The car contains $1 million of ransom money. Reacher’s job is to make sure it all turns out right – money paid, family safely returned.

But Reacher is in the middle of a nasty little war where nothing is simple.
What started on a busy New York street explodes three thousand miles away, in the sleepy English countryside.

Reacher’s going to have to do this one the hard way.

Matt Haig

Matt Haig

Bibliography

  • How To Stop Time
  • Matt Haig was born in Sheffield, England in 1975. He writes books for both adults and children, often blending the worlds of domestic reality and outright fantasy, with a quirky twist. His bestselling novels are translated into 28 languages. The Guardian has described his writing as ‘delightfully weird’ and the New York Times has called him ‘a novelist of great talent’ whose writing is ‘funny, riveting and heartbreaking’.

    His novels for adults are The Last Family in England, narrated by a labrador and optioned for film by Brad Pitt; The Dead Fathers Club (2006), an update of Hamlet featuring an 11-year-old boy; The Possession of Mr Cave (2008), about a man obsessed with his daughter’s safety, and The Radleys (2010) which won Channel 4’s TV Book Club public vote and was shortlisted for a Galaxy National Book Award (UK). The film rights to all his adult novels have been sold. His next adult novel is The Humans (2013).

    His multi-award winning popular first novel for children, Shadow Forest, was published in 2007 and its sequel, The Runaway Troll, in 2009. His most recent children’s novel is To Be A Cat (2012).

    (Referenced : Goodreads)

    The Little Paris Bookshop

    The Little Paris Bookshop

    I am really conflicted by this book. It’s a bit of a fraud in one sense as I was hoping for a wonderful collection of books to read but what I got was quite different. While there is some useful intertextuality the narrative is mostly about a woman author writing from a man’s focus but as it emerges with a female sensibility. The language and emotions evoked are rich and real with love, sadness, loss and grief explored to a deep and thought provoking level. The river and French life features strongly and I will revisit as the author has expressed a number of beautiful thoughts and probably personal philosophies worth capturing – not all that possible on an audio book. Some will love this book but don’t let the title draw you in for the wrong reasons. Probably 4 stars for those who love rich emotive tales.

    From Goodreads:
    On a barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop, or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possess a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe his customers’ troubled souls.

    The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. For twenty-one years he has nursed a broken heart – and never dared open the letter his love left behind. But the arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.
    Trade Paperback UK edition.

    Make Me (Jack Reacher #20)

    Make Me (Jack Reacher #20)

    I love a good Reacher tale and this wasn’t bad at all. Lots of very dead bad guys and possibly a new love interest. The details are interesting, though I wonder if he will ever make a mistake. I must admit I didn’t guess the story behind the story and that made for greater interest. Not for kids!

    From Goodreads:
    A Jack Reacher Novel

    “Why is this town called Mother’s Rest?” That’s all Reacher wants to know. But no one will tell him. It’s a tiny place hidden in a thousand square miles of wheat fields, with a railroad stop, and sullen and watchful people, and a worried woman named Michelle Chang, who mistakes him for someone else: her missing partner in a private investigation she thinks must have started small and then turned lethal.

    Reacher has no particular place to go, and all the time in the world to get there, and there’s something about Chang . . . so he teams up with her and starts to ask around. He thinks: How bad can this thing be? But before long he’s plunged into a desperate race through LA, Chicago, Phoenix, and San Francisco, and through the hidden parts of the internet, up against thugs and assassins every step of the way—right back to where he started, in Mother’s Rest, where he must confront the worst nightmare he could imagine.

    Walking away would have been easier. But as always, Reacher’s rule is: If you want me to stop, you’re going to have to make me.

    The Old Man and the Sea

    The Old Man and the Sea

    One of my set texts. Complex novel really and clearly a lot of people think it’s great and I can see why. It is a hard read in that it jumps around the timeline and while it hides the story it breaks the flow. Some of the scenes are so angry that you turn the page or skip the dialogue and that reduces its value, at least to me. I will have to revisit quite a bit during the course so may have to re-evaluate all this.

    From Goodreads:
    The best story Hemingway has written… No page of this beautiful masterwork could have been done better – Sunday Times

    Set in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Havana, Hemingway’s magnificent fable is the tale of an old man, a young boy and a giant fish. This story of heroic endeavour won Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature. It stands as a unique and timeless vision of the beauty and grief of man’s challenge to the elements.

    Barracuda: A Novel

    Barracuda: A Novel

    One of my set texts. Complex novel really and clearly a lot of people think it’s great and I can see why. It is a hard read in that it jumps around the timeline and while it hides the story it breaks the flow. Some of the scenes are so angry that you turn the page or skip the dialogue and that reduces its value, at least to me. I will have to revisit quite a bit during the course so may have to re-evaluate all this.

    From Goodreads:
    “He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close”.

    His whole life Danny Kelly’s only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he’s ever done – every thought, every dream, every action – takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.

    His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny’s win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys – he’s Barracuda, he’s the psycho, he’s everything they want to be but don’t have the guts to get there. He’s going to show them all.

    “He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm.”

    A searing and provocative novel by the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap, Barracuda is an unflinching look at modern Australia, at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families.

    Should we teach our children to win, or should we teach them to live? How do we make and remake our lives? Can we atone for our past? Can we overcome shame? And what does it mean to be a good person?

    Barracuda is about living in Australia right now, about class and sport and politics and migration and education. It contains everything a person is: family and friendship and love and work, the identities we inhabit and discard, the means by which we fill the holes at our centre. It’s brutal and tender and blazingly brilliant; everything we have come to expect from this fearless vivisector of our lives and world.

    Coonardo

    Wanting

    Historical fiction is interesting but when it is also written in history (1929) it is challenging to engage with. Certainly, the richness of DH Lawrence is not evident and the excitement of modern authors such as Connelly is absent. The social and racial overtones are overt and moralise the story. This is to be expected considering when it was written but it does indicate the beginnings of some thoughts of atonement over the invasion by the English in the minds of some fair thinking whites. This is not a book that will leave you feeling contented and satisfied but depending on your racial stance you may feel challenged. As an aside, it is thought provoking to consider this world of vast distances and the absence of any communications beyond sporadic letters and husbands away a drovin’ for months. As a set text I suspect more insights will follow.

    From Goodreads:
    A tough, uncompromising novel about the difficult love between a white man and a black woman. Coonardoo is the moving story of a young Aboriginal woman trained from childhood to be the housekeeper at Wytaliba station and, as such, destined to look after its owner, Hugh Watt. The love between Coonardoo and Hugh, which so shocked its readers when the book was first published in 1929, is never acknowledged and so, degraded and twisted in on itself, destroys not only Coonardoo, but also a community which was once peaceful. This frank and daring novel set on the edge of the desert still raises difficult questions about the history of contact between black and white, and its representation in Australian writing.

    Wanting

    Wanting

    Undoubtedly a great writer, easily glimpsed in some wonderful narrative, but it all seemed to fall away at the end seemingly a little rushed and lost. As a set text I dare say some deep rereads are about to happen and maybe its greater depth will emerge. How much is fiction and fantasy we will never know but the terror of white arrogance in the genocide of Tasmania’s aboriginals is well captured and sadly mankind continues this destruction of those who we don’t agree with or understand. A valuable contribution to our story and one all Aussies should hope never returns.

    From Goodreads:
    Internationally acclaimed and profoundly moving, Richard Flanagan’s Wanting is a stunning tale of colonialism, ambition, and the lusts and longings that make us human. Now in paperback, it links two icons of Western civilization through a legendarily disastrous arctic exploration, and one of the most infamous episodes in human history: the colonization of Tasmania.
    In 1841, Sir John Franklin and his wife, Lady Jane, move to the remote penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania. There Lady Jane falls in love with a lively aboriginal girl, Mathinna, whom she adopts and makes the subject of a grand experiment in civilization—one that will determine whether science, Christianity, and reason can be imposed in the place of savagery, impulse, and desire.
    A quarter of a century passes. Sir John Franklin disappears in the Arctic with his crew and two ships on an expedition to find the fabled Northwest Passage. England is horrified by reports of cannibalism filtering back from search parties, no one more so than the most celebrated novelist of the day, Charles Dickens. As Franklin’s story becomes a means to plumb the frozen depths of his own life, Dickens finds a young actress thawing his heart.

    Our Man In Havana

    Our Man in Havana

    Oh he is good! I have heard so much about Graham Greene that to finally read him was a true eye opener. Tremendous skill and understanding of the art. Will seek out some more of his work and of course the Alex Guinness movie. Back soon!

    From Goodreads:
    Graham Greene’s classic Cuban spy story.

    First published in 1959, Our Man in Havana is an espionage thriller, a penetrating character study, and a political satire that still resonates today. Conceived as one of Graham Greene’s ‘entertainments,’ it tells of MI6’s man in Havana, Wormold, a former vacuum-cleaner salesman turned reluctant secret agent out of economic necessity. To keep his job, he files bogus reports based on Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare and dreams up military installations from vacuum-cleaner designs. Then his stories start coming disturbingly true.