Books that adults should read, Relationship Tales, STEM Fiction, Teen, YA

The Quiet At The End Of The World by Lauren James

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking and looking for treasure – until a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence.

Now Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide what to sacrifice to save the whole human race…

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All that history – all that time – wiped away in one moment.  Just like us.  Humans will be as easily lost as these footprints, when the last of us dies.  Our lives are particles on a riverbed being lost by the waters of time.  Here and then gone in a moment.  Nothing, in the grand scheme of things.

For me, this is one of the underlying themes of this book.  It ponders the bigger questions that we have about our very existence with subtlety and grace.  What is it all for? What happens when human beings are no longer here, when WE face extinction? In Lowrie’s world that reality is not too far away but what The Quiet At The End Of The World does, within the pages of this exciting story about two teenagers facing the world alone, is to look at how incredible human beings are. So surely there must be a way that, in the end, we can save ourselves.  The capacity of genius is there within us. We are capable of evolving, moving forward and having a real positive effect on the world in which we live.  Yes we can be selfish, arrogant and our obsession with power is our worst enemy and yet we have this huge potential to be amazing.

If you think that the world is going to end after you’ve gone, then you’re not trying hard enough to find a way to live.

I realise now that every person can make a difference.  However small a change, it counts.

Within this YA novel are characters and situations that young people can relate to. They are facing these massive problems and yet they also experience the same doubts, fears and confusion that we all have felt growing up.  It highlights how these things never really change.  The issues may alter slightly but when it comes down to it there is the same anguish over life, our world and our place within it, as we move through to adulthood whilst getting to know and accept ourselves for who we are.

The Quiet At The End Of The World  explores identity, sexuality and the desire to follow find our own way, no matter what the world throws at you.  Lowrie is a strong female lead.  She’s intelligent, adventurous and determined to make her own place in the world.  She’s fiercely loyal and courageous.  Her relationship with Shen is interestingly explored, the pressure of being the youngest and possibly the last of the human race makes the friendship they have even more precious.  I loved watching how things developed with them.

Their fascination with the world and it’s history is strong from the outset. Whilst out mudlarking one day they stumble across a relic from the past century and with the help of social media records are able to uncover the mysterious owner and discover a little more about the virus that has caused the global infertility.  Gradually they find out more and more, information that becomes vital as a new danger emerges and threatens the very existence of everyone they love and care for.

Author, Lauren James, is a graduate of Chemistry and Physics and through her novels she is making science look cool and relevant.  Her love and knowledge of technology is clear and it’s good to see it portrayed in a positive light. For example the dangers of social media are often (quite rightly) highlighted but these things are now part of who we are and can also be a positive part of today’s world. Lauren doesn’t preach to her readers, she simply shows how our actions, no matter how small, do have a consequence. But she doesn’t condemn, she inspires. As a Librarian, Lauren makes my job terribly easy to find smart, sassy novels for teens & young adults who like their fiction to reflect who they are, or who they aspire to be.

This is a fantastic novel. Lowrie and Shen are normal teenagers in an abnormal world. So much depends on them and although their plight is a story of science fiction it is incredibly thought-provoking. There are so many things within the pages of this story that are so very real. Perfect for teens & Ya, but for all the adults out there – never be afraid to pick up a book such as this. If your children are reading it then it’s important but more than that it will also tap in to that part of you that was young and full of dreams as to what the world could be for you.

The Quiet At The End Of The World is a novel that will definitely be one of my top reads for 2019.

I think about the legacy we’re leaving behind all the time: pollution and plastic and buildings and everything else. As one of the last humans, my choices and decisions are imbued with the full weight of the billions of lives that came before me. It feels like my ancestors are watching me, waiting to see how I ensure their legacy, how I remember them.’

About the author

Screen Shot 2019-03-30 at 09.32.21Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She is the Carnegie-nominated British Young Adult author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Quiet at the End of the World and The Next Together series.

She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university.

Her books have sold over fifty thousand copies in the UK alone, and been translated into five languages worldwide. She has been described as ‘Gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘A strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly.

Her other novels include The Last Beginning, named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for young adults by the Independent, and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, which was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. The Quiet at the End of the World considers the legacy and evolution of the human race into the far future.

Lauren is published in the UK by Walker Books and in the US by HarperCollins. She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2019. She teaches creative writing at university level, and works with Writing West Midlands, providing creative writing courses to children through the Spark Young Writers programme.

You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, Tumblr at @laurenjames or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk, where you can subscribe to her newsletter to be kept up to date with her new releases and receive bonus content.

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Children's Fiction, Christmas 2018

Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

My next recommendation is a selection of grisly, spine-tingling stories from the marvellous Mr Horowitz.

Short stories are great for dipping into and this selection will be perfect for fans of Anthony Horowitz. The cover declares ‘READ THIS AT YOUR PERIL’ – need I say more. They’ll absolutely love it. 🙂

SOMETIMES YOUR NIGHTMARES BECOME REAL…

This terrifying twisted and wickedly funny collection of spine-tingling short stories is only recommended for the most fearless of readers.

From man-eating massage chairs, to terrifying train rides with the living dead or sinister sat navy’s that direct you to doom, these ten gruesome tales by master storyteller Anthony Horowitz are guaranteed to make your blood curdle.

Fiction, Review, Young Adult Fiction

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

EVERYONE’S GOING TO REMEMBER WHERE THEY WERE WHEN THE TAPS RAN DRY

The drought – or the tap-out, as everyone calls it – has been going on for a while. Life has become an endless list of don’t: don’t water the lawn, don’t take long showers, don’t panic. But now there is no water left at all.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation and violence. When her parents go missing, she and her younger brother must team up with an unlikely group in search of water. Each of them will need to make impossible choices to survive.

The kitchen faucet makes the most bizarre sounds.

It coughs and wheezes like it’s gone asthmatic. It gurgles like someone drowning. It spits once, and then goes silent.

And so it begins…

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There are certain things in modern life that are a given. We go to the supermarket, we buy food. We go home and then cook and eat that food. Our neighbours are often there for us in a crisis. Help is always on hand. We have fresh water to drink and wash with. We only have to turn on the tap. So imagine if one day the water ran out. Imagine the worst possible drought. Not in some far off country that you see in commercials asking for aid but in the country you live. A country where swimming pools are common place and everything is taken for granted.

Dry is a great novel. Through the eyes of a regular, American, suburban family we see the breakdown of society. Every aspect of human nature is shown within this story. The heroes, the cowards and the villains. Those who find their calling, those who find their strength and also those who will take and do anything, at whatever cost, to profit from the suffering of others.

After the taps run dry, Alyssa and her brother Garrett watch their parents head off towards a promised supply of fresh water.

‘See you in a bit’ Alyssa says as they go but she’s uneasy. Supplies are dwindling fast and people are turning on each other as the panic begins to spread. When their parents don’t return, the youngsters embark on a dangerous journey to find them and the water. With danger around every corner and not knowing who they can trust, things begin to spiral out of control and it’s not long before Alyssa and Garrett are fighting for their lives.

They form an unlikely fellowship with some other kids, kids they wouldn’t normally have anything to do with, but there is nothing normal about their situation and it doesn’t take them long to work out that if they’re going to survive this, they’re going to have to work together.

An absolutely electrifying story that looks at the many sides of human nature and the lengths that people will go to to survive in a world that suddenly turns upside down.

Dry is published by Walker Books.

Blog Tour, Someone Else’s Shoes, Time to talk, Young Adult Fiction

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow Blog Tour – seeing things from another perspective

This is a blog tour with a difference and I’m delighted to be kicking it off today on Tales Before Bedtime. The tour has been inspired by the novel, Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham which is published today by Walker Books. As Siobhan’s book is about empathy and seeing things from others perspective I’m delighted to have the opportunity to step into someone else’s shoes and post a piece by a fellow blogger and book lover.

Our lives are often touched by people who leave a mark: perhaps a light in dark times or kindness, love and laughter. Perhaps they’ve reminded us of who we are or who we’d like to be, or simply they’ve become part of memories that stay with us long after we’ve known them. Quite often we never get the chance to let them know what they mean to us and Amy has expressed this perfectly in her piece. We should never presume that others know how we feel about them. Some things just shouldn’t be left unsaid.

 

So now over to Amy.

Open Letter: To those, I still love but have lost

To those, I still love but have lost,

I have wanted to write this for the longest time, but this was finally the right time. For this blog tour but also because I finished university recently. University was a place where I met so many new people, but my life seems very up in the air.

You might be wondering who this is about, and the truth is: this is for everyone. Anyone who has made an impact on my life. My friends. My family. Those who are no longer in my life anymore. Although this is my side of the story, I respect your OK too. After all friendship is a two-way relationship.

Life has a way of making us lose touch with people. People you think will be in the longest time in life. You make plans. Going to university. Even bridesmaid at a wedding. Then BAM. Life gets in the way. You move. Someone else moves. You lose contact. Your life becomes liking each other’s posts on Instagram or Facebook. You become someone’s old friend rather than someone’s friend. It’s weird.

So, this is for you. You may never see this, but I know that you mean something to me. We may have lost touch, but I still love you. Like you. Remember you. I remember the times when I laughed so hard that I cried. The films that we saw together. Our days at school. The lessons and the inside jokes that only worked at that times that we would laugh at and everyone would think we were crazy. The lunchtimes. The breaks. The throwaway conversations about our day. The nights that we stayed up too late and the sleepovers that we had.

I remember it all. And I hope you do too. But I don’t mind if I am just a distance memory. We needed each other at that time. We moved on and that’s OK. A piece of me would like to talk to you. See you again. See where you are now. But I don’t mind if I don’t. I hope you are well. That your life is great. Because you deserve it. You really do.

So that’s you. If you wonder about me. I’m good. I’m really good. I’m doing what I love, and I am working towards where I want to be. I hope that this is enough. I really do. But if that’s not. Do what I am scared to do. Because I’m here. I’m here.

The weird thing is that I don’t know how to end this, so I’ll leave it here. If you read this and think it sounds like you. Then it probably is. Know that I remember you. That I love you.

Amy

Thank you Amy for sharing such a personal message with us. It was lovely to read.

Do make a visit to Amy’s blog here where she shares her love of books and writing.

And readers do share your thoughts on this post by leaving a comment. Do you have anything you wish you hadn’t left unsaid?

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Want to know a little more about Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham? Here’s the synopsis.

img_0022Fourteen-year-old Stevie lives in Lewes with her beloved vinyl collection, her mum … and her mum’s depression. When Stevie’s mum’s disability benefits are cut, Stevie and her mother are plunged into a life of poverty. But irrepressible Stevie is determined not to be beaten and she takes inspiration from the lyrics of her father’s 1980s record collection and dreams of a life as a musician. Then she meets Hafiz, a talented footballer and a Syrian refugee. Hafiz’s parents gave their life savings to buy Hafiz a safe passage to Europe; his journey has been anything but easy. Then he meets Stevie…

As Stevie and Hafiz’s friendship grows, they encourage each other to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.

 An uplifting story of friendship, unity and hope that highlights the important and topical issues surrounding young carers and young refugees.

Find out more about this title from Walker Books by visiting their website here.

Thank so much to Kirsten and John at Walker books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

Christmas 2017, Picture Books

Christmas 2017 – Book Advent – Day Nine

Day Nine

A Christmas for Bear by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

IMG_20171220_001112Bear is having his first ever Christmas party.

He tells Mouse that there will be no presents. They will sit and eat pickles and maybe Bear will read a long difficult poem.

Surely that will do?

But Mouse thinks Bear is hiding something…

And he’s determined to find out where!

This lovely Christmas tale has a wonderfully nostalgic feel to it. Just beautiful.

A Christmas for Bear was published in November 2017 by Walker Books.

Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017 – Book advent – Day Two

Day two and it’s the rather wonderful…

Penguin Problems by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith

Poor Penguin is having a bad day. The sea is too salty, his beak is cold, he looks silly when he waddles and he wishes he could fly. But when he starts to look at things from a different point of view he soon realises things aren’t so bad after all.

Super illustrations by Lane Smith (author and illustrator of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal winner There is a Tribe of Kids) accompany the thought provoking text by Jory John and capture the problems we all go through from time to time.

Penguin Problems was published on the 1st of November by Walker Books.

Discover more about Jory John here.

Discover more about Lane Smith here.

Discover more about Walker Books here.

Christmas 2017

Christmas Advent – Books, Books, Books

December is finally with us again and with it advent begins. I always feel slightly nostalgic at this time of year. I remember the advent calenders I used to have as a child, festive pictures of Father Christmas and Christmas trees covered in glitter. Behind each door would be a small picture: maybe a star, maybe a beautifully wrapped pile of presents, a sprig of holly or even a Christmas pudding. I loved those calenders. They didn’t contain chocolate in those days but they were still exciting and magical. Well this year I thought I’d make my own virtual calender to share with you and this one will of course contain books!

Day one brings us a little something to get us in the Christmas spirit!

Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares

This beautiful picture book brings us the story of Red and Lulu, happy together in their tree until one day they are unexpectedly separated. We follow Red on his quest to find Lulu. Tired and hungry he begins to wonder if he’ll ever find Lulu again. Then he hears a familiar tune. Will it lead him back to Lulu and home? With stunning illustrations, this gentle story will be wonderful to share over the festive season and beyond.

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Red & Blue was published on the 5th of October by Walker Books.

Discover more about author and illustrator Matt Tavares here.

Discover more about Walker Books here.