173. The Heart Goes Last -Margaret Atwood

 Title: The Heart Goes Last

Author: Margaret Atwood

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

On the Shelves: Fiction> Dystopian

Margaret Atwood puts the human heart to the ultimate test in an utterly brilliant new novel that is as visionary as The Handmaid’s Tale and as richly imagined as The Blind Assassin.
Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around – and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in… for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their “civilian” homes. 
At first, this doesn’t seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one’s head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan’s life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled. (Goodreads 2017)

Sidenote: I am updating this from the wordpress app so I apologise for the lack of a cut to  save your pages-I will get it edited.

This is the second book of Atwood’s I have read, the first being The Handmaid’s Tale, back when I was doing A level English Lit in school. I have wanted to read more of her work since then but just hadn’t gotten around to it. 

The Heart Goes Last is a dystopian fiction where society has gone to the dogs. The economy is awful, no employment, the property bubble has burst and people, including Stan and Charmaine, are living out of their car on scraps and begging for any opportunity.  And then opportunity comes knocking-or so it seems.

The powers thay be have set up a “safe space” for any persons who get accepted into the programme. It will secure property, employment, boost the economy and help citizens feel they are valued again while ensuring they do not go cold and hungry. The catch? Half of their time will be spent in allocated accomodation, living normally with their families. The other half will be spent in prison, completing work such as factory work- horticulture, sewing and the like. It seems like a grand idea but it starts to unravel for Stan and Charmaine when Stan starts to get paranoid that Charmaine is having an affair…is he paranoid after all?

Atwood has a wonderfully subtle way of building up tension and using it to snowball the story from a simple gesture into a huge movement. The story itself is intriguing and the characters are likeable despite being flawed in numerous ways. There were one or two plot twists which I didn’t see coming and it is so refreshing to not be able to predict where a story will go.

I really enjoyed this and recommend it to anybody who likes dystopian fiction.

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166. Home Front- Kristin Hannah

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Title: Home Front

Author: Kristin Hannah

Rating: ★★★

On the shelves: Fiction> Contemporary

All marriages have a breaking point. All families have wounds. All wars have a cost. . . .

Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life–children, careers, bills, chores–even as their twelve-year marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm’s way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a soldier she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have foreseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own–for everything that matters to his family.

At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family, Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honor, and ultimately, hope. (Goodreads 2017)

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165. On the Other Side- Carrie Hope Fletcher

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Title: On the Other Side

Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher

Rating: ★★★★

On the Shelves: Fiction> Romance

A love story like no other, this is the debut novel from Carrie Hope Fletcher, author of the Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller All I Know Now.

Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It’s the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won’t open.

Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it’s too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow , some way, she may also find her way back to her long lost love . . .

On the Other Side will transport you to a world that is impossible to forget. Powerful, magical and utterly romantic, this is a love story like no other from everyone’s favourite ‘big sister’, Carrie Hope Fletcher. (Goodreads 2017)

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164. Harry Potter & the Cursed Child

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Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Author: J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne

Rating: ★★★

On the Shelves: Fiction> Young Adult/ Fantasy

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places (Goodreads 2017)

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160. Trigger Warning- Neil Gaiman

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Title: Trigger Warning

Author: Neil Gaiman

Rating: ★★★★

On the Shelves: Fiction> Anthology/Fantasy

In this new volume, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction-stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013-as well as BLACK DOG, a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods.

Trigger Warning is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explores the realm of experience and emotion. In Adventure Story-a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane-Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience A Calendar of Tales are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year-stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale The Case of Death and Honey. And Click-Clack the Rattlebag explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness. (Goodreads 2016)

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158. The Final Empire- Brandon Sanderson

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Title: The Final Empire (mistborn #1)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ★★★★

On the Shelves: Fiction> Fantasy

158. The Final Empire- Brandon Sanderson

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with colour once more?
In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage— Allomancy, a magic of the metals. (Goodreads 2016)

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154. The Great Christmas Knit Off- Alexandra Brown

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Title: The Great Christmas Knit Off

Author: Alexandra Brown

Rating: ★★★★

On the shelves: Fiction> Contemporary/Romance

The perfect seasonal tale of how laughter, friends and wacky Christmas jumpers can mend a broken heart. For fans of Trisha Ashley and Jenny Colgan.

Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale.

There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen… (Goodreads 2015)

***HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE- I hope you all have a wonderful 2016!***

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152. The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)- Graeme Simsion

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Title: The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)

Author: Graeme Simison

Rating: ★★★★

On the Shelves: Fiction> Contemporary

Meet Don Tillman. Don is getting married. He just doesn’t know who to yet. But he has designed a very detailed questionnaire to help him find the perfect woman. One thing he already knows, though, is that it’s not Rosie. Absolutely, completely, definitely not. (Goodreads 2015)

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145. We Have Always Lived in a Castle- Shirley Jackson

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Title: We Have Always Lived in a Castle

Author: Shirley Jackson

Rating: ★★★

On the Shelves: Fiction> Classic> Suspense

Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the hostility of the villagers. (Goodreads 2015)

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144. The Moon is Down- John Steinbeck

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Title: The Moon is Down

Author: John Steinbeck

Rating: ★★★★

On the Shelves: Fiction> Classic/Historical Fiction/Historical

Originally published at the zenith of Nazi Germany’s power, Steinbeck’s fable “The Moon Is Down” explores the effects of invasion on both the conquered and the conquerors. Occupied by enemy troops, a small, peaceable town comes face-to-face with evil imposed from the outside and betrayal from within the close-knit community. As he delves into the motivations and emotions of the enemy, Steinbeck uncovers profound and often unsettling truths both about war and human nature.

(Goodreads 2015)

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