Shelf Control #142: The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

Title: The Foreshadowing
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Published: 2005
Length: 304 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

It is 1915 and the First World War has only just begun.

17 year old Sasha is a well-to-do, sheltered-English girl. Just as her brother Thomas longs to be a doctor, she wants to nurse, yet girls of her class don’t do that kind of work. But as the war begins and the hospitals fill with young soldiers, she gets a chance to help. But working in the hospital confirms what Sasha has suspected–she can see when someone is going to die. Her premonitions show her the brutal horrors on the battlefields of the Somme, and the faces of the soldiers who will die. And one of them is her brother Thomas.

Pretending to be a real nurse, Sasha goes behind the front lines searching for Thomas, risking her own life as she races to find him, and somehow prevent his death.

How and when I got it:

I bought this book several years ago from an online resale site.

Why I want to read it:

After reading Midwinterblood, I just had to read more by this author. I’ve read a few of his books now, and to be honest, I haven’t loved any nearly as  much as I loved Midwinterblood — but I keep trying! The synopsis of The Foreshadowing definitely caught my attention. World War I books are always harrowing, and I like the sound of the supernatural element combined with the war story.

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Take A Peek Book Review: A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgwick

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.

a-love-like-blood-2

Synopsis:

(via Goodreads)

‘I’ve chased him for over twenty years, and across countless miles, and though often I was running, there have been many times when I could do nothing but sit and wait. Now I am only desperate for it to be finished.’

In 1944, just days after the liberation of Paris, Charles Jackson sees something horrific: a man, apparently drinking the blood of a murdered woman. Terrified, he does nothing, telling himself afterwards that worse things happen in wars.

Seven years later he returns to the city – and sees the same man dining in the company of a fascinating young woman. When they leave the restaurant, Charles decides to follow…

A Love Like Blood is a dark, compelling thriller about how a man’s life can change in a moment; about where the desire for truth – and for revenge – can lead; about love and fear and hatred. And it is also about the question of blood.

My Thoughts:

Marcus Sedgwick is a prolific writer of unusual, often dark and disturbing YA fiction. A Love Like Blood is his first adult novel, and it’s not for the squeamish.

A Love Like Blood has the propulsive energy and desperate drive of a classic vampire story, although that’s not precisely what this is. The book’s heartbeat is the obsessive hunter’s drive to track down his prey, a figure representing ultimate evil, at whatever cost and over however many years it takes.

The pacing and sense of lurking doom and desperation remind me of books such as The Historian, or even Dracula itself. As I said, I wouldn’t exactly call this a vampire novel (nothing shiny or sparkly or supernaturally sexy here, to be sure), although the topic of vampires is broached as the main character tries to apply a scientific lens to a fascination with blood and what that means.

A Love Like Blood is about a man haunted by one fateful wartime moment, whose life eventually becomes singularly focused on what he saw and what it means, and his quest to punish the man whose actions hang over every moment he experiences from that point forward.

The horror here is mostly psychological, although there are some more graphic moments too. Definitely not a fun or pleasant read, but well worth checking out if you enjoy tales of obsession and dread. A Love Like Blood is creepy and chilling, and impossible to put down.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: A Love Like Blood
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Publication date: August 28, 2014
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Horror
Source: Purchased

Save

Save

At A Glance: She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

Book Review: She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

She Is Not Invisible

Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers–a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

My thoughts:

This quiet book is a charmer, although it was nothing like what I’d expected. In She Is Not Invisible, Laureth searches for her missing father by taking her 7-year-old brother on a flight from London to New York — without parental permission, I might add — and based on the barest scraps of clues, spends two days scouring the city for hints that might lead to her brilliant but unpredictable father.

Their father seems to have become obsessed with the study of coincidence in the last several years, focusing especially on certain numbers that show up repeatedly in his life in significant and potentially meaningful ways. As Laureth and Benjamin follow the hints, they too begin to look for the special numbers and odd patterns, the things that seem to be inexplicable yet seem to occur often enough that they must have secret meaning. Or do they?

Meanwhile, Laureth herself is an interesting character. Blind since birth, she wears dark glasses, relies on her IPhones voice capabilities, and has worked out a hand-squeeze system with Benjamin that in essence turns him into her seeing eye dog. She’s a person who forces herself to project confidence and presence; otherwise, as she’s learned, people can’t seem to see her as a real person. So who’s really the blind one here?

She Is Not Invisible includes some interesting thoughts about family and relationships, being different, fitting in and sticking out. The ruminations on the nature of coincidences and whether such things actually even exist are interesting, but don’t really go anywhere. The action is rather muted. The children spend their time rushing from clue to clue, and I could help but cringe at the idea of these two on their own in the city with almost no ability to care for themselves, no way to communicate with their mother, and no way to find their father.

Still, the writing is snappy and keeps things interesting, even when the plot seems to stall out as Laureth contemplates her father’s secret notes and what they might mean. The book contains hints and puzzles of its own, as the author has embedded certain patterns and numbers within the writing itself that are rather fun to track down. (Note: Sadly, this was hard to do, as my ARC was badly formatted, missing the chapter breaks and hand-written asides that end up being important to the story).

Do I recommend She Is Not Invisible? Yes, but. If you’re looking for action, danger, and maybe even special powers or abilities, possibly this isn’t the book for you. But if you enjoy a thoughtful approach with some quirky treats, give it a try!

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: She Is Not Invisible
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Publication date: April 22, 2014
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Young adult fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of Macmillan via NetGalley

Wishing & Waiting on Wednesday: She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

There’s nothing like a Wednesday for thinking about the books we want to read! My Wishing & Waiting on Wednesday post is linking up with two fabulous book memes, Wishlist Wednesday (hosted by Pen to Paper) and Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine).

This week, I’m excited about:

She Is Not Invisible

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
(to be released April 22, 2014)

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers–a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

I just read Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick this past week, which was beautiful and altogether unusual (my review is here if you want to know more), and at this point I’d be willing to read anything by this author! She Is Not Invisible sounds completely different, but there’s something about the synopsis that really appeals to me, and I’m eager to give it a try.

What are you wishing for this Wednesday?

Looking for some bookish fun on Thursdays and Fridays? Come join me for my regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday! You can find out more here — come share the book love!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

Book Review: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Book Review: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Midwinterblood

Synopsis:

Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love.

I first heard about Midwinterblood almost a year ago, when I read Eoin Colfer’s fabulous review of it in the New York Times and just knew I had to read it. I bought myself a copy immediately, and then one thing and another happened… and every time a Top 10 Tuesday topic came along focused on top TBR books, I always had Midwinterblood right at the top… and suddenly, here I am, almost a full year later, and I’ve only now read the book. And could kick myself for waiting so long.

In case you missed the news, Midwinterblood has just been named the winner of the 2014 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. And all I can say is, well done, you award givers, you!

In Midwinterblood, seven connected tales moves backward chronologically from 2073 to days too long ago to have a date attached. In each story, the same characters meet — in different bodies and in different relationships — always seeking and finding, always sharing a deep bond that’s both familiar and mysterious. Always, there’s an Eric and a Merle — sometimes in love, sometimes a brother and sister, sometimes unrelated except by an unusual friendship.

The lead story, “Midsummer Sun”, sets the tone, as a reporter named Eric Seven journeys to a remote island to investigate rumors of a strange and powerful plant and its impact upon the lives of the islanders. Upon arrival at the island, Eric meets a young woman named Merle, as well as the island’s elders, and he quickly realizes that things on the island are a bit strange. But just as quickly, that becomes unimportant to Eric, as it’s his meeting with Merle that consumes all of his thoughts:

Eric Seven does not believe in love at first sight.

He corrects himself.

Even in that moment, the moment that it happens, he feels his journalist’s brain make a correction, rubbing out a long-held belief, writing a new one in its place.

He did not believe in love at first sight. He thinks he might do so now.

From the first page, it’s clear that there’s something dark and disturbing under the surface, and by the end of the first story — like a nightmare come to life — an ominous mood, full of loss and sacrifice, has been set that carries through the rest of the book.

Midwinterblood

What a beautiful cover! The paperback will be released in April 2014.

In subsequent stories, we meet an archaeologist uncovering both the remains of a Viking tomb and a remnant of a 20th century war; a painter and the small girl who befriends him; twins who hear a ghost story; a Viking king’s young children; and a king and queen from so long ago that their story feels almost mythical. Through each tale, the two lost souls find each other all over again:

One night, as they parted, Erik whispered something precious to Merle.

“Say that you will never leave me,” he said, holding her hands.

“I shall never leave you,” said Merle.

“Is it so easy to say?” Erik asked, surprised.

“It is, since it is you I speak of,” Merle answered. “I will never leave you. No matter what happens, or where you go, or what you do. I will never leave you.”

“But it might not be so easy,” Erik said. “Our love is forbidden. It might become impossible for us to be together.”

Merle shook her head.

“I will find a way,” she said. “I will always find a way.”

It’s hard to describe the mood that takes hold while reading this book. It’s beautiful and hypnotic, with writing that hints and flows, casting a spell of magic and loss and a love that lasts forever. Midwinterblood is not a long book, but every page and every line is carefully constructed to serve the whole, so that reading this book feels like living inside a dream at times.

I’m puzzled as to why this book is defined as young adult. I certainly can’t see any reason for it. Still, I suppose it’s a good thing, seeing how Midwinterblood just won the Printz Award.

I absolutely recommend Midwinterblood. It’s beautiful and sad, creepy and lovely, and altogether different from anything else I’ve read.

Midvinterblot by Carl Larsson. This painting was an inspiration for the author and figures into some of the stories.

Midvinterblot by Carl Larsson. This painting was an inspiration for the author and figures into some of the stories.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Midwinterblood
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication date: February 5, 2013
Length: 272 pages
Genre: Young adult
Source: Purchased