Shelf Control #277: And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

Shelves final

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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.

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Title: And the Ocean Was Our Sky
Author: Patrick Ness
Published: 2018
Length: 160 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Monster Calls comes a richly illustrated and lyrical tale, one that asks harrowing questions about power, loyalty, obsession, and the monsters we make of others.

With harpoons strapped to their backs, the proud whales of Bathsheba’s pod live for the hunt, fighting in the ongoing war against the world of men. When they attack a ship bobbing on the surface of the Abyss, they expect to find easy prey. Instead, they find the trail of a myth, a monster, perhaps the devil himself…

As their relentless Captain leads the chase, they embark on a final, vengeful hunt, one that will forever change the worlds of both whales and men.

With the lush, atmospheric art of Rovina Cai woven in throughout, this remarkable work by Patrick Ness turns the familiar tale of Moby Dick upside down and tells a story all its own with epic triumph and devastating fate.

How and when I got it:

I treated myself to the hardcover edition when it was released in 2018.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve read several Patrick Ness books by now, but not nearly enough! I think I have at least two more of his books sitting on my shelf, still to be read (maybe future Shelf Control books?). I was drawn to this book for a few reasons:

  1. I’ve never not liked Patrick Ness’s writing, even if the book’s main topic isn’t of huge interest to me. Can’t say I’ve ever been let down.
  2. It’s illustrated by Rovina Cai! She also does the illustrations for Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children books, and I love her artwork.
  3. I’ve seen this book described as telling the story of Moby Dick from the whale’s perspective, and what’s not to love about that?? I actually read Moby Dick a few years ago (yes, really), and I think experiencing an “upside down” version of the story would be fascinating.

I really do intend to read this book soon… or as soon as I can remember which shelf I left it on, last time I came across it.

PS – The opening line of this book is:

Call me Bathsheba.

How awesome is that?

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


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Take A Peek Book Review: Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett

“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.

Rush Oh


(via Goodreads)

An impassioned, charming, and hilarious debut novel about a young woman’s coming-of-age, during one of the harshest whaling seasons in the history of New South Wales.

1908: It’s the year that proves to be life-changing for our teenage narrator, Mary Davidson, tasked with providing support to her father’s boisterous whaling crews while caring for five brothers and sisters in the wake of their mother’s death. But when the handsome John Beck — a former Methodist preacher turned novice whaler with a mysterious past — arrives at the Davidson’s door pleading to join her father’s crews, suddenly Mary’s world is upended.

As her family struggles to survive the scarcity of whales and the vagaries of weather, and as she navigates sibling rivalries and an all-consuming first love for the newcomer John, nineteen-year-old Mary will soon discover a darker side to these men who hunt the seas, and the truth of her place among them.

Swinging from Mary’s own hopes and disappointments to the challenges that have beset her family’s whaling operation, RUSH OH! is an enchanting blend of fact and fiction that’s as much the story of its gutsy narrator’s coming-of-age as it is the celebration of an extraordinary episode in history.


My Thoughts:

If you’d asked me a few weeks ago whether I’d be interested in reading a book about whaling in Australia in the early 1900s, well… let’s just say the odds wouldn’t be in favor of a yes.

So I’m completely delighted to report that Rush Oh! is an awesome, funny, moving, and highly enjoyable read!

The historical elements are amazing, even more so after reading the author’s notes and discovering that the Davidsons were a real family, and that the snippets of breathless newspaper coverage about the whaling crews and their captain are all taken from the actual newspaper accounts of the time.

At times, Rush Oh! has an almost Austen-esque feel to it. Narrator Mary has a somewhat distorted view of her own talents and attractions, so her telling of the story is full of her own little oddities and self-flatteries. At the same time, she bears witness to her father’s fearless leadership and nobility — which comes through even in the most brutal moments of a whale hunt.

The whale hunts themselves are sometimes harrowing and sometimes humorous. The whaling crews of Twofold Bay are assisted by a pod of Killers (orcas), who corral the humpbacks and other whales that wander into the bay, acting with viciousness as well as playfulness, almost like water-dwelling sheepdogs. The Killers are looked on fondly by the townsfolk, each known by name and personality, and seem to have almost celebrity status. What’s really amazing is that these Killers really were a part of the history of Eden in New South Wales, just as described and with the names used in the novel — Tom, the leader, and his cohorts including Hooky, Humpy, and more.

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But trust me — Rush Oh! is a pure delight to read. Mary’s narration is so funny and quirky, the story of the whaling crew is completely engaging, and the local customs and gossip really are straight out of a comedy of manners. I gobbled up this book in one day, but I think I’ll need to come back to it and savor it again more slowly.


The details:

Title: Rush Oh!
Author: Shirley Barrett
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: March 22, 2016
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Fantasy/contemporary/adult
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley