Blog Tour: Stewart Ross “The Salvation Project”

If everything you’d ever known was taken from you, how far would you go to get it back?

IMG_20170616_161353_652

The Salvation Project is the third book in Stewart Ross’s Soterion Trilogy. Summarised in his own words:

Cyrus, his young copemate Miouda, and his young friend Sammy have managed to escape from the burning ruins of Alba. They have rescued a laptop containing the entire contents of the Soterion, including the Salvation Project. On this frail and ancient machine hangs the last and only hope of restoring the civilisation of the Long Dead.

But the laptop’s batteries are flat, there is no electricity to power it, and it is only a matter of time before Xsani and the thwarted Zeds set off in pursuit…”

IMG_20170616_161452_011

This series has a powerful and fascinating premise: what happens to knowledge and civilisation when the adults are wiped out and everyone dies in their 19th year?

The Salvation Project follows the Mission as they try to restore the last piece of knowledge to a dying world, pursued by those who wish to destroy it. Can they succeed?

During their journey, we get glimpses of the devastating effects of the epidemic that wiped out the adults: haunting descriptions of piles of skeletons and the poignant scene of a couple who died at their dinner table. But the author does not dwell on these too often or too long, and so the novel retains the sense of a thrilling race against time, keeping the reader guessing until the final chapter.

Ross addresses some interesting questions in this last book. Can a person change who they are? What does it mean to belong to a group? Does the past necessarily hold the key to future success?

I did have some questions of the series as I read: how was so much knowledge lost so quickly and not passed down through generations? What caused the split of people into Constants and Zeds and why is there so much animosity between the groups? Why don’t we know more about the epidemic and how the Long Dead met their end? But when I read the final chapter (and what a final chapter!) these questions became unimportant and I understood why the author had not addressed them. It was not at all what I expected, but it was a very clever and thought-provoking ending.

I enjoyed this trilogy, and especially this third book, and I think lovers of YA dystopia would enjoy it.

In a recent interview with Faye Rogers Stewart Ross indicated that he might be interested in writing another book if there was enough interest for it. Let’s just say I’m invested enough in some of the characters to want to know what happens next, so if you could all help a reader out by getting your hands on The Salvation Project, that would be grand!

Maybe enter the giveaway here: The Salvation Project

About the Author

Stewart Ross taught at a variety of institutions in Sri Lanka, the Middle East, the USA, and Britain before becoming a full-time writer in 1989. He has published over 300 titles, including prize-winning books for younger readers, novels, plays, three librettos, a musical, and many widely acclaimed works on history and sport. Several of his books are illustrated with his own photographs.

Stewart also lectures in France and the UK, gives talks, runs workshops, and visits schools. He is an occasional journalist and broadcaster.

When he isn’t writing, he enjoys travel, restaurants, sport, theatre, photography, art and music.

You can find him on:

Website: http://www.stewartross.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Booksmyth
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Soterion-Mission-194311443946577/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/jstewartross

Take a look at the rest of the fantastic content for this book tour here:

Blog Tour Banner6.png

Moments of Happiness…

This week, the lovely Grace Latter of Almost Amazing Grace wrote about her happy things this week and challenged others to do the same.

Appreciating the little things that make us happy, as well as the big things, is so important. So, here are mine for the last week:


Referral to Surgery
I have a misbehaving gallbladder. He’s been building stones for two years now; I like to think he’s been listening to my friends and I talking about building out own Skyfall for when the apocalypse comes and stockpiling the stones for us. He has to come out. I’ve been in constant pain since early May now and this week finally got the referral to surgery and a date for my first appointment with the surgeon. 


Good Books

This week, I’ve finished Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, The Kite Runner and The Marriage Pact. All brilliant reads. I’ve been approved for some brilliant sounding ARCs too, so this has been a great bookish  week. 


The Beach

Spent a lovely sunny day at the beach with my little family. We had a picnic, paddles in the sea and I enjoyed laying in the sunshine watching the boys play cricket.


Woolfest


On Saturday I went to Cumbria Woolfest with Grandma. It was my first time and I spent far too much, but everything was fabulous. I love wool almost as much as I love books. And to top the day off, Grandma made me a GF tea bread so I wasn’t left out of afternoonsies.


Friends
 

I have the best friends. They are wonderful people. One of them made me this fabulous crown that I wear far more than I should own up to. This week, we had an hour long message conversation only in Shakespeare quotes. I love having people in my life who are my kind of weird and bookish and who are always there for me.

Having finished my own happy list, I asked my 5 year old what his would be. I’ll leave you with these gems:

  • Playing Moana and being a demi-god.
  • Having fruit for pudding.
  • Eating a strawberry.
  • Not telling lies.
  • Saying “boo” to daddy when he wouldn’t let me go out for tea. 

Sofia Khan is Absolutely Awesome 

This month I have been taking part in the Ramadan Readathon reading books by Muslim authors to support diversity in publishing and on our bookshelves. You can find out more about it here: #RamadanReadathon

Readathons/ challenges and I have a difficult history. I try to be sensible. I make a list. I pile up my books. Somewhere (usually around half way through the first book) it all goes awry as I decide to completely ignore my sensible plans and just READ ALL THE BOOKS EVER WRITTEN like that time I ended up reading almost 100 books for a series challenge where most people were reading one series. It doesn’t take long before I start regretting my poor life choices and cursing past me and her atrocious decision making skills.

I didn’t stick to my plan for this readathon, but so far, I’ve made excellent choices. I started with 


The Other Side of Happiness by Ayisha Malik

Yes. I know NOW that this is the second book in the series. I found out about 30 pages in. Nevertheless, I persisted. I am nothing if not stubborn.

I loved Sofia Khan from the very start. She’s hilarious. She reminded me of Bridget Jones. Sofia is married and navigating life as a wife whilst still wanting to retain her independence and pursue her career in writing. There is a huge twist to the story which leaves Sofia (and her readers) heart-broken. But I won’t spoil that for you, because you need to read this book.

I finished this book with a great reader crush on Sofia. And that’s where my Readathon list went to pot, as I immediately downloaded the first Sofia Khan book to read.

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged

Reading this after its sequel was perhaps not my greatest plan, but knowing how it ended didn’t take away from my enjoyment of discovering how Sofia got there, although it probably meant I lost some of the tension and surprise of Sofia’s dating adventures. In this book, we learn how Sofia came to be writing her book and how she ended up married and travelling.

Both books are brilliantly written. As a reader, you feel like you know Sofia inside out and you get a good perspective of the other characters through her eyes. I really enjoyed that a lot of the story is told through diary type entries, text messages and emails giving a more personal insight. I learned an awful lot from reading these books about the Muslim religion, what religion meant to Sofia and those around her and differences of opinion within the Muslim community about wearing the hijab.

These books are excellent and I highly recommend reading them if you haven’t already. Although, you might wish to consider reading them in the right order. 

Blog Tour: “The Devil’s Poetry” by Louise Cole

Can one Reader save the world from war?

Callie’s generation are being conscripted. Tensions are building and World War III is on the horizon. Callie is given a book by a stranger in a club and told to keep it, but not read it. Can a true Reader ever resist that temptation? Callie hides books from her father all the time, but this book is different: this book is powerful, and it seems Callie is the only one who can harness its power to save the world. But at what price? She is being hunted by the Cadaveri, with their terrifying white eyes, and they will stop at nothing to prevent her Reading. The Order of Sumer are desperate to ensure she Reads, whatever the personal cost. Yet, it is not a simple story of good and evil; it is not always clear which is the “right” side or who cares most for Callie’s wellbeing, and things are further complicated when she discovers a link to her mother that makes her question everything she has ever been told.

The Devil’s Poetry by Louise Cole is set in a not-so-distant future world that could so easily be our own. The wars and conflicts are so similar to what is happening in our world today and there are descriptions of conflicts in familiar UK towns that gives the reader the sense of unease that this could be our world, that this could be happening right now.

The protagonist, Callie, is a fairly ordinary teenage girl. She has a tendency to break technology just by being near it and doesn’t always understand popular culture references (but in both these respects she sounds a lot like me, so I can’t hold those less common traits against her). More typically, she has a complicated relationship with her father, tempestuous romantic relationships and a beautiful but intense friendship with Amber. I enjoyed seeing how each of these relationships developed as the novel went on, and the effect that the book of poetry had on those around Callie. My only (slight) criticism was that the romance came on a little too suddenly for me, and felt out of place at first, but by the end I was absolutely rooting for them to end up together, so it didn’t bother me so much that it detracted from my overall enjoyment.

Cole’s world-building and characterisation are excellent and her prose is beautiful. The opening: “I never realised war could be so quiet. The National Service letters had whispered through our doors that morning” is so gentle and at odds with the expected descriptions of war, that I felt uneasy (in a good way) from the start. The move between this gentle pace and faster, more thrilling parts keeps the reader on edge from the beginning.

I loved the concept that one reader and one book could save the world. The book was full of little twists and suspense that kept me guessing to the very end.

I’m gushing, I know. This book is everything I love about YA literature. I didn’t want it to end and when it did, I was relieved to see that a further book is planned. Highly recommended for anyone who likes thrillers.

About the Author

Louise Cole is an avid reader and writer, enjoys gardening and walking her cocker spaniels around North Yorkshire. She is an award-winning journalist, former business magazine editor and director of a media agency. Her fiction includes short stories, young adult thrillers and other stuff she is working on (hopefully including the sequel to this book because I need it yesterday!)

The Devil’s Poetry is available to buy now!

* I received an ebook copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own genuine thoughts and not in any way influenced by this. My thanks to Louise Cole and Faye Rogers for the copy and inclusion in the book tour.*

You can follow the rest of the blog tour for this fantastic book here:

Tour Schedule

Wednesday 14th June

Alejandra’s Life

Summer Reads and Moonlight Dreams

Thursday 15th June

YA Under My Skin

Life with KtKinnes

Friday 16th June

Tales of Yesterday

Louise Bodle

Saturday 17th June

Big Book Little Book

Sunshine Sarah

Sunday 18th June

Fiction Fascination

No Safer Place

Monday 19th June

Tween Book Blog

An Ocean Glimmer

Tuesday 20th June

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Charlotte Somewhere

Wednesday 21st June

A Books Eternal Glory

The Write Blog

Thursday 22nd June

Bookish Outsider

My Self and My Shelf

Friday 23rd June

Portable Magic

Just Kathryn

Saturday 24th June

Book Murmuration

Tea Party Princess

Sunday 25th June

Wee Bit Wordy

Monday 26th June

Kirstyes

Miss Chapters Reviews

Tuesday 27th June

OBC Mini Reviewers

United Book Blog

My PTSD Diagnosis

I like to think I’ve been quite open about my mental health generally, but there are things I haven’t told and people I don’t talk to about it at all. This week is Mental Health Awareness week and last week was Maternal Mental Health Awareness week. It’s so important that people share their experiences and help to raise awareness and understanding. So, here’s my experience of having birth trauma PTSD.

I had an horrific labour. This isn’t an exaggeration. I don’t make a habit of telling people my story for the sake of it but neither do I shy away from telling those who are curious. So, if you want to know, it’s here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’d survived labour, tried to be a good patient and made my way out of hospital after a week. My husband had a month off work. Then it was just us. Me and a baby. I was still in a lot of pain. People kept telling me I shouldn’t be, but I was. It hurt to move, climbing stairs was an ordeal and bending down was impossible. I spent most days hobbling between the dining table (to change the baby) and the sofa (to doze and watch DVDs). I was struggling to sleep, even when the baby slept. I felt detached from everything. I managed for a while to do all the things I thought I should do, desperately trying to give off the impression of someone who was coping. Inside, I was losing it. I was unhappy, I felt guilty for failing my child and my husband, for not being everything I thought a mum should be.

Then I started to struggle more. My already poor sleep got even worse. I cried all time. I had nightmares. I sat up in the night holding a baby I didn’t know what to do with and sobbing. After an incident involving shouting, wailing and the accidental throwing of mashed potato (all me), and some support and straight-talking (husband) I spoke to my Health Visitor and went to the doctor. It had been four months since my son’s birth. I felt like I failed.

Everyone I’d seen since the birth told me to be vigilant, that it would be unusual if I didn’t suffer some kind of mental health problem. I wanted to prove them all wrong, but I couldn’t. My doctor was (and still is) amazing. He gave me medication and referred me to therapy. I stared at the medication for a long time, pondering how it would change me and if I wanted it, but I knew I couldn’t carry on as I was, so I took it. I started therapy with a CPN from the perinatal mental health team. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

My sleeping got worse until I couldn’t sleep without being medicated. Every. Single. Night. I needed the light on: I was too nervous in the dark, too likely to think I was back in hospital and panic. I had nightmares where I was back in hospital, and it was happening again but no one would listen to me. I would wake drenched in cold sweat and unable to move my legs. The more I panicked, the worse it got. I would wake up with blood in my fingernails where I’d been scratching at my scar. I was exhausted.

I had flashbacks. Certain things would trigger me and I would be back in that hospital room. Only for a few seconds, maybe a minute at a time, but that was enough to unnerve and disorient me, to put me on high alert, so I avoided going out much. I avoided places and things that reminded me of the birth. I avoided baby groups because I didn’t want to listen to other people’s happy stories and be forced to tell my own.

The medication helped, but when I took it, I slept too much and I was a total zombie in the day. I did things when I had to, but all the pictures from the time show how utterly dead I was inside. When I didn’t have to do something specific, I was often too overwhelmed to do anything. I was a nightmare to live with.

His first birthday was awful. A constant stream of “this time last year…” and memories from other people, a lot of crying (me) and a worsening of my symptoms. A friend brought me flowers because she’d recognised it might be a tough day and I nearly broke right then. I though I would feel like that forever.

Somewhere along the line it started to get easier. I wish I could say what had turned things around, or that there was a specific thing that helped me, but one day it just started to feel less bad. I got back to work. I came off the sleeping medication. I started to go out more. I still sleep worse than the average person and I still take antidepressants. There are things that still trigger me: traumatic birth scenes on TV and in books, the smell of certain bath products, being in hospitals (those bins you have to open with your foot, the long corridors, the disinfectant smell). I still get the repetitive dreams and birthdays are hard, but I’m broadly ok. These things are mostly controllable. I cope with them better. I struggle when people feel the need to comment on my only child and tell me it’s selfish, or only children are spoilt or how easy it is when you just have one, but I’m learning to let that go too.

I’m living my life. We all are. And we’re still a family out the other side of all this. So I know I am lucky.

If you have questions you want to ask me, then shout up (in the comments, by email, on Twitter) and I will answer them all (maybe in another post if there are enough of them)!