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Published: 6 July 2017

My thanks to Canongate Books & Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book

Description:

I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.

The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

My Thoughts & Review:

“How to Stop Time” has to be one of the most wonderful and beautiful reads of 2017 so far, from the moment I started reading I was fully invested in the tale of Tom Hazard and barely managed to stop reading before bedtime.

There is a magic in the way that Matt Haig writes, picking up any of his books allows the reader an escape into whatever world is being conjured – whether it’s modern time or Elizabethan England and there’s certainly ample atmospheric detail to make the reader feel that they are right there in the moment with Tom.

Tom is an interesting character, who by his own admission is cursed with an affliction that means he ages at a slower rate than the rest of humanity.  Whether it is a curse or a blessing, it has allowed him to live a life that means he has observed some of the turning points in history, and thus has a unique outlook when it comes to certain things.  Weaving through the fabric of Tom’s life, the reader is given glimpses at the threads that make up this character, his time in Elizabethan England, his voyages to the South Pacific and the people he meets along the way.  Each new acquaintance has their own tale to tell, and each leaves an impression on Tom.

This is very much a story that captures the imagination of the reader, and perhaps for some their heart too.  I found the historical aspects of the plot were fascinating, they were brought alive through Haig’s skilful writing, the mystery element was tantalisingly addictive, the story was poignant and utterly brilliant.

I cannot recommend this “How to Stop Time” highly enough, there is something very special about this book, the story and Tom Hazard stay with you long after reading this. Other readers may take something different from this book, and I think that reading groups may well enjoy this one for the questions that it throws up about the unpredictability of humans, the idea of living in a moment as opposed to living within the confines of an anxious mind worrying about the past or what might happen in the future etc.

And that cover….well it’s just beautiful.

You can buy a copy of “How to Stop Time” via:

Canongate
Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

About the Author:

Matt Haig was born in 1975. His debut novel, The Last Family in England, was a UK bestseller. The Dead Fathers Club, an update of Hamlet featuring an eleven-year-old boy, and The Possession of Mr Cave, a horror story about an overprotective father, are being made into films and have been translated into numerous languages. He is also the author of the award winning children’s novel Shadow Forest, and its sequel, The Runaway Troll. A film of The Radleys is in production with Alfonso Cuaron. Matt has lived in London and Spain, and now lives in York with the writer Andrea Semple and their two children.

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Published: 3 November 2016
Reviewed: 10 November 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Canongate Books in return for an honest review

 

Description:

The next magical book in the festive series, begun with A Boy Called Christmas, from Number One bestselling author Matt Haig

If magic has a beginning, can it also have an end?

When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask – Father Christmas.

But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade, and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled.

But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl. And – as Father Christmas is going to find out – if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone . . .

My Thoughts & Review:

Written as the follow up to A Boy Called Christmas, The Girl Who Saved Christmas is a wonderful tale set in the Victoria era about a young girl called Amelia who has a huge part to play in Christmas this year, she just doesn’t know it yet.  This book can be read and thoroughly enjoyed without having read A Boy Called Christmas first.

This is the perfect book to read in the lead up to Christmas, old and young readers will be delighted by the magic of it all and be swept away on an adventure.  Like many parents, I tend to read a book first to assess whether it is suitable for my child (ok I admit, I read this one because I REALLY REALLY wanted to!) and I can honestly say that even with the rampaging trolls this is still a wonderful book for children and young adults.  There is a richness in Haig’s writing that flows through the pages, you can almost “feel” the spark of magic as you turn the pages.  The spectacular illustrations by Chris Mould fit so perfectly with the tale, they add to the atmosphere in the book and help to bring it all to life.  At times I almost felt that Haig’s writing reminded me of the late Sir Terry Pratchett, creating a tale in a world that’s equally magical and mystical at the same time, the world not entirely perfect but there is still happiness and humour.

The messages that this book sends about hope, caring for each other and the power of believing in magic are important and it is nice to see their inclusion.
This has a feel of a modern day classic, and one that could easily become part of a family Christmas tradition – like reading The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve or staying up as late as possible to try and see Santa.

Despite having an electronic copy of this book I will be ordering a physical copy so that we can enjoy this together as a family and add it to our Christmas Eve routine.

You can buy a copy of The Girl Who Saved Christmas here.

About the Author:

Matt Haig was born in Sheffield, England in1975. He writes books for both adults and children, often blending the worlds of domestic reality and outright fantasy, with a quirky twist. His bestselling novels are translated into 28 languages. The Guardian has described his writing as ‘delightfully weird’ and the New York Times has called him ‘a novelist of great talent’ whose writing is ‘funny, riveting and heartbreaking’.

His novels for adults are The Last Family in England, narrated by a labrador and optioned for film by Brad Pitt; The Dead Fathers Club (2006), an update of Hamlet featuring an 11-year-old boy; The Possession of Mr Cave (2008), about a man obsessed with his daughter’s safety, and The Radleys (2010) which won Channel 4’s TV Book Club public vote and was shortlisted for a Galaxy National Book Award (UK). The film rights to all his adult novels have been sold. His next adult novel is The Humans (2013).

His multi-award winning popular first novel for children, Shadow Forest, was published in 2007 and its sequel, The Runaway Troll, in 2009. His most recent children’s novel is To Be A Cat (2012).

For more information see Matt’s website  or follow him on Twitter.

 

 

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