Tag Archives: Rachel Meehan

Earth’s Descent by Rachel Meehan

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earthsdescentcoverEarth’s Descent by Rachel Meehan, e-book, 217 pages, published in 2015 by Cherry House Publishing.

Nairne receives an unexpected letter that leads her to travel from Scotland all the way down to London. Ronnie accompanies her on the dangerous journey, the two of them leaving the safety of the community to face the unknown. They encounter mass death and disease, armed gangs and power hungry lunatics while they cross the vastly changed lands. Whole parts of the country are now under water, while the air swelters hotter than any summer before.

Earth’s Descent is the final installment of the Troubled Times series, which has highlighted the potential fall-out of climate change. Through increasingly erratic and extreme weather conditions, sections of land are now submerged, and whole towns destroyed. Masses of people have been displaced from their homes, have faced disease, starvation and thirst. And that’s aside from the threat of people who are making the most of the situation to exploit and control the weaker, the unarmed, the desperate. Meehan has created an highly viable and terrifying world where society no longer exists, where survival is uncertain because we, as inhabitants of Earth, failed to protect our environment and ignored climate change until it was too late to reverse the tide. I really hope we are not going to end up in Nairne’s world.

I actually put off reading Earth’s Descent for quite a while because I knew it would be the last of Nairne’s story, and I didn’t want it to end. Curiosity won out however, and I quickly dipped back into the devastated Scotland that is Nairne’s reality. I read the whole book over two, quick reading sessions, and I was sad to reach the end. It left me with a lot to think about afterwards too, mostly about what would happen to my family and friends if the climate deteriorated like that, and what will happen to Nairne, Ronnie, Paul and their community. What sort of future will they have? Would human society rebuild itself? Would the Earth recover? This series is extremely relevant to our current situation regarding climate change, and it affected me deeply. It will be a story that stays with me for a long time to come (and yes, it tempted me to stock up on long-life food and water!)

The plot is fast and full of action. This is the darkest of the three books, and reflects the desperation of the people that Nairne and Ronnie meet on their travels. There is violence and murder, intimidation and abuse. These are dark times for humanity and this comes through strongly in the story.

Nairne has been a wonderful character across all three books, and I liked her right from the start. She is strong, independent, smart and sassy. Ronnie grew on me, so that I liked him almost as much as Nairne. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Paul, and how he was progressing from his injury, but I did enjoy meeting some of the new characters that were introduced in Earth’s Descent.

Troubled Times is a touching, exciting series suitable for high school students and adults. It reads like a cautionary tale, if only we would learn from it. If you haven’t already done so, you should read the previous two books, Water’s Edge and Power’s Out first.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

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Cyclops by Rachel Meehan

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cyclops coverCyclops by Rachel Meehan, e-book, 53 pages, published by Cherry House Publishing in 2015.

Cyclops lives on a beautiful island which is invaded by evil pirates looking for a place to rest and relax. Frightened by the giant with one eye, the pirates decide to capture him and sell him to a traveling circus. He becomes a prisoner to be gawked at, prodded and tested by underhanded scientists.

Cyclops is an illustrated ballad, and is the first book in the Chronicles of Curious Creatures series. It is cleverly written with lyrical text; I got into quite a rhythm as I read. It described all the characters and locations well and with humour. I really liked that the evil pirate was called I.M. Mean!

The text was white on a black background, which I normally find more difficult to read, but it suited this story quite well. The size of the text also changed through the story, which just worked. There were lovely coloured illustrations throughout. I particularly like the way the villains are depicted in the pictures.

Cyclops is suitable for middle primary school students to lower high school students. It is a good story for sharing aloud too, I just love the way the story rolls off my tongue! More books in this series will be available soon!

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Power’s Out by Rachel Meehan

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Water's EdgePower’s Out by Rachel Meehan, e-book, 223 pages, published by Cherry House Publishing in 2013.

Two years on from when Paul and Nairne leave the Grear farm behind in Water’s Edge, sees them traveling the countryside with Dog, staying away from the towns and trying to survive. Civilisation is crumbling, bandits control the roadways and the city streets, and there is a dwindling number of people to trust. When they stumble across a self-sufficient community residing in an abandoned convent, they are taken in and given shelter in exchange for Nairne’s assistance with their wind turbines. The community consists of about thirty people working together to survive, including some young people similar in age to Paul and Nairne. This could become home for the pair, ending their wanderings. Nothing is that simple though. Danger is present as they set out to help the community acquire much needed parts and supplies, which means venturing far beyond the safety of the convent’s walls. Their past is also creeping closer, but will it catch them at last?

The second book of the Troubled Times series, Power’s Out, was fast-paced and exciting. With lots of action, it is an exhilarating ride of survival. There was much more explicit violence in this story than its predecessor, which helps to illustrate how civilisation has fallen back to more instinctual behaviours as the world around it falls apart. When the constraints of society fall away and there are no longer any policing bodies to enforce laws, there is violence for gain, and violence for enjoyment. This is a terrifying insight into base human nature, but one which I think is rather accurate. There are plenty of unscrupulous people taking advantage of others in stable communities, but when there is no one to enforce the law, or those enforcers are corrupt, there arises the opportunity for these behaviours to increase. And that’s what we see in Power’s Out. The scenes of violence are vivid and scary, but the people behind the violence are even scarier!

It is easy to step into the Scottish landscape portrayed in this book, and follow along with Nairne and Paul, experiencing what they experience. All of the characters are richly described and developed, allowing the reader to get to know them. With the introduction of more characters from the community, different aspects of Nairne’s and Paul’s characters become evident. Paul and Nairne have become extremely close during their traveling and it is hard to let others in, though they are each tempted by a young member of the community. There are a lot more characters to get to know too. Suddenly Nairne and Paul don’t just have each other to rely on and interact with, they have to cope with others, most of whom do not realise how dire their situation really is. I liked Ronnie a lot. He’s a bit of a clown, but he is also loyal and caring. Iain, I didn’t like as much, he was a prig, but I think most of that came from being jealous of Paul and Isobel. She seemed a bit oblivious to how Iain felt about her, but perhaps she just didn’t want to acknowledge his feelings. She certainly took to Paul, and was likable as a character. I particularly liked Isobel’s father, Jack. He was sensible, kind, intelligent, and fair. He was also very accepting of Paul and Nairne, and was ready to learn from them and to be assisted by them, an attitude that not everyone in the community shared. The older members of the community, including their leader, Arthur, for the most part, were a bit naive, believing that things could continue as they were indefinitely, that they would be left untouched by the outside world.

The end of Power’s Out was very intense. I felt quite anxious as I read the last few chapters, wondering if Nairne and Paul would make it through, if the community would survive, and how things would play out. It left me feeling rather desperate to read the final installment of this wonderful trilogy!

Power’s Out is suitable for high school students through to adults. It contains violence and some bad language. The themes of societal breakdown and environmental disaster could be frightening for less mature readers.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Author Interview: Rachel Meehan

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Water's edge cover VFWater's EdgeIMG_4626 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with Rachel Meehan, author of the fast-paced eco-fiction Troubled Times series. She has also authored a stand-alone novel, Eternal Inheritance. These young adult novels are wonderfully told with strong and complex characters. Read on to learn a bit more about Rachel, and then head over to my reviews of her books, Water’s Edge, Power’s Out and Eternal Inheritance.

 

First, a bit about yourself, your family and home?

I live in the south of Scotland – you can see the English Border from my house! It is a rural area, very green and quite sparsely populated. I come from a large family and we are all keen readers. I can remember my father taking all of us to the library at the weekends and we would take out a pile of books each.

I live with my husband and my main passion after writing is the garden.

 

What is the first book you remember falling in love with? What made you love it?

The Silver Crown by Robert C O’Brien. People may be familiar with him as the author of Mrs Frisby & the Rats of NIMH (which is also pretty good) but The Silver Crown is my favourite from early childhood. It’s fast, thrilling, full of danger and it has (like all good books) a strong female lead! His teenage novel Z for Zachariah is also a favourite along with anything at all by John Wyndham……. Basically I love end of the world stories.

 

What was the last book you read?

Just finished The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.. I really enjoyed it, strange and dark and complex.

 

Did you always want to be an author? If not, what did you want to be and why didn’t you follow that path?

I always wanted to do something creative and I trained as a fine artist, specialising in printmaking. I still draw and make things and do my own book covers. There is always a project on the go. When I look back I guess my art work was always full of stories so writing just seemed like the next step……… in between times I have worked for many years in a much more mundane job to pay the bills but I try to dedicate time to writing whenever I can.

 

Is there a special place you prefer to write from?

We have a tiny office space in our house, known as the cupboard! Much of my writing, including this, is done in there. I used to imagine sitting in the summer house looking over the thriving garden and penning the next bestseller but the truth is I would be out gardening within a few minutes…..

 

If you were a character from one of your books, which one would you be, and why?

This is a hard one, I guess Nairne from Water’s Edge (Troubled Times #1), as she is my creation I have put in character traits that I admire. Having said that she can be impatient and a bit too direct sometimes (both things I know I suffer from as well!) I like her self-confidence, which I think is a trait that many female characters lack and I like the fact that she does not rely on her looks at all but on her intellect. Plus by book two, Power’s Out, she has a gun!

 

Are you an eco-warrior at home? What do you do to be kind to the environment?

Yes, I guess I am. We generate some of our own power (when the sun shines… which in Scotland can seem like a special event) and we try to grow our own food. I think about the actions I take in relation to the environment and I get really annoyed by the concept that technology will solve all the environmental issues we face.

 

Do you think that climate change can be slowed or even reversed?

I think it can be slowed if drastic action is taken but I think we are already seeing the effects of it (much like the plot of Water’s Edge). The difference is those effects are being felt in poor countries so the world is prepared to look the other way. I recently saw a comment on social media blaming the Chinese for using too many resources because there are so many of them…. A pretty remarkable opinion when the consumption of raw materials in developed countries per head of population is so much greater. I think it will only be solved if we all make a decision not to need so much stuff…….

 

Have you ever found any signs of Triffids in your garden?

Not yet ….. but I live in hope and at this time of the year they could be lurking in the denser parts of the garden……

 

When can we expect your next book?

The final book in the Troubled Times series, Earth’s Descent, will be out in October, if I get my head down. The whole book is written, now I just need to do the rewrites and rewrites and rewrites….. but then today I had this really good idea for another book!

 

For more information and updates, please have a look at the Cherry House Publishing site or their Facebook page.

 

Water’s Edge by Rachel Meehan

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Water's edge cover VFWater’s Edge by Rachel Meehan, e-book, 227 pages, published by Cherry House Publishing in 2013.

Daniel Grear is a firm believer in climate change, and the detrimental effects that it is having on the earth, especially the weather. To make their lives better, he moves his small family into the Scottish countryside onto acreage, where they can try to become mostly self-sufficient. They raise animals, grow food and produce their own electricity, and collect rain-water in tanks. Nairne and her older brother Zane both help out with chores about the farm after school, and Nairne is showing an aptitude for machines and caring for the animals. Coping with wild weather, including storms, excessive rain and heavy snow falls makes life on the farm harder, but they are much better off than many. As things worsen, and sea levels rise dramatically, parts of the UK and Europe flood, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. With a massive influx of people from further south, Nairne convinces Daniel to take in a family of boarders, a city couple, Garrick and Pam, with their teenage son, Paul. They seem alright on the surface, but Nairne quickly becomes uneasy and distrustful, with her feelings exacerbated when a couple of Garrick’s colleague’s move in next door. As food and fuel sources dry up, and even basic supplies become unaffordable, the Grear’s farm with all of its resources becomes a very desirable location. Nairne soon learns that some people will go to extraordinary lengths to get what they want, and beware anyone that might get in their way.

This is the first book in the Troubled Times series by Rachel Meehan. It deals with the issues of climate change and global warming and themes of human nature, including survival and desperation. The effects of climate change that we have seen so far have drastically accelerated, the polar caps are melting at an alarming rate, raising sea levels and causing storms. There is drought, fires, floods and storms that are devastating vast sections of Earth. These events could really happen to our world if we, as a human race, continue to trash the environment and use reckless amounts of fossil fuels. The author has obviously put a great deal of effort into researching climate change science, and this comes through in the details of this story. She has also put a lot of thought into how people would react if such a widespread catastrophe were to occur. The desperation to survive at any cost is evident in the town, with arguments, looting, fights and thievery, and that’s just the average law abiding citizens! They just want to have enough food, shelter and water to survive. The ones that want to take advantage of the situation, like Garrick and his mates, are ruthless, and concerned with profit and power far more than with getting enough to make their own survival possible. I concur with how this scenario plays, survival, even at the cost of others is basic animal nature, and I think that is how most people would react if they became desperate. That there will be some prepared to take things further is almost inevitable, we hear everyday on the news about people that have done something abhorrent even in the best of times, without remorse or guilt. This could only be amplified in the disarray of a global catastrophe.

All of the characters in Water’s Edge were deeply developed and realistic. Through the story I felt like I really got to know Nairne. She is tough, headstrong and practical, a great female lead character. I admired her abilities about the farm, and her disregard for what others might think of her. At fourteen, she has much more weighing on her shoulders than most, yet she slogs forth with tenacity, honesty and integrity. She’s got a sharp tongue, a temper, and she can come across as a bit abrasive, but I really liked her. I liked Zane and Daniel too, though not as much as Nairne. Zane was a shy follower, who befriends Paul readily. Daniel was a lot like Nairne, though with more years under his belt to learn to control his emotions. In contrast, their new boarders, Garrick and Pam, were extremely different. It was evident from the start that Garrick was a bit off, and Pam seemed to be rather vacuous and incapable of independence. They were well written city characters trying to adjust, and take advantage of, country living. Their friend and colleague, Stevie, and his gang were horrible men, and I can still see Stevie’s evil grin as he hurts someone. The character that changed the most was Garrick’s son Paul. Initially I disliked him, but as the story progressed, he grew on me. He really started trying to make a new life on the farm, helping out, and befriending both Zane and Nairne.

Water’s Edge was interesting,  logical, with well-formed themes and characters, and a little mystery. I enjoyed it, and have already moved onto the second book in the series, Power’s Out. I think it would be best suited to upper primary school and high school students. However, it may not suit less mature children, as the overall theme of disaster and dystopia might be too frightening, and there is some violence and death.

This book really makes me want to live off the grid in a secluded area being self-sufficient, in a well-secured and camouflaged compound with all my family by my side!

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Eternal Inheritance by Rachel Meehan

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IMG_4626 (1)Eternal Inheritance by Rachel Meehan, paperback novel, 231 pages, published by Cherry House Publishing in 2015.

Sarah is only twelve, but when men claiming to be police come to take her away from her grandparents, she finds herself on the run. Frightened and alone, she tries to find her way to the city, to a man she has never met, but whom her mother had trusted years before. Marty agrees to help her, and along the way, they befriend Amy and Ellen. Between them, they attempt to uncover the reasons that Sarah is being hunted by the powerful and rich father that she has never known. It is evident that he is not after a family reunion, but what could he want with her, and just how far will he go to obtain her?

Eternal Inheritance was exciting right from the first page, as Sarah escapes her grandparents’ cottage to begin a terrifying flight of survival. It was a fast-paced, page-turning mystery thriller, which I enjoyed. The story flowed well, but was rather complicated with lots of information and back story emerging throughout the book, including science and medical elements. However, everything was brought nicely together at the end, which was quite satisfying!

There was a definite distinction between good and bad in this story. All the characters were well written and easy to picture. Sarah’s father, Parnell, was a formidable character, written as the perfect adversary for young Sarah and her friends. He was rich, powerful and arrogant, with no respect for anyone or anything outside of his own interests. This made him an easy character to hate. A true villain! Conversely, Sarah and Amy seem so vulnerable and so young. They are strong and resourceful though, and I couldn’t help but hope they would triumph over Parnell. I also liked Marty and Ellen, they were very altruistic to risk themselves to help a child they didn’t even know existed until she landed on Marty’s doorstep. They made for good, strong characters to help our young hero on her quest for the truth, and for survival.

Eternal Inheritance is suitable for upper primary school to lower high school students. There was some violence, but none of it was too graphic. I’m happy for my eight year old to read this book, though I think some of the science concepts relating to Parnell might be too confusing for her.

I received Eternal Inheritance for free through Goodreads First Reads.