An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim

I was kindly sent this by Quercus books after I requested a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The premise sounds so original and fantastic and i couldnt wait to get round to reading it.

Oh how disappointed I was though.

She has come up with such a cool and novel storyline. I just adore anything with time travel in and initially it did feel a bit like the Time Travellers Wife but she makes it very hard going trying to understand her concept. Its really not explained very clearly at all. Its very airy fairy in its writing style and she committed something which is one of my biggest bugbears with authors; she used a word which frankly i’d never heard in my life and actually had to split apart to read it!

Ive always said that if an author uses a long, obscure word that makes me break off from the narrative to look it up in a dictionary then they have already lost me!  I mean who has heard of synecdochical?

Hopefully it may disappear before the final published version.

It all felt a bit dreary to be honest and I couldnt feel anything for the main character, she just wasnt 3D enough for me.

I couldnt finish it sadly. I have loads of books to read for pleasure and review and cant waste my time on something that doesnt gel with me.

 

May Book Haul Part 1 – Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018

I may have mentioned it before but I’m not a huge fan of book prizes.

I mean, why do women need their own prize for goodness sake?

If there is a real bias in the publishing world for featuring male writers over female then this needs rooting out and destroying, otherwise if its just women whingeing because their books never win the big prizes then maybe its because their books aren’t good enough?

Whatever, thats not my problem but having said that I cant sometimes resist looking at the longlist and shortlist plus this prize is slighty more accessible to someone so low brow as me in my reading tastes.

So I now own 4 books out of the 6 shortlisted.

One of them I was sent in proof form last year but couldnt get on with it.

This is what i’ve bought recently

 

This years choices are bloody gorgeous, cover wise dont you think?

I am obsessed by this cover for some reason and the whole bonkers, crazy style of writing i’ve heard so much about. Can’t wait to dive into it. This never actually made the shortlist but was on the longlist.

Another lovely cover and this is the only one ive read so far. Well I read 2/3rd of it which I was loving but then the final 1/3rd goes a bit barmy and the whole way of writing changes which i found a bit off putting so i scanned the rest to get the gist of the story. Up to then it was a 5* read but it ended up 2-3* sadly.

I just adore the bright colours of this cover with all the writing and review snippets! G’ah!

I’m thinking this sounds a bit brutal and may not be my cuppa in the end but i’m excited to see how different this style of writing is from what i’ve heard.

and finally

Oh the rainbow has been used to great effect here hasn’t it? Annoyingly its missing a shortlist sticker!

I think this sounds like the lightest of all the books and maybe the easiest to read? Time will tell.

The winner is announced on 6th June but I doubt very much that i’ll have them all read by then. 25 days would be a doddle for most people but not slow old me.

 

 

 

David Levithan rocks!

Happy May Day everyone! *dances round maypole with bells on my legs*

Today I bring you nine books all written or co-written by David Levithan who is my all time favourite YA author.

Out of this nine though I have only read 3 books so far.

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily

Everyday

I just love the covers of these too, they are such bright, neon colours which make my heart sing.

I don’t have them all yet, I still need to get Another Day plus a few more but…

He has a new book coming out on October 2nd in hardback!

YES, A NEW BOOK!

It wont match all the rest plus its a hardback which i don’t normally read but i’m sure I can cope just this once.

I should also mention Rachel Cohn who co-wrote five of these books and Nina LaCour who co-wrote one of them.  I love those books just as much as his solo stuff, they seem to bounce off each other so well in the writing.

Is there an auto buy author you are collecting the works of?

 

Currently reading – Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

This is the first in a new series of blog posts I am going to try out, sharing with you all the book I am currently reading and what I think of it so far.

I treated myself to this the other day in the local supermarket and thus far I am loving it. So much so that I tweeted this

Imagine my excitement when the author Anthony Horowitz himself replied with this

How flippin’ brilliant is that?

At the next re-printing of this book please feel free to use it Anthony – Hah!

 

 

 

 

Choose Your Own Adventure books

I remember reading a ‘choose your own adventure’ book many years ago and loving the way you can interact with a book. I couldn’t resist getting The Gates of Death and seeing what it was about after all this time.  Then the other day I saw that they actually have a romance one now where you can fall in love rather than fight orcs and watch your planet be destroyed.

They’re a good laugh and its cool to make decisions as you read for a change. I guess they’re good for when you don’t have time or inclination to read a full novel, its good to see them back.

April mini book haul – for review

I’ve been really lucky so far this month in getting three very different and very intriguing books sent from publishers for me to review.  I may get more as the month goes on but its easier to do them in small doses.

This is what i’ve hauled

The Electrical Venus by Julie Mayhew

The Last Children of Tokyo by Yoko Tawada

How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

Book 1 – The Electrical Venus

To be honest, I really don’t like this cover, its too garish for me but i’m sure it serves a purpose in the story. It was very kindly sent by Hot Key Books.

It does however sound very intriguing and it has been brilliantly packaged. It was sent with a sort of pretend newspaper advert, a feather (gorgeous) and a packet of popping candy!

In a lowly side-show fair in eighteenth-century England, teenager Mim is struggling to find her worth as an act. Not white, but not black enough to be truly exotic, her pet parrot who speaks four languages is a bigger draw than her. But Alex, the one-armed boxer boy, sees her differently. And she, too, feels newly interested in him. But then Dr Fox arrives with his scientific kit for producing ‘electrickery’ – feats of electrical magic these bawdy audiences have never seen before. To complete his act, Fox chooses Mim to play the ‘Electrical Venus’. Her popularity – and the electric-shocking kisses she can provide for a penny – mean takings are up, slop is off the menu and this spark between her and Fox must surely be love. But is this starring role her true worth, or is love worth more than a penny for an electrifying kiss?

Anyone who can get the words pickled rats and electric lips in the same book has to be admired right?

Book 2 – The Last Children of Tokyo

I couldn’t resist requesting this one as it fits in so nicely with my 2018 reading plans i.e to read more books by a Japanese author. This is a proof which was kindly sent by Portobello Books. Being a proof the cover is very basic but just look how beautiful the finished item will be!

Yoshiro celebrated his hundredth birthday many years ago, but every morning before work he still goes running in the park with his rent-a-dog. He is one of the many aged-elderly in Japan and he might, he thinks, live forever. Life for Yoshiro isn’t as simple as it used to be. Pollution and natural disasters have scarred the face of the Earth, and even common foods are hard to come by. Still, Yoshiro’s only real worry is the future of his great-grandson Mumei, who, like other children of his generation, was born frail and grey-haired, old before he was ever young. As daily life in Tokyo grows harder, a secretive organisation embarks on an audacious plan to find a cure for the children of Japan – might Yoshiro’s great-grandson, Mumei, be the key? A dreamlike story of filial love and glimmering hope, The Last Children of Tokyo is a delicate glimpse of our future from one of Japan’s most celebrated writers.

Book 3 – How to Love a Jamaican

This is a series of short stories by a debut author. This is just a proof but look how bloody gorgeous the finished item is gonna look! I’m dribbling here!  This was sent to me by Picador Books.

Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret–Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City and midwestern university towns, these eleven stories form a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life. In “Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands,” an NYU student befriends a fellow Jamaican whose privileged West Coast upbringing has blinded her to the hard realities of race. In “Mash Up Love,” a twin’s chance sighting of his estranged brother–the prodigal son of the family–stirs up unresolved feelings of resentment. In “Bad Behavior,” a couple leave their wild teenage daughter with her grandmother in Jamaica, hoping the old ways will straighten her out. In “Mermaid River,” a Jamaican teenage boy is reunited with his mother in New York after eight years apart. In “The Ghost of Jia Yi,” a recently murdered student haunts a despairing Jamaican athlete recruited to an Iowa college. And in “Shirley from a Small Place,” a world-famous pop star retreats to her mother’s big new house in Jamaica, which still holds the power to restore something vital. Alexia Arthurs emerges in this vibrant, lyrical, intimate collection as one of fiction’s most dynamic and essential young authors.

 


Light filters in – Poems by Caroline Kaufman

I was kindly contacted by Harper Collins and given a list of books to choose from to review. I chose this and they kindly sent me a ‘sneak peek’ of what it will look like when published. They also sent a lovely little bookmark and who doesn’t need more bookmarks (not me)

So a huge thank you to the lovely folk at Harper Collins.

I hadn’t heard of Caroline Kaufman before receiving this but she began by posting her poetry on Instagram and you can find her there as @poeticpoison

So what did I think?

Hey you have a book to review! Whats it called?

Light filters in

Who wrote it?

Caroline Kaufman

Whats it about?

It’s a book of modern poetry written by a teenager to help her cope with and try to understand the depression she suffers from

Now for the important bits, did you like it? (be honest now)

Its absolutely amazing and I loved it.
I’m often daunted by poetry especially modern poetry. I used to think that if it didn’t rhyme it wasn’t a poem (so not true) and I was always afraid that I wouldn’t ‘get it’ but there is no worries with Caroline’s beautiful words. For someone so young she has written some very mature poetry. There are a mix of poem styles, some rhyming, some not and some others that more closely resemble a short story.
Her struggles with anxiety and depression at such a young age are documented here but it doesn’t get maudlin or self pitying at all it’s simply honest.
Its just a small taster booklet with 24 or so poems but I believe the finished book will have 100 and I can’t wait to read more of them.

Gimme the Pros?

Each poem is a wonderful little work of art. Sad, funny, ironic, raw but always entertaining. And so clever with it. One of her poems can actually be read backwards as well as forwards and you get a different meaning each time. Now that’s smart!
Its illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova with some cute little black and white line drawings which compliment the text really well.
Its definitely a book I want to quote and re-read many times over. Sadly as its a proof copy I can’t reproduce anything here but its out in hardback on 28th June.

Hit me with the Cons?

No cons here!

All the feels or none of the feels?

Oh all of them and more besides!  There is so much feeling in every poem whether it’s a few lines or a page.

Okay, so enjoyment factor out of 10?

10 of course!

Would you recommend I read this book?

If you love modern poetry and powerful words and honest feelings and want to be snuggled up in the beauty of them then yes, you need this book.

 

Friday Smiles – Week 265

Hello everyone and Happy Easter. I’m joining in once again with Annie’s Friday Smiles

My new guinea pig finally has a name! He’s called Freddie.

He’s still very nervous but will come to the open cage door and take food from my fingers and sometimes get a little tickle but is still at the hiding from all loud and scary noises stage. He seems very happy though as he’s always ‘popcorning’ around the cage and he and Snowy are getting on famously.

Despite the weather being chilly again and the tiny threat of sleet and snow (again!) my daffodils are looking gorgeous out front. They are my favourite flower and i think look best when you have a whole field of them but i’m no gardener so, this will have to do

The Easter bunny still visits here even though my son is now in his 20’s and these are his favourites. Mine too come to that.

I hope the weather is good for you, have a great week with lots to smile about.

 

Friday Smiles – Week 264

After another short spell of snow we are once again looking forward to Spring happening here. I keep checking the pond for frog and toad spawn but have seen none so far.

This week has been all about pets. Hubby is sighing loudly as I introduce another guinea pig to the menagerie. My existing boar has been looking very sad and lonely since my other piggies died a year ago so i decided to get him a cage mate.

I found this little smasher

He is a short haired tri-colour and as you can see looks totally different depending on which side you are viewing him.  He’s just 12 weeks old and doesn’t have a name yet, I’m waiting for him to tell me what it is. No I’m not mad, I always like to see how a pets personality develops or maybe they do something particular that will give me inspiration for a name.

I’ve spent the last three days introducing him to Snowy and so far its going really well. Snowy is four years old now so all he wants to do is eat his veggies and get a good nap in. He snuggles down in the newbies cage and nods off, its so sweet to see them getting along and I’m hopeful they will bond okay fairly soon.

We are having a tree chopped down today in the garden with lots to do in preparation for that so i’ll sign off and say have a good week and more smiles than frowns.

If you’re new to this smiling lark then check out Annie’s lovely blog A Stitch in Time for more happy posts.

Gill X

Edwardian postcard – The Lovers Seat, Hastings, Sussex

I recently bought this postcard to add to my ever growing Edwardian postcard collection because of the amusing message on the back and the intriguing picture on the front. All those prim and proper ladies!

When it arrived I felt drawn to investigate the writer and subject matter further.

The writer, Harold describes the ladies sitting on the ‘lovers seat’ as being ‘Giddy Old Kippers’ which made me laugh. I immediately liked Harold’s sense of humour so had to know more about him.


But first, the ‘lovers seat’ mentioned was on a cliffside in Hastings, Sussex UK. I found two websites with lots of information about it.

My postcard was posted in 1905 but in 1910 there was a landslide and the sloping rock and a lot of ground disappeared down to the sea below.

A fence was then erected for safety but over the years that too fell down and later photos show it without any protection once again.

Its interesting to see it from a different perspective and appreciate the view and why they liked to sit there.

I’m borrowing this from a post on the 1066online forum for Hastings.

1851 – Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt painted his greatest landscape, Our English Coasts, later known as Strayed Sheep, looking west across Fairlight Glen from ‘Lovers Seat’.

1910 – A land slip took away a large section of cliff including the large reclining rock shown in many images. After this the edge was mostly fenced off.

1932 February – Lovers Seat (wooden) was heavily vandalised and had to be replaced.

18 December 1960 – A landslip carried away the terrace on which the Lovers Seat (wooden) stood.

1961 February – The actual seat finally also slipped over the edge.

1961 Feb – The Lovers Seat ‘stone’ fell down the cliff in a landslide. A crane pulled it back up.

1980/81 – A major landslide completely destroyed the famous sandstone Crag at ‘Lovers Seat’.


Anyway, back to the writer and recipient.  It was sent to a Miss Fricker in Hornsey, Middlesex by someone called Harold.

After some digging I discovered that Miss Fricker was Lucy Fricker, born 1885 in Brentford, Middlesex to Arthur Fricker and Annie Baggallay.  Harold was Harold Burnett Smith born 1885 in Crouch End.

He begins the postcard Dear Sis, which led to me to think that he was Lucy’s brother but I found that Lucy brothers were both younger than her and called William and Arthur. It may have been a nickname of sorts i’m guessing.

The address on the card is 97 Turnpike Lane, Hornsey. Lucy and her family are listed as living there in 1901 & 1911 census.

I then searched for Lucy in the BMD records and found a marriage record in 1911 alongside a Harold B Smith. Could this be our Harold?

After some searching for Harold I found his occupation (stationers assistant) and parents details.

I later found a Church of England Marriages and Banns record which showed that Harold’s middle name was Burnett. The parents details matched up with what i’d found for them. They did indeed get married on 24th April 1911 in Hornsey.

They went on to have two children, at least thats all I could find.

Joan Kathleen Smith in March 1912 and Joe W.A Smith in 1914

Harold joined up during World War 1 and served as a rifleman in the Queens Westminster rifles. Sadly the story does not end well as Harold was killed in action on 30th November 1916. He is buried at Cambrai in France and is listed on Panel 12 of the Cambrai memorial

I haven’t been able to find any service papers for him but i’ll keep looking.

Its amazing what you can find from just a short note on the back of a postcard written over 100 years ago.

 

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