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.

 

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.

 

Poems for a world gone to sh*t – Review

This was lovely surprise bookmail from Quercus a few days ago.  They are a fabulous publisher who have been very kind to me over the years, so a big thank you to them.

Poetry is something I really enjoy and a little book like this to dip in and out of is always welcome.

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

Poems for a world gone to sh*t

Who wrote it?

No one author, Its a compilation of poems, old and new

Whats it about?

Poems to make life better in this messed up world we live in right now

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

Its fantastic! I do love discovering new poets works as well as having a special old favourite poem just at my fingertips when i need a lift.

Gimme the Pros?

Its set out into separate chapters e.g

1. What the f**k?

2. get me the f**k out of here…  down to

5. life is still f**king beautiful

Its a gorgeously made little naked hardback and the poetry has been thoughtfully chosen to both amuse and enlighten us.

Hit me with the Cons?

No cons here.

All the feels or none of the feels?

All of the feels definitely, here are two of my favourites

Okay, so enjoyment factor out of 10?

20! its a beautiful little book

Would you recommend I read this book?

Yes in a heartbeat!  Its perfect for long standing poetry fans and for introducing poetry to those who may have thought it wasn’t for them.

 

 

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

This was kindly sent me for review by Two Roads books, so a huge thank you to them.

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

The Cactus

 

Who wrote it?

Sarah Haywood

 

Whats it about?

 A woman called Susan Green. At 45 she thinks her life is perfect. She has a good job,  a nice flat and personal arrangements with benefits that leave no room for messy emotional ties.

But following the death of her mother and the discovery that she is going to be a mother herself soon, things start to become a little messy.

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

I did, but it never really blew me away. Its quite funny in lots of places but I found it flat and never felt the need to carry on reading everytime I had to put it down.

Gimme the Pros?

a sweet, easy read with a character that you take to right away.

 Hit me with the Cons?

I hate to say it but it’s a pale imitation of ‘Elinor Oliphant is completely fine’  They both have a female protagonist who is not your usual everyday character, who becomes a fish out of water and who is amusing in her naivety but there the similarity ends for me. There is no depth to the character and the plot ending can be seen from miles away.

And what the heck is going on with the use of the American spelling of Mom, when the book is about a British character, set in UK?

Cool Characters?

No one special

Prey tell, what of the Plot development?

Simple story and ending which as I said above can be guessed at early on

All the feels or none of the feels?

None sadly

Any other comments or are you done?

nope

Okay, so enjoyment factor out of 10?

3

Would you recommend I read this book?

I wouldn’t say rush out and buy it but i’m sure it will appeal to a wide range of readers who like their books gentle and non taxing

 

 

 

Slow bullets by Alastair Reynolds

I began 2018 with the intention to read more Science Fiction

This arrived yesterday from Gollancz/Orion. I began reading it almost as soon as it was out the package

Today I finished reading it.

Boom! mind blown!

A fairly short (at 182 pages) novella written by Alastair Reynolds.  I have to admit I hadn’t heard of him before or his writing so I can tick off quite a few things all in one go there.

Synopsis is quite long so read this to get an idea

Its a lot darker and a lot deeper than i imagined it would be and i’m not sure i’ll ever be able to understand it fully but I do love Alastair’s writing. His dialogue is wonderful, the plot begins fast paced and confusing to us readers but slows down and introduces us to the main protagonists, some of which Scur, Prad and Yesli are fascinating.

Its a tense, exciting thriller with a shadowy presence of doom always hanging in the air.  The characters are at first understandably suspicious of each other but throughout the story there is a sense of coming together which is beautifully written and the pace does not slip for a moment which i why i read this in a day.

Its not overloaded with ‘spacey’ terms and phrases so is good for a beginner like me. Its also the only book I can recall which has absolutely no romance or close friendships between the characters, its quite a revelation but a good one.

Bottom line is I really enjoyed it and it was a great place to begin my Sci Fi reading quest, so thank you to Gollancz books for sending me a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

 

All my friends are superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

I began 2018 by reading this fabulous little book (and it is little at just 110 pages!).

I had actually begun it last year but never finished it for some reason so I picked it on New Years Day and tore through the rest of it.

I adored this book, its a gentle, clever, clean read full of metaphors. This is the 10th anniversary edition which contains extra Superheroes which don’t all appear in the story. I found them all to be a little bit samey after a while. You can have too much of a good thing sometimes! But it didn’t detract from the book itself.

It contains lots of lovely illustrations throughout the book too by Tom Percival which really adds to the storyline.

It gave me all the feels this book and was a quick and easy read for when you dont have too much free time.

It gets a 5/5 from me.

Anything You Do Say eBook blog tour – Day 5

Welcome to Day 5 of Gillian McAllisters ebook blog tour of her latest book – Anything You Do Say.  I was kindly sent a copy by Penguin Books in exchange for an honest review.

Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly. But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor. Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

This book is so clever, I dont think ive come across a premise quite like it before. We get to see the story from two different angles, From the perspective of Joanna if she decides to stay, call an ambulance and confess her mistake or if she runs, lies and keeps what she did a secret. It certainly is a page turner and made me more stressed with every chapter, but happily so because it meant the author was doing a good job.  However I did have some reservations with the book, here are my Pro’s and Con’s

 

Pros

Very interesting sounding premise, a sliding doors style, what if, two scenario story.

Never read anything like it before.

The book builds up pace like a runaway train.

The tension is ramped up, like waiting for the explosion at the end of a firework.

Very well rounded characters, builds up the relationships beautifully.

Really enjoyed her writing style and how she created her characters, it kept me gripped for ages.

Cons

Tension built up over 4/5th of the book just fizzles out in last few chapters

Disappointing ending which I actually saw coming a little earlier but hoped i was wrong about.

Unnecessary dialogue and rather too wordy in places which kept stopping the build up of tension and gradually annoyed me as it went on.

Teaser about halfway through the book came to nothing but that could just have been me wanting things to go a different way.

 

Rating: 3.5/5 (was a 5/5 until last few chapters)

I would still very much recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers and crime novels.

The ebook is out on 19th October and the paperback in January 2018. Its well worth your time.

Gillian McAllister’s blog can be found here

She is also on Twitter

and Instagram

Dont forget to check out Day 6 tomorrow which is hosted by Chelles Book Reviews

Best Loved Poems – A Treasury of Verse by Ana Sampson

I’ve loved reading poetry for 40 years now and this book is such a wonderful addition to my bookshelves. Its a beautiful naked hardback with as you can see the prettiest of covers and some beautiful teal blue end papers. Its perfect for picking up whenever you need a little lift or a laugh or the perfect words to say something.

It contains such a fascinting mix of poetry spanning hundreds of years from Shakespeare to the present day and is split into sections like; love, war, lost love, poems remembered from childhood etc.

In here there are so many favourites of mine that i first read years ago along with poems and poets i’ve never before encountered, so reading it was such a joy and a journey of discovery for me.

Poems like:

A Subaltern’s Love Song by John Betjeman

The Soldier by Rupert Brooke

High Flight by John Gillespie Magee

Sonnets from the Portuguese: XLIII by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now by A. E Housman

are ones very familiar to me whereas

Poems like:

I wanna be Yours by John Cooper Clarke

Hour by Carol Anne Duffy

Just in Case by Charlotte Mitchell

Outgrown by Penelope Shuttle and

Dis Poetry by Benjamin Zephaniah

are all brand new and wonderful to discover.

You can see here just how many poems i tabbed for quick reading in the future

I was approached by the editor of this wonderful compendium, Ana Sampson who asked if I would like a copy to review. I couldnt have shouted YES Please! any louder. I may have a towering TBR most of the time but I can always find time for a poem.

Thank you to Ana and Michael O Mara Books for this total delight. It was published yesterday so rush out and buy copies for everyone as a Christmas pressie.

 

Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell

Oh how I wish i’d had this book back when i was a teen and followed boy bands. It captures perfectly the feelings of what it was like to be ‘in love’ with the band members. To want to meet them and know everything about them. With my son being in a band I can also identify with the tensions between band members which is something this book does really well.

Digressing for a second, my first loves were the Bay City Rollers but i also loved a band called Flintlock back in the 70’s (oh god im old!) I would have killed to have met any of them or know them better. Fast forward nearly 40 years and my son who has been in bands on and off for 10 years ends up getting to know one of the band members of Flintlock well and kindly got one of their albums signed for me as a Christmas present. *swoon*

Okay back to the book. I love Chris’ easy going writing style which makes this just so damn readable. Its a chunker of a book but I flew through it. It has love, music and mystery and will appeal to music fans of all ages.

I liked Charlie, she manages to keep her feet on the floor even when her heart is telling her differently. Of the four members of Fire & Light if i was a teen today I think id be crushing on Yuki. He feels to me like a George Harrison, young and more unassuming who was my fav of the Beatles. I wonder if Chris called him Harrison after George?

I may be a tad older than the demographic this book is geared towards but I just love YA books and couldnt really give a damn!

I have book Two of this series ‘Songs about us’ so i can continue to indulge my teenage self for a bit longer yet.

5/5 stars

mini book reviews – ARC’s i didnt like

It is a truth universally acknowledged that we cant like ALL the books we are sent or buy for ourselves right?

I hate it when this happens but i’d rather be honest with the publishers who have sent them to me and maybe pass the ARC (advanced review copy) onto someone else who will love it and want to review it fully.

So here are the latest batch of books I did not like…

The hanging tree by Ben Aaronovitch

Its not the first book in this series that I couldnt get on with but i had hoped that as this is a much later one the writing may have changed. Its sooooooo slooooooow!  Nothing seems to happen for pages at a time, it just waffles on with background info but I have never actually come across any plot. Its only redeeming feature is that it is really funny but thats not enough to grab me and keep me reading i’m afraid.

The book of forgotten authors by Christopher Fowler

All I can say about this is that they had obviously been forgotten for a reason. Very few of the authors in the book had written anything i’d heard of or had made a big dent in the publishing world so why bother telling us about them now? The only one i knew of was the lovely Arnold Ridley of Dad’s Army fame who wrote a very popular play called The Ghost Train. It was nice to read about him. The whole thing is rather dry, samey and like a school textbook of old.

Scorn by Paul Hoffman

I knew this was gonna be weird and bonkers but It was so much worse than i thought. It made no sense to me at all. It is a chunker of a book with the smallest of fonts (when will publishers stop doing this?) and it just wasnt for me.

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

This opinion will win me no friends and may lose me Twitter followers but I have to be honest; this book sucked!  It was one huge mix of contradictions. Its a middle grade book but is over 400 pages and again the font is so small that when published it will be over 500 surely! It’s written for 12+ children and even sounds a bit patronising in places as if meant for younger ones than that but then it adds a paragraph of quite complicated writing that would fox a YA reader.  I’m hoping its because its still a proof and these wrinkles will be ironed out but I just never gelled with this at all.

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

This is the review i’m sadest to write as i’ve loved her books in the past and adore her prose poetry style for its originality and ease of reading. But for some reason i just couldnt get into this one and i’m gutted. I found it a bit disjointed and hard to follow at times as well as rather miserable, also i found I didnt like any of the characters much, it was difficult to distinguish between some of them.

Bluets and The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson

These books are clearly meant for someone a whole lot smarter than me or who’s brain just works differently as i couldnt grasp half of what she was on about.  Bluets is good in parts and i enjoyed some of the many poems about the colour blue but seriously people how many do you need? It all got a bit unnecessary after a few pages.  The Red Parts is very hard to follow, it jumps around all over the place in its timeline which is not a literary device i enjoy and for a crime type story it just didnt grab my attention but waffled on and distracted itself all the time. Weird!

A huge thank you though to all the publishers who sent me these:

Gollancz, RiverRun, RedOpera, Pan McMillan, Vintage and Bloomsbury

I may be offering these on Twitter soon if anyone’s interested? Just cover my postage and they are yours!

What books have you not enjoyed lately?

 

 

 

 

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