Category: book review (page 2 of 33)

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?

 

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

A Change is Gonna Come – Book Review

This ARC was sent to me by Stripes Publishing – @StripesBooks in return for an honest review so thank you very much guys!

This is a book of short stories and poetry by 12 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers.

For someone who doesn’t often read books of short stories/poetry this was a real treat and totally hit the spot for me. The diverse range of genres in this book is amazing. There are contemporary, dystopian, magical realism, time slip and historical tales all under one gorgeous cover, designed by Lucy Banaji, her cover design is so striking.

As with a lot of short story collections, I didn’t necessarily love all of them but I did like them all, very much and the ones I did love, I really, really loved!

I hadn’t read anything by these authors before which was exciting as I love discovering new voices in literature.

Favourite stories/poems include:

Hackney Moon by Tanya Byrne. Full of warmth, humour and honesty. I wanted this story to go on and on, her writing is so beautiful and i’m pleased to see she has other books already published.

Of Lizard Skin and Dust Storms by Inua Ellams is a really powerful and moving poem, its sparse lines just say so much.

Iridescent Adolescent by Phoebe Roy is full of magical realism,(which I always love reading), symbolism and has a gorgeous fairy tale quality about it.

Dear Asha by Mary Bello is so moving and tenderly written and follows a girl who loses something precious but discovers who she really is by doing so.

If I had to pick a favourite, favourite though (and this is very hard to do)it would be the wonderfully titled:

The Unwritten Future of Moses Mohammed Shabazz Banneker King by Irfan Master. A really short, quirky, time travellish story which really grabbed me with its skillful words.How they managed to pack so much into so few words astounds me.

In the back of the book there is a mini biography of all the contributors so you can see if they have published anything else before and they even have a list of the subject matter covered by the stories and poems in case you want to avoid anything you dont like, which I think is a such a cool idea.

I’m so glad I requested a proof copy of this from Stripes Publishing, its been such a wonderful reading experience.

Its published today, and its in your local shop now so rush out and buy a copy for yourself and everyone you know, this is a an excellent collection.

Save

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Original

Heartbreaking

Uplifting

Beautiful

My feelings on this book are best summed up by the words above.

I dont read a lot of Middle Grade books but I find it hard to believe that the plot of this book has been done before. Fostering and very young teenage pregnancy is not something you hear much about in books at all so that made this story all the more wonderful for me.

The writing in the shape of first person narrator, Jack is just a joy to read. He carries us with him on the journey so well and considering the nature of the story, the author avoids making this a sickly sweet read, instead its a well crafted, well balanced tale which drew me in and made me fall in love with it.

I had one small little issue which i cant really talk about without being spoilery sadly but it didnt stop me giving this a clear 5 stars and wanting to give everyone i know a copy for Christmas.

This was the first of the eight books from my Zoella Book Club bundle (a post coming soon with more about this) and if they are all half as good as this one then im in for a right old treat.

Save

Save

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

This is about three friends, Dill, Lydia and Travis who live in a small town in Tennessee. The book begins in their final year of school before graduation. They all have incredibly different backgrounds, stories and lives but have become close and firm friends.

Of the three characters Lydia quickly became my favourite. I loved the way she handled herself with kids at school who taunted and bullied her, she was so at ease in her own skin but as the book went on she turned into a right little madam. She talked to her father like he was her flunky, ordering him to do this and that, the annoying thing was he did it all instead of teaching her some manners.

Dill i guess is the major character and the one we all feel the most for. His star grew as the book went on and had to overcome some terrible things. Travis was great too, probably my favourite by the end. I loved hanging out with these characters and feeling part of their lives and decisions. Jeff Zentner writes wonderful dialogue and has an ear for a good conversation. Witty and insightful and full of passion.

For the most part this book is beautifully written and just doesnt feel like a debut novel. It has the assurance of an author of many years standing.  My only gripe was that the writing was sometimes too flowery, the odd storyline a bit too sugary and one part of the plot was just way too unbelievable and ‘too good to be true’ for words but overall it kept me page turning and i really enjoyed reading it.  I gave it 4 stars and would highly recommend it.

 

 

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Well i finally finished it!

Anyone would think it was a 400 page chunker not an 80 page novella its taken me so long but, the truth is… I didnt really enjoy it!

It was fascinating from the African/Namibian heritage side of Binti’s character but the actual plot in space with the aliens was PANTS!  I never cared about any of the characters, they were all 1 dimensional and boring. The plot was hard to follow and disjointed and I feel a bit sad about the whole thing.  I really wanted to love it but its taken me 2 months to read 80 pages! Ive done it in fits and starts over that time which just proves that its not my thing.

I bought the sequel Binti Home at the same time as Binti so who knows what i’ll make of that but I can’t say I really like Nnedi’s writing. Its nothing special, but maybe she improves in the next book.

I’ll report back.

The Female Man by Joanna Russ

I got fed up waiting for a special book to arrive (which should be here today) yesterday and began reading this instead

Its one of three books from the SF Masterworks collection of classic Science Fiction that i was uber kindly sent by Stevie over at Orion/Gollancz books. This was first published in 1975 and i just adore the old style, almost cheesy covers of all the books in this set.

Its about 4 different versions of the same women from 4 different/parallel universes sort of thingy. It makes for damn confusing reading at times, there are paragraphs of ‘stream of consciousness’ writing like Virginia Woolf which is really hard to get into the groove of.

I had about a million questions and I was only 23 pages in!

I dont think im the target audience this book is intended for and certainly with it having been published over 40 years ago it reads very old fashioned, but…

…having said all that I really did quite enjoy it! Yay!

The humour in it is wonderful, very tongue in cheek in places. Full of sarcasm and wit and with a very strong feminist message. I tabbed quite a few pages as you can see. I wanted to remember some of the classic lines.

I’m not sure it was the perfect SFF starting point for me but I cant wait to read some more of the wonderful Masterworks series.

Have you read this? what did you think?

 

 

 

 

Planetfall by Emma Newman

For some reason 2017 wants me to read more Science fiction/fantasy books, dont ask me why but it does!  I’m not arguing though when Planetfall is so bloody good!

In their search for a new and better life than the one that they had on the overpopulated Earth, Suh lead a group of 1000 people – including her partner and lover Ren – to another planet. Then Suh mysteriously vanished, and only Ren and the Ringleader know the truth behind her disappearance. Now, two decades later, a stranger who looks suspiciously like Suh wanders into the colony, flooding Ren with memories of the traumatic event she fought so hard to bury. And if she reveals the secret she has kept for so long, it could ruin everything the colonists built…

 

I reckon that this is an excellent book to begin with if you are just starting to read SFF. It has just the right amount of excitement, suspense, thrills and emotions to keep you reading but not too much technical spacey stuff to put you off.

Renata or Ren is such a great character, flawed but ultimately so realistic. I felt for her on so many occasions which i why i loved the ending so much (read it and see if you agree, well i defy you not to really)

Beautifully written, the pace never slackened off for a second and for someone who hates all the world building in fantasy novels, Emma made this world come alive for me in such a short space of time I was sure I must be reading book 2 or 3 about these characters, so comfortable did i become with them.

Slowly the tension builds and builds until you just cant put the book down for a second or you’ll miss something. I read the last 80 pages in one gulp just to find out what would happen. Oh boy it was just great!

I ‘ve just bought the next book in the Planetfall series which is this baby

and im so looking forward to diving into it.

As i’m new(ish) to SFF what books would you recommend I read to keep my interest going?

What are you reading right now?

Lets chat.

 

What Alice Knew by T.A. Cotterell

2016-10-12-11-27-52

This may contain spoilers, so be warned!

I was kindly sent an early proof copy of this by Transworld so I have to thank them, which makes it even harder for me to say that this book was a big disappointment. *sighs loudly*

To be fair it has a cracking opening and the pace was kept up really well to begin with but…..

  1. I felt it was full of too many confusing and un-necessary red herrings and things to put us off the scent of solving the mystery
  2. The mystery seemed to be solved about a 5th of the way in which was a bit off putting
  3. Why did Alice’s husband have to keep denying everything, i dont know the girl, i only chatted to her for a minute, i only went back to her flat to call a cab yada, yada, yada but then cracks on the same page and admits to what he’s done.   What is Alice, a Ninja interrogator or something?

The rest of the book is about how nothing thats been said, admitted to or mentioned is the truth so we are forced to wade through mountains of alibis and lies until the final truth, (we hope) is given as an ending.

For me it lost pace after the initial revelation and i never believed in nor liked either character.

Sorry it just wasnt for me but i’m sure it will still be a big hit when its published in March 2017.

Older posts Newer posts

© 2018 Book Magpie

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Follow

Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: