Category: book review (page 3 of 33)

The Last Beginning by Lauren James

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CHEESEFEST!

There i’ve said it. This was one huge cheesefest.

Which means i didnt like it very much, sadly.

Her first book The Next Together was an incredibly clever concept, time travel, time loops, historical love affairs etc. and would have been an award winning novel if it had been written by a more experienced person. Sadly it came out as very tacky and the concepts were wasted with pointless drivel and cheesy love themes.   I lost count of how many times the female character said, and i quote “her toes curled” when he kissed me.  Ugghhh! just NO.

This one though had the means to be a really cool book too but this time it was just tooooooooooooooo predictable. I mean here we have the daughter of the couple above, finding out who her real parents were when she was 16 and her adopted parents just happened to be scientists too and who had created the worlds first time machine!

I mean, i ask you, even a monkey could guess where the book was going, and it did!  I didnt even read past page 62! Somehow it seemed like a waste of my life to continue to the end so i flicked through and I was right.

She also tried to create funny sequences between her main character, the rather strangely named Clove (yes, precisely) and an AI computer character. The humour was somewhat stilted though and felt rather forced. perhaps stick to scientific plots for now eh?

Are there any positives? Yes actually. Her ideas for a YA novel were really on target for originality, I loved in both books the mix of historical and modern day parts which has normally only been done in Adult novels and the covers of both books are scrummy. Hoepfully she will continue to improve as a writer in the future.

Candlestick Press pamphlet reviews

Candlestick Press, who publish gorgeous poetry pamphlets usually containing 10 or 12 poems around a central theme very kindly sent me their latest 3 pamphlets to review.

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Their pamphlets are designed to be sent as a gift card for all manner of occasions. They come with an envelope, a bookmark and a sticky label to seal the flap with, look!

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The pamphlets are beautifully designed and printed and make such an original change from a plain card. Here is a bit more about the three they sent me.


Ten Poems about Friendship

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Of the Ten poems in this pamphlet my favourites were:

  • The Pleasures of Friendship by Stevie Smith (1902 – 1971) so short but just says it all really.
  • Friends by Polly Clark, about an episode of the TV series Friends that is her favourite, so original.
  • Inventory by Lorraine Mariner, All of us of Facebook users will identify with this and its amazing how many different types of friendship there really are.
  • Friends by Alden Nowlan (1933 – 1983) Friends can be so vital in combatting loneliness, I found this very moving.
  • Fiere in the Middle by Jackie Kay, Friends being there for each other in times of need, beautiful words!
  • Friendship and Illness by May Sarton (1912 – 1995) we need friends all the time but when we are feeling unwell they can be the best medicine.
  • Friendship by Elizabeth Jennings (1926 – 2001) The true meaning of friendship, give and take and always being there.

I hadnt heard of most of these poets so its great to have discovered them and their beautiful words.


The Twelve Poems of Christmas

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Now I really love everything about Christmas so this was such a treat, though having said that I didnt like half as many poems in this one, however there are poems here to suit everyone. Here are my favourites:

  • The Christmas Robin by Robert Graves (1895 – 1985) His descriptions of the countryside are always so evocative
  • How I’ll Decorate My Tree by Liz Lochhead, This is so funny and my favourite poem, it speaks to all of us at some time or other and her forced rhyming is just glorious.

 


The Wood in Winter by John Lewis-Stempel

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This is an unusual pamphlet in that its mainly just one short story rather than a collection of poems. Its written by John Lewis-Stempel who won the Thwaites Wainwright prize with his beautiful book, Meadowlands in 2014.

It also has 2 poems: Seven Words for Winter by Nancy Campbell and Winter Heart by Jackie Kay both of which are wonderful.

The Wood in Winter is such a lovely story, detailing a walk through some woods on land that the author once used to own. His descriptions of a cold, snowy day slowly turning to dusk is a treat to read. I felt I was there with him every step of the way, watching the birds, crunching through the snow and shivering with the cold.

People claim they enjoy winter, but what they actually mean is they enjoy winter as a livener, a quick tease of the elements before resorting to their central heating. For anyone working outdoors, winter hurts.

I fear the quote above is way too accurate.

The cover is beautifully designed by Angela Harding


A huge thank you to the lovely folk at Candlestick Press for these. I have plans for the giving of them all.

rainbow spines book tag

rainbow-spines

Its been a while since i did a book tag and i do love all the colours of the rainbow so why not this one?

Slade House by David Mitchell. This is the only book of his i’ve ever read and it is phenomenal stuff! Its my top read of 2016 so far and i’m not sure it can be bettered. Magical realism, fairies, ghosts and all manner of creepiness abounds. If this don’t win all the prizes then there is no justice in the publishing world.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I havent fully read this one yet, its rather strange and not the sort I would normally choose but the writing is beautiful even if the plot is hard to fathom at times.
How hard can love be? by Holly Bourne. This is part of what i believe is called, The spinster series from Holly. I do like her writing, she can be so funny and quite smart for a YA novel. I havent finished this one yet, I am a serial not finisher of books and have loads half read. *hangs head in shame* Such a funky bubblegum pink spine though eh?
Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel. This is such a beautiful book about nature, the countryside and how its changed over the years. Its one mans diary of the land he farms and its so atmospheric that you can believe you’re there with him. I was lucky enough to get a signed copy from John himself who is a lovely chap.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (who else?) I just recently bought myself the paperback edition of this book which is my favourite of all the 7 titles in the Harry Potter series. I have it already in hardback from the day it came out but these new editions from Bloomsbury are just gorgeous so i treated myself and now i’m having a re-read.
An artist of the floating world by Kazuo Ishiguro. Its not a perfect purple spine this but the best i could find amazingly. I havent read this yet but his writing is so simple yet powerful and i’m enjoying leaving my book genre comfort zone and trying something new.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. Jen Campbell introduced me to Michel’s writing and i’m so glad she did. This book is so unusual being set partly on earth and partly in outer space with the main character being sent there to teach an alien species about God. It has the most stunning cover and spine too.

although this is a tag, i’m not tagging anybody in particular to do this as no one ever does so its not worth it.

Have you read any of these books?

what did you think?

lets chat.

The Good People by Hannah Kent

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I was lucky enough to be sent a very early copy of this book by Picador books. It will be published in the UK on 9th February 2017.

 

County Kerry, Ireland, 1825. NÓRA, bereft after the sudden death of her beloved husband, finds herself alone and caring for her young grandson Micheál. Micheál cannot speak and cannot walk and Nóra is desperate to know what is wrong with him. What happened to the healthy, happy grandson she met when her daughter was still alive? MARY arrives in the valley to help Nóra just as the whispers are spreading: the stories of unexplained misfortunes, of illnesses, and the rumours that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley.

 

NANCE’s knowledge keeps her apart. To the new priest, she is a threat, but to the valley people she is a wanderer, a healer. Nance knows how to use the plants and berries of the woodland; she understands the magic in the old ways. And she might be able to help Micheál. As these three women are drawn together in the hope of restoring Micheál, their world of folklore and belief, of ritual and stories, tightens around them. It will lead them down a dangerous path, and force them to question everything they have ever known.

 

Based on true events and set in a lost world bound by its own laws, The Good People is Hannah Kent’s startling new novel about absolute belief and devoted love. Terrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this long-awaited follow-up to Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers

 

This is a powerful novel about the power of belief, superstition, religion and grief. I’d not read Hannah Kent’s work before so was not prepared for her skill at storytelling and keeping you hooked. Its not a comfortable read nor a very cheery one but its told with a passion for words and the lyrical way she has with them. Her sentences are beautiful and full of atmosphere.

The characters live in a time so vastly different from now that its hard for us to understand the things they believed in. It was a time when superstition was rife, when things that couldn’t be explained any other way were given over to folklore and fairies. How easy it is for one small rumour to spread among a close knit and blood related community and the lengths some people would go to to protect their loved ones or themselves.

Sure to be shortlisted for and win many prizes i’m certain. The Good People is one hell of a gripping read.

 

Shakespeare re-tellings disappoint

I have been fascinated by the latest books in the Hogarth Shakespeare series where modern day writers tackle a select few of his works in their own way as part of the Shakespeare 400 anniversary.

I recently bought two of them having waited a while for them to come into paperback.

I really wish i’d not wasted my money!

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I didnt know anything about Howard Jacobsons writing so didnt know what to expect. All I can say really is… can someone translate it for me please?

There are moments of clarity in his writing but then off it goes again into nonsense!

I guess im just not intellectual enough for some of the books i buy.

The Jeanette Winterson one though starts so well and is easier to read by far but then it kind of loses momentum and well, basically its just porn! truly its an excuse to write porn!

I wonder what Shakespeare historians think of these so called re-tellings.

Suffice to say i wont be buying anymore.

 

Lovely bookpost Klaxon!

This just arrived from Tinder Press after I requested a copy on Bookbridgr.

It not only sounds really good but just look at that cover! It’s a little bit gorgeous don’t ya reckon?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

How could I resist this? I mean, I couldn’t not buy it could I

the tidal zone by sarah moss

i’m not sure why but i often find that books which have had rave reviews can leave me quite cold, it happened recently with this

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First let me say a huge thanks to Granta for sending me a copy of this

I blooming love this cover, love the synopsis and the whole quality of publication. Its the first book from Granta i’ve read and the first Sarah Moss too.  Given all that i thought i would adore this but, NO!

I can’t really say much without giving the game away which i never do so its hard for me to review it but suffice to say that it was a huge disappointment for me. Her style of writing is okay but nothing special, it didnt stand out above other books i’d read. It has a great opening but then becomes one huge anticlimax.

I felt it was padded out with nonsense that wasn’t relevant to the main story and that it seemed to not conclude satisfactorily enough for me.

I did buy another Sarah Moss book whilst i was waiting for this to arrive from the publishers, so confident was i that i would love her work but i didnt like that one either, so I’m guessing that we just dont get on. I cant possibly like every book i buy and nobody can like every author so thats fine.

I didnt finish either book sadly but instead kind of skimmed the text to get the gist of the outcome, thats how little I enjoyed them.

BOOK REVIEW – Bodies of Water by V.H. Leslie

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This was kindly sent to me by a lovely publishing house called Salt Publishing after I requested a copy to review.

From the back of the book:

After ministering to fallen women in Victorian London, Evelyn has suffered a nervous breakdown and finds herself treated by the Water Doctors in the imposing Wakewater House, a hydropathy sanatorium. Years later, Wakewater House is renovated into modern apartments and Kirsten moves in, fresh from a break up and eager for the restorative calm of the Thames. But her archivist neighbour, Manon, fills her head with the river’s murky past and with those men of science and art who were obsessed with the drowned women who were washed up on its banks. As Kirsten learns more about Wakewater’s secrets, she becomes haunted by a solitary figure in the river and increasingly desperate to understand what the water wants from her.

This is a simply brilliant little book.

Considering that this book is about water, specifically the Thames and its pull on the inhabitants of Wakewater House both in the present day and Victorian times, its weird how it called to me so strongly too.  There is something about the cover, dark and brooding that made me want to read this so badly. It took me just over a day from its arrival.

Its an easy read at 130 pages but i dont mean that in a bad way, just that I felt myself drawn into the story and like the water it carried me floating along in its wake.

Both Evelyn in 1871 and Kirsten in the present day were fascinating characters to discover. Both had ended up at the same place because of their pasts, both were drawn to the water in different ways and both surprised me more than I had imagined they would which was a delight. The whole book is mostly female dominated which was a real change and a good one.

The writing is simply gorgeous, at times lyrical and beautiful in its simplicity, with hints of magical realism/folklore and fantasy and the tension was always present throughout. It is quite a creepy, eerie and very atmospheric read and, for someone who has never liked the water much, a damn scary one at times.

I can’t pretend to fully understand the ending but thats okay, it will keep me pondering on it for ages to come. I had an idea in my head about how the book would go but I was way off and suffice to say I never saw it coming for a moment which is the way it should be.

Now i can’t wait to read more of V.H. Leslie’s work and have downloaded a sample of her supernatural/ghost stories collection, Skein and Bone.

Have you read this, what did you think?

What books like it would you recommend i read?

3 Books that have let me down

Now I don’t expect to like every book i buy or receive for review, its a rare person that does in my opinion but there have been 3 books recently which I felt certain I would love, not like, love.

Sadly that didnt happen.

What books were they?

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After buying and adoring her first book, In a dark dark wood last year I was so excited to hear she had a second book coming out soon. I was even more excited to receive an early copy of it the other week.

Imagine then my disappointment when i discovered that its such a let down. *sighs and puts head into hands*

It begins fine, really good in fact. Gripping, fast pacing and with heart stopping moments of genius but then it just all went downhill. The main character, ‘call me Lo’ (Lauren) seemed to lack any kind of common sense or good judgement and was never a fully rounded person. The story descended into a third rate Agatha Christie novel but with less polish and plot. I could almost guess what was coming next which was a shame. Im hoping her next book will get things back on track.


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I hadn’t read any Anne Tyler before so combine this with it being one of the Hogarth Shakespeare re-tellings to celebrate Shakespeare 400 and I badly wanted to read it. I was kindly sent a copy by them and it made my day.

Now this is the book i’m least disappointed with really out of the 3 but it just feels so empty and flat. Its like the mad craze for fluffy egg white omelettes, no substance. I keep waiting for something to happen but it just idles along. Its very funny in places i’ll grant you that and a nice gentle read but its just not what i was expecting thats all.


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This book promised so much and when i was asked if i’d like to review it i jumped at the chance. I mean just look at that cover, front and back is gorgeous (seen here being modelled by my cat, Meg).

I just didnt gel with this, it was just another YA, love story, triangle, boy/girl heartbreak story. Nothing special happens that i can see and the ending was waving at me from about page 10.

Have you read any of these?

Am I being too hard on them?

Let me know what you think.

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