Book Review: The Book Collector by Alice Thompson

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This was purchased on the recommendation of Jen Campbell, who has impeccable taste in books, although i dont always like everything she recommends, this one was a winner.

Its published by Salt Publishing and is quite a short read of just 159 pages but each one of them is packed with beautiful, lyrical writing.

I think its deserving of an acrostic review

The Book Collector is simply brilliant
Hard to tell fact from fiction, truth from reality, skillfully plotted
Exciting storyline, impossible to predict, just what i like
Betrayal, love, passion and madness are all in here
Obsessive is what Violet becomes about the book
Once I began this book I hated putting it down for anything
Keeps the sinister feelings going until the very end
Crazy is what Violet is accused of being, but is she?
Obsession with fairy tales is just the beginning
Love for Archie is Violet’s downfall
Like the best thrillers I was entertained on every page
Enticing, poetic and full of delights
Creepy, gruesome in parts but so readable
Terrifying and genuinely frightening moments with Violet in the asylum
Obsession I felt with the characters who were beautifully drawn
Reality mirrors fairytale ending

When i was young

I have had a poem and a book review published!

Don’t panic though, they were published in my schools form magazine and I was 12!

Yes it was all a long time ago. The magazine, if you can call it that was a very rough and ready affair that was compiled and created using some kind of copy machine I imagine. Out of all my old school books I had in storage this is the only thing that has survived two house moves so its very special to me now especially as its over 40 years old! (yes, I really am as ancient as that!)

This was the cover

My teacher Miss Rose, later Mrs Rabone was such a lovely lady and the best teacher at that school in all the 5 years I was there. She left me a very sweet note at the bottom too. (Ah, wonderful memories)
Anyway, i’m digressing here.
I wrote a poem and a book review for this and both of them got printed. Please bear in mind my age at the time when reading.

This is my poem and you can see I have always loved Christmas as this was in an Easter edition! I basically never stop thinking about it.  I’d forgotten how i’d written this and am surprised to see that it is in prose form and not rhyming. Go Me!
This is my very first book review ( that I can recall anyway) and do you know what I reckon its better than most I write today! There was such an ease with writing for me when I was this age, I didnt have to think about it, didnt have to find time to do it or even wonder what anyone would think like I do now. Basically, no pressure. How i wish I could bottle that innocence and use it today.
I am slowly getting back into poetry now and have even begun writing it again which i’m really, really enjoying.
I have another post coming soon about the books of poetry Ive been buying after watching Jen Campbell’s wonderful videos on poetry. What that woman dont know about poems and poetry in general ain’t worth bothering with. She is my poetry hero.
Do you have any old school books you’d like to share, i’d love to see them.

BOOK REVIEW: Grief is the thing with feathers by Max Porter

I have wanted to read this for ages, since last year in fact. Everywhere i turned on Twitter people were recommending it and saying great things so it was inevitable that I would get a copy.

This is written in a free form prose fashion ( i hope you understand what i mean, im not good at explaining myself sometimes) and I’ve been trying to get back into poetry for a while now having read loads many years ago.

It is exquisite! It is eloquent! It is heartbreaking and it is wonderful!

A husband loses his wife and their two boys lose their mother. The book is about how they all cope with the grief and the loss.

I freely admit that I didnt understand all of it at times but then poetry can be like that for me. I took heart from the wonderful Jen Campbell (@aeroplanegirl) whose videos about poetry are my bible. She says that we each take from a poem something unique and different to another persons view of the same words. We take what we want from it.  I have to admit that made me feel much better about things as i did fret when whole paragraphs seemed to make no sense.

Its a bit like reading Shakespeare or watching one of his plays live, it takes a good while for my ear to get back into the meter and rhyme of the words and then it suddenly clicks and becomes second nature.

So, I began to understand more about what crow was and what he represented. Once that happened I got more enjoyment out of it and was able to appreciate how amazingly clever the author has been.  Its a really short read, just 114 pages but you want to treasure each and every one. I’ll definitely re-read it many times cos i’m certain i’ll get more from it on each occasion.

Its certainly re awakened my love of poetry and introduced me to free form verse which is not something i’d read much before so I want to share some of my favourite passages with you and urge you to go buy a copy and fall in love with it for yourself.




Book Haul Part 2

When I did part 1 the other day I knew I had some more books coming from an order I placed, I didnt know though that I would get some more lovely review copies too. They all came on the same day and it was like Christmas all over again.

Books i bought

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf – I’ve read a sample of this and it sounds wonderful. Its his final work finished just before he died, and whilst I’m sad there will be no more books I have many earlier novels of his to enjoy as i’ve only just discovered his writing.

The Buried Giant by Zakuo Ishiguro – This is way outside my comfort zone but i’m challenging myself to read something different and this does sound rather good.

The Best British Poetry 2015 & The Forward Book of Poetry – I got these after watching Jen Campbell’s (@aeroplanegirl) wonderful videos on poetry.


I really want to get back into it again and she recommends these collections to help find poets you like.

The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M Valente – I’ve read some of these poems online and while i dont pretend to ‘get it’ all I do know she has this clever way with words that i want to explore more of.

Books sent for review

The Emergency Zoo by Miriam Halahmy & Caramel Hearts by E.R. Murray – Those lovely folk at Alma books asked me if i’d like a copy of The Emergency Zoo after i’d said how fab the cover was but they also sent me Caramel hearts too in the same package.  Both sound really good.

Gutsy Girl by Caroline Paul & ACOMAF by Sarah J. Maas – I was sent both of these from Bloomsbury Books who are so kind to us now with their Hooked On newsletter. I was so thrilled to get a copy of A Court of Mist & Fury, everyone is raving about it so I’m looking forward to seeing for myself what its about.

Well that just about wraps it up. Best I go now and read, read, read eh?

Have you read any of these? If so lets chat about them, im always here and ready to talk books.

Book Haul Part 1

Hi there, Its ages since i did a book haul so I thought i’d share my latest acquisitions with you all. I know how much you want to have a nosy at my bookish piles (dont be rude!) and dont deny it coz i’m just the same!

So here they are


Grief is the thing with feathers by Max Porter – i’ve lost count of how many people have said this is just awesome and as its written in a poetic form and as i’m attempting to get back into poetry again after many years I just had to give it a go.

Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel – I actually got sent this by the author himself and he signed it to me which was such a thrill. It is a beautifully written book about the countryside and i have learnt so many things from reading it. I dip in and out of it when i have a minute, its my little haven of peace book.

The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – This is not my usual genre at all but I am really enjoying what i’ve read of it so far.

Red Witch by Anna McKerrow – Couldnt resist getting this, I love anything witchy, pagan and just a bit magical.

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken is another book that no one has ever said a bad thing about. Again its not a normal choice for me but with such a gorgeous cover and good comments i had to see for myself.

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay – A good old fashioned crime, mystery book from an author who knows his onions is just what i crave sometimes.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – A bit of an epic size and not one i’d be happy to tackle but having read the opening chapters on Amazon I was well and truly hooked and couldnt resist.

Books sent for review

All things cease to appear by Elizabeth Brundage – This does sound rather intriguing I just wish the font were not so small its very challenging to the eyes. It was kindly sent to me by Quercus/Riverrun books so a massive thank you to them.

I’m trying a new thing whereby I choose which of the haul i’m most looking forward to reading and i choose…….

Grief is the thing with feathers

I’ve called this book haul part 1 because I have another couple of books arriving today (for couple read LOTS!) so Part 2 will be up soon.

What books have you got lately and have you gone as mad as me with the spending?

Book Review: The Followers by Rebecca Wait


I bought this myself cos it sounded rather good and do you know what? it really was too although, I was a little disappointed with the ending but I’ll come to that in a minute.

It begins with Stephanie and her daughter Judith. Stephanie is a struggling single mum who meets the charismatic Nathaniel one day in the cafe she works in.  What happens as she gets sucked in by him and ends up joining the cult he founded is the basis for a very gripping novel.

I’ve read a few novels about cults and I have to say that this was far and away the best one yet. I dont seek them out as a plotline but im always happy to read one if they come along and i had no idea of the way this was going before i began reading. I do find them scary, creepy and very atmospheric. I believe this is the authors second book and its certainly very polished and beautifully written. Everytime I thought i’d guessed what was coming next I was deftly wrong footed by Rebecca’s skillful plot.

But back to what i mentioned earlier, the ending.  I just felt it let the whole thing down sadly. Hints are given as the book progresses about the ending but it felt like a damp squib to me, as if the author had run out of steam. Dont let me put you off reading it though, judge for yourself.

All in all a grippy read and one i’d recommend cos others may feel differently about the finale.

4 out 5

Cabbage Patch Doll Talkies 2 & 3

Yes i bought some more talking dolls!

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Even though my first one hadnt been restored to working order. Now i have three working, talking dolls although the mouth movements on one of them has seized up again since repair.  Considering these dolls are 30 years old I think its damn clever how well made they are, and its a miracle they work at all.

They can detect when other dolls are within range of them and hold a ‘conversation’ well at least it seems like they are anyway. They can tell if they are put on their tummies or held up side down and ask to be turned the right way.

They ask for cuddles and for their hand to be kissed better too.  I am like a big kid again when i turn one on.
They did come with some quite nice clothes but i forgot to take a photo of them before i removed the clothes for repair.  I have washed the clothes which have come up quite well. Now i have to sponge the dolls and wash their hair, they do look a bit grubby.

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Once done they should look real bonny.

Talking cabbage patch doll No. 1

This is my latest purchase and isnt she a honey?

This is a talking cabbage patch doll by Coleco. I’m not sure when she dates from, Coleco made them up to 1989 but i’ve also read that Mattel made talking ones so who knows. All I know is that she is gorgeous albeit a bit heavy with all the gubbins inside her and much less cuddly but she has a soft squidgy face which is meant to move when she ‘talks’

Sadly she is not working, something I knew when i bought her but couldnt resist.  I was hoping hubby could help me fix her or at least diagnose the problem but I have to say it bleedin’ impossible to get the innards out of the doll without ripping her apart to be able to get to the circuit board.

If anyone reading this has ever done it and fixed it then please contact me and tell me how its done.

First job with this and the little lady in the post below is to clean the grubbiness of many years use from them. I do this by sponging with a weak mix of washing up liquid and water. If the hair is yarn then i would wash that too and rinse it really well but this lady has cornsilk hair so it requires a more delicate touch and use of hair or washing conditioner to help get it tangle free.

Then i will need some clothes for her to protect her modesty and she will look gorgeous!

My week in photos

Another week and we are almost through April now, this year just speeds up each month, I swear it does!

Well here in photo form is the last 7 days

4 fab books from publishers Head of Zeus

2 more fab books from Headline and Pan Macmillan

and as if I needed more I treated myself to this selection

my feet in stripey socks for no other reason than i can

see caption above

love unusual skies like this

is is called a mackerel sky?

you have to look hard but they are a pair of mallard ducks on the roof there

i just love shadows

the pond looking very natural

Next weeks pics will most likely include the beautiful cherry blossom we have outside right now. Also there may be the odd printed item (sighs and hangs head)

The Island by Olivia Levez

The Island by Olivia Levez
Published by OneWorld Publications
Published on 3rd March 2016


Frances is alone on a small island in the middle of the Indian ocean. She has to find water and food. She has to survive. And when she is there she also thinks about the past. The things that she did before. The things that made her a monster. Nothing is easy. Survival is hard and so is being honest about the past. Frances is a survivor however and with the help of the only other crash survivor she sees that the future is worth fighting for.
A gripping and thoughtful story about a girl who didn’t ask to be the person she is but is also determined to make herself the person she wants to be.


I was approached by Oneworld Publications last year and asked if I would like to review this book. I am so glad I said yes. A huge thank you to them for the very early proof copy.
This book is about fear, love, anger, disappointment and redemption. All of which make for a very powerful story. Fran is a strong character right throughout the book, you can feel her pain and understand her actions.
I adored Olivia’s description of life on the Island, It was wonderfully raw and honest. This book is not always a comfortable read but an honest one.
Along with the beautifully written descriptions there are endless quotes which I’m sure will go down in YA history. She manages to tell the story with so few words, with the clever use of just sounds and sometimes by saying nothing at all.
It is so cleverly written. Olivia has a voice which i’m certain will soon become a well loved and admired one in YA literature. I read The Island in just two days flat. I opened it as soon as it arrived and didn’t want to stop.
I personally would hate to be shipwrecked on a tropical Isle as I hate the heat and would miss my home comforts far too much but I reckon if Fran were with me i’d feel much better.
Its an unusual and very original theme for YA and makes such a change from the endless boy/girl/boy love triangles or first kiss, will they, wont they storylines.
I am so looking forward to her next novel.
A fresh, original approach, a thrilling story that fair zings along and featuring a heroine who will not be forgotten.

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