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.

Carry On Readalong

I don’t normally take part in readalongs or re-readalongs or readathons come to that either but considering:

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  1. this book has actually been out for over a year now
  2. I own two copies of it, one hardback, one paperback (who could resist the colour it yourself version?)
  3. I have never manged to get around to reading it.

I thought it was about time. So when Katie @KatieBookQueen said she was planning a re-readalong I had to say yes.

Katie has a fab You Tube channel called Queen of Teen Fiction  Go check her out, her enthusiasm for books is very infectious and she costs me money in recommendations all the time.

I’ll report back about how i’m doing and if I managed to stick with it.

P.S. Isn’t that just the best colouring in you have ever seen? And yes i know i’ve missed a few bits D’oh!

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.

 

3 fab YA titles

I’m getting back into YA books with a vengeance lately and these 3 titles sound excellent.

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I’m a bit late to the party with The Potion Diaries and have tried to read it last year but am so in the groove for this right now, immensely looking forward to delving into this properly.

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I think Ned’s Circus of Marvels may be more MG than YA but I just adore that cover and the premise sounds good too so i couldnt resist getting it.

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The Graces is the book i’m currently reading and it is ace! I love me anything witchy and a bit quirky like that and this is doing it for me right now. Look at that cover too its bloomin luverlee!

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Have you read any of these?

What are your top YA books right now?

Lets chat

additional mini August book haul

Just had to share with you these four books that i have acquired in the last couple of days.

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I was approached by Little Brown/Sceptre books who asked if i’d like a copy of A Boy made of Blocks by Keith Stuart. Well I have seen this all over Twitter so of course I said yes please. Didn’t realise it would be a large hardback (groan) but it does sound an interesting story so I think I may well like this one.

The Victoria Hislop one was sent un-solicited by Headline. I havent read any of her books, theyre just not my type at all plus its another hardback!!!! But, then i read a little and it turns out it has colour pictures and illustrations in, yes I know, isnt that unusual? and it has a built in bookmark too, now thats not something you see every day either is it? Oh and dont forget those endpapers, gorgeous!

The Lucie Whitehouse book, Keep You Close i saw in my local supermarket and had to have it. I am a big fan of her writing so her latest book just had to come home with me, fingers crossed its as good as folk say.

Finally the last book, Stories from other places by Nicholas Shakespeare is one I cheekily asked Vintage books if they had a copy of after I saw it on Simon of Savidge Reads channel the other day. They were kind enough to say yes and sent it to me in less than 24 hours after i requested it! Now that is service. Thanks Will.

Its a series of short stories and a novella and i am in love with the cover too, its so yellow and splendid.

Well thats it for August unless anymore review books arrive as i’m definitely not buying anymore until next month now. (thats in 4 days by the way, tee hee)

What books did you get in August?

Have you read any of these?

Lets have a chat.

 

puzzle book fun

Don’t know about you but I love solving puzzles. Not the Sudoku kind, I find those a bit samey but number and mathematical puzzles are what I love.

Getting my teeth into working out the next number in a sequence puzzle or what is the missing number in a row of numbers which need to be added to or subtracted, that kind of thing.

So these two books I got from Amazon are gonna keep me really entertained for ages!

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Here are some sneek peeks of the pages

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I’m sure i’m not the best solver of these as i tend to use the trial and error method which can take ages and i’m sure there may be a more logical and mathematical way of doing it but, hell i don’t care, i’m having fun.

August book haul

Now before you judge me I really, really do need all these books, honest!

Well actually, what happened was, I was adding some cool books to my basket just to make sure I didnt forget about them when time came to make purchases. Thats okay right?  But then, well i found myself clicking Buy and well, here they are.

I am so not sorry though, just look at these beauties

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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.

 

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