book review

Featured Poetry

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It’s still National Poetry Month–just about (not long left)–so here comes my new poetry post. As promised, I’ve included a short review, and a poet feature.

Echoes, by Janice T

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The author has a real gift with words. The neo-Victorian style–the first anthology I have read of it–is very different to both contemporary poetry and pre-twentieth century movements; archaic and occasionally modern language with both traditional and non-traditional rhyme structures.

My favourite in the collection is probably Skyline, one of the shorter poems. One of my favourite quotes is

Against the distant hills,
Soft sentries, washed with Summer’s gold.
The verdant green did swell
As if to reach beyond their hold

(From Endless Orchards)

During April, the collection is available for free from Smashwords. The author also has many other poems published on her website.

Siofra McSherry

I first discovered McSherry‘s work during my poetry module. A few are freely available to read, others are published in anthologies and magazines. Her poetry is contemporary, very lyrical with a lot of nature imagery. In terms of style, hers is not far off from my own, with an exception:

It’s more that I’m writing, and stealing things from everywhere, rather than I feel like I have to write about something in particular.

I usually need a subject to begin writing, though I can deviate from time to time.

Crazy Convos and Christie

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Review of “The Christie Curse” by Victoria Abbott

15808728I can start by saying that the book met the two primary objectives of the whodunit genre: one, I didn’t work out whodunit straight away, and two, the narrative kept me hooked till the end.

As for the plot, “The Christie Curse” is a mystery about a supposedly lost Agatha Christie play, which is linked to a possible murder. The protagonist, Jordan Bingham, is relatable enough despite most readers probably weren’t raised by crooks as she was. Her job, to track down the play for her book-collecting, dragon of an employer, quickly looks to be dangerous but she continues stubbornly at it—if only to keep her luscious room and meals at the Van Alst manor house. She is a little too quick to point the finger but that only makes her more human.

The mystery itself is intriguing. Whilst I guessed about the cat quite early on, I only realised whodunit a few sentences before it was actually stated—about the right time, in my view, for the reader to work it out. A few scenes ran tingles up my spine, but there was nothing at all thriller-rish about the book—overall it’s what I think is called a ‘cosy’ mystery. There was definitely a Christie element, though you don’t have to be particularly familiar with her works to read the story.

I enjoyed every moment of the book, and highly recommend it. The best thing is, it’s the first in a series, and I believe the second one is out now.

Insane Facebook Conversation

My friend gave me permission to post this here. I had to save it for posterity. Possibly the most bonkers conversation I ever had, except maybe with the lady in New York who could tell I was English just from my complexion (apparently).

Me: I think my computer’s got Chizpurfles[1].

Friend: Oh dear … This is what happens when you exterminate all the Doxies in your home. Doxies feed primarily on dead skin cells and Chizpurfles.

Me: Hmm. I guess I shouldn’t have bought all that Doxycide from amazon.wiz—what a waste of Galleons. I should have trained them to guard my electrical items instead. Especially my TARDIS[2], it’s been crashing for weeks. Mr Scamander should have informed me. That book of his has some serious gaps.

Friend: Scamander? The Scamander prejudice against Doxies is well known. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard. They all despise Doxies and have advocated the complete extermination of the entire species. There was an article about it in the Prophet the other day, I’ll send it to you by owl when I find it. As for your TARDIS, I find when mine is malfunctioning, a good kick to the console tends to fix it for a while. Alternatively, I’ve heard that some people have luck with blue or green jello.

Me: Scamander? Prejudices? Well I never. Thank you very much for the article. I’m a Quibbler reader myself, hence why I didn’t see it. I would kick my TARDIS, but it was rather delicate before those pests got at it. I could try the jelly, if I had some. My first instinct was a powerful Reparo, but I’m afraid of the whole magic vs electronics clash.

Friend: Just once, I tried an enlargement charm on a computer screen, I was trying to turn it into a TV you see, and nothing happened except that all the actors, characters and animals on the screen seemed to have red eyes. It was a bit unsettling after a while. Since then, I prefer not to mix the two, just in case. I wouldn’t try it on something the size of a TARDIS. I suppose you could hire a Jedi mechanic … I mean, the Force is, after all, as much magic as science … but it could be expensive.

Me: Bro, help, I need Star Wars knowledge for a comeback.

Bro: May the unhelpful quote be with you.

Friend: Victory is mine

Me: [struggles to think of something witty to say about the currency in Star Wars—what IS the currency in Star Wars???] You are no longer my brother.

Bro: [grins inanely—at least, that’s what I reckon he did though I wasn’t actually there]

Footnotes

[1] Chizpurfle: a pest (from Harry Potter, but mentioned only in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) which feeds on magic or, in the absence of such, “has been known to attack electrical objects … explaining the puzzling failure of many relatively new Muggle artifacts” (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, page 7 footnote.)

[2] My phone, which has a TARDIS skin.

Pin of the week

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If anyone can help me properly embed a Pin so it SHOWS UP properly, please get in touch! At the moment I’m having to save the pics and upload them. The guidance on Pinterest is not working.

Harry Potter Joke Books?

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“The Unofficial Harry Potter Joke and Riddle Book”, by R.U Kidding M.E. I stumbled across this in my Kindle recommendations this morning, but sadly it did not live up to expectations.

This book needs a lot of work before I would pay money for it. I didn’t need to read further than the free sample–most of the jokes are not actually HP-related apart from the author sticking a character name in front, some are Americanised and just don’t fit with the feel of the books, and there are persistent errors: in the Herbology section, Professor Sprout is consistency referred to as Madam Pomfrey. The few jokes that were actually Harry Potter jokes and I as a Brit appreciated and were factually correct, just didn’t merit paying for.

If you’re looking for a Harry Potter joke book where the author knows their stuff, I highly recommend “Harry Pottiness: A Totally Unofficial 6395927Book of Muggle Fun”.

I’ve thumbed my way through this book time and time again when needing some laughs. It’s true it’s incredibly cheesy and the jokes are BAD, but most do fall into the “so bad it’s good” category. The highlights however have to be the more creative pages, such as the Invisibility Cloak care label, and the music chart–always worth a giggle. Highly recommended, and you don’t have to be a die-hard Harry Potter fan to understand most of the jokes; having seen most of the films once is probably good enough.

Writing Stuff

Since we seem to be having a Potter themed post, why not? I don’t normally discuss my fan fiction on this blog, but as it happens, the (Harry Potter) fan fiction chapter I mentioned in my last post that got mostly wiped, I have managed to re-write to, I think, a pretty good standard. It’s a couple of hundred words shorter so I’ve obviously lost some content forever, but I’m pretty sure I covered everything I meant to cover. Even a lot of the dialogue reads like it did before, which is brilliant. My prayers have been answered. The chapter in question is actually on a story that’s not public yet, and won’t be for a long time–but that doesn’t mean I don’t write something on it when the thought strikes. It’s actually one of the sequels to Six.

Moving away from the Potter stuff, I am so close now with my coursework–just got to figure out this bibliography, and some proof-reading, and I’ll be free to work on Aquila! (And hopefully a few days’ holiday!) I got a 5 for my Children’s Writing module–I have to say I was slightly disappointed, as the first draft of one of my stories was predicted 4-6 before it was redrafted, and it means I just missed getting a First on another module. I’m not totally confident in the report I’m about to hand in, so my hopes are pinned on my Aquila script.

Pin of the Week

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Review of “Fantasy Short Stories Issue 1” & Other Stuff

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Updating

Since trying to keep my posts ‘useful’, I have found that they have become a lot less frequent and attract less readers. So I have made a decision to set aside a specific weekly time to focus on this and do it properly. Hopefully this should solve the problem.

Writing Progress

I’ve written hardly any poetry over the summer, so this week has been a real bonus for me as I worked on about four drafts, and written two more from scratch. I’ve been researching more poetry competitions with a view to submitting to bigger ones, hopefully being in with a chance.

Review

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Described as an anthology of “the best in Heroic, Epic and High Fantasy, and with plenty of Sword and Sorcery thrown in”, Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 1 doesn’t disappoint. The five shorts are of a generally high quality writing. I prefer indigenous fantasy novels to short high fantasy, but enjoyed most of the stories–one or two were a little violent for my liking. I think my favourite, and the strongest, was “The Empty Dark” by C L Holland; it was the most engaging and the ending was the most satisfactory of the collection. I liked the idea behind “The Pivot” but found the narrative style difficult to follow. Overall I would recommend the issue.

Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 1 is available on Kindle and other ebooks for £3.08.

For writers: details for submissions are located in the back, and on the website (link above).

Feedback

I am trying out a new post format–do the headings work for you? Or do you prefer the days of my rambles? Please let me know.

Review of “M.E.? What?” by Lois Bennett

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M.E.? What?M.E.? What? by Lois Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A glimpse into the life of someone with ME/CFS. A must-read for anyone who knows a sufferer.

The book is concise, quick and easy to read; more of a booklet than a book. It engages the reader by asking them to imagine various ways in which ME impacts someone’s life, describing the symptoms and attitudes encountered. It includes a section of shocking quotes from people who don’t understand, and a brief description of what the illness is. As a sufferer myself I recommend this book whole-heartedly. It makes its point successfully and without drowning it in unnecessary information.

Anyone who knows a sufferer of ME/CFS should read this book. Anyone who works in the teaching profession should read this book. Employers should read this book. Everyone should read this book. ME is a common illness, at some point in your life you will meet someone with the condition. ME sufferers themselves should get a copy so they can loan out to anyone who needs to understand what it is like.

I hope this book will prove a big step in raising ME awareness, and on behalf of ME sufferers everywhere I would like to thank Lois Bennett for writing it.

View all my reviews