Terri inspires the reader with this wonderful quote right at the beginning setting the tone for her clear, concise and friendly little book:
‘Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.’ Bruno Barley.
Isn’t that the absolute truth? It’s remarkable how the medium of photography can draw people together from different cultural backgrounds in a common moment of wonder. Curious, I googled Bruno Barley and found these stunning examples of his work: Pinterest examples of Bruno Barley’s photography. Wow, I just love photography!
Terri kicks off her book with a simple premise – Why? Why use photography on your blog? The answer, is of course, simple – images draw attention, interest, break up text, make your blog post more interesting and memorable.
She adds tips on how to –
- Create an engaging profile.
- Ways to make your sidebar design attractive.
- How to design a defining header.
- Adding widgets and not overloading your posts with too many images.
Terri warns about the dangers of using images without consent on your blog even if the images happen to be from friends, and particularly if the photos are randomly found on google. The Rule is: Always get written consent – though an email will do.
There’s an interesting section on how to use old images and give them a new lease of life. I read this part with great interest. Recently, I created a scrapbook of images for my dad for his birthday, (the first few photos you can see here,): My Instagram page Kyrosmagica
There are chapters on how to:
- Crop your photos, edit, add captions, size and add watermarks. Again, I was particularly interested in the section on watermarks as this is something I still have to try… Terri suggests using tutorials on Pinterest and picmonkey.
- Organising images, in storage solutions such as Dropbox, which I still have to investigate.
- Participating in or holding photography link parties and joining in photo challenges, such as Norm’s Thursday Doors. I enjoy taking part time permitting…
- Using quotes to inspire, creating blog banners or blog badges. Here’s the link to the tutorial and other excellent blogging suggestions via Diana’s Adventures: Dianas Adventures – Tips for new bloggers
- A section on photo-friendly social networking sites such as Instagram and Pinterest, plus a fantastic resources page.
Would I recommend it? Are you kidding? Most definitely. I just wished I’d read this book years ago when I started blogging – it would have helped me so much. I found out the hard way how to do much of what Terri mentions, but I still have a lot to learn.
Don’t forget to follow Terri on Instagram: Terri Webster Schrandt – Instagram
If you’d like to follow me on Instagram too, LOL… (cheeky personal plug,) – find me here: My Instagram Page: Kyrosmagica
A richly deserved 5 stars.. 🙂
Before I fly off to take some photos to add to my Instagram feed let me point you in the direction of this wonderful free resource from Terri: Second Wind Leisure – How To Get Hundreds of Free Photos for Your Blog
Bye for now, photo enthusiasts!
After publishing some of his short stories on his blog, Hugh W. Roberts, who suffers from dyslexia, received numerous requests to publish his short stories in a book.
Here, at last, are 28 short stories that will take your mind on a rollercoaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns.
‘Glimpses’ allows the reader a peek into the lives of everyday people who are about to have life lead them on an unpredicted path. From a mysterious deadly iPad app, to a hole in the fence that is not all it seems, to a strange lipstick that appears to have a life of its own, you will encounter terror, laughter, sadness, shock and many other emotions on journeys which promise a thrilling and gripping climax.
If you are a lover of shows such as ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’, then you’re in for a real treat with this first collection of short stories from Hugh.
Dare you take a glimpse into the lives of these unsuspecting characters?
“If you’re looking for a thoroughly entertaining read, Glimpses is the book for you. Each story has been cleverly crafted; through Hugh’s wonderful imagination, he has the ability to whisk you away to many different worlds, past, present and future. Every story makes a compelling read and just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, Hugh masterfully reveals a brilliant twist. With bite-size and longer stories, Glimpses is a must-read. I loved it.” – Esther Newton, Writer, and Author.
Welcome, this is my first review of 2017. Happy New Year!!! Happy Reading!!!
This is undoubtedly an excellent collection of short stories from Hugh W. Roberts.
In my opinion, short stories are so difficult to write as the author has to encapsulate so much into such a rigid format and end on an engaging twist too. Hugh effortlessly manages to introduce us to such a wide range of well-crafted stories, encompassing several genres, ranging from Science Fiction, Supernatural, Thriller, Drama, Humour, LGBT, to Horror, with something for everyone in this entertaining compilation.
When Hugh jokingly remarked that his horror stories might give me nightmares I really didn’t believe that this kind-hearted chap could write that scary a horror story, but I was so wrong!!!! The particular one that stays in my mind the most is undoubtedly Needles, which definitely made me wince a lot and with a title like that it’s no wonder! Other favourites of mine in the horror category are The Easter Bunny, The Gingerbread House, and Lipstick. You can see I do like to read horror! I also have a soft spot for The Cake Decorator, (Thriller) and The Last Train to Aldwych (Ghost). Every single story in the compilation is a little nugget of imagination. Hugh may be dyslexic but he certainly has no difficulty on the imagination score! His powers of imagination and creativity are first class. Often dyslexic people are amazingly talented, and Hugh certainly is.
Glimpses is highly recommended for all short story enthusiasts. Go get a copy!!
To celebrate the launch of Glimpses Hugh is offering six wonderful Amazon gift prizes. Follow the link here to find out more: Hughs Views and News Competition
Do check out his most recent post about this as Hugh has kindly given us a clue!
Please do support Hugh and buy a copy of his book, and if you could share a review even better…
Universal buying link for Glimpses: http://hyperurl.co/42ou22
I recently interviewed Hugh on Kyrosmagica. Here’s the link:
Have you read Glimpses? Do leave a comment below and let me know…
Soon I will be reviewing Ruth Hatfield’s The Colour of Darkness, the second book in the Book of Storms Trilogy, so keep a look out for that.
Bye for now, back to my books…
As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.
“You know what they are, don’t you?”
A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family in particular it’s more than a coincidence, but their unease increases following a brutal attack. As tensions rise, a dark past returns to haunt them and others, while newcomers to the village are drawn into a mystery with terrifying consequences. And no one can explain why the ravens are gathering.
Ravens Gathering twists and turns as the truth is gradually exposed in a gripping thriller with a supernatural edge to it.
This is a very ambitious first novel, and on the whole Graeme Cumming does a fantastic job, creating a novel which is both highly imaginative, and unusual in many respects. The dialogue is believable, as is the detail in the various innocuous, homely settings: the pub, the farms, and this close knit English village.
Ravens Gathering does a shape shift through several different genres, embracing fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, police procedural, thriller, and horror.
The main character Martin Gates returns to this community, his home after a long time abroad. Martin’s reappearance is not welcomed with open arms by his family, in fact they appear to view his reappearance as something to avoid rather than embrace. To begin with Martin is a difficult character to engage with. His character is somewhat obtuse, but there are reasons for this, which become apparent as we read the book and realise why he is the way he is. We do get a sense of his outrage about being so unloved and uncared for by his family, and yet to begin with we have no idea why this the case. We can only speculate, but there’s no way that our speculations will be correct.
Equally, Tanya, and Ian aren’t particularly appealing either, and neither are Martin’s family. The further we get into the book it seems more and more likely that everyone in Ravens Gathering are flawed in some unique and individual way. The key words that initially come to mind are: selfish, shady, desperate for sexual diversions, or damaged in some way.
The story unfolds slowly with a considerable amount of detail, making events more real. Shocking and disturbing revelations in the latter part of the novel don’t come as a complete surprise given the underlying sense of a community where something is terribly amiss. Nevertheless I had no idea of what was coming, and the shock factor of what did surprised, and appalled me in equal measure. This is a novel where you can’t help but go WTF!!!!!
The characters for the most part are not particularly lovable which initially distances the reader from them but that’s not meant as a criticism, in fact under the circumstances having read the story one realises why this is the case.
The bad guy is about as horrible, wicked, and debauched a villain as you can get.
This is a very complicated story that remains in your psyche for some time afterwards. It winds its way stretching the believability of the fantastical elements to the max, edging the story to its conclusion.
My recommendation: Definitely an author to watch out for, a well written, confident debut. Read if you like mysterious thrillers with a fantastical, but deeply shocking element.
Do connect with Graeme via his link below:
Have you read Ravens Gathering? Do comment below.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of this wonderful encyclopaedia in exchange for my honest review, celebrating Flower remedies which have been used “for hundreds possibly thousands of years.”
The Encyclopaedia attracted me as in the past I qualified in Aromatherapy and Reflexology, and worked for a while as a therapist. I have always been interested in the use of natural remedies in the treatment of illnesses, both of the physical and indeed the psychological kind. Flowers are so beautiful, and exist in an abundance of different shapes, colours, and aromas to entice us. As individuals we often have a preference for a favourite flower. It may attract us because it reminds us of our childhood, or a special place. I particularly like the flowers associated with the orient, Frangipani, Orchids, and Hibiscus.
I adore the orchids of Singapore. possibly because I was born there and love hot climates. “The Flowers of the Orient have a special energy appropriate for women.” The Orchid essences tap into the higher chakras, (knowledge) and I love to study and learn new things! Also I keep cactuses, again a plant that survives with little water, and minimal attention. So, our choice of flowers tell us a lot about the kind of person we are. As do our choice of pets. Dogs require more attention, Cats less. There is a psychology of flowers, so much to discover! Flowers of all kinds enchant me especially those with warm colours, and intoxicating scents.
This is one of my favourite bouquets. I now take a photo of all my flower gifts. I feel sad when they die and like to keep a visual image of them to remind me of the beauty of the flowers whilst in bloom, and the sentiments at the time. This is a stunning bouquet from my mother in law!
The Practitioner’s Encyclopaedia of Flower Remedies by Clare Harvey is an updated edition of the The New Enclopedia of Flower Remedies originally published in 2007. With an engaging Foreward by Richard Gerber, MD, exploring the role of vibrational medicine in modern world, Dr Bach’s contribution as one of “the first modern pioneers of healing with flower essences,” and the development of flowers essences “all over the world, from England and North America to the outback of Australia.’ A preface by Dr George Lewith which states that “it provides an up-to-date, thorough, exceptionally well-researched resource for those practitioners who are interested in flower essences.” I would totally agree. Clare Harvey has collaborated with numerous practitioners and introduced the reader to a whole host of flower remedies which I have not heard of or come across before. There are informative sections on how to use, store and produce the remedies. Her section on the natural power of flowers from diverse, unspoilt regions of the world is fascinating, documenting the aborigines of Australia, ancient Egyptians, Minoans of Crete, Native Americans, as well as the “Science of life”, Ayurveda, the Russian medicine men, apparently even Genghis Khan “reputedly prescribed them to his men to give them strength for battle.”
I loved this quote from the language of flowers chapter about the mighty power of the much loved rose: “Cleopatra places such faith in its romantic charm that she reputedly carpeted her bedroom with millions of fresh rose petals to help her seduction of Marc Anthony!’
Being a bit of a fan of gods, and goddesses, this appealed to me too: “Many of the classical gods, goddesses and nympths such as Hyacinthus, Narcissus and Iris are remembered today because they gave their name to flowers.”
A section on Flowers and the signs of the zodiac also charmed me: I’m a Scorpio, so the flowers suggested to me are Gentian, and Hyacinth.
Clare Harvey suggests that Flowers are a “kind of liquid energy.” She explains the various methods used to capture their energy. This truly definitive guide goes into great depth and explains the role of The Meridian Systems, The Chakras, The Auras, and the Subtle Bodies. The effects of shock, stress and pollution are also well documented, as are social poisons, such as alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and social drugs, their misuse and effect on the body.
Traditional medicine obviously has its place in the treatment of serious illnesses as many lives are saved but she discusses the “undesirable side effects” and drug-resistant infections which are all too common nowadays. Could flower remedies give an alternative in some cases? Especially, when the root of the illness may be brought about, and intensified by life’s modern stressers.
I was very interested to read her suggested flower remedies for those of us about to be admitted into hospital for operations, she recommends rescue remedies such as Bach’s Rescue Remedy. Obviously as a recent patient to Addenbrookes for my Gallbladder operation this is undoubtedly invaluable advice.
There is a great section on choosing and prescribing essences, using case histories, intuition, and other more unusual tools such as a pendulum, muscle testing, and pulse testing.
Many common ailments are covered in the Case history section such as ME, Digestion Problems, Arthritis, Insomnia, Anorexia Nervosa, Eczema, Swollen Glands, Hay Fever, Sinusitis, Circulatory Problems, Diabetes, Hip Replacement, Stress, Shock, Migraines, Women’s Problems such as: Premenstrual Tension, The Problems of Pregnancy, Menopause, etc.
Animal lovers will love her advice on choosing remedies for their pets. Mothers can give the remedies to their children and babies safely as the flower remedies are gentle, and free from harmful side effects.
But, “Flower essences are not magical bullets – they are subtle remedies which act as catalysts for change.” Like all alternative remedies use them with respect, and understanding and they will serve you well.
The remedies combine well with other therapies such as Aromatherapy, Floral acupressure using acupressure points, Nutritional support, Psychotherapy, and Orthodox medicine.
A cancer study by Dr Judy Griffin using the Petit Fleur range has documented “some of the most powerful transformations with cancer, in particular Lilac flower essences, which she has found released self-healing.”
There are remedies for all sorts of personality traits, health problems and learning difficulties such as dyslexia. Remedies can be taken as creams if the remedy is to be applied topically, e.g. arthritis, first aid, moisturisers, cleansers, pain relieving lotions, or if swallowing is a problem, e.g. if the patient is unconscious. Sprays and mists are also available too, as are Combination remedies for common ailments.
Wildflower essences closer to home are also available here in England: “Paul Strode started making wildflower essences in 1999 in response to the urgent need to preserve our English wildflower heritage and with the aim of bringing plant energy medicine to a wider audience.”
Clare Harvey takes us on a trip of discovery through the flowers of Europe, the Channel islands, the Netherlands, Africa, Australia and the Far East, New Zealand, India, Russia, Alaska, USA, South America, Canada, the Desert, to the tropical rainforest, of the Amazon. So be prepared for a colourful and interesting ride!
More unusual essences are also harvested such as Mushroom, Gem essences, Nettle, Fern, Moss, Cactus, Fruits, Tree, Mountain Grasses, Shamanic and Dolphin essences! So there is definitely something for everyone.
There is a useful list of addresses, suppliers and suggested further reading in the Appendix. There is a local supplier here in Cambridge: Revital Health, 5 Bridge Street, Cambridge, no doubt I will be paying them a visit.
Information about the author:
Clare G. Harvey is an internationally recognised authority on flower essences. She was originally trained by her grandmother, who was taught by Dr Edward Bach and Nora Weeks. Clare has been a Flower Essence Consultant since the 1990’s, first at The Hale Clinic, London, and now in her own clinic at 103-105 Harley Street. A teacher and lecturer, Clare started the first International Flower Essence School for Practitioners, The International Federation for Vibrational Medicine, in 1988 which runs introductory and professional training courses. She is the founder of Floweressence CGH, which has been instrumental in establishing flower essences in the practitioner and retail market and is one of the major UK distributors of flower essences. Clare is also on the London Nutricentre’s advisory board as their flower essence expert.
Clare Harvey’s website: http://www.flowersense.co.uk
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.
With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.
I joined the Old Kingdom Readalong via Hot Key Books on Goodreads rather late on, so it was a case of catching up. First impressions, Sabriel excited me and disappointed me. The first half of the book was so rich in descriptive prose that it couldn’t help but slow down the pace of the novel and I felt it dragged a bit. Though, having said that I couldn’t help but admire Garth Nix’s magical powers. Yes I’m sure he has them. His descriptions are just so vivid, and well amazing. My response was contrary, I loved his descriptive passages yet I longed for events to happen more swiftly. Also I had a little bit of trouble initially connecting to the characters. I think this was most probably because Garth Nix needed to devote quite a lot of time to developing the system of magic that is so central to the plot. There are two main kinds of magic, Charter Magic and Free Will. Charter Magic is of the benevolent kind, whereas Free Will is not. Free Magic is employed by necromancers who defy the Charter by bringing dead bodies to life. Only Sabriel’s father, the Abhorsen uses Charter and Free Magic together to return the dead to their rightful place.
The addition of Mogget the talking cat was a big plus for me, being a bit of a cat lover, I just loved Mogget! He seemed to have the most developed character of all the protagonists with his sarcastic and often witty comments. I found Touchstone a bit wooden! Well maybe this is to be expected considering his background! Though I did laugh at the manner in which Garth Nix introduced him into the story. A bit of nudity added a refreshing element to the story! I welcomed the romantic chemistry that started to develop between Sabriel and Touchstone. Hey somebody has to enliven this wooden guy and I’m sure Sabriel has the tools to do so! But Touchstone’s rapid love interest in Sabriel, could have been developed a bit more, to me it seemed a bit over the top. Hey, this guy de thawed way too quick!
The novel is set in two contrasting countries, Ancelstierre in the south, and The Old Kingdom in the north. But the two neighbourhoods couldn’t be more different. In Ancelstierre magic is seen as superstition. In the school that Sabriel attends the basics of magic are begrudgingly recognised and taught. Sabriel is a student at Wyverley College, a boarding school for girls on the Ancelstierre side of the Wall, close to the border of The Old Kingdom. There she studies the usual subjects plus a dash of Magic too. Her father, the Abhorsen, pays a visit to see her once or twice a year. He sets about training her to bind the dead so they don’t come back to inhabit life using The Book of the Dead, Charter Magic and Bells. Sabriel’s father doesn’t turn up for his customary visit, and the book opens. Instead a dead sending comes with a message for her. Her father is trapped in death. Now Sabriel is given the title Abhorsen-in waiting, the responsibility to set the world of the Old Kingdom to rights, and rescue her father. All at the tender age of eighteen. So the adventure begins. Sabriel learns that her father is an Abhorsen, a good Necromancer who lays dead creatures to rest and stops them feeding on the living. Sabriel finds that her rudimentary magical training at Wyverley College leaves her ill equipped for the task ahead. She feels all of the naivety of her eighteen years but carries on regardless and never gives up. Luckily she is equipped with powerful, magical tools to help her on her journey where she must learn the Abhorsen’s duty to step into Death and bind harmful spirits who desire to cheat death. She is only able to do this by developing a detailed understanding of the Charter marks, and mastering the seven bells that assist the necromancer’s trade by helping command the dead.
There are a lot of different concepts of death to get to grips with, all of which are pretty imaginative and sometimes quite gory. Death doesn’t just happen and that’s it. No it is a pretty detailed process, your spirit has to pass through nine gates until it is finally laid to rest. But of course some of the recently dead aren’t too keen on remaining dead and they do their utmost to fight their way out of death by inhabiting a recently dead body or else they serve as a servant of a Necromancer.
It is a fine example of a coming of age story. Sabriel grows and develops as the story unfolds. This aspect of the novel I really enjoyed.
Would I like to read more? Yes, I think I would like to see how this develops in the second book, Lirael. I have a feeling that now that I have got to grips with the magical world of the Old Kingdom I may just enjoy it even more!
The ending was definitely a highlight for me. I was reading the last few pages as I was waiting for my daughter, she was in her gymnastics class. Anyway, she came out before I finished! So I had to stop! Needless to say I finished the rest of the book when I got back home. Oh and there is an Epilogue too, thank heavens!
Recommended for readers of YA, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Science Fiction Fantasy, High Fantasy, and Romance.
Award information via Wikipedia: Sabriel won the Aurealis Award for best young-adult novel and best fantasy novel in 1995. It is also an ALA Notable Book and was a short-list nominee for the 1996 Ditmar Award for best long fiction.
Authors website: http://www.garthnix.com/
Have you read Sabriel? Do comment I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.
Vizzini grew up primarily in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City. He attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, graduating in 1999. While still a teenager, he began to write articles for the New York Press, an alternative newspaper.
After he wrote an essay that got published by the New York Times Magazine, several of his essays about his young adult life ended up being combined into his first book, Teen Angst? Naaah…. Vizzini attended Hunter College, also located in Manhattan. Ned Vizzini lived in New York City. Vizzini’s characters and situations are said be based upon his time spent at Stuyvesant.
I wasn’t sure about beginning It’s Kind Of A Funny Story particularly in light of Ned Vizzini’s suicide aged 32. It seems to me that comics, writers, poets, and creative individuals have a dark side to them which is often masked by a humorous persona. Obviously the unexpected suicide of Robin Williams, on 11th August, instantly comes to mind, the funny relatable guy, that had us all in stitches. In light of this I wondered how I would respond to reading Ned Vizzini’s novel about a young, teenage boy on the brink of suicide. The title suggested that it would be a light-hearted read. Well only a person who had experienced depression first hand could have written a book that tackled the subject so well, managing to make it a true reflection on the awful tragedy of depression and mental illness, and the stigma that comes hand in hand. There were times when the sheer humanity of life made me laugh, particularly when Craig makes the decision to check himself into hospital and found himself admitted to an adult mental health ward. Ned Vizzini achieves this by making his characters so believable, and engaging. To begin with Craig is freaked out but it doesn’t take long for all his “Cycling,” his relentless thoughts, and his “Tentacles,” his pressures to fall away. The hospital routine is oddly therapeutic. He begins to relax, eat, make friends, starts to understands girls, and grows up. There is hope, and hope is a powerful word. Sadly, even though there is this glimmer of hope there is also a sense of Craig’s vulnerability, he could slip back , the depression is and always will be a part of him. Though, if he holds on to his “Anchors,” those things that keeps him steady, he might just be ok.
I loved the idea of Craig’s “Cycling,” “Tentacles” and his “Anchor,” you will have to read the book to find out what his Anchor is. I don’t want to spoil it for you. But his “Anchor” is just so Craig. We all need an “Anchor!”
So, a wonderful book. The characters are great. The dialogue is spot on. Can’t really find anything to say but positive, positive. Everyone should read it. Every parent, so they don’t push their child into doing something that isn’t right for them. Help, encourage and guide them but don’t pressurise them into doing something that is alien to them. If only every person suffering from anxiety, depression, and mental illness could find their “Anchors” the things that keep them happy, and hold on to them for dear life maybe then they will never have to slip away as Ned Vizzini did. That is the sad truth. So much talent wasted. This is my tribute to Ned Vizzini, sadly, I only discovered his writing now.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
I just loved Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. A big, full, book case heart for this one, great cover art, perfect YA novel within. My only regret, that I didn’t read it when I was a teenager myself! Shame I can’t time travel back to do a bit of reading. Anyway I’m still in touch with that side of me, my teenage self is still there somewhere deep in the layers of my enforced adulthood!
The initial idea behind the book, the hidden letters to her crushes, is a simple concept but the way Jenny Han develops upon this and draws us into the story is just wonderful. Lara Jean’s relationship with her older sister Margo begins to change when Margo goes off to University in Scotland and dumps her boyfriend Josh just before she goes. Lara is shocked, Josh is like one of the family and everyone loves him, and when I say love him, I mean love him. She finds herself now taking the role of “big sister” to her younger sister Kitty, who is wise beyond her years. I love how Jenny Han expresses Lara Jean’s confusion and distress at her new role by placing her behind a steering wheel and making her face her fears. Okay so it’s a bit of a disaster, she doesn’t manage to do everything perfectly like Margo does but that’s what makes her so endearing. She isn’t Miss Popularity. She isn’t Miss Confident, but none of that matters because she is Lara Jean, and Lara Jean is infinitely more likeable than some overconfident, pretentious girl. I found the relationships between the sisters so touching, probably because it spoke to me personally as I have an older daughter going off to University this September and both of my girls will be affected by the change. Jenny Han writes about the bonds, and dynamics of sisterly relationships with such humour and empathy. The fake relationship between Lara and Peter is perfectly written. Peter’s character evolves so naturally. I can’t find fault with any aspect of the book, the dialogue, and every single one of the characters are so convincing that by the end of the book it was almost as if Lara Jean and her family and friends live and breathe. In the beginning her fake boyfriend Peter doesn’t seem the right choice for her, but by the end of the book he steals the show from Josh. There are sad elements of the novel, that tug at your heartstrings but there are also happy and laugh out loud moments. In fact if there is a moral to this story it is that you can rise above the worst things that can happen to you, (her mother’s death), if you have one simple ingredient, a loving family that pulls together. It just encapsulates life’s up and downs in such a lovely, sweet way. It is without doubt one of my favourite YA novels to date. Oh, and the references to Korean food well that just sealed the deal for me, yum, yum.
As to the ending well let’s just say thank goodness there’s going to be a sequel, or we’d have to get a petition letter out there to Jenny Han super pronto!
I would highly recommend, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, 100% to readers of YA, Contemporary, romance.
My star rating, well of course it has to be an excellent, well deserved 5 stars!
“When someone’s been gone a long time, at first you save up all the things you want to tell them. You try to keep track of everything in your head. But it’s like trying to hold on to a fistful of sand: all the little bits slip out of your hands, and then you’re just clutching air and grit.”
”If love is like a possession, maybe my letter are like my exorcisms.”
“I wonder what it’s like to have that much power over a boy. I don’t think I’d want it; it’s a lot of responsibility to hold a person’s heart in your hands.”
“I delete the picture of him from my phone; I delete his number. I think that if I just delete him enough, it will be like none of it ever happened and my heart won’t hurt so badly.”
“Margot would say she belongs to herself. Kitty would say she belongs to no one. And I guess I would say I belong to my sisters and my dad, but that won’t always be true. To belong to someone—I didn’t know it, but now that I think about, it seems like that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To really be somebody’s, and to have them be mine.”
“If you were mine, I would never have broken up with you, not in a million years.”
Authors website: http://dearjennyhan.com/
Have you read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”
Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.
Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.
An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….
I was given a kindle copy of A Good Girl by Net Galley in return for an honest review. I had some difficulties with the ARC copy I received as there were no chapter headings or even pauses to suggest where one chapter started and the next finished. Unfortunately this made reading this particular novel very difficult especially as it has been written in multiple points of views, and in shifting time sequences alternating between the present and the past. Having said that I persevered and I’m glad that I did as I quickly found the story gripping, and I wanted to read on and find out what happened next.
A Good Girl is written through the eyes of Mia, the captive, Mia’s mother, and Gabe the detective running the cause. All three points of view work well and add a depth to the narrative. We feel Mia’s confusion and fear when she is kidnapped. Her mother’s distress at the unknown fate of her daughter, her sense of failure at being an inadequate mother and Gabe’s determination to set things right and solve the case. We also see a rich girl who has a depth to her that at first glance we may have overlooked. Her captive finds that Mia is much more than a spoilt little rich kid. He finds that she isn’t that different from him. They both share troubles, that have made them the way that they are, in her case, her father’s expectations that she will behave in a certain way and, in his case, his mother’s illness.
I had some problems with the initial propositions of the storyline, and with some of the developments within the novel. Why would someone abduct someone with the intention of handing them over and then change their mind? Why would the detective develop feelings for a member of the family? Was this really necessary, or did it distract from the storyline?
The ending was a bit of a surprise I just didn’t see it coming.
Overall I thought that Mary Kubica’s portrayal of Mia’s abduction, and the developing attraction between Mia and her captive was skillfully written but I didn’t really buy into the detective investigating the case following down the love route too. It seemed a bit too much! I won’t say any more on that one for fear of spoiling the novel for you but for me it just wasn’t necessary.
Overall I enjoyed The Good Girl. I thought it was a well crafted debut novel, that I would recommend to readers of mystery, thrillers, suspense, contemporary, and psychological thrillers.
My star rating:
Have you read A Good Girl? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
From one of Granta‘s Best Young British Novelists, a stunningly insightful, emotionally powerful new novel about an outsider haunted by an inescapable past: a story of loneliness and survival, guilt and loss, and the power of forgiveness.
Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted it to be. But every few nights something—or someone—picks off one of the sheep and sets off a new deep pulse of terror. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumors of an obscure, formidable beast. But there is also Jake’s past—hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, held in the silences about her family and the scars that stripe her back—a past that threatens to break into the present. With exceptional artistry and empathy, All the Birds, Singing reveals an isolated life in all its struggles and stubborn hopes, unexpected beauty, and hard-won redemption.
I picked up a copy of this book as a summer read on display at my local library, via Norwich Writers Centre summer reads book club. http://www.writerscentrenorwich.org.uk/yoursummerreads.aspx. I’m so glad that I did.
It’s about sheep and birds and a lot of animals, and all sorts of things you just wouldn’t expect. Who says a sheep farm can’t be exciting!
The story begins with the words, “Another sheep, mangled and bled out, her innards not yet crusting and the vapours rising from her like a steamed pudding.” What a way to begin, with those initial words I was instantly drawn in and my attention just didn’t waver.
Wyld tells us Jake’s current story in the past tense, and the story of her past in the present tense. An unusual device. Her past is catching up with her always there a menace that she can’t escape from. The tale begins in the past tense, in England on her sheep farm. To begin with I found the main protagonist, Jake Whyte, a shady character. Who is this person? Why has she bought a farm in this remote area of England? Her name sounds like a man’s name. She has a manly physique, she is no weakling, though there are hints at feminine aspects to her persona. She appears a lonely individual separated from the community in which she lives, unable or unwilling to participate. Her only companion is her dog, who is simply named Dog. This lady is not one for frills. She is a strong woman with a disturbing past, who carries the scars of that past on her back. No wonder she wants to stay hidden. Her only concession to human contact on her sheep farm in England is Don, and Don sold her the house and the land. Don regards her reluctance to engage with others as unnatural, and tries to encourage her to mix to integrate into the farming community, to find someone to share her life with, and to live a normal life.
Chapters alternate to reveal her past in Australia when she was working with a sheep shearing gang to her younger adolescent years when she made a terrible mistake that she is still paying for in the present. This earlier chapter of her life is unexpected, and shocking. No wonder she is running. She has the scars to show for it. In Australia she also has only one companion, no dog this time, a male on the sheep shearing gang. She is one woman among many male sheep shearers, yet she seems to fit in well. Gender lines blur.
In present day England something or somebody is violently killing her sheep. To begin with it she thinks it is kids but as the narrative unfolds this impression begins to change. It appears that her past is catching up on her and her poor sheep are being made to suffer for her misdeeds. What beast is tearing them apart? Is it the beast of her past rearing its ugly head?
Wyld uses several different animals within the narrative to suggest human characteristics, this is particularly evident in the portrayal of Kelly, her captor Otto’s dog that she is forced to live with for a time in Australia. Kelly torments Jake with her fierce loyalty to Otto, her captor.This novel is full to buzzing with all sorts of insects, birds, sheep, dogs, fish, oh and a pigeon to mention a few. A quote from the final chapter exemplifies this. “On the beach at low tide after a storm, the sharks that have washed up are the small ones that don’t need to be towed onto the sand spit first. They are just finned on the boats and plopped back into the drink….”
I can’t find much at all to criticise in Wyld’s book. It is wonderfully written, a stunningly clever book. My only slight niggle and it is very slight, I found it strange that she allowed a complete stranger to stay with her alone on her sheep farm in England. This seemed at odds with her reluctance to mix and trust her neighbours. Though perhaps this is a hint that she is prone to making impulsive decisions that can sometimes go badly, as in her past? Several reviewers have found fault with the ambiguous ending of the book. I found the ending a challenge I must say, but after much consideration, I thought it was an excellent ending. It was very thought-provoking. I’m not sure I would say the novel is about forgiveness, I think it is more about trust, doing the right thing, and letting go off the past so that you can allow another person into your life, to share life’s difficulties. But that’s just my impression of it! I read the final two chapters several times before I could come to an understanding and to some closure. It is a novel that makes you draw your own conclusions. All the Birds Singing is without doubt a memorable book that in its quiet way draws you into a narrative that is mysterious and intriguing. One read through may just not be enough!
My star rating – 4.5 stars
I would highly recommend it for readers of Literary Fiction, Mystery, and Contemporary Fiction.
Longlisted for the Bailey’s Womans prize for Fiction 2014. In 2013 Evie Wyld was named among Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.
http://www.eviewyld.com – Take a look at her website to see all the lovely book covers for All The Birds Singing, they’re stunning.
Have you read All The Birds Singing? Do leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.
Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.
With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.
My Kyrosmagica Review:
Rebel Belle really tickled me pink! I love the cover, the sword through the girlie necklace. Our debutante shocks us right at the beginning of the novel with a sudden shift in behaviour. I must confess I didn’t pay too much attention to the blurb, I just read the story blind and I was so glad I did. I was stunned when our heroine Harper, the girl who was bound to be homecoming queen, ended up in the toilet of all places kicking ass. At first glance Harper seemed more interested in lipstick and the trappings of being crowned but don’t be fooled, Harper is a Paladin, and Paladin’s aren’t to be trifled with. I liked the title Paladin, kind of made me think of Aladdin! Actually, there are also Mages, and an Oracle too, but no more about that, just thought I’d whet your appetite a bit!
From that opening night she’s drawn into the biggest responsibility of her whole life, and believe me this girl is used to a heck load of responsibilities, and extra curricular activities! She must protect David, the guy that she’s been fighting with since seventh grade. Not only does she have to be his protector but she soon learns that she must protect him at all costs, giving up on all the things she still wants to do, and even to the point of losing her own life. A bit of a tall order! But you get the sense that Harper is up to it, trust me Harper is not one to sit quietly doing nothing. All this with the most important night of her life, Cotillon, just around the corner. Expectations are high, her sister was also homecoming queen, but there is more to this than I want to divulge in this review. It’s a bit of a spoiler so no more said.
I love the characters in Rebel Belle, they are so well crafted and draw you into the story. Harper and her friend Bee are just such good friends, looking out for each other. David is so cute, and so different from her boyfriend Ryan. I loved the way that Harper and David begin by hating each other but slowly understand and develop feelings for each other. With her superpowers it is as if she can now see more clearly and realises that even though her boyfriend, Ryan may be a heartthrob, Mr. Popular, and super nice, he may not be the one for her. She needs someone a bit more quirky, and David could be the one to fit the bill. I also really enjoyed Harper’s aunts, so entertaining. Full marks for characterisation.
The middle section of the novel though good, dragged a little for me, I would say that the beginning and the end of the novel are absolutely first class. So stick with it, it’s well worth it. Some reviews have criticised the love triangle between Harper, her boyfriend Ryan and new love interest David, but I enjoyed this aspect of the novel. I thought some of the details of the magical powers were stretching the believability factor a bit, but overall I really enjoyed Rebel Belle. It’s a lovely, light-hearted read, just don’t take it too seriously!
I loved the ending so, so much. In fact it made up for any tiny flaws. I just found it so funny. I won’t go into details as that would spoil it for you, but if you don’t laugh I will have to kill you!
This is a definite Laugh out Loud book, with a wonderful touch of fantasy, if you don’t like stories with these two elements then don’t touch it with a barge pole. But hey, who doesn’t like a good chuckle?
My favourite quotes:
“Looking back, none of this would have happened if I’d brought lip gloss the night of the Homecoming Dance.”
“I picked up the nearest weapon I could lay my hands on: a stapler. I lifted it, going for “menacing.” I admit it lacked a certain elegance, but hey. It was worth a shot. David placed his hand on my arm and pushed it back down.
“Just . . . that’s embarrassing for all of us,” he replied.”
“The great thing about best friends is that they know you really well. And the terrible thing about best friends is that they know YOU really well.”
“He and I had loathed each other since kindergarten. Heck, even before that. Mom says he’s the only baby I ever bit in daycare.”
“Look at him. Whole life turned upside down, and he’s in there making pizza rolls.”
“I had to get out of this before I was killed with some elaborate cutlery.”
“Aunt May, my sweet Aunt May, who taught me how to knit, who bought me a piece of candy every time we went to the store, jabbed a cocktail fork at my eye.”
Recommended for Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Romance, and Contemporary readers. Lots of scope there!
Authors website http://readingwritingrachel.blogspot.com
and her tumblr:
Have you read Rebel Belle? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx