Creative poetry exercise

As I mentioned before, I liked the collage feel of both Anthony Wilson’s notebook posts and Julie Mellor’s post about Cubomania, in which Julie cut up blocks of text and placed them together in a random way to create new poems. With this in mind, I started a new term at St Gregory’s Catholic College, Bath, […]

via Writing poetry with secondary school students: using cut ups — Josephine Corcoran


TBR Thursday

Hey bookies! I was trying to come up with something fun for today, and I decided to share some of my TBR list with you. Here’s 3 of the latest books I’ve added to my list and why.

Loot by Jude Watson. Here’s the description:

On a foggy night in Amsterdam, a man falls from a rooftop to the wet pavement below. It’s Alfie McQuinn, the notorious cat burglar, and he’s dying. As sirens wail in the distance, Alfie manages to get out two last words to his young son, March: “Find jewels.”

But March learns that his father is not talking about a stash of loot. He’s talking about Jules, the twin sister March never knew he had. No sooner than the two find each other, they’re picked up by the police and sent to the world’s worst orphanage. It’s not prison, but it feels like it.

March and Jules have no intention of staying put. They know their father’s business inside and out, and they’re tired of being pushed around. Just one good heist, and they’ll live the life of riches and freedom most kids only dream about.

Watch out! There are wild kids on the loose and a crime spree coming .

I thought it sounded like fun. I don’t read a lot of MY or young YA, but it’s a great premise. It reminds me of the TV show Leverage and the character of Parker. The reviews are pretty good and it sounds like a fun series.

Next is The Devil’s Revolver by VS McGrath. This one I found because of a Good Reads friend.

Synopsis is:

She is Hettie Alabama — unlikely, scarred, single-minded, and blood bound to a revolver forged by a demon.

The first book in an epic, magic-clad series featuring the Wild West reimagined as a crosscultural stereoscope of interdimensional magic and hardship, The Devil’s Revolver opens with a shooting competition and takes off across the landscape after a brutal double murder and kidnapping — to which revenge is the only answer. Hettie Alabama, only seventeen years old, leads her crew of underdogs with her father’s cursed revolver, magicked to take a year off her life each time she fires it. It’s no way for a ranch girl to grow up, but grow up she does, her scars and determination to rescue her vulnerable younger sister deepening with every year of life she loses.

A sweeping and high-stakes saga that gilds familiar Western adventure with powerful magic and panoramic fantasy, The Devil’s Revolver is the last word and the blackest hat in the Weird West.

My thoughts:

I love the Western steampunk genre or as this calls  it, the Weird West. The reviews are really positive. One thing I liked – no romance! Kind of a nice change. And saving your sister is always a good motive.

Finally I picked one from a WordPress reviewer, The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton. Here’s what Good Reads says.

A kingdom at risk, a crown divided, a family drenched in blood.

The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.

The king’s three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted.

Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.

This one I’m not as sure about. The book isn’t out yet, and the reviews are mixed. But it’s a retelling of the Shakespeare play  King Lear, and I loved that play. I’m really curious to see it redone. I think I will at least give it a chance.

What about you? Do any of these sound tempting? What new books are you excited about? Tell me in the comments.

What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday! Hope your weekend was good. Mine involved a lot of driving.

I’m currently reading 2 books, kind of a low number for me, but I’ve been reading fewer books at a time this year.

8049273 The Elegant Universe is my current audiobook. I *finally* finished the Plantagenet book by Dan Jones, which was a whopper at something like 26 hours. This one is much shorter, but involves a lot of big concepts. It’s about string theory, quantum mechanics, and the search for the ultimate theory of the universe. I don’t really get all the ideas in here, but part of why I love books about physics is that they make you think in ways you aren’t used to. Brian Greene uses a lot of examples that help explain things in a way that you can understand them better. It’s been a fun book.

24357485I’m also reading Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson. This is on my Kindle. I love the steampunk fantasy world that the author has created here, and I love that even though I read the previous book in the series, I still can’t really predict where he’s going in this book. The relationships as well as the plot are still keeping me guessing. It feels like an easy read too, compared to the horrible Ada Palmer book I just finished.

That’s it for me. Hope you are finding something awesome to read. Let me know what books you are into right now and whether you like them!

Children of Blood and Bone: Review

34728667Title: Children of Blood and Bone, Legacy of Orisha, book 1

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not affect my opinion of the book.

First off: That Cover. Wow.

Synopsis: Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. 

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy. 

My thoughts:

I was lucky to get a chance to read this one! It came at the perfect time, right after I watched AND LOVED Black Panther. I had been hearing from absolutely everyone how amazing this book was, how much they were looking forward to it, if they hadn’t read it yet, and on and on.

I really liked it.

And that’s it. I didn’t LOVE it; it wasn’t AMAZING. It was good. Maybe really good. But that was it.

It started off really well – this horrible oppressive nation with a rich and complex history. Zelie’s back story is really compelling, and the secondary characters were very likable. The magic system is really interesting, and I loved the world building. I would love to see a leopardaire. I loved Princess Amari and absolutely hated her father. He is just horrible!

It was Zelie that I didn’t really love. I felt like the romance there was weird and it just didn’t work for me. But I could have kind of gone with it, maybe it was just that it was the first book and thinking about it more would have changed my mind. But Zelie was not as a great a character as I was hoping for in the beginning. I felt like she didn’t learn and grow much over the book. She was still impulsive, still getting into the same fights with her brother.

When I compared this to Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older, which I also read recently, I liked Sierra more. I felt like she really had that moment when she came into her own power and really transformed into this powerful, strong woman who was ready to fight the world and win. Maybe it was because this book was split between Zelie and Amari, but I didn’t feel like Zelie had that moment of transformation in quite the same way. Don’t get me wrong – I think this was a good book and I’m glad I read it. But I think it could have been even better.

It’s possible that it was just me, that I read it at the wrong time and I would have enjoyed it more if I were in a different mood. If you are looking forward to reading this one, I’d say go ahead and give it a try. But I’m not in a hurry to read the next book.

Too Like Lightning – review

Too Like Lightning by Ada Palmer

I read this one because it won the Hugo award and it sounded intriguing. What a mistake!

Extremely ambitious, I’ll admit that. But the ending introduced a whole next level of violence and sexual dysfunction that left me completely disgusted. When I learned Mycroft’s story, about how he had been tortured and taught to torture, it made want to vomit. And this is the person the writer wants to be the protector of a friendless child? What the hell did I just read? I do not understand how this book is recommended for the awards. What is the matter with people.
It ends with a child facing either being murdered or being championed by those who have been taught to torture others for political reasons and to find sexual release in doing so. Not recommended for anyone!

Review: Heap House

Title: Heap House (The Iremonger Trilogy)

Author: Edward Carey

Synopsis: Clod is an Iremonger. He lives in the Heaps, a vast sea of lost and discarded items collected from all over London. At the centre is Heap House, a puzzle of houses, castles, homes and mysteries reclaimed from the city and built into a living maze of staircases and scurrying rats.

The Iremongers are a mean and cruel family, robust and hardworking, but Clod has an illness. He can hear the objects whispering. His birth object, a universal bath plug, says ‘James Henry’, Cousin Tummis’s tap is squeaking ‘Hilary Evelyn Ward-Jackson’ and something in the attic is shouting ‘Robert Burrington‘ and it sounds angry.

A storm is brewing over Heap House. The Iremongers are growing restless and the whispers are getting louder. When Clod meets Lucy Pennant, a girl newly arrived from the city, everything changes. The secrets that bind Heap House together begin to unravel to reveal a dark truth that threatens to destroy Clod’s world.

My thoughts:

What a weird book! I don’t remember how this one made it on to my TBR list, but I’m kind of glad it did.

It’s sort of a cross between Tim Burton and Oliver Twist. It’s set in a strange version of Victorian England. Clod, and yes, the spelling is intentional, is an orphan part of a wealthy but strange family that makes their living exploiting the poor and claiming their trash. It’s made them rich but set them apart in the most bizarre ways. The whole book is just really hard to describe.

Clod is definitely the best of a bad bunch though, and I really wanted to see him escape from this horrible life. I loved Lucy, and I can’t wait to see how she shakes things up. It definitely ends on a cliffhanger, so be prepared for that.

I am going to finish this series, but I didn’t love it enough that I’m just dying to get the next book. I got this one from the library and I didn’t like it enough to buy it. I am honestly unsure how kids will like it. I think the kids who like the Tim Burton kind of feel will enjoy it. It’s a little Lemony Snicket like, so if you’re into that vibe, you’d probably enjoy it too.

Adventure is another word for crisis

I had adventures today! At least, that’s one way to out it. I had to take my daughter in law to SLC to the hospital and On our way home I ran over something. We were on the freeway coming home in the dark and I didn’t see this chunk of metal until it was too late. By the time I got pulled over off to the side, it was wedged in the tire. Then we got to call for a row and sit in the cold car for an hour.

They towed us to Wal-Mart and I got A good look at the tire. This 5foot long piece of metal is stuck in my tire and there’s a giant hole in the tire. I don’t know how we didn’t flip the car or lose control. I’m still kinda freaked out about it. But my husband came and picked us up and we left the car overnight. Super glad to be home, but it’s always something, isn’t it? What a day

Review: Along Came Jones

This book was received in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. My opinions, however, remain my own. Thanks for the chance to read this book!


Title: Along Came Jones

Author: Victoria Bernadine

Summary: Benjamin Ferrin Macon-Jones has it all: a luxurious lifestyle in Toronto and the love of an intelligent, ambitious woman…until that same woman refuses his marriage proposal, tells him he’s a detriment to her career, and leaves him. Unable to deal with his cantankerous family trying to be supportive, he quietly slips away into the Canadian countryside.

Lou Upjohn has problems of her own. She’s a recluse and agoraphobic, staying safely within the walls of her ancestral home in small town Saskatchewan and depending on Ike, her best and only friend, to deal with the outside world.

Only Ike’s just married another woman and now he’s moving to Vancouver. Before he leaves, he hires the new guy in town, Ferrin Jones, to run her errands and do her yard work. Lou isn’t happy, but even she has to admit the stranger looks mildly interesting.

Both their lives could be changed forever if she only has the courage to open the door. 

My thoughts:

I don’t read much contemporary romance, like, at all, so I was a little surprised to be approached to review this story. However, I am pretty open about my mental health issues, and I found that angle intriguing enough that I said yes. I’m so glad I did!

I am really not a fan of the insta-love that substitutes for a real relationship in so many new books. Maybe that’s because it’s primarily YA, but I *so* don’t want to read about a couple who meet, fall in love, and fall into bed. I’m not into those books. If you are, hey, good for you, but I want real people who have time to get to know one another before they fall.

So this book was a breath of fresh air for me. I loved the MCs – Ferrin was just so appealing, with his crazy family and optimistic attitude. I can see why Lou fell for him – he’s just a great guy. And Lou, she’s so real and so much stronger than she has given herself credit for being. I liked that she didn’t magically overcome her panic attacks. The pacing felt pretty realistic. The bad guy is just human garbage and I was glad to see them get what they deserved.

If you are looking for a good romance with a great small town setting, I would definitely recommend this one. The author says she’s been writing for a long time, and it shows. Recommended.

Review: Madame Koska

This book was received in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. My opinions, however, remain my own. Thanks for the chance to read this book!

I love the style of this cover!

Title: Madame Koska and the Imperial Brooch

Author: Ilil Arbel

Setting: London, about 1920


Meet Madame Koska—a fabulous haute couture designer and the owner of a new atelier in 1920’s London who has a knack at solving crimes that simply baffle the police.

When a priceless brooch disappears from a museum in Russia, Madame Koska is suddenly drawn into the mystery. But who is Madame Koska? And what does the missing jewel have to do with her? Find out in her first adventure!

My Review: After arriving in London, Madame Koska opens a fabulous new fashion house, catering to the many wealthy women who crave that European sophistication. Meanwhile, everyone is talking about the new Russian emigres and the rumor that a stolen brooch belonging to the late Empress has surfaced in the London underground.

This was a light, almost frothy novel with an interesting main character and what sounding like some fabulous clothing! Madame Koska has arrived in London and plans to take the fashion world by storm. Her resilient spirit made me root for her. I also loved the look at the old school fashion world, the culture of the Russian emigres and the challenges they faced. It was such a quick and fun book. The mystery was quite light, and rather unbelievable, but honestly, I still enjoyed the book so much I didn’t really notice the lack of actual mystery. I would have loved some art sketches of the clothing and jewels the author described!

This is apparently based on a character in the 20th century novelist’s Angela Thirkell’s books. I’ve never read anything by her, but it didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the book. I am curious enough about her books though that I added one to my TBR list. Apparently she is typical of many period writers about stereotypes based on races and religion, so I am a little hesitant about that, but still kind of curious.

Including a picture of some of the Russian imperial jewels just so you can drool!