All posts filed under: blog

Review: If I die before I wake ~ by Emily Koch

This title was rather kindly sent to me by the publishers, Random House UK / Vintage. This review has also been published to NetGalley, GoodReads, LinkedIn, and my social media accounts. the blurb: HOW DO YOU SOLVE YOUR OWN MURDER? Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen. But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger. As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go. A stunning edge-of-your-seat debut novel with an unforgettable narrator. the review: If I die before I wake is Emily Koch’s debut novel, but you …

Review: Fire Sermon ~ by Jamie Quatro

This title was rather kindly sent to me by its publishers. This review has also been published to NetGalley, GoodReads, LinkedIn, and my social media accounts. the blurb: Maggie is entirely devoted to her husband Thomas, their two beautiful children, and to God—until what begins as a platonic intellectual and spiritual exchange between writer Maggie and poet James transforms into an erotically-charged bond that challenges Maggie’s sense of loyalty and morality, drawing her deeper into the darkness of desire. A daring debut novel of obsession, lust, and salvation by the highly lauded author of the story collection, I Want To Show You More, Fire Sermonis a tour de force that charts with bold intimacy and immersive sensuality the life of a married woman in the grip of a magnetic affair.   ♦ “It would be difficult to overstate the wonder I felt while reading this novel. It’s among the most beautiful books I’ve ever read about longing — for beauty, for sex, for God, for a coherent life.” — Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You ♦   the …

~ so, cue in a brand new year; but do we really have to…?

And even more to the point: if this year is all as brand new as it’s supposed to be, why is it that it’s feeling already so old and déjà vu? Maybe it is our fault. All those things we keep relegating to the background, hoping perhaps that by systematically ignoring them we will consign them to some hole in history out of which they will not be able to climb to come and pester our days. But it does not work like that, and they do seem to have this way of coming back to haunt us. Or, at the very least, to inevitably colour everything around us, to cast a shadow of their own onto what we wanted to preserve, pristine and untouched: our brand new year, our yearly welcomed chance at renovation, at new beginnings. Thus with this new year. It has been so bandied about — 2018. That year. You know, the year. 2018. The year when it will all change out of recognition. The year when life as we have known it so far …

Clever Girl ~ a short story by Craig Anderson

  “Welcome to Mind Chip madam, how may I assist you today?” Sarah glanced around nervously, “Is this the place where you sell the brain chips?” The salesman nodded enthusiastically, “If you mean the IQ boosting, wireless cognitive enhancement devices then yes, you’ve come to the right place. Are you looking for something in particular?” A small girl peeked out from behind Sarah’s legs, her yellow pigtails tied off with bright pink bows. Sarah gestured to her, “I’m looking for something for my daughter. I want to give her the best start in life.” The salesman bent down and held out his hand, “Nice to meet you young lady, I’m Ben. What’s your name?” When she didn’t answer the salesman tried again, “Ravi de vous rencontrer jeune femme, je suis Ben.” The young girl stared at him dumbfounded. Sarah leaned over her daughter, “It’s ok sweetie, you can say hello.” The little girl clung tightly to her mother’s leg as she whispered, “I’m Charlotte.” “And how old are you Charlotte?” After a moment to calculate …

Review: Thaw (poems) ~ by Chelsea Dingman

Blurb: Thaw delves into the issues at the core of a resilient family: kinship, poverty, violence, death, abuse, and grief. The poems follow the speaker, as both mother and daughter, as she travels through harsh and beautiful landscapes in Canada, Sweden, and the United States. Moving through these places, she examines how her surroundings affect her inner landscape; the natural world becomes both a place of refuge and a threat. As these themes unfold, the histories and cold truths of her family and country intertwine and impinge on her, even as she tries to outrun them. Unflinching and raw, Chelsea Dingman’s poems meander between childhood and adulthood, the experiences of being a mother and a child paralleling one another. Her investigation becomes one of body, self, woman, mother, daughter, sister, and citizen, and of what those roles mean in the contexts of family and country.   Review: Thaw is Chelsea Dingman’s inaugural poetry collection. In these, the author talks about violence, abuse, death, loss and grief; about family and childhood, being a daughter and about growing …

such small mercies

  It’s five a.m., and the skies have opened up. Once again. The rain pounds and thunders on the rooftops, on the cars parked outside, on the road and pavements. If I didn’t know better, I’d say St. Peter had sent us a deluge of, well, pebbles and gravel. That’s how it sounds. But no. I stare out of the window, looking for the day that somehow isn’t yet breaking, though only last week it could already be seen blushing above the eastern horizon — and all I see is water. Water. Liquid, determined, insistent, persistent, coming out in sheets after sheets, solid-looking curtains of silvery metal rods that somehow disintegrate on first contact. Pooling a bit everywhere. Hurrying down the street. Over the pavements. And if it goes on like this, everything will be waterlogged. Everything. Including my life. Which, right now, seems to be just about nose-above-surface. And it’s only just August. Still only August. Silently, I drag a chair over, the best I can, nearer to the window. Still gazing out of …

And so it is…

  And so it is that I’m going live again. My writer has just ticked the little circle thing on the reading settings, and hey, presto! here I am for all to see. In the time that I was away — well, not away away, really, I’ve been here all the time it’s just that I was under wraps — my writer eventually gave me a most comprehensive makeover: I’ve got a new theme, new menus, new widgets (a-hem, there’s one widget malfunctioning and still a few that are missing, but the cats say the writer is only human and time is definitely money), a new a review policy, a Rules of Hauissh (whatever one of those is), a new bio page… and a tagline! I’ve got a new tagline!!! Yiiipee! Without one, I must confess that I felt like I was going to the races without a hat! Or to a ball without crystal slippers! Or… well, let’s not get too carried away, you surely get my drift. The writer says that it’s a …

Review: Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar ~ by Michael Harlan Turkell

Blurb: In Acid Trip, Michael Harlan Turkell takes readers on a fascinating journey through the world of vinegar. An avid maker of vinegars at home, Turkell traveled throughout North America, France, Italy, Austria, and Japan to learn about vinegar-making practices in places where the art has evolved over centuries. This richly narrated cookbook includes recipes from leading chefs including Daniel Boulud, Barbara Lynch, Michael Anthony, April Bloomfield, Massimo Bottura, Sean Brock, and many others. Dishes range from simple to sophisticated and include Fried Eggs with a Spoonful of Vinegar, Sweet & Sour Peppers, Balsamic Barbecued Ribs, Poulet au Vinaigre, Tomato Tarragon Shrub, and even Vinegar Pie. Turkell also details methods for making your own vinegars with bases as varied as wine, rice, apple cider, and honey. Featuring lush color photographs by the author, Acid Trip is a captivating story of an obsession and an indispensable reference for any food lover who aspires to make and cook with the best ingredients. The review: Those who know me in real life know that my kitchen is one of …

Review: Bathing Strictly Prohibited: Poems 2011-2016 ~ Matthew Rhodes

My copy of this book was kindly sent to me by the publishers, Matador, in return for an honest review. I do not know Matthew Rhodes. At least, I think I don’t, that we’ve never met in real life. Yet, in most of his poems he wanders through grounds that are familiar to me, both geographically (for instance, the Midlands), emotionally (his love of Nature and the feeling of peace and belonging he derives from it), and linguistically and semantically. These are poems about life as it is, recounting episodes of the quotidian which, however, like all poetry, lend themselves to extraneous interpretations. The poet talks about his observations as much as about things and moments he knows well and holds dear, for instance the scenery sliding past as the train he’s travelling in departs from Stafford station, or the views of mountains from a house patio, of the feeling of rootedness Nature affords him — so much so that many of his metaphors (and metonyms) are mostly taken from Nature. But he also talks …

best intentions, and things gang aft agley

A week ago I decided to set myself the task of redesigning this blog. It was something that had been in the cards anyway, as I was never completely happy with how the slider was working with the featured posts in the current theme. It simply did not seem to come out right, no matter how much I loved it — and no matter how much I tried. Which I did. I tried all the tricks I know (they aren’t all that many, needless to say, but still), and it always came down to the same two answers: I could, of course, choose different photos for the slider; but I thought it important, for instance, for the reviews to be accompanied by the book cover photos as featured pics… Thus things had slowly come to a bit of a standstill. If using a different featured picture was out of the question, then the only other answer was, of course, to adopt a different theme. But after all the work I had to sort this one …