All posts filed under: book reviews

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 …

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 …

Darknet ~ a Sci-fi thriller by Matthew Mather

Blurb: One minute Jake O’Connell is on top of the world with a beautiful family and bright future as a stock broker in New York. The next minute it’s all ripped away when he’s embroiled in a fraud investigation, his childhood friend is murdered and he finds himself on the run. Dodging the FBI and targeted by the mob, Jake is thrown into a Wall Street underworld of cryptocurrencies and autonomous corporations where he discovers a dark secret setting the world on a path to destruction. He must evade the shadowy forces hunting him and find a way to redemption–but the faster he runs, the deeper he becomes entangled in the web that surrounds him. In the end, his only path forward is to return to the ghosts of his past. Review:   This book was… quite something else! It kept me fascinated and on the metaphorical edge of my seat from start to end, and I loved every single bit of it. When it ended, I wanted more, more, more. That much of it …

Review: Serenity Avenged ~ Craig A Hart

Blurb: A ruthless crime boss…a mansion with a chilling secret…a young man faced with the biggest decision of his life. When his daughter goes into premature labor, Shelby Alexander leaves his northern hideaway for downstate. No sooner does he drive into town, than things go sour. His ex-wife, Helen, faces deadly consequences after hard times force her to take desperate measures, setting off a dangerous chain of events. Racing against time to save those he loves the most and avoid unspeakable tragedy, Shelby faces down an evil crime lord, trained killers, and one of the closest brushes with death yet. The third book in the popular Shelby Alexander Thriller Series, Serenity Avenged takes readers on a breath-taking ride through a hail of bullets, close calls, and betrayal. Shelby Alexander wins the day… again, though only just about! Because this time it was quite a hard won battle, which endangered everything Alexander holds dear! Here’s a brief synopsis and review: In Serenity Avenged, we see the main character, Shelby Alexander, confront and eventually defeat a powerful and ruthless …

Review: The North Water ~ Ian McGuire

Blurb: A ship sets sail with a killer on board . . . 1859. A man joins a whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. Having left the British Army with his reputation in tatters, Patrick Sumner has little option but to accept the position of ship’s surgeon on this ill-fated voyage. But when, deep into the journey, a cabin boy is discovered brutally killed, Sumner finds himself forced to act. Soon he will face an evil even greater than he had encountered at the siege of Delhi, in the shape of Henry Drax: harpooner, murderer, monster . . .  Yes. That is all you get, to pique your curiosity as you’re about to buy this book. Short and sweet and to the point. Says it all, without saying too much. As blurbs go, this one is close to genius. It works so well that I did indeed buy the book. So. The review. The North Water by Ian McGuire is a literary novel that, in the words of Colm Tóibín , is ‘riveting and darkly brilliant’ . …

Review: The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton ~ Katherine Hayton

My copy of this book was kindly sent to me by the author, Katherine Hayton, in return for an honest review. The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton is the second book I read by indie author Katherine Hayton. The first one was Skeletal, which is described as a ‘supernatural thriller’, and relates the story of the murder of a teenage girl who is bullied at school and slowly descends into madness. I think I gave Katherine 3 stars for Skeletal, inasmuch as I’d love to have seen the protagonist’s mental illness differently explored. The title however stayed in my mind, as did Katherine’s name as an author of consistent promise. So much so that, when Katherine asked for readers for her new novel, I did not hesitate. I knew it would be a crime thriller, and I knew Katherine would not disappoint my expectations. And she didn’t. Hayton’s new book, The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton, tells exactly the story of its title. There is a teenage girl, Magdalene Lynton, who lives in a religious …

Review: The Light of The Fireflies ~ Paul Pen

Blurb: A haunting and hopeful tale of discovering light in even the darkest of places. For his whole life, the boy has lived underground, in a basement with his parents, grandmother, sister, and brother. Before he was born, his family was disfigured by a fire. His sister wears a white mask to cover her burns. He spends his hours with his cactus, reading his book on insects, or touching the one ray of sunlight that filters in through a crack in the ceiling. Ever since his sister had a baby, everyone’s been acting very strangely. The boy begins to wonder why they never say who the father is, about what happened before his own birth, about why they’re shut away. A few days ago, some fireflies arrived in the basement. His grandma said, There’s no creature more amazing than one that can make its own light. That light makes the boy want to escape, to know the outside world. Problem is, all the doors are locked. And he doesn’t know how to get out… Review: …

The Bees ~ Laline Paull

Blurb: Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen. Yet Flora has talents that are not typical of her kin. And while mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is reassigned to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. Then she finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous. Enemies roam everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. But Flora cannot help but break the most sacred law of all, meaning her instinct to serve is overshadowed by a desire, as overwhelming as it is forbidden… Laline Paull’s chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, ‘The Bees’ is the story of a heroine who changes her destiny and her world. § …