The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace

” i’m not ashamed to say i’m my first priority” I don’t read a lot of feminist writings. However, this book of poetry really speaks to me at a very deep level. There are so many different aspects to this book of poetry. The one that resonates the deepest within in me is self worth. I am more then a step-parent, employee and significant other. I am me. With all my flaws which are many. Bt I am my priority.

Summary: Poems….This is hard to describe. I don’t want to say just poems but they were so much more then feminist poetry.

What I liked: I really enjoyed this book of poetry. Many of the themes such as loving yourself and making yourself a priority really resonated with me. The layout out of the book I loved it was interesting and visually pleasing. The cover was spot on and I truly enjoyed the simplicity of the cover. Lovelace’s writing is poignant and timely.

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about Lovelace’s writing.

Star Rating: 5

My thoughts: Lovelace’s writing is fantastic and raw. There is a lot of emotion between the covers of this book.

Follow You Down By Michael Bradley

I like a good thriller. One that makes you kinda look around the corners or keeps you guessing. My favorites are the ones that aren’t laid out for you. They keep you guessing until the very end. Unfortunately, they don’t all keep you guessing.

Summary: Follows a weekend where 4 school friends get together to say good bye to their old summer camp.

What I liked: Bradley’s writing style is really good. For example; I hated the main character.  I am pretty sure Bradley wrote the main character to be unlikable. In the first chapter I was like ohhhh he has a unlikable protagonist. I truly like when writers make the main character unlikeable. It adds a bit of something to the story. The other characters came off as half way likable people. Which lead to well written 3 dimensional characters. The plot of the novel was well written and I liked the way Bradley incorporated flashbacks in the book. It allowed the reader to understand the dynamics of the characters relationships. The pacing of the chapters and the chapter transitions are very good and what I would expect for a thriller.

What I didn’t like: So about 1/4 of the way into the book I knew exactly what was going on. There were really no surprises. The end didn’t even surprise me. I don’t know if I have seen to many plot twist thrillers or read too many.

Star Rating: 4 stars

My thoughts: Let me explain my reasoning behind my rating. This is a book that I would have bought but I would have been disappointed about 1/4 of the way in. As I pretty much knew the plot. The book is well written and the characters are well written my problem was the fact that I guessed the rest of the plot of the book in the first 1/4 of the book.

As always a BIG thanks to Amberjack Publishing for sending me a advanced readers copy for my honest review.

Not So Stories published by Rebellion Publishing

***FYI this is going to be a slightly different review to what I would normally write.***

There are many things that I find fascinating in the world. Especially now. Society is changing. But what about those of us that grew up before this change? How are we going to be seen in the future? Are we going to be heralds of change or antiquated dinosaurs.  I was super excited to read Not So Stories. The anthology of stories made me think about many different things. I went into this reading with only knowing fragments about Rudyard Kipling. He wrote The Jungle Book and was born in India during colonial rule. After finishing Not So Stories I wanted to do a little research on Rudyard.

I found that he was born in India during the British colonial occupation. He felt very strongly that colonialism was going to change the world. Well, it did but not necessarily in the way he believed. But here is the part that I am having a hard time wrapping my head around. Society and people are very different now. We understand the effect that colonialism has on indigenous populations. It strips culture and old beliefs from the original peoples. We understand that as a society in 2018. But would that have been the popular social theories at the time? What would the beliefs of the people been?  That is what I have a hard time wrapping my brain around. Do we read some of Kiplings writings as people in 2018 with a completely different world view to that of Kipling? with the understanding that they may not fit within our narrative? Or  do we erase him from the literary narrative altogether?

The second part that I have a hard time wrapping my head around is that as a small child he would have been cared for by non-british peoples. Hearing the stories that his minders told him. Which would have been the same stories they, themselves grew up hearing. (No, the idea that his minders were servants is not lost on me). So where does that leave some of the children’s stories that Kipling wrote such as, Rikki Tikki Tavi which I recently reread to help the youngest child with a school project. Now, I don’t know how to feel about that story. Or is this just where we are at in society at the moment?

I know that Kipling has been a source of controversy forever with everyone from Orwell to modern writers such as Narayan. Do we cast off what Rudyard has written as colonial bullshit? No, I don’t think that we should. It reminds us of what was wrong during that time period. I think you can read any classical writer and find uncomfortable view points that don’t necessarily fit with society today. They are like touchstones in time good, bad or indifferent. But here is the interesting thing we can always write retellings or base another story of off the original. This is not changing the original story but rather changing the underlying message to fit more in line with the societal narrative at that time. And use the original as a socitial and political mirror.  I don’t know the answer and right now I only have more questions.

Summary: A retelling of Kipling’s Just so Stories.

What I liked: This anthology with its beautiful cover made me think. Think about many different things. The writing was beautiful and the stories were lovely. There is heart break and sorrow and joy. So many different emotions written and wrapped up in these small packages. I find all the different points of view to be amazing. All the stories are vibrant and fresh.

What I didn’t like: There are a couple of things that I didn’t particularly care for. But this will not take away from my star rating. I am looking at the story in the point of view that it is written from.

Stary Rating: 5

My thoughts: I think I have a lot of thoughts and may need to write a blog post later about Kipling and other writers who have come under criticism since they have published their writings. But all in all I truly enjoyed this book.

A big thanks go to Rebellion Publishing for sending me a copy of Not So Stories for my review.

Come Back to the Swap by Laura Morrison

For many years I’ve been aware of invasive species. Many of the trees and plants that surround my home town aren’t native to the area. In the middle of the desert we ever have golf courses can you believe that. In the summer you see sweating red faced people wondering around the dead brown grass in 120 degree heat. Or they go to the golf courses where they water every morning and every evening to try to keep the grass green. When you really think about it planting grass in the desert really. Who do we think we are…..now for grass to grow in someplace like a swamp makes perfect sense.

Summary: Bernice is working towards her masters in ecological studies with a speciality in invasive species. The day she meets Rebecca her life changes….

What I liked: I loved the whole thing. The characters are well written and are three dimensional. Morrison writes people so well. Bernice’s dialog sounds so much like what someone would actually say and do in many of the circumstances she found her self in. I love that the protagonist was a bit of nerd. Let your nerdy flag fly. The setting is well written and as you read it could almost imagine the sounds and the sights of the swamp. I love it when that happens. The premise of the story was fresh and something that I really enjoyed.

What I didn’t like: I would have like to know more about Bernice after she left Kevin’s house. (do you know how hard it is to say something that isn’t spoilery)! Also I can’t use an analog that another review used as it fits the story perfectly.

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: This is a great story which made me very happy in a weird way.  The ending for me was the best. I was sitting there staring at the screen going seriously. That thought is really going cross your mind. It was a fun a delightful dark romp through nature.

As always a BIG thank you to Black Spot Books for providing me a review copy for my honest review!

Blackfish City by Sam J Miller

Crazy weather we have been having on this planet; snow in April in the Northeast of America. Makes you think about global warming, Al Gore and what can be done to stop this type of  man made natural disaster. No I am not going to argue whether global warming is real. I live in the desert. I have a good chunk of my life and well 120 degrees Fahrenheit is ridiculous. I don’t remember it being this hot as a kid. What if we combined that with some wars, technological misfires and genocide. These were all the things that popped in my head while I was reading Black Fish City.

Summary: Well….this is a little difficult. The story is told from multiple POVs. But they all surround the mystery woman who shows up with an Orca and a Polar bear to a dystopian type city.

What I liked: Miller’s world building was very good and I really enjoyed reading the descriptions of his world. The back story of how some of the characters were linked where was very good. Miller was also able to include diversity without it feeling forced or contrived. I also thinks that Miller introduces some interesting theme regarding technology and where the world is headed in his novel. I also liked the fact that Miller wrote in multiple points of view.

What I didn’t like: I am a little torn on this aspect. There were multiple backstories in the novel that all lead to the conclusion of the novel. But I feel like there were too many backstories. A couple backstories fell a bit flat as they were all suppose to be leading to this finish but they really didn’t do it and felt like they were rushed and didn’t really fit. But that is my opinion.

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My thoughts: I really enjoyed aspects of this novel. The backstory of the characters and how they were linked was really well executed. But the first 2/3rds of the novel dragged a bit for me. The story picked up for me when Masaaraq started to tell her story but that was over 100 pages into the book.

Thank you to the wonderful people at Harper Collins and Ecco who provided me a Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

And Then There Were Crows by Alcy Leyva

“Pictures of perfection make me sick and wicked.” – Jane Austen…I love this quote. I don’t particularly care for people who are perfect in books. I think it makes for very flat characters. To be three dimensional a character needs to have faults. I am sure I am taking Jane’s quote completely out of context but I think it fits when discussing characters or scenarios. It truly fits that characters that are in And Then There Were Crows.

 

Summary: Amanda Grey has unleashed seven shades from hell and one moved in with her; well she still needs a roommate.

Things I liked: Leyva has a way of writing that feels like you are having a conversation with him in a coffee shop. I personally enjoy this type of writing style. It puts you the reader into the author’s headspace a bit. His characters are fleshed out and three dimensional. You don’t know who are the good guys or the bad guys; which makes the story entertaining and keeps you guessing. The pacing of the story is fast and doesn’t let up. You may get to take a breath here and there but the story just keeps coming. The writing is witty and intelligent…I found myself laughing out loud in many different parts of the story. I actually tweeted Alcy and asked what “ass plague” is. He so graciously responded.. (Thanks Alcy)!!

Things I didn’t like: Honestly, there wasn’t anything that I didn’t like in this story.

Star Rating: 5 Go out and buy this book then buy the sequel!!

My Thoughts: Alcy Leyva is a great story teller. There is so much that is funny in this novel that yeah just yeah. Just read it. I want to talk about all the parts but alas no spoilers. If you want to read a fast paced, smart and witty story please with all that is bookish go out and buy And Then There Were Crows you won’t be disappointed.

Release Date: July 3rd, 2018 by Black Spot Books