Monday, 7 October 2013

Life is all but a vast array of Colours by Dan Thompson

Sometimes you just feel the need to shut yourself away and read some good poetry and these two poems by Dan are crackers.

The first poem, ‘The Clock Girl,’ tells a rhythmic story of a girl whose life appears to be frozen in time by fear. She focuses very much on the present; on the man who has harmed her and on the clicking clock in a vast empty house, where it appears that she is trapped alone with him. We also know that he is an unkempt man, brutally strong and has already broken windows and doors with his bare knuckles.

We do not learn the girls name, she is just referred to as ‘it’; but we do know that she has been shown no respect, no warm human feelings, and has just been left to witness the cold hard anger that is inflicted on her and to carry the shame that all victims hold after such an ordeal. As the poem progresses, there are some clues to the girl’s identity, from the memories that flash before her: the school prom, birthdays and a wedding. We get some clues about her age from the fact that she is wearing mascara.

I like the openness of this poem, it is left to us to decide whether the wedding is from her memory, or just of a photo showing a marriage of her parents. It mentions children’s drawings; are they her children or his? Does it matter? No, the vulnerability and helplessness makes you want to scream ‘get out, run.’ But the girl is crippled by fear, not even managing to cry out and biting her lip.
Is it her father or her husband threatening her with a knife? The person is just referred to as the ‘Mister.’

There is some form of brutal honestly that has be consistently bound up in the words to make this poem. It leaves you feeling slight unsettled. I have always been scared of shadows on the wall!

The second poem ‘Life is all but a vast array of Colours,’ is beautifully written and visually stimulating. It is broken down into colours and how they interact with the world, and then subdivided further like ‘mitosis’, into feelings.

In a few brief paragraphs, Dan embodies the whole of life from the sparkling sunlight and the warmth of feelings to the blackest and loneliness that can creep up on us without warning.
I love the way that he describe the trees as, ‘a collection of wisps,’ as this not only conjures up the movement of the tree branches but also that of their noise and the wind beneath them.
I am a huge fan of poetry and would put this second poem on par with that of Sir John Wain, whose poems I illustrated.

I truly hope that Dan writes some more poetry, I feel he has great insight and a depth of feeling that is equally rare.

‘Life is all but a vast array of Colours,’ By Dan Thompson is available on amazon as an ‘ebook’ and is only 77p, proceeds go to research in Pancreatic Cancer UK

Monday, 30 September 2013

Book review for ‘X’ by Jack Croxall

X is a captivating story set in a post-apocalyptic world. A teenage girl known only as ‘X’, is hiding below ground in an old farmhouse somewhere in the English countryside. As the story unfolds you realise that, although this is a temporary arrangement, she appears well organised; with food, tools and a torch to write her journal by.
The character ‘X’ is beautifully written and you are instantly drawn to her as you tumble into her world. Just as with Esther Emerson in his debut ’Tethers’, Croxall has written a strong teenage heroine. Even though the character ‘X’ is incredibly brave, there is the continual fear of ‘the uglies’ from the outside.
The tender relationship X had with her sister and the happy childhood memories of kicking up leaves in the wood are all she really has left. Not even a real photo of her family; X has to make do with an image of another girl scavenged from her hideout. She wants her life to have some purpose, so she leaves a dairy in the hope that it will be found and read by a surviving human, although she fears that she may be the last.
‘X’, was an ordinary girl who has had to do extraordinary things and make unspeakable decisions. A must for zombie fans, this is a truly gripping story that is skilfully told by Jack Croxall. ‘X’, is an e book short story and is available from Amazon for only 77p.

If you love zombie films, read this in the dark to get the full effect.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

"End's Shadow Caste" Review

"End's Shadow Caste" Review
This is a graphic novel aimed at adults, but I feel that it would cross over to older teenagers.
It is a modern day fairy tale set in an extraordinary post apocalyptic world set in Western North America. The reality that the characters live in is directly affected by all of human life that went before it. Much of the written history in this new world has been lost however it appears to haunt the present. There is strong echoes of the past and references to it, but in a sense it is also devoid from the new world, which seems at points very separate, so much so that even the language has eroded and evolved.
The main character is a female, with several names, she is a skilled hunter and not only catches her pray but also can skin it and prepare the meat. She travels through the pages of this story with her friend/companion a red tailed hawk. Later she makes friends with a wolf. She appears fearless as all around her is death and fighting.
She is instantly likeable, and you are drawn into her world and carried along on her adventure. It reminds me how mundane my own world is, catching the bus going to work eating dinner in front of the TV. Where as in this world by comparison the characters in this modern day fairy tale seem more alive, perhaps because they are on the edge of death.
The story is large in that it appears to come off the page. This has been achieved by the skillful drawings that almost seem three dimensional in places.
My favorite drawing being the archer drawing back a bow so the edge of the arrow appears to come out of the page at you.
For a nice change the story is left mostly for the reader to interpret. It gives the reader a challenge and a chance to use their own imagination. I found it hugely enjoyable not to have every detail spelled out to me.
The illustrations are all hand drawn with ink and must have taken a very long time as the detail is poetic.
This, Meghann's first book, is beautifully drawn and is breathtaking. She has clearly done a lot of research on Western North American history and people. At the back of her book there are a lot of website addresses and more information about the world history images she references throughout the book.
It has been a great experience to escape into another world through this book. I am looking forward to the next one. Volume two, "End's Shadow Caste: In the Shadow of the Wind Walker" is set to release summer 2014. You can subscribe to Meghann's blog at to stay informed and learn more about the creation of the "End's Shadow Caste" series.
Jane Yates

Friday, 13 September 2013

Audio Book Review of ‘The Cuckoo's Calling’ Author: Robert Galbraith (J K Rowling) Narrator: Robert Glenister

The story which is beautifully read by Robert Glenister is a very grown gritty ‘who done it?’ mystery, which is set against the back drop of London.
The main character a super model called Lula Landry, whom the story fixates around is already dead before the first chapter, and even although you never hear her voice, you gleam the pieces from her life and her untimely demise from secondary and sometimes conflicting sources.
The people in this story are never at first who you believe they will be, this is most apparent with the private detective, ‘Cormorant Strike,’ who is as my mother would say is a, ‘diamond in the rough,’ he is a heavily written character and you get to know every detail of his life such as his false leg, and share his highs and lows of his personal relationships.
The other main character, who is simply known as ‘Robin’ opens the story on a personal high of her engagement, she is a temp sectary looking for a full time job but also has underling dreams for adventure.
Although Strike and Robin start of in very different places, Robin’s engagement and Strikes long term relationship ending, together they make an incisive and appreciative pair of each other’s skills and share a common goal to seek the truth.
I really enjoyed the audio book and marvelled both at the descriptive writing skills of Rowling and the wonderful range of voices that Robert Glenister was able to produce to bring the character’s fully to life, from a Jamaican man to an old lady, I was spell bound, ‘The Cuckoo's Calling’ is truly worth listening to.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Book review Reaper's Rhythm by Clare Davidson

Book review Reaper's Rhythm by Clare Davidson

This is a YA book which easily crosses over to a more adult audience. It centers around a small family who have already gone though a tough time, a divorce, before the story begins.
Kim the youngest daughter and middle child of the family, she is a feisty character and instantly likable. It is easy to relate to her, she has an elder sister who she adores and a younger bother who she loves but is a royal pain in the butt.
The first chapter starts off the story quickly and in powerfully written. It quite blows yours socks off!
You view the unfolding story though Kim's eyes and the next few chapters draws you into the plot, which is far more complicated than you first think and introduces you to other characters which are each beautifully and skilfully written.
The descriptive style of Davidson makes you connect with the character's and feel what they are feeling. In one chapter Kim gets quite drunk and Davidson skilfully writes the sensations of how the alcohol effects Kim and describes the hang over that follows the next morning in a graphic way. (We have all been their!)
Another man character is Matthew, he is about Kim's age and acts like a knight in shining armor, always showing up when Kim is in stressful situations and giving her support.
Several times though out the story Kim questions her own sanity, but she has an inner power and a determination to seek the truth when all around her just appear to except the situation.
Not to give to much away about the plot, but there are magical and angelic forces in play.
The Reaper's Rhythm is a jolly good read and each page draws you onto the next, each surprising and totally unpredictable way with a colorful story line.
I really enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to reading the next one. Bring it on!
You can buy it for £2.04 from Kindle or £7.99 in paper back on
Also Ina Wong has done a beautiful job of illustrating the cover.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Book Review: Tethers by Jack Croxall

This gripping adventure which starts in a rural village set in the Victorian period will delight steampunk fans.
The two main charters; Karl Scheffer and Esther Emerson, start the book as good friends but as the tightly knit plot gets underway they have to develop new skills and trust in each other.
Karl’s qualities shine though in the story, he starts off as quite meek and mild with little knowledge of travelling and the dangers of the world other than the loss of his father, who died a hero saving a woman. A tall order for Karl to live up to! But in spite of his apparent mild manners, Karl is clearly the leader...
Esther on the other hand is introduced to us as a beauiltul but feisty girl on the brink of womanhood, whose fear and courage have no boundaries and her endless energy carries the book. Her skills, swordsmanship and quick thinking grab the attention of the reader and though her you are transported into another world.
On their adventure the author uses beautifully descriptive passages to describe every detail of their journey. I especially like the way he describes the boats, one he fondly calls ‘the old lady’.
Tethers starts of as a tangled web and Karl and Esther do their best to unravel it facing grave danger and sinister characters along the way.
This book has everything that a teenage novel should include and more, from action, adventure and bravery in the face of adversary.