Book Reviews

Unofficial Britain Journeys Through Unexpected Places by Gareth E. Rees

What Da Cover Says: There is a Britain that exists outside of the official histories and guidebooks – places that lie on the margins, left behind. A Britain in the cracks of the urban facade where unexpected life can flourish. Welcome to UNOFFICIAL BRITAIN.; This is a land of industrial estates and electricity pylons, of motorway service stations and haunted council houses, of roundabouts and flyovers.; Places where modern life speeds past but where people and stories nevertheless collect. Places where human dramas play out: stories of love, violence, fear, boredom and artistic expression.; Places of ghost sightings, first kisses, experiments with drugs, refuges for the homeless, hangouts for the outcasts.; Struck by the power of these stories and experiences, Gareth E. Rees set out to explore these spaces and the essential part they have played in the history and geography of our isles.; Though mundane and neglected, they can be as powerfully influential in our lives, and imaginations, as any picture postcard tourist destination.; This is Unofficial Britain, a personal journey along the edges of a landscape brimming with mystery, tragedy and myth.

What I Says: Well this book was certainly an eye opener for me, it wasn’t long ago that I found out the kid from Home Alone was 40 and I felt really old…now I find out the the buildings of my youth are old enough now to potentially be haunted, I feel positively ancient now.

In this book Rees explores those places that are right in front of us but at the same time are almost hidden, multi-storey car parks, industrial estates, pylons, flyovers and hospitals. These are the sort of places we take for granted, we have grown up around them and think of them as landmarks only, not many people realise there is so much life happening around or under them. To me the spaghetti junction is a nightmare of a road to navigate, but there are many who have found peace living beneath it, the way Rees describes things, it almost feels tranquil.

As a young lad I was a scout and we used to go exploring a lot, night-time walks into the countryside to find a farm, it was so eerie, large structures and abandoned machinery gave us a great time. Quite often we’d find ourselves pulled towards a large pylon, usually to listen to it’s crackle and pretend we could hear voices. I have not explored like that in many years, my focus is usually looking for a bit of quite and some wildlife spotting, but after reading this I do fancy a walk around the local industrial estate and maybe a trip to the town centre to check out the car park.

One very interesting side of this book is Rees’ many references to music, film and books which have all been inspired by these structures, most notable are the books by J.G. Ballard and any movie with a young lady being stalked in a car park. Rees meets many interesting people and manages to get some great stories from them.

My favourite part of the book was his trip up the M6, I have travelled that road many times on journeys up to Scotland and so far have missed out on so much….next time it will be different.

Absolutely loved this, such a strange idea for a book which makes perfect sense when you get to the end. Give it a go because Rees’ words can be quite beautiful at times.

Click HERE for info about the book.

Interviews

Nobel Prize Winning Interview with Guy Portman

Hello there, I’m gonna start this interview off with saying how outraged I am, the week that my first Nobel Prize Winning Interview went live I didn’t hear anything from the Nobel committee, not even a missed call, and in that same week the sociopath president in the USA goes and gets himself a nomination! Well I can only think of one course of revenge, another interview with an amazing writer, this time it is with the chap who has created one of my favourite killers in literature, the smartly dressed and very sinister Dyson Devereux.  Please wag yer tails at Guy Portman the man with an impressive 7 books under his belt.

Q1: Tell us a bit about the trilogy that Dyson Devereux is a part of.  Also how did you come up with the idea of setting it in the Burials and Cemeteries department at the council?

The Necropolis Trilogy is a darkly humorous work of Transgressive Fiction brimming with satirical observations. It is written in the first-person from the perspective of sociopath and sometime council worker Dyson Devereux. The first two instalments are largely set in a council’s Burials and Cemeteries department. I once spent a few months working at a council and I guess the experience must have stayed with me. It certainly wasn’t an inspirational stint but it was an eye-opening one. My assumption was that the contrast between the predictable nature of the public sector and the unpredictability of protagonist Dyson would work well. As for the burials and cemeteries department bit, it was its morbid nature that led me to choose that particular department.

Q2:  The Gazebo is your latest book to be released.  Care to tell us what it is about?  (I seem to remember you recently had a Gazebo built in your garden did that inspire this book?)

The Gazebo consists of two stories. The first features a gazebo, hence the title. It is essentially about the breakup of a marriage. As for the gazebo itself, it is a sinister presence in the background. The second story sees an entrepreneur unwisely fall the charms of a Transylvanian temptress. You’ll have to read the stories to find out what happens. By the way, the structure in my garden is a summerhouse not a gazebo. I could have called the book The Summerhouse I suppose, but it doesn’t sound as catchy as The Gazebo.

Q3:  Who designs your covers as they look very professional?

Ebook Launch – well four of them anyway. I like their work and plan to keep using them. Stylish simplicity is how’d I’d describe the covers. I have toyed with different concepts as to how my books should look and now feel that I have something approaching a brand.

Q4:  I know it is only a matter of time before Netflix realise what they are missing out on and give Dyson the TV series he deserves.  Who would you like to see playing the lead role?

Netflix are certainly taking their time about it. As for actors, it needs to be someone male, who is English, or can do a good English accent. And they need to be good looking, not too young and not too old. Perhaps Henry Cavill of Superman fame.

Q5:  Do you have a particular process whilst writing?  Do you listen to music at the same time?

I love listening to music, but find it hard to concentrate on writing when I do. So I usually write in silence and save the music for when I am doing admin stuff/other things.

Q6:  I have read 4 of your books so far and none of them feature Gnomes, is there a reason for this prejudice?  Will there be a Gnome in a future book?

Damn, I knew I’d forgotten something. And my new book The Gazebo even features a gazebo in a back garden, so there is really no excuse for not having at least one gnome in there. A gnome in one of my future books – that’s food for thought. Only time will tell …

I am looking forward to your Gnome apology story.

Q7:  How have you been handling life in the time of Coronavirus?

As an introverted creature who lives alone in the countryside, it didn’t affect me as much as many others. When you are isolated and think everyone else is out having fun, it can be slightly unnerving. During lockdown I assumed everyone else is at home too and I’m not missing out on anything. There is nothing in life if not by comparison. I have had concerns of course, particularly how it might affect finances. However, my plight could be worse, much worse, and I can’t really complain.

Q8:  You got any ideas for a story based on the virus or the quarantine?

In one word, no. Seemingly a lot of writers have got virus and quarantine-inspired ideas but I’m not one of them. Maybe it’s because I’m so intent on getting my present set of ideas onto the page that I have not given the subject any thought. That could change of course.

Q9:  Can you remember the first book you fell in love with?

I’d love to say it was War and Peace or Crime and Punishment, but the reality is that it was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Lots of great pictures and not a lot of writing. A few novels spring to mind from my formative years, particularly White Fang by Jack London, Perfume by Patrick Suskind and Canary Row by John Steinbeck.   

I loved Perfume and Canary Row, great books.

Q10:  I’ve been stalking you on your blog for a while now and I see you posting quite a few photos of food, what is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten and how was it?

Scorpion, crocodile or turtle perhaps. I guess one of the three. 

Q11:  What’s next for you?  Got a new book in the pipeline?

Yes, I am hard at work on a new book which will have a similar format to The Gazebo. It (title undecided) will likely contain three stories of a darkly humorous nature.

Interesting…cos Gnomes have a darkly humorous nature. hehe

Practical task:  I am doing a gnome gallery on my blog, can you create a piece of artwork based on Gnomes, can be any medium and you are welcome to name the piece. 

Massive thanks to Guy for taking part in this and adding to the gnome gallery, pretty certain we got the Nobel prize in the back this time.

If you would like to stalk Guy on the Internets then click the links below:

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Book Reviews

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

What Da Cover Says: A race for survival among the stars… Humanity’s last survivors escaped earth’s ruins to find a new home. But when they find it, can their desperation overcome its dangers?

WHO WILL INHERIT THIS NEW EARTH?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age—a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

What I Says: I loved the idea of this story, the last remnants of the human race travelling across space looking for a new home because “surprise surprise” we managed to cock-up Earth. They discover a new home but not all is as expected. The story follows two groups, first there are the humans protecting their cargo and fighting amongst themselves and then you have the occupants of the planet watching them evolve and making similar mistakes to humans during their evolution.

Now for the bits that annoyed me, first the narrator, I couldn’t get my head around if there was a narrator or we were hearing the thoughts of the beings on the planet, it seemed to jump between the two which made things disjointed, why would human words be used, for example there was a plague which was called….a plague. The technology was another issue for me, sometimes things would be explained and the ideas would be really inventive and then at other times you’re just left hanging, I did stop reading the book for a few weeks when I got annoyed that the reader just had to accept that communication between the planet and an object in space was possible, yes I know I’m sad.

I wish I could have enjoyed this like so many others have but it just wasn’t to be. I see there is a sequel and this book was good enough to have me intrigued to see what is next in this saga.

Book Reviews

The Gospel of the Eels by Patrik Svensson

What Da Cover Says: The European eel, Anguilla anguilla, is one of the strangest creatures nature ever created. Remarkably little is known about the eel, even today. What we do know is that it’s born as a tiny willow-leaf shaped larva in the Sargasso Sea, travels on the ocean currents toward the coasts of Europe – a journey of about four thousand miles that takes at least two years. Upon arrival, it transforms itself into a glass eel and then into a yellow eel before it wanders up into fresh water. It lives a solitary life, hiding from both light and science, for ten, twenty, fifty years, before migrating back to the sea in the autumn, morphing into a silver eel and swimming all the way back to the Sargasso Sea, where it breeds and dies.

And yet . . . There is still so much we don’t know about eels. No human has ever seen eels reproduce; no one can give a complete account of the eel’s metamorphoses or say why they are born and die in the Sargasso Sea; no human has even seen a mature eel in the Sargasso Sea. Ever. And now the eel is disappearing, and we don’t know exactly why.

What we do know is that eels and their mysterious lives captivate us.

What I Says: This was a fascinating book, I never would have believed that such a well known animal would not be very well know at all. The European Eel is a slimy ugly creature that lurks in dark streams and lakes….well that is what I thought before starting this book. In fact right from it’s mysterious birth in the Sargasso Sea life is tough for this creature, many predators finding it to be a tasty snack and a very long swim to the shoreline of Europe, things ain’t over yet as there is still the journey up rivers and even across land to find that perfect spot to call home until it is time to head back to breed.

The eel has moved way up my list of favourite animals for it’s way of keeping scientists at bay for so many years, it is mind blowing that nobody has found the breeding ground or even an adult in the vicinity. I also loved that the eel has managed to prove the bible wrong, a bit was added to blatantly stop the poor eating eels by saying that you can only eat creatures with fins and scales….turns out the eels have both, very small fins and scales but they are there, which is brilliant.

Svensson’s writing is very good, he draws the reader in with a bunch of interesting facts that makes you realise you are reading about something special. His personal history with eel fishing with his Dad is very moving, reading about their bond over fishing being developed and lasting a whole lifetime was a joy to read. I reckon his Dad would have been proud of this book.

This was wonderful, well worth reading about this mighty little animal.

Book Reviews

Should We Fall Behind By Sharon Duggal

What Da Cover Says: Jimmy Noone escapes his difficult life in a small town and finds himself living on the streets of a big city where he meets Betwa, who brings with her a chance of real friendship and a glimpse of new hope. Betwa disappears and Jimmy walks across the sprawling metropolis searching for her.

He arrives on Shifnal Road on the other side of the river where people from all over the world live side by side yet some inhabitants are so isolated they seem to have disappeared altogether. Jimmy becomes the catalyst for their lives colliding.

Journeys to the street and to the city are retraced, so too are stories abundant with lost dreams, unrivalled friendship, profound love and stifling grief, each underpinned with the subtle threads of commonality which intersect them all.

Should We Fall Behind is about the passing of time, and the intricate weaves of joy and suffering, love and loss which shape human life along the way. It is about the people who have somehow become invisible, and how their stories make them visible once more.

What I Says: I knew from the title and the cover that this story was going to be heart-breaking, and yet I was still unprepared by just how hard it would hit me, so much grief and that small chance of hope left a heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Duggal has got some amazing characters here, they are the sort of characters that really make you examine yourself and leave you wondering if you could deal with what life happens to throw at you. I am ashamed to admit that I judged one of the characters almost instantly and I was completely wrong about that person (not naming names to avoid any spoilers).

The plot of the story is about Jimmy, a young lad living on the streets, he is searching for a lost friend, he ends up sleeping in an abandoned car near where she grew up in the hope of finding her. His arrival has an impact on the lives of those living nearby, his presence pushes them to rethink their lives and their interactions with each other trigger a series of forgotten memories. You will fall for the characters, you’ll find yourself unexpectedly caring for them and hoping that things turn around for them.

This book is so full of potential for hope that you can’t help getting emotional, the last 50 pages are incredible, a real rollercoaster that had me smiling one minute almost welling up the next….(luckily I am a robot and am unable to cry)…and as I got to the last pages I had no idea how this book could end in a satisfactory way but Duggal pulls it off by giving the reader a perfect ending.

This book is going to be one I recommend to everybody by showing them the last line of the book’s blurb:

It is about the people who have somehow become invisible, and how their stories make them visible once more.

Thanks to Bluemoose Books for this review copy. You can get the book from HERE once it is released in October.

Interviews

Nobel Prize Winning Interview with Robin Gregory

Hello everyone.  Today I have an interview with a lady who lives in a cottage made out of caramel, I got that info from the back of her book and I’m assuming it is a typo because what is a Carmel cottage?  Her book is on my gotta read list and when you see the cover you’ll want to check it out too, one of the most spectacular I’ve seen.

Please stare open mouthed at Robin Gregory.

Question 1: Give us a quick run down about The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman.

Thank you for the lovely introduction, Jason. The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman is book one of a trilogy. Moojie is introduced as an orphan whose unrestrained preternatural powers jeopardize his ability to fit in. He forms an unlikely friendship with otherworldly outcasts which threatens to shatter an already shaky connection to his adoptive family. 

Question 2: Assuming it won’t give anything away how did you come up with the name Moojie?

I wanted a name that would reflect his contradictory natures. Moojie is a budding saint with a nasty temper. Locals mistake him for a “hostile,” a Native American renegade, when he’s actually part-human and part-alien. Add to that, he’s disabled early on, and yet he can heal others.

The name is derived from two sources. “Moojibaba” is a revered spiritual teacher in Portugal today, whose teachings are based on self-realization. Also, the Hindu word “moojie” is an offensive slur against Muslim Indians. In the book, we don’t know much about the biological father who gave Moojie his name, except that he’s a white immigrant who rejects his son after birth because he resembles the deceased, dark-skinned mother, who is actually an alien.   The name and recurrent allusions to mistaken identity are an attempt to show the absurdity of racism. Can we ever know the truth about anyone when we judge by appearances?

Question 3:  What is your favourite word?

My favourite word right now is “Perhaps.” Not the American pronunciation but the high-brow, UK  “p’aps.” It slays me. I chant it like a mantra.   

Question 4:  Are there any gnomes in your book and if not, why not?

I’ve often been asked this and must confess that it was a great oversight on my part. How could I have overlooked the gnomes of gaslit America? I’m sure their influence was tremendous! P’haps I’ll slip one or two into my next book.

Question 5:  Do you have a particular process whilst writing?  Do you listen to music at the same time?

I usually rise at about 5 am and go over yesterday’s writing, checking notes, refining outlines. (Once I was a panster, but I learned that lack of structure will invariably make revisions as fun as tooth extractions.) After working a few hours, I tend to family matters, then get back to work. It’s a good day if I can heel in another 5-6 hours of writing.

For me, writing fiction is like composing music. If I listen to someone else, it‘s distracting, and I tend to come under the influence of their voice. However, music breaks are fun. Lately, I’ve been cranking up the Bluetooth and listening to Leon Bridges. Oh my gosh, have you heard this “Bad News, Bad News”?

I have not heard of Leon Bridges, probably because I have been listening to THIS SONG on repeat for the last 14 years.

Question 6:  When Netflix gets around to making a film version of your book who would you like to see cast to play the part of Moojie?

Actually, I’m working on a screen adaptation with distinguished film producer/director, John Crye. We’d love to have Netflix pick it up! Since book one covers Moojie from birth to 14 years old, we’ll need actors at several ages. And since it can take years to make a film, start to finish, there’s the fact that a child actor who is 8 years old today will be 11 or 12 by the time shooting starts. That said, I’m on the lookout for young Johnny Depp dopplegangers.  

Pretty sure Gnomes are ageless and will be able to play any age for you, you can pay them in fishing rods.

Question 7:  Are you any good at baking?  Got any good photos?  And would you like to post me some cakes?

I love to cook but am not much of a baker. The last cake I made was for my son’s birthday in 2011. In lieu of a cake shot, I do have a fetching picture of my latest blueberry pancake.

Questions 8:  What is your favourite book?  Can you remember the first book you ever read?  And roughly how many books do you own?

In light of recent events (wildfires, the end of the world, and such), I was forced to consider which ones to grab if we had to evacuate. It’s impossible to tell how many books I own (6,003). I suspect the stacks are fused together and holding up the walls.

It came down to my favourite book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (my guru), 1958 Letters, by Joel Goldsmith (my other guru), and Mushrooms Demystified, by David Arora (more on this later).  Oh… and one signed, hardbound copy of The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman to inspire mercy from invading aliens.

The first book I ever read.

“Look Jane,” said Dick. “See Spot go. Go, go, go.”

Question 9:  How has your lockdown been?  Did you go far enough into insanity to be unable to find your way back?

As a writer I’m used to sheltering in. However, being a wife and mom has taken on new dimensions. Instead of kissing loved ones and sending them off for the day, they are here all the time now, and we are growing very close (to throttling each other). An esteemed colleague coined a term for persistent family interruptions caused by sheltering in: “peanut butter emergencies.”

Question 10:  As you are a writer, you got any good ideas for a quarantine story?

When a two-year pandemic leads to social breakdown and loss of internet access, a woman who channels St. Francis of Assisi sends out squirrels to forage for her. (*That’s where Mushrooms Demystified comes in handy.) One day, the squirrels return without food and a handwritten note. It reads: Please help!!! I was kidnaped 3 months ago. Being held against my will. A hand drawn  map shows the way to a house. Terrified of venturing out into the lawless, virus-laden, friendless world, the woman-channelling-Assisi sends the squirrels to do reconnaissance. But they get snatched, too. She is forced to do what she would never do. Armed with a pogo stick, a lot of string, and the gift of clairvoyance, she leaves the shelter of her home to engineer a rescue of the kidnapee and squirrels. But a danger worse than plague lies ahead. The kidnaper happens to be trillionaire founder, CEO, and president of a multi-national technology corporation, Geoffrey Beesoze.

Question 11:  There have been a lot of crazy conspiracy theories about this virus, create a new one now, let us spread it on social media and see how long it is before breakfast news or Trump mentions it. (so far he has ignored all attempts to trick him)

I was in danger of irreparable lunacy until I uncovered viable research on the cause of the pandemic. I have it on good authority that Covid-19 originated in Rowan Atkinson’s refrigerator.

Question 12:  What’s the thing you miss most about life before the lockdown and what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when we are free again?

I miss seeing people’s faces. No matter how cute Covid-19 face masks are, they make the nicest people look shifty. Everyone resembles a bank robber or an undertaker. Once the lockdown order is lifted, I’m going to autograph my pretty little designer masks and put them up for auction to cover the cost of cleaning out Sir Atkinson’s fridge.  

One thing I’ve enjoyed about the mask wearing is the covering up before going into a bank with my sawn-off shotgun, it really makes me feel like a proper bank robber.

Question 13:  Got any plans for another book?

Why yes! As we speak, I’m editing book two of the trilogy. In Halfkin, eighteen-year-old Moojie, now a renown healer, takes a perilous journey to an alternate universe to find his first love, and gets involved in a plot to save the inhabitants from a threatening atmospheric condition. It’s an adult fantasy, told in the style of magical realism (Speculative and mystical experiences interwoven with true historic events.)

And now for the crazy tasks!

Task 1:  Robin is to decide on a task, carry it out and challenge me to best her.

Today I will walk up my street like one of my favourite male actors, Jacques Tati. The challenge: you pick a female actor and walk at least one block like her. Hehe.

I will enact the walk of Daryl Hannah in Attack of the 50ft Woman. This actually made the news in the UK, of course I am too short to have been seen but people felt my precense. Check out the story HERE:

Art task:  I am doing a gnome gallery on my blog, can you create a piece of artwork based on Gnomes, can be any medium and you are welcome to name the piece.  No pressure hehe.

###

Thank you kindly for the delightful interview, Jason. I enjoyed the opportunity for deep, cultural exchange, and to show off my pancakes. Keep being amazing!

Thank you for taking part in the madness that is an interview with me, when I win a Noble Prize for this interview I promise to give you at least 10% of the prize money.

*The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman is available through all major online and brick and mortar sellers. (Hardbound, paperback, ebook)

Website: www.robingregory.net

www.facebook.com/RobinGregoryAuthor

Twitter: @tweety_robin

Book Reviews

Cut Stones and Crossroads A Journey in the Two Worlds of Peru by Ronald Wright

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What Da Cover Says:  Travelling through Peru, tracing the history of the Incas from their royal cities of Cusco and Machu Picchu to their mythic origin in Lake Titicaca, Ronald Wright explores a land of contrasts – between Indian and Spanish, past and present, coastal desert and snow- crowned Andes.

Yet Wright is equally interested in the chance encounters of the road. With admiration, humour and a wry anger, he brings to life the complex culture of an ancient land seeking its place in the modern world.

What I Says:  I really enjoyed the dual timelines in this book, having somebody so knowledgeable take on this modern day journey through Peru whilst walking us through the history of the Incas and their eventual downfall at the hands of the Spanish made for some very interesting reading.  This was Wright’s first book, being inspired by another book whilst ill he decided to publish his travels, he was brave to republish this edition without doing any editing.  It doesn’t feel like a debut, these are the words of an adept author.

Wright fully immerses himself in the culture, sleeping wherever he can, eating local food and chatting with everybody he meets.  Without doing that he wouldn’t get the stories and local history included in this book.  He has a real love of the country and it’s indigenous people and that really comes across in the book, getting angry and lashing out at those who are racist and being heartbroken at the damage caused by tourists, it really is depressing the lack of care humans can have for each other.

Peru has a fascinating history and this book is jam packed with great account of it’s people, certainly one to read again in the future.

Thanks to Eland for the copy, you can buy a copy from HERE.

4_stars

Gnomes

The Gnome Gallery

This page is dedicated to Tony Hart’s gallery from his art show from when I were a kid and gnomes were less sinister.  Anybody can post a drawing they have done of gnomes, just shout at me on TWITTER and I’ll add your drawing to the gallery.  So to get you in the mood here is a Tony Hart’s gallery music to have running in the background.

4. Guy Portman (Gnomes Posing Outside a Gazebo)

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This piece was draw as part of an interview with Guy, you can find the full interview HERE:

3. Robin Gregory (Gnome-de-Plume)

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This piece was draw as part of an interview with Robin, you can find the full interview HERE:

2. Jack CJ Stark (Limits; Or, I Should Have Listened to Mum and Married Karl Instead)

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Info on this masterpiece:  This is Jeff, he is angry the Local Authority has made Market Street one way, but Jeff’s wife, Susan, couldn’t care less and is done with his shit. She just wanted one night on the sofa without having to hear it! So she’s calling a hitman.  Check out Jack on TWITTER, I heard rumours he is changing career to become a hitman.

1. Madeleine Swann (Gnomes…Doing Things)

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There is a video on the YouTube that you can view to see just how this piece was made.  Check out Madeleine’s new book The Vine That Ate The Starlet.

Book Reviews

Rhyme and Rebellion by Harry Whitewolf

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What Da Cover Says:  Voted one of Readfree.ly’s 50 Best Indie Books of 2016.

Swiping, biting, seething, pleading, fresh and funny, Whitewolf’s latest book of verse is a language sandwich filled with shit, shopping, poverty, war, Wi-Fi and wordplay.

Awaken your inner rebel for the modern era, with poems like: Equality For The Poor, You’re So Far Right, Ads, Abs And Apps, P.C. Pussies, Reality And T.V, Puppet Politician and The Google Boogie.

What I Says:  I’m a big fan of the Whitewolf’s work and this is a top class collection of poetry from the master of words.  There is some real anger here, Harry is trying to get us to stand up and stop taking the crap from the 1%, stop watching crap on TV, stop plugging in and start looking at what is going on around you. After reading Charlie and the chocolate factory I can see Roald Dahl had similar thoughts, more on the unplugging than rebelling, but still if only people would listen to Harry and Roald, two brilliant writers, maybe you wouldn’t have to deal with seeing your family watching x-factor, googlebox and stupid cooking programs with annoying narrators.

Whilst reading this I felt Harry was showing a number of different personalities, we get the amazing flow of his beat poetry as before, now though I thought I caught a glimpse of “Harry the Rapper”, another reviewer mentioned Mos Def, I can Mos Def see that (hehe  I’m so funny) that wasn’t all though, whilst reading “Shopping and War” I was sure I saw “Harry the Cheerleader”.

Harry asks a lot of questions here too, like how come all these new houses are being built and none of the homeless are being rehoused?

Favourite line was “Bombard the bombastic bebopic narcotics” genius!  Why is that not on a T-Shirt?

Favourite poem was the two-parter “Beat Bomb Boom” some of Harry’s best beat poetry. Which you can check out here:

Grab yourself a copy of this fine book.

5_stars

Book Reviews

Book Tour: CAULD BLASTS AND CLISHMACLAVERS By Robin A. Crawford

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What Da Cover SaysA celebration of the irreplaceable magic of language, and the wit and wisdom of 1,000 Scottish words.

The Scots language is an ancient and lyrical tongue, inherently linked to the country’s history and identity, its land and culture. In Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers, Robin Crawford has gathered 1,000 words from his native land – old and new, classical and colloquial, rural and urban – in a joyful and witty celebration of their continuing usage and unique character.

airt o’ the clicky – bawheid – carnaptious – dreich – eejit – forefochen – Glasgow kiss – haver – inkie-pinkie – jags – kelpie – loch-lubbertie – meevin’ – neuk – oxter – pawky – quaich – ramstam – simmer dim – tattie bogle – usquebaugh – vratch watergaw – yowe trummle.

What I Says:  This is the second dictionary that I have read cover to cover in my life time, the first one was what got me through some terribly dull times at school, it was the dictionary of slang and was good fun to read.  I got much more fun out of Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers though, my wife is from Motherwell and it was nice to finally have a book to explain the meanings of those lovely pet names she has for me; eejit and Sassenach being the ones most commonly used.

I know this isn’t a full dictionary but I still call it that because it works the same, you have the word, then it’s origin, pronunciation, definition, examples of usage and now and then a well known quote using that word.  One really good part of the book was the examples, not only were they humourous but previous words were included in the example, this was a great way to actually learn the words, see them in everyday use and to not end up just reading the definition and moving on.  I am rubbish with accents so having somebody Scottish available to read out the phrases is a must have, the language is very inventive and the Scottish sense of humour comes through big time.  Many words seem to leap out of the pages when you recognise one, i.e. Jobby, when I hear that word instantly I picture Billy Connolly and one of his great jokes.

There was one word here that was new to the family which we all loved, now whenever one of us spots a bee you are guaranteed that somebody will shout out “there’s a hairy bummer!”  Just waiting on a call from the youngest’s school to ask why she is shouting things at bees.

I have enjoyed reading this and will be keeping in on my shelf ready for when I want to give Burn’s poetry a go, I reckon this will be very helpful addition to understanding his work.  Since reading this book I have actually been able to put it to use a couple of times, reading Kathleen Jamie’s “Surfacing” I was able to look up a couple of the words she used.  I got a copy of another book by Crawford for my birthday, Into the Peatlands and am looking forward to reading that.

Thanks to Elliot & Thompson for including me on this blog tour, you can get more info on the book  from HERE:

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