#Bookreview by Lou of Thick and Thin by Upasa Borah @CherryPublishi2 #UpasaBorah #YoungAdult #YA

Thick and Thin
By Upasa Borah

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Older young adults/teens and 20 somethings will discover characters in Raumah who have issues to overcome and there is also some lust and a lot of fists flying and other elements of action with family ties, romance and discovery. Find out more in the blurb and review.
Thanks to Cherry Publishing for gifting me the book to review

Thick and Thin

Blurb

In Raumah, a city where wealth and familial ties rule all, the four Kings of Raumah walk a path seemingly paved in gold.
Duante, the protector. Strong, amiable and desperate to keep his loved ones out of harm’s way.
Drayden, the golden boy. Smart and resourceful, heir to the country’s largest and most influential business empire.
Shohei, the celebrity. Delicate but determined, this fabulous fashion icon is the darling of Raumah.
Aqil, the prodigy. Truly gifted and academically dominant, but is it earned or is it his family ties that are the key to his successes?

Everything on the surface seems picture perfect, but dark secrets lie hidden behind the
frame. When Duante’s past comes calling, the Kings’ world is thrown into chaos.
Faced with the ghosts of his bloody past, Duante’s hard-earned freedom is put in jeopardy, just as Shohei’s love is put to the test. Drayden’s ruthless determination is usually his strength, but this time, will it blind him to what’s right? Can Aqil, the trailblazing son of the Faiz family, face his fears, before the fire burns him alive?
Facing their fears is no easy task, will they bow under the pressure or come out stronger than ever?

Themes: Family Ties, Friendship, Love, Lust, Identity, Self Discovery, Self Acceptance
Genre: Action – Romance, Queer Young Adult Fiction

 

Review

Thick and ThinThick and Thin gets off to a strong start. There’s Duante, the protector, Drayden, the golden boy and heir to the country’s largest and most influential business empire and Shohei, the celebrity who is a fashion icon. It’s identifiable to Young Adults. Loki also pops up.

The chapters present themselves as Acts, which adds some intrigue as does the four kings and the characters surrounding them. That makes it sound almost fantastical, but really there are  just some average lives too, with pop culture and bookish references, such as Justin Timberlake and Harry Potter. It also has powerful messages about bullies and handling them.

The book is about identity and trying to accept who you are and makes me hopeful that people will become happy in their own skin. There’s also friendships embraced and characters like Aquil who just want to be included in plans. This is so relatable for the Young Adult audience with its powerful themes.
It also delves into darker sides of society, such as gun culture. I think there is a lot that young adults will find thought-provoking and some they may debate.
There is also part where Aquil has got powerful family ties who are influential, for readers to see if Aquil is working on own steam or if the family has a hand in things, such as a scholarship reward.

There is the occassional bit of humour of the teenage/young adult life. There is also a lot of that teenage angst, as well as a film of sadness going across it.

There is teenage lust amongst a couple of the characters, who pine after each other at certain points and some elements of self-discovery and mostly it is done well. 

As much as it isn’t quite the page-turner, it is something that young adults can get their teeth into and to see who comes out of it all well. This would be good for older teens and 20 somethings.

About the Author

Upasa Borah (also known by her pen name glassEyed) is a 21 year old dreamer from a land of rivers and hills, called Assam, in India. Aside from writing stories, she dabbles in poetry and performance art. She is a spoken word poet who has been active in the slam poetry circuit in Delhi, as well as in her hometown, as a
featured performer, organiser and judge. A believer of magic and collector of stories, she loves
meeting new people and finding inspiration and muses in the mundane.

 

#Review by Lou – Instructions For Dancing by Nicola Yoon @Penguin @NicolaYoon @The_WriteReads @penguinplatform #UltimateBlogTour #YA #Teens #BookReview #Romance

Instructions For Dancing
By Nicola Yoon

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s time to get your dancing shoes with this highly addictive and exquisitely emotional read. Take a look at the blurb and then the rest of my review. Sometimes there are real gems for Young Adults/Teenage readers and this is one of them. Discover more about Nicola Yoon, the blurb and my review as you dance your way on down…

Thanks to Penguin for gifting me the book and The Write Reads for inviting me to the blog tour.

Instructions for Dancing

About the Author

NicolaYoonPhotoNicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Instructions for Dancing, Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Two of her novels have been made into major motion pictures. She’s also co-publisher of Joy Revolution, a Random House young adult imprint dedicated to love stories starring people of color. She grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the novelist David Yoon, and their daughter.

Instructions for Dancing cover

Blurb

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon is back with a new and utterly unique romance.

‘An endearing, affecting portrayal of the journey of love. Everything Yoon touches turns to gold… this cinematic supernatural romance will be no exception’ Booklist

Evie is disillusioned about love ever since her dad left her mum for another woman – she’s even throwing out her beloved romance novel collection.

When she’s given a copy of a book called Instructions for Dancing, and follows a note inside to a dilapidated dance studio, she discovers she has a strange and unwelcome gift. When a couple kisses in front of her, she can see their whole relationship play out – from the moment they first catch each other’s eye to the last bitter moments of their break-up.

For Evie, it confirms everything she thinks she knows about love – that it doesn’t last.

But at the dance studio she meets X – tall, dreadlocked, fascinating – and they start to learn to dance, together. Can X help break the spell that Evie is under? Can he change Evie’s mind about love?

Review

Instructions for Dancing coverInstructions For Dancing is beautifully and tenderly written, with some of it waxing lyrical, amongst the emotional rollercoaster of joy and heartache of life and dance – sometimes it’s soaring and other times, pounding and grinding down.

Instructions For Dancing is the title of an instruction manual on how to dance many styles of this art form, that inspires Evie. The title, not only means the physical act of dancing at the dance studio, but also perhaps a metaphorical meaning of dancing the steps of life as there are break-ups and make-ups and life in general to deal with and issues to walk through…. So any readers who have come across Don’t Forget To Dance, would also appreciate this, although certain themes differ.

There’s fun in Evie’s life with waffles and brownies and hanging out with her friends, but also her homelife is in a bit of crisis. There’s also music and some romance in the air in the maze of teenage life, but also the breaking up of her family that changes and complicates things and an unexpected romance that also changes everything. It shows so much of the highs and lows of life.

Readers will get a real feel for Evie’s personality and the inclusion of texts that also carry the story along is a fun addition in being immersed into her life.

This is highly addictive, exquisite book that I highly recommend. It is one of those perfectly conceived books for teens/young adults.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1524718963

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55600878-instructions-for-dancing

Happy Publication Day for The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams @laurajaneauthor @AvonBooks @ElliePilcher95

The Lucky Escape
By Laura Jane Williams

Happy Publication Day to Laura Jane Williams for her book The Lucky Escape. It is available in paperback, e-book and audio book. Discover more in the blurb below and you can purchase this feel-good summer read from today. Thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Avon Books for giving me the opportunity to share this with you all.

LuckyEscape-InstaSq-dots

Blurb

The wedding? Cancelled. 
The bride? Heartbroken.
The honeymoon? Try and stop her…

 
The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams is OUT TODAY in ebook, paperback and audiobook. Escape to Australia this summer in this hilarious feel-good read!       

Purchase Link –  Waterstones

Lucky Escape_Facebook_One

#Interview by Lou of White Eye of the Needle author/Poet – Chris Campbell @Citizen_Chris @Choir_Press @kenyon_isabelle #Poetry #ContemporaryPoet

Today I am very excited to present to you an interview with Chris Campbell, who, in contemporary poetry, explores human connections, both passing and intimate. The collection was put together in Nottingham and also includes pieces from the former journalist’s time in Bristol, London, Swansea, Glasgow and Gloucestershire, plus visits abroad including a honeymoon in Madagascar and trips to Tignes, France.
In his interview he talks about music, inspiration for writing, wildlife, his former career and more…
With greatest thanks to Chris Campbell for his time and to Isabelle Kenyon for presenting me with the opportunity to interview.

Front Cover White Eye of the Needle

  1. What and/or who inspired you to write poetry?

I wrote one of my first poems as a child in a hotel room. I suddenly thought it was Mother’s Day and that my younger brother and I had forgotten to get anything, so I wrote a poem to my mum on hotel paper. It turned out Mother’s Day wasn’t until the week after. But she still has it framed on her bedside table! I continued to write through my teens and contributed to various anthologies. I enjoyed the process of writing and editing, the downtime and being able to formulate my thoughts and reflect. This also helped me through university, when faced with a lot of life changes. I used to carry around Bob Dylan’s ‘Chronicles: Volume One’, my dad’s ‘The Essential Spike Milligan’ and enjoyed Leonard Cohen’s work. My dad also encouraged me to study the back of record sleeves – lyrics from musicians like Frank Zappa and Eric Clapton. As I got older, I enjoyed the works of Dylan Thomas, ee cummings, WH Auden, and DH Lawrence – who inspired me a lot in my latest collection.

  1. Your title – ‘White Eye of the Needle’ is intriguing, what inspired this title?

The ‘Eye of the Needle’ is a rock formation in Tignes, France. My wife and I met on a ski trip to Tignes and almost had our first kiss inside the landmark; which has a hole through the centre and we had climbed up to. It will always mean a lot to us and we went back a few years later to take more photos and, this time, have a kiss! White refers to the snow – fortunately there was a lot of it that year!

  1. Your poems focus on the natural world intertwined with human emotions, what inspired you to use these as your topics and together and was this a very conscious decision, or was it more organic than that?

Having started as a journalist in my early 20s, I’ve always enjoyed writing about people. I also find nature a wonderful thing to write about, that feeds into a lot of our feelings and actions. The poems in White Eye of the Needle cover a six-year period, and a few different locations during that time, both in terms of where I’ve lived and visited. It has been an organic process, but I often write what I see around me, and this intertwining was perhaps enhanced by lockdown. Whether it’s a walk along the canal by our home, in poem ‘Chimney snorkels’; cardboard sheets being blown across our garden, in ‘Hurdles’; or describing a garden party, in ‘Catch light’, which I wrote while I was enjoying a break in the garden. In the absence of seeing people it can be easier to attribute human emotion to nature, of which I’m lucky to have lots around me despite living in a city centre.

  1. How important is it to you that humans connect with the natural world, since the two meet quite powerfully in your poems?

Countryside
photo by Lou

One thing I noticed during lockdown is how nature seemed to be reclaiming our garden and other outdoor spaces. I’ve been appreciating the wildlife here while spending more time at home. We’ve been in Nottingham for a few years, and before lockdown I spent a lot of time commuting. I grew up near and in the countryside, so have always valued it. As well as writing about my current surroundings, White Eye of the Needle includes poems I wrote when living in other parts of the country, including Bristol, Swansea, London and Gloucestershire, as well as trips abroad. They capture certain moments, whether skiing, away for long weekends, on honeymoon, or in the garden. While I’m not an advocate for needless travel, I do feel it’s important to enjoy new experiences, forming and deepening connections with people and landscapes, whether ones you see every day or for the first time.

  1. When and how did you decide to concentrate your time to writing poetry as opposed to your journalistic career?

pen and paper picI left a national newspaper to move to Bristol with my now wife and to work as a freelance journalist, writing news stories and features mainly covering politics, business and property. I then went into PR a few years ago and still work full-time in the industry. Thanks to less commuting and more hours at home, I felt I was able to dedicate more time to my writing, including editing and putting poems together to form this collection. I was always hoping to release a second collection, but lockdown helped speed up the process. Journalism tended to involve very long hours and it could be difficult to switch off from it. I released my first collection, Bread Rolls and Dresden, in 2013, while a section editor at the Gloucestershire Echo and Gloucester Citizen. PR still involves long hours, but I am now working more of a Monday to Friday job, and I’m able to write first-thing in the morning, in the evening and most weekends.

  1. In a few words, how would you describe your poetry style and your latest book?

Front Cover White Eye of the Needle

White Eye of the Needle is written in free verse and captures moments over a six-year period, both everyday and intimate. It touches on romance, marriage, the birth of a# nephew, passing of a grandad, and recent experiences through lockdown and restrictions, as it seeks to find meaning in places, at a time when we’ve all been forced to slow down and reflect.

  1. If you could pick 3 poems that you would say were your ‘must reads’, what would they be?

I’m particularly interested in Imagism and regularly read the work of DH Lawrence, who has been a big source of inspiration. But I also enjoy a range of styles and admire Dylan Thomas, ee cummings and WH Auden. Lawrence’s ‘Green’ and ‘Snake’ are among my favourite poems, I love his personal and nature pieces. Also, cummings’ ‘now is a ship’, Thomas’ ‘In My Craft or Sullen Art’ and ‘Clown in the Moon’, as well as Auden’s ‘If I Could Tell You’.

  1. Can readers expect further works from you? If so, can you tell us a bit more about this?

I’ve continued to write during lockdown and have started to focus on sonnets. I will be aiming to release a third collection in the future.

Cover White Eye of the Needle

Buy Link: Waterstones 

An Extract/Excerpt of White Eye of The Needle by Chris Campbell @Citizen_Chris @Choir_Press @kenyon_isabelle #Poetry #ContemporaryPoetryExtract

Today I am excited to present you with an extract of the latest poems by Chris Campbell.
Thanks to Isabelle Kenyon for this opportunity. I also have a bit about the author for now, but then look out tomorrow (Wednesday) for a very insightful and highly interesting interview I had with Chris Campbell.

Cover White Eye of the Needle

About the Poetry Collection

White Eye of the Needle, the second book of poems by Chris Campbell, explores human connections, both passing and intimate. The collection was put together in Nottingham and also includes pieces from the former  Journalist’s time in Bristol, London, Swansea, Glasgow and Gloucestershire, plus visits abroad including a honeymoon in Madagascar and trips to Tignes, France.

Extract/Excerpt

Dawn

When exhausted birds have flown away and tweeted their last breath
that’s when i’ll close my eyes and say there’s more to life than death.

For when they call, they call with heart through feathered chest
and as they go, they fly with hope that after song they’ll rest.

and i in bed as next day looms and dawn begins to stir,

think back before this sombre place to sunlit gardens far.

a silent bird that sings no more may have no song to make,

but as i lie in deepened thought, my bitten nails, break.

as once it sang, brought the day and closed it with a verse,

now every time i think of it, my anxiety gets worse.

Take my clothes, my pillow too and place me by the tree

where these poor birds once posed and sang and breathed relief to me.

Trainers

in fields of yellow daffodils

and grass as fine as hair,

that’s where my chest beside you once

grew under torn trainers.

like cats that toy with life,

we chance, pounce and play,

i count the years, and ‘til we stroll again,

all blue skies will feel grey.

Praise for White Eye of the Needle

‘These poems are sparkling with affection. Campbell finds beauty in the everyday, in the
connections to each other and to the land. in a world when we are feeling cut off, these poems
are like a bridge back to some sense of balance. They are celebrations of relationships, places
and of being alive. some of them feel like a home i’ve never been to.’
– David Linklater

‘At a time when the world feels a little darker, White Eye of the Needle invites the reader
to gaze upon a world where “houses rub shoulders”, “the taps of shoes are circling” and
dawn spreads its welcome light “like the oranges brightening seville”. in this tender, wistful
collection, Campbell observes humanity with a sharp eye – where the lockdown poems offer a
relatable and searingly honest depiction of our days transfixed on blinking screens, there is
always the human touch to offer relief in a lemon dress, the notes of ‘Für Elise’, tumbling
hedgerows and the tender simplicity of a shared meal with a loved one. like the flowers that
push through its city gardens, this is a collection that reminds us that it’s the human
connection and the power of the natural world that keep hope alive in a world gone dark.’
– Natalie Ann Holborow

Buy Link: Waterstones 

Front Cover White Eye of the Needle

About the Author

Chris Campbell, born in Dublin, is a former national and regional journalist who worked for newspaper titles in London, Bristol, bath, south Wales and Gloucestershire. Chris has a passion for poetry, writing and travel and has judged young writer competitions in Swansea. he graduated with an MA in Journalism from Kingston University and a BA (hons) in Economic and political Development from the University of Exeter, with a year’s study in Uppsala, Sweden. he currently lives in Nottingham.

#Bookreview by Lou – Honeycomb by Joanne M. Harris – Happy Publication Day to Joanne Harris @joannechocolat #CharlesVess @alexxlayt @orionbooks

Honeycomb
By Joanne M. Harris
Illustrated by Charles Vess

Rating: 5 out of 5.

To my absolute amazement and joy, I have been gifted Honeycomb. Readers are in for a treat with this enthralling and enchanting book of 100 short stories by Joanne Harris. They are full of betrayal, gifts, magic, love, beautiful illustrations and much more…
Discover more in the blurb and my review…
I thank Alex Layt at Orion Books and Joanne Harris for gifting me a copy of Honeycomb.

Honeycomb 3

Blurb

An astonishing, richly interwoven story from #1 bestselling author Joanne M. Harris (The Gospel of Loki, Chocolat), beautifully illustrated by the multiple award-winning Charles Vess (Stardust, The Books of Earthsea).

Long ago and far away,
Far away and long ago,
The World was honeycomb, we know,
The Worlds were honeycomb.

The beauty of stories is that you never know where they will take you. Full of dreams an nightmares, Honeycomb is an entrancing mosaic novel of original fairy tales from bestselling author Joanne M. Harris and legendary artist Charles Vess in a collaboration that’s been years in the making. Dark, gripping, and brilliantly imaginative, these magical tales will soon have you in their thrall.

Review

HoneycombFairytales aren’t just for children, infact they were originally written for adults. Joanne Harris has done exactly this, created fairytales that are gorgeously illustrated and with all the hallmarks of a fairytale, with adult themes. Split beautifully into 2 books in 1 where land meets sea.
Imagine a honeycomb, with its hexagonal shapes, creating little pockets. Now imagine going into each one and finding stories that create the honeycomb, some are loosley interconnecting, others overarching, each one, unique and can be read as standalone, but together paint a bigger, wider picture. This in turn makes it a fabulous book to both read all at once (because it is pretty hard to resist) and to leisurely dip in and out of. People who follow Joanne Harris on Twitter will have familarised themselves with some of the short stories form of how they start with the bees, which are beautifully depicted on the front cover.

It’s clearly carefully planned and I love that the book starts with a short story about Nectar, which sets the scene of the Honeycomb Queen and other bees and ends with Honeycomb, just as bees do, as they go about their business. The writing is rich and not only full of descriptions, placing readers exactly where she wants them to be, they tell of something deeper. It’s like eavesdropping on the bees, who have something important to say and they deliberately want you to listen in as you are guided into where the Lacewing King and be transported into different worlds, which are entrancing and involving.

The writing is lyrical as fairytales are and magically captures the attention very quickly and draws you into many different places to meet many different creatures etc, that in turn become relatable to humans and the world we live in, with its abundance of societies. Each tale, intelligently has the insect world colliding with and criss-crossing with the human world. Meet Royalty, a Chancellor, a Teacher, the Slightless Folk and the Silken Folk, Death and more in this beautifully illustrated book that has many highly accomplished stories to easily lose yourself in. Some have trepidation, some allude to politics, some have warnings, and morals with each story carrying a message for readers to find within these expertly crafted tales you can easily lose yourself in.