A Booktiful Love Review

Rating: 2 out of 5.

A Booktiful Love is a collection of poems by Tolu’ A. Akinyemi. It is described as ‘a collection of poems that deal with the entirety of human experience in its various forms.’ I received an ebook in return for an honest review, so rest assured that all the opinions expressed here are my own.

What really struck me about this book was the writer’s biography at the end- he is VERY qualified! He is: a business analyst, financial crime consultant, a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist, a personal development and career coach, a writer with 10 years experience, a mentor at several schools, a trained economist, has a Masters’ Degree, and has featured in several poetry festivals. Like… wow!

A Booktiful Love is split into several different sections with a wide variety of topics, quite random at times. For example, it starts with a poem about loo-roll scarcity, which made it very clear that this poem had been written since the start of lockdown! The poems are definitely accessible with simple and direct language.

I don’t have any particularly strong feelings about this collection of poems. The poem has some nice ideas, quite typical at times, some more interesting poems towards the end of the collection. The language can be vivid, the simplicity and directness effective for some topics. I found the more personal poems more engaging, for example when the author talked about his mother and his view on politics. Occasionally there was some rhyming, and I do love some rhyming.

The title poem, in my opinion, was not anything extraordinary although I do like the title. I do prefer more figurative and elaborate language in poetry, but that’s just personal preference and I do like that the poems say what they mean and are direct. The only poems I actively dislike where a few consecutive ones in the middle with were all named ‘Beauty and …”. They were clearly about a woman he loves, but they made me uncomfortable, particularly lines like ‘she is my prize’.

In conclusion this is an accessible collection of poems with a with a wide range of subjects and a simple, direct style, so if that is how you like your poetry or you are just getting into poetry I suggest you give it a go!

I can’t believe it’s July already! Half the year is gone which is absolutely crazy, and I’m coming to the end of my penultimate year at school. It doesn’t feel like that much time has passed because of all the time we’ve spent under lockdown, like we’re living in an alternate universe or something. Going back to school in September is definitely going to be very strange. What does the end of June mean to you? Let me know in the comments or on one of my social platforms linked below!

Sunshine and Whiskey by Lauren White Review

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Sunshine and Whiskey is a collection of poems by Lauren White. I was very kindly gifted an ebook of this book in return for an honest review, so all opinions expressed here are my own. As you might already know from previous posts, I have been reading a lot of poetry recently so I have lots of poetry books to review!

A bit about the author: Lauren White grew up in Maryland, and she is an engineer. She earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Maryland, College Park and her M.S. in Systems Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School. In her free time she likes trying new whiskies, writing poetry and Star Trek.

I have mixed opinions about Sunshine and Whiskey, which is split into several sections such as Summer, Lauren and Broken. That is not to say any of the poetry is bad; in fact most of the poems were simple and well-written. I really enjoyed the rhyming White used in her poems and the mood she evoked in some of the poems was wonderful, with little details that really immersed me in the scene. There were some cliche lines, but these were accompanied by some cool original imagery.

The poems were predominantly long and free form, made up of short lines. They often had really obscure words as titles which I loved, because I am obsessed with finding out new words so I really enjoyed looking up what these meant. I was less a fan of the random pop culture references such as X-men, as I tend to prefer timeless poetry, but the self confidence shown in some of the poems was very inspiring.

As for the subjects of the poems, there was a variety. My favourites were the ones White wrote about herself, so it was rather disappointing that the majority of the collection were about relationships. The poems about heartbreak just seemed to go on forever and became a bit repetitive, definitely for more mature readers because lots of them focused on someone leaving her and her lying in bed remembering them having sex and touching. None of the poems were graphic in that sense, but it just got boring when every poem was slightly different ways of describing the same thing.

In conclusion I would recommend this collection if you are interested in reading lots of poems about love, heartbreak and missing someone. The ones White writes about herself and any other topic are more engaging, however they are sadly dwarfed by the sheer volume of poems focused on unnamed partner(s).

I hope you’re all well and staying safe! I know my reviewing has been patchy recently, but I am trying to get back into the rhythm of posting regularly and I have recently got back into fiction books again which is adds a bit of variety to my reading schedule. I say schedule, I mean randomly picking up books when I walk past them and reading a few pages. Does you have a set time you read in, or do you just read randomly like me? Let me know down below using one of my platforms or comment down below 🙂

At the Last Minute Review

At the Last Minute by Estha Weiner

Hello everyone!

I know it’s shocking, but I have finally started writing reviews again. I’m as surprised as you are, yet here we are. I have been reading A LOT of poetry recently. I don’t know why, but I was hit by a sudden craving for poetry and in the last month it’s pretty much all I’ve read. I’ve also decided to do a school project on poetry, because not only have I been reading a lot of poetry, but I also write a lot of it. All in all, there has been quite a bit of poetry.

I was very kindly sent an ebook of At the Last Minute by Estha Weiner in exchange for an honest review, so you can be assured all opinions expressed here are my own (as usual). I was sent the book in April, but due to circumstances I have only just got back into writing reviews so I thought better late than never and jumped right in!

At the Last Minute is a collection of poems published by Salmon Poetry. It is Estha Weiner’s fourth collection of poetry, and was first published in 2019. There’s about 50 poems, and they tend to be about 10-20 lines long, although there are some longer and some shorter. This combined with the uncomplicated language used makes the collection of poetry accessible to anyone who may be interested in reading some poetry. The topics covered seem quite random (am I missing something?), including love/relationships, plays and several based off or inspired by quotes.

I enjoyed the shortness of the poems, which meant that the meaning or story being told did not get lost between endless metaphors and similes. While the enjambment used throughout Weiner’s poetry is effective, I sometimes found it harder to focus on the sentiment she was trying to put across because of it. The poems were more narrative than emotional, so I didn’t particularly connect with them and I preferred the poems that were more vulnerable, for I found them more engaging. My favourite poem was ‘At 5:45 pm in The Conservatory Garden’. It was short and sweet, and the simple imagery evocative.

Overall, At the Last Minute is a nicely written collection of poetry with a couple of lovely poems, but not one of my favourites. Upon reading it a second time I didn’t find myself any more interested, but it might be more attractive to an American audience (Weiner mentions American locations several times) or perhaps someone older than myself with more life experience. I hope you’re all as well as possible, and keep signing petitions and educating yourself about racism because while the news cycles will inevitably move on, the fight is far from over. Stay safe and feel free to contact me because I love hearing from you!

Storm’s Clouds Review

Storm’s Clouds by J.W. Golan

I could not wait to get into this book, and thankfully I had it within arm’s reach when I finished Storm’s Herald. Like I said in my review of Storm’s Herald, I did indeed receive Storm’s Herald and Storm’s Clouds in exchange for review, but all opinions expressed are my own! VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: this review does contain a spoiler for the first book (Storm’s Herald). Nothing that will change the plot dramatically or ruin it, and I did suspect this once I was about ¾ through the book, but if you want to read it completely spoiler free then don’t read this review! All my other reviews are spoiler free unless explicitly stated.

Everything is really well explained at the start of the book, not explicitly but through the first few pages of character interaction so if you forgot anything in the previous book you can work it out pretty quickly. Of course, I had finished the other book seconds earlier so that wasn’t such a problem. The chapters in this book are really long, and it can be a bit on the nose sometimes, but there are moments of real humour where I genuinely laughed. I loved that they set off on a quest with no clear plan except ‘find a dragon’ when they had no idea where it was. Again there is a lot of jumping to random perspectives for a few pages to see what is happening elsewhere, but I had got used to it at this point and I could generally tell how they were linked to the main story at this point. There was a lot more of the Fae court and the magic school in this book as well as the quests, including lots of focus on Princess Elise and what she was up to. There was more tension in this book than in Storm’s Herald, which had me reading faster and faster!

THIS IS THE SPOILER. Okay, I’m done yelling about it being a spoiler. What I want to talk about here is Garth. Garth has enough personas to fill a city here people, and they are very varied. Garth is actually Gwythr, a guy who was a hero in the Fae’s war. He’s now human and wanders around as Garth, except when he is Gyaltso, an old dude who turned Kalden’s hair white then straight up left him which I found hilariously random. I have several problems with Garth. The first is quite petty but I think Garth’s nickname of ‘little bird’ for Lynette is so creepy and it made me cringe and my skin crawl every time he said it. Maybe it’s meant to be cute, but NOPE. And even weirder, a trope I hate, is Lynette being *strangely attracted* to the bad guy (Garth) who is nice only to them. I know Garth isn’t technically bad, but he isn’t exactly good either. Also, this isn’t a problem but how does Garth get around so fast? Can he teleport? What?!

Anyway, back to the rest of review. Princess Elise was a lot more prominent in this book and although she was a little irritatingly perfect, I did like seeing what she was up to. It was quite stereotypical that the lady in waiting was a spy, like it wasn’t even subtle. At some points I felt there were too many characters, but if I just thought of the characters from the random jump arounds as one time things it was a lot easier to focus on the main ones. There were some giants who inexplicably spoke like Scottish people. Not sure what was going on there. Then there is Waya. Waya is introduced as a boy and it is later revealed they are transgender, or at least very confused about their gender and sexuality. You see, Waya is in love with a girl, and to impress her parents they go on a quest to act manly. While I liked Waya as a character and I would definitely be interested in knowing more about them and whether they decided to have Garth magically change their body, it did feel a bit like a token because Waya is the only character I can think of who is on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.  Once again in this book time jumps around with no respect for how much time it seemed had passed.  One minute I’m chilling, and the next two years have passed, and I am like WHAT.

In conclusion I really enjoyed Storm’s Clouds. Especially the sentient library which moves books around to mess with the librarians. I could read a whole book about that library. I really liked the ending, and I very much need to know what happens next. Would I survive this book? Yeah I would, I’m living in that library.

Storm’s Herald Review

Storm’s Herald by J.W. Golan

Happy Easter everyone! Or just happy Sunday if you don’t celebrate Easter, I hope you have a great day with chocolate regardless. If you want to read these books, Storm’s Herald is free as an ebook on Amazon 10-12th April, and Storm’s Cloud 24-25th April.

I received both Storm’s herald and its sequel, Storm’s Clouds, in exchange for a review. All views expressed are honest and my own. I have a very terrible habit of writing notes while I’m reading a book, then writing the actual review quite a while afterwards. It means that sometimes my notes are very vague and incomprehensible, but not this time. I had so much fun rereading the notes I made, I think they are possibly some of the best notes I’ve ever made. And you can’t have good notes without an interesting book to make them on, so kudos to Storm’s herald. Here’s the synopsis:

A peasant girl who dreams of becoming a sorceress, a boy who imagines himself a knight – trailed by a ruthless mercenary armed with an ancient sword.

All Lynette wanted was to leave her boring village life – to attend the Fae Academy and become a Druid priestess like her teacher before her. Her clumsy attempts at magic are a reminder of how much she has yet to learn. But if they would only accept her, if the Fae Kingdom – closed to human visitors for centuries now – would only just open its doors, she is certain she could become a master of the magical arts.

Yet her journey puts her on a collision course with a reawakened evil – offering a king’s ransom for the recovery of a long-lost relic. Treasure hunters of every variety – werewolves, mercenaries, common thieves and undead alike – are soon locked in pursuit of its promised riches. Together with Baxter, a young squire who fled his own kingdom, and Eirlon, a gnome who trades in rare antiquities, Lynette is drawn unwillingly into the hunt for the elusive relic.

Hounded by goblins, ogres – and darker things – Baxter carries his own burdens: secrets that have made him the enemy of the crown. And then there is Garth, the mysterious mercenary who both frightens and intrigues Lynette: the weapons-master armed with an ancient blade – snatched from the hand of a long-vanished fae prince.

Willingly or not, Lynette, Baxter and Eirlon must together solve the riddles behind the relic – and stay one step ahead of the ruthless killers that pursue them.

Like many a fantasy, and lots of books now I think about it, Storm’s Herald begins with introductions to various different viewpoints over the first few chapters. Quite quickly I understood the basic worldbuilding and the traditional type of fantasy I was reading. Slightly uncommonly, new points of view were introduced throughout the book, sometimes only for one chapter. These were usually to show what was happening somewhere else in the world, but sometimes I found the switching too frequent, so it took me longer than usual to properly get to know the characters. Slowly all of the various characters crossed each other’s paths, and for once there was none of the hiding information from these people are clearly on your side. I was very thankful for that, because nothing irritates me more than a character being unnecessarily reticent as a plot device. The storytelling is not very complicated, but the story was good, and it was fun and easy reading.

Let’s move onto the characters. There were four main viewpoints I could identify, with several minor ones who would appear once or twice like Kalden. The main viewpoints were Lynette, Elise, Eirlon and Baxter. I don’t know if I have a favourite, but I like them all in different ways and by the end of the book I was very interested in seeing what happened next. The story begins with Lynette, a normal girl with magic her half-fae teacher is teaching her to control. After some *events* Lynette sets off to the Fae-gate from which she can enter the fae lands and join the magic school. Lynette is the typical beautiful, magical peasant in many ways and she does get attached to a very dodgy guy, but when he first meets her in the forest and is very creepy (in my opinion), she doesn’t put up with it which I applaud.

Baxter is apprenticed to a knight and is very accepting of his master being a horrible person because of his nobility but apart from that he’s quite a nice guy. He’s just a regular, hardworking human who predictably ends up with a crush on Lynette, but the focus on the romance is very minor. Eirlon the gnome is pretty cool. A chill guy, albeit with a minorly annoying habit to keep things to himself. Elise is the fairy princess, heir to the fae throne. She doesn’t take any rubbish from anyone and despite her insecurities she pretty much does what she thinks is right. I’m down with that. The other character mentioned in the synopsis, Garth, I have a LOT of opinions on but that would be spoilers so that will be going in my next review. The fae are what you would expect of fae in a traditional fantasy, with longer life spans, few children, attuned with nature and big fans of trees.

This is not a particularly descriptive book in terms of physical descriptions of people/settings, but personally I actually tend to pretty much read those and forget them anyway unless they’re long and lyrical, so I didn’t mind. The one thing that threw me in this book was the passing of time. From one chapter to the next 9 months could have passed and there would only be a brief mention of it which was a bit wild, but once I got used to it, I just rolled with it.

When I got to the end of the book, I was very thankful to have the sequel next to me because I really wanted to know what happened next. I was left like what?!?! But ready to read the next one. Would I survive? I think I would, if I stayed out of the way of goblins.

All Your Twisted Secrets Review

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

I’ll start by saying I was very kindly gifted and advance copy of this by Harper Teen, so thank you! I’m on a bit of a YA crime streak at the moment- I recently read two Karen M. McManus books, and my next book to read is This Lie Will Kill You. I never think of this as one of my favourite genres, but after all these I think I may reconsider because I’ve really enjoyed them. All Your Twisted Secrets will be released in two days, on the 17th March 2020.

All Your Twisted Secrets is Diana Urban’s debut novel, and honestly I can’t wait for her next one. It follows the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loser and music geek after they are invited to a scholarship dinner, then locked in there. They are given a choice- poison someone or a bomb will kill them all. They have one hour.

The main viewpoint followed is that of the music geek, Amber Prescott. Diana quickly and smoothly establishes the setting and characters without it being obvious or clunky. There are two different storylines followed, the present in the scholarship dinner and the past. The present stretches over the course of an hour, while the past follows the events over the course of about a year. The characters are all linked in different ways, some obvious and some less so, and all the characters are well rounded and interesting, especially the ways in which they change under pressure. All the characters are around my age, 17, which was a bit strange because a lot of their drama and secrets could never happen to me. Nonetheless, I was engaged throughout and could hardly put it down.

The setting of this novel was perfect. An empty restaurant, the locked room, the elaborate dining setup and the rising temperature of the room. As the heat increases so do tensions, with incredible sensory descriptions to immerse the reader in the situation. The drama which unfolds is a mix of secrets being revealed and the consequences of the students’ actions as they desperately try to escape the room. Alliances are made and broken all in the space of an hour, under the watching eye of a ticking bomb.

The ending was perfection. I loved it. Despite all the twists and turns, I never saw this one coming. Oh My Goodness. Would I survive this book? That would be spoilers.

A Noble’s Path Review (Blog Tour)

A Noble’s Path by I.L.Cruz

Happy Saturday everyone! I know I don’t usually post on a Saturday, but I guess this week you’re getting four posts- lucky you!

Following on from yesterday’s review of A Smuggler’s Path, I have the sequel, A Noble’s Path. A quick thank you to Rachel, who is hosting this blog tour, and I.L.Cruz who kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for a review! All opinions expressed are my own.

Here’s how the book describes itself:

Divided loyalties test Inez Garza.

The infamous incident at the Academy of Natural Studies has forced her to work for the King’s Men while continuing to serve the hidden market.

Supporting Birthright furthers the cause of Magical Return, but the cost may be the fall of the royal house and losing Zavier forever.

And the strongest pull of all is her growing and erratic magic, which demands everything and offers only destruction in return.

Inez must decide where her loyalties lie—saving Canto or saving herself.

I think I must begin with mentioning the cover of the book- the artwork is so pretty! I had great fun photoshopping pictures of both this book and the first in the series. I especially like the little streak of purple in Inez’s hair, I just think it’s so cool.

In a similar style to the previous book, A Noble’s Path feels a bit chaotic, albeit less so because I was now used to all the characters and the world. My favourite thing about these books is definitely the plot, always fast paced and never boring. Inez being forced to work with the people she normally tries to avoid, the King’s Men, was hilarious and fun to watch despite my frustrations at Inez not just giving in and getting together with a certain someone! (If you’ve read either of the books in the series you know who I’m talking about.) A couple of elements of the story feel quite random even after they’ve been tied into the plot, like the magic shells and the mild obsession with farm animals (Froth, the magic sheep).

I like Inez. She is quite realistic and doesn’t let her struggles with magic take over her life, trying to focus on other things as well. Her life is chaotic and she sometimes gets overwhelmed, constantly having to make difficult choices and worrying about an uncertain future. While most of us aren’t worrying about whether we’re being spied on by our friends or whether our magic shells will be stolen, everyone must make hard choices and the world at the moment does feel quite chaotic, making Inez more relatable. I would have liked some of the relationships and characters to be developed further, as the volume of characters and the constantly moving nature of the plot meant some felt a little underdeveloped. I would have enjoyed more of Inez and her mother’s relationship, which is quite tumultuous during the book but doesn’t get much time.

I devoured A Noble’s Path the moment I finished A Smuggler’s Path, desperate to find out what happened next, and I wasn’t disappointed. A Noble’s Path was just as action packed as the first book, I only wish it was a bit longer! I await the next book in the series excitedly and I recommend reading this magical, fun and dramatic adventure. Would I survive this book? Yeah, I would just have been chilling in the smugglers market and wandering around the forest.

A Smuggler’s Path Review

A Smuggler’s Path by I.L.Cruz

I was very kindly gifted a copy of A Smuggler’s Path in advance of the blog tour for A Noble’s Path. The blurb reads:

In Canto, magic is a commodity, outlawed by the elites after losing a devastating war and brokered by smugglers on the hidden market. But some know it’s more—a weapon for change.

Inez Garza moves through two worlds. She’s a member of the noble class who works as a magical arms dealer—a fact either group would gladly use against her. Neither know her true purpose—funding Birthright, an underground group determined to return magic to all at any cost.

But the discovery of a powerful relic from before the Rending threatens her delicate balance.

Inez’s inherent magic, which lies dormant in all the Canti, has been awakened. Now the Duchess’s daughter, radical and smuggler must assume another forbidden title—mage, a capital crime. This will bring her to the attention of factions at home—fanatical rebels bent on revolution, a royal family determined to avoid another magical war, her mercenary colleagues at the hidden market willing to sell her abilities to the highest bidder—and in Mythos, victors of the war and architects of the Rending.

Evasion has become Inez’s specialty, but even she isn’t skilled enough to hide from everyone—and deny the powers drawing her down a new path.

As you can see, this book has A LOT of ideas. In the beginning there is quite a bit of explanation of the world which takes a little while to process, but this could be said of any fantasy book. Inez’s world is a land which was pulled from the sea after people with magic were driven from the mundane world, and it is protected by a magic barrier to hide them. I was a bit confused and overwhelmed for the first few pages of the book, as the reader is thrown right into the thick of the action, but the more I read the more I wanted to read on. Once you have got used to the various ways magic works and the workings of the world the plot is really quite good, and I found myself desperate to know what would happen next.

There are a few fantasy clichés used, such as a letter from a deceased relative and a parent who has hidden something from their child, but these are weaved in amongst many unique and fun details such as Froth, the milk bar where smugglers and guards alike spend time, and the seemingly random appearance of lots of different characters. They can be slightly hard to keep track of, thankfully there is a useful glossary of characters at the start which I made use of frequently. There seems to be a random element to the plot in some places, leaving me wondering what just happened, but it does all have a purpose eventually, it just sometimes takes a while to discover it. I liked Inez, the main character. She never did anything insanely stupid or unreasonable which some fantasy MCs sometimes do in a rather frustrating way, she made decisions and stuck to them the best she could.

I can say with certainty that this book is never boring. It is packed full of action and mystery and intrigue and plenty of plot twists. A Smuggler’s Path takes time to pull everything together, and I wish it happened a bit sooner, but when it does it is awesome. I was definitely missing the presence of any LGBTQ+ characters, and I could have used some more elegant descriptions that I like in fantasy, but overall I really enjoyed this book and could not wait to start the next one! Would I survive this book? Yeah I think so, I’d enjoy being a smuggler or a rich person.

Look out for my review of A Noble’s Path tomorrow as part of the blog tour!

Fight Like a Girl Review

Fight Like a Girl by Sheena Kamal

Happy International Women’s Day everyone! I hope you have a great day and I’d love to hear what books you’re reading today!

Fight Like a Girl is Sheena Kamal’s debut novel released on the 10th March, and it is one whopper of an entrance. I was kindly gifted it by Hot Key Books and from the moment I saw it I found the blurb intriguing, especially since it tells us that Trisha kills her father straight up. This book is an emotional tapestry of love and violence, based around Trisha, a badass Muay Thai kickboxer of Trinidadian descent. From the blurb I had no idea how hardcore this book was going to be, but I loved it.

The story is told in first person, Trisha, who lives with her mum and her mum’s new boyfriend who moves in soon after her father dies. The main locations are her house and the Muay Thai gym which I found quite interesting since a lot of YA contemporary books have a heavy focus on school, whereas in this it is barely mentioned. This brings the events of the novel into higher definition and prevents any distractions, showing Trisha’s decline in excruciating detail.

Sheena Kamal nails the tone, ramping up the tension and mystery as time goes on with an excellent amount of sensory descriptions to immerse you in the scenes. Kamal somehow conveys a feeling of something being off without explicitly describing it, causing the reader to question both their own and Trisha’s paranoia. This book had a darker tone than I was expecting, although looking back I wonder why because it does involve patricide in the blurb!

The ending does leave some things as a mystery, but I found that okay, I think the epilogue covered the most important things. Overall this book is filled with twists and turns, harsh love and one fighter’s changing world.