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Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Blogtober Day 15: Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

‘In the end, I guess Mom was right. I have one foot in winter and one in spring. One foot with the living, and one with the dead.’ Cassidy Blake has a pretty interesting life, but it’s not for the reasons you’d expect. Daughter of […]

Blogtober Day 14: Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Blogtober Day 14: Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

I don’t know why I keep picking up Megan Abbott’s novels, because they never impress me as much as I hope they will. I’ve already read The End of Everything and The Fever, and although I enjoyed Abbott’s writing style throughout both novels, I’ve constantly struggled with her […]

Blogtober Day 13: Review: The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

Blogtober Day 13: Review: The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

“Why would they be afraid of us? We have no powers.”
“Of course we don’t,” she says, looking away from me. “But the humans do not understand that. They fear that their men will be overcome with madness and dive into the depths of the water to make a bride of one of us, finding only death instead. And then they blame us, as men have always blamed women, for prompting their lust, for fuelling their insatiable greed for something they cannot have.”

I found myself surprisingly underwhelmed by Louise O’Neill’s feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid.

You already know the story: a mermaid is so desperate to be a human that they give up their voice in return for legs. When Gaia goes to the Sea Witch for help, she brutally chops out Gaia’s tongue and makes her into a human female, warning her that – as well as being in excruciating pain with every step she takes – if she can’t make Oliver fall in love with her within a month, she’ll be reclaimed by the sea.

I’d seen rave reviews about this retelling, and because I already loved O’Neill’s Asking For It (even though it did emotionally destroy me) I was expecting this to be one of the best retellings I’d ever read. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, because the pace moves painfully slowly. There’s a huge focus on the way that the mermaids are treated by the mermen, demonstrating how sexist the society is and why Gaia is so desperate to escape. It isn’t integrated well, though, and it feels like preaching.

On the other hand, the last quarter of the story happens at a breakneck speed. It’s so fast that it’s hard to absorb it all, and compared to the dull and dreary dragging of the majority of the book it’s ridiculously difficult to keep up with everything that’s happening.

I really struggled to motivate myself to pick this up, and it’s been hard to motivate myself to review it, because I don’t have much to say about it. There’s no redemption: Oliver is a dick and doesn’t improve much by the end of the story, and Gaia doesn’t undergo much character development either.

I can’t remember the ending of the original tale of The Little Mermaid (my memory has been warped too much by the saccharine sweetness of the Disney version) so I’m not sure how unique the ending is compared to Hans Christian Andersen’s version, but it felt predictable. I know retellings are supposed to be predictable, but only to a degree – there should be something which makes them memorable and gives them their own personality, but I didn’t find that in this instance. O’Neill definitely makes her point about the mistreatment of women, but it’s delivered in a heavy-handed way which doesn’t make for great storytelling or interesting characters.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about The Surface Breaks, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

‘You can plot a course that will get you to your destination, but you can’t predict what you’ll find along the way.’  Zorie has a plan for the summer, and it involves staying as far away from the Mackenzie family as physically possible. But when […]

Blogtober Day 11: Top ten LGBT+ reads

Blogtober Day 11: Top ten LGBT+ reads

To celebrate #NationalComingOutDay, I thought I’d share the ten best LGBT+ books that I’ve read. I have so many rapidly piling up on my TBR, but these are my favourites of the ones that I’ve already gotten through. It took me a long time to […]

Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Hi there! Welcome to my stop on the Jackson Saves an Owl blog tour. I’d like to say a big thank you to Faye Rogers, for allowing me to get involved in the blog tour for this charming picture book. Zophia loves owls, so as soon as I saw the title I knew that this was going to be a book which she would really enjoy, and I had a huge amount of fun reading it.

As always, I’m going to share a bit of information about Jackson Saves an Owl for the folks who haven’t heard of it before, then my thoughts on the book will be found further down the page.

Jackson Save an Owl by Darren Garwood

Jackson Superhero might not be a real name, but it is a story about a real boy, and as the name suggests, Jackson is far from ordinary. By day, a rare disease limits his ability to move freely, but at night he is far from grounded. When the sleeping hours come around, and weightlessness takes over, Jackson takes to the skies. He knows what it means to need the support of others, which is why when he hears a call for help, he is quickly there to lend a hand.

If you want to learn more about Jackson Saves an Owl, click on its cover to check it out on Goodreads. If you’re ready to order your copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll get a few pennies from your purchase that way.

So what did I think?

Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Jackson Saves an Owl is a charming story with quaint illustrations pulled straight from a child’s imagination. The drawings are simplistic yet captivating, with Jackson exploring his local area, flying past parks and fairgrounds (there’s even a cameo from a grizzly bear!).

You can understand the story perfectly by just focusing on the images, as they convey all of the events that are happening in a clear manner, making it a great story to read to young children. They won’t need to understand the words to understand the moral of the story.

That doesn’t mean that the words aren’t just as good, though! The rhymes are well-written, with tight pacing moving the story forward quickly. My only complaint is that it isn’t long enough, but that will be solved by picking up future releases in the Jackson Superhero series.

With the story of the real Jackson told on the final page, readers are aware of just how important this book is. I think it’s highly commendable that Jackson’s father has written this story, as it will help other children in a similar situation to Jackson to feel less alone. As a parent, I found this book very emotional: it’s true that children are able to do more in their dreams than they often can in reality, but it’s important to help them live their lives as fully as possible.

I was torn between 4 and 5 stars for Jackson Saves an Owl, but I really appreciated the importance of the message, which was combined with cute artwork and writing of a very high standard. I’ve read a lot of picture books which have had clunky rhyme schemes, but Jackson Saves an Owl flows smoothly and is extremely enjoyable – both for parents and for children.

 

About the author: 

Darren Garwood is the father of Jackson, a real boy living with a rare and terminal illness called Krabbe disease. Darren came up with the Jackson Superhero series because as Jackson can’t move during the day, Darren wanted to help him dream at night, when he was free to be anything he wanted to be. Jackson Saves an Owl is written in lively, fantastic rhyme, and is the first in the Jackson Superhero series.

If you’d like to learn more about the real Jackson, visit Darren Garwood’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

 

Once again, a huge thanks to Faye Rogers for allowing me to get involved with the promotion of such an important story. Make sure to follow the rest of the blog tour, and send your love and support to Darren and Jackson.

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 9: Top Ten Tuesday: Longest books I’ve read

Blogtober Day 9: Top Ten Tuesday: Longest books I’ve read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, but was recently relocated to That Artsy Reader Girl.    I don’t read many long books, because I have the attention span of a moth and struggle to focus on anything longer than 400 pages. I’m […]

Blogtober Day 8: You Me At Six – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 07/10/18

Blogtober Day 8: You Me At Six – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 07/10/18

Another Sunday, another trip to Sound Knowledge, this time to see the indefatigable You Me At Six. It’s been a busy couple of years for the band – this is their second full-length release in the space of eighteen months – and this show was […]

Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Back at the start of summer Robin Stevens released a short story narrated by Daisy Wells, in which the Detective Society and the Junior Pinkertons team up to investigate a string of museum robberies. I bought it the day it was released, but I decided to wait to read it until after Death in the Spotlight was released – otherwise I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist rereading the series (and I just don’t have the time to reread them yet!).

I read this out loud to my boyfriend and our daughter, and we’re all in agreement that this is a superb short story. (Well, I think Zophia agrees… She seemed very intent on trying to eat my copy.) My favourite installment in the Murder Most Unladylike series so far is definitely Cream Buns and Crime, which is a short story collection, so I was expecting good things, but I didn’t think The Case of the Missing Treasure was going to be this much fun!

It’s Daisy’s birthday, so Uncle Felix organises a treasure hunt for her to do – along with Hazel, George and Alexander – but they end up stumbling upon clues to a real case by accident. I was already a fan of the short stories told from Daisy’s perspective, and with such an amusing premise this became an instant favourite.

The story itself is a little under 100 pages, while the book sits at around 150, because it includes a couple of chapters from the beginning of Death in the Spotlight. I was a little disappointed by this because I didn’t want the short story to end, but at least I’ve waited until the next installment in the series has been released, so it won’t be long until I’m rejoining Daisy and Hazel on their next adventure. At only a couple of pounds, this story is a steal: I’m so glad I decided to buy a copy, as it’s the first Murder Most Unladylike book that I’ve owned. It’s dinky but so cute!

 

If you’re interested in learning more about The Case of the Missing Treasure, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

A brief review for a brief story – come back tomorrow for my next Blogtober post!

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 6: Review: The Invasion by Peadar O’Guilin

Blogtober Day 6: Review: The Invasion by Peadar O’Guilin

Continuing the events from The Call, you might expect The Invasion to be brighter than it’s predecessor, but that is not the case. While it seemed that things were looking up for Anto and Nessa, they’re torn away from each other and plunged back into the world of […]