Brief blogs for busy bees

Author: Alyce

Blogtober Day 18: Ode to Trench

Blogtober Day 18: Ode to Trench

twenty one pilots released their fifth album, TRENCH, on the 5th of October, and I was too apprehensive to listen to it straight away, but now I’ve heard it a few times I wanted to get my thoughts about the album down. What better place […]

Blogtober Day 17: Review: Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon

Blogtober Day 17: Review: Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon

Rosie Loves Jack begins with a newspaper article detailing the story of a teenager with Down’s syndrome who has gone missing after running away from home to be reunited with her boyfriend. When we join Rose, it’s before she embarks on her cross-country adventure to Jack, […]

Blogtober Day 16: Top Ten Tuesday: Bookstores I want to visit

Blogtober Day 16: Top Ten Tuesday: Bookstores I want to visit

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, but was recently relocated to That Artsy Reader Girl

 

Every bookworm has a list of bookstores that they want to visit. Whether they’re renowned for their amazing events, have amazing social media accounts or are just talked about ALL THE TIME, you must have some in your mind that you’re hoping to get around to visiting someday. These are ten of mine.

 

10) Union Square Barnes and Noble, NY

I know that Barnes and Noble is definitely not the most exciting bookstore that I’ve put on this list, but I’ve always wanted to visit New York and Barnes and Noble is such a well-known American chain of bookstores, so I’d love to visit their Union Square store. I don’t think I’d be able to fly home, though, because I’d end up spending far too much…

 

9) Tell a Story, Portugal

Tell a Story is a book van which travels around Portugal, carrying volumes of Portuguese literature translated into English to promote it amongst tourists. I think the concept of Tell a Story is wonderful, and I’d love to track it down and discover some of the countries hidden treasures.

 

8) Barter Books, Alnwick

Barter Books is famous for a couple of reasons, but the instantly recognisable one is that it was the location where the original Keep Calm and Carry On poster was discovered. There is poetry printed along the bookshelves and a model train which runs around the store, making it a quaint and adorable site that certainly makes for a memorable experience.

 

7) Big Green Bookshop, London

Big Green Bookshop gained notoriety a couple of years ago, as the owner decided to tweet Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at Piers Morgan after he had a blazing row with J.K. Rowling. I’ve followed them on Twitter ever since, and it’s been quite emotional to experience the ups and downs of running an independent bookshop – something which I’ve always aspired to do – so I’d love to be able to go down and purchase a few books from them to help them keep going.

 

6) Leakey’s Bookshop, Inverness

Leakey’s Bookshop looks like something ripped straight out of the pages of Harry Potter. Located inside an old church, it’s the definition of the world magical, and it looks like somewhere I could spend hours upon hours (or, more likely, days).

 

5) Waterstones Piccadilly, London

Waterstones Piccadilly is London’s largest bookstore, and one of the only London Waterstones that I’m yet to visit. I was hoping to go there last year for an event with Lisa Williamson, Non Pratt and Hannah Witton, but tickets sold out before I was able to snag them, so I’m just waiting for another brilliant event line-up to give me an excuse to travel across to this store.

 

4) The Strand, New York

A bit more exciting than a trip to Barnes and Noble, I’d definitely visit The Strand if I ever went to New York. It’s one of the most famous independent bookstores in the world, and definitely the most famous bookstore in New York. This is a destination that should be on most bookworms bucket lists. It’s apparently home to 18 miles of books – who knows how many new favourites you could discover?

 

3) The Book Barge, France

The Book Barge was originally located in the UK, but that’s the problem with boats – they can easily float away and find new homes! There are a few canal boats which have been converted into bookshops out there now, but I’d ideally like to visit The Book Barge, as it seems to have been the first (and is still one of the most popular) of its kind.

 

2) Goldsboro Books, London

I’ve bought a lot of signed editions from Goldsboro Books‘ online store, but I’d love to visit them in person one day. They often have great events on: they even had a signing with Pierce Brown at the start of the year, but I was in the late stages of pregnancy and didn’t want to risk going all the way to London in case I popped!

 

1) Shakespeare and Company, Paris

I have wanted to visited Shakespeare and Company for a very long time, and this desire only increased after reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. It’s described in such a magical way, and if the inside is as beautiful as the outside – and as wonderful as Perkins describes it – then it’s going to be worth the wait when I eventually get to visit it.

 

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday. Are there any bookstores that I’ve missed that you think I’d love just as much as these ones?

Alyce

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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 […]