‘It was a winter they would tell tales about. A winter that arrived so sudden and sharp it stuck birds to branches, and caught the rivers in such a frost their spray froze and scattered down like clouded crystals on stilled water. A winter that…
Tag: three star review
New girl Anna Clark moved from Birmingham to Scotland to escape something terrible that happened in her past. But you can’t outrun your demons quite that easily, especially not when they’re plastered all over social media for the world to see. While the other students…
Jon Keller never though he’d be at a conference in a hotel in Switzerland when the world ended, but that’s exactly how it happens. One moment, he’s having a hotel breakfast, the next there’s a woman screaming at her phone, devastated to learn that there’s been a nuclear attack in Washington.
Before long, more news rolls in. Bombs have detonated across the globe. Scotland is lost. The president is dead.
Chaos erupts. Some people flee from the hotel, while others are frozen in fear and can’t comprehend the idea of leaving. Luckily for us, Jon is one of the people who chooses to stay, dedicating his time to keeping a record of the events that unfold at L’Hotel Sixieme.
Things spiral out of control quickly. The water supply is tainted, so Jon and two of the hotel staff members head up to the roof to see if they can figure out the problem and are devastated to discover the body of a little girl in one of the water towers.
One of the other survivors is a murderer, and Jon is determined to find the killer.
The Last has one of the most intriguing taglines I’ve ever encountered, but unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I’m going to resist giving too much away because I’m very aware that it’s not published until the 31st, but I’m thinking of revisiting the story and writing a more in-depth review next month because I have a lot of feelings about this book.
The first half of the novel is gripping because it plays with your head. Surrounded by strangers and certain that one of them is a killer, Jon’s mind plays tricks on him, twisting him into an unreliable narrator and hooking you instantly. This is helped by the first few entries in Jon’s journal being short and snappy, causing fifty pages to fly past in the blink of an eye.
I did find my mind wandering towards the end of the book. As the setting changes so does the focus of the novel, shifting from a small group hellbent on survival to the fate of the world, which I’ve seen done so many times that I wasn’t all that interested. If I’d been craving action and the introduction of real danger, it would have been perfect, but I was charmed by the well-crafted and realistic cast in the hotel (who get extra points for being multicultural, featuring characters from across the globe, of various ages and sexualities).
One of the aspects that I appreciated the most was the characters trying to charge their phones and get internet after the power had already begun running out. That’s concern is bound to plague people if the world does end, and it’s realistic to feature it rather than implying that the entire population could adjust to the loss of technology instantly.
However, The Last is at risk of becoming a zeitgeist. There are thinly veiled insinuations that the nuclear war is the fault of an unspecified president (clearly intended to be President Trump), while there’s also a brief exploration of the #MeToo movement. It’ll be interesting to revisit the novel in a few years and see whether the concerns remain relevant, because I can imagine that the yearning for social media updates will become more pertinent as time passes.
I hadn’t heard of Hanna Jameson until this novel was announced, but I’m planning on going back and reading some of her previous releases, as I really enjoyed her writing style (particularly the fact that she made me care about Jon despite him being such an unlikable character!).
Before I go, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Viking for sending me an advanced copy of this book. It’s highly anticipated, so I’m very grateful that I could count myself as one of the lucky readers who got to check it out early. The Last is released on January 31st, so if you’re interested you should definitely get yourself a copy.
Hello there, and welcome to my stop on the Before I Find You blog tour. Sorry for the radio silence over the past couple of weeks: we’ve moved home and trying to get WiFi installed has been a nightmare, so it’s been a blogless fortnight for me.…
“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…
Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Beardies’ World blog tour. First off I’d like to say a huge thank you to Faye, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, and to Joyce Ives, author of Beardies’ World, who has written a lovely guest post for me to share with you all today.
In case you haven’t heard of Beardies’ World before, I’m going to start by giving you some more information about the book, before I share some briefs thoughts about it in a spoiler-free review.
If you already have a dog/dogs or are even thinking of buying one, read this book, which shows what fun and laughter we had with ours over twenty-six years, making a lot of friends along the way.
This book is Joyce Ives’ narrative to the twenty-six years she and husband John owned, cared for and loved their four Bearded Collies. The memories shared by Joyce in this book are likely to touch the heart of anyone who has had any experience of growing up and growing old with dogs. In her narrative Joyce has been able to capture beautifully how our special bond with our canine friends often becomes so significant in our life’s journey; our experiences of joy and laughter and at times our sadness and loss.
If you’re interested in learning more about Beardies’ World, click on the cover to 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!
So, what did I think of Beardies’ World?
When I first started reading Beardies’ World I found it a little disorienting, as it’s told from the perspective of the dogs rather than from Joyce herself. As I got used to the writing style I found it charming and quirky, but it did take a little while to adjust as it’s very different to any non-fiction I’ve read before.
A combination of memoir and travel guide, Beardies’ World is informative, sharing tips about the best places to visit with dogs in the UK, as well as the best walking holidays you can take with or without four-legged friends. Joyce’s descriptions bring the various British locations to life in your mind. I particularly enjoyed their trip to the Isle of Wight, somewhere I visited when I was a child – it made me remember a lot about my week away that I’d forgotten, and now I’m desperate to return.
But Joyce doesn’t only use this book to educate; it’s also highly entertaining. Stuffed full of humorous – yet often disastrous – tales, Joyce welcomes you into her family and into her home, delivering anecdotes that will remind you of the best and worst times you’ve had with your own dogs. Joyce’s Beardies seem to particularly enjoy water and mud, and I laughed out loud at multiple points (helped along by adorable illustrations and photographs, showing the dogs in their moments of mayhem). Be warned: you will shed tears at multiple points, but Joyce begins the book by describing the Rainbow Bridge with optimism and positivity, so try not to get too upset!
Reading Beardies’ World is like eating stew: it warms you from the inside out, it’s inoffensive and it’s easily digestible. I didn’t feel as though I could rate it higher than three stars because it did take me quite a while to feel comfortable with the writing style, but this is bound to appeal to other readers and I’m sure it’s going to become a fast favourite among dog lovers.
Now it’s time for me to pass you over to Joyce, who has some advice for those who are considering getting a four-legged friend of their own…
Ten tips to give new dog owners
- Breeders do not usually sell you a puppy if you work full time as it cannot be trained if left all day and he/she would be lonely. You cannot train a puppy to become clean if you are not there.
- A crate is good to have, large enough for a growing puppy, with washable bedding at the back (not bean bag, puppies are inclined to rip these open and all the balls fall out) and several sheets of paper at the front. A crate is ideal at night time until he/she is clean and not for keeping the puppy in all day, but helpful if you want to pop out to get some shopping and stops it getting into mischief. During the day you need to constantly take your dog out, praising it every time it functions. i.e. “Name – go and do a wee wee, Name – go and do a poo”, or whatever word you want to use. This helps if you are visiting friends and you ask your dog to function before you leave, although on a long journey it is best to make them comfortable before entering a friend’s house
- Find a good training school, this is usually once a week in the evening and you are expected to practice every day. Do not spend more than half an hour at a time training as the puppy will tire easily and then they will not give you their full attention. I always use titbits when they do something right, using from the amount of food when you feed them, don’t overfeed.
- Socialise your dog before their vaccinations. If they are not a large puppy I always took them out in a holdall zipped up with just their head out so they can see and get used to all the traffic noise. You are right up close to them to assure them. Hang the bag around your neck at your front. Once allowed down on the ground, I took my puppies to my local town on market day, making sure they got used to the air brakes on buses.
- Bonfire night. It seems fireworks/bangers are being set off before the 5th November. Rather than going to the vet and asking for calming pills, there is a C.D. you can buy especially for dogs. You play it at home in the evenings prior to the 5th starting the sounds low, then gradually increase the noise over a period of a few weeks so they get used to the noise.
- Allowing the dogs on furniture and on or in your bed is up to you, if you have guests they are not really happy sitting on dog hairs. As for the bed, if the dog picks up mites running through long grass in the summer, then you will get badly bitten and itchy and the sheets will need changing.
- Always remember if you allow a dog to do something just once, their mindset is they are allowed to do it all the time. It is always bad manners to feed your dog from the table, there is nothing worse than a begging drooling and dribbling dog.
- If you take your dog out regularly, at least three times a day, they probably will not use the garden when is an asset if you have young children there is nothing worse than poo covered shoes.
- Brush and clean your dog regularly checking their paws for cuts and ears especially if they flap down as they are more prone to get infection not being open to the air. If you buy a Beardie a Mason Pearson brush is best. It is expensive but should last the whole of your dog’s life. It is also good to practice opening your dog’s mouth, so when the vet needs to do it, there shouldn’t be a problem. Cleaning their teeth regularly, you will avoid the expense of your dog having an anaesthetic to have them cleaned to stop decay and bad breath.
- Whether you buy a pedigree dog or a mixed breed, you should consider insuring with a good pet insurance company and remember once they reach ten years old the premium greatly increases.
About the author:
Ever since she was a young girl, Joyce Ives has had a soft spot in her heart for dogs. So when the time came, she decided to leave her full time job to become an owner to her very first Bearded Collie – Kizzy. After this initial decision, they soon became owners to three other beautiful Beardies – Emma, Muffin and Solei. Unfortunately, due to ill health, both Joyce and John no longer look after any dogs but Joyce will always dream of owning more. Joyce now resides in Seaford, East Sussex, and is glad to finally have had time to write her first book.
I’d like to say another huge thank you to Joyce, for writing such a heartwarming book (and a highly informative blog post for my readers!).
Have you ever owned any Beardies, or do you favour a different breed?
Welcome to the first of two blog tours which I’m taking part in today.
The two titles couldn’t be much further apart – this is a book aimed at young school children, while I’m also on the blog tour for C.J. Skuse’s second adult crime novel, In Bloom. Check back in an hour or so to see that post!
But first up is Love the Stationery in Your Classroom by Rebecca Palliser, an adorable rhyme-filled picture book which teaches little ones how to respect the shared stationery at school so that everyone can have fun playing with it (and the stationery can feel happier, too!).
About the book:
This delightful little book encourages children to learn about – and have fun with – the stationery they encounter in the classroom. Author Rebecca Palliser wants to help all children to find their feet in the primary school classroom.
After reading Love the Stationery in Your Classroom, I decided to give it 3 stars.
I wasn’t expecting it to be a rhyming story, so when I started reading it out to my daughter I was delighted. The story is simple but effective: the stationery in the classroom are fed up with being treated terribly by the children they’re there to help, so they write them a letter asking them to consider being more respectful.
All the best picture books have a moral and although teaching children to act responsibly isn’t a unique lesson, it’s delivered in a light-hearted and fun way that doesn’t make it sound like a boring lesson to learn.
My only complaint about Love the Stationery in Your Classroom is that I wish there had been more images. The pictures of the stationery are very whimsical, their happy faces at odds with the sadness that they’re feeling, and they’re very visually pleasing.
However, there are two rhymes on each page! If it had been separated so that each rhyme had its own separate page, it would have showcased the different types of stationery better. It also would make the book less daunting for a young child to read on their own, because the language isn’t very complex but having a lot of text on one page could be off-putting.
I’m definitely going to be keeping hold of this picture book to show to my daughter when she’s a little older and getting ready to go to school. She’s only a few months old and she loved the voices which I gave to all of the different characters – I’m sure she’ll enjoy it even more when she can appreciate the adorable artwork.
If you’re interested in learning more about Love the Stationery in Your Classroom, click on the cover to 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!
About the author:
Rebecca Palliser is a young primary school teacher whose experiences in the classroom inspired her to write to have an influence on her pupils.
She is about to embark on a Masters programme where she hopes to continue to write alongside her studies.
She takes inspiration for her stories from her travels exploring different cultures and cities, spending time with her little dog Darcy and of course her biggest muse, the delightful pupils she is fortunate to teach.
Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Faye Rogers, for organising the blog tour for Love the Stationery in Your Classroom, and to Rebecca Palliser for writing such a cute story.