A river of images

Today, Top Tweet Tuesday is hosting a review fest for independent poetry reviews. For a while now, Amazon has refused to let me post reviews, insisting that I never bought the book, I don’t have an account, I don’t exist etc etc. It’s frustrating.

Anyway, TTT has nudged me to try a different approach. I have tried posting using my Amazon.fr account, the one I use for buying anti-flea pipettes and ink for the printer. It worked! I think. Still being processed, but this ***** review of Merril D. Smith’s poetry collection River Ghosts might actually appear on the Amzon.fr site soon.

A river of images

Merril Smith has been one of my favourite contemporary poets for a few years now, one of those poets who uses language to paint pictures. Her poems are to be read slowly, admired. They should be absorbed like a painting in a gallery. A quick glance then moving on isn’t enough.

So much of the poetry in this collection is about colour (especially blue), memory and the moving river of the turning world. So much of it has the feel of an inheritance, as if memories have shaped the words and transmitted emotional images of things the poet has never seen. Her tender stories about her mother’s forebears in eastern Europe are like Chagall paintings, mythical, dreamlike interpretations of life that is often hard and unforgiving.

The poem River Ghosts sets the tone of the collection, the gentle winding of a dream-river. Dreams and memories are at the core of each of these brightly-coloured poems, but some get under the skin. The poem Handprints, for example, with its images of light, the red handprint on a wall, an arcane symbol, the ancient light of stars, bouncing back and forth in repetition is more profound than simply beautiful. And my favourite of the many poems inspired by Smith’s late mother, Hearts, where the perennity of the ones we love is like a river, flowing from generation to generation.

These poems are profound but limpid, personal and universal. They are simple poems with many layers, like paint on a canvas, their message clear, lyrical and un-clever. To be treasured.

You can get a copy of River Ghosts from Amazon.co.uk or at Amazon.com

Smitten: review

I was very kindly given a copy of this anthology of poems by women for women by one of the editors and contributors, Candice Daquin. Unfortunately Amazon won’t let me post it. I don’t spend enough seems to be the reason. I apologise, Amazon, for being poor.

Here it is, a very short review as it was intended for Amazon.


The Smitten anthology is a massive and important undertaking. With so many different poets and styles of poetry, it would have been astonishing if I had enjoyed every one of the contributions, and I didn’t. But there are a lot of poems that I did enjoy, some like Paula Jellis’s I want a woman with a big Bouffant and Clementine’s Please like girls made me smile. Others like Halleluja R. Huston’s vivid The Queen of Spain took the pain of one woman and implied its relevance to thousands. Likewise Lynne Burnett’s Willowy Rose & Chrysanthemum took a simple scene in a restaurant as a symbol of what love ought to mean to everyone.

It is the poems like these (there are many more: Jennifer Mathews’ What He Gave Away being one of my favourites) that make this collection interesting for me, because they are universal poems, about universal truths, of relevance to us all. There is nothing cliquey or clubby about them, they are simply good poems.

Review: Abomination

I must post this enthusiastic review of ‘Abomination’ which made my day when I saw it yesterday. I’m really pleased to know that this reader got a lot of fun out of the book.


Fantastic Apocolyptic Sci-Fi/Horror Thriller, June 19, 2017


Amazon Customer

This review is from: Abomination: (A Young Adult Fiction Novel) (The Pathfinders Book 1) (Kindle Edition)

‘Abomination’ is the first book in ‘The Pathfinders’ series by Jane Dougherty. I will start off by saying that I immensely enjoyed this apocalyptic novel. It was dark, gritty, and raw and had me completely pulled into the story. ‘Abomination’ is a fantastic read which is very well written and the story (even though apocalyptic /post-apocalyptic has been done before), is very original and engrossing.

One of the first things I noticed, was seeing parallel elements from ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding, and I feel has elements in common with ‘The Walking Dead’ also. As I’ve mentioned above, it’s simply a very dark and brutal book. I would not hesitate to recommend it to young adults, as that is that is also the intended audience. There is strong language throughout the book, so those who are very sensitive, should be forewarned.

The story starts off quite harmlessly, but things go down the drain very quickly for Carla and Tully, as they are hurtled through a wormhole five years into the future just as the end of the world is beginning. Unfortunately, this just takes them out of the frying pan and into the fire. There they must battle against blood-thirsty youngsters, gangs, mutated animals and against other characters which I will only describe here as supernatural or demonic (i.e. the Burnt Man).

It is a story of adapting oneself to a new environment and dire situations while still trying to hold onto one’s values and to rise above the despondency and cut-throat ways of the gangs who have had to live through five years of hell and destruction. Just as in ‘Lord of the Flies’, any semblance of society has fallen apart and the youngsters are not concerned with growing food or following rules (except their own twisted law), but are only interested in fighting and with attaining/holding onto power.

‘Abomination’, isn’t just about the struggle of humans against nature and other humans, but is a struggle against mutated animals and supernatural forces which wish to destroy the world. These elements, due to spoilers, will not be talked about in this review, but needless to say, ‘Abomination’ is an action-packed supernatural thriller which borders on horror.

What makes this story believable, are the actions of the characters in the book. The characters act in a very believable and natural way, which pulls us in as the reader and makes us feel for these characters. Furthermore, the author’s writing style is easy to read and her descriptions pull the reader in and fully immerse them in this experience.

The book ends with a very good cliffhanger which just makes me want to pick up the second book, ‘Devastation’, in order to continue the journey with Carla and Tully.

‘Abomination’ is an action-packed apocalyptic novel which borders on horror. Due to its original take on the end of times, and for the superb writing style of Jane Dougherty, I highly recommend this book to others who enjoy supernatural thrillers. I would absolutely love to see this book get a movie deal or even better, a Netflix series, as I believe the story would find a huge fan-base across wide audiences.
Happy reading!

If you feel compelled to rush off and get a copy, a simple click will open the wormhole.





A curate’s egg of a book

Moth is a fantasy world that has stopped turning, leaving half in permanent daylight and half in darkness. A very tiny world it must be, since it takes only a couple of hours to walk from the light side, through the bit of dusk, and into deep darkness. The people who live in the light don’t believe anybody lives in the dark and vice versa, even though a short walk would prove them wrong. There are so many unbelievable aspects to this idea that I read it as an allegory. However, by the time I got to the end, I realised that I was mistaken. The villain who looks like a serpent, the king clonking around in plate armour, the revolting peasants, the main characters who behave and speak like twelve year olds, the inexplicable demi-global crusade to destroy non-existant people in the dark world, are meant to be taken at face value. Seriously.

I had been going to write a review on the strength of the second part of the story set in the dark half, a Medieval Japanese style society. The heroine Koyee Mai I found touching and sympathetic, if you ignore the Taxi Driver transformation she undergoes in the closing stages. The descriptions of the river, the city with its fantastic buildings and ugly mean streets, it’s palaces, graveyards, quiet market squares, and opium dens are beautiful. The whole of this dark world is lit by lanterns. Even the fish glow with light, and it really is quite lovely. But because I found the book so unbalanced, the characters from the daylight world so excruciatingly awful with a female lead who needed somebody to wrap her golden plaits round her neck and strangle her with them, the whole plot so full of holes it’s astonishing the entire cast didn’t just disappear, I won’t.

I’d recommend it for Koyee Mai’s story and a dip into her world which is the greater part of the book. Moth seems to be permafree so all it costs is your time. It’s the first of a long series, which I shall not be reading. Unfortunately, the awful Bailey is not eliminated in the terrible battles at the end of the book, so will no doubt be wiggling her plaits, shoving her finger into people’s chests and bullying and demeaning her so-called friends all the way through the series.