Friday, 21 November 2014

Poetry Corner #23

I missed last week's post and time has flown by.  It's Friday evening and I am getting behind again. How about something light this week?  Today's choice is The Owl and The Pussycat by Edward Lear.

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat 

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’

Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

‘Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Edward Lear (1812-1888)

Monday, 10 November 2014

Book Review: Significance - Jo Mazelis

Synopsis - Lucy Swann is trying on a new life.  She's bought new clothes and cut and dyed her hair.  But in a small town in northern France her flight is violently cut short.  When Inspector Vivier and his handsome assistant Sabine Pelat begin their investigation into her murder, the chance encounters of her last days take on a new significance.  Lucy's death, like a stone thrown into a pool, sends out far-reaching ripples, altering the lives of people who never knew her, and the lives of her loved ones back home.

Review -  I received this book for review from Seren Books.

The central story is the murder of Lucy Swann but where this story differs from most crime fiction is that the main focus is not on the murder or criminal investigation itself.  Rather than centring the story around finding the killer and bringing them to justice, the author chooses to look at the characters involved.  I say involved, meaning both those who interacted with Lucy before her murder and others who involved themselves in some way after the crime was committed.  Ms Mazelis explores the thoughts and actions of the key characters.

We have established that Lucy is running away from England and we are given possible reasons why.  We know who Lucy spoke to before her murder and that a conversation was overheard.  She drops her cardigan on her way back to the hotel and the cardigan is picked up and put down by a couple of characters, this does not go unnoticed.  We learn that before Lucy, a prostitute was murdered in the town.  The investigators have to work out if it is the same MO and find out who this latest victim is.  They know she is foreign, English or American, and they know who she spoke to, who picked up her cardigan and whose DNA is on the cardigan.  The police pick up three suspects all with their own worries and problems at being detained.  The relationship between Vivier and his female assistant is explored and also the attitudes and behaviours of the junior officers towards Sabine Pelat.  Is it safe for a woman to go out on a dark evening on her own?  Why do men regard women in a sexual manner?  Should women hold senior posts in the police force?  Questions are raised and explored through the narrative in this story.

I enjoyed reading this large book.  It is not a traditional whodunnit but a novel that makes you think.  Writing in this literary manner reminded me of the writers of the early twentieth century who wrote predominantly for those on the same level of intellect.  I am not saying that today's writing is dumbed down, but it's aim is to appeal to a wider audience. It does not quite reach five stars for me purely because I was a little disappointed in the ending which I thought was rather unsatisfactory. It is better than four stars so I have to break my rule of not awarding half stars.  A resounding 4.5*

ISBN 978-1-78172-187-2
Published by Seren.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Poetry Corner #22

I was torn with my choice this week.  With Armistice Day coming up next Tuesday I thought about posting a war poem but having read Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43 this week, I went with the latter.

Sonnet 43

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, - I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! - and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you have encountered or spotlight words you love.  This weekly meme is hosted by BermudaOnion's Weblog.  If you would like to join then please hop over (see link above) and add your URL to the Linky.

Once again I have only one word to share with you this week.   Taken from Significance by Jo Mazelis.

revenant - noun. a person who has returned, especially supposed from the dead.
"Marilyn had felt like a revenant, like one who has died and returned [...]."

What new words came into your vocabulary this week?

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Sunday Post #12

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog. This is your news post, so personalise it! Include as much as you want or as little. Check out the rules of the meme.

This week was a lot quieter which is possibly why I managed to post more than usual.  We did get a day trip in with the teen and her friend and I took quite a lot of photographs which will make their way onto my photo blog soon enough.

Posts on Booketta's Book Blog

Posts on my other blogs

Useful posts elsewhere in the Blogosphere
Weekend Edition – NaNoWriNOPE plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

Books Read
Forgotten - Cat Patrick 3*

Current Reads
I am working my way through some poetry collections including:
The World's Wife  - Carol Ann Duffy
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud... - Ana Sampson
My current read is:
Significance - Jo Mazelis

My Musical Listens
The Cranberries - Everyone Is Doing It
John Legend - Get Lifted
Ben Howard - I Forgot Where We Are

Downton Abbey
Grey's Anatomy 

Blog Book Plans
I hope to have some more words to share on Wondrous Words Wednesday.
A poem for Poetry Corner.
A PreLoved giveaway.
One planned review.  Any more will be a bonus.
After the review read my next book choice will be whatever comes out of the book jar.

Plans for next week - to continue the decorating, mainly the hubby's job but I will lend a hand when needed.  I hope to get to writing group.  My monthly book group meets this week, get to both of my usual classes, get my hair done and there maybe an evening of poetry and music too. 

How was your week?

Saturday, 1 November 2014

It's A Wrap - End of Month Round Up

Here we are now in November and it is still relatively mild.  I don't want to tempt fate but it's not been too bad so far.  The long dark nights are upon us, I am trying to get up earlier to make the most of the daylight now the clocks have gone back an hour.  Halloween passed by, we had some callers for sweets and as if they knew we had run out there were no more callers.  I swear word spreads which houses to call.

October on the blog has been a pretty good month for me.  The reviewing mojo is on its way back and I am enjoying participating in some memes and writing discussion posts.  Here is what October looked like on Booketta's Book Blog.

Post Stats
Poetry Corner = 5
Discussion Post: Self Publishing = 1
Sunday Post = 3
Wondrous Words Wednesday = 5
Book Review = 2
Give-away = 1

Books Read and Reviewed
Calling Mrs Christmas - Carole Matthews 4*
Forgotten - Cat Patrick 3*

Books Read and Rated
A Place of Execution - Val McDermid 5*
Ghost In The Machine - Ed James 4*
The Stepmother's Support Group - Sam Baker 3*
The Pilot's Wife - Anita Shreve 5*

Books Unfinished/Losers
Rachel's Holiday - Marian Keyes
What Would Oprah Do? - Erin Emerson
Public Property - Mandy Baggot

A Place of Execution - Val McDermid 5*
The Pilot's Wife - Anita Shreve 5*

Poetry Feature
Mrs Rip Van winkle - Carol Ann Duffy
The Tyger - William Blake
I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud - William Wordsworth
Ozymandias - Percy Bysshe Shelley
The Raven - Edgar Allan Poe

Discussion Post
Self Publishing - The pros and cons both from an author's and a reviewer's perspective.

Sunday Post
I missed one week but kept up with this meme through the month when possible.

Wondrous Words Wednesday
I found words from various reads to post this month.

I gave away a PreLoved copy of To The Fair Land by Lucienne Boyce.  The winner was Anne from Random Things Through My Letterbox.

I made 17 posts during October, my stats are still improving.  I read 6 books out of 9 but 3 were abandoned, they just didn't grab me at all.  I am still catching up on my TBR reads which will take me a long time to clear the shelves.  I am still not able to take on any review requests for the foreseeable future.

Plans for October
I am currently reading Significance by Jo Mazelis which was sent to me for review, an exceptional request acceptance. My next choice will be from the book jar.  I have more poems to share with you and I hope to find some new words to bring to WWW.  The intention is to try and make regular contributions to the Sunday Post and find an interesting topic to discuss with you.  I hope to post some reviews and I am going to host a PreLoved give-away this month.  Due to the fairly high postage costs over here I can only manage one of these give-aways a month and for UK residents only.  Watch this space!

How was your month in books?

Friday, 31 October 2014

Poetry Corner #21

It's Halloween and to get into the mood I thought I would share some extracts from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.  Of course this poem has been brought to everyone's attention in the Halloween episode of The Simpsons.

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I
pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore –
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly
there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door -
“Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought
its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow –
sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom
the angels name Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

Open here I flung the shutter, when,
with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a
minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched
above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by
that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom
the angels name Lenore.'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or
fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the
Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that
lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take
thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming
throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that
lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Edgar Allen Poe (1809 - 1840)
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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Discussion: Self Publishing

Up for discussion this month is the rocky subject of Self Publishing.  I will try and look at this from both the author's and the reviewer's point of view and try and bust some myths while I'm at it.  The reason I have decided to tackle this subject today is because a couple of week's ago I went to a workshop or perhaps a more relevant title would be a 'discussion' on Self Publishing.  This particular workshop was run by Welsh author Derek Wynford Jones whose works are all self published.  You may ask were we getting a biased view?  I would say not.  There are pros and some, in my opinion, quite big cons to going down this route.

Let's look at reasons why an author would go down this route.  Is it by choice? Or, are they forced to take this route?  I have reviewed a book for a self published author who deliberately chose this route.  His reason was because he wanted sole control of his work. He wanted full editing rights and control over how and where his book was advertised/promoted and sold.  On the other hand I know of someone who was fed up with sending works to traditional publishing houses and getting no response that he decided the only way was to self publish.

The authors fortunate enough to be taken on by the publishing houses have all the marketing and sales managed for them.  Yes, their work is edited and there may have to be some negotiations along the way but their main focus is on the writing itself.  Hopefully, enough books are sold to earn some decent money and keep the royalties rolling in.

To choose to self publish is quite a costly process.  You write your book and with software such as Createspace (owned by Amazon) you can create your layout, use graphics to design a cover and even get your ISBN number.  Once you have got this far and edited your work you pay a percentage and on top of that, if you choose to print there are additional costs.  You can choose to pay for professional services to design the cover and format the book.  You decide the price you want to sell your book, you are responsible for marketing your book and deciding where and how you are going to sell your work.  Mainstream shops such as Waterstones would charge a lot of money to give you space on their shelves.  How do the self published market and sell?  Book launches or requesting a review from one of us.  Book launches don't come cheap.  Added costs such as venue hire, wine and canapes and then the punters need to buy the book!  Ask yourself, how likely are you to recoup the outlay for a book launch?  To get a review you will be sending your book for free to the reviewer in return for an honest review.  It is quite a gamble, and you have to be very serious about your work to undertake all the expense.  In my opinion, unless you are very successful then you are paying out for very little in return.  Of course, self publishing through Amazon you could just choose to sell your book for Kindle and not print.  Amazon is not the only way to self publish but I use this as an example.

Let's now look at self published work vs traditionally published work from a reviewer's perspective.  As I mentioned earlier I have reviewed self published work as well as books from publishing houses.  I know some reviewers put in their policies that they will not accept self published work.  That is a reviewer's choice and there may be valid reasons.  I think the biggest risk for a reviewer accepting a self published work is that it hasn't been edited professionally (you don't know that), but it's an assumption so there could be big mistakes, it could be rubbish, the layout could be wrong etc.  But I defy you to tell me that you have not read a book that has typographical errors, pages missing, blank pages, or is not particularly well written that has been accepted and printed through a traditional publishing house?  I am not talking about proofs or ARC's, I am talking about books that you may have purchased in your regular bookshop.

I think the main worry for a busy reviewer is having to sort the wheat from the chaff, as it were.  To self publish you could, technically, print anything. Random numbers or letters and make it into a book, but, realistically you are going to get a story of some sort.  However, you may have a higher ratio of 'chaff' shall we say from a self published author.  Now, us reviewers do need to take into account, and I know we do, that an author's work has taken a lot of time and input into its making.  At the end of the day, who are we to discard a self publisher so readily?  Reading is subjective and so is reviewing to a point, although one should be objective in one's approach.  Yes, I know we all do that already but I am just making my point.

Time is of the essence and many reviewers state what they will/will not accept for review and this should make it easier for authors/publishers to distinguish their audience.

What are your views about accepting self published works for review?  Please comment below if you would like to enter the discussion.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you have encountered or spotlight words you love.  This weekly meme is hosted by BermudaOnion's Weblog.  If you would like to join then please hop over (see link above) and add your URL to the Linky.

I have only one word to share with you this week.  Taken from The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve.

unalloyed - adj. (of pleasure etc) pure, sheer.
"He was laughing, she recalled, laughing with genuine, unalloyed pleasure, as a child might do, as he so seldom did."

What new words came into your vocabulary this week?

Monday, 27 October 2014

Book Review: Forgotten - Cat Patrick

Synopsis - Here's the thing about me: I can see the future in flashes, like memories.  But my past is a blank.

I remember what I'll wear tomorrow, and an argument that won't happen until this afternoon.  But I don't know what I ate for dinner last night.  I get by with the help of notes, my mom and my best friend Jamie, and the system works...

Until now.  Everything's falling apart, Jamie's going off the rails.  My mom is lying to me.  And I can't see the boy I adore in my future.

But today, I love him.  and I never want to forget how much...

Review - I won this book from a competition on JeanzBookReadNReview a good while ago and I am ashamed to say that this book alongside others, got pushed to the back of the pile that is mount TBR.  However, it has already been read by the teen, so it hasn't exactly gathered dust.

How would you cope if you couldn't remember what happened yesterday, or the week, month or year before?  We're not talking alzheimers here.  When London Lane falls asleep at night her memory resets at 4.33 am precisely.  She relies on notes to get her through the day at school which is not easy.  Her good friend Jamie, her mom and the boy who befriends her on his first day at her school are there to help.   What London does 'remember' or 'see' is the future.  This novel rolls along sweetly and we gradually discover why London's brain is wired differently.

I think this book is popular with YA readers because it addresses so many issues that this age group face.  Relationships, trust, betrayal, love, friendships, bullying and just getting through school itself. I liked the relationship between London and her mom who is naturally protective of her fragile daughter.  We find out that her mom has kept some truths from her and we can ask ourselves as parents, should we hold back on information?  Of course, the answer to that is depending on what that information is and the potential after effects, if any.  Luke is a great boyfriend even if a little too good to be true, but he loves London and has loved her for a long time.  It's a nice story and an easy read.  3*

ISBN 978-1-4052-5361-1
Egremont Press

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