review

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

Although I’m Welsh I don’t seem to read many books set in Wales and published in Wales so lately I’ve been making note of them when I see them. I bought this online after reading the synopsis and I wasn’t disappointed.

My thoughts

There was so much to enjoy and love about this book. The secrets that Violet is keeping from her daughter Cadi make this novel deliciously dark. Add to that the ghosts and the fact that Lili is a witch makes this story riveting.

It’s a haunting and poetic story tangled with myth, memory and hints of magic. Simply put it’s beautiful. It’s not only set in Wales, with Welsh characters but there’s also snatches of the Welsh language. I loved how accurate the characters dialogue is, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book which so accurately portrays Welsh people speaking (in English), I could recognise the way myself and others I know speak. It’s definitely a first for me!

This is book is perfect for those who love magic and amazing stories with wonderful depth. Ghostbird is all about the characters and caring about them makes you want to keep reading. You can see each person’s side of the story as you try to work out the mystery behind the secrets.  It’s a story which is achingly sad but held such words of wisdom within its pages:

“If you have to start living a new life half way through the one you thought you had, the only thing to do was look upon it as an adventure.” p.267

“A weed’s only a flower in the wrong place.” p 264 

It feels like an authentic story even with it’s supernatural elements. The beauty of the setting and the witch’s garden is lovely. I find myself running out of words to explain how good this book is. Mae’n Bendigedig!

*

If you’re looking for a Halloween read I’d definitely recommend this book, it’s got enough darkness and ghostly moments, to enthral gothic fiction lovers but not too much to scary you silly. It’s perfect for everyone, a lovely story.

pile of pumpkin
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

This is the first book I’ve read for this Halloween season, I’ve also finished We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson (tense) and now I’m reading Haverscroft by S.A.Harris and that’s definitely worth a read! More soon!

N.B. I really love Carol Lovekin’s dialogue it’s definitely a lesson for writers.

 

 

review

Some Sex and A Hill by Aran Jones

It’s not what you think! I read this book after seeing it on the Say Something In Welsh website/forum/newsletter. I borrowed it from Amazon Prime to feel less guilty about buying more books.

Synopsis from Amazon:

Aran Jones wrote the course for the popular online Welsh learning system SaySomethinginWelsh.com, and with his close friend Iestyn ap Dafydd he co-founded SaySomethingin.com Ltd.

Tens of thousands of Welsh learners have used SaySomethinginWelsh as part of their journey towards speaking Welsh.

This irreverent (and often downright impolite) book is the story of how Aran himself learnt Welsh.

It involves parties, bad jokes about sex, broken hearts, alcohol, tactical mistakes, moments of joy, tattoos and all the raw humiliation of embarrassing yourself in public – not just once, but over and over again. Some of the painful moments here will be immediately recognisable to all Welsh learners – others might strike them as unnecessary and self-inflicted.

If you’re looking for a calm and thoughtful analysis of different ways to learn Welsh, this is very much NOT the right book for you.

If, on the other hand, you want evidence that Aran has suffered as much as you have at the hands of the Welsh language, and possibly humiliated himself even more (drunken charades, anyone?) then you’re in exactly the right place.

My review

I read the sample of this book and I couldn’t stop reading!

It’s such a funny story about learning a language, the pain and the pleasure. I was laughing out loud to myself. One anecdote that stands out is when Aran was at the Eisteddfod and wanted to buy a jacket potato, he had to ask in Welsh and he was so nervous about it in case the person said something that he hadn’t learnt in his course. Then it turned out they were speaking in English!

This books shows the author’s love for the Welsh language and the aching sadness of a people who have lost their language through the ruling of the English monarchy who outlawed the speaking of the Welsh language as a way of claiming control over Cymru/Wales. If you don’t understand this you will after reading this book.

I read a book once about learning Welsh that put me off! It told me all the horror stories about Welsh speakers not wanting to speak Welsh with learners. I’ve discovered since that this was not completely right!

This book is honest and motivating, a great read for those who want to learn or are thinking of learning. It’s so funny!

I’m looking forward to reading the follow on book once it’s done.

*

If your curious about Say Something In Welsh then take a look at  the website here.

This book is available to buy here from Amazon, ebook or phyiscal copy.

 

Blog Tour

The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis

The_Jeweller_Blog_Tour_Poster
It is with great pleasure and thanks that I am posting my spot on the blog tour for this beautiful book. What drew me to this book was that it’s set in Wales and written by a Welsh author AND it’s the first book I’ve ever read that’s been translated from Welsh!
It’s also published by Honno who are a publisher especially for Welsh Women, celebrating not only Welsh fiction but women’s fiction.
the jeweller cover

Synopsis:

“A moving, quirky, and gorgeously written meditation on the haunting afterlife of the objects we leave behind. There is a lapidary beauty hidden in almost every sentence.” Tristan Hughes

Mari supplements her modest trade as a market stall holder with the wares she acquires from clearing the houses of the dead. She lives alone in a tiny cottage by the shore, apart from a monkey that she keeps in a cage, surrounding herself with the lives of others, combing through letters she has gleaned, putting up photographs of strangers on her small mantelpiece.

But Mari is looking for something beyond saleable goods for her stall.  As she works on cutting a perfect emerald, she inches closer to a discovery that will transform her life and throw her relationships with old friends into relief. To move forward she must shed her life of things past and start again. How she does so is both surprising and shocking…

My Review

The Jeweller is hypnotic, drawing you in with subtle imagery and describing settings in such a way that you feel you’re right there. The characters are distinct and could be someone who know. I didn’t know where the story was going but was happy to be pulled along, the chapters are short and before you know it you’ve finished the book!

This story is unique and stands out like a gem in the sand. It’s hard to really put my finger on what makes it so special, to put into words how it absorbs your attention and keeps it even after you’ve turned the last page.

I loved the haunting idea of people being somehow connected to the objects they leave behind and Mari is like their keeper and you wonder why until you reach the resolution of the story. Ideas are always hinted and shown, leaving you to make up your own mind about what happened.

 

I find it very hard to express my admiration for this book, it’s simply poetic and beautiful.

*

 

Caryl_Lewis_Photo_Credit_Keith_Morris
Photo by Keith Morris

AUTHOR: Caryl Lewis has published eleven Welsh-language books for adults, three novels for young adults and thirteen children’s books. Her novel Martha, Jac a Sianco (Y Lolfa, 2004), won Wales Book of the Year in 2005. Caryl wrote the script for a film based on Martha, Jac a Sianco, which won the Atlantis Prize at the 2009 Moondance Festival. Her television credits include adapting Welsh-language scripts for the acclaimed crime series Y Gwyll / Hinterland.

GWEN 6 BLACK AND WHITE_Jessica_Raby
Photo by Jessica Raby

TRANSLATOR:  Gwen Davies grew up in a Welsh-speaking family in West Yorkshire. She has translated into English the Welsh-language novels of Caryl Lewis, published as Martha, Jack and Shanco (Parthian, 2007) and The Jeweller and is co-translator, with the author, of Robin Llywelyn’s novel, published as White Star by Parthian in 2003. She is the editor of Sing, Sorrow, Sorrow: Dark and Chilling Tales (Seren, 2010). Gwen has edited the literary journal, New Welsh Review, since 2011. She lives in Aberystwyth with her family.

 

 

Uncategorized

What I’ve been doing

I’m writing this post and thinking to myself why? I’m not very good at writing personal stuff online, guess it’s an introvert thing. I was going to ask if anyone wanted me to write this but instead here goes.

Helo! It’s been a while.

I just wanted to explain what’s been going on. Well, this year I’ve been changing my attitude towards blogging. First of all I just reduced reviews and stopped taking new requests, but I was still requesting books on Netgalley.

I’ve got to the point now that I’ve realised how much time I spend blogging when I could be writing. And lately I’ve been doing other things as well….

What I’ve been doing:

Lost motivation to blog/review

Because of all the things I’ve been doing as well as writing (more info below) and maybe because I became overwhelmed with my Netgalley list (my own fault!) I stopped reviewing books. I was reading this one ARC and I wasn’t enjoying it, I read my Poldark book too quickly. Was feeling tired a lot from not enough sleep and reading and reviewing became a chore. I was enjoying the book I was reading for an upcoming blog tour but it was my Netgalley list that loomed over me. I even met my GoodReads goal.

I found less time to blog and didn’t know what to write about. I had a bit of a slump. I was tempted to write about the things I’d been doing but tired mind and being busy.

Yoga

backlit beach dawn dusk
Photo by Cedric Lim on Pexels.com

I started doing a 30 days of yoga challenge with my favourite yoga teacher, Adriene on youtube. I’ve done this before but always gave up when I couldn’t do yoga on consecutive days, I joined a lovely supportive yoga group on facebook and I’ve just been doing yoga when I can. This was all to change my mindset and feel less anxious which is what I’ve been trying to do with prioritising writing over blogging. So doing half an hour of yoga has taken up more time but I gain time also as I feel calmer and more able to write, read and …

Learn Welsh!

The red dragon flag of Wales

Ok, if you follow me on twitter you know. I am terrible at keeping things to myself, this blog, learning Welsh, writing previously. It seems silly to take on another thing to do when I’m trying to fit writing in but this is something I’ve always wanted to do. This could be a blog post all on it’s own.

I tried learning Welsh in the past, through books and the same website I’m using now Say Something In Welsh   (they do other languages to and it’s great!) but gave up for various reasons. Why I decided to try again now is more of a chain of events than anything else:

  • Keeping Faith/Un bore Mercher

I realised that the series Keeping Faith was originally filmed in Welsh as Une Bore Mercher when series two was aired this year. I wanted to watch the series so badly that I tuned into S4C to watch it in Welsh with subtitles obviously. I loved the music in series one and listening to the Welsh songs by Ela Hughes I really wanted to sing along but didn’t know what the words meant. I didn’t continue watching the Welsh language series sadly, I got distracted trying to see what Welsh I already knew so I continued with the English series when it came back on. I really wanted to know what the song was but it wasn’t on youtube yet. (I’ve found them all since 🙂 )

  • I think the next thing that happened was:

I seen a chance on social media to win a Welsh course, Alana Spencer who won The Apprentice one year is learning Welsh through Say Something In Welsh and all you had to do was email to enter to win this course. I thought about it but chickened out because it might be on tv, I don’t like photos or videos of myself never mind tv! I can’t remember if I tried the taster challengers on the Say Something In website before I seen this but once I seen this I thought why not try again?

Say Something In Welsh

So I started doing the free taster challenges on the website. I spent ages trying to decide if I should do the full course, the 5 minute course or just subscribe and have access to all the challenges/lessons. I was concerned I’d stop again so I thought I’d see how I went. I eventually decided to subscribe and then as usual wished I’d done the course but finding  the time with work etc can be tricky.

I enjoyed learning Welsh with Say Something In Welsh, joies i fe! It seems so easy, they say something in English and you say the Welsh. They tell you the words and you are learning to build them into sentences. I’m surprised by how much I’ve learnt in a short time (Dw i’n synnu at faint dw i’n wedi dysgu llawer mewn amswer byr).

I started doing this quite often when I was taking a holiday from work for a bit but now I’m trying to fit it in. Sometimes I think I don’t know anyone who speaks Welsh and I am so nervous about talking to people that I don’t. But then I watch some S4C and hear the language on Radio Cymru and realise how much I love it. I remember how I regret quitting all those other times and I really do love Welsh, I’ve gained a new love for the language, maybe it’s because I’m older now.

But I said it was a chain of events…. right? 

Before all this I agreed to happily review a book for a blog tour, it’s due on October 1st,and it’s published by a Welsh press and also written by a Welsh writer translated from the original Welsh language! Coincidence?! A few months after signing up for this I’m now learning Welsh. It’s very odd.

If you humour my imaginative fantasy writer reader (sorry) brain for a sec…. It’s like everything was pointing at me learning Welsh again. It’s just unusual…. 

Ok I’m back. Back to rationality I think. I’m still learning,( dw i’n dall wedi dysgu a mae eisiau i fi ymarfer siariad) and I need to practice speaking. I plucked up the courage to join an online hangout one day, only one person turned up and I was so annoyed with myself afterwards for not speaking enough Welsh and signing off instead of practicing. There’s time. It’s a marathon not a race…. and all that jazz. 🙂

I think that’s it.

Sorry, Thanks for sticking with me and reading this it feels a bit of a ramble. I’m feeling calmer after doing yoga and learning Welsh has given me such a sense of satisfaction that it is also contributing to me feeling good. I’m rereading the third book of my favourite trilogy: The Book Of Life By Deborah Harkness.

I don’t really want to stop blogging it’s just I really didn’t have anything to write about and writing one post takes so much time. I’ve got a blog tour coming up on October 1st for that book I was talking about and I’m also going to review the funny book I read by the person who thought up the Say Something In Welsh website. So more to come. And I’m reading another lovely book set in Wales now. And Halloween and spooky reads are on the horizon….

 

How have you been? Share your latest posts, thoughts, anything in the comments. 🙂

Hwyl!

review

Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

This is one of the books I read this summer as part of my challenge. First I must thank the website Books2doors for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a review. Their prices are very reasonable and have a wide selection.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (Book 1) (Percy Jackson And The Olympians) by [Riordan, Rick]

Synopsis from GoodReads:

“Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.”

My Thoughts

It was easy to like Percy Jackson, he gets into a few messes during school trips and he’s not a perfect student. They tell him he has ADHD and he’s been kicked out of various schools. He’s funny and honest and straight away I was hooked to his story.

It’s written in his voice like he’s talking to you and I can see why this book is so popular and why I have to recommend it to any child/young adult especially those who may relate to Percy’s problems at school.

Though of course Percy doesn’t have ADHD or anything like that he’s the son of a God. Reading his story was a lot like reading a classic Greek myth, except of course in a first person narrative. I am so glad that I decided to start reading these books because they are fun. I’ve seen the films (two of them anyway) and I found the books packed in more intrigue and story.

There is no way I can relate to Percy Jackson (I’m a lot older) but his story was full of adventure and very entertaining. I enjoyed it a lot and will definitely be reading the next books in this series.

Recommend to all who love a good story!

*

I’m one review away- I think- on catching up with my reviews but so many books to read as usual. Haha. I’m feeling a bit of an impostor calling myself a blogger these days but it’s difficult to find the time to do everything: yoga, writing, reading etc etc Sometimes I think I’d have more to write about if this was a lifestyle blog but never mind Halloween is coming and I’m hoping to have more posts then 🙂

I’m going to be reading some good books by Welsh writers over the next month or so, watch this space.

Uncategorized

Summer Reading Challenge In Review

I read 14/20 books for my summer reading challenge, this is my list of books I read, how did I do? Check out my original post click on the titles to visit my reviews.

  1. SealSkin by Su Bristow (wishlist)

IMG_20190614_153310665.jpg

2. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew(review)

Image result for the magician's nephew

3. The Outrun by Amy Liptrot(tbr)

The Outrun

4. Skin by Ilka Tampke(tbr)

IMG_20190629_213300112.jpg

5. The Girl At The Window by Rowan Coleman (Netgalley)

6. The Book Of Cornish Short Stories (tbr)

Cornish Short Stories: A Collection of Contemporary Cornish Writing

7. Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo de Toro and Cornelia Funke(Netgalley)

8.The Magpie Tree by Katherine Stansfield(tbr)

9. Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sims (tbr)

Funny book, review to come.

10. The Thirteen Tale by Diane Setterfield (wishlist/tbr)

11. Percy Jackson and The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan ( to review Books2doors website)

A fun and adventurous book, review to come.

12. This is going to hurt by Adam Kay

An enjoyable read if sad and eye opening. Makes you appreciate the NHS and it’s workers. Recommend!

13. Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris (tbr)

I love Joanne Harris books, she’s an amazing sensual writer. Sometimes this book meandered on and I struggled to keep interested. I don’t think the ending and resolution lived up to what I expected. Just my opinion.

14. Parrot in the Pepper Tree by Chris Stewart (tbr)

Such an enjoyable read. Review to come

*

In review: I visited different places real and fantastical, Scotland, Cornwall, Narnia. I’ve read an assortment of funny, sad, weird, dark and mystery books. And I couldn’t pick a favourite as they are all different and wonderful in their own way.

I haven’t mentioned the books started and given up on or those not included in this summer challenge. (I started reading A Perfect Cornish Summer but it didn’t live up to what it offered.) I read a lot of the books I planned to.

8/14 were books on my to-be-read list, others I’ve reviewed for Netgalley or Books2doors website. A small few were from a wishlist, books I’ve been meaning to be read for a while. I always feel that I should read more from my tbr and towards the end of this challenge that’s what I tried to focus on. But it’s always hard to read all the books 🙂

Have you read these?

What now?

I don’t plan to review all the books I’ve read but I will be posting the reviews I haven’t got around to within the next few weeks. I thought I’d already posted some.

September: I might reread some books and read for fun not worrying about my tbr so much, athough my Netgalley list is long. And then in October I have a blog tour and it’s that time: Halloween Reads 🙂

Have you been doing any challenges lately? How did it go?

Uncategorized

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Synopsis from Amazon:

“Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, brutal, dangerous Charlie, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart…

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past – and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic writer Vida Winter? And what is the secret that strikes at the heart of Margaret’s own, troubled life?

As Margaret digs deeper, two parallel stories unfold, and the tale she uncovers sheds a disturbing light on her own life…”

My Thoughts

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while, it’s one of those stories with a mystery, a blend of gothic, literary fiction and it just feels like this is one of those stories that is written for me.

The first thing I loved was the bookshop where Margaret Lea lives and I liked her instantly. She was so absorbed in reading The Water Babies once that she fell off a wall! I love reading about fellow bookworms and a book that features bookshop or libraries is …. a dream!

This is such a wonderful book that I got lost in the story. Margaret Lea meets an author Vida Winter who tells her to write her life story, the only time she has ever told the truth. The story drifts back and for between past and present telling the story of Vida Winter and the others whose lives have intermingled with hers. It’s like a puzzle and in the present Margaret tries to put the pieces together, returning to Vida’s childhood home, now a ruin and doing some research herself.

It’s a wonderful mystery with gothic elements, hard to put down and stays with you when you finish. I loved this and will definitely be reading more by this author. The style draws you in and keeps you there, such beautiful writing and simply amazing, perfect in every way.

*

Another thing I loved about this book that felt it was perfect for me…. the mention of my favourite classic which I am hoping to reread soon: JANE EYRE.

I’ve read all but one of the books that are listed as suggested reading at the end of this book in the reading group notes. That was another reason I knew this book was for me.

 

Have you read this book? You should. Gothic novels are the best, which ones have to read?