The Girl You Thought I Was by Rebecca Phillips

the girl you thought i was pic

No one looking at Morgan Kemper would think she had a secret-at least not one that she’s deeply ashamed of. To everyone she meets, she comes across as sweet, pretty, and put together. But Morgan knows that looks can be deceiving. For over a year, she’s shoplifted countless pieces of clothing and makeup. Each time she tells herself it will be the last, and each time it never is.

I picked this up in the young adult section because I was intrigued by the title. I read the first page and instantly wanted to read more. The story starts with Morgan attempting to shoplift a bikini, and the tension can be felt instantly. Morgan is quite an angry person, her parents are divorced and she no longer speaks to her mother, blaming her for the divorce. She lives in an apartment with her dad, surviving on take-aways as neither of them can cook. Shoplifting has become her outlet, but when she is caught and sentenced to community service, things begin to change.

There were a few very cliché “learning moments”, but I think that’s to be expected in a book for younger readers. I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to read and kept me interested, I never wanted to put it down.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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Brilliant Book Titles #291

on the other hand death

Blurb: 
Dot and Edith’s happiness in their home stands in the way of their neighbors’ decisions to sell to the Millpond Corporation so it can build another blight on the landscape. A campaign of intimidation, at first merely irritating, escalates to murder before PI Strachey sorts it all out and learns something about his feeling for lover Timothy Callahan.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

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Ginny Moon is 14 years old. She was removed from the care of her abusive mother Gloria when she was nine years old and now lives with her Forever Family. Ginny has autism and exhibits some unusual behaviours. For example, she eats exactly 9 grapes with her breakfast in the morning, and she keeps her mouth closed when she’s thinking so that nobody can see her thoughts. Things are going well for Ginny until her forever mum has a child of her own. Then her behaviour begins to plummet and she starts to obsess about her Baby Doll, which got left behind when she was taken away. Gloria comes back into the picture again and Ginny is eager to reconnect with her, leading to some interesting outcomes.

I loved this book, I have an interest in autism and Asperger’s so Ginny’s voice appealed to me from the beginning. This was a quick read with one or two unexpected turns in the story. I’d recommend it for someone who wants to read something a little bit different.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Help Me! by Marianne Power

help me pic

The first chapter of this book caught my attention, “The Life-changing Hangover”, I’ve had a few of those myself so I was intrigued. The premise of this book is very simple, Marianne is a lover of self-help books and has a huge collection of them. Yet for all she has read, her life has not improved in the slightest. So she sets herself a target to follow the philosophies of one self-help book every month for a year, including Feel the Fear and do it Anyway and F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way.

Cue a lot of mantras, self-actualisations and a few “poor me” moments. This was an easy read and quite funny in parts. The author comes across as very likeable and you want her to succeed in her efforts. Although there were some parts where I wanted to shake her and say “cop yourself on!” This was overall a nice easy read, a book that was good to dip in and out of.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

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I wasn’t expecting much from this as I read Behind her Eyes and wasn’t a huge fan of it.

This one was a different story, much more realistic and I found it to be a page-turner. Lisa lives with her 16 year old daughter Ava and is of quite a nervous disposition. She seems overly aware of her surroundings and it always looking over her shoulder as if there’s someone watching her. From the beginning you wonder why she’s behaving like this; is she just an anxious person? Has she escaped an abusive partner? Is she in a witness protection programme? Is she a fugitive? However the day after her daughter rescues a drowning toddler, her pictures appear in all of the papers and then everything becomes clear. It’s hard to say much about the story line without spoiling it. Suffice to say, it’s a very gripping and disturbing thriller. There are some explicit scenes in this so maybe not suited for younger readers or anyone of a sensitive nature.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

The Penguin Book of Haiku, translated and edited by Adam L. Kern

haiku.jpg

An interesting book, showing the depth and breadth of haiku. The last book I read was an imperial-arranged book of 100 tanka that was very ethereal and pretty. Large swathes of this are pure filthy, showing a whole other side of haiku that I wasn’t aware of – the lowbrow, and unerotic.

Kern’s introduction is worth the price of entry alone, deftly explaining the culture, cultural importance and development of haiku. And the haiku selected were well chosen and varied (although perhaps a little too ‘dirty sexy haiku’ as he calls them – I would’ve liked more variety; some more emotional haiku, some transcendental haiku.

His notes at the end – in the glance I gave them – don’t seem to add much, so I skipped them.

An interesting collection. 3.5 stars.

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You can reserve a copy from South Dublin Libraries’ online catalogue here.

Repeat by Kylie Scott

repeat

BLURB: 

From New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott comes an irresistible new romance.

When a vicious attack leaves 25-year-old Clementine Johns with no memory, she’s forced to start over. Now she has to figure out who she was and why she made the choices she did – which includes leaving the supposed love of her life, tattoo artist Ed Larsen, only a month before.

Ed can hardly believe it when his ex shows up at his tattoo parlour with no memory of their past, asking about the breakup that nearly destroyed him. The last thing he needs is more heartache, but he can’t seem to let her go again. Should they walk away for good, or does their love deserve a repeat performance?

REVIEW:

Repeat is the latest book from Kylie Scott. Let me first start by saying I love Kylie’s books there all one slick for me, but Repeat just took me so long to get into and then it dragged a little for me. I could see what was going to happen a mile off and that didn’t appeal to me either. Just a little disappointed but that’s not to say you won’t like it. Give it a go we all have different tastes and I might have just been having an off week.

Love and life sure can be scary. But not living your best life, not loving as hard as you can…what a terrible waste that would be. And the man standing in front of me is the best of everything.

I liked Ed and I really liked Clem, although I thought she was over her head injury way too quickly and it was a little unrealistic. I also felt Ed forgave her way to quickly for what he thought she’d done to him. But I liked the scenes in the book store with Iris and her sister at times. They were funny and easy to read. Ed’s brother Leif was also a great secondary character that I loved he was so funny at times.

Overall I think you should give it a read and make up your own mind on it. That’s generally what I do with books that don’t always get a great review.

3.5 Stars

Poetry Roundup #1: January – June 2019

I read a lot of poetry and because of this I don’t review as much as I should, so I thought I’d do a little poetry round-up (Jan – Jun 19) of books I recommend, and books I recommend you avoid. It should go almost without saying that these were merely books I read during these months, and not necessarily new releases –

Avoid:

 

Public Property by Andrew Motion
Illumniate by Kerrie O’Brien
The Resignation by Lonely Christopher
Lavenderblack by Adam Lowe
Best American Poetry 2018, ed. David Lehman
Junk by Tommy Pico
Big Pink Umbrella by Susan Millar DuMars
The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems by Billy Collins

The problem with writing reviews for poetry collections you didn’t like, or sometimes occasionally even hated, comes down to a few things. Firstly, like all poetry, it could be that it just wasn’t to your taste, like Billy Collins’ style whom I just found incredibly flat, as I did for Andrew Motion. Sometimes, it’s a book that didn’t impress you as much as another you’ve read (Adam Lowe’s Precocious, with the excellent ‘Vada That’ seemed very much a step up from Lavenderblack). Sometimes, the style just irritates, as in The Resignation by Lonely Christopher, bought on a whim from Amazon for cheap, or Junk by Tommy Pico. Mostly though, the reason why these are all on the Avoid list – some of which you might love, one of which is by a US Poet Laureate, and a whole book that has been dubbed ‘Best’ of that year – is because I don’t remember a single line from any of these collections.

Recommended:

 


Liminal Blue by Theodore Deppe
Orpheus on the Red Line by Theodore Deppe
Beautiful Wheel by Theodore Deppe
The Wanderer King by Theodore Deppe
Touched by Luther Hughes
Soho by Richard Scott
Sister by Nickole Brown
Anyone Will Tell You by Wendy Chin-Tanner
On Balance by Sinead Morrissey
Leaf and Beak: Sonnets by Scott Wiggerman

Reading Theodore Deppe for me this year has been a revelation – I have ploughed through everything he’s written, all of it consistently brilliant, and can fully recommend all of these. A particular standout is Liminal Blue, dealing primarily with the death of his parents, that still sticks in my mind and heart.

Regarding queer poets, this half-year’s standouts include the much-lauded (and rightly so) Richard Scott, whose first collection for Faber, Soho, is a treat: dark and lyrical, he has a deft hand. As does Luther Hughes in his debut chapbook, Touched, which I really enjoyed (and read twice straight through!). Also by Sibling Rivalry Press is Nickole Brown’s Sister which I loved – a dark story of childhood sexual abuse, the poetry is expertly wrought and demands to be read. Finally, Scott Wiggerman’s collection of nature sonnets, Leaf and Beak, shows how nature, time and the sonnet form should be done.

Speaking of SRP, I enjoyed Wendy Chin-Tanner’s Anyone Will Tell You – she is the master of short, short lines, and although I’m not sure it quite reached the heights of my personal favourite Turn, it is still an excellent book nonetheless. Finally, Sinead Morrissey’s award-winning On Balance features a vast cornucopia of topics, although it’s the title poem that, for me, still stands out.

Highly Recommended:

 

Survivable World by Ron Mohring (Round-Up Pick)
The Road, Slowly by Liz Quirke
Millennial Roost by Dustin Pearson

Millennial Roost by Dustin Pearson was another cheap Amazon impulse buy and it knocked me for six. Covering similar ground to Nickole Brown’s Sister, either could equally be in the top, but I think what tipped it for me is that I happened into this blind and it heightened the reading for me, whereas I knew what I was going into with Sister. Millennial Roost is a beautifully written exploration of the aftermath of sexual abuse, and what it does to a person: how it changes everything. How it can confuse everything, like intimacy, and sexuality, and relationships. This is not an easy read at all, and one that took my breath away at times, as the book is addressed to Mr Hen, his abuser, but by god is it a finely written, necessary read.

Have you ever read a book and you’re unable to fault anything in it? That’s how I felt reading Liz Quirke’s The Road, Slowly. Telling the story of her family life in Cork with her wife and children, the writing above all is excellent and the sheer ferocity of talent and control on display here is wonderful.

Out of every poetry collection I’ve read the past six months, the one that stands out, above all, is Survivable World by Ron Mohring. Ron’s sole collection from 2004 is a collection of love and loss, due to AIDS. There are many poetic reactions to losses from AIDS but what elevates this, above all the rest, is the sheer finery of the writing. This book is perfect, and sad, and heart-breaking, and beautiful, and you all absolutely should read it and hunt down a copy. It is a book that a poet could happily be remembered by, and praise doesn’t come much higher than that. As well as other places, you can buy it direct from him here (and I recommend checking out his press, Seven Kitchens, which has the finest poets, and lovely HANDMADE CHAPBOOKS).

And because Survivable World is my pick for this round-up, here’s a poem from it:

Telling the Family
by Ron Mohring

It was not the virus, but the opportunistic infections.
He never wanted you to worry. He swam too far
and couldn’t fight the undertow. It pained him

that you never called. He slammed his car into a bridge.
He insisted on flying alone – a sudden downdraft
swatted him into Lake Michigan. He was afraid

he might go blind. The virus had entered his brain.
The water heater exploded. He fell from the extension ladder
while cleaning the gutters. His neck. He walked out

into the deepening snow and just kept going. The twister
lifted off the roof and plucked him from his chair.
It was nothing specific. He left a note and swallowed

all his medications. He’d talked it over
with his doctor. His face covered with lesions.
The intruder slashed his throat. He died of boredom.

The bridge collapsed. It was something in the water.
It was a sudden stroke. Food poisoning. He’d lost
his job. It was the shock of seeing

through you. He’d had the same pneumonia
twice before. It’s been in all the papers;
you must have heard of it by now. Lightning,

it was lightning. His liver failed. No one knew
he’d bought the gun. He had time to arrange everything.
He never knew. It was a blessing. He dropped

seventy pounds. Choked on a piece of plastic.
Yanked out all the tubes. Fell on his sword.
He would have wanted you to know.

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So that’s the Poetry Roundup for January – June 2019. We’ll be back again in January for the July – Dec 2019 roundup.

The Babysitter by Jessica Gadziala

babysitter

BLURB:

He went to the woods to get away from it all. His past, the demons ever at his heels. And, perhaps most importantly, people.
One million miles away from anyone.
Save for the occasional visit from a client he had to endure.
And that was exactly the way he liked it.
Until one night, he finds her.
Battered, scarred, tortured by the memories, in need of a safe haven.
So he does the unthinkable.
He offers to share his with her.
It’s not long before feelings start to arise.
Yet the demons refuse to stay at bay.
And two fractured people will have to see if it is possible to come together… without breaking everything apart.

REVIEW:

The Babysitter is the fifth book in Jessica Gadziala’s Professionals Series. 

Ranger lives in Pine Barrens woods which is owned by the government and well he’s not exactly supposed to be there. But the years pass and he is still left alone in his safe haven deep in the woods. Ranger has a self-sufficient cabin that he shares with his dogs, goats and Hens. He can go months without seeing another person. He’s works for Quin and helps with people that need to disappear for awhile

He hears things within the Woods and usually leaves things alone but one night he hears something he can’t ignore, a woman’s scream. What he finds is a woman who has been brutally attacked and left for dead.

This was one hell of a read and a little darker then Jessica has done for a while but let me say I really enjoyed how Meadow found herself within Rangers safe haven and then in turn helped pulled Ranger out of himself. This was a fantastic 5 star read for me.