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Tracy Terry

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by Catherynne M. Valente
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.03

3.0 out of 5 stars THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND ....., 16 April 2014
Having seen it featured and positively raved about on so many blogs this has been on my Wish List for a long time but I kept putting off for fear it may not live up to all the hype. Something as it turns out it both did and didn't do.

For the sites requiring a star rating, as an exceptionally whimsical and magical read with some truly memorable characters aimed at ten to fourteen year olds I'd have to rate The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland a solid four, perhaps even five, out of five. But older than the intended audience and given there is so much more to a book than merely an original plot and fanciful characters I'm having difficulty in rating it.

Overall I felt this was a unique read, a one of a kind, and yet at the same time there were elements of it that were so reminiscent of other works - of authors such as Terry Pratchett and Lewis Carrol, of books such as Alice In Wonderland and The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe - that I found myself feeling a bit let down.

Full to bursting point of wonderfully imaginative characters and creatures too numerous to mention though I will make exception for my favourite A-Through-L the wyverary (a wyverary being the result of a wyvern and a library who happen to love each other very much). My problem being there were simply too many and whilst some were woefully underused (the three witches, Hello, Goodbye and Manythanks come to mind) others, seemingly only there to tantalise, disappointingly never got anything more than the briefest of mentions.

Though undeniably creative and full of delightful imagery, imagery so vivid as to make it perfect for a movie adaptation (arguably something the author had in mind whilst writing the book) whilst I'm sure the story would have appealed to my childhood self it just didn't live up to my adult expectations hence the final mark of a lesser if still respectable rating of three out of five.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.
Disclaimer: Read and reviewed on behalf of publishers, Constable & Robinson, I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.


Follies Past: A Prequel to Pride and Prejudice
Follies Past: A Prequel to Pride and Prejudice
by Melanie Kerr
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.95

3.0 out of 5 stars FOLLIES PAST, 15 April 2014
I was approached by the publishers of Follies Past who, despite my concerns that I wasn't a big fan of the so-called classics or of authors such as Jane Austen, were confident enough in the appeal of this debut novel by Melanie Kerr to send me copy to review regardless.

A prequel to Pride And Prejudice written in the style of its author, Jane Austen. As I last read anything by Ms Austen as a girl I cannot in all conscience say just how successful this was but I will say that the writing felt authentic, the spirit of the original, from what I can remember, upheld.

Whilst not exactly a fast paced thriller, indeed compared to the genres I tend to favour it was undeniably slow, but in its favour were the well depicted characters. Characters such as the wonderful Caroline Bingley who considering I'd always thought women of this genre to be simpering came as a delightful revelation.

So, will I be reading Pride and Prejudice or indeed any of the other so-called classics as a result of reading this? As hugely impressed as I am with Follies Past and its author I can't make any promises but one thing I can say for certain is that I will be sure to keep a look out for any of the future books written by such an obviously talented writer as Ms Kerr.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.
Disclaimer: Read and reviewed on behalf of publishers, Petticoat Press, I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.


The Little Tern: A Story of Insight
The Little Tern: A Story of Insight
by Brooke Newman
Edition: Hardcover

2.0 out of 5 stars THE LITTLE TERN., 12 April 2014
Picking up the book I was hoping for a book in the vein of The Velveteen Rabbit or even The Little Prince. What I wasn't expecting was a fable for adults that whilst not unsuitable for children per se because of its overuse of metaphors which goodness only knows I struggled with and general lack of charm I wouldn't have thought appealing to them.

A short philosophical picture book with water colour illustrations by Lisa Mann Dirkes. The story follows a now flightless little tern who, as season follows season, searches for meaning, discovering things through his newly found friends that he'd never noticed when he could fly.

Perhaps a tale I'd have enjoyed more if I hadn't thought it so charmless, the author so self aware. Maybes a book I'd have got more out of if I had merely taken it at face value instead of spending so long looking for a deeper philosophical meaning but as it was I'm afraid this simply wasn't a book I enjoyed.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.


Take A Look At Me Now
Take A Look At Me Now
by Miranda Dickinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.03

2.0 out of 5 stars TAKE A LOOK AT ME NOW., 10 April 2014
This review is from: Take A Look At Me Now (Paperback)
No matter what the 'official' definition of chick-lit (and believe me there are many) I personally always think of it as being a light read (often verging on the fluffy) that, usually with a romantic edge, is written for women about women (albeit generally about women unlike any I've ever met).

A book that ticks all the boxes and then some. Sadly Take A Look At Me Now took 'light reading' to a whole new dimension in that the story required no imagination whatsoever, every word, thought and action recited as if to a child. The characters bland, one dimensional and juvenile - considering that they were in their late twenties/thirties for the best part of the book it was like reading a teenagers diary, the word 'hun' overused and infuriating.

With themes of food pretty much in vogue at the moment, the author takes advantage of this in that in main character, Nell, we have a baker extraordinaire who dreams of running an authentic American diner serving pancakes and waffles but even this is cloyingly saccharine sweet and over done.

Perhaps a novel best left to those more into chick-lit than myself. The only positive thing I can say about it was I enjoyed the descriptions of life a la San Francisco even if all of the characters from Nell's cousin (the typical Brit living abroad), to Greek taxi driver, Apollo, and diner owner, Annie, (all of them, along with the homeless, nauseatingly cheerful and living the dream) were unimaginative stereotypes.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.


The Wizard Of Oz
The Wizard Of Oz
by Parragon
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars THE WIZARD OF OZ., 8 April 2014
This review is from: The Wizard Of Oz (Paperback)
Given that I was brought up watching the film starring Judy Garland you might have thought I'd have read the book several times but this is the first time in more than thirty years.

Though without all the Hollywood embellishments of the 1939 film (Glinda is way less glittery, the ruby slippers neither ruby nor slippers), perhaps a bit more violent (there is a certain amount of lopping off of heads going on), missing some beloved characters whilst featuring others albeit none of them quite so lovable and with the addition of events not featured until the 2013 film, Oz The Great And Powerful, this is still a wonderfully timeless if simply told classic.

A story of friendship, of good deeds rewarded and full of a tongue in cheek humour that is sure to appeal to both children and those who are young at heart. The Wizard Of Oz (the first in a series of 14 full length books) is a delightful novel all about five individuals in search of their hearts desires that is as magical a read as it was all those years ago.

Please note this is not the edition of the book I actually read so whilst I am able to comment on the storyline and characters I am not able to comment on the illustrations.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.


Combat Camera: From Auntie Beeb to the Afghan Frontline
Combat Camera: From Auntie Beeb to the Afghan Frontline
by Christian Hill
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.49

3.0 out of 5 stars COMBAT CAMERA., 3 April 2014
Funny? Emm, yes. Sometimes very tongue in cheek but for the main part a rather dark almost 'gallows' like humour that might not appeal to everyone. Shocking? Most certainly.

Though by no means my usual type of read, given that its publicity describes it as 'funny, offbeat, shocking and affectionate' I was intrigued enough to want to read Combat Camera.

From officer training at Sandhurst through a career in journalism to serving as a Team Leader for Combat Camera Christian Hill's memoir offers a unique insight into the military's media operations in Afghanistan at a time when the pull-out date for combat troops was drawing ever closer.

Insightful, thought provoking and extremely poignant, Mr Hill tells a very human, all too descriptive, story. And whilst not exactly what one would call an easy read (but then with its many descriptions of IED injuries it never was going to be) I was however pleasantly surprised at just how readable it actually was, of just how engrossed I actually became in events.

My only gripe ..... the 'footnotes'. Placed at the bottom of the page, they were incredibly small and given that many explained the use of the initials used to denote words I personally felt they would have been better at the back of the book where they were easily found should you have forgotten what they meant.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.
Disclaimer: Read and reviewed on behalf of publishers, Alma Books, I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.


Nurse Matilda: The Collected Tales
Nurse Matilda: The Collected Tales
by Christianna Brand
Edition: Hardcover

2.0 out of 5 stars THE COLLECTED TALES OF NURSE MATILDA., 2 April 2014
Comprising three books - 'Nurse Matilda', 'Nurse Matilda Goes To Town' and 'Nurse Matilda Goes To Hospital' - within this one edition. The stories form the basis of the Nanny McPhee films starring Emma Thompson.

Written in the mid nineteen forties I think it fair to say that this is a quintessentially English novel about a middle class family with a brood, a very big brood, of the most unruly children who, having seen off several nurses and nannies, are desperately in need of Nurse Matilda who staying whilst children don't want her but need her goes when they want her but no longer need her.

Whilst book one, Nurse Matilda, was an enjoyable enough read, I'm afraid for me the other two stories fell flat. Involving the same family, albeit it with an increasingly large number of children (chapter one of book one named seven, chapter one of book three, twenty six) none of whom we ever really got to know as individual characters. Though the situations might have varied slightly the lessons learnt didn't which made for repetitive and all too familiar reading. And as for the illustrations. 'Pen and ink' drawings by Edward Ardizzone, I'm afraid these weren't much to write home about either. Much preferable to many children I'm sure would be the later published edition of the tales which contains a colour insert of scenes from the film.

Still, a charming enough if slightly old fashioned collection of stories that may well prove popular as a bedtime read for pre-teens. For myself, this was one of those rare cases in which I actually preferred the films to the book.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.


The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz
The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz
by Denis Avey
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1.0 out of 5 stars THE MAN WHO BROKE INTO AUSCHWITZ., 29 Mar 2014
Knowing about the notoriety surrounding this book - it has been claimed that much of it is fictional, that the author (imprisoned in the nearby labour camp known as E517 and not the infamous death camp itself) did not break into Auschwitz - I was intrigued to hear the story from the horses mouth as it were.

With the main part of the book revolving around Avey's time spent pre-incarceration and the final few chapters chronicling what happened when he met up with the sister of the man he had helped all those years previously disappointingly very little of the book actually revolves around the two nights he claims to have spent in Auschwitz.

And worse still, written some seventy years after the actual events, the book is full of inconsistencies - the fact that Avey claims never to have opened any letters received but then goes on to vividly recall the contents of at least one, that he claims no real names were used in the camps ('it was safer that way') and yet, just as with the letter, later goes on to recall several of the names of fellow detainees - but then as the author himself writes 'I can barely recall where we were or what we were doing'.

Fact or partly fictitious? I don't suppose we'll even truly know but one thing I will say is that given for the main part this reads like a Boy's Own story full of the derring-dos of one man there are better and I would suggest more reliable books on the subject out there.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.


The Hallowed Ones
The Hallowed Ones
by Laura Bickle
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.40

5.0 out of 5 stars THE HALLOWED ONES, 26 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Hallowed Ones (Paperback)
The darkness is fast approaching when the Elders take the decision that just as no-one is allowed in nor is anyone allowed out.

To applaud this, the first Young Adult novel by Laura Bickle, simply wouldn't be enough, I want to shout about it from the rooftops.

Not quite what I was expecting. I had thought the main emphasis of the book would be the supernatural/dystopian instead of which I was delighted to find the story concentrated just as much on the 'Plain' folk, The Hallowed Ones of the title.

A story of vampires, real vampires of the kind that fear daylight and garlic as opposed to the 'cute and cuddly' variety that seem to feature in so many recent books of this genre. A tale of faith, of one young woman's struggle with what she has been taught and what she believes is right, its been a while since I devoured a book of this length (311 pages) in one sitting.

Wonderfully crafted. As well as being set in a Amish community which for me always makes for interesting reading the story has fascinating characters (both main and secondary), a rather sweet romance and just the right amount of suspense (at times I actually found myself holding my breath) and blood and guts (as I said these are real vampires) to make it compelling and not just for those into the whole vampire/apocalyptic thing either.

Part one in a series. I can only imagine where the author intends to go with the sequel (The Outside) but its definitely a book I'll be buying to find out.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.


Red Winter
Red Winter
by Dan Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.00

4.0 out of 5 stars RED WINTER, 19 Mar 2014
This review is from: Red Winter (Hardcover)
Having read and reviewed the authors debut novel, DRY SEASON , and described him as a 'master story teller in the making' I was intrigued to read this his fourth book.

Every bit as good and even better than his first novel, as well as concentrating on his characters Dan Smith has done a wonderful job in creating a very readable historical thriller.

Set in 1920's Russia Red Winter is a chilling read that is not without its blood fuelled moments and yet at its heart is a powerful story all about relationships, the nature of human behaviour and what it is to have hope.

Beautifully written and obviously thoroughly researched (my only concern being that I had slight reservations about the ending which I thought rather idealised). Not only was my attention and interest gripped from the beginning but it was held throughout no doubt helped greatly by the fact that the author wove some Russian folklore into the story.

Tense, rich in atmosphere (who would have thought a journey through a forest could be so compelling?) and so vividly described that I found myself transported to the most harsh and uncompromising of landscapes, I was right, Dan Smith is indeed a master story teller.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.


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