Poetry

Clouds with Wings

I stroll down the path,

well trodden, like the ones

your feet automatically follow even when you’re not thinking where you’re going and suddenly find

a sharp turn;

you’ve arrived at your destination.

Yet this time,

I turn and find myself not

at the big, towering structure of work,

but stepping onto a white fluff

that spreads great feathered wings and lifts me up

high.

The wind whips my hair around,

obscuring my vision,

then it clears and I’m chasing dandelion seeds

across the skyline.

A V of birds passes nearby,

I wave at them,

wishing them luck in their new land.

My winged cloud plummets;

I wonder where it might stop.

It doesn’t stop at all.

The ground rushes up, but I pass through it

into a dark, warm cocoon

of blankets and hot water bottles.

I realise I’m holding my breath.

I release it, along with my cosy shield

and find my feet

have stopped

right where they should.

Poetry

The Neat Gurney

A glimmer catches your eye,

you look closer, taking in

the brightness and separating it

from the image beyond.

There you see her eyes sparkling

blue, full of hope

that tugs at your being.

You dare to believe her optimism

is not misguided,

but then the mirror darkens,

clouded by a storm of muttering.

The doctor says this is normal.

Still, deep down,

you can’t help but fear

the worst.

Reviews

Review: Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

Although I bought this book when it first came out last year, I’ve only just managed to get around to reading it, and it didn’t disappoint:

Cogheart is a middle grade steampunk adventure story, revolving around Lily, a thirteen year old who is much more interested in her penny dreadfuls than learning the proper posture befitting a young lady, Robert, the local clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, Lily’s mechanical fox.

It starts out with Lily’s father’s airship being attacked, and as Malkin (who is the only other person on board) has a better chance of surviving the crash, he is sent out in the escape pod to find Lily at her boarding school with a cryptic message from her father. Unfortunately, he is shot by his pursuers, but Robert finds him and fixes him.

Meanwhile, news of her father’s ‘crash’ has reached Lily, and her father’s housekeeper, Madame Verdigris, has come to take her home. Though Lily wasn’t keen on before, when she sees that Madame has let her father’s mechs (mechanical people; a maid, gardener, chauffeur and cook) wind down, as well as rooting through her parents’ possessions, she begins to mistrust her even more. But it’s only when Lily finds out that Madame is searching for an object known as the ‘perpetual motion machine’, which her father had supposedly created, that she learns that Madame’s ambition to be head of the household is just the start – she’s actually working with the men behind Lily’s father’s disappearance.

When Robert, at Malkin’s request, comes to see Lily, he finds her locked in her room with only one way out – the window, where a small vine allows her to climb down mostly unscathed. However, the men working with Madame see her escape, and pursue them both back to Robert’s house, where only the presence of Robert’s Da keeps them away…for a time.

There’s a lot to like about this book. The setting of Victorian London, coupled with the description of the mechs, who work everywhere as servants and helpers, makes for a very rich world, and the integration of this alternate technology is carried out so well that I had no trouble accepting it as the norm. There’s also the moral question regarding how the mechs are perceived – do they really feel emotion? Can you count them as real people even though they’re made of cogs? Which of course carries the theme of acceptance of others, and for me, that’s a good thing.

I also felt that the main characters were strong and interesting – I could identify with Lily and Robert, and I absolutely loved Malkin’s personality. There were also some twists, but I admit I saw one straight away, and had suspicions of the other. Though of course, this book is aimed at a young audience, so it’s possibly just that. Then again, I imagine most kids would pick up on the clues peppered throughout, so it’s hard to say.

I enjoyed the ending, though at the time of reading, I found it a little anti-climatic. But again, as I’ve mentioned in other reviews, when I’m tired or distracted, I don’t enjoy things as much as normal, and I was very tired when I read the climax. The last chapter tied up all the loose ends nicely, and overall gave me that satisfied feeling of reaching the end of a good book.

So, would I recommend Cogheart as an exciting read for both kids and adults alike? Absolutely.

Poetry

That In-Between Place

The cogs grind against

mushy cloud,

stirring the fluff into shape:

a solid form of wakefulness

that yearns to drift apart.

Bind it tight,

coil the springs up

with a stern twist of key;

barricade it against the cushy strands.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Tock.

The alarm sings its unwelcome greeting.

Poetry

Hullabaloo Bus (or, ‘Today, my bus got stuck behind another bus that had broken down’)

There was a wild bus

roaming the skinny streets of Shalfleet,

it wasn’t enjoying its journey

so it decided to rest its wheeled feet.

 

Unfortunately it trapped its older brother

a short ways just behind,

the tamer had to get out

and direct the roaring traffic into a line.

 

But then a master tamer came

and coaxed the beast to move.

On both brothers went

striding past the giant, backed up queue.

Poetry

All that you see

My fingers do not work like yours,

but still I seem to type,

my hair falls out in clumps now

and my dark roots have all turned light.

 

It doesn’t bother me

I’ll wear it back, my friend,

or if that makes you uncomfortable

pretend it’s a new fashion trend.

 

This is me, this is how I am

but the who that shines inside

cannot be defined by a disability,

even against your twisted pride.

 

Come now, don’t be afraid

of a ‘cripple’ who talks back

and forces away all your expectations

to start you on a new track.

 

Oops, did I say something wrong?

Throw a spanner in the works?

Did I wipe away society’s stereotypes?

I’ll consider that a perk.

Poetry

Spud Heart

Do you ever have those moments of delight

where something simple

yet unexpected happens?

Like when you think

you’ve harvested all the potatoes you planted,

only to be greeted the next year

by a fresh crop?

Or a plant you never knew

would flower

offers up delicate purple blooms overnight?

It’s these little things,

these pure moments of joy

that present the chance

to see life again.

Uncategorized

Reading a new book

A few months ago I picked up a very sword and sorcery style fantasy, a bit reminiscent of David Eddings’ work (I love his Belgariad series and have re-read it several times) and several other epic fantasies that I’ve read. Up til then, I’d mainly been reading middle grade or YA fantasy, which are also the genres I write in, so I though this book would make a nice change. What I didn’t expect, however, was for the sheer amount of detail in it – the type that makes a simple trip to the well seem to last an age because every flower, tree and creature is mentioned along the way.

While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and in fact is generally expected in epic fantasy, I found it quite jarring and it took me away from the characters and the story. I think the reason is because the pacing between a middle grade book and an epic fantasy isĀ very different, and I wasn’t prepared for that. The whole story seemed to take so long to tell, and, quite frankly, I wasn’t used to it. But I liked the main characters and was intrigued about where the plot was going, so I tried to carry on to find out what happened. Yet every time I looked at my bookshelf, I could hear the other books calling out to be read (well, not literally, because I’d be questioning my sanity if that were the case, but I think you understand that they were very appealing).

I started reading less and less, wanting to start something new but not wanting to ‘give up’ on the book I was trying to finish either. I was feeling low because I wasn’t reading as much, and I felt like I wasn’t doing the books justice by just letting them sit there on the shelf, or rattling around, dog-earred, in my bag. Then I got to the point where I wanted to do anything other than read, because I simply couldn’t get on with that book.

So I did finally put it aside.

At first, I felt bad. I hardly ever stop reading a book before the end (in fact, the only other book I’ve taken a break with is ‘The Silmarillion’ by J R R Tolkien – it’s not an easy read, so I need to fully focus on it to absorb the plot, something that’s a bit hard to do on the bus or during a break at work).

Then I read the prologue of the book I’d been waiting to read, which is a middle grade steampunk novel, and it was like someone tearing a hole in a plastic bag that happens to contain your world. I got a full lungful of fresh words describing new people, places and concepts, and for the first time in months, I want to read again.

Perhaps I should have changed books as soon as I knew the other one wasn’t pulling me in. Who knows? At least I get to visit exciting worlds again.

Poetry

Sunny Smiles

Buttermilk-stained plates

poke up from the fray

of earthy closeness.

They greet the day,

even if you don’t want to,

and when you do, they’ll be waiting

to gift you with smiles.

 

When the colour fades as the skies turn,

and the flesh huddles down

to protect itself from the oncoming

chill kisses,

you know that their solid will

is a promise

of their return.

Reviews

Review: Miss Prince by Alicia L. Wright

‘Vampires don’t belong in fairytales…’

‘Miss Prince’ is a young adult fantasy that tells the tale of Lucinda, a fifteen year old who seeks a part-time job so she can save up enough money for a plane ticket to America to meet her internet friends.

Unfortunately, when she sees a sign advertising for a ‘general assistant’, little does she know that dragon slaying, pretending to be a prince, vampire hunting and witch seeking are part of the deal. Oh, and she’ll end up with a runaway fairy hiding in her bedroom, too. You see, in the Otherworlds, the worlds of legends where all manner of magical things exist, stories have gone wrong. They’re breaking, and Lucinda has been hired to help fix them.

This book is a very easy read, and has just as much excitement and adventure as you’d expect from a book of this genre. I loved the twists in the tales (there’s a witch who won’t use magic, and a vampire who flatly refuses to terrorise the villagers like he’s supposed to), and the characters are fun and likable.

It’s also part of a trilogy, so I’ll have to pick up books two and three at some point.

A great read for any YA fantasy fan.