I'm Sian, an aspiring writer and an avid (if not constant) reader. Literature is borderline my lifeline, and it is something I love to pursue in any way, shape, or form, including reviews! So here I am.
On January 10th, I took a trip to Caerphilly Castle. Having never been there before, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – my knowledge of castles extends to, and ends with, Castle Coch and the sparing glance I give Cardiff Castle when j hustle passed it in the city centre. I paid four Time Credits (per person) to get in, and I’d say it was wholly worth it.
Arriving there was amazing, it was so much bigger than I thought, and all of the greenery and animals made it feel almost magical. The long stretching bridges and the reflection from the sun off the water in the moat in its glaring way was amazing; the cold day almost turned warm with how picturesque and summery the scene looked in front of me.
The castle itself was winding and really inviting, it leads you through it without you knowing it has. Every room connects to the other with its own feel of secrecy and intrigue. I found myself wondering more than once whether to go up or down a set of rocky, spiral stairs, where I’d end up on the other end of them and how I’d get back to go the opposite way, but that worry was hugely unnecessary as I was always lead back around to discover it all, whether I noticed the decision was made by my own feet or by the castle floors or not.
My favourite parts were the stretching balcony, almost like a corridor in its length but giving you a view of the greenery and moat on one side, and the courtyard below on the other side every few steps, the corridor that felt more like a cave; enveloping and private, and the very top of the towers (it was just a shame that some of the rock had eroded away enough for the actual top to be blocked off – but despite that, being at such a height in such a space of land was honestly incredible).
From the gift shop, I bought a small pink dragon. There was an area right where you start your trail where you can look into an enclosure from above and see a few dragon statues. They’re so bright in colour and give you honest piercings looks (the kind that make you think the eyes are following you).
An incredible continuation of a phenomenal series. I have to begin with applause – for one thing especially. The flow. I noticed as I began reading this book that something was different – not that it was a different character, place, situation – I expected all of that. I understand well enough the creative decision TJ Klune made to have the series circle multiple characters rather than just Ox and Joe, and I wholeheartedly respect it! But I definitely could tell the difference from the beginning of this book compared to the others. Once I realised what it was I was in awe; as Robbie’s memories became less hectic, and as he became more trusting and open of the Bennett pack, the story began to feel less choppy, and much more smooth. The transition into this was so effortlessly made that I hadn’t fully noticed it until I was about half way through the book. I don’t know if this was something that was done on purpose (if it was, that’s amazing and inspiring), but it truly was incredible; it felt like honest craftsmanship coming straight through the pages and falling into my lap. I love it, it makes TJ Klune feel like an author to really look up to.
I already loved this series, and have for a while now, so I knew I was in for a great story when it arrived. To speak from a place of real honesty, this is a series to experience rather than read about second hand. The way the emotions of the characters – of every character – come through the books so clearly, stark and vibrant, is fantastic. The book is full of feeling, there really is no shortage of it, and it’s refreshing to see, especially since a lot of the “main cast” is male. This is something I’ve always adored about the writing style, there is no fear in it. Characters are everything and anything, given real time to process things and react to them, and each of them is so individual and unique – there are traits in everyone that are recognisable and easy to relate to, and I love it.
Ox has my heart, as always, so he remains my favourite characters. It’s been such an experience to see how, through other’s character’s stories, his is still growing and moving forward behind the scenes – and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what it all is going to accumulate into. I love how he’s progressed through the series, the way he’s changed from shy and insecure to this Alpha character now is unparalleled. I feel proud of him and his growth, almost.
I don’t think anyone could even try and convince me not to give this book five stars, there was so much in it to enjoy: the making, breaking, and repairing of character’s relationships (most notably Kelly and Robbie’s relationship being strained and strengthened), watching a hero’s journey move forward, Carter being amazing (I’m very excited to see what happens with him, next), and even things like watching how the “bad guys” are moving on from fabled things of nightmares to real, honest figures of terror. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book, another hit – I’m sure – in this phenomenal series.
I know this review isn’t too plot-detail heavy (I don’t want to ruin things), but I stand by what I said: this book is to be read by you, not by me telling you what I read.
I heard of this book from a post on Central Avenue Publishing’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxKe0Mphhq1/. The look of the book, lighting, and array of stones drew me in to what it might be and what the work might be like, having never heard of the author, Wilder Poetry, nor the book itself before. Admittedly, the book sat in my wish-list for quite some time, as I was wading my way through my university’s reading list and books I had already bought in the mean time, but the minute I could get it, I did. I found out that the book was worth the wait; cover to cover I found poems I really enjoyed, imagery I thought captivating, and turns of phrase I found impeccable. Something I loved quite greatly was the use of grey colours through the book; the blacks and whites, and the dots of silver on each cover and throughout its pages. I enjoyed that these were the only colours that were used, and that they were swapped around frequently. Black words on white pages, obviously, but also the flip-side of just that – it gives a new feeling to the book, and interesting angle is given to me, the reader, and it makes whatever poem is on the page feel much deeper and much, much more eye-catching. For example:
This is one of the pictures in the book that I loved especially, marking it with a post-it note as I so often do with poetry books. There was something I adored about the circles in the sun’s eyes, matching the longing feeling to the small piece, which is why this stuck out. Plus, “running after the moon” didn’t have to reach far to strike me as a lovely line, making me think about the way the moon follows you when you’re in the car or walking home. There was another, not unlike it, talking about dreams with a small corked bottle. Similarly made up with these white lines on dark pages, with a poem talking about dreams in the everyday lives that we have – not just isolated away in fantasy. They feel uplifting, and definitely boost the meaning of the poetry. I love the way they have a power like this, when they are just illustrations in a book, along with the words I like how it really feels like they mean something.
This is the poem the precedes the image of the sun and its poem, and it’s one of my favourites. It feels timely, while still being gentle and elegant – I am partial to books like this that quietly feed you their ideas, instead of slamming them down in front of you with force. The words in this poem, and in the wider book, are all ones I loved; the sky being very frequent, too, was lovely. I really enjoyed this book! Wilder Poetry has a knack for writing in this particular and really lovingly articulate way. I’m glad I heard about it, and even happier that I got the chance to pick it up and read it myself.
Though I do adore both writing and reading poetry, I admit to having not previously heard of nor read any work by Patrick Jones. That being said, being presented the opportunity to discover him, I took it quickly. Not knowing a poet wouldn’t stop me from learning of them – besides, the process is always enjoyable. Poetry in itself is enjoyable. I’m always excited to read more, and I’m glad I did. After reading through the whole anthology, I definitely decided on some favourites! Namely: Plume Angel, The Smell of Sundays, Wrapped in the Arms of Ghosts, Lovesung, The Presence of Absence, Mothering, and When are all in my favourites, for a bunch of different reasons. Plume Angel was the first one to show Patrick Jones’ use of white space, which is a technique in poetry I both utilise (often) and really love to see. It makes the poem much more interesting, when your eyes are darting all over a page rather than just going in one expected direction. I loved the feel of this poem – it was very gentle, from the get-go. The first stanza was my favourite one, but my favourite line was, “tiny talismans / crashed to / earth / from an icarused flight”, solely due to the image of falling people and falling feathers. There, despite the softness, was also a great sadness to it (which is understandable, based on how the book itself and all the poems were born from a son’s experience of a mother with leukaemia). In a similar vein, Wrapped in the Arms of Ghosts also has this feeling with peppered in lines that I find really satisfying. For example, “clinging to sepia stained memories / bleeding frames and flickering effigies / hearing voices from forgotten melodies / is yesterday to be our only legacy” I found to be a lovely line, with a lot of emotion threaded inside and around it – especially considering the sounds that comes from reading or speaking them, which further created an positive impression and reaction from me. Throughout each of the poems I found that drew me in was a consistent and understandable melancholy. The feeling was crafted really well, and also waded in and out with other things, too. Regret, wanting to go back, feeling the pressure of time and how we should be cherishing the seconds we have (which I do love, as a theme, it has a tendency to humble me and very quickly). The poetry was impressive, with really nice flow and images, although seeing the white space was definitely my favourite thing to take note of. Lastly, Lovesung was one of my favourite poems, because it opened up a discussion I’ve been having within myself a lot lately. It came for my questioning if poetry and writing is an escape, and if it is – if it works? It came head-first towards my own habit of reading and writing to escape the endless refresh of bad news on Twitter, and the constant background noise of the world running all too fast away from me. And I really liked it, because it almost felt like being seen, and being coyly nodded at in a “I do this too and it’s nice and we maybe probably won’t tell anyone” kind of way. I loved it. I’m giving the book three stars because I found some of the poems harder to untangle than others. I know full well this is a subjective area, full of people with subjective thoughts, but though these poems were well written and used really lovely language, some of them (for example, The Presence of Absence) did give me trouble in trying to decipher what – in that moment – was happening. I could understand the general sadness and regret leaking out of the poems, but other lines were more puzzling than expected. Which, having said this, could be seen as either good or bad by anyone else – but for me it did disrupt my enjoyment of treasuring the past and dwelling on actions and the present. Because of the grief hanging off some of the poems, I did find it a bit difficult to fully engage, however, this doesn’t take away from my admiration of this collection being published at all, when each pieces is so deeply, deeply personal. That’s worth respecting. I’m glad I got a chance to read this work. I do love poetry and reading it is always an experience to be had. I had fun, and enjoyed what I saw. I would read it again.
Iain Thomas is my favourite writer. Author. Poet. He honestly seems to be an advocate for self-love, for loving others, for recognising good from bad and good from great, for love, full stop. He seems to be an advocate for enjoying whatever it is you find in this world that you enjoy. I enjoy his work, more than I’m sure any language can help me spell out, and yet each time I try. On my bookshelf, there is: I Wrote This For You, I Wrote This For You And Only You, I Wrote This For You Just The Words, I Wrote This For You 2007-2017, How to be Happy (Not a Self-Help Book. Seriously.), and 300 Things I Hope. And somewhere on my makeshift bookshelf because my real bookshelf is far too small for my wants, is I Am Incomplete Without You. I’m excited to add Every Word You Cannot Say to either of the shelves. I literally find myself unable to say that there’s any other author out there who I have followed this closely, for this long, and been so consistently delivered greatness on simple pages between a simple cover by. I knew it was coming, the release of this book, and like many I did have to wait my turn to get it. When I did, I was in Waterstones, halfheartedly hoping they would have it (I was not convinced that they would). And I saw it, all the way down the bottom, way to one side: bright blue, jutting out, so different to the greys and blacks and whites (and one bright yellow) that I had grown used to associating Iain Thomas’s name with. I snatched it up and gave it the common flip through, and I loved the look of it and the feel of it and the way it felt exactly like all the other books of his I’ve read: like it was sure to give me something amazing. Which it did. I ate this book up. Read it quick, flicked through again for an age, put sticky notes on the pages of my favourite pieces, used a highlighter on the ones I really didn’t want to part with. Like on page 131, “There is no register in the sky keeping track of whether or not you got angry as many times as you were supposed to. / You get to decide what eats you up. / And you have no obligation to kindness. / You can be kind as often as you want. / Kindness is not a currency, and if you treat it like one, then that is not kindness. / Within you, there is all the kindness you will ever need.” Or, page 80, “Maybe, in the story of your life, someone has written: / You cannot say why you loved them. / Only that you did. / Only that you don’t anymore.” This book felt so new, and so fresh and different, somehow, from the other ones, despite still creating a warm and homely feeling in me as I read it, exactly like all the others had. I loved that, that kind of feeling from these books and these poems in particular, I always believe that that is irreplaceable – after all, I haven’t experienced it anywhere else or with any other author. I loved that there was playing with form, structure, even colour of the text. The drawings peppered throughout were lovely, and always in the right places. I wish this is what all poetry did, that this feeling I got from this book is what I got from each one. I know that would make these books less special, but like I said: Iain Thomas really seems to be an advocate for love. I’m almost convinced he’d understand. And even still, this is one slice of favouritism I am not entirely ready to give up. This is why I gave it five stars. I always will. Iain Thomas has a real skill here, an honest craftsmanship that I wish I could come close to. Some days, I try to (see: the centos I submitted to university groups, just so I could spill out a fraction of what I feel for this writing when it was my turn to talk). I love the book. I knew I would.
Yesterday, I saw Ageless at the Sherman Theatre. I haven’t been to the Sherman for some time, the last time I was there was for an event for the Cardiff Fringe Festival last year and it was nice to be back. It’s always a lovely venue to attend, it creates a really specific, really capturing atmosphere.
The play, Ageless, had a really interesting concept. A pill being made in order to cheat ageing. Essentially, live forever, and to live forever young. In addition to this concept, there were also a multitude of characters – each with different, and clear, motivations – easily ones to root for and enjoy seeing when they came on stage. Along with this came a really compelling atmosphere – especially when the scenes conveyed a group of rebellious teens fighting against this pill being made and distributed, a couple who have been taking it, and the two head scientists who made it. Bouncing between these three gave a really good depth to a world that no longer really ages, and I really liked seeing the tension between the three be created. There was a really good split of stage time between “young and old” to make the story really interesting and quick to figure out who’s side you were on.
Like always, the Sherman has incredible setting. I saw, what feels like a billion years ago, their production of Romeo and Juliet, and I remember how fun the stage looked then. This stage, just as that, was fun, too. And also practical – I really liked the way the cast would move it around to create a different atmosphere and setting.
The end was pretty clever. I liked the implications it left its world and the audience with. If the “being ageless” pill left takers with minuscule chances to have children, then it created a much bigger situation than just this revelation and the subsequent reaction. Essentially, it feels like there should be an Ageless 2 exploring “what came next”. The premise of the play, and the way the play itself was delivered, almost feels like it should be a TV show pitch, and I think the story idea there could definitely go far.
I’m really glad I saw it on one of the three days it was showing. It was a lovely watch of an intricate, almost dystopian, world.
Seeing as this movie what something I was the most excited for this year, I think it’s safe to say it has lived up to what I expected it to be, and then exceeded it. My interest in this series began forever ago, in the early birth of my teenage years and it ends fittingly, at the end of said teenage years. It felt like a neat end to a neatly set-up series, and I did really enjoy it. These movies, though typically for people younger than me, are so easily enjoyed that it’s hard to feel that age based disjoint. The jokes are still strong, the animation beautiful and easy to follow – smooth and alluring, and the story itself is still interesting. Following all the same characters, we end up watching their next journey: separation, threat, and the almost more-threatening threat of real life dawning over favourite young underdog characters. That, in itself, is quite the shake. Watching Hiccup, who can’t be much older than 14 in the first movie, become a chief and a husband, yes – it was quite the shake. Watching the conclusion to this series was cathartic and sad an promising. Leaving audience members like myself with a recently-dried tear, but the twinge of its feeling still very much real, even if it remains labelled as a “kids film” – I think it’s due the credit of far exceeding that. Especially after tackling topics like family member death, coming of age, responsibility, marriage, and separation. The progression of this series is almost like watching children grow, and it’s been an amazing experience. Jokes stick out, and so do designs. The subtle ageing of returning characters, and the surprising looks of new ones. The villains, in particular, have also had intriguing designs; like Drago in the second movie, and the villain in this one just the same. They were opposites to each other; rugged and sleek, but they still conveyed such a huge feeling of threat in each movie. Flashbacks stay with you, glimpses into the future do, too. The finishing lines explaining the idea that dragons still exist, waiting for humans to sort ourselves out, was somewhat hopeful and glaring obvious to its meaning – and that kick to such a soft and innocent (mostly) series, was honestly lovely to see. I’m hesitant to spoil things, of course, because the trio of movies is one to be enjoyed rather than explained. They’re an easy binge, if you start early enough in the afternoon, surely. I really did enjoy this film. I’m glad I saw it and I’m glad that it’s tied the bow on the franchise so exceptionally.
I recently finished Disconnected – a collaborative and clever endeavour of alternating short stories and poems (with a handful of extra poems as well). I didn’t know how many to expect, nor how to expect it to look or be delivered, but what greeted me from inside the cover was pleasant and enjoyable. Alternating piece by each author was a nice succession, gave room for clarity and enjoyment, and was nice to see it neatly presented. Seeing their words and pieces in the put-together way of the whole book was fab, and even better was the feeling of consistency throughout all the pieces. The emboldened and repeating lines, such as, “Here is how it works: you take your finger and write the most secret words you can think of on my skin…” in Amanda Lovelace’s short story “Small Yellow Cottage on the Shore”, even though that line is the majority of Iain Thomas’ poem, “The Way It Works”. These bits, scattered throughout each of the pieces gave the book a lasting impression of the book itself being made from togetherness and teamwork. As things related back and fore to each other, there was a gentle feeling of camaraderie between all the authors and also myself, as I can catching the dotted-around references to and from. Both of my favourite short stories and poem came from Iain Thomas. The story, “Driving with Strangers” and the poem, “The Way It Works” were both lovely. The idea of driving with Death and also the idea of “owing” something to him/the world was definitely and interesting one. It inspired me, in its own little way. Plus, it had some really striking lines, such as, “another dark spark shines in the voice inside us and the night grows one iota blacker”, and, “bees come and bees go, and the bees die and are reborn as little boys and girls”. They were just so catching – easily hooking me in. After all, I love lines that snatch my attention like that. And I adored the poem. Short and sweet. Lovingly crafted, concerning love. Gentle and kind. I’m not entirely surprised that these turned out to be my favourite of the collection. I bought the book as I knew he was a part of it. The rest of the experience was a nicely added surprise. There were, also, some authors I’d never come across at all before, and similarly, some works and styles I’d never encountered before, either, like Liam Ryan’s “The Train”, and “Ultra” by Yena Sharma Purmasir. Both of these stories had a uniqueness to them, a gentleness and a tenderness to one that hooked me in, and a ferocity almost – a maternal flame and bright, bright instinct in the other, that made me feel a lot at once. I really like love stories, and they’re both one, if you try. Love for a child to come, and love lost and found (almost. Kind of). On the flip side, there were some authors I recognised. Iain Thomas, of course, but also Trista Mateer, and Amanda Lovelace. I’ve read almost all of Iain Thomas’ other work, Trista Mateer’s “Honeybee”, and Amanda Lovelace’s “The Princess Saves Herself In This One” and, “The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One”. I could see through those pieces to how each of those authors come through, staying true to their styles and interests, and it impressed me each time over. The familiarity of it was nice. Overall, Disconnected was an incredible read, especially for poetry lovers and short story lovers, too, and I’m glad I read it.
I feel as if I started reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman years ago, fell in an out with it as time went on, until I finally stumbled and stayed in its clutch. I remember hearing about it and thinking of it as interesting. Intriguing. I’m pretty sure it was described to me as light and easy, and I’m pretty sure the suggestion had come just after I finished A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Light as easy must have been what I needed, because at the very least, Neverwhere was something that stayed in the back of my mind as a quiet desire to get into – and that’s where it all starts, really. I’ve read Neil Gaiman before, both The Graveyard Book and Good Omens, and I can say with a complete certainty that the way fantasy is presented through his writing is done strongly, and in a way that’s wholly fascinating. The story I have different opinions on, but the way it was crafted and elegantly delivered to me I really enjoyed. Richard, the main character, was one I grew to be quite fond of. Especially considering that how he was written was the begrudging type in a fantasy novel – the one who is just trying their best to get home. I liked the way he was happy when his bank card worked again at the end of the novel – something so simple and joy-inducing considering everything else he’d seen throughout the novel. The story itself was alright. Most of my reason for reading was that 1) I like the writing and, 2) I really liked the characters. It’s an easy story in a huge book – man dragged into a big fantastical fantasy-world journey of “London Below”, going on a mismatched-twisted-and-turned adventure until he can go home (and then immediately realising he didn’t really want to go home). Kind of predictable, but still enjoyable. The main characters – Richard, Door, and the Marquis (later adding a woman named Hunter) – each had a specific feeling to them that – though recognisable in fantasy – still had their own little spins which was nice to see. They were all likeable in their owns ways – as were the villains, for people who tend to enjoy bad guys more. I do quite like Neil Gaiman’s characterisation – something about it is always very clear and well-liked. The characters had their traits, and their goals, and their rises and falls – and none of it was made too complicated for unnecessary reasons. I really did like this book! I’m glad I read it.
Today I was fortunate enough to finally find a use that interested me for my amassing amounts of Spice Time Credits. Castle Coch: somewhere I haven’t been for, I’m relatively sure, at least ten years? Either way, last I recall of the circularly patterned cobblestones and the cubbyholes and tiny doors was when I was definitely more of a child than I am now. I remember loving it there, and I know I loved it this time, too. Seeing it when driving along the motorway had always been one thing – on your way to somewhere else and gazing up at is wondering how it fit there and why it was always such a friendly presence – but going there again was a nice change, and it felt good to traipse up and down and around the staircases and all along its little balconies, finding tiny doors to go through and seeing all the different rooms.
My favourite one was the kitchen. Roped off, of course, but still full of things I wanted to put my hands on: tiny appliances, teeny kettles, the smallest and thinnest baby highchair I’ve certainly ever seen. I think mostly, though, that I enjoy the way the rooms look: round, with small dewy windows, occasionally a lovely arc that I would find immense pleasure in cuddling down into with a book or a mug or something to watch. I wish that was something I could’ve done in that castle the most: find myself a nook to nestle in and stay there from then on.
Also, the cafe was great. Cute little tables arranged in one of the more dim castle rooms; my one slightly elevated and under a window. The cafe was full of ladybugs – which in all honesty, I thought was lovely. I was having tea and enjoying having one or two scuttle over my hand and on to the little flowers on the tables.
Visiting the castle was good, honest fun; and had me in a lot of feelings by the time I was done. Like largely appreciative, hugely valuing aestheticism (I know the castle had a purpose whatever time that may have been – but now I just think it’s so lovely to look at and wander through and if that’s the most fun I have and I’m not hurting anyone, I can’t see much bad in that).
Overall a really nice day out! Definitely a good time for any age
Creating opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events.