Mini Review: The Road Between by Courtney Peppernell

theroadbetweenThe Road Between by Courtney Peppernell

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 29th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 288 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The Road Between is poetry well-lived.

Poetry for the soul that walks the fine line between losing yourself in the world and finding yourself again, often in the smallest of moments. Courtney Peppernell is the bestselling author of Pillow Thoughts, a collection of poetry and prose about heartbreak, love, and emotion.

Make a cup of tea, find your place, and lose yourself in the pages.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Courtney Peppernell has quickly become one of my new favorite authors. This was yet another beautiful collection that truly spoke to me. Peppernell has a great talent for creating short and deceptively simple poetry that has a much deeper underlying meaning. Her striking prose flows perfectly, and each line packs a strong emotional punch. This particular collection is about the journeys that life presents all of us. Specifically, these poems deal with the process of finding yourself again after becoming separated from it along the way—how we have to carefully piece ourselves back together until we feel whole.

The theme of finding oneself is something that, at this time in my life, really speaks to me. I’ve definitely been taking this exact journey over the last few years, feeling like I had lost touch with myself and trying to figure out who I am and what I need in my life. I’ve been feeling a deep need to settle into and truly come to terms with every aspect of myself. It’s this sort of work that I can connect to very easily—that makes me feel more confident in who I’ve discovered that I am and what love means to me. Peppernell’s words are wonderfully profound and they deeply touched me.

I always think it’s fantastic to see more LGBT+ work coming into the the literary world. Even though many of the poems that focus on love deal with a romance between two women, I believe these poems will speak to anyone, no matter their orientation and how they love. Love is love—it is a universal subject that can touch the hearts and souls of all of us. I’ve already gone ahead and purchased her two novels and I absolutely can’t wait to read more of her work.

5.0 TARDISes

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Mini Review: A Candle From The Far East by Y.T. Kim

acandlefromthefareastA Candle From The Far East by Y.T. Kim

My Rating: 2/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: October 3rd, 2017

Publisher: Mill City Press

Pages: 114 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads

Synopsis: In his first collection of English poems, Korean writer Young-Tae Kim (Y.T. Kim) presents a remarkable anthology of work with themes ranging from political musings on an international scale to living well in an increasingly global world. Kim offers a unique blend of the modern and traditional, as overtones of the poet’s Eastern cultural roots permeate each page.

In addition to musings on present-day society, A Candle from the Far East (Poems) offers reflections on more emotional themes—such as the growth of deep and profound love, alienation of once close friendships over time, and finding purpose through spiritual growth—culminating in a beautifully rich collection of works that have universal applicability. The end result is a collection that readers will turn to time and time again and one that successfully shares wisdom and contributes to the well-being of all.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

While I can appreciate the themes and meanings Kim tried to convey through his poetry, I personally did not get caught up in his writing. There were only a small number of poems that really resonated for me. This collection ranges from reflections on Kim’s personal life to commentary on history, modern technology, and the current state of our society and the world as a whole. Even though these are all interesting topics, there were many poems that felt less like poetry and more like reading a textbook or list of facts—this took away from the fluidity of the writing.

The poems that focused on history or his more intimate thoughts on his own experiences spoke to me the most. The history aspect, as well as the wonderful photographs that accompanied it, really caught my attention. In just small snippets of text, I felt that I learned a lot of new information I hadn’t come across before. His short reflections on his own life were the most poetic of the collection. Kim created beautiful snapshots of his view of the world around him as well as his relationships with family and friends. Again, the placement of pictures coinciding with these poems really brought his meaning to life.

As for the actual writing itself, apart from a few select instances, I found the overall flow of these poems to be quite rough and choppy. There were some attempts at rhyming that really did not come across well and ended up being a detriment to the piece. There were many occasions where I felt as if I were reading a list of facts rather than poetry, so many of the poems were quite stilted. The moments where he focused on subjects like A.I. just did not come across like poetry in my opinion, and I found myself skimming through these.

Of course, poetry is always subjective, and my personal experience is going to be unique to me. Therefore, I still encourage you to check out this collection if it appeals to you. Kim’s talent is obvious, and I’m sure his poetry will touch the lives of readers for whom the depth of the work is more easily accessible than it was for me.

2.0 TARDISes

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Mini Review: The Chaos of Longing by K.Y. Robinson

thechaosoflongingThe Chaos of Longing by K.Y. Robinson

My Rating: 2.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: May 31st, 2016

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Pages: 118 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The Chaos of Longing is a prose and poetry collection draped in raw honesty, ache, and eroticism. The collection explores trauma, love, heartbreak, and the realizations from it all.

The book is divided into four sections. “Inception” briefly examines formative years and its effects on how one loves. “Longing” reflects on love and sexuality. “Chaos” explores toxic relationships, unrequited love, and heartache. After chaos, there is order with self-love and healing poems in “epiphany”.

Some content may be triggering.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I always say, poetry is extremely subjective and hard to review, as it will touch each and every reader in a completely unique way. Not every collection or poet will strike the right note with every reader, and this ended up being the case for me with these poems. This was one of those situations where I could appreciate the talent of the author, but the topics and their presentation were just not for me. However, despite my personal experience with these poems, I can easily see how they could deeply impact a reader.

These poems are brave, raw, and powerful. They are incredibly intimate and portray both human weakness and the strength that can come out in one’s most vulnerable moments. The collection as a whole is a journey from naivety, through the torment and battering that life and love can inflict on one’s heart and soul, and ending where healing begins.

Robinson paints a vivid and candid retrospective on self-image and self-discovery—she exposes the full depth of the painful, open wounds that slowly close over time. Not only does she display the torment that one may go through when they let down their defenses in favor of passion, but also the triumph of courage gained from accepting who we are and the decisions we make. Ultimately, this collection is not only her story, but also a stark and uninhibited portrait of what it is like to be human.

Even though I didn’t quite connect with this particular work and the subject matter, I still found the beauty in Robinson’s writing and delicate crafting of each poem. She clearly poured so much heart and meaning into every word, and truly bared herself and her personal emotional journey through this collection. I admire her candor and her nerve, opening herself up in this manner—and I very much believe that her writing can and will reach and impact plenty of readers.

2.5 TARDISes

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Review: Remember, Remember by Anna Elliott

rememberrememberRemember, Remember by Anna Elliot

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mysteries

Date Published: April 21st, 2017

Publisher: Wilton Press

Pages: 357 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: A lovely American actress awakens in London on a cold morning in 1897 – lying face down on the concrete pavement outside the British Museum. She has no memories. She does not even know who she is, although she has a vague recollection of the name Sherlock Holmes. What she believes is that she has may have just killed someone, and that someone is definitely trying to kill her. As she searches for clues to her true identity, she will learn that she is not the only target. Unless she can defeat her evil adversaries, the people most dear to her will die.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I’ll admit I went into this book a little bit hesitant. It’s no secret that I love retellings or novels that use classic characters in modern day literature—these are some of my favorite types of novels. However, the hesitation I experience comes from my love of the original stories and characters themselves. I’m always a stickler when it comes to keeping true to the most essential and definitive aspects, even while the author is forming his or her own unique story. And I am especially picky when it comes to my all-time favorites. This particular novel, I’m pleased to say, does a reasonably good job paying homage to the incredibly well-loved characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless tales of the great Sherlock Holmes.

In this novel, we read from the perspective of the main character, Lucy James, a young woman who wakes up on the steps of the British Museum with amnesia. Once woken up, she realizes she has lost all of her memories, including her name. All she knows is that she was hit in the head and that someone is most likely out to kill her—and that she may in fact be a killer herself. This, along with the vague recollection of the name Sherlock Holmes, is all she has to go on as she attempts to remember who she is, where she’s from, and why she is running for her life. Her enemies are ruthless and willing to take down anyone who gets in their way. Navigating dangerous circumstances and forging new alliances, Lucy takes on her adversaries and works to prevent them from carrying out their nefarious scheme.

Despite my original wariness, I ended up enjoying this story quite a bit. I found the plot to be fast-paced and easy to get wrapped up in right from page one. Though this is actually the third book in the Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mysteries series, it functions extremely well as a standalone. The overall mystery of the story is not completely unpredictable or surprising, but it still made for a very fun and action-packed read.

The portrayal of the various characters, overall, is fairly well done, but also the area from which the majority of my issues with the novel stem. The characters that were original creations of Anna Elliot were by far the strongest. Lucy is a great protagonist—she is a strong, highly intelligent, and independent heroine. The only major issue with her characterization is that there isn’t much development over the course of the story or depiction of flaws. One of the reasons a character such as Sherlock Holmes is so interesting is the mixture of his tremendous intellect and cleverness with flaws that make him human. While Lucy is a likeable character that is still easy to connect with, she seems just a bit too perfect at times.

As for Elliot’s versions of Holmes and Watson, I had somewhat mixed feelings. While her portrayal of Watson, in my opinion, is quite accurate, I felt a little bit lukewarm about her portrayal of Holmes. We don’t really get to see all that much of him, and even though there are certain times that truly reflect the classic great detective, there are some moments and plot points that I felt strayed a little too far. Though it was a little hard for me to imagine at first, I believe she did a decent job of gauging the way Holmes would treat a daughter had he had one in the original stories. However, there were times—such as his offering Lucy dating advice—that just didn’t feel authentic.

I had one odd problem with one of the character’s names. I was reading from an advanced review copy, so this is probably the cause of my confusion, but I could not figure out Lucy’s love interest’s first name. It kept jumping back and forth between John and Jack every few pages, sometimes even within the same page. Again, I assume this was caused by the uncorrected proof, and it has absolutely no bearing on my rating of the novel. However, I’m still not certain what his name actually was meant to be.

Elliot’s writing style is solid and easy to become absorbed in. She gives Lucy a strong narrative voice, which caused the plot to both flow well and pack a punch. Her world building of 1897 London is vivid and skilled, making it a very high point of the novel. She unravels the mystery at a steady pace, showing her talent for creating a storyline that hooks her readers and keeps them wanting more.

In the first part of the novel, Elliot does a great job of presenting Lucy’s slow gathering of clues pertaining to her life. The transition between the two halves of the novel—where Lucy suddenly regains her memories—is a bit rough. We are thrown rather quickly into her rapid and high-stakes lifestyle. However, this still does not hurt the plot progression overall, and though it was a little bumpy, I found myself falling into this new twist fairly easily. In general, Elliot keeps the plot as a whole straightforward enough to follow, and just unpredictable enough to create a exciting mystery.

Overall, I found this novel to be a pretty enjoyable and fast-paced read that was quite easy to become swept up in. This wound up being a very fun story, and an inventive take on some very timeless classics. While I would have liked to see a bit more development in Lucy and the various other significant characters in the novel, they were still portrayed well in general. Despite its few flaws, this is a good addition to the ever-expanding world of Sherlock Holmes novels. I am definitely planning to go back and read the first two novels of this series, and will eagerly await and further installments.

3.5 TARDISes

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Mini Review: Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

pillowthoughtsPillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 29th, 2017

Publisher: Andrew McMeel Publishing

Pages: 272 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Make a cup of tea and let yourself feel.

Pillow Thoughts is a collection of poetry and prose about heartbreak, love, and raw emotions. It is divided into sections to read when you feel you need them most.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Simply put, I found this collection to be absolutely beautiful. Each poem was thoughtful and moving and an absolute joy to read. It touched my life at a time when I needed it most, so I could not help falling in love with Pillow Thoughts. Peppernell’s writing flows perfectly, and her poetry paints a stunning picture of life’s ups and downs. She eloquently coveys every poem—breathes life into them—and gives them a great amount of depth. These poems are the sort that readers can truly connect with, and each person’s interpretation will be different. They reach into every corner of our hearts and remind us that it is okay for us to feel—gives us a raw and vivid portrayal of what it is to be human.

This is a collection that I believe most people will be able to connect with and find meaning in. Every piece is straightforward yet incredibly profound—very accessible for anyone, no matter who they are or where they are in life. I found comfort in these words as they told me that I am not alone, even when I’m feeling lonely in the midst of my troubles. These poems transcend their own simplicity to create a meaningful depiction of the most basic and universal experiences we face in our lives. The reader will find their own unique meaning depending on their personal lives, and take away what their soul is craving at that moment. I look forward to reading more of Peppernell’s work in the future.

5.0 TARDISes

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Mini Review: Everything Reminds You of Something Else by Elana Wolff

everythingremindsyouofsomethingelseEverything Reminds You of Something Else by Elana Wolff

My Rating: 2/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: April 2017

Publisher: Guernica Editions

Pages: 90 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Thin is the line between dreaming and wakefulness, wellness and disorder, here and there, this and that. Elana Wolff’s poems illuminate the porousness of states and relations, the connective compulsion of poetic perception, in language that blends the oracular and the everyday, the elliptical and the lucent, the playful and the heart-raking. The de- and re-constructive workings of the poems in Everything Reminds You of Something Else argue for empathy and attentiveness. At the core of this work is the belief that art is the sanest rage.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Poetry is incredibly hard to critique because each individual reader’s experience is unique. Everyone gets something different out of it, and a style that might work for one reader might not work for another. This is one of those collections that I believe really backs these things up. Wolff’s writing is very beautiful and I’m sure, for that reason, there are many people who would enjoy her work. Her unique view of the world shines through in the way she interprets and records small snapshots of life. Her imaginative and whimsical style is juxtaposed against her use of more serious topics and issues. However, for me, this particular collection fell a bit flat and did not affect me in the way I think it was meant to.

To be completely honest, I did not understand many of the poems in this particular collection. What would normally be an extremely quick read took me much longer than anticipated, since I was attempting to decipher some sort of meaning in each obscure poem. There were only a handful that I understood, and the rest felt very choppy and disjointed. I spent most of my reading experience feeling very confused and searching for so much more than I was able to find. I love diving into and interpreting complex poetry, but this style of writing did not click with me, making it just a bit too difficult to understand. Though Wolff’s writing is clearly skilled and her style may work for some readers, I was unfortunately not one.

2.0 TARDISes

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Review: The Timekeepers by Jenn Bregman

thetimekeepersThe Timekeepers by Jenn Bregman

My Rating: 1/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: May 4th, 2017

Publisher: Triborough Publishing

Pages: 334 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: A fast-paced thriller, The TimeKeepers plunges headlong into the depraved underbelly of Big Law and big money where greed is king, murder is incidental, and winning is the only thing that matters.

Attorney Sarah Brockman is young, idealistic, and naïve. Having left Big Law in search of work that would make a difference, she finds herself barely scraping by running her own personal injury law firm working for clients who can’t pay and pursuing causes she can’t win. Then a random horrific car crash shatters everything. Now she’s staring into the darkest shadows of the very system she’s dedicated her life to upholding, filled with corrupt judges, dirty cops and attorneys, offshore banking, massive fraud, and twists and turns through the highways and byways of Southern California, Mexico and the Cook Islands.  

Facing off against a cunning and deranged adversary, Sarah is aided by a sharp-witted socialite, a felon and occasional crackhead, and a shameless Mexican raconteur. All while kindling a tender romance with Sam, her boyishly handsome new love, who has been following the same trail but from the other end – and the wrong side of the law.

Sarah feels invisible strings pulling her ever closer to the core of the conspiracy. But if she’s just a pawn in someone else’s game, are the strings being pulled for good or for bad? Or, even, both? And will she be on the side that wins?

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

This novel is a bit out of my normal reading comfort zone. However, I always love giving any book from any genre a try—and from the synopsis, The Timekeepers sounded like an interesting, high-stakes mystery. Unfortunately, what I ended up with was a slow-paced, confusing story, one-dimensional characters, and no mystery.

There was absolutely no suspense in the plot due to the style of narration that Bregman chose for it, and there were very few riveting plot points to grip readers. Throughout my experience with this novel, I never found myself eager to turn the next page. And rather than the book motivating me to read it, I had to motivate myself every time I picked it up.

A book that could have been fast-paced and exciting is bogged down by repetitive narration and an extensive amount of scenes that solely contain descriptions of the various workings of Big Law. It’s not that I minded learning the details about law or what goes on behind-the-scenes at law firms—it was specifically that topic which caused me to want to read this novel. But instead of mixing definitions and facts fluidly with a heart-pounding and interesting plot, the plot fell flat and facts overtook almost every aspect of the novel.

In this novel, according to the synopsis, we follow a young attorney named Sarah Brockman, who is struggling to run her own law firm specializing in personal injury cases. One day, her life changes when she begins dealing with the case of a man who has been hit by a car. This seemingly common personal injury case inadvertently throws Sarah into a world she is not prepared for—a secret side of law, where the dealings are quite suspicious and spell danger for all involved. All of a sudden, she finds herself mixed up in a risky face off with some major names of Big Law, where ethics have no place.

Now, this is where one of my biggest issues begins. The synopsis has practically nothing to do with what the novel is actually about. Sarah Brockman, the supposed main character, barely plays any part in the main storyline itself. She is primarily there to jump in and save the day at the very end of the novel and, of course, to add a touch of romance at various points. Even her love interest Sam has a bigger and more important role than she does. The main character, I would say, is the main villain of the piece, who has considerably more screen time.

The characters themselves served their purposes well; the good ones were likeable and the bad ones were detestable. However, I never truly cared about or connected with any of them. They are fairly cookie-cutter type, one-dimensional characters, and really never stray from their very predictable storylines. In the same vein, the romance between Sarah and Sam, a fellow lawyer, is exceedingly unsurprising and just far too immature and cheesy to be believed.

One of the most glaring problems character-wise is that there is not nearly enough distinction between their voices. And since the narrative jumps from person to person multiple times per chapter, it becomes very tricky to know immediately whose perspective we have just fallen in to. To add to this, very little is done to make any of the characters particularly memorable, and they are left feeling quite inconsistent personality-wise through the entirety of the novel.

And then there was the ending—the astoundingly convenient chain of events that allows the story to finally come to a predictable close. One of the most perfect examples of the term “deus ex machina”. Everything works out perfectly. All the most important pieces fall flawlessly into place. Sarah and Sam literally stumble across absolutely every piece of information they need to take down the bad guys. And in the final climactic scene, a physically impossible feat is pulled off to save the day.

The writing itself is not necessarily bad, but it definitely leaves much to be desired. As I mentioned before, each chapter of the novel jumps around between multiple characters’ points of view. However, there is barely any fluidity in how this occurs, making for a very choppy and confusing narrative that can be hard to follow at times.

The narrative is also far to wordy and repetitive, and it drags along in far too many places. There are numerous points throughout where characters chronicle the exact events that have just happened mere pages before to another character that wasn’t there to witness them. Then, there are tedious monologues about the inner workings of law that play no part in moving the plot forward nor in giving facts to the reader that might become necessary knowledge for other events later in the story.

Overall, this unfortunately did not end up being the enjoyable new read I was looking for. One idea I had that I think could have massively increased the mystery and suspense of this novel would be leaving the villains faceless.

Since we switch between all characters’ points of view, we always know, from the start, who everyone is, how they are connected, and what part they are playing, nefarious or other. This erases all sense of intrigue and uncertainty, and really sucks the interest out of the narrative. If Bregman had left out the perspectives of the bad guys, or—better yet—kept them in but not given a name to the voice, this novel could have been remarkably more dynamic and enthralling.

1.0 TARDIS

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