A quickie for poetry fans: Odeful and Other Poems…


Today I have for something for the young and the lovers of poetry.  Those two often go together, don’t they?  The image of the youthful, angst-ridden poet railing against the world with wordy weapons is quite easy to conjure up.  Happily though, the poems that you will find in Odeful and Other Poems by Jennifer Recchio are not angst-ridden in the slightest, despite being pitched as poetry about coming-of-age in this crazy, technological world.


This collection did seem to me to be particularly short, but even given the limited overall length Recchio manages to cover quite a range of content and styles.  A number of poems made me chuckle and chortle, a few had me connecting with a deep and poignant part of my inner self and one or two even had me scratching my head at the oddity of it all.  After These Messages was undoubtedly my favourite of the lot – a bizarrely funny little piece spelling out what might happen for those characters we see every day in the advertising that surrounds us minute to minute.  The stanza:

Maybe these characters

are in group therapy

in commercial land

where they trade secrets

for overcoming hair loss

and cleaning those

hard to reach places

did spark in me a little concern for those commercial-bound characters.  Particularly the singing hamburger.  The Lives of Eris was another one I particularly enjoyed, rich in imagery about the eternal battle between Order and Chaos (who, incidentally, works at a Home Goods store), and the form of Assume This is a Poem will be familiar to anyone who has ever been subjected to maths exams in high school.

I’d recommend this one to anyone wanting a brief respite from the novel and who doesn’t mind dipping their toes into the deep and choppy waters of poetry every now and then.

Until next time,


* I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley *

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Fi50 January Challenge Reminder and that quirky mistress, Tumblr…



It’s that time again!  The first Fiction in 50 writing challenge for the year kicks off on Monday the 27th of January!  If you’d like to participate, simply write a piece of fiction (or poetry or whatever) in 50 words or less and link it up to the linky when my post goes live on Monday.

The prompt for this month is….

fi50 jan button

Still going on those resolutions, anyone??

fiction in 50For more information or to find out prompts for the next few challenges, click on this attractive button!

So, onto my next point for this post – that quirky mistress, Tumblr.

Recently I decided that, not feeling quite ready to tackle the gargantuan social-interaction machine that is Twitter, I would attempt to take on a slightly more manageable branching out into other platforms.  So I selected Tumblr.  Now, everyone who I have since mentioned this to has immediately commented, “I don’t really get Tumblr,” and I must say that I have to agree with them.

Despite not being 100% sure what the point of Tumblr is, I have nevertheless leapt in with gusto and selected Tumblr as the new place for most of my random poetry, musings and hilarious images* (* hilarious as rated by me).  To whet your appetite, here a few of my recent posts….

Obscure Proverb of the Day – Everyone knows not to count their chickens before they’ve hatched and to look before they leap, but what about those other, less well known proverbs, that in spite of their lack of popularity, have nuggets of wisdom to impart to the switched-on reader?  Here is an example of one I’ve dug up:

rotting tooth

Hilarious pictures – Recently I have been having somewhat of a field day with one of the mini-fleshling’s Hobbit figurines.  Really, the permutations are endless. And endlessly amusing to me. Please enjoy an example of Dance numbers we’d like to see in Hobbit! The Musical…Flight of the Bilbo-bee

flight of the bilbobee

Virtual Fridge Poetry – in this instance, it is the fridge that is virtual, not the poetry.  Here is one I put together only a few days ago, to honour those suffering in the ridiculous heat we southerners have had to endure very recently…It is titled “Vindictive Summer”:

vindicitve summer

So if dancing hobbits and lowbrow poetry are your thing, hop on over to visit me at Tumblr – I’ll have the cold drinks and cupcakes on standby!

Until next time, get those mini-creative juices flowing!



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ARC Haiku Review: Hope is a Ferris Wheel…


small fryGood sweaty morning to you all! I’m particularly excited today because I am unleashing upon you all my first submission for the Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge 2014!  If you don’t know what this is, you should immediately click on the delightful button directly to the right of this sentence and inform yourself. We’ll wait. Go on.

Right then! I am submitting Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera in category 5 – something that comes in pairs.  Can’t guess why? It’s WHEELS! Wheels generally come in pairs when attached to an axle.  And just so you know, I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley – thanks!

Hope is a Ferris Wheel follows a school year in the life of ten year old Star Mackie, who has recently moved to a new town and is finding it difficult to make friends.  This, she suspects, is due to a number of factors – her attractive blue “layered cut” that the other kids call a mullet, her classmates’ inexplicable dislike of trailer parks as a place of residence, and the fact that she is new and a bit different.  Star begins a quest to make friends by starting a club and after a few false starts – The Trailer Park Club not attracting the level of interest she initially expected – the Emily Dickinson poetry club opens some new doors for Star as well as giving her a few new headaches.  Add to this the ongoing drama of living with a busy single mother and a creative, yet misunderstood older sister and Star’s life is all getting a bit complicated.  And we haven’t even mentioned her mission to finally meet her dad.

hope is a ferris wheel

Round and round Star goes

Where she stops nobody knows

Least of all herself!

This book is a real little charmer.  It’s aimed at a middle grade audience and reminded me in some ways of the old Judy Blume books, with a heavy emphasis on a young kid just beginning to emerge into a more grown up world and having to navigate a way through strange new problems.  Star is a very likeable narrator with a refreshing naivete regarding the big bad world.  The child characters in the book are nicely fleshed out and although they have some stereotypical aspects – there’s Denny, the grumpy, protective older brother, and Eddie the tough kid – those aspects never make up the whole of the character.

One of the big drawcards for this book for we shelf-sitters was the theme of poetry running through the book.  Star falls in love with an Emily Dickinson poem about hope after a lesson from their teacher, and later finds out that Eddie, the tough guy, happens to be a dab hand at poetry too.  The poetry club forms a great backdrop for the kids to come out of their shells and find common ground in an otherwise shaky social situation.

There are a few adultish themes running through the book, mainly related to Star’s older sister, but nothing that a reasonably mature middle-grade audience couldn’t handle.  Overall, this was a quick, memorable read and one that approaches the beginnings of growing up in a fun and engaging way.  Hope is a Ferris Wheel is due for publication in early March.

So now I’m off to link up to the Small Fry Safari – even if you’re not signed up, hop on over as there are already some eager safari beavers who have submitted some entries!  Hi ho, Safari, AWAY!

Until next time,


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Ode to an Author: Chris Priestley


Good evening Possums! Mad Martha here, going just a little bit Dame Edna on you all.  Today I am waxing lyrical on one of the favourite authors amongst the denizens of Bruce’s shelf – Chris Priestley, author of Mister Creecher, The Dead of Winter, The Tom Marlowe Mysteries and our resounding favourite, the Tales of Terror Series!  This series features collections of short stories centred around a young protagonist (or two) who, through accident or design, has become the captive audience of some very odd and colourful storytelling. Starting with a delightfully atmospheric and eerie romp around Uncle Montague’s house and surrounds, this series blossomed into a veritable English country garden of creepy weirdness, with the followup titles Tales of Terror from the Black Ship (my personal favourite so far), Tales of Terror from the Tunnel’s Mouth, and the limited release The Teacher’s Tales of Terror!  You may notice the differences in the cover art – the titles are available in both the pen and ink illustration covers and the more photographic style….We on the shelf prefer the pen and ink.

tales of terrorTOT black ship

TOT tunnelTeachers TOT

Priestley has an uncanny knack for creating an ambience that has you looking over your shoulder while reading.  Also, as many of the main characters in the short stories are less than endearing, it can be somewhat unsettling to realise that one may be secretly relishing the various sticky ends to which those characters succumb.

We are always keeping our eyes peeled for new titles in this series as they really are the cream of the crop in spine-tingling stories for people aged about 10 years and over. Our vigilance was rewarded recently when Bruce spotted a seasonal release, only available (annoyingly) as an ebook – Christmas Tales of Terror!

TOT christmas

So it was that Bruce attempted to read his first ever e-book – in fact, he read it aloud in one sitting for the benefit of all the shelf-folk, during a brief period in which the house fleshlings were away from the dwelling, leaving their precious electronified tablet unguarded.  While this is certainly not the best offering in the series in our opinion, (the first story, “The Green Man” being particularly weak), it is certainly another feather in the cap of the good Mr Priestley.  And for his services to the field of terror-inducement in minors and others, I present to him this Ode, in the form of a letter from a reader…..

Dear Mr Priestley,chris-priestley

Your tales are so beastly.

Your plotlines increas’dly mean characters cease-to-be.

Terror unceasingly fills my mind feastingly,

I beg for release from thee!

Yours (most dis-ease-dly),

An Appreciative Reader

I must admit, that one was a challenge.  Not many words rhyme with Priestley.  Further suggestions for rhyming words would be welcome.

But please do yourself a favour and explore the work of Creepy Chris….if you dare! Mwuuuhahahahhaaaaaaaa!

Ahem……Until next time lovelies,

Mad Martha