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Wild Awake
Hilary T. Smith
Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
Bryan Peterson
Song of the Sparrow - Lisa Ann Sandell I read Song of the Sparrow last year, but it’s only now that I’m posting my rating and review because, in truth, I was nervous. I have good friends who all seemed to fall into passionate, swoony love with Lisa Ann Sandell’s verse interpretation of the Lady of Shallott. And I.. did not. So I held off. Did I really want to be the lone lukewarm drop in the bucket of adoration? And maybe it was me. Maybe I was just a philistine with no literary taste. While reviewers and critics alike praise this book, I just didn’t feel the magic. After some thought, I suspect that verse novels are just not my particular “thing”. Like when my friends are talking about how aesthetically pleasing Gerard Butler is and I’m just sitting there with my ”Um, what?" face on. Or when people say that rocket is the best salad green, and I say “I hate rocket” and everyone goes quiet. (I have a complicated and ridiculous relationship with salad leaves, but that's a rant for another day). I feel a similar awkwardness in admitting that I don’t enjoy reading verse novels. As I read Song of the Sparrow, I remember having two very distinct, recurring thoughts. (1) “I wish this story was written in prose, not poetry” and (2) “I just want to be finished with this”. I’d flick forward to check how many pages I had left to read – not a good sign. I was loathe to give up and DNF it, because I thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d reach some incredible passage and see the light. Become a verse convert. Write a review testifying to the brilliance of this book. But I can’t. Don’t get me wrong – I think this is a good book. Very good, even. I enjoyed Sandell’s particular take on the characters and the way she wove threads of the original legends, myths and historical texts into her own richly imagined story. This more “realistic” take on King Arthur, Lancelot et al is definitely to my taste. Likewise, I appreciate that Sandell wrote strong, interesting female characters who took initiative and demonstrated courage. I liked the way she developed the relationship between Elaine and Gwynivere, from initial coldness and apparent antagonism to mutual respect and friendship. On the other hand, I found the romance between Elaine and Tristan very sweet, but not particularly compelling. Although, yes, I liked Tristan :) It may just be the history geek in me, but I wanted more detail. More battle, more blood, more description, more dialogue. Basically the elements that would appear in a work of historical fiction/fantasy, but don’t necessarily lend themselves to the flow and syntax of a story told in verse. To be honest, I found the rhythm of the poetry distracting rather than immersive. I can see why people adore this book, and if you’re a fan of verse novels, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one. As for me? Well I’m sorry, verse novels (and rocket. And Gerard Butler.) It’s not you. It really is just me.