Review of Lost on Mars by Paul Magrs

img_0004I can’t wait to read the second instalment of this trilogy. I am still thinking about the characters and the hard life they led on Mars, trying to grow enough to eat, like early settlers in the United States. And then their journey away from their initial homestead and all that happens there.
I felt unsettled and spooked out early on reading this – it seemed fitting to finish it on Halloween. It wasn’t a cosy read, though it seemed to get cosier when I understood more about what was happening in the world. Because of this, it’s not a YA book I would introduce to a middle grade reader or younger, but I would be pleased to recommend it to readers aged 12 or older. It’s an interesting and thought-provoking read about the nature of people, academia and civilisation itself.
I own many of Paul Magrs’s books and I think this is one of the best. I’m excited by the potential of the YA space novel and wonder what new level Paul will take it to, a pioneer in this genre as the settlers are pioneers on Mars.

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Mother – a poem #amwriting



The buzzards are circling your heart

Diggers rip your stomach

Turn your soil


They cut your trees because they could

Ancient oak and ash hacked away

Their remains a stubby finger stuck up to the people


But still you host the magpies as they tell their joy

Sparrows grub, hedgehogs hide and robins keep abreast

Bats, visible to residents but not inspectors, track the night sky


Dogs and owners brush your long grass

But how long will that last?



(c) Rebecca Deans 2016

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Sad to announce this Codnor Common news

Sad to announce that I got an email last night confirming that the second Peveril Homes bid on Codnor Common is going ahead.
That’s right. Traffic carnage on Holborn View and probably Glasshouse Hill, a new junction at the bend of Holborn View, accidents due the parking around the site….
We can also look forward to further flooding for current residents of Holborn View, Eastfield Road and the Orchard.
Not to mention the wildlife, particualrly the hedgehogs, that will die when they keep the trees but cut down the ancient hedgerows.
And damage to trees with Tree Preservation Orders as they’ve already cut one down and Amber Valley Borough Council let them get away with it.
And Ripley Town Council is taking on the land left inbetween the two developments, a liability they may well regret. Good luck with that one residents of Ripley.
Well done to the councillors that, as part of Waingroves Community Association, sent a letter against the village green application that may have stopped them, drawn by the carrot of a community centre that Peveril will NEVER build for you.
Well done to the councillors that worked on the outline of the site in partnership with the developers and didn’t even send this controversial plan to planning board. You know who you are.
At least I know I did everything, just about everything, I could to stop this (and I wasn’t alone in this). And in the process cost Peveril a whole heap of money fighting the Village Green application.
Let’s hope the balance swings away from developers and back to communities before Derbyshire is a fetid mess of housing estates populated by house-locked children with nowhere to go except the asthma clinic.

You can find out more about the 40-year battle to save Codnor Common on previous posts.

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Everything in the Garden is Rosy

IMG_2152I write this in response to my friend Anna commenting on how full my garden looked last Thursday, and because of our conversation about how the world of Facebook is fake, or on the edge.


Everything in the Garden is Rosy


That full garden

The brassicas were reduced to skeletons the next day by cabbage white butterflies

The sunflower couldn’t be bothered, neither could the sun

The strawberries flowered but didn’t fruit

The beans never climbed

The poppies grew in the cracks of the patio, but not in the wildflower garden

We’re still the only place growing healthy ash trees, but not in the hedges

The rocket didn’t

The mint in’t

But the sage thrives, we have yellow courgettes poking out everywhere

And the pumpkin might shock by October.


© Rebecca Deans 2016


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Hedgehog a poem for #hedgehogawarenessweek 

This week my Friday post is dedicated to the hedgehog, a disappearing species. I recently won a lovely bag on Twitter from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society packed full of goodies and it has opened my eyes to the threat that they face.

Hedgehogs were common on Codnor Common, less so since Peveril Homes put up the Heras fencing in an attempt to stop the village green application I am guessing.

You can find out more and donate here and if you can do one thing, make a CD sized hole in your gates and fences so they can travel in and out of your garden.

This metal prison hemmed me in.

I’m thin. I cannot get out to eat.

I used to be so spiky, sparkly, prickly

And all that malarkey

I used to slug slugs like there was no tomorrow.
Now I cower at the big tower

That popped up in the field like a flower

‘Cos I can’t use my secret power.

(C) Rebecca Deans 2016

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Are you being influenced? #amediting

I recently opened a box that had been moving between lofts, and found myself a present, a book of poetry written down from 1993 to 1995, a flowery hardback book with fountain-pen entries, signed just in case. Now, at the East Midlands Writers’ Conference they told us to put our writing in a box and leave it for a while, but I guess over 20 years is extreme. But for me, it’s more like having access to a time capsule.

Some of these poems went on to be aired in university and successively updated. Some start as free verse and end up rhyming. I can date some of my experiences. The tone of the poems changes after a few months of university.

I was lucky to do a BA (hons) in English Literature and creative writing on a course that gave the eight or nine on it special access to writers. We had support from visiting writers and later on a writing mentor, and in the second year we started taking the courses that would make up our subsidiary. I still have the poems I wrote for Hugo Williams in Autumn 1997.

When I spend some time with a famous writer, alive or dead, I tend to buy some of their work. I own far too many Paul Magrs books, which I must get signed, and everything I can from Emma Pass. I was very pleased to get a poetry book sometime in 1997 that covered both Andrew Motion and Hugo Williams in the UEA campus Waterstones.

In case you’re not familiar with Hugo Williams’s poetry, he wrote ‘Toilet’ and ‘Creative Writing’. Look them up! And here, with time for reflection, is a poem influenced by ‘Toilet’.

Train Ride


I’m doing it standing up

On a seatlessly silent train

I’m riding fast, the day is vast

I’m playing my favourite game.


I’m going away from here

As the throbs and pulses grow

The world files by, a restless lie

I’m caught in accelerando.


The train is as fragile as light

The cheap soap opera set quakes

Then faster it fits as if nothing exists

But the grey walls, toilet door


Black fridge-sealant rubber

Holding the train together

We slow down and stop, a useless flop

And I’m elsewhere for ever and ever.


© Rebecca Deans 2016

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Too Many Stars Have Gone Out This Year #amwriting #music #recordstoreday2016

I went to a record store yesterday and bought my dad the latest David Bowie recording on CD. I didn’t think to buy the latest Prince album as well.

I had previously bought the Bowie from a well known online retailer, but the case hadn’t protected it. My dad, lifelong Bowie fan, had been at the point of putting the CD into his car when he realised it was split.

I vowed to myself to go to a proper shop and buy him the album, though it took me a few opportunities to do it. In the end I went to Rough Trade Records in Nottingham and they were happy to open it to check it was OK.

Dad usually complains when I buy him Christmas, birthday or father’s day gifts, so I knew my purchase was right when he didn’t offer to give it me back.

It was later when I was at home making tea that I realised that Prince had died as well.

My first 7 inch single should have been Prince. I clearly remember looking at singles in Asda in Preston in 1987. I seem to recall I wanted ‘When Doves Cry’, though my mum and dad wouldn’t let me have that. I was ten or 11 at the time. I ended up with ‘What’s the Colour of Money’ by Brother Beyond.

I got a turntable again recently, and was able to play my son a track off the Hunky Dory Bowie album my brother had passed back to me. I declined to play the Brother Beyond single. I was pleased to have a Michael Jackson album (Bad, 1987) and a ropey copy of ‘Pump up the Volume’ by MARRS on 7 inch (also 1987). I was even able to have a Bangles moment (with actions).

This is the bit where my brain will not get to the punchline and finish the blog because Prince….? Too many stars have gone out this year.

(c) Rebecca Deans 2016

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