Reviews

ss_golddust_20Below is a selection of reviews and competition wins Dave has had in relation to his various writing projects over the last few years.

There are many more reviews on Amazon, under the various books / ebooks he has published.

If you’ve read any of Dave’s books please post a review on the relevant page as this encourages other readers to look at an author’s work.

And a big thank you to all those people who have already taken the time to do this. It is very much appreciated!


Happy

Reviews:

‘Love this book. Found myself laughing out loud before I had even finished the introduction! The information provided on strategies of how to be happy are consistent with the most up to date neuroscientific research, which was pleasantly surprising to me, as I have been studying these very techniques in a course I am currently on. The info is laid out in an easy to digest format throughout and contains lots of practical advice as well as plenty of humour thrown in to keep the learning a joyful experience. The author takes you through the journey by relating the advice to his own experiences, giving this book a very human feel, rather than a book of learning. Therefore, it is easy to relate to. A big thumbs up from me.’ – Claire

‘This little book is such a breath of fresh air. Lewis just says it as it is and it’s as if he’s there chatting with us. He’s probably telling us what we all really know deep inside our heads but we might never realise what it means. Live life, love life. I shall read this time and time again to keep reminding myself what it is to be here, and enjoy what I have. Thank you Dave Lewis and well done for sharing this with us.’ – alhaze


Reclaiming The Beat

Reviews:

‘From “My Town” – “where the breeze tastes of disappointment as it blows from street to street, carrying it’s heavy load like a tarnished collier, dropping off some misery and a century of grief,” Dave Lewis is a true Welsh poet of the Valleys who illustrates in this slim volume just how deep the connection between artist, the land that nurtured him and those long since consigned to history burns. Here you will find poems to be savoured, dwelt on, and considered over weeks, months and years. Both a cry and lament for the human condition they are the work of a mature and master poet who like everyman craves life above all else. “Eighteen thousand sunsets and I want Eighteen thousand more”.’ – Catrin Collier

‘Reclaiming The Beat is an illuminating collection. Initially, attachment to the illusion of the physical world of form appears predominant. Anger at perceived inevitable loss past and future. The strength of the poetry collection residues in its capacity to evoke contemplation of the invisible mysterious and the possibility of no-thing-other beyond this limited world of form and linear time.’ – Jane Fox


Land’s End to John o’ Groats

Reviews:

‘Great read, very funny. These guys have a great sense of humour, which is exactly what you need when doing any sort of challenge like this. An enjoyable easy read and some great images too. Some classic one-liners in there which I won’t spoil by posting here but had me laughing all the way to the pub. Not one for the bus spotters as there is a severe lack of maps, hill profiles, daily carbohydrate intake and route advice. Basically this is just about some mates jumping on a bike and cycling the End to End and coping with whatever life threw at them with a smile and a beer. Having said that though, you could still use this as a very accurate guide to plan your own trip. As the author says – just do it!’ – pokie


iCommand

Reviews:

‘The eagerly anticipated third book in this trilogy is every bit as compelling as the previous two. Set in a much smaller arena (Cardiff / Rhondda Valleys), the tale of Hagar’s homecoming provides some unexpected twists and turns along the way, with the final confrontation revealing a secret you won’t see coming! Highly recommended, ideally reading all three books in order. Easily worthy of a 5 star rating!’ – J.O.

‘Plot is good and characters realistic. Coming from the same area it is easy to relate to the places mentioned.’ – KHL


Photography Composition

Reviews:

‘A refreshing change from the heavily jargon loaded books available out there. Actually only one of only a handful of books I’ve read over the years that actually speaks to the reader like a normal human being. Ideal for those like myself who might not be ofay with a lot of technical photographic terminology. The terminology that is included is easily and effectively explained so that no confusion could be created, no matter how new to the subject of photography the reader might be. Dave Lewis is clear and concise, He makes the read an enjoyable and personal journey, encouraging budding photographers to try and experiment free from the reigns of pressure of attempting to succeed to some restrictive academicals expectations. The only drawback I can think of is that the book isn’t larger than it is. Not a criticism towards the author more that I enjoyed the reading experience that much I just wished it was longer.’ – David Haigh

‘This is an awesome little book and i will refer to it many times no doubt. I love photography and strive to get it right. This has taught me the rules but also that there isn’t always a right, only the way people perceive. Huge thanks to Dave Lewis for writing and giving us this little gem.’ – Tanya Cumberlin

‘A very easy book to read that doesn’t get technical. It still achieves its aim though – to cover a good many of the basic ‘rules’ of composition. I also enjoyed the photographs.’ – Alan Hoskins


Roadkill

Reviews:

‘Dave Lewis’ new work opens with Henry Thoreau’s famous quote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”. Very apt in our Twitter-twatter, X-Box-Factor, age when apathy, indifference, and resignation is the norm and the – increasingly – lost generation slumber party away their lives wearing Onesies. This book of verse is polemical, confessional, a slap in the face wake-up call, and a much needed challenge to all “those up there” who should have, and could have made it better. Sadly, therefore, not likely to be very popular with the Arts Council aficionados, but speaking and reaching out to all those that really count. “The Voice”, is for real here and poetry is back where it belongs, right there at the heart of the matter.’ – John Evans

‘Deep, thoughtful and sometimes dark poetry from Dave Lewis. A good mixture with everything from Haiku to some much longer pieces. The incisive and acerbic observations on our modern “virtual” world are balanced by Dave’s obvious love of the natural world.’ – Alan Day

‘At times witty, at times gritty, Dave Lewis has produced a fascinating collection on human connection. The humour is dark, the love is bright, the poetry is touching, taunting, spewing, galling, tender. Modern life is out there and engulfing but the passion for truth still lives. Roadkill overflows with personality, it’s a roller-coaster ride, and to use the words of the poet “I’m smiling like Tenby”.’ – Eloise Williams

‘Dave Lewis’s latest collection, ‘ Roadkill’, opens with the famous words of Henry David Thoreau: ‘The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation’. This is a theme that permeates the book. The opening poem, ‘Roadkill’, is full of despair as the poet sees life as a journey ‘in sunshine and in shadow’ – quoting Poe’s ‘Eldorado’ – an Eldorado it seems that we can never find. We are chance casualties, rendering life meaningless:

And if we might as well be roadkill
We might as well do what we want

In this life ‘we are frenzy/we are forlorn/we are sunlit/we are hollow…‘ (the reference to TS Eliot’s poem ‘The Hollow Men’ recalls a similarly bleak vision: there are echoes of Eliot in several of the poems). I found this poem quite difficult to read with its relentless sense of bitter hopelessness and anger about the human condition and contemporary culture. It is a long poem (11 pages) and the reader may feel overwhelmed, as indeed the world can be overwhelming with its greed, its constant reminders of suffering and its apparent meaninglessness.

Although the desperation theme is constantly present, in the later poems – which for the most part record relationships, characters, lifestyles and places – the tone becomes quieter. There is room in these later poems for tenderness; and there is some consolation, if not redemption, in love, relationships and in the beauty of the natural world. This is a compassionate poet of emotion and sensitivity; his use of pared down concise language and short simple forms in these poems is very successful.

The haiku illustrate the poet’s ability to capture fleeting, understated and yet powerful impressions in few words; for example:

she doesn’t seem to care
what I do
– yellow water lilies

The ability to convey the unspoken emotion is nowhere stronger than in ‘Dad’, which alludes to the death of the poet’s father:

it’s quiet here now
still no mention of sun
raining heavy now

The simple conversational style and lack of punctuation give the poem a haiku-like, open-ended quality; the restraint serves to strengthen the effect and the result is an effective and memorable poem.

‘Duelling Scars’, the second section of the book, describes the emotional effects of events and relationships. Individuals and their lives are remembered; often these are people who may be overlooked, considered insignificant in the contemporary world with its material values. So, ‘Victim ‘takes a compassionate view of a child with a birth defect. The ‘mockers – healthy and dumb‘ will live while this child, ‘sweetness personified and vacant stare’, will be ‘bobbing to the night-time/your mammy won’t admit/ you have to welcome‘. ‘ RIP John Thomas’ describes a man whose unremarked life and ‘unkempt room/gas fire furnace-warm in winter‘ suggest an urban version of RS Thomas ‘s typical Welsh farm labourer, having a similar subject, rhythm and elegiac tone. By showing the value of these unprepossessing lives we are made to see from a different perspective: an important function of poetry.

Reflections on the past, mortality and change occur in many other poems. ‘The Wrong Bus’ (whose concerns echo Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’ and TS Eliot’s’ shadow at evening rising to meet you’), brings poignancy and a sense of awareness of mortality to the humdrum everyday occurrence of taking the wrong bus. The simple clear language serves to enhance the heartfelt emotion behind the memory.

I got the wrong bus when I was twenty
and burning and immortal
I can still see that day oh so clearly,
the beating reflection of autumn,
and those shadows that lengthen with age

In the last section of the book, ‘Tweets’, the poet returns to the subject of the Internet and other influences on contemporary life. ‘Artes Mundi’ is a sardonic take on modern jargon of psychology, advertising, management and general inflated self-important hype, its dry final line (which I won’t give away!) being a humorous comment on these. The last poem in the collection, ‘Run Towards the Fire’, has, appropriately, the last word: ‘nothing is as beautiful as it used to be‘ in this ‘upside down black and white life‘ – so we should ‘Run towards the fire/rather than further away‘. – Gillian Drake (from Issue 32 of Dream Catcher)


Raising Skinny Elephants

Reviews:

‘Great sequel. I opted to read Ctrl-Alt-Delete again to get into the characters! Enjoyed it a second time around & couldn’t wait to find time to read Raising Skinny Elephants. Thoroughly enjoyed, gutted when the book ended, great talented author, can’t wait for his next book. First book has to be read first to appreciate the plot/characters. Well done Dave!’ – clairy

‘Brilliant book. Could not wait to read this after reading Ctrl-Alt-Delete. I bought it immediately so I could continue the story. Did not want to put it down. It was so well written and the suspense was great all the way though. I would definitely recommend this to anyone.’ – Eirwen Thomas

‘Thoroughly good read. Old and new characters worked well. Kept me wanting to know what happened up to the end, definately worth reading, I think even better than Ctrl Alt Del.’ – KHL

‘This book takes the reader further in the saga of Hagar, a great story and some interesting insights into Africa. It would help if Ctrl-Alt-Delete was read first, that being a great read too. I finished the book in a matter of a couple of days, a real page turner (or button pusher for kindle fans). Buy it read and enjoy it.’ – MR JM Nash


Haiku

Reviews:

‘Dave Lewis is a unique voice in the poetry world. His new collection is filled with a range of vivid, often quirky, word pictures. He is adept at making every word count. Despite its brevity, the haiku is anything but an easy option – at its best, this short and fairly formal poem should make the reader look anew at an everyday event. This Dave does to perfection, for example, “Chain gangs of electricity/on the green mountain/armies marching”. His haiku don’t always conform to the traditional 5,7,5 syllable format – he goes his own original way, as in a favourite of mine, “Consultant’s waiting room/the plant in the window/dead”… who else would have the temerity to finish on that single-beat word, dead? His thought-provoking images have some surprising last lines that take your breath away and will remain with the reader for a long time.’ – Moira Andrew

‘Unconventional, unapologetic, unpretentious! Dave Lewis’ Haiku gives us an interesting taste of outside-the-box thinking and reminds us that while we breathe, we can embrace change, bend the rules and though we walk the same path as many others before us, we can make our own tracks.’ – Jolen Whitworth

‘Haiku linked by place, people and the seasons: full of subtle moments.’ – Mike Jenkins

‘A vivid and memorable first collection of haiku by a talented poet. Dave Lewis takes us from Pen y Fan to the Transvaal; from nature’s seasons observed in close-up to intensely personal and poignant revelations. A must-have for fellow-poets and the general reader alike.’ – Sally Spedding


Ctrl-Alt-Delete

Reviews:

‘Have read both of Dave’s thrillers and thoroughly enjoyed them. The stories grip you from the beginning and take you on a thrilling, chilling ride. His IT knowledge is excellent and his descriptions of systems and language gives the books a realism which surpasses Deaver’s The Blue Nowhere – it made me check my Facebook security levels. Both books are a must for readers of murder thrillers. Cant wait for a third instalment.’ – Rhondda Rover

‘The novel for the Facebook generation. An ambitious tour de force that should put Wales well and truly on the international crime thriller map. Believable characters and a gripping story. Can’t wait for a sequel to find out what happens to Hal. Love the ‘Alien’ tag line too, very contemporary and quite scary.’ – Mark Jones

‘This is my first e-book and what a way to start. It keeps you guessing right up to the end until the dreaded Hagar is revealed. All characters were developed well in the early chapters, you get to know each one and could associate with their surroundings. The author displays excellent knowledge of various subjects throughout the book, IT knowledge especially (and for some reason knows exactly how to dispose of bodies?) The pace of the book was perfect, you can’t put the book down during the last quarter as you need to know how it all unfolds. The quote regarding the scenario for Cardiff is brilliant! Had me in stitches. Looking forward to the next novel by Dave, let’s see what Hal can do?’ – Leon Moses

‘After downloading the book to my Kindle I found it very difficult to put it down! The intriguing characters and storyline kept me wanting to read just one more chapter. Then another and another. This is the way books of this genre should be done. Suspense, intrigue, who-dunnits, sex & violence, but all essential parts of the plot. And all on our own doorstep! Who’d have thought!. If the next book is as good as this one, it will be something to look forward to.’ – Mal92

‘As an I.T. Consultant, I generally avoid novels based in the world of computers because they’re poorly researched & make me cringe. But this is an exception (it’s clear the author has actually done a bit of research). Regardless of whether you’re into computers or not, it works well as a dark, psycho style thriller (I agree there are some slight similarities to James Patterson, but I think Mr Lewis has a style of his own). Additionally, there is an element of romance & some good social/political satire. Plus a couple of good twists towards the end. All in all, an entertaining read, looking forward to the next one…’ – Film Buff

‘A witty and intelligent read, with a helluva twist at the end. Highly enjoyable, thoroughly recommended – fingers crossed there’ll be a sequel. Well deserving of a 5 star rating.’ – Julie Ovens

‘Could do for Wales what Stieg Larsson did for Sweden! I love Dave Lewis’ writing, always so multi-layered. You can read his stuff and just simply enjoy it or you can delve deeper and go back over it and find hidden gems, political comment, social comment. This book has violence, kinky sex, dream sequences, rock music yet is fundamentally a love story. A modern one at that and one that gripped me from the start. I wanted to find out what happened next and that is always good in a crime thriller. It’s well written, the plot unfolds with the odd ‘end of chapter cliff hanger’ approach too and I never felt bored. Kept me up late just because it was so different to many murder mysteries. Commercial as it deserves to be and I hope it becomes, it is also literary fiction and without spoiling the end I want a sequel.’ – White Swan

Many more online…


The Welsh Poetry Competition Anthology – ‘The First Five Years’

Review:

‘On opening the book I was impressed by the broad selection of poems and poets on display and by the list of notable names who have contributed: Roger Elkin, Graham Burchell, James Knox Whittet, Pat Borthwick, Terry Jones and Fatima Al Matar, to name but a few. It really is an impressive collection of poems.’ – Jay Doubleu



The New Writer – Poetry Competition 2010

Specially commended: Learning in Gaps

Judge: Helen Ivory


Sawing Fallen Logs For Ladybird Houses

Reviews:

‘From the moment you pick up a copy of Sawing Fallen Logs For Ladybird Houses, you realize you are holding a piece of art. Published by Ponty Press earlier this year, this work is gutsy, perceptive and experimental. Most of all it allows Dave Lewis to take us on a journey into all those nooks and crannies of life and love that most of us overlook. His keen eye and excellent usage of wit make this book one that I will come back to time and time again. For instance, in Outside the museum with Warren, Mr Lewis uses language and formatting so skilfully that we are instantly engaged in this encounter. Lines such as ‘we held the moments as strong as a whale’s heartbeat’ grab the reader and refuse to let go. Throughout the book, Dave Lewis shares intelligent and comedic metaphoric snippets that not only fill the backdrop, but also carry us along with him frame-by-frame. Like any good director, Mr Lewis allows his audience to look through the camera just enough to make them want more. In Opium, his repetitive use of ‘dab, dab’ actually summons the scent up, which is exactly what authors hope for and readers demand. The poem is creative, as is the entire book, but, more than that, it stimulates us on several levels. Through exaggeration and sarcasm we see situations most of us can relate to all too well as in the case of A fly in the ointment, one of several pieces that made me laugh and nod my head in total agreement. Travel Text is a clever reminder of how we’ve shortened our conversations to such an extent that we may lose the ability to truly communicate. Poems like Car Accident are so potent that you might miss how cleverly the author has used understatement to grab you by the gut. Train Lines provided me with a first-class ticket to a perceptive ride through the countryside I wouldn’t have missed for the world. I have read each of the poems in this book countless times and each time was given a richer taste of Mr Lewis’ fantastic feast. His lines are smooth and flow like ale on the palate on a hot summer day. I found this book refreshing and tantalizing. Even in his Row of trees, we’re taken immediately to the scene. ‘film grain, harsh light / the black and white of winter / rain rips skies.’ My heart was broken by Hospital bed. The stark reality Mr Lewis painted left me breathless. Throughout the book readers will ride a rollercoaster of rich language, clever insights and creativity. And when they finally come to the end, they’ll join the queue to ride again. Just remember, the queue starts behind me.’ – Jolen Whitworth for Gold Dust Magazine

‘From the first eponymously titled poem, we realise that Dave Lewis’s work possesses an energy and freshness that lifts his imagery and empathy way above the work of many less ambitious poets. The element of surprise in each poem, however short, is even more startling coming as it does from such uncluttered writing. Last lines are an example, while phrases such as ‘trees as tall as ships’, ‘a severe lack of hares’, ‘the brittle grass of misunderstanding…’ will surely enhance the readers’ own perceptions of the world around them. This collection’s structure too, works well under its five separate headings, and the diverse forms used in several poems adds visual variety. A wonderful read. Buy it!’ – Sally Spedding

‘I began to glimpse the heart of the man/poet in work that was increasingly breath-taking in its poignancy, clarity, imagination and observation. This is writing pared down to the emotional core, nothing superfluous, every word calculated to touch the raw place within you and make you flinch with the honesty of it. Above all, it makes you aware that among all of the grey loss and sadness, love and compassion still exists, and that some skies are still bright azure. And if Dave Lewis’s work doesn’t make you feel, then you might as well give up on this poetry lark…because that’s what he does best. Make you feel! – Agnes Meadows (from issue 44 of Roundyhouse in August 2015)

‘Dave Lewis is a vital voice of the Valleys, in touch with both the streets and the natural world. His free-flowing verse makes him a Welsh son of the Beats.’ – Mike Jenkins

‘Dave Lewis is an accomplished photographer who moves easily between the beauty of an ecological landscape and the stark reality of urban decay.’ – Andrew Davies, The Gallowbirds

‘A collection of beautiful poems and free verse. Dave Lewis, is an ardent environmentalist, seeing so much beauty in the Natural World. In all the poems there is a great richness of vocabulary. Written with compassion and intelligence. My favourite poem is ‘One Kaleidoscope Autumn’ about Dave and his young daughter. The last lines ‘Coated against cold through the bat dry night gazing up at a trillion answers’ – wonderment and magic of simple things! The images created in the mind when reading these poems is awesome. A definite place on everyone’s bookshelf.’ – ponypony

‘A remarkable collection which establishes Dave Lewis as one of Wales’s most exciting poets who I’m sure will soon reach a global audience, because he shines an empathic yet unsparing light on the world around him. Passion and bravery are rare amongst those safer ‘players’ chasing funding and hand-outs. This poet is unafraid, and original, and should be compulsory reading for all those of us blunted by the media and organised religion. Brilliant!’ – Sally Spedding


Rhys Davies Short Story Competition 2009

Runner-up: Onions

‘…the world of Onions is an enclosed one; specifically, a valleys curry-house at a weekend, in which we witness the clash of several disparate cultures, all of which the writer powerfully evokes with the briefest of sketches. The epiphanic moment at the story’s close is expertly done: the headlights of a passing car beam into the restaurant, and ‘the people were lit up, momentarily, clear as diamonds [and] Mohammed could see for the first time in his life’. A remarkably controlled piece of work.’ – Judges: Niall Griffiths & Stevie Davies


Urban Birdsong

Reviews:

‘Dave Lewis offers us multiple perspectives in this musical travelogue through a modern Wales and beyond. Honest, raw and mysterious. Just when you think you’ve worked it out a twist, a turn, a sensuous push. This collection is finely honed each word carefully chosen. From the intimacy of family and friends, to lovers and laughable locals a quality of authenticity shines through. The writer’s eye for detail is finely observed and he is never afraid to confront authority head-on. The prose pieces are well crafted and show great range and the final poem in the collection is about as perfect as a poem can get – an absolute masterpiece! Avant-garde? Revolutionary? I’m not sure, but one thing is for certain there is no pretentious bullshit here.’ – Mark Davies

‘A melodic safari through a valleys consciousness.’ – Andrew Davies, The Gallowbirds

Dave Lewis’ second collection, Urban Birdsong, is a work of enormous range and scope both in terms of its form and subject matter. A Welsh writer who can move the reader from the local to global, from Merthyr to Monterey, and back again. Shared pain, shared laughter, and we are all as one, and all the richer for the experience. Carefully observed; funny and sad; accessible and illuminating: a must read collection of verse and prose.’ – John Evans

‘Dave Lewis brings together the personal and social in poems and prose set in pubs, fields and bedrooms. From Ponty to Africa, he makes places come alive with both humour and the senses.’ – Mike Jenkins

‘With subjects, settings and situations from near and far, all delivered with a personal and down to earth understanding, I found Urban Birdsong engaging, humorous, insightful and wonderfully emotive too. This book has been written with a natural and positive sensitivity that shines forth throughout it’s contents. A real treat to read, and certainly not a collection that will just sit and go dusty in the bookcase; it is a book that I shall return to over again. I thoroughly enjoyed it!’ – Claire Rees

‘Loved the book. What a great insight into Wales and its people. Congratulations are due as it gave me a few insights I had not previously had.’ – Cllr. Mike Powell


Layer Cake

Reviews:

‘Dave Lewis is a poet, teacher, zoologist, web designer, global traveller, husband, father, newspaper columnist, and so many other things. He is a 21st Century Renaissance Man; a genuine multi-tasker; a man who’s life history and work reflects and documents so many of the changes that effect us all today. His poetry is honest and direct. Each word is effective. Each word is easily understood. Unlike so many others today, he writes from the heart and soul, from raw emotion; he has drawn on his wide ranging knowledge and experience to evolve a style, an elevated poetic diction, which eschews artifice and ornate language. To do otherwise, to court obscurity, to write for just a small coterie, would be for him to miss the mark. Dave Lewis’ poetry is for everyone, not just the metropolitan intelligentsia, or Arts Council elite, or pseudo University academics. Although a true son of his native South Wales Valleys, his work moves from the local, to the national, to the international; he aspires to a universal discourse, beyond the here and now, and beyond class, or localness, or country. His subject matter is both urban and naturalistic and reflects not only a love of towns and cities but also his awareness and passion for the wild landscapes that lie beyond – from the wet streets of his home town, Pontypridd, and the sunlit switchbacks of San Francisco, to the lush, green, Breconshire mountains, and the dry, arid, deserts of Kenya. This excellent collection of Dave Lewis’ work is highly recommended and it should help establish poetry to its rightful place as a vital form of artistic expression for everyone.’ – John Evans

‘It’s not often that a collection of poems inspires and uplifts you. It’s something that happens as rarely as a good British summer, in fact. But Layer Cake by Dave Lewis is just as unusual and welcome. In the stuffy world that poetry can be, this collection really is a breath of fresh air. This collection of unique and different poems comes from the heart, with subjects as diverse as Boats and Stevie Nicks! Each poem reads like a story and conjures an image in your mind, from the highly sensual evocations in Grinding Down to the succinct and to-the-point Portrait of Churchill. Dave Lewis is obviously well-travelled and his poems Africa and Kenya take you to these places without having to endure Gatwick! But closer to home, Dave also creates poignant images of his home country with well-crafted gems like Pen-y-Fan and Y Bont. All in all, this is an interesting and entertaining collection which is well worth reading.’ – Amanda Weeks



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