The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman Narrated by Joan Walker #audiobook #audible #nonfiction #history #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for a brilliant audiobook. The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most Foul by Eleanor Herman and narrated by Joan Walker. This is a title that I adored, I admit it was the narrator Joan Walker that I was looking for as I had recently listened to another book narrated by her. She is a fabulous narrator and one that I will be keeping an ear and eye out for in the future.

The story of poison is the story of power. For centuries, royal families have feared the gut-roiling, vomit-inducing agony of a little something added to their food or wine by an enemy. To avoid poison, they depended on tasters, unicorn horns, and antidotes tested on condemned prisoners. Servants licked the royal family’s spoons, tried on their underpants and tested their chamber pots.

Ironically, royals terrified of poison were unknowingly poisoning themselves daily with their cosmetics, medications, and filthy living conditions. Women wore makeup made with mercury and lead. Men rubbed turds on their bald spots. Physicians prescribed mercury enemas, arsenic skin cream, drinks of lead filings, and potions of human fat and skull, fresh from the executioner. The most gorgeous palaces were little better than filthy latrines. Gazing at gorgeous portraits of centuries past, we don’t see what lies beneath the royal robes and the stench of unwashed bodies; the lice feasting on private parts; and worms nesting in the intestines.

In The Royal Art of Poison, Eleanor Herman combines her unique access to royal archives with cutting-edge forensic discoveries to tell the true story of Europe’s glittering palaces: one of medical bafflement, poisonous cosmetics, ever-present excrement, festering natural illness, and, sometimes, murder.

MY REVIEW

This has been a fabulous audiobook to listen to. I will mention the narrator first though. Joan Walker is a narrator I have only recently come across and I have to say she is brilliant. She has a very soothing voice and I am just able to relax as she tells of the poisons that the author has compiled into this book.

This is a history of poisons through the centuries. From way back when to the modern day and taking in all the varied, various and macabre ways of discovering if you have been poisoned and also the treatments over the centuries to find an antidote. After listening to this I am so glad I live in the age of today rather than a few hundred years ago.

I will say that this isn’t a book you want to listen to while you are eating your lunch! Especially if it’s the sections dealing with how royalty and noble persons would guard against poisoning, well how the medics at the time would. Using mummified human remains for example to ward off ill effects is just a very basic thing that was used.

This is so interesting to listen to and it follows a natural progression of medical discoveries and treatments over the centuries. From basic herb lore to cutting-edge laboratory discoveries this book includes a lot.

There is the obvious historical and medical interest to be found in this but also if like me, you are also a fan of crime fiction then this is also a great listen.

The author obviously knows her stuff and it does come across in the narration. I think this is where the narrator and author have been well matched as I think both enjoyed writing and reading this book as much as I did listening to it.

This is one of those books that is ideal for curious minds as well as those with a fascination for the macabre world of poisoning. It is a series of snapshots through history that documents how effective a good poison cold be. It is something that has changed monarchs, rulers and important decisions, and as we know it is still in use in today’s world.

If I had to sum this book up I would say it is fascinating and an eye-opener. It is one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times best-seller Eleanor Herman’s new non-fiction book, The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most Foul, is set to come out in June 2018. Think royal palaces were beautiful places to live? Think again!

Herman offers a rare combination of skills for a historian – her research is intensely scholarly, yet she writes the story in a colorful, witty manner. “History is so fascinating that it never has to be presented in a boring way,” she explains. “These were flesh and blood people, just like you and me, facing war and plague, falling in love, living among splendid art and gut-wrenching poverty. Sometimes people ask me if I plan to write novels. And I say, with all the things that really happened, who needs to make stuff up?”

Eleanor, a New York Times bestseller, has also written Sex with Kings (a history of royal mistresses), Sex with the Queen (a look at queens’ love affairs), Mistress of the Vatican (a biography of an influential papal mistress), and a four-part YA fantasy series on Alexander the Great, called The Blood of Gods and Royals.

Eleanor is a frequent commentator in the media about royal scandals, and has hosted episodes for The History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and America: Fact vs. Fiction. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Eleanor graduated with a degree in journalism from Towson University, studied languages in Europe, and for thirteen years worked for NATO’S Nations & Partners for Peace magazine. She is married and lives in McLean, VA with four very demanding cats

ABOUT THE NARRATOR

Joan Walker is a hugely experienced, extremely versatile professional voice artist. Her range extends from crisp concise technical narration, to inventing the perfect character voice for a bubble blowing elephant. It’s a voice that can be funny, friendly, sexy, warm, authoritative…or more.

As well as appearing in over 500 plays on BBC radio, Joan has voiced countless TV and radio adverts, read copious talking books some of which have won awards including the Golden Earphones from AudioFile USA plus the American Library Journal Best Audio of 2016, narrated an array of documentaries, created voices for animations and video games and is the voice of audio guides in some of the greatest art galleries and museums in the world.

Following a degree in maths and psychology Joan taught maths for 2 years to earn enough money to send herself to drama school. She did a 1 year post graduate diploma at Welsh College of Music and Drama, qualifying in July 1983 and starting her acting career immediately as part of the rep at the Dukes Theatre, Lancaster.

Her career includes theatre, television, film, lots of radio drama and poetry, much commercial voiceover work, talking books, narration for galleries and museums, and most recently a world tour of Mamma Mia! Lycra, platform boots and Abba songs for a whole year. Bliss.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2023 by Lia Leendertz @lialeendertz @RandomTTours @Octopus_Books @nature #almanac #nonfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2023 by Lia Leendertz. This is a fabulous little book that I adored picking through and if you are a fan of nature, the natural world and planning for gardening, then this is a gorgeous book to have.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my Hardback copy of this book from the publisher Octopus Books

Reconnect with the seasons in Britain and Ireland with this month-by-month guide to the world around us – including key dates, tide tables and garden tasks; constellations and moon phases; sunrises, folk songs, seasonal recipes plus a ‘bun of the month’; and – because 2023 will be a good year for planet spotting – the solar system and the zodiac.

The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2023 gives you the tools and inspiration you need to celebrate, mark and appreciate each month of the year in your own particular way. Divided into the 12 months, a set of tables each month gives it the feel and weight of a traditional almanac, providing practical information that gives access to the outdoors and the seasons, perfect for expeditions, meteor-spotting nights and beach holidays. There are also features on each month’s unique nature, with this instalment following the swirling micro world of the garden pond through the year.

You will find yourself referring to The Almanac all year long, revisiting it again and again, and looking forward to the next edition as the year draws to a close.

This year’s edition is illustrated by artist Whooli Chen. 

MY REVIEW

This is a fabulous little pocket-sized Almanac. I love books like this and while a diary often gives you basic information, an Almanac goes into a lot more detail. This one is no exception.

After a basic introduction, this book then starts at the beginning of the year. January – there are important dates for this month followed by a wonderful page of what January represents, it is a time of reflection as the daylight hours are not as long as we would like. But the author does encourage you to look at what is happening outside, are there buds or bees starting to emerge.

Carrying on the author then takes a look at the sky, the moon phases, sunrise/set, tide times and then onto Lunar planting. Plants used to be set according to the moon phases and I really liked to see this included. There are also a couple of paragraphs about what shrubs, plants and trees are starting to flower as well as what you can harvest from your veg garden.

If you do have a veg garden or access to locally grown produce then what better than a couple of recipes? How about an orange glazed yeast bun or boiled suet and sausage pudding? Both of these sound amazing.

An Almanac also gives information about the Zodiac, here the author includes an introduction to the zodiac and gives information for Capricorn followed by a folk song. This then leads on nicely to what we can see in nature.

This is a wonderful book and has loads of detail and information. It is littered with black-lined illustrations and images that correspond perfectly to the item they accompany.

The book is easy to use as the pages have been sprayed on the corner and then gradually work down so it is easy to see at a glance roughly where you need to be. There is also a nice little ribbon that acts as a bookmark.

If you are a fan of the seasons and nature then this is a fabulous little book to have. It is great for leaving on a table for a reference book and takes no space up at all. It is a book that would make a wonderful gift for a family member or friend because I know I was delighted to receive my copy.

Educational and informative, wonderful to peruse through and one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Almanac 2023 by Lia Leendertz is out 1st September 2022.

Lia Leendertz’s reinvention of the traditional, rural almanac has become an annual must-have for readers keen to reconnect with the seasons, appreciate the outdoors, and discover ways to mark and celebrate each month, and the ideal stocking filler. The 2023 edition is the sixth in the series, and has a theme of the solar system and zodiac, with beautiful illustrations by artist Whooli Chen.

CHECK OUT THE OTHER STOPS ON THE BLOG TOUR…

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On the Scent: Unlocking the Mysteries of Smell – and How Its Loss Can Change Your World by Paolo Totaro and Robert Wainwright @alisonmenziespr @eandtbooks #nonfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for On the Scent by Paola Totaro and Robert Wainwright. When I received an email from Alison Menzies PR at Elliott & Thompson Publishers about this book I was definitely intrigued. Having had Covid and losing my sense of smell and taste wasn’t nice. I wish I had this book while I had these symptoms, and it has made me realise how important your fifth sense is! A case of – you don’t know what you have until it is gone…

I admit that I hadn’t given the sense of smell much of a thought until I had Covid, if you are one of those lucky enough not to have lost it, then you should consider picking up this book as well. You don’t realise how it can impact your everyday life.

A fascinating exploration of how losing our sense of smell can shape our world, and how the global pandemic transformed our understanding of this mysterious sense.

Paola is on a journey to get her sense of smell back.  Before the pandemic, loss of smell was estimated to affect about 5% of adults in the UK but about 40% of Covid sufferers experience anosmia in some form, catapulting this least understood sense into the spotlight. 

Paola lost her sense of smell just days after London went into the first lockdown, 2 months before anosmia was an officially recognised symptom here. Reporting from the UK on the pandemic for the Australian press, she began to investigate whether this strange and awful symptom might be related to Covid.  

On the Scent weaves together Paola’s own story of scent loss and partial recovery, with the latest chemo-sensory research and fascinating facts about the sense we know least about, as well as practical solutions for those experiencing scent loss.  It is set against the context of how the British government delayed their acceptance of anosmia as a symptom of C-19; and how the scientific community came together in an unprecedented way to research it.  

From Scent Training as a recovery aid to why some anosmics experience radical distortions in how things smell, On the Scent, explains why we ignore the Cinderella of the Senses at our cost: it is a risk factor in depression and significant in the early detection of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. 

MY REVIEW

This is one of those books that I wish I had when I had Covid. I was one of the many who lost the sense of taste and smell. It’s one of those things that you don’t realise how important it is to your mental well-being as well as being one of the physical senses.

This book made me realise how important the sense of smell is. Without it, things just were not the same. I never appreciated how much of my everyday life revolves around smell until it wasn’t there. I am one of the very lucky ones who only had to deal with this abandonment on a temporary basis, around two weeks before I could start to pick up aromas, perfumes and other strong smells.

The authors of this book have laid everything out in such an easy-to-understand way. Yes, obviously there are science bits, but all done in a way that this non-science-brained reader could get. The authors take the reader through the various terms, the history, and also most recently Covid. In some ways, Covid provided answers for many people who have anosmia – a loss of smell, or parosmia – a distortion of smell. From having only a few volunteers pre-pandemic, researchers had a whole world of people who were suddenly discovering that they had lost their fifth sense.

The authors bring accounts, quotes, and articles from various people around the world. Those who have never had a sense of smell, to those who have a sense of smell but one that is wrong. AS I was reading this book I realised that there is a lot more to having a sense of smell than you first realise. Have you ever smelt a flower, or a perfume and been reminded of a favourite relative or an occasion? Have you ever smelt something starting to burn, or smelt a whiffy nappy? How about your own body smell? Can you smell the rain coming so can go and get your washing in off the line?

Not having this sense for me was a shock. Food became, boring and bland. Cooking a meal felt at times pointless as I knew I would not enjoy it. This book goes through all of these moments and so many more. It makes it such an enlightening read and one that, as I have mentioned, I wish I had before I got Covid.

The treatments, diagnosis, attitudes, advice and realisation have changed since Covid. This means that it will hopefully be given greater importance. If you lost your sight you would be classed as blind, if you couldn’t hear you would be classed as deaf. In both of these cases, you would have access to aids. Now, what about the smell!

This is an educational book that comes across in a very informal way. I was surprised by how much I could identify with, and also how much I really had no idea about. I know I am very lucky to have my sense of smell back because without that my sense of taste is also gone. An interesting read and very accessible. It is one I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Universe: And Our Place Within It by Andrew Newsam @alisonmenziespr @eandtbooks #science #nonfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Universe: And Our Place Within It by Andrew Newsam. This is a very accessible and interesting read for those with a basic curiosity about the Universe.

My huge thanks to Alison at Elliot and Thompson for getting in touch about this book and for sending me a copy from the publisher Eliot & Thompson.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about the universe – and our place within it – in one mind-expanding and highly accessible book.
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What happens inside black holes? Is dark matter real? Could we do anything to prevent being wiped out by an approaching asteroid? Will our explorations of our neighbouring planets reveal life or a new place to settle? What can observations of stars reveal about our origins – and our future?

Professor Andrew Newsam draws on his vast expertise to show us what’s going on beyond the limits of our planet, from our solar system to distant galaxies – and what this tells us about our own place in this vast expanse called ‘the Universe’.

From glowing nebulae to the sweeping majesty of the Milky Way, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Universe will spark your curiosity and help you make sense of the amazing discoveries and fascinating mysteries of the cosmos.

MY REVIEW

I am not a scientifically minded person, I struggle with large numbers and most of the stuff goes over my head. What I am though, is curious. It is curiosity that is the start for many/most of the advances in everything we know, build, connect and learn from. So, there is hope for me yet! Maybe 😉

This is a relatively short book and one that I found to be really informative, but most importantly for me, it was also understandable. When I say understandable, I mean that as I read it made sense as the author laid everything out in a basic way. He also made comparisons to things we know.

Anything to do with space or the universe involves some seriously mega numbers. Million is a tiny amount! Millions of millions are a bit larger, but when numbers have 10 or 20 or more zeros in them then it is mind-blowing for this mere mortal. The author put these numbers into a perspective that gave me some idea of the size, this gave the figures a meaning that before I would just go, “yeah that’s beyond me to imagine anything that large”. I think this is what makes this book so interesting and informative, the author breaks things down into manageable and understandable numbers and also terms. Whether he is referring to the difference between fusion or fission, the difference between dark matter or mass, he gives his explanations in basic terms.

This is a book that deals with the Universe from its earliest and continues over billions of years. How guesswork and theories have changed, challenged or proven as advances in observational equipment and computers. Studying the universe is something that will always throw up new questions and quests. There is also a really interesting part about the future of the Universe.

I have to say that this is a book that I found really enjoyable to read. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as such, I expected it to be informative and hopefully, I would learn something as I read. The author has an almost conversational style to his writing, it felt as if he was interacting with me personally as he led me through the mysteries, phenomena, science, discoveries and challenges.

If you are curious about where the universe started and like me have no science background then this book is a wonderful place to start. It has definitely made me more curious. Very accessible to read, understandable with explained jargon and terms, An excellent book to read and one that I would definitely recommend. 

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Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Twinkl – Educational Resources @twinklresources #Promotion #education #bookreview #LucyMakesAWish

I am delighted to share a promotional post today for Twinkl. This is an educational resources site for Early Years through to 18 years old. They are an unlimited downloads and resources site that provides support to Parents, Home Educators, Child Minders and have a huge range to discover.

One of my reviews is featured along with some wonderful Book Bloggers reviews, check out the other Warm Wintery Reads HERE

ABOUT TWINKLE

We’re here to ‘help those who teach’. It’s what brings us to work every day.

We’re proud to create educational resources that can be used at each step of a child’s learning journey.

Our teacher-created resources provide entire schemes of work, lesson planning and assessments right through to online educational games, augmented reality and so much more.

We have over 525,000 resources and new content gets added every day. You’ll find we’ve normally got what you need before you even know you want it.

We’re all inspired to support teachers and learners, around the world.

Everything we do supports the global teaching community and we’re committed to transforming people’s lives through education.

We support and work with educators across the world, including primary and secondary teachers, childminders, nursery workers, home educators and parents.

All Twinkl resources are teacher-made and can be used by anyone, anywhere – making learning accessible to all.

We also tailor resources to a number of curriculums, including the UK National Curriculums. You can find a full list of those we cover right here.

Laura Millington, Contents Executive contacted me to see if I would like to have one of my reviews to be featured in their Christmas Campaign.

The book Laura wanted to include was one I had reviewed and posted on my Blog, Lucy Makes a Wish by Anne Booth, a fabulous book for children aged 6+

This review was featured on Twinkl as part of their Christmas campaign

If you would like to read my full review CLICK HERE

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Murder: The Biography by Kate Morgan #NetGalley #nonfiction #crime #history #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Murder: The Biography by Kate Morgan. I requested this e-book from the publisher Harper Collins, via NetGalley. It was a book I had planned to read over the summer! Better late than never.

Totally gripping and brilliantly told, Murder: The Biography is a gruesome and utterly captivating portrait of the legal history of murder.

The stories and the people involved in the history of murder are stranger, darker and more compulsive than any crime fiction.

There’s Richard Parker, the cannibalized cabin boy whose death at the hands of his hungry crewmates led the Victorian courts to decisively outlaw a defence of necessity to murder. Dr Percy Bateman, the incompetent GP whose violent disregard for his patient changed the law on manslaughter. Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in England in the 1950s, played a crucial role in changes to the law around provocation in murder cases. And Archibald Kinloch, the deranged Scottish aristocrat whose fratricidal frenzy paved the way for the defence of diminished responsibility. These, and many more, are the people – victims, killers, lawyers and judges, who unwittingly shaped the history of that most grisly and storied of laws.

Join lawyer and writer Kate Morgan on a dark and macabre journey as she explores the strange stories and mysterious cases that have contributed to UK murder law. The big corporate killers; the vengeful spouses; the sloppy doctors; the abused partners; the shoddy employers; each story a crime and each crime a precedent that has contributed to the law’s dark, murky and, at times, shocking standing 

MY REVIEW


This is a really interesting book to read, it documents the history of murder from when it became a recognised crime to what we see today in courts of law in the UK.

There is quite a long introduction that gives a glimpse into the research that has been brought to this book. The author, a lawyer herself, has covered many aspects and crimes to give quite a comprehensive and detailed background as to what constitutes murder. She differentiates between murder and manslaughter and how manslaughter has various differences when it comes to the courts.

This is a well laid out book, there are little stories and snippets of news from the previous centuries to add evidence. These are also really interesting in their own right and could lead you onto further reading if you were interested in learning more.

I really enjoyed this book, it is quite serious but at times there is some humour to it especially when it comes to some of the documented accounts. This is a book that will appeal to fans of history, criminal history and law in the UK.

I enjoyed this and I would happily recommend it. 

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Red Planet: A Natural History of Mars by Simon Morden @alisonmenziespr @eandtbooks #nonfic #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Red Planet: A Natural History of Mars by Simon Morden. This is a non-fiction and is quite accessible and readable for the non-science minded among us 😉

My huge thanks to Alison at Eliot & Thompson Books for my advanced copy.

Before I get into my review I thought it would be a good idea to share a few facts.

Mars is the 4th planet from the sun, with Earth being the 3rd.

The diameter of Mars is approx. 4,222, Earths is approx. 7,926

Olympus Mons is one of the tallest volcanos found. It is 13.6miles high, Mount Everest is 5.5miles.

Earths largest volcano is Mauna Kea in Hawaii, it is 6.33miles high, although most of it is below sea level.

I did find this image of Mountains in the Solar System.

https://www.bing.com/images/

What makes Olympus Mons even more impressive is when you see a comparison between the size of Mars next to Earth…

See the source image
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mars,_Earth_size_comparison.jpg

And something that hadn’t even occurred to me until I was reading the book was that we have earthquakes, Mars, well it has marsquakes!

Now to the book…

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The history of Mars is drawn not just on its surface, but also down into its broken bedrock and up into its frigid air. Most of all, it stretches back into deep time, where the trackways of the past have been obliterated by later events, and there is no discernible trace of where they started from or how they travelled, only where they ended up.

As NASA lays it plans for a return to the moon and, from there, a manned mission to Mars, there has never been a better time to acquaint ourselves with the dramatic history and astonishing present of the red planet. Planetary geologist, geophysicist and acclaimed SF author Dr Simon Morden takes us on a vivid guided tour of Mars.

From its formation four and half billion years ago, through an era of cataclysmic meteor strikes and the millions of years during which a vast ocean spanned its entire upper hemisphere, to the long, frozen ages that saw its atmosphere steadily thinning and leaking away into space, Morden presents a tantalising vision of the next planet we will visit.

With a storyteller’s flair, piecing together the latest research and data from the Mars probes, the most up-to-date theories of planetary geology, and informed speculation as to whether there has been life on Mars, The Red Planet is as close as we can get to an eye-witness account of this incredible place. 

Purchase from Amazon UK or other independent Bookshops from Sept 2nd 2021

MY REVIEW…

What I know about the planet Mars, isn’t much and so I was quite interested when I got the chance to read an advanced copy of The Red Planet.

I do have an interest in life, the universe and planets. Natural history is something that belongs far beyond our planet. I have no science background so what I understand has to be, well, basic. When I saw this book I did a bit of a double-take when I read about the author. He is a sci-fi author who also happens to have degrees in geography and planetary geophysics, so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s on about.

I liked the way this book is laid out, a brief intro from the author and then a trip to the planet Mars. From then the author goes into how Mars was formed, what changes it went through and is still going through. The climate, geography, geology, atmosphere.

For a planet smaller than Earth, this red blob in the night sky seems to have been through it all. A planet that has had impacts leaving massive craters, with a dry dusty atmosphere, frozen areas and one of the largest volcanoes known, it makes earth’s largest volcano in Hawaii more like a peak in comparison.

Throughout this book I was aware that this was on the whole quite understandable, at least while I was reading it, it was. I understood enough to grasp what the author was explaining and for me that is a good thing. There were the odd bits that I just couldn’t grasp but part of me was expecting that as I went into this book. Unless you have more of a science background I think this is quite an approachable book. But even the scientists who have studied this planet for decades still cannot agree on some things. There are various theories surrounding how Mars came to be, what forces sculpted the planet we see, and where, how and when there was water.

If you have an interest in planets, and nature beyond our planet then this is a book that will really appeal to you. I found it fascinating and I really enjoyed reading it. I also found myself internet hopping as I read this book, looking up various items, viewing images and also looking at the most recent news. It is a book that I would happily recommend.

About the Author…

Dr. Simon Morden, B.Sc. (Hons., Sheffield) Ph.D (Newcastle) is a bona fide rocket scientist, having degrees in geology and planetary geophysics. Unfortunately, that sort of thing doesn’t exactly prepare a person for the big wide world of work: he’s been a school caretaker, admin assistant, and PA to a financial advisor. He’s now employed as a part-time teaching assistant at a Gateshead primary school, which he combines with his duties as a house-husband, attempting to keep a crumbling pile of Edwardian masonry upright, wrangling his two children and providing warm places to sleep for the family cats.

His not-so-secret identity as journeyman writer started when he sold the short story Bell, Book and Candle to an anthology, and a chaotic mix of science fiction, fantasy and horror followed. Heart came out to critical acclaim, and Another War was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award, but with The Lost Art, things suddenly got serious. Contracts. Agents. Deadlines. Responsibility. Scary stuff. The Lost Art was subsequently a finalist for the Catalyst Award for best teen fiction.

As well as a writer, he’s been the editor of the British Science Fiction Association’s writers’ magazine Focus, a judge for the Arthur C Clarke awards, and is a regular speaker at the Greenbelt Arts Festival on matters of faith and fiction. In 2009, he was in the winning team for the Rolls Royce Science Prize.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard #memoir #nature #ecosystem #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard. This is a wonderful book that looks at the relationship of trees and also a mix of the author’s memories growing up.

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From the world’s leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest–a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery.

Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron’s Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

Simard writes–in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways–how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies–and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.

Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them–embarking on a journey of discovery, and struggle. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey–of love and loss, of observation and change, of risk and reward, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world, and, in writing of her own life, we come to see the true connectedness of the Mother Tree that nurtures the forest in the profound ways that families and human societies do, and how these inseparable bonds enable all our survival.

My Review…

I have been reading this book over the past week or so and it was such an interesting and eye-opening book.

Dr Suzanne Simard has learnt her trade over years of observations, discoveries and research. Born and raised in the rainforests of British Columbia, she has natural respect and a relationship with the trees. this comes across in this book as she recounts her childhood with memories, stories and also how she gradually worked to become the leader in the field she is today.

What started as a childhood curiosity bloomed into something more. Through experiments, research, and a certain amount of bloody-mindedness she brought her findings to all who would listen. The book documents how she found the symbiotic relationship between the soil, enzymes and naturally occurring biology and the trees. While there is a certain amount of science, it is been given in layman’s terms making this a very accessible and easy to understand the book.

I like how this book is laid out. Chapters are a mix of memories, experiences and also the findings of her research. This makes it more manageable and keeps the book flowing rather than getting hung up in great swathes of science.

This is such an interesting book and as I was reading I could feel the excitement as discoveries were made, and also the heartbreak and upset as things failed or that sometimes trees had to be destroyed to be able to see the impacts of pesticides.

A wonderful read and one that has led me onto further reading on the internet. Looking at interviews and talks about the relationship of trees to the world around us.

This is a book for anyone who has an interest in the natural world, in relationships between nature and it is one I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Alexandria: The Quest for the Lost City by Dr Edmund Richardson #nonfiction #NetGalley @BloomsburyBooks #history #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Alexandria: The Quest for the Lost City by Dr Edmund Richardson. There is something about ancient and lost cities that does interest me so when I saw this book on NetGalley I did request it.

For centuries the city of Alexandria Beneath the Mountains was a meeting point of East and West. Then it vanished. In 1833 it was discovered in Afghanistan by the unlikeliest person imaginable: Charles Masson, deserter, traveller, pilgrim, doctor, archaeologist, spy, and eventually one of the most respected scholars in Asia, and the greatest of nineteenth-century travellers.

On the way into one of history’s most extraordinary stories, he would take tea with kings, travel with holy men and become the master of a hundred disguises; he would see things no westerner had glimpsed before and few have glimpsed since. He would spy for the East India Company and be suspected of spying for Russia at the same time, for this was the era of the Great Game, when imperial powers confronted each other in these staggeringly beautiful lands. Masson discovered tens of thousands of pieces of Afghan history, including the 2,000 year old Bimaran golden casket, which has upon it the earliest known face of the Buddha. He would be offered his own kingdom; he would change the world, and the world would destroy him.

This is a wild journey through nineteenth-century India and Afghanistan, with impeccably researched storytelling that shows us a world of espionage and dreamers, ne’er-do-wells and opportunists, extreme violence both personal and military, and boundless hope. At the edge of empire, amid the deserts and the mountains, it is the story of an obsession passed down the centuries.

Pre-order Link – Amazon UK

My Review…

I am rather partial to picking up the odd history book and Alexandria appealed to me when I read the synopsis. That first paragraph referring to a man who, I initially thought was a bit of a rogue, has quite a remarkable life.

Charles Masson decided that he didn’t want to be in the East India Company, years of bad pay, awful work and no chance of raising his position basically up and walks out. Unbeknownst to him, this would be the start of a very remarkable life.

The author has got a wonderful way of approaching the story of Masson and has made it very addictive. The story charts what is known of Masson, the people he met, the politics of the time as well as the East India Company. There are loads of references and these have been listed at the end of the book so it makes it much easier reading.

I have to say that the author changed my opinion of Masson, originally I thought him a bit of a rogue, this then changed to him being a man obsessed with finding Alexandria beneath the mountains. To finally feeling quite sorry for him.

His quest to find one of the cities called Alexandria becomes all-consuming. He travels, talks to people, spends all his money and on occasion risks his life. He is robbed beaten, imprisoned, starved and on the brink of death but still, his pursuit continued.

Yes, this is a non-fiction book, and yet it felt like a really fascinating action and adventure read. This is very much down to the skill of the author as he has created such a readable historical account. I adored reading this and it has also led me on to my own further reading about Masson and Alexander.

One for history fans, such an informative book that was great reading. One I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Gone: A search for what remains of the world’s extinct creatures by Michael Blencowe #nature #environment #LeapingHarePress @alisonmenziespr #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for by Gone: A search for what remains of the world’s extinct creatures by Michael Blencowe.

This is a stunning and poignant book that I received from Alison Menzies PR for review. My huge thanks to Alison for my gorgeous copy of Gone published by Leaping Hare Press.

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Dynamic naturalist Michael Blencowe has travelled the globe to uncover the fascinating backstories of eleven extinct animals, which he shares with charm and insight in Gone.
 
Inspired by his childhood obsession with extinct species, Blencowe takes us around the globe – from the forests of New Zealand to the ferries of Finland, from the urban sprawl of San Francisco to an inflatable crocodile on Brighton’s Widewater Lagoon. Spanning five centuries, from the last sighting of New Zealand’s Upland Moa to the 2012 death of the Pinta Island Giant Tortoise, Lonesome George, his memoir is peppered with the accounts of the hunters and naturalists of the past as well as revealing conversations with the custodians of these totemic animals today
 
Featuring striking artworks that resurrect these forgotten creatures, each chapter focuses on a different animal, revealing insights into their unique characteristics and habitatsthe history of their discovery and just how and when they came to be lost to us
 
Blencowe inspects the only known remains of a Huia egg at Te Papa, New Zealand; views hundreds of specimens of deceased Galapagos tortoises and Xerces Blue butterflies in the California Academy of Sciences; and pays his respects to the only soft tissue remains of the Dodo in the world. Warm, wry and thought-provoking, Gone shows that while each extinction story is different, all can inform how we live in the future. Discover and learn from the stories of the:
 
·         Great Auk. A majestic flightless seabird of the North Atlantic and the ‘original penguin’.
·         Spectacled Cormorant. The ‘ludicrous bird’ from the remote islands of the Bering Sea. 
·         Steller’s Sea Cow. An incredible ten tonne dugong with skin as furrowed as oak bark. 
·         Upland Moa. The improbable birds and the one-time rulers of New Zealand. 
·         Huia. The unique bird with two beaks and twelve precious tail feathers. 
·         South Island Kōkako. The ‘orange-wattled crow’, New Zealand’s elusive Grey Ghost. 
·         Xerces Blue. The gossamer-winged butterfly of the San Francisco sand dunes. 
·         Pinta Island Tortoise. The slow-moving, long-lived giant of the Galápagos Islands. 
·         Dodo. The superstar of extinction. 
·         Schomburgk’s Deer. A mysterious deer from the wide floodplains of central Thailand. 
·         Ivell’s Sea Anemone. A see-through sea creature known only from southern England. 
 
A modern must-read for anyone interested in protecting our earth and its incredible wildlife, Gone is an evocative call to conserve what we have before it is lost forever.

Purchase LinkAmazon UK

My Review…

I had planned on reading this book over a couple of days, instead, I found myself quite addicted to the author’s journey and search for the remains of extinct creatures. How sad this title is “Gone: A search for what remains of the world’s extinct creatures”!

Michael Blencoe describes his love of natural history from his childhood and how exciting the world seemed. As he grew he had that realisation that there were things that once lived and thrived in the world that had now gone. The only thing that remains of these creatures is to be found in museums, collections, photographs and diaries and accounts during the travels of explorers and scientists over the past few centuries.

As I try to write a review for this book I realise that I am caught up in a bit of a vicious circle. Many Victorian Collectors contributed to the extinction of many species. But, without the collections, we would not be able to see what once lived free!

This book is broken down into an introduction followed by 11 chapters, these chapters look at a different species that is now extinct. The author introduces each animal and gives a brief history of it and also of how it was discovered and then what led to its extinction. He also includes his search for any remains that are to be found in museums and also tried to visit the spot where the animal lived or was last seen. There are further reading and other useful extras in the back of the book.

This is such a sad book to read in the respect that the creatures mentioned will never be seen again, but it also highlights the impact humans have had on the natural world. It is something that is very relevant in today’s society as more and more animals are being brought to the edge of extinction. Several species no longer exist in the 50 years that I have been around.

While it is a sad book as it deals with loss, it is also very addictive reading as I discovered more about the different birds, mammals and sea creatures that have been used in this book. The authors’ obvious love of the living world and his interest is quite infectious as I read, and, as I said I found it impossible to put it down until I had finished it.

It is a lovely presented book with some gorgeous colour plates in it. At just under 200 pages long it is one doesn’t take long to read. This is a book that readers of natural history would enjoy, it also crosses somewhat into history and is the authors account of his own journey. It is a book I would definitely recommend this book if you have an interest in nature.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx