Unofficial Britain by Gareth E Rees #UnofficialBritain @alisonmenziespr @eandtbooks #nonfiction #britain #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for a wonderful book that explores the hidden, the obscure, the random and the often missed areas in Britain. Unofficial Britain by Gareth E Rees. The paperback is due for publication on Thursday (8th July) the hardback is already out.

My huge thanks to Alison Menzies for organising my paperback copy from the publisher Elliott & Thompson.

LONGLISTED FOR RSL ONDAATJE PRIZE 2021

‘Terrific… Britain’s urban landscape is just as freighted with myth and mystery as its castles and ancient monuments and [Rees] proves it by unearthing a treasure trove of riveting stories.’ – Sunday Times, Best Books of the Year, 2020
—–

There is a Britain that exists outside of the official histories and guidebooks – places that lie on the margins, left behind. A Britain in the cracks of the urban facade where unexpected life can flourish. Welcome to UNOFFICIAL BRITAIN.

This is a land of industrial estates, factories and electricity pylons, of motorways and ring roads, of hospitals and housing estates, of roundabouts and flyovers.

Places where modern life speeds past but where people and stories nevertheless collect. Places where human dramas play out: stories of love, violence, fear, boredom and artistic expression. Places of ghost sightings, first kisses, experiments with drugs, refuges for the homeless, hangouts for the outcasts.

Struck by the power of these stories and experiences, Gareth E. Rees set out to explore these spaces and the essential part they have played in the history and geography of our isles. Though mundane and neglected, they can be as powerfully influential in our lives, and imaginations, as any picture postcard tourist destination.

Purchase from Amazon Bookshop.orgWaterstonesHive Amazon

My Review…

The plan was that I was going to read this book over several days. That plan has failed as I read this over two days. I found a book that was informative, brought back memories, made me chuckle and made me see things from a different perspective.

The synopsis for this book is great, it was what really drew me to the book. Places on the margins, places we pass by in our cars, places we see without noticing and how about the things that we are not even aware of even existing as we pass by?

The author has been walking and collecting stories of places that many of us pass by. These areas may be known to a small select few, such as locals or those that regularly use pathways, cycle routes or they are areas that we were aware of when we were younger and have now changed over the years.

landscapes change as do urban settings, where a factory once stood may now be just a shell or it could be a housing estate, school or part of new development. The area of these new builds is built upon the ground that has been used before. they have a history and for some, they are part of their own personal lives. Memories and stories can be built up, sometimes to keep youngsters away from an area because it is dangerous and sometimes with a genuine belief that there is something altogether different going on.

However these stories come about they have gradually worked their way into urban myths. Every area has these myths or there is a mysterious story or tale. The author uses these and other observations to create a book full of whispers, tales, ghostly anecdotes and histories.

He also adds so many things about areas that many of us do not even know about. For example, did you know the infamous Spaghetti Junction has a river below it? I didn’t I just assumed it was a large grey mass of roads and flyovers, if you look on google it is quite surprising how much green there is around this area.

I loved the opening chapter of this book as the author deals with pylons. Yeah, those large metal structures that line the landscape providing electricity. I did chuckle as he mentions how they reminded him of triffids and aliens. I remember for me it was the alien crafts from H.G Wells War of the Worlds that they reminded me of as I grew up, and don’t get me started on how the Daleks used to scare me!!!.

Talking of growing up, the author is a similar age to me and I think this helped me to relate as he mentions films, TV programs and things from the ’70s that I grew up with. This sparked memories and things I had forgotten about over the years.

This is a book that really resonated with me. It is a book that is packed with randomness and also a whole lot of good stuff (apologies for the lack of finesse there!) It is a book of obscure tales, of snippets of history and of things hidden from many in our fast-paced lives.

Stories of our present are as important as those of our pasts. It is our experiences today that are the future history and I think this sort of book is great. It allows you to return and check things out, it prompts you to look things up and it encourages curiosity to go out and discover more. I have made a few notes from this book as to things I want to look at and explore more, it will probably be done from my computer and who knows where it will lead me next.

The author also has a fabulous website called Unofficial Britain, this is jam-packed with amazing stories, pictures, articles and it is well worth a look at.

This is a really good book to read and ponder over, to discover and learn more about the places on the edge, on the margins, where we pass and what we miss. It is one I would very definitely recommend.

About the Author…

Gareth E. Rees is founder of the popular Unofficial Britain website and author of three books, Marshland (2013), The Stone Tide (2018) and Car Park Life, which was published to rave reviews in 2019. Born in Germany, brought up in Scotland the the north of England, he lived in London for many years before moving to Hastings. The modern myths and folklore of place have always driven his writing, which includes horror and weird fiction tales for numerous anthologies, including The Best of British Fantasy 2019.

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

Paperback Publication Day for: Into the Tangled Bank by Lev Parikian @LevParikian @alisonmenziespr @eandtbooks #nature #bookreview

I am delighted to re-share my review today for a book that I read and loved last year. Into the Tangled Bank: In Which Our Author Ventures Outdoors to Consider the British in Nature by Lev Parikian.

I did read the hardback copy of this book supplied by Alison Menzies from Elliot & Thompson publishers and today see’s the publication of the paperback version.

Let me share more about this fabulous book…

Lev Parikian is on a journey to discover the quirks, habits and foibles of how the British experience nature. He sets out to explore the many, and particular, ways that he, and we, experience the natural world – beginning face down on the pavement outside his home then moving outwards to garden, local patch, wildlife reserve, craggy coastline and as far afield as the dark hills of Skye. He visits the haunts of famous nature lovers – reaching back to the likes of Charles Darwin, Etta Lemon, Gavin Maxwell, John Clare and Emma Turner – to examine their insatiable curiosity and follow in their footsteps.

And everywhere he meets not only nature, but nature lovers of all varieties. The author reveals how our collective relationship with nature has changed over the centuries, what our actions mean for nature and what being a nature lover in Britain might mean today. 

My Review…

I really enjoyed reading this book as I followed Lev’s observations on how people and nature interact. Lev has such an easy style to his writing and as well as various facts there is also a nice level of humour. The book is littered with various interesting facts from history, nature and life.

Lev looks at various aspects of nature including our own gardens, parks and open green areas. He notices various things about human nature and how people with certain interest can chat about things for quite a while. As a gardener I found myself sniggering about they way gardeners can talk about “their patch” what they grow, the pests and bugs.

Lev’s observations of people in nature draw together different walks of life. From the dog-walkers, to the gardeners, the photographers to the birdwatchers. These observations make a really enjoyable read and many times I found myself nodding my head in agreement or as I read sections thought “this is me!”.

A book that is ideal for dipping in and out of, in fact I read most of this book sat in the garden have a break from the weeding, trimming and filling bird feeders and it was the perfect spot.

A refreshing read that I think various people would really enjoy, and I am sure any nature lover, or those who spend time outdoors and then reads this book will find themselves in it at some point. A good book about the observations of an author and one I would happily recommend, its a fabulous read.

Purchase from – AMAZON UK

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

A History of the Vampire in Popular Culture – Love At First Bite by Violet Fenn #NetGalley #NonFiction #penswordpub #bookreview

I am delighted to share a review for something a little different today, A History of the Vampire in Popular Culture – Love At First Bite by Violet Fenn. Many thanks to Pen & Sword Publishing for granting my request to read and review this title via NetGalley.

Our enduring love of vampires – the bad boys (and girls) of paranormal fantasy – has persisted for centuries. Despite being bloodthirsty, heartless killers, vampire stories commonly carry erotic overtones that are missing from other paranormal or horror stories.

Even when monstrous teeth are sinking into pale, helpless throats – especially then – vampires are sexy. But why? In A History Of The Vampire In Popular Culture, author Violet Fenn takes the reader through the history of vampires in ‘fact’ and fiction, their origins in mythology and literature and their enduring appeal on tv and film. We’ll delve into the sexuality – and sexism – of vampire lore, as well as how modern audiences still hunger for a pair of sharp fangs in the middle of the night.

My Review…

Over the years vampires and other supernatural creatures have become more popular both in books and also films. As someone who does watch and also read books that contain vampires, I was interested to see what the authors’ view was.

The author steps into a world that has its origins in myth, legend and folklore. She references some earlier literature as well as more modern both as a view to the points she makes and also to give various examples.

Referencing early works and how they were portrayed by writers and also how they were adapted to film. How they were received by censors, readers and viewers. She uses history to good effect as changing attitudes have given over to a wider acceptance of all things fanged.

More modern film and TV have glamorised the vampire, they are sharp-dressed, well educated and not all are the blood-sucking, bodice-ripping fiends. She delves into how they have become the “good guy” in some respects rather than a creature that should be cowered from.

This was a really entertaining read with many, many references to films and books across the years. It does give an insightful look at how perceptions have changed and how they have become more socially acceptable and almost have morals that mirror some of our own, humanised if you like.

This is a book that I found interesting and also thought-provoking giving an insight into the authors’ thoughts on the legend of the vampire. It is one I would recommend. 

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

Fragile Planet – The Impact of Climate Change by Collins Books #nonfiction #climateawareness #photography #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for a book that I read before Christmas, in fact I think it was November when I read it! Fragile Planet – The Impact of Climate Change and published by Collins Books, this is a book that shows the images of changes rather than going into the science. Sometimes images work better than words to give a bigger impact. Let me show you more…

53743286

A striking look at climate change through dramatic photographs
This unique book provides a striking look at the dramatic changes that are happening to our planet. Containing over 230 stunning photographs, this important book documents the effects of climate systems and forces of nature on our world alongside images which strikingly show the impact of climate change.


With unique photographs of locations including;
American, European and Asian glaciers
• Australian bushfires
• Pacific Islands under threat
• Rivers drying out
• Cities flooding
• Alaskan coastline
• Advancing deserts
• Greenland’s shrinking ice


Fragile Planet also contains images taken during the recent global COVID-19 pandemic, showing clearer canals in Venice and cleaner air at India Gate in New Delhi. 

My Review…

Sometimes it is far better to see the dynamics or rather the dramatics of changes when you sit down with a book and see the images. I think this is what makes this such a good book to sit down with.

I originally just started to flick through it, but then soon found myself working through each image from the beginning. Each image does contain a description of where and when the photo was taken. In some cases, there are two images that range from a couple of months to several decades between them. These show surprising dramatic differences, and some of them are very startling.

In a time when climate change and the damage to our planet are more in the spotlight than ever before it is a good time to see a book full of images and not too much focus on the science. Sometimes the best impact is via a visual route.

This is a gorgeous book to flick through which sounds quite odd to mention when the subject matter but what I mean is the quality of the book, the soft softback cover and the glossy images are really first-rate. The descriptions are to the point and make this ideal for flicking through or sitting and giving more attention to.

I really like this book, it is ideal for many different age groups as a general interest book, as well as being a coffee table book that makes you more aware of the world. I would definitely recommend it.

53743286

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

Editing Your Novel’s Structure by Bethany A Tucker @rararesources #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Editing Your Novel’s StructureTips, Tricks and Checklists to get you from Start to Finish by Bethany A Tucker. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Blitz today and for arranging my e-copy of this book.

Here is more about it…

Editing Your Novel’s Structure: Tips, Tricks, and Checklists to Get You From Start to Finish

Before it’s time to check for commas and iron out passive voice, fiction writers need to know that their story is strong. Are your beta readers not finishing? Do they have multiple, conflicting complaints? When you ask them questions about how they experience your story, do they give lukewarm responses? Or have you not even asked anyone to read your story, wondering if it’s ready?

If any of the above is true, you may need to refine the structure of your story. What is structure you ask?  Structure is what holds a story together. Does the character arc entrance the reader? Is the world building comprehensive and believable? These questions and more have to be answered by all of us as we turn our drafts into books. 

In this concise handbook, complete with checklists for each section, let a veteran writer walk you through the process of self-assessing your novel, from characters to pacing with lots of compassion and a dash of humor. In easy to follow directions and using adaptable strategies, she shows you how to check yourself for plot holes, settle timeline confusion, and snap character arcs into place. 

Use this handbook for quick help and quick self-editing checklists on:

– Characters and Character Arcs.
– Plot.
– Backstory.
– Point of View.
– A detailed explanation of nearly free self-editing tools and how to apply them to your book to find your own structural problems.
– Beginnings and Ends.
– Editing for sensitive and specialized subject matter.
– Helpful tips on choosing beta readers, when to seek an editor, and a sample questionnaire to give to your first readers. 

Grab your copy of Edit Your Novel’s Structure today! Now is the time to finish that draft and get your story out into the world.

Purchase Links – Amazon UK US

My review…

As someone who still hopes to one day publish a full length novel, I found this a really interesting book to read. Essentially this is a guide that takes a new author through some of the basics of sorting you work into a better and more readable story.

While the basics of a story having a start, a middle and an end is till relevant, there is more that can be done. Whether it is fleshing or developing your characters or creating back stories, this book gives you tips and advice that is definitely helpful.

The author doesn’t go in-depth but gives pointers. She uses her own experiences from her starting to publish as well as from reading others work. These examples do help to make a point. While some of the information is obvious, there is also a lot more that I hadn’t thought about, but does make perfect sense.

This a book that the author suggests is for those either writing their first book or those that have a couple of books under their belt. It is definitely a handy guide and it’s laid out in a very accessible way. It isn’t a heavy rule book of do’s and dont’s but just a book of no-pressure advice.

A handy guide for helping with structural work for budding authors. One I would recommend.

About the Author…

Bethany Tucker is an author and editor located near Seattle, U.S.A. Story has always been a part of her life. With over twenty years of writing and teaching experience, she’s more than ready to take your hand and pull back the curtain on writing craft and mindset. Last year she edited over a million words for aspiring authors. Her YA fantasy series Adelaide is published wide under the pen name Mustang Rabbit and her dark epic fantasy is releasing in 2021 under Ciara Darren. You can find more about her services for authors at TheArtandScienceofWords.com. 

Social Media Links –   theartandscienceofwords.com, mustangrabbit.com

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

The Boy Between – A Mother and Son’s Journey From a World Gone Grey by Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley #bookreview

Apologies for the radio silence over the last week or so. Things have been a busy, and I needed to step away from Social Media and instead wrap presents, cook, bake and find room in the freezer! Decorations and tree is up, cards finally written and posted and Blogging can once again resume. I do have a couple of reviews I have to share and I have also got my Top Reads of 2020 sorted! Should be up on Wednesday. Anyway…

I am delighted to share my review today for The Boy Between – A Mother and Son’s Journey From a World Gone Grey by Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley. This is a book that is such a heart-breaking, insightful, honest and also wonderful read. It is a book about depression from the side of the sufferer and the parent witnessing it.

**Before I share what the book is about I have something personal to say about my journey this year with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. It is perfectly fine to skip past this if you want to.**

I had seen this book around on various Book Bloggers Blogs and while I really wanted to read it, my head was just not in the right place. I could joke and say that it rarely is, because after all I do joke about stuff quite a bit. This is one of my defence mechanisms, the other is going quiet and retreating. With the pandemic this year and lockdown, it has been a real challenge for me. I mean lockdown played right into my anxiety and depression. Keeping myself away from crowds? Yeah no problem! Not meeting with others! Yeah got that one covered as well. Then when the lift of lockdown began I found myself struggling, a lot! People were everywhere, I felt overcrowded if there where more than 2 other people in a room with me. I suffered panic attacks, to the point where I had to take a short time off work and also started on antidepressants again.

I know I am not the only one that is/has suffered, and I know that many still struggle. I am very fortunate in the fact that I do recognise some of my triggers, but some came out of the blue and knocked me for six. The thing is, on the outside I appear fine, I have a laugh, I can be quite loud at times, some of my comments can be a bit rude and I do have a filthy sense of of humour. My point here is, often people see what’s on the outside and not what is going on underneath the mask or wall that is erected as part of my self preservation or defence system, often times it has a mind of its own and does its own thing, that’s fine until little cracks appear.

Luckily for me I am quite open about when I am struggling, I have told various people that “I’m having a moment” and they know to let me be, wait for me to come to them. It’s how I cope and also to make others around me aware that they need to back off and give me space. Space is my thing, it is my bubble, it is My space.

Up until now this has been sharing with people who I see, and not with all you guys out there in the virtual world. I did wonder whether to put this out there or not, I mean it is a personal thing, but also it is something that is not spoken about or shared enough, by not posting this I am adding to the stigma that still shadows mental health.

So this is where I am, now.

I set an alarm in the morning so that I don’t sleep for 12 to 14 hours at a time.

I look at what I can control rather than look ahead at all the what if’s, I mean they haven’t even happened yet!

Each day is another day.

I know I am not the only one and I know I am not alone. You are not alone either.

Yvonne xx

Synopsis…

51068567. sy475

Bestselling novelist Amanda Prowse knew how to resolve a fictional family crisis. But then her son came to her with a real one…

Josiah was nineteen with the world at his feet when things changed. Without warning, the new university student’s mental health deteriorated to the point that he planned his own death. His mother, bestselling author Amanda Prowse, found herself grappling for ways to help him, with no clear sense of where that could be found. This is the book they wish had been there for them during those dark times.

Josiah’s situation is not unusual: the statistics on student mental health are terrifying. And he was not the only one suffering; his family was also hijacked by his illness, watching him struggle and fearing the day he might succeed in taking his life.

In this book, Josiah and Amanda hope to give a voice to those who suffer, and to show them that help can be found. It is Josiah’s raw, at times bleak, sometimes humorous, but always honest account of what it is like to live with depression. It is Amanda’s heart-rending account of her pain at watching him suffer, speaking from the heart about a mother’s love for her child.

For anyone with depression and anyone who loves someone with depression, Amanda and Josiah have a clear message—you are not alone, and there is hope.

My Review…

Right from the off I am going to say that if you have any interest in mental health, the effects on the sufferer or those around then you really do need to read this book. It is very insightful and also incredibly helpful.

Mental health has been in the news a lot this year, people are aware more of the effects it can have on everyday life, but still, it is not understood by many. Reading this from the viewpoint of a mother and son felt like a very privileged position to be in. Being allowed into the thoughts and feeling of individuals from different sides of the fence was a very personal view from a readers point of view.

This is not the journey of just one person. While it is Josh who to live with depression it is also the family that have to witness him live depression. What was insightful was how people think they are helping, but actually, they are not. But how can you help if you don’t know what you are doing for the best. It is a vicious circle.

This book is such an honest and open account, from a mother and a son. It is full of emotion, love, anger despair, frustration and all of it from the real lives of real people. Opening up and allowing people to see the journey of a family as well as an individual gives a balance. There is no one side to this book.

This is such a, well I want to say fabulous read, this feels wrong in some ways as the experiences of Mandy and Josh are anything but fabulous! But it is such an engrossing book, honest, with moments of humour and giggles. It is a book I would definitely recommend.

51068567. sy475

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

Fifty Words for Snow by Nancy Campbell #fiftywordsforsnow @alisonmenziespr @eandtbooks #nonfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for a gorgeous little hardback book 50 Words for Snow by Nancy Campbell. Down here in Cornwall we don’t get much especially given the coastal location, but even a sprinkling brings a smile to my face, well until I have to go to the local shop!

My huge thanks to Alison Menzies PR at Eliot & Thompson Books for sending me a copy of this book and for my spot on the Blog Tour.

Let me show you more about this beautiful book…

Synopsis…

Snow. Every language has its own words for the feather-like flakes that come from the sky. In Japanese we find Yuki-onna – a ‘snow woman’ who drifts through the frosted land. In Icelandic falls Hundslappadrifa – ‘big as a dog’s paw’. And in Maori we meet Huka-rere – ‘one of the children of rain and wind’.

From mountain tops and frozen seas to city parks and desert hills, writer and Arctic traveller Nancy Campbell digs deep into the meanings of fifty words for snow. Under her gaze, each of these linguistic snow crystals offers a whole world of myth and story.

Purchase from Eliot & Thompson directly, local book shops or from Amazon UK (this is an affiliate link)

My Review…

What a gorgeous book Fifty Words for Snow is, both in the cover design, the snowflake images for each word and even down to the colour of the text. The blue and white them of the cover is continued inside.

The colour for the book works well and it reminded me of older Christmas cards and scenes that show the wintery white snow that has highlights of blue.

As for the words, well they not only span cultures, countries and regions but also history, folklore and fairy tales. This is a book that I found myself picking up and reading over the course of a few days. I really liked the differences between the words and how each word was presented. Some are short one-page definitions where others span a few pages giving more details on history or include sections of stories or religious text.

Each word is its own chapter, I found that I was given the word, a brief dictionary type definition and also the language it is used in. This gave it a global feel rather than concentrating on specific regions.

I liked this book a lot and I learnt various things as I read. It is ideal for perusing through as well as just sitting down and going through each word individually. A fabulous little book, full of fascinating information about snow and all things snow-related.

Fifty Words for Snow is a great book and one I would definitely recommend for those who like to find new words, learn about different cultures and experience new stories from around the world.

About the Author…

Nancy Campbell is an award-winning writer, described as ‘deft, dangerous and dazzling’ by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Her travels in the Arctic between 2010 and 2017 have resulted in several projects responding to the environment, most recently The Library of Ice: Readings in a Cold Climate (S&S), which was longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2019. Her previous book on the polar environment, Disko Bay, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2016. She has been a Marie Claire ‘Wonder Woman’, a Hawthornden Fellow and Visual and Performing Artist in Residence at Oxford University. She is currently a Literature Fellow at Internationales Kunstlerhaus Villa Concordia in Bamberg, Germany.

Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour…

History of World Trade in Maps by Philip Parker @Collins_Books #history #maps #nonfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share a wonderful non-fiction book with you today. History of World Trade in Maps by Philip Parker is a fabulous book for lovers of history, trade, travel, geography and also art. Some of the detailing and artwork in these maps is amazing.

Before I get to carried away let me show you what this is about…

Synopsis

Trade is the lifeblood of nations. It has provided vital goods and wealth to countries and merchants from the ancient Egyptians who went in search of gold and ivory to their 21st-century equivalents trading high-tech electronic equipment from the Far East.

In this beautiful book, more than 70 maps give a visual representation of the history of World Commerce, accompanied by text which tells the extraordinary story of the merchants, adventurers, middle-men and monarchs who bought, sold, explored and fought in search of profit and power.

The maps are all works of art, witnesses to history, and have a fascinating story to tell.

The maps include
• Çatalhöyük Plan, c. 6200BC
• Babylonian Map of the World, c. 600BC
• Stone Map of China, 1136
• Hereford Mappa Mundi, c. 1300
• Buondelmonti Map of Constantinople, c. 1420
• The Waldseemüller Map, 1507
• James Rennell Map of Hindoostan, 1782
• Air Age Map, 1945
• Johns Hopkins Covid-19 Dashboard, 2020

Purchase from Amazon UK (this is an affiliate link) or from your local bookshop.

My Review…

This is such a nice book to sit and flick through, which is what I have been doing over the past week or so. The book is laid out in a logical sequence and covers the major trade routes around the world that have formed over centuries.

I am not a map reader but I do appreciate the artwork that went into earlier maps. Some of which are simply stunning with detailed images, designs and some with gold leaf. Some of the maps are recognisable as being a map by what we know of today, but some look nothing like a map as they are linear and flat.

The maps are explained with easy to follow captions and also more detail is gone into as well. From early routes, C.600BC to modern-day maps you can see a progression in accuracy and also understanding. The book ends with a startling image of pandemic routes and how human movement has increased so has the movement of disease.

Wool. sheep. textile, silk, spice, tea, slavery and all manner of routes are portrayed in this book. Details of transactions, old photos and all manner of other items have been included to build up a good and very interesting read.

While this is a book of maps, it also pulls together brief histories and geologies. I really appreciate the detail in some of the maps but at times the scale is very small given the huge detail involved and I would love to have been able to see these more clearly. A magnifying glass does help to a certain extent but a larger page or a fold-out page for the more detailed maps to give a better view would have been amazing. Although overall the size of the majority of maps is very acceptable.

This is a book that lovers of history, cartography, geography and also art would really appreciate. I think it would make a great present and I know I would love to receive it, therefore I would be very happy to recommend it as it does make fascinating reading.

Here are some other images from the book…

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

Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Toughest Race by Lara Prior Palmer #nonfiction #memoir @EburyPublishing #NetGalley #bookreview

When I posted my weekly book updates on Monday about what I had read Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer was one that caught a few peoples eye so I have decided that rather than leave it until next week I am bumping it up the list and posting my review today.

This is an amazing book and I loved it, let me show you more about it…

Synopsis…

The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km. Many riders don’t make it to the finish line.

In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, underprepared but seeking the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses, she raced for seven days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she found she had nothing to lose, and tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. In one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she became the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win the race.

A tale of adventure, fortitude and poetry, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one young woman’s encounter with oblivion, and herself.

Purchase from Amazon UK – the paperback version is only £4.99 (this is an affiliate link)

My Review…

Wow! What an amazing story and an amazing adventure the author took me on as she recounts her decision to take part in the Mongol Derby. Not only is it the world’s wildest horse race, but it is also the loneliest and one of the most gruelling. Riders ride the equivalent to two marathons a day.

Most riders prepare and train for this race, not however Lara. She impulsively decides to sign up and she is only 19 years old. She doesn’t have any prep, she is unprepared but her impulsive nature is something that will carry her across the 100km. The Derby is in recognition of Ghengis Khan’s postal riders and the great distances they traversed.

This is a country where horses are revered, the safety and health of the horses are paramount and the horses are changed at each leg of the 25 legs of the race. Time penalties are given for a horse who has been overworked or has been ridden past the cut-off point for each day.

This is an amazing journey and one that I absolutely enjoyed as Lara filled in details of each stage and also her emotions and feelings as she rides. For someone that is so unprepared her journey is quite remarkable, it is the endurance of the rider that is the challenge and if they can last the course both mentally and physically.

A remarkable story of determination and as soon as I had finished it I wandered over to the internet to watch videos and put faces to the people mentioned. This is a story of an intrepid adventure that is fraught with danger and difficulty. That see’s Lara not only become the youngest person to win the race but also the first female!

An outstanding read that I would highly recommend.

I was going to put a link to the video’s I watched, but then I decided not to. Why? Well, not because I am mean, but I read the book then watched the video and it worked better this way. I was able to experience the whole race from Lara’s perspective and then watch snap shots of the race after the book. In my opinion this was the better order 🙂

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