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

The Best, Most Awful Job: Twenty Writers Talk Honestly About Motherhood edited by Katherine May @_katherine_may_ @eandtbooks @alisonmenziespr #nonfic #motherhood #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Best, Most Awful Job edited by Katherine May. A book that features 20 women writers who have each wrote about motherhood, the good, the bad and the heart breaking.

My huge thanks to Alison for arranging my copy from Eliot & Thompson Publishers.

Motherhood is life-changing. Joyful. Disorientating. Overwhelming. Intense on every level. It’s the best, most awful job.

The Best, Most Awful Job brings together twenty bold and brilliant women to speak about motherhood in all its raw, heart-wrenching, gloriously impossible forms.

Overturning assumptions, breaking down myths and shattering stereotypes, these writers challenge our perceptions of what it means to be a mother – and ask you to listen.

Contributors include:

Michelle Adams – Javaria Akbar – Charlene Allcott – MiMi Aye – Jodi Bartle – Sharmila Chauhan – Josie George – Leah Hazard – Joanne Limburg – Katherine May – Susana Moreira Marques – Dani McClain – Hollie McNish – Saima Mir – Carolina Alvarado Molk – Emily Morris – Jenny Parrott – Huma Qureshi – Peggy Riley – Michelle Tea – Tiphanie Yanique

You can purchase a copy HERE

My Review…


This is a book of experiences from 20 writers, their experiences of motherhood. Being a mum myself I was intrigued by this title. The Best, Most Awful Job. Yes, being a mum is one of the best things but why is it also the most awful? This book is an open and honest selection of accounts from women who are mothers and from however their path to motherhood was.

The book explored things that are not spoken about after the birth of your child, you know, things down below, will they ever be the same again or how on earth will I ever be able to walk normally! Obviously, things do return and you do walk normally, but often these are not spoken about.

Some of the stories are very poignant and how while pregnant you tend to lose your identity and are often asked “How’s Mum doing?” then after the birth, you are then ignored as people asked about “baby”. I remember knowing loads of mums at school but often didn’t know their names. I was one of the many who became so and so’s Mum.

The 20 authors are from a range of backgrounds and ethnicities. Different countries and cultures. Yet some things are the same no matter where you are from. There are stereotypes and stigmas in all aspects of society and there are some that are very much worse than others.

I can remember with my first child, being in hospital and being treated well as I was a married young mum. The unmarried young mum, who was similar in age discharged herself after two nights as she was not given the same level of support. This was in 1989, and I still remember feeling so sorry for her, but afraid to say anything as the midwife at the hospital tended to be older and if I am honestly quite scary. I will say that by the time I had my final child things had improved, younger more patient-centred midwives were around and they had no prejudice at all.

This book looks at motherhood from the perspective of each authors viewpoint. Whether it is a step mum, mum with a disability, mixed-race mum, and many others. I will not mention them all as I want to leave plenty for other readers to discuss.

After reading this book I understand the title much more. Yes, being a mum can have some awful moments, but there are also many, many of the best moments ever.

This is a book that anyone can read, it will be eye-openeing for some, it will make others nod knowingly but most of all it brings the doubts, worries and stereotypes out in the open. We discuss many things and this is another thing we must talk about more, be more open about and not keep the horrible bits hidden. Being open and discussing things makes life so much easier.

A fabulous collection of experiences and it was a pleasure to read. Some are very sad, others warm and hopeful and others make a stand. It is a book that I would definitely recommend.

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

The Heeding by Rob Cowen and Nick Hayes @robbiecowen @nickhayesillus1 @eandtbooks @alisonmenziespr #poetry #illustration #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Heeding, a book of poetry written by Rob Cowen and illustrated by Nick Hayes. This is a gorgeous book and one that I wish to thank Alison at Eliot & Thompson for sending me for review.

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“Rob Cowen, the acclaimed poet and nature writer and author of Common Ground, joins forces with printmaker Nick Hayes for this luminous sequence of poems, which forms a meditation on our relationship with the natural world through four seasons of a global pandemic” 

Caroline Sanderson, Bookseller – Editor’s Choice 

These two bestselling and award-winning writers on landscape were brought together for the first time by the Lockdown and this stunning book is the result.   

Published on the anniversary of the end of the first lockdown (21st June), The Heeding paints a picture of a year caught in the grip of history, yet filled with revelatory perspectives close at hand: from a sparrowhawk hunting in a back street, the moon over a town or butterflies massing in a high-summer yard, to remembrances of moments that shape a life. Collecting birds, animals, trees and people together, and surfacing memories along the way, it becomes a profound meditation on a time no-one will forget.

My Review…

What a wonderful book of poetry this was to sit and read. I do like reading poetry but sometimes I can feel lost or out of my depth. The Heeding however is a collection I could totally understand and also nod knowingly along with.

The author wrote these poems during the lockdown, this is something everyone experienced and therefore it means everyone has some similar shared experiences. I think this is what in some ways goes towards making this a relatable collection.

During the lockdown, many things happened that were not necessarily pandemic related. So getting out into the garden or an allotment, being out in nature and also experiences from the authors past.

The poetry is illustrated in such a striking way. They are blocky, eye-catching and so poignant and this makes them so very relatable. Turning a page after finishing reading a poem to discover a bold illustration that sums up the poem brilliantly. They really compliment the words.

This is a mix of poems, some happy and made me chuckle, some slower and almost story-like that took a little more thinking about and some are heartbreaking. It is a collection that I think if you were to sit and go through you would definitely find one if not several that you could relate to somehow.

I sat and read two or three poems a night over several nights. This gave me time to think about them and digest them, occasionally reading some of them twice.

A wonderfully presented book that has a great introduction, and is one that I will treasure. A book that I can keep coming back to and one that I would very definitely recommend.

About the Author

Rob Cowen is an award-winning writer, hailed as one of the UK’s most original voices on nature and place. His book, Common Ground (2015) was shortlisted for the Portico, Richard Jefferies Society and Wainwright Prizes and voted one of the nation’s favourite nature books on BBC Winterwatch. His poems have featured on Caught By The River and in Letters to the Earth (Harper Collins). He lives in North Yorkshire.  

About the Illustrator…

Nick Hayes is a writer, illustrator and print-maker. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller, The Book of Trespass (2020).  He has exhibited across the country, including at the Hayward Gallery. He lives on the Kennet and Avon canal.  

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

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…