The Secret Life of Fungi by Aliya Whiteley @aliyawhiteleypr @alisonmenziespr @eandtbooks #nature #nonfiction #autumn #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Secret Life of Fungi by Aliya Whiteley. Autumn is a wonderful season and it is ideal for those of us who like to go foraging for mushrooms. I only ever pick the ones that I know are safe, so tend to stick to puffball or field mushrooms.

My huge thanks to Alison Menzies for getting in touch about this book and sending me a wonder paperback copy from the publisher Elliott & Thompson.

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Fungi are unlike any other living thing—they are almost magically unique. Welcome to this astonishing world. . . 

Fungi can appear anywhere, from desert dunes to frozen tundra. They can invade our bodies and live between our toes or our floorboards.  They are unwelcome intruders or vastly expensive treats, and symbols of both death and eternal life. But despite their familiar presence, there’s still much to learn about the eruption, growth, and decay of their secret, interconnected, world.

Aliya Whiteley has always been in love with fungi—from her childhood taking blurry photographs of strange fungal eruptions on Exmoor to a career as a writer inspired by their surreal and alien beauty. This love for fungi is a love for life, from single-cell spores to the largest living organism on the planet; a story stretching from Aliya’s lawn into orbit and back again via every continent.

From fields, feasts and fairy rings to death caps, puffballs and ambrosia beetles, this is an intoxicating journey into the life of an extraordinary organism, one that we have barely begun to understand.

MY REVIEW

This is a brilliant little book that delves into the murky world of Fungi. The author has a wonderful way of expressing her interest in this subject and it makes it very interesting reading. Last year I read a book by Suzanne Simard, Finding the Mother Tree, this book went into a lot of detail about the way fungi connect the trees. In The Secret Life of Fungi, the author, Aliya Whitely explains how fungi are part of our everything. It survives in the most surprising of conditions and environments. There is a lot more to fungi than the mushrooms we see in fields, on trees or on decomposing vegetation.

This book is set out in quick sub-chapters, with three main chapters entitled – Erupt, Spread and Decay. A simplified version of a lifecycle.

As the author makes her way through the chapters and subchapters she gives examples of research, observations and discoveries over the years. This introduces the reader to the basics of this far-reaching and unstoppable organism and follows it to the ends of the earth and beyond.

This would fall into the Science and Nature genre and to some extent, this is what it is. But rather than being all science, symbols, maths and other undecipherable, this book keeps to the basics. It makes sit a very easy-to-read book and the journey the author guides the reader on is like an adventure of discovery.

There are dangers to foraging and there is a section that describes some of the symptoms. Also going into details about how harmful spores can be spread and nature’s own way of dealing with them. Often the strands of fungi, or mycelia, have a symbiotic relationship with another plant and so it continues its lifecycle. It can be easily spread and there has been evidence of fungi in the International Space Station.

Not just confined to being eaten, this can be used for health and medicinal cures and treatments, just think of penicillin as an example. The other side of this can also be the strain that can cause pneumonia or Valley Fever and have devastating results.

Wherever you are in the world you will be near some type of fungi. You probably won’t even notice it, you may not see it, but it’s there.

This was a really interesting book and the author has a real passion for her field and this is evident in her writing. A cracking read that took me by surprise in a very good way. This is a relatively quick read at just over 200 pages, and if you like nature, the natural world and being outside then this is one that you would probably really enjoy. Very accessible and totally absorbing I soon discovered time had passed by as I was busy reading this one. I would definitely recommend it.

After finishing this book I decided to go out into the garden and explore. I knew there were some fungi and I hunted for more. This is what I found.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

(www.aliyawhiteley.wordpress.com / @aliyawhiteley)
Aliya Whiteley is inspired by how fungi and humanity share the world. She grew up
in North Devon where she developed an early passion for walking and observing
nature. She writes novels, short stories and non-fiction and has been published in
places such as The Guardian, Interzone, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and in
several anthologies. Previously a magazine editor, she has written about the natural
world for Mental Floss and in her fiction. Her novella, The Beauty, was shortlisted for
both Shirley Jackson and Sabotage Awards, and depicts a future world in which a
fungus interacts with humanity to create a new form of life, leading readers all over
the world to send her photographs and articles relating to mushrooms.
She walks with her dog through the woods and fields around her home in West
Sussex every day, taking inspiration from the hidden worlds around her.

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#12DaysofClinkStreetChristmas : The Learn by @TonyHalker : @Authoright @AuthorightUKPR @gilbster1000 : #BookReview #BlogTour

 

 

Many thanks to Rachel at Authoright for the invite to take part in the “12 Days of Clink Street Christmas”. My post today is for “The Learn” by Tony Halker.  This book is available in paperback or as an eBook.

 (Check out the calendar at the bottom of this post for more information.)

Synopsis: 

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.


A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.


At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

My thoughts:

Set in North Wales during the Celtic Bronze Age we are introduced to Owayne, son of a beach scavenger.  We follow him as he follows his destined path to become a Druid.  This is a period in history where things are in a state of change, all knowledge, law and stories are done via word of mouth.  The appearance of a wooden wheel causes tensions, should wood be manipulated into a shape, would it go against the rules and laws that exist to protect nature and the environment?  These are things that Owayne will have to try to learn, the balance of the old with the emergence of the new.

This is a slow burner of a book, but it is wonderful.  The pacing is perfect for this story, the setting, the era, the lifestyle.  It does however speed up a little towards the end.  What it lacks in pace it  more than makes up for in its wonderful descriptive passages, I have seen mention on a review from another person, that it had an “almost peotic feel”, and I have to say I am in complete agreeance with that thought. The scenery, festivals, clothing, food, rituals and social aspects have all been detailed well and build a good image.  It was an image of hardship, bleakness and little comforts, but at the same time a beautiful, peaceful atmosphere, this is where for me the author shines with his descriptive details.  I do not know much about the history of this time, but I  feel that this book has a good amount of research to it from the descriptions given, nothing felt out-of-place for me.

This book is an interesting blend of ancient history, folklore, legend, myth and fiction as we follow a young man on his way to learning about nature, the environment, traditions as well as his responsibilities.

A book I would recommend for readers of historical fiction.  A good all round read, with some memorable characters, well written, with elements of nature and folklore.

About the Author:

THHeadsent1

Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a

geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.

 

Website – http://www.tonyhalker.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/TonyHalker

Blog – http://www.tonyhalker.com/blog

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Clink Street Publishing (29 Sept. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911110578
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911110576
  • Purchase from  – Amazon UK
  • Purchase from – Foyles

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Clink Street 12 Days of Christmas.

12Days2017_Calendar

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