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

Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers by Robin A Crawford @RobinACrawford2 #cauldblasts @eandtbooks #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review of Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers by Robin A Crawford. You would not believe how many time I have checked the spelling of those words!!! Spell checker is having an absolute field day with its wiggly red lines as well 😁

So this is a book about Scottish words and I have a few words here that you can have a guess at for a bit of fun. They definitions can be found below in the synopsis.

Do you know what these mean…

Clishmaclavers

Inkie-Pinkie

Sodie-heid

Smowt

Simmer dim

Dreich

I would like to thank Alison Menzies at Elliot & Thompson for my gorgeous copy of Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers. My thoughts are my own.

Publication: 20 August 2020

£9.99 B-format hardback

ISBN 13: 978-1-78396-478-9

The evocative vocabulary, wit and wisdom of the Scots language from Robert Burns to Twitter.

Scottish writer and bookseller, Robin Crawford, has gathered 1,000 Scots words – old and new, classical and colloquial, rural and urban – in a joyful celebration of their continuing usage. His amusing, erudite definitions put each of these words in context, revealing their evocative origins and essential character. Delightful line drawings by Scottish printmaker Liz Myhill contribute to this treasury of linguistic gems for language lovers everywhere.

The Scots language is intricately bound up in the nation’s history, identity, land and culture. It is also a living and vital vernacular, used daily. With references to Robert Burns mingling with contemporary examples from Billy Connolly and even Monty Python, Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers revels in the richness of one of our oldest languages, and acts as a precious reminder of words that are also beginning to fade away, their meaning and value disappearing.

 Clishmaclaver: the passing on of idle gossip, sometimes in a book.

Inkie-pinkie: weak beer.

Sodie-heid: literally, ‘head full of soda bubbles’, airhead.

Smowt: youngster, technically a young trout or salmon but also affectionately applied to a child. 

Simmer dim: Shetland term for long summer evenings where due to the northern latitude it never really gets dark.

Dreich: grey, miserable, tedious; usually applied to weather but indicative of the Scots temperament, hence it being voted Scotland’s favourite word in a recent poll (or perhaps indicative of the temperaments of Scots who feel the need to participate in online polls): ‘It’s gey dreich the day.’

Purchase from Amazon UK – KindleHardback (these are affiliate links)

So, were you right with what you thought the words meant? xx

My Review

I love learning new words and different dialects and local variants are always fascinating to me. I have lived in several counties so I have picked up local sayings. It amazes me how you can have different meanings for a word on adjoining counties. Having read fictional books written by many Scottish Authors I do find it really interesting to come across local words while reading.

So, the author has gathered 1,000 words from all walks of Scottish life, from farmers, fishermen, comedians and from years gone by. The words are a mix of old almost forgotten words as well as more mainstream ones that were more recognisable to me. I love how the author has brought so many words together as a way of bringing the past back to the forefront.

This book is ideal for dipping in and out of and I loved looking at the words and trying to guess those that I hadn’t come across before. Mostly I was wrong but that adds to the fun of this book. I have the hardback version and I have to say the cover is gorgeous and it also makes it the perfect book for leaving on the coffee table for others to enjoy.

A wonderful little book that is full of Scottish words that will amuse as well as test your pronunciation. I adored this book and I would recommend it to those who like to expand their vocabulary. I would also suggest that readers of Non-fiction and history would really enjoy this book as there are so many little anecdotes and historical snippets that have been included.

A brilliant book that I would absolutely recommend.

About the Author

Born in Glasgow, writer and Scottish bookseller Robin A. Crawford has a particular interest in the culture and natural heritage of his native land. He is the critically acclaimed author of Into The Peatlands: A Journey Through the Moorland Year, longlisted for the Highland Book Prize 2019. He lives in Fife, Scotland, with his wife. He is available for interview.

Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour…

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

Older and Wider – A survivors guide to the menopause by Jenny Eclair #OlderandWider @QuercusBooks #NetGalley #menopause #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for an absolutely brilliant and also rather humorous book. Older and Wider by Jenny Eclair is a book that I read at just the right time, it is a book about going through and finding ways of dealing with the menopause.

If you’re after an in-depth medical or psychological insight into the menopause, I’m afraid you’ve opened the wrong book – I’m not a doctor . . . However, I am a woman and I do know how it feels to be menopausal, so this book is written from experience and the heart and I hope it makes you laugh and feel better.’ JE


Older and Wider is Jenny Eclair’s hilarious, irreverent and refreshingly honest compendium of the menopause. From C for Carb-loading and G for Getting Your Shit Together to I for Invisibility and V for Vaginas, Jenny’s whistle-stop tour of the menopause in all its glory will make you realise that it really isn’t just you. Jenny will share the surprising lessons she has learnt along the way as well as her hard-won tips on the joy of cardigans, dealing with the empty nest (get a lodger) and keeping the lid on the pressure cooker of your temper (count to twenty, ten is never enough).


As Jenny says, ‘I can’t say that I’ve emerged like a beautiful butterfly from some hideous old menopausal chrysalis and it would be a lie to say that I’ve found the ‘old me’ again. But what I have found is the ‘new me’ – and you know what? I’m completely cool with that.’

Purchase Links from Amazon UK – PaperbackAudioKindleHardback (these are affiliate links)

Oh my goodness what an absolute hoot this book was. As someone who is starting to go through the menopause, there were so many things I could absolutely relate to in this book.

Jenny has brought her own unique and individual comedic style to a subject that used to be such a big taboo. I can remember hearing women muttering in hushed tones about “going through the change” and looking slightly embarrassed about it. I am so thankful that we now live in a society where a natural process that women go through is being discussed.

Jenny explores all aspects of the menopause, what worked for her and what other alternatives there are. She also makes some very valid points about growing older and being middle-aged. I love her advice about owning up to your age, as she says “own it” so, therefore, don’t let it own you.

This is such a fabulous book and in some ways should come with a warning that it shouldn’t be read in public as you may get some strange looks. I snorted, sniggered and laughed out very loudly as I was reading it. In fact, scrap that, yes read it in public and when someone asks you what you are reading you can tell them its Jenny Eclairs book all about the menopause!

This is a book that came along at just the exact right time for me. Yes, I am menopausal and there are times when I can really relate to some of the symptoms.

What I liked about Jenny’s approach was that not everyone is the same, that people will experience different things and some options work better for some than others, hence me and my fluoxetine. She also mentions a few times that if you are unsure about any symptoms or things don’t feel quite right then you should seek advice.

This is a great book to read and it should be something that anyone coming up to “that age”!!!! should take the time to read, as well as those like myself who are going through (whispers dramatically) “the change”!!!! or those that have been through and survived the “Big M”!!!!

The menopause happens, you deal with it and find the best course of action for you. So if you are feeling stressed, furious, or sobbing maniacally in a dark corner then instead of picking up a large bar of chocolate or a bottle of (insert name of favourite alcoholic tipple), or a large stabby knife, pick up Older and Wider by Jenny Eclair and you will soon realise that you are not alone, millions of women have done it and survived it.

A brilliant book that I would absolutely recommend.

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

Into the Tangled Bank by Lev Parikian @LevParikian @alisonmenziespr #publicationday #nature #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Into the Tangled Bank by Lev Parikian. When I received and email from Alison at Elliot & Thompson and it was entitled “A funny nature book” I knew this was for me. I would also like to wish Lev a very Happy Publication Day.

Let me show you what it’s about…

Into the Tangled Bank – In which our author ventures outdoors to consider the British in nature
Lev ParikianPublication: 9 July 2020

Purchase from Amazon UK (this is an affiliate link)


This is a thought-provoking , humorous examination of how we experience the natural world -described by Melissa Harrison as “Funny, accessible and full of wonders – a genuine breath of fresh air” .


Lev is a conductor, writer and birdwatcher.  In Into the Tangled Bank, he attempts to get to grips with what it means to be a nature lover.  The book travels from his doorstep to garden plot, local patch, wildlife reserve and as far as the Isle of Skye.  Everywhere, he comes up against nature lovers of all varieties: from ramblers and dog-walkers, to passionate enthusiasts or just people out for a stroll in the sun.


Lev is the instigator of the #twitterbirdsong project and hosts a new youtube channel  Bird Brains devoted to all things avian.  

AND… the cover is gorgeous in real life!

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.

Lev Parikian is a writer, birdwatcher and conductor. His book Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? was published by Unbound in 2018. He lives in West London with his family, who are getting used to his increasing enthusiasm for nature. As a birdwatcher, his most prized sightings are a golden oriole in the Alpujarras and a black redstart at Dungeness Power Station.

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

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds : Still Living the Dream in Rural Ireland by Nick Albert @Nickalbertautho @rararesources #rararesources #bookreview

I am absolutely delighted to share my review for the second book Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds by Nick Albert. Yes they are still living the dream! My huge thanks to Rachel for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my copy of this brilliant book.

Let me show you what it is all about…

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2 – Still living the dream in rural Ireland

Nick and Lesley’s desire for a better life in the countryside was a long-held dream. Unforeseen events and a leap of faith forced that dream into reality, but moving to rural Ireland was only the beginning of their story.
Foreigners in a foreign land, they set about making new friends, learning the culture and expanding their collection of chickens and unruly dogs. But their dream home was in desperate need of renovation, a mammoth task they attacked with the aid of a DIY manual, dwindling funds and incompetent enthusiasm. With defunct diggers, collapsing ladders, and shocking electrics, what could possibly go wrong?
Will their new life live up to expectations, or will the Irish weather, dangerous roads, and a cruel twist of fate turn this dream into a nightmare?

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – KindlePaperbackAudible (these are Amazon UK affiliate links)

Amazon US – KindlePaperbackAudible

Having read and throughly enjoyed the first book I was eager to see how Nick and Lesley were getting on and how the renovations and repairs to their house in Ireland were going. Due to stress Nick was advised to find a slower pace of life and so he and Lesley moved to a property in need of repair. This was a mish-mash of a house that had been added on over the years and in need of a lot of TLC. It is also in the middle of nowhere on a mountain.

Well I cant think of anything more stressful than renovating your own home when you only have a DIY manual for guidance. But from a readers point of view it does make very entertaining reading and Nick has a fabulous way of injecting a sense of humour into the various mishaps that have happened along the way.

Not only are they dealing with the different way of life, the remoteness and the task ahead of them they are also battling the weather. This brings many challenges and again humour. Building work at the best of times is weather dependant but when you are up a mountain the challenges are made more difficult.

As well as the increase in their animal family, which adds some hilarious moments, Lesley has back problems requiring hospital trips. A very scary time is also included as she is admitted to hospital.

It is such an enjoyable read as I get a glimpse into this couples life. It is a book that has its ups and downs and there are so many moments when I found myself chuckling. The dog antics and the various anecdotes are just brilliant reading and I take my hat off to the pair for the challenges they are facing to build their dream home.

A brilliant read of a couple starting over in a new country and the various things that happen along the way. It is a book I would definitely recommend.

Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in 2020.

Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

Social Media Links – AmazonFacebookWebsiteInstagramTwitter

Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour…

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

Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis by Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg, Beata Thunberg, Svante Thunberg #nonfiction #ecology #Bookreview

I have a non-fiction book review to share with you today, this is for Our House Is On Fire and is written by Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg, Beata Thunberg, Svante Thunberg It is a family collaboration, but it is told from the persepctive of Malena, who is Greta Thunberg’s mother.

Let me show you what it is about…

This is the story of a happy family whose life suddenly fell apart, never to be the same again. Of two devoted parents plunged into a waking nightmare as their eleven-year-old daughter Greta stopped speaking and eating, and her younger sister struggled to cope.

They desperately searched for answers, and began to see how their children’s suffering reached far beyond medical diagnoses. This crisis was not theirs alone: they were burned-out people on a burned-out planet. And so they decided to act.

Our House is on Fire shows how, amid forces that tried to silence them, one family found ways to strengthen, heal, and gain courage from the love they had for each other – and for the living world. It is a parable of hope and determination in an emergency that affects us all.

Malena shares her ideology, her thoughts and beliefs both as a person, wife and mother. This is about the world, climate change, helping refugees, schooling children with neurological conditions and various other topics of interest to her.

Yes she has a famous daughter, but Malena herself has travelled the world and is successful in her own right as an opera singer.

This is her story, about how she struggled to balance work and being there for both her daughters who have their own neurological conditions, while she herself suffers from ADHD.

Before I started this book I had been aware of Greta, I think everyone has heard of her since her famous sit in. I had always wondered about his girl, here was someone that I thought looked quiet, lonely and almost standoffish. It wasn’t until I started reading this book and discovered she had Asperger Syndrome that I began to understand, how I saw her TV made sense. Knowing this and looking back I have even more respect for her and the stand she made.

This is a mother’s open and honest account of her life, the difficulties she has faced. It is not a sugar coated account but an honest warts and all account. The embarrassing moments sit along the heartbreaking ones. She tells of her own breakdown and challenges as well as changes in her life. This is what makes this such a good read.

This is a biography about the mother of a renowned activist and it has been done as a family collaboration. It was first written before Greta made her sit in and the whole family agreed to release it just after.

The first half of the book focuses more on the family while the second half goes more into the climate crisis and how Greta makes her stand. This latter half does have more figures and information. they are laid out in a digestible way. The information is laid out for the reader in a way that it makes you question things about how you live your rather than telling you how you should live.

I really enjoyed reading this, it wasn’t too preachy or too full of facts, figures or confusing information. It is a easy to read book with very quick chapters one that I would definitely recommend.

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

#MeAndMyBooks – My Top Ten Absolute Favourite Books of 2019 #MustRead #TopReadsOf2019

So for the past 3 days I have listed the books from various different genres that I have loved this year.

It has been such an amazing literary year and it has made it very, very difficult to keep my list short… hell, let’s be honest it is far from short, hence the past 3 daily posts… and I could still have added more. So many books that really did deserve a mention.

I have finally added all the books I have read this year to my Goodreads tally, well apart from two manuscripts that I beta read. I am just starting 232nd book of the year. (The Book of Dust Vol 2 The Secret of the Commonwealth by Phillip Pullman, in case you are wondering)

If you want to check out my previous posts then follow the links below

Part 1 – Crime, Thriller, Mystery and also Fiction

Part 2 – Romance, Rom-Com and also Historical Fiction

Part 3 – Fantasy, Dystopian, also YA & Children, and also Non-Fiction.

From all of the books listed I have chosen My Top 10 Absolute Favourite Books of 2019.

So without further ado, here we go…

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My Absolute Favourite Books of the Year from those listed in my previous 3 posts are listed below, in no particular order 🙂

Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen. This was the first book that I added to my rough draft list when I read it in January, and it has stayed with me right the way through the year. It is such a stunningly beautiful and also heartbreaking book that is a murder, mystery and then some. This book will stay with me for a long time!

Dear Rosie Hughes by Melanie Hudson. I didn’t think I was going to get on with this one when I first started it. I was planning on only reading the first chapter before going to bed… yeah I read the whole book! It is told in a series of messages, emails and letters about friends Aggie and Rosie, this book was so addictive and so emotional.

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash. Oh my goodness, this book was an absolute pleasure to read. Yet another one sitting read that had me laughing one moment and sobbing the next. This is a stunning read with some amazing characters and a brilliant story line and those sections in italics… Wow!. I also loved her next book Escape to Giddywell Grange.

The Death of Justice by Tony J Forder. I am a big fan of Tony’s books and I am always so impatient for the next one. The Death of Justice is Book 5 in the DI Bliss series and it is by far my favourite book to date. I felt the author took a real step up with this book. It felt more emotional and there was something extra special about this latest instalment, so special that he reduced me to tears. Fabulous series and a fabulous book.

Dark Deception by Amanda James. This is another author I will automatically read and a favourite of mine. This is another author who I thought also stepped things up this year with this book. The title is so perfect for the devious and deceptive nature of the story within. She completely reeled me in, building more and more intrigue with each chapter. An absolute belter of a read.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher. This is the story of Griz, never played a game of football, because, well… there just aren’t enough people, and he has never known that many people. This is an emotional, atmospheric and fantastic book that just felt so right when I read it. A book that I savoured and adored, an absolutely cracking read.

Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb. I just fell in love with this story from the first pages and it kept me hooked right through until the very end. It is set in the height of Hollywood Film Royalty and Grace Kelly steps into Sophie’s perfumer shop, following Grace is a reporter and the story that follows is stunning. The story had the style, luxury and class of the time as the story follows not only Sophie but also Grace. I loved the feel and style of this book, a stunning read.

Becoming by Michelle Obama. Audible version. I loved having Michelle sat with me in the car as I drove 7 hours up to visit my parents and then back again! Well that is what it felt like, it felt as if she was actually talking to me. She spoke of her life growing up, meeting Barack, working, elections, being the First Lady as well as a wife and a mother. She has such a wonderful voice to listen to and an amazing story to tell. I loved listening to this a huge amount.

Black Summer by M.W Craven. Up until last week The Puppet Show, the first book in the series was on my Top 10 list, then I read this 2nd book in the Washington Poe series! I had been told by other Book Bloggers I would love it, and they were so right. I love the characters of Poe and Tilly, they are two opposites in personality and character and they are a readers dream, I love the dynamics between them both. And then there it the story line , dark, deep, twisted and so addictive. Awesome read and a single sitting book as well.


Right if I can count I think that makes 9 out of 10 books to make my Absolute Favourite Books of 2019. I was going to do a drum roll thing but then I thought just get on with it…


So my #1 Book of the year absolutely blew me away. It was a book that sounded so intriguing from the synopsis and then took me on one hell of a journey. It had so many things that made it compelling reading…

Here is what it is all about…

A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope.

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world. 

You can read my review of Wanderers HERE


I would just like to thank all of you amazing folk out there who have commented, liked, shared my posts throughout the year. You are all absolutely amazing. To Book Bloggers, Authors, Publishers and Blog Tour Organisers thank you for a fantastic literary year and for making sure I never run out of books to read.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and I will see you all in the New Year.

Sweet Maple by Michelle Visser @soulyRested #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts on Sweet Maple by Michelle Visser. I had the pleasure of reading this book last year and I can finally say a huge “Congratulations Michelle on the Publication of Sweet Maple” I am so happy you have finally got this fabulous book published. I am resharing my review for this book to coincide with the publication.

Let me show you what Sweet Maple is all about…

Sweet Maple is an instructional book on backyard sugarmaking that’s also the story of one family’s connection to the past on a small New England sugar farm. Throughout its pages, Michelle (the “sugarmaker’s wife”) gives advice on:

the 22 different kinds of trees that can be tapped.

the process of making syrup, to help you decide what level is right for you.

how to make alternative treats, such lilac syrup.

the health benefits of maple products, which contain more than 40 antioxidants.

substituting processed sugar with all-natural maple syrup in any recipe.

  • the 3 steps to making maple sugar.
  • how to make irresistible maple cream and how to enjoy it.

While learning the art of sugarmaking alongside her husband, Michelle guides readers through every step of all-natural syrup production, with directions for tapping one tree or dozens, while detailing the life-changing benefits of using maple syrup in the kitchen. Interspersed with sugaring techniques, tips, sidebars, and storytelling, Michelle shares more than 30 of her family’s tried-and-true maple recipes—from scones to salads.

Now my curiosity got the better of me when I saw Michelle’s book “Sweet Maple”.  I have a bit of a background in the catering industry and had not put much thought into the process of extracting maple syrup.  As I read this book I was amazed at how intricate, time-consuming this process is and all the factors that come into play, that can help or hinder the process.

As I started reading this book, I was struck by the humble nature of the author.  Here is a lady who quite freely admits to making, and still making mistakes, but how she learns from each one and moves on.  Her failures in making maple syrup has given her a basis for this book, or,  she refers to it as “being the heart of it”.

With her family in a 14 acres wooded homestead in New England, Michelle tells how as a family they live with and within a beautiful area.  She shares the area with her husband and children, as well as a  dog, cows, chickens and other animals.  Having access to suitable trees for tapping and extracting is only part of the process.  When I read this book it became quickly apparent that I know absolutely nothing about the process.  But with Michelle’s wit and humour she has explained all the ins and outs, and also included a list of supplies, suppliers.  It is quite an intensive book, but does not feel like it.  That is only the beginning, she also explains what trees can be tapped, and it’s not just maple trees!

At this point I am loving this book, it is informative, well laid out and has warmth and humour to it.  Then comes the yummy section, the recipes.  Two words here “MAPLE CREAM”, I think I may need this in my life.  It sounds amazing. The are some really good basic recipes, as yet I have not tries them, but I feel they would be a good starting point for using the syrup.  I am definitely going to be having a go at maple scones, as well as a “snickerdoodle” (I love this word, never heard of it before), it looks very similar to a light, airy gingerbread biscuit.  A nice array of recipes for home baking, nothing flash or fancy, that fits in well with what I have learnt from this book.

This to me was a wonderful, delightful read.  There are some beautiful pictures in this book that are interspersed around the writing.  It is informative, but light-hearted, a joy to read. I have also been having a good look around Michelle’s website, and found that also a mine of information, links and also extra recipes, and the opportunity to sign up to her newsletter.

I would like to take this time to express my thanks to Michelle, for allowing me a copy of her book.  My thoughts are honest and my own.  I wish you all the very best Michelle xx

Michelle Visser is a homesteader in rural New England. She’s a fourth-generation gardener, an author and photographer, mom to four daughters, and the sugarmaker’s wife. In their 200-year-old farmhouse and on their 14 rocky tree-filled acres, her family makes an effort to live life a little more simply by growing some of their own food, raising a few farm animals, and making their own all-natural maple sugar.

Check out her wonderful website Souly Rested it is full of fab photo’s, recipes, advice and tips. Also PintrestFacebookTwitter

Purchase links – Amazon UKBarnes & Noble USAmazon.ComBooks-A-MillionIndie Bound.Org

**All photo’s in this post are from Michelle’s own website.**

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share is always appreciated 🙂 xx

The Secret Life of Books – why they mean more than words by Tom Mole @ProfTomMole @alisonmenziespr @eandtbooks #bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts today on The Secret Life of Books – why they mean more than words by Tom Mole. My huge thanks to Alison Menzies for the invite to join the Blog Tour and also for arranging for my gorgeous copy of the book from Elliott & Thompson.

This is a book that is not about books but about the role books play in our lives and it is a fascinating read. Let me show you what the Synopsis says about it…

‘Probably the most compulsive text ever penned about what it means to handle and possess a book’ – Christopher de Hamel, author of Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts

‘A real treasure trove for book lovers’ – Alexander McCall Smith

We love books. We take them to bed with us. They weigh down our suitcases when we go on holiday. We display them on our bookshelves or store them in our attics. We give them as gifts. We write our names in them. We take them for granted. And all the time, our books are leading a double life.

The Secret Life of Books is about everything that isn’t just the words. It’s about how books transform us as individuals. It’s about how books – and readers – have evolved over time. And it’s about why, even with the arrival of other media, books still have the power to change our lives. 

In this illuminating account, Tom Mole looks at everything from binding innovations to binding errors, to books defaced by lovers, to those imprisoning professors in their offices, to books in art, to burned books, to the books that create nations, to those we’ll leave behind. 

It will change how you think about books.

This is a book about books, not about the stories in the books but the books themselves. Books can be read, looked at, studued, referenced and of course be sat on a shelf unread. They can be bought, passed on, donated, found, lost, discarded and recycled. They can be free and given away as part of a promotion or giveaway or they can go to auction for the collectors to bid on.

I like the way this Author has looked at the role books play in our lives, what impact they can have, how they are part of history and of the future. Throughout the book the author makes observations and I have to say he made me realise how right he is about many of the things he has looked at.

A favourite book can fall open at a favourite page, the reader may have made a doodle or folded the corner or left a note or has a bookmark in it. The book has become personal to that reader and becomes different to other prints of that book.

The author provides a fascinating and yet brief history about how books came about and their transition from scrolls. Historical facts are littered throughout this book and include mentions of authors, painters and, collectors. As books have become easier to access than many years ago. It’s not just books though, its all the accessories that may also be bought, so think about bookmarks, notebooks and pens, reading lights, bookscases, reader lights. As books have become more accessible then the market for accessories has developed.

The author uses a few analogies to show similarities between books and other everyday objects and this really helps to see books from a different perspective. It helps to see them as an object and not something that readers use to learn or escape from or into.

This is such a fascinating read and it makes observations that many readers will be aware of or maybe only subconsciously aware of. The author has explored books and the role in society, how they are seen and used. They have been burned, banned, championed and used as propaganda because of political or religious viewpoint.

My review for this book is just the very tip and there is so much more to discover. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read that I only planned on reading in short bursts, well that didn’t happen. Once I started it and recognised some of my own habits in it and discovered how their presence has evolved and developed. I think the author has pretty much covered every aspect of books and I cannot think of anything he has missed, but then I also discovered things that I had not realised!

This is a small book but my goodness there is a lot packed into its 256 pages, I am still surprised that it is only 256 pages as there is so much in it! Prof Tom Mole definitely knows his book history.

This is a book that I would definitely recommend to readers, yep All readers! It is fascinating and I found it completely addictive. Loved it!


Tom Mole is Professor of English Literature and Book History at the University of Edinburgh, where he runs the Centre for the History of the Book. He has taught at universities in the UK and Canada, and has lectured widely in Europe, Australia and North America. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has written or edited several volumes about books and literature, including What the Victorians Made of Romanticism, which won the 2018 Saltire Prize for Research Book of the Year. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and young daughter.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share is always appreciated 🙂 xx

A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj @mamohanraj @rararesources #cookbook #BookReview

I am delighted to share my view for a cook book that will definitley tickle your tastebuds. A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj. Mary brings a delicious feast fantastic with her Sri Lankan background and other cultural influences to create an amazing cook book.

My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for accepting my request to join the tour and also to Mary for my e-copy of her book.

Dark roasted curry powder, a fine attention to the balance of salty-sour-sweet, wholesome red rice and toasted curry leaves, plenty of coconut milk and chili heat. These are the flavors of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was a cross roads in the sea routes of the East. Three waves of colonization—Portuguese, Dutch and British—and the Chinese laborers who came with them, left their culinary imprint on Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cooking with its many vegetarian dishes gives testimony to the presence of a multi-ethnic and multi -religious population.

Everyday classics like beef smoore and Jaffna crab curry are joined by luxurious feast dishes, such as nargisi kofta and green mango curry, once served to King Kasyapa in his 5th century sky palace of Sigiriya.

Vegetable dishes include cashew curry, jackfruit curry, asparagus poriyal, tempered lentils, broccoli varai and lime-masala mushrooms. There are appetizers of chili-mango cashews, prawn lentil patties, fried mutton rolls, and ribbon tea sandwiches. Deviled chili eggs bring the heat, yet ginger-garlic chicken is mild enough for a small child. Desserts include Sir Lankan favorites:  love cake, mango fluff, milk toffee and vattalappam, a richly-spiced coconut custard.

In A Feast of Serendib, Mary Anne Mohanraj introduces her mother’s cooking and her own Americanizations, providing a wonderful introduction to Sri Lankan American cooking, straightforward enough for a beginner, and nuanced enough to capture the flavor of Sri Lankan cooking.

Purchase Links: Serendib KitchenPre Order Link

Several words spring to mind as I read this book – mouthwatering, delicious, tasty, do-able, yummy… I think you can see where I am going with this!

Before I start on the recipes I am going to mention all the other things that are included in this book. Mary has included little snippets from her life, her family and friends. Sri Lankan cookery has taken recipes from other cultures and they have been adapted over the years to fit with the food available. These little asides are included in the introduction to some recipes, as poems or in the fabulous Introduction at the beginning of the book.

Some of the recipes have little alternatives or tweaks that she has thoughtfully included, little adaptions that are handy to know and come from experience. Each recipe has a wonderful photograph, I like to see what an end product is so these are a very welcome addition.

Now then, the recipes…Wow! every course is catered for, starters, mains, vegetarian, fish, dessert and, drinks. I have tried a couple of dishes, only simple things as I am between shopping trips at the moment, and to be fair my little village shop does not carry a lot of the ingredients. Though in the list of main ingredients there are often alternatives, this came in very handy indeed.

The first thing I tried was the Chai Tea, this sounds a little bit random, but I buy Chai Tea so I reasoned that as I have everything I needed why not make my own! Much better than the shop bought one I get, I can see this is a recipe that I will be using quite often.

Next up was the Braised Pepper Chicken, a milder recipe that had ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, onions and tomato. A simple recipe to follow that makes use of my basic store cupboard ingredients. Very tasty and I served it with just simple boiled rice, though I do add a veg stock cube to the water while cooking.

I am looking forward to trying more recipes in this book. On my list for the future is Black Pork Curry, Beef Smoore, Beet Curry, Raita that is different from the one I usually make and, I definitely want to try the mango pickle. There are so many recipes that I would love to make and try though.

If you are looking for a cookbook that has a very good mix of recipes then this would be one that would be a good asset for your shelf. A mix of ingredients that are easy to source though I would have to travel a little further afield for some of them.

The recipes I tried were easy to follow and extremely tasty, it is a book I would definitely look to buy in its physical format. It is not just a cookbook, it has so many interesting extras and this makes it enjoyable to read and peruse through

It gets a Highly Recommended from Me!

Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and thirteen other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. The Stars Change was a finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards.

Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated and World Fantasy Award-winning speculative literature magazine, Strange Horizons, and alsofounded Jaggery, a S. Asian & S. Asian diaspora literary journal (jaggerylit.com). She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon. She serves as Director of two literary organizations, DesiLit (www.desilit.org) and The Speculative Literature Foundation (www.speclit.org). She serves on the futurist boards of the XPrize and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Mohanraj is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, withher husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog. Recent publications include stories for George R.R. Martin’s WildCards series, stories at Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Lightspeed, and an essay in Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies.  2017-2018 titles include Survivor (a SF/F anthology), Perennial, Invisible 3 (co-edited with Jim C. Hines), and Vegan Serendib. http://www.maryannemohanraj.com

Social Media Links – FacebookTwitterInstagramWebsiteSerendib Kitchen Website

See what other Book Bloggers think by following the Blog Tour. Some of them will have recipes and extracts to share as well as what they think of this book.

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