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

Monopoli Blues by Tim Clark & Nick Cook #RandomThingsTours @unbounders @annecater #NonFiction #WW2 #BookReview

I am delighted to be sharing Monopoli Blues by Tim Clark & Nick Cook with you all today. My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for accepting my request to join the Blog Tour and for arranging my copy of this book.

Let’s have a look and see what it is all about…

In November 1944, Sub Lt Bob Clark, a twenty-year old agent with Britain’s top-secret Special Operations Executive, parachuted into northern Italy.

He left behind the girl he had fallen in love with, Marjorie, his radio operator. Captured by the enemy, Bob’s fate hangs in the balance and Marjorie won’t know for six months whether he is alive or dead…

Monopoli Blues recounts the story of Tim Clark’s journey to uncover the story of his parents’ war – and the truth behind the betrayal of his father’s Clarion mission to the Nazis.

When Tim Clark wanted to know more about his parents’ involvement in Special Operation during WWII, he thought it would be a case of simply asking them. His father was not forthcoming with details and his mother very similar. Neither spoke much of their involvement, only odd comments mentioned. The curiosity was sparked however, but a full conversation would never happen.

After the death of his father, Tim decided to embark on a research journey. It involved travelling, meeting with people and meticulously putting together the story of Monopoli Blues. All the pieces found and placed together like a jigsaw. Now when I say meticulous I really do mean it, dates, places, timelines, photo’s and information is amazing. Given all the information that is included I never once felt overwhelmed. The story that is told is so easy to follow and became very addictive reading.

While the story is one of his parents meeting and their life during the war, it is also one of the unknown, survival and courage. From a solid friendship and realtionship followed. The story gives a glimpse into the lives of two people who met during the war.

There are so many things I enjoyed about the story as well as the one about his parents. The photgraphs, snippets from letters, details of missions and other things that I was unaware of. This is where the background of both Authors helped. Bringing history and journalism together to create a fascinating read.

I found myself on the internet looking at various items that caught my curiosity in the book. I love it when this happens!

This is a fascinating book and it is one that I think lovers of WWII History will enjoy. It was a book I flew through and one I would Definitely Recommend.

Tim Clark spent a large part of his career working as a lawyer at one of the world’s leading firms specialising in M+A and corporate work in the UK and internationally, ultimately becoming Senior Partner. Since retiring as a lawyer, Tim has taken on board positions on a number of corporate, arts and charitable organisations, and senior advisory roles at a number of international think tanks.

Nick Cook is an author, journalist, broadcaster and entrepreneur. In 1986, he joined the world-renowned Jane’s Defence Weekly , initially as a reporter, rising quickly to become Aviation Editor, a position he held until 2005. His first novel, Angel, Archangel , was published in 1989 to critical acclaim. In 2001, Cook’s first non-fiction title, The Hunt For Zero Point , was published, reaching Number 1 in Amazon’s Non-Fiction charts. He has also written, hosted and produced two documentaries about the world of aerospace and defence – Billion Dollar Secret and an Alien History of Planet Earth . He lives and works with his wife and two children in London.

See what other Book Bloggers think by following the Tour…

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

Becoming by Michelle Obama #Audiobook #Review

I am delighted to share my review for the Audiobook version of Becoming by Michelle Obama.

I have had my eye on this for a while and as I had a credit left on Audible I decided that this was a book I would like to listen to, rather than read.

So let’s have a look and see what it’s all about…

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Listening Length: 19 hrs 3 min

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. 

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Well as you can see from the synopsis this book has a running time of 19hours and I will tell you something, it didn’t feel like that long. Her voice is one of those really pleasant ones, it makes it easy to listen to her and it’s full of emotion.

I had Michelle accompany me on a 7hour drive to my parents house and back again, she was with me as I was weeding the garden and when she had finished telling me her story I genuinly missed her voice.

Becoming is the story of Michelle Obama, she relates her childhood growing up in Chicago, through college and university and to becoming one of the most famous women in our time.

As I listened to Michelle I was surprised to hear that she is not the confident person I thought she was. She shared her worries, fears, nerves, doubts and concerns. She comes across as so strong and yet she is like the rest of us exactly like the rest of us.

I adored listening to the anecdotes and stories from her childhood and these carry on into adulthood. She is super proud of her roots and shares some wonderful memories. I smiled and laughed at many and also had a lump in my throat at others. In fact at one point I had to pause the book because I was driving and I could feel tears welling up, not a good thing when you are on the motorway.

Michelle comes across as such a warm and genuine person. This is evident from the stories and the causes she supports and also from the the sound of her voice. I could here anger and frustration as well as humour, sorrow, and amusement. It felt that she was talking directly to me rather than at me.

I adored the fact that she was very open and honest as she told me about her life. It was refreshing to see the more vulnerable side as well. To be able to see her not as a First Lady, but as a daughter, wife, mum or work collegue.

An absolutely fabulous book to listen to and the most brilliant choice of audiobook to spend my spare credit on!

I absolutely recommend Becoming by Michelle Obama.

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

The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver @sweavermph @rararesources #review

Today I have something a little different to share with you. The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver is a book that I definitely wanted to read as part of the Birthday Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. My huge thanks to Rachel for accepting my request to be on the tour and also to Stephanie for the book.

Let’s have a look and see what the book is about…

The Migraine Relief Plan: An 8-Week Transition to Better Eating, Fewer Headaches, and Optimal Health

In The Migraine Relief Plan, certified health and wellness coach Stephanie Weaver outlines a new, step-by-step lifestyle approach to reducing migraine frequency and severity.

Using the latest research, her own migraine diagnosis, and extensive testing, Weaver has designed an accessible plan to help those living with migraine, headaches, or Meniere’s disease. Over the course of eight weeks, the plan gradually transitions readers into a healthier lifestyle, including key behaviors such as regular sleep, trigger-free eating, gentle exercise, and relaxation techniques. The book also collects resources—shopping lists, meal plans, symptom tracking charts, and kitchen-tested recipes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner—to provide readers with the tools they need to be successful.

The Migraine Relief Plan encourages readers to eat within the guidelines while still helping them follow personal dietary choices, like vegan or Paleo, and navigate challenges, such as parties, work, and travel. A must-have resource for anyone who lives with head pain, this book will inspire you to rethink your attitude toward health and wellness.

Purchase LinkClick Here

As a hereditary sufferer of migraines, I was eager to read this book. My father found that acupuncture worked for him as well as having an allergy test to see what foods were his triggers. I found some of the same foods triggered my migraines, but I also discovered that hormones had a part to play as well. In some respects I am very lucky as I don’t suffer from them often, but when I do…

This book is a lifestyle guide, it has a great introduction about the authors’ experiences. I think that knowing the author had first-hand experiences made me more willing to pay attention. I am a believer that you don’t truly know what someone experiences until you experience it yourself, you can empathise and offer support but it’s never quite the same.

The book is quite intensive and packed full of so many useful advice, tips and ideas. Taking small steps rather than jumping in at the deep end and ditching the stuff in cupboards and fridge seems to me to be a very sensible approach. The focus is on building up a regime that is manageable and more importantly maintainable. Often diets and lifestyle changes fail as there is too much too soon and the novelty wears off.

There are lots of tips throughout this book, and while I did find some that were useful there were some that did not really apply to me. This is not a criticism in any way, as each sufferer is different, therefore there will be things that are more relevant to some.

Now to the recipes, they have an American feel to them as I would expect given the author is herself an American. There is a range of snacks, lunches, desserts, dressings, and sauces, some of these have a budget rating.

The book is a guide, it is about a change to not only your diet but also the lifestyle. It starts as an 8-week plan but encourages a longer period for better results. This is a well laid out book. It is not a cure-all, and it does not report to do that, it is a guide of things that can help people to manage and maintain a lifestyle. It looks at a whole-body approach rather than just pinpointing one specific area, so health, fitness, sleep as well as diet are dealt with.

I think if you are looking for this sort of approach that could help with reducing symptoms and works alongside your already prescribed medications then I think this book will be beneficial. I found it interesting and I did take quite a lot of things from it that I can easily work into my own lifestyle. It is a book I would recommend.

Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC, is an author, blogger, and certified wellness and health coach. Her recipes have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Parade, and more. She lives in San Diego, CA. 

Social Media Links Facebook TwitterInstagram

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

The Choice by Edith Eger #BookReview @PenguinRHUK

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Today I am delighted to be sharing The Choice by Edith Eger, a holocaust survivor and now an acclaimed psychologist. I would like to thank Bishneen Gurwara at Penguin Random House for inviting me to read a copy of this book.

You can purchase a copy of this book at good bookshops or at AMAZON UK where it is available in various formats.

Synopsis:

‘Little dancer’, Mengele says, ‘dance for me’

In 1944, sixteen-year-old ballerina Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.

The horrors of the Holocaust didn’t break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience.

The Choice is her unforgettable story. It shows that hope can flower in the most unlikely places.

My Thoughts:

Edith Eger was 16 when she made the journey with her mother and one of her sisters, to join a queue to enter her first concentration camp. This would be the last time she saw her mother. This is Edith’s story. The story of her life. The story of her survival. The story of how she was liberated and then learnt to live.

This is a book of two halves as Edith recounts her experiences of her life. A girl who wanted to dance, her parents, her sisters and first love. Then the how she survived the war in the concentration camps, sharing many thoughts and feelings not from herself but of her sister. Then how to live her life after leaving Europe to live in America.

Sometimes you can move away, but at some point you really do have to deal with the horror of your past.

The Holocaust and Auschwitz are words that evoke so many emotions. Edith Eger tells her story in four parts. The first being about her life, including the camps, up to her liberation, then her liberation, dealing with her freedom and finally how she started to heal herself.

As you would expect I found her time as a prisoner very hard to read. It is something that still brings shock, horror and disgust that any person could be treated in such a horrific and abhorrant way. I did however find that it was the story of her freedom and her healing that caught me by surprise. She then started to piece her life together and learn how to live. This is where the inspiration of this lady really Shines through, even more so than it had previously. To me this sounds slightly wrong but, she trained as a psychologist to help people from various backgrounds. They had many different problems that they struggled to deal with. In meeting and trying to help these people she found that she could also use their experiences to help herself, using her own advice if you like. This took her many years to reach a place where she felt some sort of freedom from her past, but to do that took a huge amount of courage to escape from her own fears and trauma.

This is a stunningly beautiful and candid account from a truly inspirational lady. It is moving and emotional, inspiring and hopeful. The more psychological aspect in the latter half of the book was something that I found very insightful and gave me a different way of looking at things.

This is a moving and important story that I would highly recommend.

About the Author:

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A native of Hungary, Edith Eger was a teenager in 1944 when she and her family were sent to Auschwitz during the Second World War. Despite overwhelming odds, Edith survived the Holocaust and moved with her husband to the United States. Having worked in a factory whilst raising her young family, she went on to graduate with a PhD from the University of Texas and became an eminent psychologist. Today, she maintains a busy clinical practice and lectures around the world.

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

#BookReview : The Garden In Every Sense and Season by Tovah Martin @timberpress #NetGalley

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I am delighted to be sharing “The Garden in Every Sense and Season” by Tovah Martin, the photography is by Kindra Clineff.  This is due to be published on 4th April 2018 by Timber Press.  I recieved an eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley, my thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

Synopsis:

So much of gardening is focused on the monthly checklists, seasonal to-do lists, and daily upkeep—weed this area, plant these seeds, prune this tree, rake these leaves, dig this hole—frantically done all year long. But what about taking the time to truly enjoy the garden in every sense? In The Garden in Every Sense and Season does just that. Beginning the heady blooms of spring and closing with putting the garden to bed in winter, Tovah Martin mindfully explores her garden through sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. She sees the bright yellow daffodils of spring, smells summer’s pungent roses, hears the crows in autumn, and tastes winter’s juicy citrus. In 100 evocative essays, Martin shares sage garden advice and intimate reflections on her own garden. The Garden in Every Sense and Season, from one of the greatest garden writers of our time, urges gardeners to inhale, savor, and become more attuned with their gardens.

My Thoughts:

Tovah reminds you that flowers, your garden and the wildlife are not just for looking at, rushing past, quickly weeding, instead she focuses on the five senses touch, sight, sound, smell and taste and explores each one of these for each of the seasons.  It all about relaxing, appreciating, enjoying and exploring what we have in out gardens.

She has a very natural way of explaining colour companions and foliage with structure.  Building a garden no matter what size takes planning and preparation, but there is no check list and must do in this book, taking the pressure of planting and setting at set times.  Instead, Stop, Slow Down, Relax and Enjoy.  It is a more relaxed approach and Tovah’s approach to life seems to come through in her approach to gardening and plants.

This is a refreshing look at gardening today.  It should be a pastime or a hobby not a job.  I found that even though I am a UK gardener, mainly of vegetables, there were lots of things that were relevant and useful.  It is good to see another persons thoughts and perspectives.

This is a beautifully laid out book with stunning photographs.  I have read this on a PC, but I know if I had the physical book in my hands I would be dipping in and out of it often.  The writing is set out more as a story of a journey through the year of a garden, rather than a book about a garden.

This is a book I would definitely recommend.  I really loved it.  The photographs and words compliment each other beautifully.

About the Author & Photographer:

Tovah Martin is a fanatical and passionate organic gardener and the author of The Indestructible Houseplant, The Unexpected Houseplant, The New Terrarium, and Tasha Tudor’s Garden, as well as many other gardening books. Visit her at tovahmartin.com

Kindra Clineff specializes in location photography and regularly produces feature assignments for national magazines; her images have appeared in numerous books, including several with Tovah Martin. She lives in Essex County, Massachusetts.

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it please give it a share.  Better still, go and get a copy of this beautiful book xx

#BlogTour : Finding What Was Never Lost by Martin J Worthy @Authoright @gilbster1000 #BookReview

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Today I am sharing my thoughts on What Was Never Lost (and then just giving it away) by Martin J Worthy. Many thanks to Rachel at Authoright for my spot on the tour and a copy of the book.  PURCHASE LINK Available in paperback or eBook.

Synopsis:

An epic of the modern era, the author takes us on a voyage from postwar London, through his coming of age in the days of LSD and flower power, culminating some decades later in that most treasured condition – a sublime, calm and joyous state of inner and outer equilibrium. Triggered by an excruciating medical trauma in Mexico, he takes us upon a thirty-year journey none could have predicted. Farming in the Punjab, married life in Denmark and twenty years in Southern India practicing Raja Yoga and much more besides. His learning is transferable, practicable and universal.

Vivid, deeply personal and refreshingly honest, ‘’Finding what was never Lost…and then just giving it away’’ offers a fascinating combination of memoir, spirituality and self-help, as well as a snapshot of the hedonistic lifestyle of the 70’s and 80’s, with some travel and, unsurprisingly, a whole lot of laughter too.

This is not a vanity venture, it is the sharing of a lifetime of experiences and insights that have every chance of making a difference to the way the reader looks upon life, and the possibilities that lie ahead. His main precept is that the quality of one’s life is of paramount importance. And, that current cultural aspirations of wealth, importance sensual pleasures and distraction are of a lesser worth when set against the peace and joy that is attainable through this inner journey. The inner journey, aided by meditation perhaps, can offer conditions felt to be far higher. Does he want you to copy him? No. He simply hopes that his story may act as a catalyst or inspiration for the reader to aspire for such growth, and to set out on the journey, on their inner journey too.

My Thoughts:

An intriguing title, Finding What Was Never Lost is the authors journey through his life so far.  From his childhood, through his teens and into the world beyond as an adult.

Martin quite candidly shares experiences, thoughts and also feelings from various points in his life.  He has walked, hitched, flown, sailed and travelled to and through quite a few countries.  He has taken a variety of jobs, some were the transient jobs of harvesters that follow the seasons, crofting with friends or holding a “normal” job to provide money for further travels.  His goal through his journey was to find a spiritual guide or guru, someone who could teach and help him find his own place within himself and the world.

This is quite a different read for me, I do read a few memoirs and tend to like the ones that are about an individual rather than a celebrity.  Martin’s book fits into this style, it is a personal account.  It is recounted in a very calm way, his spiritual nature is something that is felt as I read this book.  If a book could have a quiet and calm voice, then this is one that has that.  It was an interesting read in the respect that it is very different to how I live my life.  In my opinion it is good to take a step in someone else’s shoes for a moment and see how they view the world.

The layout of the book is set in out in very quick chapters, this makes it perfect for dipping in and out of.  There are quite a lot of footnotes, many for things that I feel didn’t need an explanation, and a very handy glossary and index at the back of the book.  I am going to make the presumption that some of Martin’s readers will know English as a second language and this is maybe the reason for the amount of footnotes.

This is a book that would appeal to those who like a more spiritual, self discovery style of memoir.  One mans journey and experience of life told in a calm and quiet way.

Many thanks for reading my post 🙂 xx

#BookReview : The Old Man and The Sand Eel by Will Millard @MillardWill @PenguinUKBooks @NetGalley

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I am delighted to be sharing a book that is a little bit different to my usual reads.  “The Old Man and The Sand Eel” by Will Millard is available for purchase from 1st March 2018 in various formats.  Published by Penguin UK.

Synopsis:

Growing up on the Cambridgeshire Fens, Will Millard never felt more at home than when he was out with his granddad on the riverbank, whiling away the day catching fish. As he grew older his competitive urge to catch more and bigger fish led him away from that natural connection between him, his grandfather and the rivers of his home. That is, until the fateful day he let a record-breaking sand eel slip through his fingers and he knew that he had lost the magic of those days down by the river, and that something had to change.

The Old Man and the Sand Eel is at its heart the story of three generations of men trying to figure out what it is to be a man, a father and a fisherman. It plots Will’s scaly stepping stones back to his childhood innocence, when anything was possible and the wild was everywhere.

My Thoughts:

The cover of this book caught my eye, then the synopsis did it’s job. I decided this was a title I definitely wanted to read. I know a little of the Fens and with the odd fishing trip with my dad, made me think this is a book that I would enjoy.

Will’s Granddad taught him a huge amount about fishing on the Fens then as he got older it was his Dad that gave him a chance to learn new skills.  This is not just a book about fishing, though it does feature heavily.  It is a book that looks at the wildlife, flora and fauna around the different watery habitats around the UK.  Over the years Will has used different rigs, baits and lures from the old traditional to the modern all singing dancing set ups.  He also discusses how fishing has changed over the years, along with the expectations of what is required.  From the ditches, drains, hidden ponds and wild runs to the commercial fisheries.  The way people have moved from the may catch a fish to the almost guaranteed catch one.  The commercial fisheries have their place, they are well stocked and well cared for, the fish are bigger well fed and produce the biggest fish for those who like to chase the record breakers.

But this book also takes a more personal look at his life growing up, it is full of amusing at times anecdotes, the old tales, traditions and also fishing folklore that has been handed down.  Sometimes it is not just about the biggest or largest catch, it is more about relaxing,  to stop stressing about things and just enjoy your fishing.

It has important and fascinating facts surrounding the environment, wildlife and nature, sometimes these work well side by side, but other times they can have been to the detriment of other species.  Things over the years have changed and now people are more aware of endangered species measures are being put in place.  We need to protect our natural environment and also to help put right what has been done in the past.

This is a lovely book that is full of wonderfully told memories and stories from Will’s perspective.  It ambled along beautifully, and had me laughing at times with some of his childhood antics, but it also carries some important messages and fascinating facts.  This is a book I would definitely recommend to readers of memoirs, fishing, nature and environment.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for my eARC of this book.  My thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

me2.jpg  Will Millard is a writer, BBC presenter, public speaker, and expedition leader.

Born and brought up in the Fens, he presents remote Anthropology and Adventure series for BBC Two, and series on Rivers, Urban Exploration, and History for BBC Wales. In 2016 he won the BAFTA Cymru Award for Best Presenter and his series have received nominations for Best Series and Best Presenter in the Grierson, Broadcast, Bannf, Kendal, and the Televisual Bulldog Awards. Please visit the ‘Documentaries’ tab for more.

His first book The Old Man and the Sand Eel for Penguin (Viking) follows his wild journey across Britain in pursuit of a fishing record and will be out on March 1st 2018 (but is available for preorder now through Amazon), and his next BBC Two series, charting a year in the life of the extraordinary Korawai tribe in West Papua, will be on your screens this Easter.

Follow Will on Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Website

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it give a share or two.  Better still grab yourself a copy of this book 🙂 xx

#BookReview : The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris :pub @BonnierZaffre @NetGalley

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“The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris is available to purchase from 11th January and is available in various formats.  Published by Bonnier Zaffre and available from Amazon UK 

Synopsis:

I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart.

In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust.

Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too.

So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.

My Thoughts:

Where to start with this book, it took me a while to get my thoughts in order before I could write a review.  This is based on the true story of Lala & Gita Sokolov.  They met when Lala tattooed the number on her arm on her arrival at Auschwitz.  They along with tens of thousands of others became a number.  Not a name. Not a person.  They were A Number.

Heather spent three years with Lala and his two dogs as he told his story to her.  He needed to do this so that “it would never happen again”.  Also it was time for him to tell, he knew he didn’t have long before he joined his beloved Gita.  Her death gave him the push he needed.

Lala was part of the German round-up of much-needed workers and he was taken to Auschwitz.  By the use of his charm and a certain amount of luck he managed to get the position of “Tetovierer” the tattooist in the camps of Auschwitz and also nearby Birkenau. This allowed him a little more freedom and also extra food rations, Lala shared all he could with others in the camp.  He managed to barter with civilian workers for food, with the help of Gita and her friends.  All that could be shared out was, help given where possible.  The generosity in a time of great suffering shown by others has a way of repaying itself, and indeed when Lala was in need of help it was there.  He travelled between the two camps and this gave him insights as to what was happening, seeing different things appearing, seeing new people, meeting the new doctor a certain Josef Mengeler.

Through Heather, Lala gave accounts of who he met and his experiences.  Heather has written his story with true emotion, sympathy and understanding.  It is a heart wrenching read, and so it should be, but Lala’s character has come through the pages, showing his grim determination that he would survive, he would marry Gita and they would have a future together.

This is an important period in history, one that should never be forgotten or taken lightly.  Heather has done a wonderful job in relating Lala’s story. It is an emotional journey, and even now I still feel the emotion as I write this review, a few days after reading the book.  I received this book as an eARC via NetGalley, but I will be buying my own physical copy.  I highly recommend this book to all readers.

Lala’s lifetime motto was “If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day.”

Number – 34902 – Gita born 1925 died 2003

Number – 32407 – Lala born 1916 died 2006

Many thanks to Bonnier Faffre and NetGalley for my copy of this book.  My thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

Heather Morris is a native of New Zealand, now resident in Australia, working in a large public hospital in Melbourne. For several years she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter in the US. In 2003, Heather was introduced to an elderly gentleman who ‘might just have a story worth telling’. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed both their lives, as their friendship grew and he embarked on a journey on self-scrutiny, entrusting the innermost details of his life during the Holocaust to her. Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked it please give a little share.  Better still go and buy a copy of this outstanding book xx

#BookReview : Sweet Maple by Michelle Visser @SoulyRested

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I was given the privilege of reading a brand-new book titled Sweet Maple, written by Michelle Visser. Well, that’s not the whole story, really. It was about to be released, self-published I should say, when suddenly Michelle had publishing houses swooning over this book and wanting to publish it themselves. (I can see why. This book is wonderful!) So now the version I got to review has been pulled. And the new (and improved!) book will be on bookshelves fall 2019.

About Sweet Maple:

Prologue (taken from the book): Ever thought about trying to make your own maple syrup? Maybe you’re just curious about the whole process. Maybe you know you’re diving into it next winter, sink or swim, and you’d rather swim? Or maybe you have a curious child asking all kinds of questions about maple syrup. Like every day. Like 22 times a day. (Not that I can relate to this, mind you.) Maybe your kid’s learning about Native Americans in school. (Guess who first made maple sugar?) Or maybe you’d like a glimpse into our family’s efforts to live life a little more simply by raising a few farm animals and making our own allnatural sugar. For all the reasons above, and if you like the feel-good idea of supporting a hard-working momma who’s writing to help pay the homestead bills, then you’ll be glad you invested in this book.  In your hands you’re holding a book about my family’s failures (lots) and successes (a few) during our first two winters’ attempts to turn tree sap into amazing liquid-gold sweetness. And I’m glad you’re along for the ride. You can read even more, watch some videos, peruse my lists of equipment we use and resources I love, and order my eBooks and eCourses all about backyard maple syrup at SoulyRested.com.

My Thoughts:

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 flask 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

About the Author:

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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.

Author Links:

SoulyRested.com … because simple joys require hard work….

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Check out my maple syrup books and video course here.

And read about my new book, Sweet Maple, here.

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked it, please give it a share.  Better still go and buy this book. Get yourself in the kitchen and try some of these amazing recipes out.  I know I am going to be trying some.