#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….

Follow on facebook.

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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.

#BookReview : Hit The Road, Jac! by Jacqui Furneaux @Bulletjac : @Propel_Tech : pub by Shuvvy Press

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I wish to thank Propel Technology for sending me a copy of “Hit The Road Jac” by Jacqui Furneaux.   The story of her journey over seven years to 20 different countries all on the back of a 500cc Royal Enfield Bullet, with no plan.

Synopsis:

“Read this and you’ll want to go on an adventure. Jacqui’s tale is not just obviously inspiring, but her story makes you think about the pleasures of nature and simplicity; about taking the time to just stand and breathe life in, something we all quite wrongly think we don’t have the time for. Her words reminded me of myself as a child, being inventive, imaginative and at times pretty cheeky to get what I wanted. Though clearly tough and dangerous at times, her journey seemed to create joy, a self-made joy. Nothing better. I’m a huge fan of her trip, it’s made me think…… I bet it will make you think too….!” SUZI PERRY

My Thoughts:

Wow!  is an understatement for what Jacqui has been through in her seven years of travelling and has described in this book.  She has pushed her way through things that most people would shy away from.  This lady certainly likes a challenge.  For her 50th birthday she bought her Enfield, in the following 7 years she travelled on it around India, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, South and Central America visiting 20 countries on her journey, with only occasional trips back to the UK to see her family.

As Jacqui leads you through her adventure you also learn of her own life.  She explains why she made the decision to travel and she does it in an honest way.  She is quite candid as she travels to new places and meets new people, as well as her own personal journey as she finds herself.  She shares how she dealt with the ups and downs of life, love, family, relationships and travel, just like the cover of her book.  A game of snakes and ladders, all ups, downs and working your way through to an end goal.

Along the way she became a well seasoned and respected traveller, keeping an account in her diaries.  She has learnt how to repair and maintain her bike that has taken her across mountains, beside volcanoes, deep gorges and passes with the occasional mishap.  She has been in the odd accident, bruises, scraps and broken bones, but has recovered to continue her journey and survived to tell the tale.

This book is written in a very easy to read style, it covers a whole range of things that make up a really interesting travel memoir.  It has a humorous side to it at times, and is also pragmatic.  It has an edge of the seat feel and a great all round read.  She shares her feeling on the places she has seen, the kindness of strangers and that some of the places she visited will never be seen again.  Her travels started in 2000 and since then their has been civil unrest, conflict and war that has changed the landscape as well as damaging or destroying buildings.  I love the fact that the bike is still going!

I would definitely recommend this book to readers of Travel Memoirs, Travel Guide, Educational, Reference, Biography and Non-Fiction books.  I can think of a couple of my own family members that would be interested in reading this book.  I think different people will take different things from it.

About the Author:

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Picking up my brand new Enfield from the showroom in Chennai, India.

In 1998, after bringing up a family and being a nurse and health visitor, I set out on a year’s journey, on my own for the first time ever. I started backpacking in Thailand and explored many South-East Asian countries armed only with wide-open eyes and a guide book. Six months into the trip and feeling quite the adventurous explorer, I went to Pakistan and India before returning to the UK.

But I found I really liked travelling and although at my age I really should have known better, I set off again, this time combining my love of travel with my other passion … motorcycling. I’d owned various Japanese motorbikes over the years since passing my test aged 24 but had never had an Enfield!

Exchanging guide books for road maps, for my 50th birthday I bought a 500cc Enfield Bullet in India and rode it, initially alongside the Dutchman who had suggested the idea. None of it was planned. I would not have dreamed I’d be having this chance of a lifetime when I should have been saving for my retirement. But life’s too short not to take a chance. 

Follow Jacqui on her Website  or Twitter , her website is well worth looking through, there is loads of great content.

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Shuvvy Press (2 Sept. 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 0956430562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956430564
  • Purchase from Amazon UK

I would like to express my thanks to Propel Technology for sending me a copy of this book.  My views expressed here are unbiased and my own.  The pictures are from Jacqui’s website, a site I recommend visiting.

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked it, please give it a share.  Better still go and buy the book.

#Book Review : Living in Italy, The Real Deal by Stef Smulders @italie_verhalen

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“Living In Italy : The Real Deal” by Stef Smulders is available in paperback and eBook.

Synopsis:

Would you dare to follow your dream and move or retire to Italy? Stef & Nico did, although their dog Sara had her doubts. Now from your comfortable armchair you can share in the hilarious & horrendous adventures they experienced when they moved to Italy to start a bed and breakfast.

For lovers of amusing travelogue memoirs who like a good laugh. And for those interested in practical advice on how to buy a house in Italy there is useful information along the way, pleasantly presented within the short stories.
Glossary of Italian words included! Learn the true meaning of Italian phrases and expressions like “non ci sono problemi“, “di fiducia“, “persone serie“, “tutto a norma” and many more. Learn a bit of the foreign language before going to Italy.
My Thoughts:
A while ago Stef asked me if I was interested in reading his book.  I was curious when I read the synopsis, of how Stef and Nico left The Netherlands to live in Italy running a B&B.  I had resisted the temptation to visit the website to see the before and after pictures, though I had seen a glimpse of them.  I wanted to read this book and build up my own image, from the descriptions Stef was going to describe on the pages of his book.
What started in 2007 with looking for a property to the end result of a beautiful home is remarkable, especially as you read all the hoops these two men went through to get to their dream.  All the rules and regulations seem to have been a minefield, with a lot of travelling between departments, authorities, bureaus, then there are the estate agent, owners, contractors and so many others.
2008/09 saw them in the property and as Italian residents, builders with extra unforeseen costs, weather, ground water and they still continued.  How Stef and Nico managed to remain calm and sane is remarkable.  Their patience was pushed to the limit, but they remained focused on their end goal.  They also started to build up a relationship with locals, going to see various attractions in the area.  They wanted to include a lists of places for their guests to visit.
I really liked this book, Stef has created a really great book of his  experiences.  He has the high points and the low points of the venture they embarked upon.  He has included a lot of Italian phrases and a very in-depth glossary, though as you read the phrases he has included meanings, it is very useful doing it this way as it saves flitting between glossary and story.  This is written in a very readable way, it kept me captivated from the beginning.  It is an account that is humorous at times and at others made me feel their anguish as they dealt with all the trials they went through.
So when I had finished the book I then went to look at their website ( you will find a link to this in the “About the Author” section below), and it is a beautiful house.  Did the descriptions I had read in the book match what I saw in the site ? Well yes they did actually, and I lost myself for a while looking and reading through the site.  I admit to being a little bit envious of their house, it is beautiful and in a gorgeous location.
I would recommend this book to readers who like to read about other people’s adventures in life, a non fiction, educational, reference guide to living in a different country.  It is well written, with great content and some weird and wonderful observations from Stef.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Stef for my copy of this book.  My thoughts expressed are my own and are unbiased.
About the Author:
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 Dutchman who moved to Italy in 2008 to live the good life wih husband and dog, welcoming guests in their Villa I Due Padroni B&B in the beautiful wine region Oltrepò Pavese, south of Milan.

Author of the Award winning book “Living in Italy: the Real Deal” with hilarious expat adventures.

Book Details:
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 949.0 KB
  • Print Length: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Babelcube Inc. (5 Nov. 2017)
Many thanks for reading my post/  If you liked it, please give it a share. 
Better still, go and buy the book.

#BookReview : Red Famine: Stalin’s War on the Ukraine by @anneapplebaum @PenguinUKBooks

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My thoughts:

This is a well laid out book that covers a very large and important piece of Russian and Ukranian history .  It is very compelling reading and I think would be an invaluable book for those who want to know more regarding this area.

I know very little about the Ukraine and the atrocities that were committed upon it and it’s people.  I have vague memories from very generalised history lessons at school as a teenager. But now, after reading this account of events, I am aware of the depths people have gone to, to achieve power.

For me, this book seems to be a very comprehensive account of the Ukraine between the years of 1917-1934.  It discusses how the rich, fertile soil made for the ideal conditions of growing grain, it then follows through the history to tell how Ukraine wanted to become autonomous of the Imperial Russian Empire, this is something that Russia did not want to happen, due to it’s reliance on Ukraine being a valuable food provider.  It is quite disturbing how the peasants from Ukraine are seen by Russia, they are viewed as worthless , their culture and language to be ignored under the overpowering Russian rule and how they were persecuted beyond belief.  This book goes through the chronology of events that include a huge and and vast amount of bloodshed and atrocities.

As I said this is comprehensive, there is a huge amount of information and it also includes sources.  It discusses the politics, revolts and fighting for the power to rule a country, and what methods were employed to maintain the power for as long as possible during a time of huge unrest.

This is a book I have found quite hard to review due to the vast amount of detail.  There is so much detail I could include, but I have decided to limit myself.  What I really want to say is “Just go and buy this book, you will not be disappointed” 

I would highly recommend this book to Historical and Factual readers, and especially for those with an interest in Europe, Russia and Ukraine.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Penguin UK for allowing me a copy of this book.  My opinion is honest, unbiased and is my own.

Synopsis:

The momentous new book from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag and Iron Curtain. In 1932-33, nearly four million Ukrainians died of starvation, having been deliberately deprived of food. It is one of the most devastating episodes in the history of the twentieth century. With unprecedented authority and detail, Red Famine investigates how this happened, who was responsible, and what the consequences were. It is the fullest account yet published of these terrible events. The book draws on a mass of archival material and first-hand testimony only available since the end of the Soviet Union, as well as the work of Ukrainian scholars all over the world. It includes accounts of the famine by those who survived it, describing what human beings can do when driven mad by hunger. It shows how the Soviet state ruthlessly used propaganda to turn neighbours against each other in order to expunge supposedly ‘anti-revolutionary’ elements. It also records the actions of extraordinary individuals who did all they could to relieve the suffering. The famine was rapidly followed by an attack on Ukraine’s cultural and political leadership – and then by a denial that it had ever happened at all. Census reports were falsified and memory suppressed. Some western journalists shamelessly swallowed the Soviet line; others bravely rejected it, and were undermined and harassed. The Soviet authorities were determined not only that Ukraine should abandon its national aspirations, but that the country’s true history should be buried along with its millions of victims. Red Famine, a triumph of scholarship and human sympathy, is a milestone in the recovery of those memories and that history. At a moment of crisis between Russia and Ukraine, it also shows how far the present is shaped by the past.

Book Details:

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 49778 KB
  • Print Length: 470 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385538855

 

About The Author:

Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum is a journalist, a historian and the author of several books about the Soviet Union and central Europe. Her most recent book, “Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956” was a finalist for the National book Award and won the Cundill Prize for Historical Literature. “Gulag: A History” won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction. Her writing appears regularly in the Washington Post, Slate, the New York Review of Books and the Spectator, as well as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the New Yorker and many other journals. She first reported from Poland in 1989, and still lives there part of the time with her husband, Radek Sikorski, a Polish politician and writer. She is also the author of a cookbook, “From a Polish Country House Kitchen” and a travelogue, “Between East and West.”

 

Many thanks for reading my post.