#BookReview THE LAST GIANTS by LEVISON WOOD #20BooksOfSummer20


This book comes at a critical time. Fifty years ago, Africa was home to just over 1.3 million elephants, but by 1990 the number had halved. Meanwhile in the span of a lifetime, the human population has more than doubled.

In Levison Wood’s The Last Giants, he explores the rapid decline of one of the world’s favourite animals. Filled with stories from his own time spent travelling with elephants in Africa, the book is a passionate wake-up call for this endangered species we take for granted. The Last Giants was written to inspire us all to act – to learn more and help save the species from permanent extinction.



This is book 20 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

This was an illuminating but horrifying insight into the plight of elephants, that accompanied the tv series hosted by the author. The TV show made a big impact on my understanding of these magnificent animals, but seeing it written down made it hit home even harder.

From the destruction of their habitats, to the ivory trade and hunting, this book really does a wonderful job of giving you a clearer picture of just how drastically their numbers have fallen and how some humans are trying to help despite many humans trying to hinder the welfare of elephants with their illegal activity.

There is also a great use of stunning photographs in this book. A fascinating read about these beautiful creatures.



#BookReview FISHBOWL by BRADLEY SOMER #20BooksOfSummer2020


At turns funny and heartbreaking, a goldfish named Ian escapes from his bowl and, plummeting toward the street below, witnesses the lives of the Seville on Roxy residents.

A goldfish named Ian is falling from the 27th-floor balcony on which his fishbowl sits. He’s longed for adventure, so when the opportunity arises, he escapes from his bowl, clears the balcony railing and finds himself airborne. Plummeting toward the street below, Ian witnesses the lives of the Seville on Roxy residents.

There’s the handsome grad student, his girlfriend, and the other woman; the construction worker who feels trapped by a secret; the building’s super who feels invisible and alone; the pregnant woman on bed rest who craves a forbidden ice cream sandwich; the shut-in for whom dirty talk, and quiche, are a way of life; and home-schooled Herman, a boy who thinks he can travel through time. Though they share time and space, they have something even more important in common: each faces a decision that will affect the course of their lives. Within the walls of the Seville are stories of love, new life, and death, of facing the ugly truth of who one has been and the beautiful truth of who one can become.

Sometimes taking a risk is the only way to move forward with our lives. As Ian the goldfish knows, “An entire life devoted to a fishbowl will make one die an old fish with not one adventure had.”



This is book 19 of my 20 books of summer 2020.

Yes I have just read a book about a goldfish – Ian! – falling from the top of a building and absolutely adored it!! I was a little unsure when I picked it up but I was intrigued and am so glad I read it as it was just one of those books that I got completely absorbed by.

There’s an amazing cast of characters and you get to see their lives as events unfold around ‘that’ day and see what has led up to the point of Ian plummeting through the sky! There’s a huge nod to the act of ‘fate’ – being in the right place at the right time – and the coincidences that link people and being in the right place at the right/wrong time!

Ian is the star of the show, obviously, and he’s a happy little goldfish! His short term memory helps with that! He doesn’t dwell, he doesn’t ponder – a lesson to us all I’m sure! We all need to be more Ian!! And as we see his story unfold, we get introduced to the residents of the apartment block and how their varied lives are unfolding – the dramas, the fears, the highs and lows. It is human life in all its’ many forms! I loved these little glimpses into such a wide cross section of people – showing life in all the various guises and for many it isn’t pretty! From the introverted Claire, the pregnant Petunia, Garth with his secret life,Herman the boy being home schooled after being bullied, Jimenez the maintenance man, Connor the owner of Ian, about to be visited by Katie who is trying to work out how serious their relationship is – to name but a few, I just loved the mix of personalities and stories they all had to tell… and that Ian got to glimpse as he sailed past their windows!

This was a light and dark read, snappy, edgy and a very funny book!! A treat to read! 




A Secret Sisterhood uncovers the hidden literary friendships of the world’s most respected female authors.

Drawing on letters and diaries, some of which have never been published before, this book will reveal Jane Austen’s bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; how Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author
of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the underlying erotic charge that lit the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – a pair too often dismissed as bitter foes.

In their first book together, Midorikawa and Sweeney resurrect these literary collaborations, which were sometimes illicit, scandalous and volatile; sometimes supportive, radical or inspiring; but always, until now, tantalisingly consigned to the shadows.



This was book 18 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

An illuminating and absorbing look at some of the literary world and the friendships forged between some of the leading women writers over the years. Written by 2 female authors whose own friendships led to them looking at how other female writers have become close over the years, I found this to be so informative and insightful and made me learn so much more about these well known women.

From Jane Austen to Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot to Virginia Woolf this book gives a nod to the world these women found themselves living in, and how they connected with fellow authors at the same time. It also gives the reader an idea of the struggles they faced both personally and also in the world of books as women writers were often dismissed quite quickly.

This book brought to my attention just how little I really knew about some of these women – their paths to writing and their family backgrounds with many of their home lives being far from idyll. But their determination and belief in their writing carried them through, along with the friendships they struck up along the way with other women writers facing the same issues.

Some of the friendships may have seem unlikely from the outside, but I think their writing bought them together and the shared admiration for the writing they produced was clear to see from correspondence shared between them. There is also a lovely use of photos and personal effects in this book which really added a personal touch to the stories.

Highly recommended.


#BookReview WOMEN’S WEIRD: STRANGE STORIES BY WOMEN 1890 – 1940 #20BooksOfSummer20

Early Weird fiction embraces the supernatural, horror, science fiction, fantasy and the Gothic, and was explored with enthusiasm by many women writers in the United Kingdom and in the USA. Melissa Edmundson has brought together a compelling collection of the best Weird short stories by women from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to thrill new readers and delight these authors’ fans.
Publisher Website


MY REVIEWThis was book 17 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

A superbly put together collection of the weird and wonderful from long ago! Some of the stories made you completely forget how old they actually were and had such a charming way of chilling and freaking you out as you read through the 13 short stories.

As with many short story collections, some had more impact on me as a reader than others, but I really loved the mix of styles and different approaches to ‘weird’! There’s the unexplained, the ghost stories, gothic, science fiction, the after life – stories that raise the goosebumps on your arms rather than scare you silly! Although I now find myself never looking at a saucepan or gloves in the same way as before….. watch them!!! You never know!!

I loved hearing from these women and their take on the supernatural/horror genre and am glad to see there is another collection of more weirdness as I’ll be looking forward to immersing myself in those very soon!




Written by a hard-working horticulturalist for fellow gardeners, the aim of this diary is to jog people’s memories, share plant stories, demystify gardening and most importantly make the reader smile. You’ll find a personal year-long diary of gardening along with favourite seasonal plants, timely reminders and entertaining tales of moving sheep, visiting RHS Chelsea Flower Show and speaking at garden clubs. Tamsin’s open garden is at the heart of a working farm, so her book reflects the twists and turns of the countryside. For anyone just about to embark on a life in the country, or whose town garden is never tidy and who wonders how the professionals do it, it’s a must read. Pick up tips on how to keep warm whilst gardening, get rid of chilblains and grow seasonal food from someone who lives, breathes and eats country gardening. 



Publisher Website – signed with free postage




This was book 16 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

The gardener in me loved this! From the helpful pointers, the humour that had me chuckling out loud and just the general amiable writing style of the author made this such a pleasure to read! I think it’s a book that will appeal to a wide spectrum of garden lovers – from the novices to those who’ve gardened for a long time.

It also shows the amount of work required to open gardens to the public and her energy never seems to flag in wanting her garden at Stockton Bury to look at its’ best for every visitor! The book is written in a month by month style which I loved as it gives you an insight into what needs doing in your garden too throughout the year, as well as a very handy plant list for must haves each month which is really invaluable as I often find myself having a little lull in the garden at various times so I now know what to look out for!

With her experiences in the garden comes a wealth of knowledge that she passes on and I’ve taken note of a number of hints that I plan on using here! She is also not afraid to mention the failures she has along with the successes – it’s always good to know that every gardener has their problems no matter what size of garden they have.

I loved the gardening quirks that she comments on and found myself heartily agreeing with many of them, along with how a garden evokes childhood memories – plants that remind you of loved ones, things you learn from them and how you can feel connected to people just through a plant or using a garden tool that has been handed down.

And to top it all off there are many beautiful photos throughout that are just a delight to look at! This is going to be one of those books I keep going back to when I need a smile or a gardening hint each month! Highly recommended!




When a girl falls into a deep and impenetrable sleep, the borders between her provincial French village and the peculiar, beguiling realm of her dreams begin to disappear: A fat woman sprouts delicate wings and takes flight; a failed photographer stumbles into the role of pornographer; a beautiful young wife grows to resemble her husband’s viol. And in their midst travels Madeleine, the dreamer, who is trying to make sense of her own metamorphosis as she leaves home, joins a gypsy circus, and falls into an unexpected triangle of desire and love.


This is book 15 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

I normally devour a book that is full of the weird and wonderful! BUT for some reason I really struggled to connect with this book as it was just a little too ‘off the wall’ for me! I loved the set up with Madeleine asleep and the short and snappy flashes into her ‘dreams’ and the world she had created or found herself in but I often found myself completely unsure of whether it was dream world, real world or just somewhere in between! I found myself more interested in the little glimpses of her mum and family and their perspectives of watching Madeleine sleep while their lives carried on around them.

It was often quite dark and explicit, which didn’t really seem to add much to the mix except more confusion as to wondering what was going on!! Maybe I need to try the book again to see if it makes more sense 2nd time round!


#BookReview OWL SENSE by MIRIAM DARLINGTON #20BooksOfSummer20


‘Her softness took my breath away. Deadly beauty. She turned her face towards me. The owl’s massive facial disc produces a funnel for sound that is the most effective in the animal kingdom’

Owls have captivated the human imagination for millennia. We have fixated on this night hunter as predator, messenger, emblem of wisdom, something pretty to print on a tote bag or portent of doom. Darlington sets out to tell a new story. Her fieldwork begins with wild encounters in the British Isles and takes her to the frosted borders of the Arctic. In her watching and deep listening to the natural world, she cleaves myth from reality and will change the way you think of this magnificent creature



This is Book 14 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

Another book with a stunning cover and I found this to be a truly fascinating read. The author writes passionately about the subject of owls, whilst also sharing stories of her own family struggles with a child with a mystery illness.

It’s fair to say this family are obsessed with owls, and this book allows them to share their experiences as they look further into different species, travelling across the country and further afield, learning more about owls from their hunting habits, where they live and also meeting a number of equally owl obsessed and knowledgeable people who are only too happy to share all they know about these amazing creatures.

Each chapter centres around a different owl species so that really does let you get to know so much more and focus solely on each owl allowing you to soak up more information and see the struggles that each species are facing in the modern world, as well as looking at their role in mythology, literature and history.

I learnt so much from this book and was also touched by how the illness to her son drove the family to despair at times as they just wanted to make him better and would go to any lengths to find ways to help him out. I also loved the striking pen illustrations to introduce each species.


#BookReview WITCHBORN by NICHOLAS BOWLING #20BooksOfSummer20


It’s 1577. Queen Elizabeth I has imprisoned scheming Mary Queen of Scots, and Alyce’s mother is burned at the stake for witchcraft. Alyce kills the witchfinder and flees to London – but the chase isn’t over yet. As she discovers her own dark magic, powerful political forces are on her trail. She can’t help but wonder: why is she so important? Soon she finds herself deep in a secret battle between rival queens, the fate of England resting on her shoulders…



This is Book 13 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

Seduced by the beautiful cover, and the promise of a mix of history and witches I was itching to read this book, but found myself feeling a little underwhelmed by the storyline as it never, for me, seemed to get going.

I really enjoyed the start with the story of Alyce finding herself in Bedlam after escaping home, when her mother was accused of witchcraft and Alyce was told to run far away. I’m fascinated by the period of history this was set in so was excited to see various historical figures of the time featuring in the storyline but it just didn’t seem to sit quite right. Alyce seemed to find herself being captured or escaping which seemed to be a little overdone and it was only right towards the end that the truth about her mother and more of the witchcraft element which I wish had been more prominent during the rest of the book.

It was an easy read and entertaining in patches as you tried to work out what was so special about Alyce to have all these people hunting her down!




Victoria Whitworth began swimming in the cold waters of Orkney as a means of temporary escape from a failing marriage, a stifling religious environment and a series of health problems. Over four years, her encounters with the sea and all its weathers, the friendships she made, the wild creatures she encountered, combined to transform her life. This book is a love letter, to the beach where she swims regularly and its microcosmic world, to the ever-changing cold waters where the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet, and to the seals, her constant companions.



This was Book 12 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

\This was a fascinating read as the author shares her thoughts on her love for wild swimming along with a considerable amount of background to the history, folklore and wildlife in Orkney.  It also features her family and the background to the state she finds herself in now and how that the sea seems to call to her and helps her find a way to escape her problems with a dip in the sea,and her various encounters with the wildlife along the way.

I found her writing about the swimming and the wildlife the most incisive and illuminating so would have loved more. It connected more with me as  a reader, even though the passages about the history of Orkney and folklore were interesting but it just felt like they overshadowed her own personal battles at time.  It talks about the mental and physical benefits of swimming and delves into the psychology of her compulsion to go swimming when times are tough, even when it may be putting herself in danger.  

The language she uses was beautiful and it is one of those books that you totally immerse yourself in and I found myself looking at online pictures of Orkney to really get more of out this book – it really seems as beautiful as she describes it! 


#BookReview SNOWBLIND by RAGNAR JONASSON #20BooksOfSummer20


Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness – blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose.



Book 11 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

I find myself reading this series out of order, and it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment one bit!! It is one of those series that I find myself drawn to at odd times, and I find the darkness and twists and turns so compelling each time I start a new adventure!

The story flits between the past and present so we get little glimpses from the victim and their perspective of ‘that night’, alongside the aftermath where Ari is set to work on trying to solve a crime with no witnesses in a community that are very close and reluctant to share anything with this newcomer.

Ari has moved to the area alone, leaving his girlfriend behind and wondering if he has made the right decision. He seems to live permanently in a state of not believing in himself and never seeing things through. But there’s something about this case that irks him and he seems more reluctant to persue the crime than others around him. Maybe as a newcomer he doesn’t have that link with the locals so he can see them all a little clearer than those who have lived there a long time, and he starts to notice oddities in this case.

It’s not only the setting that is chilling, but the way the story is written. Ari is a complex character who doesn’t really let you connect with him personally, but the way he works is meticulous and compelling!