#BookReview GUARDIANS OF THE TREES by KINARI WEBB #Audiobook #nonfiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

A “magnificent, empowering” (Bill McKibben) memoir about a woman spearheading a global initiative to heal the world’s rainforests and the communities who depend on them

When Kinari Webb first travelled to Indonesian Borneo at 21 to study orangutans, she was both awestruck by the beauty of her surroundings and heartbroken by the rainforest destruction she witnessed. As she got to know the local communities, she realized that their need to pay for expensive healthcare led directly to the rampant logging, which in turn imperiled their health and safety even further. Webb realized her true calling was at the intersection of medicine and conservation.

After graduating with honours from the Yale School of Medicine, Webb returned to Borneo, listening to local communities about their solutions for how to both protect the rainforests and improve their lives. Founding two non-profits, Health in Harmony in the U.S. and ASRI in Indonesia, Webb and her local and international teams partnered with rainforest communities, building a clinic, developing regenerative economies, providing educational opportunities, and dramatically transforming the region. But just when everything was going right, Webb was stung by a deadly box jellyfish and would spend the next four years fighting for her life, a fight that would lead her to rethink everything. Was she ready to expand her work to a global scale and take climate change head on?

Full of hope and optimism, Webb takes us on an exhilarating, galvanizing journey across the world, sharing her passion for the natural world and for humanity. In our current moment of crisis, Guardians of the Trees is an essential roadmap for moving forward and the inspiring story of one woman’s quest to heal the world. 

PUBLISHED BY FLATIRON BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a book to inspire and give you reason for hope, then look no further! This was a really fascinating look at the career of a woman who followed her dream which led her to a path where she got to share her knowledge, along with the people she met along the way changing her outlook and sharing their own wisdom which she embraced

I think I was expecting more of a conservation book, but her story is one of conservation of nature and humans. While living in Indonesia where she moved to study orangutans, she found herself adopted by the locals and learnt so much from them, especially their attitude towards health and the wellbeing of the surroundings they were living in. Which was sometimes pushed to the limit with with so much logging going on in the area.

She fell ill while over there too, and that brush with death really seemed to switch on a different outlook on things for her and it was so extraordinary to hear her talk so freely and honestly about the good and bad points of her life there as she tried to make the decisions as to what she really wanted from life. It also clarified her mind and confront the reality of what humans were doing to the planet was unsustainable and that more needed to be done to bring awareness to this situation.

So while she treated people medically, she also appreciated a more holistic approach and that seemed to be her outlook on life in general, which she adopted for the conservation work she was involved in also.

The author is a wonderful storyteller and I could have happily listened to many more hours of her stories of life in the jungle and the dangers she faced, alongside the inspiring and illuminating moments that she got to experience. A truly engaging and reflective book – we need more inspiring women in the world like Kinari Webb!

★★★★★

#BookReview WHEN I WAS TEN by FIONA CUMMINS #Audiobook

ABOUT THE BOOK

Twenty-one years ago, Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were murdered in what has become the most infamous double murder of the modern age.

Ten-year-old Sara Carter – nicknamed the Angel of Death – spent eight years in a children’s secure unit and is living quietly under an assumed name with a family of her own.

Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down her older sister Shannon Carter, compelling her to break two decades of silence.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and journalist Brinley Booth, a childhood friend of the Carter sisters, is tasked with covering the news story.

For the first time, the three women are forced to confront what really happened on that blood-soaked night – with devastating consequences for them all.

PUBLISHED BY PAN MACMILLAN

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book – brilliant narration and really kept hold of your attention through to the last page!

A book to shock! What a story! This was one of those books that I was a little apprehensive going in to after hearing so many good things, but once I was involved with the story – which gets you straight away! – I just couldn’t bear to stop reading, to find out the lead up to the shocking events and the reverberations that they caused many years later.

The story is told in a now and then way – so we get to understand that a shocking crime took place many years ago that gripped the nation, when a young girl murdered her parents with scissors. There was a big court case, lots of media attention – and now that attention is back as the journalists start sniffing around to do a follow up story knowing that the perpetrator has been released with a new identity. We get the story from the family point of view and the journalists too – and the moral dilemmas they face.

This was a tense read throughout! Parts of the story horrified me and really put a different outlook on the story for me and really showed how the past impacted on the lives those involved were now living. And it really shows how appearances can be very deceptive!!

There are shocking twists throughout and I loved the way the characters were allowed to get their personalities and viewpoints across as it really gave you a better understanding of what happened then, and how the events of that night never left them alone! Brilliant!

★★★★★

#BookReview STILL LIFE by SARAH WINMAN #audiobook


ABOUT THE BOOK


By the bestselling, prize-winning author of When God was a Rabbit and Tin Man, Still Life is a beautiful, big-hearted, richly tapestried story of people brought together by love, war, art, flood… and the ghost of E.M. Forster.

We just need to know what the heart’s capable of, Evelyn.
And do you know what it’s capable of?
I do. Grace and fury.

It’s 1944 and in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, as the Allied troops advance and bombs fall around them, two strangers meet and share an extraordinary evening together.

Ulysses Temper is a young British solider and one-time globe-maker, Evelyn Skinner is a sexagenarian art historian and possible spy. She has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins and relive her memories of the time she encountered EM Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid in a particular Florentine room with a view.

These two unlikely people find kindred spirits in each other and Evelyn’s talk of truth and beauty plants a seed in Ulysses mind that will shape the trajectory of his life – and of those who love him – for the next four decades.

Moving from the Tuscan Hills, to the smog of the East End and the piazzas of Florence, Still Life is a sweeping, mischievous, richly-peopled novel about beauty, love, family and fate.


PUBLISHED BY FOURTH ESTATE


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon

Blackwell’s

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book – exquisitely read by the author!! A must listen!!

Simply superb!!! The most wonderful story!! This was everything I love in a book! Endearing characters, amazing settings and historical backdrops! All blended to create a world you get sucked in to and you’re bereft when the book finishes! I want to be back in the East End. Back in Tuscany and Florence! And back with the most wonderful creation of characters that enchant you with their lives!

The start of the book is the meeting of a young English soldier in WW2 meeting with an elder art historian, and their connection is instantaneous. What follows is their lives over a number of years and how those war years stay strong in their minds. In both their lives their friends become family, and you are taken along for the ride through their private and professional lives, their loves and losses, their highs and lows…both in England and in Italy. They all endure so much throughout their lives but that sense of community and support never goes away and you really connect with the passion they all show – be it for art, their surroundings, or for one another.

It was all so spellbinding! I laughed ( a lot!), tears were shed and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Still can’t!! Glorious!!


★★★★★

#BookReview AND AWAY by BOB MORTIMER #Audiobook



ABOUT THE BOOK


Bob Mortimer’s life was trundling along happily until suddenly in 2015 he was diagnosed with a heart condition that required immediate surgery and forced him to cancel an upcoming tour. The episode unnerved him, but forced him to reflect on his life so far. This is the framework for his hilarious and moving memoir, And Away…

Although his childhood in Middlesbrough was normal on the surface, it was tinged by the loss of his dad, and his own various misadventures (now infamous from his appearances on Would I Lie to You?), from burning down the family home to starting a short-lived punk band called Dog Dirt. As an adult, he trained as a solicitor and moved to London. Though he was doing pretty well (the South London Press once crowned him ‘The Cockroach King’ after a successful verdict), a chance encounter in a pub in the 1980s with a young comedian going by the name Vic Reeves set his life on a different track. And now, six years on, the heart condition that once threatened his career has instead led to new success on BBC2’s Gone Fishing.

Warm, profound, and irrepressibly funny, And Away… is Bob’s full life story (with a few lies thrown in for good measure).


PUBLISHED BY GALLERY UK


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon

MY REVIEW


I listened to the audio version of this book.

How can you not love Bob Mortimer?! He’s one of those people who comes across as being a blooming nice bloke! And listening to him read his autobiography has been a wonderful delight!

Mixing the happier times with the sad, his life has been one of variety! He mixes the stories of the past in well alongside the time he finds himself in hospital about to undergo a heart bypass. From the shyness he suffered, to trying out a number of jobs along the way, to meeting up with Vic Reeves to set him on the path to TV fame, it was just fascinating to hear him looking back over his life and how it has all panned out!

Lots of laugh, and happy memories from his many TV shows, made for a very enjoyable listen!


★★★★★

#BookReview YOURS CHEERFULL by A.J.PEARCE



ABOUT THE BOOK


From the author of the “jaunty, heartbreaking winner” (People) and international bestseller Dear Mrs. Bird, a new charming and upliftingnovel set in London during World War II about a plucky aspiring journalist.

London, November 1941. Following the departure of the formidable Henrietta Bird from Woman’s Friend magazine, things are looking up for Emmeline Lake as she takes on the challenge of becoming a young wartime advice columnist. Her relationship with boyfriend Charles (now stationed back in the UK) is blossoming, while Emmy’s best friend Bunty, still reeling from the very worst of the Blitz, is bravely looking to the future. Together, the friends are determined to Make a Go of It.

When the Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit desperately needed female workers to the war effort, Emmy is thrilled to be asked to step up and help. But when she and Bunty meet a young woman who shows them the very real challenges that women war workers face, Emmy must tackle a life-changing dilemma between doing her duty and standing by her friends.

Every bit as funny, heartwarming, and touching as Dear Mrs. BirdYours Cheerfully is a celebration of friendship—a testament to the strength of women and the importance of lifting each other up, even in the most challenging times.


PUBLISHED BY PICADOR


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book.

Having loved Dear Mrs Bird, I was so pleased that the characters would be back for another installment, and it hasn’t let me down! It’s one of those ‘nice’ books that are a pleasure to read. You enjoy the characters so much that they become like friends as you watch over their progress.

This book is set a few months after DMB, and life at the magazine during the war continues to throw up new issues and challenges for the staff. And with it being a magazine for women, the focus on the role of women during the war is top priority, so that sets Emmy off to look at new ways of incorporating the lives of women as she forges on with her journalist career.

There’s still a snobby attitude by some towards the ‘Friend’ magazine, and that only just makes those working there more determined to do the best for their readers. The advice column is still a major success and it is giving women a voice. And with the magazine asked to help get women to help out with the war effort, I loved seeing how creative Emmy and the others were in finding ways to show the impact that women can have in a positive way.

The research and attention to detail was top notch once more, and really bought home the issues facing women at the time – dealing with worrying about their loved ones, whilst trying to carry on as normal and raise their families not knowing what was round the corner. And proving the power of coming together to raise awareness and fighting for their rights. Some things never seem to change… unfortunately!

Looking forward to book three already…. if there is to be more!!

★★★★

#BookReview UNSETTLED GROUND by CLAIRE FULLER #Audiobook

ABOUT THE BOOK


What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back?

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Their rented cottage is simultaneously their armour against the world and their sanctuary. Inside its walls they make music, in its garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.

But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. At risk of losing everything, Jeanie and her brother must fight to survive in an increasingly dangerous world as their mother’s secrets unfold, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.

This is a thrilling novel of resilience and hope, of love and survival, that explores with dazzling emotional power how the truths closest to us are often hardest to see.

PUBLISHED BY FIG TREE

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book.
This author has such a wonderful way with the characters she creates! This isn’t a joyful book to lift the spirits, but it’s a story of the impact of family secrets on characters who have been shielded from the world for so long that when their world is shattered they don’t really know how to process what is happening.


Twins Jeanie and Julius are in their 50’s and still live at home with their mother. She’s protected them from the ‘real world’ so when she passes, the reality hits them hard. Their mother never accepted help from others, so they are determined to do things their own way despite a lack of money and lack of real awareness of how the world operates.
We hear more of the story from the viewpoint of Jeanie, who seems to have a fairly optimistic approach to what life throws her way and hates the fuss of people in the village offering their help. She has her gardening to help her escape and that is her distraction from the unfolding events of being evicted from their home.


You couldn’t help but feel for the twins – they’d always been looked on as odd by the locals, but to them they were living a ‘normal’ family life, helping their mother, pulling together and just getting on with things – never making a fuss. The more they begin to see the world for what it’s really like, and the more the secrets about the past begin to reveal themselves the more shocking the story becomes!


The slow pace really allows you to get under the skin of these characters and adds to the impact of the revelations as they are discovered. The realisations of being lied to, the consequences that those lies have made…. just devastating! A beautifully written book.


★★★★

#BookReview THE LAST BOOKSHOP IN LONDON by MADELINE MARTIN #AudioBook



ABOUT THE BOOK


Inspired by the true World War II history of the few bookshops to survive the Blitz, The Last Bookshop in London is a timeless story of wartime loss, love and the enduring power of literature.

August 1939: London prepares for war as Hitler’s forces sweep across Europe. Grace Bennett has always dreamed of moving to the city, but the bunkers and blackout curtains that she finds on her arrival were not what she expected. And she certainly never imagined she’d wind up working at Primrose Hill, a dusty old bookshop nestled in the heart of London.

Through blackouts and air raids as the Blitz intensifies, Grace discovers the power of storytelling to unite her community in ways she never dreamed—a force that triumphs over even the darkest nights of the war.


PUBLISHED BY HANOVER SQUARE PRESS



MY REVIEW


I listened to the audio version of this book – brilliantly read!

This was a really endearing and often emotional read, set in WW2, and showed that importance of escaping into books at such a torrid time for the inhabitants of London. The refuge of books and a bookshop became so important to everyone, not least those managing to work in them.

Grace is the centre of the story and she moves to London in 1939 with her friend, as they want a more exciting life! An unfortunate time to move as things turned out! She’s eager to work in a bookshop and her dream becomes reality when her landlady helps her get a temporary post at a nearby bookshop. The owner is very set in his ways and reluctant to have someone else help out, but she soon proves invaluable as she starts to tidy and rearrange the store to attract new customers.

I loved that she wasn’t really into books when she started working there, but the enthusiasm of the visiting George, helped start her on her book journey and soon she’s devouring books in numbers and able to recommend books to customers who are looking for an escape from life in London during the war.

Seeing life go on amidst the war was really well captured – how life would appear normal one minute, and then they’re all in shelters the next. How people adapted to the horrors of bombing raids and coming to terms with death and destruction around them just proved how resilient humans can be, no matter how heartbreaking life could prove to be.

It’s a book of hope and I found it really touching that the characters became family to one another and supported one another.


★★★

#BookReview EDIE RICHTER IS NOT ALONE by REBECCA HANDLER #Audiobook

ABOUT THE BOOK


Funny, acerbic Edie Richter is moving with her husband from San Francisco to Perth, Australia. She leaves behind a sister and mother still mourning the recent death of her father. Before the move, Edie and her husband were content, if socially awkward―given her disinclination for small talk.

In Perth, Edie finds herself in a remarkably isolated yet verdant corner of the world, but Edie has a secret: she committed an unthinkable act that she can barely admit to herself. In some ways, the landscape mirrors her own complicated inner life, and rather than escaping her past, Edie is increasingly forced to confront what she’s done. Everybody, from the wildlife to her new neighbors, is keen to engage, and Edie does her best to start fresh. But her relationship with her husband is fraying, and the beautiful memories of her father are heartbreaking, and impossible to stop. Something, in the end, has to give.

Written in clean spare prose that is nevertheless brimming with the richness and wry humor of the protagonist’s observations and idiosyncrasies, Edie Richter is Not Alone is Rebecca Handler’s debut novel. It is both deeply shocking and entirely quotidian: a story about a woman’s visceral confrontation with the fundamental meaning of humanity.

MY REVIEW

I listened to this on audiobook.

This is one of those quiet, unassuming books that you find you can’t stop thinking about once you’ve finished the last page. It’s the story of Edie Richter who is dealing with a father who has dementia, and the stresses and strains that places on her and her family – and the feelings when he’s not around anymore and the consequences of her actions that can never leave her.

Edie is a very quiet character – seemingly just getting on with what life throws her way, while never showing what’s on the inside. We get inside her head so see the quandry and dilemmas she faces and that really comes to the fore when her and her husband move from America to Australia, and a different way of life and being so far from home allow her thoughts to fester and the strain begins to take its’ toll.

It’s a really touching book, full of humorous little sides, alongside the more heartbreaking and deeper emotional points that the reality of humanity shows us. The little observations that Edie encounters are perfectly portrayed and that inner battle with herself is just haunting to watch, as she finds it easier to open up to a stranger than her own family as she still puts on that brave face to most of the world.

The relationship with dad and daughter was extremely touching, and having had relations with dementia, I found myself totally understandin the ‘playing along’ with scenarios to keep the peace and not upset the sufferer. The unpredictability of the illness would make life very precarious for the family and watching people deal with it differently also added a different dimension.

A short read that really packs a punch!


★★★★

#BookReview I AM DUST by LOUISE BEECH #Audiobook

ABOUT THE BOOK


The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

PUBLISHED BY ORENDA


MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book… wow!

Intoxicating
Atmospheric
Moving
Dramatic
Unforgettable
Spine Tingling
Triumphant!!

I think that pretty much sums up my thoughts on this book! I always love the stories that Louise creates, and this one just gets under your skin from the get go. With 2 timelines, the past and present, we are based at a theatre and following the story of Chloe who is working there as an usher. She’s always wanted to be an actress but this is the closest she has got to her dream! The show Dust is set to return to the theatre, 20 years after the opening, which went down in infamy due to the murder of the main character. She’s thought to haunt the theatre still….

In Chloe’s past, she and 2 friends mucked around with a ouija board and had some chilling encounters that have played a big part in how their lives panned out. As the past starts to reconnect with the present, Chloe is facing some haunting challenges ahead that makes her think she might be losing her mind.

The 2 timelines worked so well with each other!! Having the backdrop of the Theatre alongside the tragedy of Dust from 20 years ago, it really sets the scene for so many questions and wondering just what happened back then and seeing how messing about with the ouija board had such an impact and why Chloe is key to it all.

I couldn’t stop listening to this once I’d started! I found myself picturing the theatre, imagining the terror and confusion of the characters as things played out, and hearing the voices of the past whispering their truths…….. loved it!!!


★★★★★

#BookReview GOOD SAMARITANS by WILL CARVER

ABOUT THE BOOK


One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.
But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…
And someone is watching…
Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.


PUBLISHED BY ORENDA BOOKS

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book.

If you are looking for a book to uplift you, fill your soul with cheer then this is NOT the book for you!! It is dark, moody and very, very bleak!! But if you’re after an absorbing story that leaves you shocked and chilled to the core! It explores characters who play on the insecurities of humans at their lowest point, with no remorse.

There is Ant who works for the Samaritans – looking for a way to get over the death of his close friend who had killed himself – and what better way than to listen to others who are just reaching out for someone to listen to them in their hour of need.

Then there is Seth, who seems bored with life and finds his only joy is to make random phone calls late at night saying he has nobody to talk to. His wife, Maeve, hears him downstairs and knows he speaks to strangers but says nothing to him that she knows about his secrets.

Hadley is a young woman who is struggling with life, so she reaches out to the samaritans – one night she talks to Seth though and instantly connects with him, so when she calls the samaritans again to talk to him, she gets Ant instead and he becomes intrigued by this Ant person she talks about as nobody who works there has that name.

And then there’s Detective Pace who is investigating some unexplained murders – brutal crimes that shock those who discover the bodies – and there are just no links or leads forthcoming.

What follows is a messed up, twisted exploration of human interaction. There is an awful lot of graphic sex scenes which I did find a little distracting and unnecessary, when there’s far more twisted goings on at work in the minds of some of these characters!!

I read this series back to front and this was my least favourite of the Pace books, but still a chilling and explosive start to a very twisted series!!

★★★★