#BookReview THE SCREAMING SKY by CHARLES FOSTER



ABOUT THE BOOK


Swifts live in perpetual summer. They inhabit the air like nothing on the planet. They watched the continents shuffle to their present places and the mammals evolve.

They are not ours, though we like to claim them. They defy all our categories, and present no passports as they surf the winds across the worlds. They sleep in the high thin air – their wings controlled by an alert half-brain.

This is a radical new look at the Common Swift – a numerous but profoundly un-common bird – by Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast.

Foster follows the swifts throughout the world, manically, lyrically, yet scientifically. The poetry of swifts is in their facts, and this book, in Little Toller’s monograph series, draws deeply on the latest extraordinary discoveries.


PUBLISHED BY  Little Toller Books

MY REVIEW


This is an ode to swifts! And what a bird they are! You can’t help but fall in love with them after reading this book, from the stunningly beautiful cover, to the lyrical words and prose inside. This is a beautiful book that follows the travels of the swifts and looks into all aspects of their lives, alongside the thoughts and travels of the author as he watches them along the way.

Charles Foster admits he’s obssessed with swifts and that comes across loud and clear throughout this book! He goes into staggering detail as he covers the staggering miles flown by these birds each year, and he’s there to witness them at different stages of their journey as they are creatures of habit and there is still no definitive answer as to how these birds know where to go, or when! But every year they set out on the journey from Africa to Oxford (his home) and it’s the highlight of his year when he watches them return once more.

This is a book that mixes the history, geography and biology surrounding these amazing creatures and I just kept finding myself staring at the skies at regular intervals whilst reading in the hope that maybe I’d spot a swift in the sky overhead! Not spotted one yet this year but hopefully soon!

It also looks at how humans have impacted on the birds, in relation to nesting sites and the use of pesticides on the insects they feed on and you just wonder how this will impact on them in the years to come unless we stop some of our ways.

It’s a beautifully illustrated book and full of so many wonderful observations on these birds and their ways and you just can’t help but be impressed by them! I will keep looking up and hoping to share some of the authors’ joy when they’ve made their way back to UK shores for the Summer!

★★★★★

My thanks to the team at Little Toller Books for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview LANDFILL by TIM DEE @LittleToller #NonFictionNovember

ABOUT THE BOOK

A ground breaking new book from the author of The Running Sky and Four Fields, Landfill confronts our waste-making species through the extraordinary and fascinating life of gulls, and the people who watch them. Original, compelling and unflinching, it is the nature book for our times.


We think of gulls as pests. They steal our chips and make newspaper headlines, these animals, often derided as “bin chickens” are complex neighbours, making the most of our throw away species. In the Anthropocene, they are a surprising success story. They’ve become intertwined with us, precisely because we are so good at making rubbish. Landfill is a book that avoids nostalgia and eulogy for nature and instead kicks beneath the littered surface to find stranger and more inspiring truths.
Landfill is the compelling story of how we have worked the rest of the living world, learned about it, named and catalogued it, colonised and planted it, and filled it with our rubbis
h.

PUBLISHED BY Little Toller

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website

Amazon UK

whsmith

MY REVIEW

If you don’t become a ‘gull’ fan after reading this book then I think there’s something wrong with you! They’re a bird I’ve taken for granted, especially living so close to the estuary and the large landfill site in Pitsea where a lot of this book is set (and I never knew such gull action even went on there!), but in this stunning little book, the author really gets behind the ‘trashy’ image we all get of gulls – that they’re aggressive and ugly and serve no real purpose other than nicking your food if you’re at the seaside, or attacking small animals in gardens, thanks to silly season reports in newspapers! The more that he studies these birds in various sites, the more he begins to appreciate them and realise just how much human behaviour has impacted on their habits. Hence the link with rubbish and why so many can be spotted at landfill sites across the county.


The author is a birdwatcher, and his enthusiasm and passion for the subject is infectious as he follows the birds and talks to the people who follow these birds and are known as ‘gullers’. They’ve become fascinated by the species and their behaviour and will travel long distances for glimpses of rare breeds but also to note changes in their numbers. And due to the changes in the way we dispose of food waste especially now, the numbers aren’t seen at landfill sites anymore so they’re having to change where they get their food, and heading away from the seaside and into towns.


I really enjoyed the mix of the way the author told the story of the gull – he used his own knowledge alongside where they’re mentioned in poetry, literature and films, and it made for an absorbing read and I never thought I’d find the subjects of gulls and rubbish so fascinating! The information and anecdotes were really well balanced and made for an enthralling read.


I’m really glad to have been educated about these birds that I think we all take for granted and largely ignore, so will definitely be paying more attention to the local gull population!


★★★★


My thanks to the publisher, Little Toller, for a copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview Effin’ Birds by Aaron Reynolds

ABOUT THE BOOK

Have you ever looked a bird dead in the eye and wondered what it was thinking?

With Effin Birds, the most eagerly anticipated new volume in the noble avocation of bird identification, you can venture into nature with confidence. This farcical field guide will help you identify over 200 birds, but more importantly, for the first time in history, it will also help you understand what these birds are thinking:

  • The vainglorious grebe is acutely aware of its own magnificence.
  • The hipster pelican thinks the world is a sh*tbarge.
  • The overbearing heron wishes you better luck next time, f*cknuts.
  • The counsellor swallow wants you to maybe try not being a d*ckhead.


Alongside beautiful, scientifically accurate illustrations and a whole lot of swearing is incisive commentary on modern life and the world we, as humans, must navigate. Or maybe it s just some pictures of effin birds, okay?

published by UNBOUND

publication date – 17th October 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

hive.co.uk  £10.99

whsmith  £10.49

MY REVIEW

I may be a little biased as I was one of the 1,800 who pledged to get this book made via Unbound, but I loved this book! It’s flipping funny, very sweary, beautifully illustrated and not for those who are easily offended!

But if you’re looking for a book to escape the misery of the world we live in nowadays , it’s a total blast! And I won’t ever listen to birds chattering away in the garden in the same way again, knowing they are probably saying many of the phrases in this book! Rude birds!!

From the wise and insightful to the downright rude, it’s perfect escapism, hilarious and I loved every single effin’ page of it! More please!!!

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#BookReview The Long Spring by Laurence Rose #nonfiction

About the book

Exploring the wildlife, places, traditions, culture, and personalities associated with spring throughout Europe, and introducing readers to cultural, scientific, and historical research and his recollections of 30 years of continental travel, Laurence Rose paints a vivid picture of one of the world’s most significant and beautiful natural phenomena: spring.

Laurence begins his journey in the first week of February, arriving in southern Spain with the storks that herald the beginning of Europe’s spring on San Blas Day. Swallows, cranes and, later on, wild swans are his constant companions as he journeys his way north through Spain, France, and the UK, eventually crossing over to Sweden, Finland, and Norway before finally reaching the Arctic Circle four months later.

While on the road, Laurence follows live data from satellites tracking birds as well as other indicators of spring. Throughout his travels, he meets people living closely with nature. He also encounters new behaviours, such as cranes wintering in France, and explores how they link to climate change.

The further north he travels, the more unpredictable the events of spring become. At the end of his journey, Laurence reflects on what he has learned, as the long Arctic days stretch out into 24 hours of daylight. 

Published by Bloomsbury Natural History

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk  £12.99

waterstones  £16.99

Bloomsbury  £15.29

MY REVIEW

All the I’s for this one – Informative, Interesting and Insightful! – and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time immersed in this book as the Author followed the journey of many birds from Africa to Europe, sharing his thoughts on what he sees and what he learns along the way, and really gives you a greater understanding of the amazing journey these birds endure each year as they work their way through Africa, Spain, France, UK, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

With the Author visiting each country along the way you get a real sense of the conditions they face through each leg and also how the landscapes have changed over the years as he has visited many of the countries over a number of years through his own interest and work he has been involved with for the RSPB. He gives a great background to the history of places he visits, along with damaging accounts of how enviromental disasters over the years have afffected different species and their habitats, and it is abundantly clear just how passionate he is about birds, wildlife and the planet in general.

I loved hearing mentions of the birds that I’m lucky to get to see when they pass through the UK, such as the Egrets and Geese in Leigh On Sea, and Blackcaps in my back garden and that really helped me connect more with this book. He also says how important that ringing and satellite tracking has been in helping over the years in plotting the birds and their journeys and how that never used to happen.

His journey allows him to meet numerous ‘birdy’ folk along the way and it’s inspiring to know that there are so many people out there who are doing all they can to help protect many species, especially in a world nowadays where a lot of young people spend less time outdoors and don’t seem able to connect to the world of nature as maybe we did in the past. 

It’s written in a very relentless fashion, in diary form, sharing details from each stop along the way of birds he sees and other forms of wildlife too. I would have loved to see photos or more illustrations but am thankful for internet searches to illustrate for me certain bird species so I could get to enjoy some bird watching of my own, and it has definitely made me aware of different species that I can now hopefully look out for. A really enlightening read for all nature lovers.

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