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


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 LIVING WITH TREES by ROBIN WALTER @LittleToller @Robin_Trees


Living with Trees is a powerful call for more trees in our lives. Drawing on the many ways that people around the UK are redefining their relationship with trees and woods in the twenty-first century – in healthcare, education, ecology, art, architecture, agroforestry, conservation – it demonstrates how caring for trees and woods enhances local biodiversity, community cohesion and well-being.

Trees and woods offer great potential for rebuilding our wider relationship with nature, reinforcing local identity and sustaining wildlife. We need more trees and woods in our lives, to lock up carbon, to mitigate flooding, to help shade our towns and cities and bring shelter, wildlife and beauty to places.

Living with Trees is a cornucopia of practical information, good examples and new ideas that will inspire, guide and encourage people to reconnect with the trees and woods in their community, so we can all discover how to value, celebrate and protect our arboreal neighbours.

Foreword by Dame Judi Dench

Introduction by Richard Mabey

PUBLISHED BY Little Toller Books


Publisher Website




As a self confessed tree-hugger, this was the perfect read for me! And it’s a book that should be available to all schools and all governments and councils as the author takes an in depth look at the important role that trees play in our day to day living. WE seem to be at a point in the world where people are too happy to cut trees down, without giving a thought to the future and it’s more important now than ever that this kind of action needs stopping. What is it with this era being obsessed with flat landscapes and even more concrete??

Like the author, the moment I hear chainsaws in the neighbourhood it fills me with dread and it was wonderful to read his experiences of what trees mean to him as he explores a variety of topics such as the enviromental impact, the health benefits, the history, the diseases threatening different tree varieties, and the consequences of the actions of humans – all through the medium of well written paragraphs, brilliant illustrations and stunning photographs. This wide range of sources really made reading this book so much more powerful and it’s a book that you can dip in and out of to learn about different things everytime you pick it up.

During Lockdown I was extremely grateful to discover local ancient woodlands for an escape and somewhere to walk for exercise, and it scares me that so many of these areas are being destroyed, and this is explored in the book and shows how attitudes have changed over the years to the role that trees play, for the local community especially.

There’s also a look at how we can all help play our part in reversing the damage through recycling, local schemes and rewilding areas.



#BookReview LANDFILL by TIM DEE @LittleToller #NonFictionNovember


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

PUBLISHED BY Little Toller


Publisher Website

Amazon UK



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.

#nonfictionnovember Something of his Art by Horatio Clare #bookreview @LittleToller

About the book

In the depths of winter in 1705 the young Johann Sebastian Bach, then unknown as a composer and earning a modest living as a teacher and organist, set off on a long journey by foot to Lübeck to visit the composer Dieterich Buxterhude, a distance of more than 250 miles. This journey and its destination were a pivotal point in the life of arguably the greatest composer the world has yet seen. Lübeck was Bach’s moment, when a young teacher with a reputation for intolerance of his pupils’ failings began his journey to become the master of the Baroque

Published by Little Toller Books

Author on Twitter – @HoratioClare

Purchase Links



Little Toller Books


I found this to be the perfect Sunday afternoon read – whilst listening to Bach! I have to admit to knowing very little about him, or classical music in general other than listening to Classic FM to chill out, before I picked this book up but the way the author tied in his walk following in the footsteps of Bach, who made the journey to Lubeck in 1705, alongside his observations of the wildlife and changes in the scenery over the years was totally absorbing and has made me want to learn more about the composer.

The author went on this walk for a series that Radio 3 were putting together and this book helps you enjoy the journey with him – retracing the steps that the young Bach took in 1705 when he was disenchanted with the restraints placed on him when he was playing at his local church, so he set off to visit another composer in Lubeck to help him learn more. His family were all musicians but were happy to play by the rules – Bach wasn’t!!

It gives time to look back at his childhood and the things he faced during his life – the good and the bad!

The author also adds so much to the journey with his insights on the wildlife of Germany and how the sights have changed since the journey of Bach and some staggering statistics on the loss of wildlife in the area. The author also shares why Bach means so much to him in relation to his battle against depression and to get that background makes the journey even more poignant.

A truly fascinating read.

My thanks to the publishers for the copy they sent my way in exchange for a fair and honest review.