#BookReview BRAVING THE WILDERNESS by BRENE BROWN



ABOUT THE BOOK


“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” Social scientist Bren� Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives–experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.

Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.” Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And that path cuts right through the wilderness. Brown writes, “The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.”


PUBLISHED BY RANDOM HOUSE

MY REVIEW

I think this is one of those books that if you find yourself reading it then you will instantly connect with the message that the author is sharing. That lack of connection, the feeling of being alone and not knowing how to deal with the world we all find ourselves living in!

Through her own experiences, she writes with compassion about finding yourself feeling so many negative things and how we can all switch our focus and start believing in ourselves. It explores the fact that society is so fractured nowadays that we’re not programmed anymore to interact – we’re all in our own little worlds and those shared experiences are rarer, unless it goes viral via social media! And if you’re feeling alone, it’s reassuring to know that so many of us feel the same nowadays.

This is definitely a book that gets you thinking and makes you think differently about standing alone – embrace it, be yourself and make peace with it!


★★★★

#BookReview PRACTICALLY PAGAN – An Alternative Guide to Gardening by Elen Sentier #Pagan #nonfiction



ABOUT THE BOOK


Practically Pagan – An Alternative Guide to Gardening takes the spooky out of alternative and keeps the magic. Elen Sentier brings together, and expands on, recent scientific discoveries, and shows how close they are to the old ways that were labelled as superstition in the 20th century. Sentier’s writing is accessible and opens up the down-to-earth practicalism of pagans as people of the land to all, for that’s what the word pagan means, ‘of the land’. Sentier doesn’t preach or proselytise folk to become pagan, but brings to light how you’ve been thinking this way for years. Elen Sentier is a best-selling author of British native shamanism. She also writes paranormal mystery-suspense novels. She’s a wilderness woman, born on Dartmoor and grew up on Exmoor in a family who had practiced the old British magic for hundreds of years. Her books include Pagan Portals – Merlin: Once and Future Wizard (Moon Books, 2016), and Gardening with the Moon & Stars (Moon Books, 2015)


PUBLISHED BY MOON BOOKS


PUBLICATION DATE – 29TH OCTOBER 2021


PRE-ORDER LINK


Amazon

MY REVIEW


I found this an enjoyable and fascinating way to find out more about pagans and a different way to approach gardening. The author uses her own experiences for taking you through each season – 8 seasons in the pagan calendar, not 4! – and sharing lists of different jobs to do at that time, along with plants looking their best or ready for planting at that time.

I really found the pagan side of the book enlightening and has now got me interested in finding out more about pagans as I found myself connecting with many of her ways! She explains about pagan holidays and celebrations, alongside meditations and rituals that you can easily follow.

But at the heart of the book is a year of gardening tips and hints, and learning more about the plants she uses in her garden that can also be used in cooking, rituals etc. I really liked her approach to the world and gardening – she let her garden evolve to suit her needs at different times instead of being very rigid with her planning and structure.

I like the mix of family anecdotes throughout, and am sure this book is best read in stages, especially to correlate with the time of the year it relates to, which will help you garden well. It looks at different flowers and vegetables for each season, along with meanings of them for medicinal purposes so I’ve learnt a little more about certain plants in my garden, and ones I want to add in the future!

★★★★

#BookReview REBUGGING THE PLANET by VICKI HIRD @chelseagreen #nonfiction #environment #wildlife



ABOUT THE BOOK


This is a lovely little book that could and should have a big impact. ..Let’s all get rebugging right away! Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Meet the intelligent insects, marvellous minibeasts and inspirational invertebrates that help shape our planet – and discover how you can help them help us by rebugging your attitude today!

Remember when there were bugs on your windscreen? Ever wonder where they went? We need to act now if we are to help them survive. Chris Packham, Isabella Tree and George Monbiot are but a few voices championing the rewilding of our world. In Rebugging the Planet, Vicki Hird adds her voice to this chorus, explaining how our planet is headed towards ‘insectageddon’ with a rate of insect extinction eight times faster than that of mammals or birds. Rebugging the Planet gives us crucial information to help all those essential creepy-crawlies flourish once more.

Hird passionately demonstrates how insects and invertebrates are the cornerstone of our global ecosystem. They pollinate plants, feed birds, support and defend our food crops and clean our water systems. They are also beautiful, inventive and economically invaluable – bees, for example, contribute more to the UK economy than the Queen!

Rebugging the Planet shows us small changes we can make to have a big impact on our littlest allies:
Learn how to rebug parks, schools, pavements, verges and other green spaces.Leave your garden to grow a little wild and plant weedkiller-free, wildlife-friendly plants.Take your kids on a minibeast treasure hunt and learn how to build bug palaces.Make bug-friendly choices with your food and support good farming practices. Begin to understand how reducing inequality and poverty will help nature and wildlife too – it’s all connected.

So do your part and start rebugging today! The bees, ants, earthworms, butterflies, beetles, grasshoppers, ladybirds, snails and slugs will thank you – and our planet will thank you too.


PUBLISHED BY CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING
PUBLICATION DATE – 16TH SEPTEMBER 2021


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PRE-ORDER LINKS


Waterstones

Blackwell’s


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MY REVIEW


With over 40% of insect species at risk of extinction the time has come for us to pull together and help the little critters out! And this book is the perfect guide and call to arms for us all to get rebugging and all play a part in doing our bit!

The author speaks with tremendous passion for all things creepy crawly, and has been an environmental campaigner for a number of years and is now sharing her thoughts on just how serious the situation is for bugs and humans. Without them we’re screwed!! And she explains why throughout the book which really helps you understand how they all help in their own little ways.

It touches on the staggeringly scary way humans have impacted on the wellbeing of insects and the environment. BUT we have a chance of turning it round and this book has a wealth of ideas and hints on how we can change our attitudes towards insects and instead of reaching for the pest control or screaming ‘eeewwww’ at them, we begin to encourage them and work with them in our spaces – be it a garden, windowbox, park, school grounds…let your children play with worms! Teach them to love them and not fear them!

I’m happy to say that I am a great fan of wildlife in my garden so do all I can to encourage as much in as possible, and this book has introduced me to new ideas and ways of rebugging and rewilding my garden so I’m excited to put some of them into action and has made me more determined to do all I can to keep my garden as wildlife friendly as possible!

The author also shares ways of using less harmful products indoors as well – it all adds up to helping the environment and I found it to be a really enlightening read and will be dipping back in and out to try out more ideas and learn more about these amazing little creatures! There’s lots of information to think about and act on!!

The perfect book for those already interested in wildlife and the environment, or those just setting out to learn some practical ways to help out!


★★★★★


My thanks to the team at Chelsea Green Publishing for the advance reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

🦋🦋🦋

#BookReview THE GHOST IN THE GARDEN by JUDE PIESSE #20BooksOfSummer2021



This is book 20 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021

ABOUT THE BOOK


The forgotten garden which inspired Charles Darwin becomes the modern-day setting for an exploration of memory, family, and the legacy of genius.

Darwin never stopped thinking about the garden at his childhood home, The Mount. It was here, under the tutelage of his green-fingered mother and sisters, that he first examined the reproductive life of flowers, collected birds’ eggs, and began the experiments that would lead to his theory of evolution.

A century and a half later, with one small child in tow and another on the way, Jude Piesse finds herself living next door to this secret garden. Two acres of the original site remain, now resplendent with overgrown ashes, sycamores, and hollies. The carefully tended beds and circular flower garden are buried under suburban housing; the hothouses where the Darwins and their skilful gardeners grew pineapples are long gone. Walking the pathways with her new baby, Piesse starts to discover what impact the garden and the people who tended it had on Darwin’s work.

Blending biography, nature writing, and memoir, The Ghost in the Garden traces the origins of the theory of evolution and uncovers the lost histories that inspired it, ultimately evoking the interconnectedness of all things.


PUBLISHED BY SCRIBE UK

MY REVIEW


I found this to be a refreshing and illuminating memoir, combining the fascinating life of Charles Darwin and his family alongside that of the author who finds herself living nearby to his childhood garden at The Mount in Shrewsbury. She’d often walk past the property and the land that is now run partly by The Shropshire Wildlife Trust and she becomes intrigued by the impact that the garden may have had on his outlook and interest into the natural world that he took on to bigger things as he grew up!

It really brings to life the upbringing that Charles had – the dynamics of his family and the areas they lived in – and used letters and diaries from the family so well to bring them to life, so to speak! We get a real insight into the goings on at the time, and the role that those around him had on his interest being piqued on all matters to do with animals and the environment they were living in, and what could be learned.

Alongside his story, we see into the life of the author as she brings up her children to be just as interested in wildlife, encouraging them to explore with her on walks in the local area. She becomes obsessed with learning all she can about him and the use of letters from his sisters was a great way of seeing how they kept him in touch with matters from home while he was off travelling. Having lost his mother at a young age, it seemed his siblings became even closer, especially with his father being so busy.

It also touches on the ongoing work to preserve his legacy and keep sharing his work with people in the area, and how a humble garden can continue to teach us about the past and how we can imagine the area being used by those who lived there and what impact they have on shaping a young mind, such as Darwins’, and how they continue to do so.

I learnt so much from this book and loved the use of diagrams, photos and drawings to illustrate and get a real feel of the area, especially for those who haven’t been to visit!


★★★★★


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I’ve done it!! Completed another wonderful 20 Books of Summer challenge!! It took me a while to get going this year for some reason, and I didn’t think I’d make it at one point as I was reading lots of things that weren’t on my list!! Very helpful!! BUT I stuck to my game plan of attacking the Netgalley shelf and the 20 books I named at the start were the ones I managed to read!  Now if only I hadn’t added to the Netgalley shelf with yet more books over this Summer….. will I ever learn?!!


My thanks as always to Cathy at 746 Books who started all this 20 Books of Summer business off! I always love to take part and is it wrong of me to already begin counting down the days to the 2022 version??!!!!


HAPPY READING!!

#BlogTour CLOTHES by ALEXANDRA SHULMAN #BookReview #Clothes @AShulman2 @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours



Delighted to be sharing my review today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous CLOTHES.AND OTHER THINGS THAT MATTER by ALEXANDRA SHULMAN.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  RandomThingsTours for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!


ABOUT THE BOOK

In Clothes… and other things that matter, Alexandra Shulman delves into her own life to look at the emotions, ambitions, expectations and meanings behind the way we dress. From the bra to the bikini, the trench coat to trainers, the slip dress to the suit, she explores their meaning in women’s lives and how our wardrobes intersect with the larger world – the career ladder, motherhood, romance, sexual identity, ambition, failure, body image and celebrity. By turns funny, refreshingly self-deprecating and often very moving, this startlingly honest memoir from the ex Editor of British Vogue will encourage women of all ages to consider what their own clothes mean to them, the life they live in them and the stories they tell. Shulman explores the person our clothes allow us to be – and sometimes the person they turn us into.


PUBLISHED BY CASSELL


PRAISE FOR CLOTHES… AND OTHER THINGS THAT MATTER


Book of the Week – OBSERVER

‘A must-read memoir for even those beyond the fashion set.’ — EVENING STANDARD

 Best books of the year – FINANCIAL TIMES

 Best memoirs of the year – DAILY MAIL 

‘Self-deprecating and stylish, this is sure to become a classic.’ — VANITY FAIR 

‘Warm, thought-provoking and honest.’ – VICTORIA HISLOP 

‘What do clothes really mean? If there’s anyone who can answer that question, it’s former British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman. The little black dress, the white shirt, the bikini – they all get their moment in the spotlight, as Shulman considers their role in her life and in ours – prompting funny, forceful meditations on topics ranging from celebrity and body image to love and failure. When we choose what to wear, she says, we’re not only revealing our personal histories, we’re also shaping our futures. Because, while they might not exactly make us, clothes do help determine where life takes us. Revealing and self-deprecating, the book glints with shrewd social observation and intriguing snippets of fashion history.’ – PORTER 

‘Such a great read – so open and honest and funny. I devoured it in one sitting.’ — KIRSTY WARK

‘Clever, emotionally intelligent, revelling in style without making us yearn to shop.’ — THE TIMES

‘Scintillating reading.’ — THE SPECTATOR 

‘Thoughtful, wry and candid.’ — MAIL ON SUNDAY‘

In three dozen tidy, perceptive essays, the former editor-in-chief of British Vogue explores the semiotics of clothes and her relationship with bikinis and boiler suits,white shirts and Chanel jackets (“the epitome of status dress for the successful magazine executive,” she writes). A handy read for those wanting a deeper understanding of modern dress.’ – FINANCIAL TIMES

 ‘Alexandra Shulman’s style is unaffected, immediate and hilariously dry. She’s brilliant at observing everyday feelings in a joy-sparking turn of phrase – but better still she has made me feel so much better about owning too many clothes. Instead of doing a ruthless edit I find myself curating my own private exhibition – inside my wardrobe hang not just clothes, not just stories but my own autobiography.’ – HELENA BONHAM CARTER 

‘Shulman weaves memory, history and anecdote with observations about working life. An early mentor tells her that no matter how few the words “you have to tell a story”, and this advice makes for compelling reading.’ – TLS

 Best summer reading – GUARDIAN

 ‘Shulman’s wardrobe might be larger than many of our own, but it holds the same mix of memories, online splurges, the hits and misses as well as the vortex we all get sucked into while shopping for a new life-changing item. I’m also with her on the quest to find the right pink lipstick, which thus far has proved elusive.’ – THE GLOSS 

‘Beautiful, nostalgic, wry, clever company.’ – SOPHIE DAHL

 ‘It’s funny, honest and in typical Shulman style mixes high and low effortlessly. We don’t know many people who can write about bras, Donald Tusk and Madeleine Albright all in the same sentence.’ — A LITTLE BIRD

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandra Shulman is a journalist, consultant and commentator. She was Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue from 1992–2017, the magazine’s longest serving editor. She has been Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and is an honorary fellow of the University of the Arts. She won 2017 Periodical Publisher’s Association Editor’s Editor Award and The Drapers Award 2017 for Outstanding Contribution to Fashion. She is Vice President of The London Library and was awarded the CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List. She has a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday, is a contributor to other national newspapers and has written two novels: Can We Still Be Friends? (2012) and The Parrots (2015). Inside Vogue: The Diary of My 100th Year was published by Fig Tree in October 2016 and sold more than 30,000 copies in hardback and paperback (Nielsen TCM). Alexandra was featured in a three-part primetime BBC series on Vogue’s centenary year in 2016.

MY REVIEW

I expected this to be a stylish read, and I haven’t been disappointed!  It’s a wonderful mix of looking back over a life devoted to fashion, and all those memories that just a single item of clothing can evoke in us all!

 I found myself smiling so many times as Alexandra looks back at different items of clothing over the years that have meant so much to her, and the world of fashion from the humble little black dress, to the white shirt, t-shirts, handbags and bras!  There’s so much that made me think back to my own life through clothes I’ve worn – the successes and failures! – and I loved just how relatable her style of writing was!  

She uses items of clothing to represent how different items define us at different stages in our lives, and the emotional bonds we build up over an item that carries memories of our own, and that of those closest to us.    And how 2020 has made us look at clothing and fashion so differently!!  Will we ever be able to break out of our comfort clothing style now?!

I loved the glimpses into her working life and found that part really interesting to see her journey progressed and how clothes became even more important to her to make a statement and the responsibility she had when working in fashion.  She shares many stories of famous people she has worked with and met, and how even she finds clothes shopping can be a wonderful experience or a completely deflating one!!

This is one of those books that I think will connect with so many of us! It has brought back so many memories to me while reading and how styles have changed over the years – some good, some bad!! – and I just found it to be such a treat to read and highly recommend it!

★★★★★

#BookReview BOMBSHELL: THE NIGHT BOBBY KENNEDY KILLED MARILYN MONROE by MIKE ROTHMILLER,DOUGLAS THOMPSON @AdLibPublishers



ABOUT THE BOOK


Bombshell: The Night Bobby Kennedy Murdered Marilyn Monroe tells the essential truth of the death of Marilyn Monroe at the hand of Robert Kennedy, Attorney General of the United States. Drawing on unseen police files, Marilyn Monroe’s private diary, and first-hand testimony, this book proves that Robert Kennedy was directly responsible for her death. It details Marilyn Monroe’s tumultuous personal involvement with him and his brother, President John Kennedy. The new evidence and testimony is provided by Mike Rothmiller who, as an agent of the Organized Crime Intelligence Division (OCID) of the LAPD, had direct personal access to hundreds of secret files on exactly what happened at Marilyn Monroe’s Californian home on August 5, 1962. With his training and specialist knowledge, Rothmiller used that unseen information to get to the heart of the matter, to the people who were there the night Marilyn Monroe died—two of whom played major roles in the cover-up—and the wider conspiracy to protect the Kennedys at all costs. There will be those with doubts, but to them, the lawman—who has advised the White House, the Pentagon, and international crime agencies—says the printed, forensic, and oral evidence are totally convincing. He insists: “If I presented my evidence in any court of law, I’d get a conviction.” Includes eight pages of black and white photographs.


PUBLISHED BY AD LIB PUBLISHERS

PURCHASE LINK

AMAZON

MY REVIEW

As a long time fan of Marilyn Monroe, I couldn’t pick this book up quick enough! And the contents haven’t disappointed! Wow!!  Talk about corruption everywhere and it has left me even more convinced that her death was murder and not a ‘suicide’ as originally framed. 

The authors of this book had access to a number of hugely confidential police files, and the evidence is damming!  Not only does it set out the events of that night clearly, through eye witness accounts along with crime scene evidence, it also looks closely at the diary entries by Marilyn herself and looks back at over her life, the highs and lows, and also looks at the goings on at LAPD over the years, alongside links to the mafia and those at the highest levels of Government.  It seems that most celebrities and their houses were being bugged at the time and files kept on their behaviour…. just in case they were needed to be used against them!

And in Marilyn they had a prime target with her associations to so many in Hollywood and Washington.  It really gives a damning look at the corruption at every level – from the Kennedys’, to the police chiefs, the mob…… sleaze central!! I was staggered at the revelations and the research was comprehensive and exhaustive as no stone seemed to be unturned in wondering what DID happen that night, and why so many were so keen to cover up the reality and frame the scene to draw away attention from her close relationships.

There were so many  red flags with this case at the time, and ever since. Telephone records going missing, issues with the autopsy not being thorough enough and evidence going missing, dodgy behaviour of people at the scene that night and why it took so long to call someone… the list goes on and this book does a wonderful job of putting the evidence all together and painting a very worrying picture of just how widespread the corruption was, and how this global superstar was seemingly ‘too close for comfort’ with those wanting more power and they wanted her out of the way.

Brilliantly researched and put together. One of those books that stun and shock, along make you feel very sad for this young woman who was seemingly used over all her career, even by many big names who seemed to have no compassion or care for her.  It has made me think very differently about many ‘star’ names from the past and look at Hollywood in a very different light with the goings on documented throughout the book.  A powerful book!!

★★★★★

#20BooksOfSummer2021 MY MESS IS A BIT OF A LIFE by GEORGIA PRITCHETT #BookReview



This is Book 7 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.



ABOUT THE BOOK


Multi-award-winning television writer and producer Georgia Pritchett knows a thing or two about anxiety. From worrying about the monsters under her bed as a child (Were they comfy enough?), to embracing womanhood, (One way of knowing you have crossed from girlhood to womanhood is that men stop furtively masturbating at you from bushes and start shouting things at you from cars. It’s a beautiful moment) worry has accompanied her at every turn.

This memoir is a joyful reflection on just how to live – and sometimes even thrive (sometimes not) – with anxiety.


PUBLISHED BY FABER & FABER


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon


MY REVIEW


This is book 7 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.

This was such a fun, insightful read, chronicling the authors’ struggle with anxiety and being unable to speak her issues, she found it easier to write it all down and what we get to read is a wonderful mix of all those weird and wonderful things that make our lives stressful, joyful, memorable and everything in between!

I could totally relate to the seemingly silly, little irrational things that can plague your brain and the events in your life that stand out as memorable for all the right or wrong reasons!

This isn’t a self help book, it’s not full of tips to help you deal with anxiety, but it is a great little behind the scenes look at someone else dealing with anxiety, whilst having a very successful career – I loved all the behind the scenes showbiz stuff – many of it was hilarious, some of it was horrifying! – and she also looks back at school, growing up and the responsibilities forced on you in adulthood!

I enjoyed a glimpse into her world, and how the anxiety often felt suffocating to her but she seemed to get respite by writing her thoughts down – that might be a lesson for us all to take on!


★★★★

#20BooksOfSummer2021 FINDING THE MOTHERTREE by SUZANNE SIMARD #BookReview #Nonfiction



This is book 6 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021

ABOUT THE BOOK


From the world’s leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest–a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery.

Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron’s Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

Simard writes–in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways–how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies–and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.

Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them–embarking on a journey of discovery, and struggle. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey–of love and loss, of observation and change, of risk and reward, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world, and, in writing of her own life, we come to see the true connectedness of the Mother Tree that nurtures the forest in the profound ways that families and human societies do, and how these inseparable bonds enable all our survival.

PUBLISHED BY KNOPF

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

This is Book 6 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.

This was not what I expected it to be! And in a good way! I love a book about trees and this is definitely about trees, but also about a woman and her family who have grown up around trees. And that connection with trees carries through into her adult life and gives her that inquisitive mind to want to go beyond just the basics of tree care, and to explore the science and work out the links to disease and fungi.

Alongside the real sense of family you get from this book, you also begin to understand nature a little more and it was nice to become more involved in the science of trees and see how the author pushed herself, almost to the point of obsession, with her work and quest for answers. She’s not afraid of hard work and getting her hands dirty, and I enjoyed reading about her research, amidst the backdrop of her own personal life, not all of which was positive.

It’s almost as if the trees gave her life in the distraction they provided while dealing with sadder times, and her determination and patience is to be admired!!

★★★★

#BlogTour DEEPER INTO THE WOOD by RUTH PAVEY #DeeperIntoTheWood #RuthPavey @Duckbooks @RandomTTours #BookReview



Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the wonderful DEEPER INTO THE WOOD by RUTH PAVEY.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all and sharing my review with you today!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Following the success of Ruth Pavey’s debut, A Wood of One’s Own, which introduced readers to her four acres of verdant land in the Somerset Levels, Ruth reflects on the fate of her wood. Beneath the canopy of trees she spent 20 years planting, she sees nature’s forces changing rapidly with the diversity of species dwindling. When the rabbits suddenly vanish, she knew it was time to take a closer look at the undergrowth and what she could do to preserve the legacy of the wood for generations to come.

Interwoven with Ruth’s candid descriptions of the practical challenges of land management are forays into the Levels’ local history, as well as thoughtful portraits of its inhabitants both past and present. Accompanied throughout by the author’s evocative hand-drawn illustrations, Deeper into the Wood is a lyrical and inspiring story; a potent reminder of nature’s delicate balance and our responsibility toward its preservation.

PUBLISHED BY DUCKWORTH

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ruth Pavey is the Gardening Correspondent for the Ham & High ( Hampstead and Highgate Express). She attended Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art , and a selection if her illustrated works appear in her books. Pavey has reviewed books and written features for publications including the Observer, Guardian, NewStatestman, and even enjoyed forty plus years of teaching in Inner London, she still live there surrounded by plants, books, friend, a cello and three cats, whilst making frequent trips to the wood in Somerset.


MY REVIEW


It would be a dream of mine to own my own little woodland – a little piece of paradise! – and Ruth Pavey made it happen in Somerset.  And what you gain from this book is an insight to the love affair that she shares with this patch of land that she has watched over and tended and looks deeper into the changes she has noticed over the years and the constant battles she is facing in a world that doesn’t seem to value caring for the land, and the wildlife that lives on it and how she is doing her bit to do all she can to welcome wildlife back.


I loved the simplicity of this book in the message her writing shares – we can all do our bit to help the planet, but we just have to care and I love how switched on the author is to the slightest change in the goings on in her wood.  The disappearance of the rabbits, the impact that changes in the nearby farms and towns have on the area and how important these patches of woodland are in the bigger scheme of things. How we need more custodians of woodland areas to take the time out and proactive in reversing negative changes.


This was such a lovely escape of a read – you could almost hear the birds singing and smell the fresh air as each aspect – the good and bad! –  of her woodland journey is looked into.  I know I’ve become so thankful to local woodland areas for an escape, especially over the past 18 months, and reading this book has helped me become even more aware of the positive impact they have on both the environment and the people using them.


★★★★ 

#BookReview MADHOUSE AT THE END OF THE EARTH by JULIAN SANCTON #nonfiction



ABOUT THE BOOK


The harrowing true survival story of an early polar expedition that went terribly awry–with the ship frozen in ice and the crew trapped inside for the entire sunless, Antarctic winter–in the tradition of David Grann, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Hampton Sides

“Deserves a place beside Alfred Lansing’s immortal classic Endurance.”—Nathaniel Philbrick
“A riveting tale, splendidly told . . . Madhouse at the End of the Earth has it all.”—Stacy Schiff
“Julian Sancton has deftly rescued this forgotten saga from the deep freeze.”—Hampton Sides

In August 1897, thirty-one-year-old commandant Adrien de Gerlache set sail aboard the Belgica, fueled by a profound sense of adventure and dreams of claiming glory for his native Belgium. His destination was the uncharted end of the earth: the icy continent of Antarctica. But the commandant’s plans for a three-year expedition to reach the magnetic South Pole would be thwarted at each turn. Before the ship cleared South America, it had already broken down, run aground, and lost several key crew members, leaving behind a group with dubious experience for such an ambitious voyage.

As the ship progressed into the freezing waters, the captain had to make a choice: turn back and spare his men the potentially devastating consequences of getting stuck, or recklessly sail deeper into the ice pack to chase glory and fame. He sailed on, and the Belgica soon found itself stuck fast in the icy hold of the Antarctic continent. The ship would winter on the ice. Plagued by a mysterious, debilitating illness and besieged by the monotony of their days, the crew deteriorated as their confinement in suffocating close quarters wore on and their hope of escape dwindled daily. As winter approached the days grew shorter, until the sun set on the magnificent polar landscape one last time, condemning the ship’s occupants to months of quarantine in an endless night.

Forged in fire and carved by ice, Antarctica proved a formidable opponent for the motley crew. Among them was Frederick Cook, an American doctor–part scientist, part adventurer, part P.T. Barnum–whose unorthodox methods delivered many of the crew from the gruesome symptoms of scurvy and whose relentless optimism buoyed their spirits through the long, dark polar night. Then there was Roald Amundsen, a young Norwegian who went on to become a storied polar explorer in his own right, exceeding de Gerlache’s wildest dreams by leading the first expeditions to traverse the Northwest Passage and reach the South Pole.

Drawing on firsthand accounts of the Belgica’s voyage and exclusive access to the ship’s logbook, Sancton tells the tale of its long, isolated imprisonment on the ice–a story that NASA studies today in its research on isolation for missions to Mars. In vivid, hair-raising prose, Sancton recounts the myriad forces that drove these men right up to and over the brink of madness.


PUBLISHED BY CROWN


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MY REVIEW


Brilliant!! I knew nothing of The Belgica but this book transports you on board to share the crew in their excited expectancy of the expedition ahead, followed by the misery, despair and fear of when it all went spectacularly wrong and they all feared for their lives.

In 1897, a crew was put together by Adrien de Gerlache to explore the Antarctica – he wanted to be first to find the magnetic South Pole. But from the beginning they were plagued with disaster and you sensed even then that maybe this expedition was cursed. But his determination to achieve the impossible kept it all on track, alongside the mix of characters he employed to join him.

And the characters we are introduced to are brilliantly profiled by the author. We get to hear of their individual stories, their childhoods, their pasts and what drives a certain kind of person to want to put themselves in a position to explore unchartered territory.

This book draws on the diaries and journals of those on board, and the levels of detail really make you think you’re on the ship with them. Even when all around them is going wrong, you get the sense that they wouldn’t be defeated, although that is partly down to the single mindedness of de Gerlache who often put them all in danger just to make his dreams come true.

From the sickness, to the madness brought on by being stranded in the ice for months with no sign of rescue or hope, this is an amazing look at the lengths humans are driven to in the pursuit of personal achievement.

What made this even more amazing for me was the use of photos, taken by the Doctor, Cook, who really helped on so many levels with the crew in keeping them from suffering too much, while keeping his own mental health in check. The isolation and months of darkness really took their toll on many of the staff and he was quick to pick up on changes needed in their food and stimulation needed to keep minds focussed.

Their desperate plans to try and free themselves from the ice made for some harrowing reading and the fact that their lives were reliant on ‘nature’ was the ultimate test of strength both mentally and physically for them and I just couldn’t believe the courage/stupidity/braveness of those on board!!

An epic read about an epic exploration that went badly wrong!!


★★★★★