Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Farm Land: Intelligence by G Lawrence


Farm Land: Intelligence by G Lawrence
Self published in the UK on the 1st October 2019.

Included in my Vegan Bookshop

How I got this book: 
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It is the future. The world is not as you remember it. 

The world has changed. Seas have risen, land is scarce, and thousands of species are gone, cast into obliteration. 

One young woman, born to darkness and silence, has become the leader of her people. 

Rising up in rebellion against those who would kill her and her people, Holt and her allies have seized the town, but the island is not yet theirs. Taking an army of newly freed people to march upon the Factory, where she was born, Holt endeavours to set her people free from their former masters, and to free herself from the pain of her past. 

Farm Land: Intelligence is Book Two in the Farm Land Trilogy by G. Lawrence.

It's been two and a half years since I read the first of G Lawrence's Farm Land trilogy, Farm Land: Sentience, so I was a little concerned on starting its sequel, Farm Land: Intelligence, that I would not remember enough of what had gone before. I need not have worried. Farm Land: Sentience was such a memorable novel that I was soon thoroughly engrossed in Holt's story again, feeling as if I had never been away. I think it would be advisable to read the series in order as, while Holt's drive for freedom in this book could be read as a standalone adventure, much of what makes these stories so gripping for me is the environment within which they are set. Farm Land: Intelligence does drop hints and reminders, but to fully appreciate the enthralling depth of Lawrence's created world I feel it's necessary to journey with Holt from the very beginning.

Farm Land: Intelligence cracks along at a faster pace so, while I appreciated its greater sense of energy, I did also miss the depth of world building and detail from the first book. Idiosyncratic characters such as Hathor seemed to feature less strongly too although I appreciated Lawrence's depictions of how psychologically damaged the rescued factory prisoners were. I wondered if these images would be as strong to non-vegans. I wasn't as astounded by Holt's inter-species interactions because I already understood them. The reactions of other characters were nicely portrayed though and I especially loved one minor character's awakening to the reality of the 'cows' he blithely ate. Lawrence has a real skill for illustrating the wrongs of our own world through the distorted lens of Farm Land. I hope these these thought-provoking moments are as shocking and eye-opening to all her readers!

Etsy Find!
by Zimbolic

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Books by Gemma Lawrence / Fantasy fiction / Books from England

Monday, 30 August 2021

The Triumphant Tails of Rescue Dogs: Punk's Plight by Dr. Hope A. Walter + #Giveaway

Join us for this tour from Aug 23 to Sep 10, 2021!

Book Details:

Book Title:  The Triumphant Tails of Rescue Dogs: Punk's Plight by Dr. Hope A. Walter, EdD
Category:  Children's Fiction (Ages 5-12),  38 pages
Genre: Children's Picture Book 
Publisher:  Mascot 
Release date:  Aug, 2021
Content Rating:  G.
Book Description:

This is not just another book about a dog! Meet Punk, an eight-year-old petite English Bulldog. Her life appears great right now, but it wasn't always that way. Join Punk as she recounts her story of neglect, her rescue and recovery, and her journey of learning to trust and heal again. Punk's Plight is meant to help educators, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and allies of children teach children about the difficult topic of neglect. Punk teaches that neglect may change you forever, but it does not have to stop you from living your best life.
Buy the Book:
Amazon.com ~ B&N 
Mascot Books
Meet the Author:

Hope A. Walter, Ed. D grew up in East Greenville, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Upper Perkiomen High School, Hope received her B.S. in Elementary Education at Kutztown University in 1996, her M.S. in Educational Psychology in 2002 from the University of Las Vegas in Nevada, and her Ed.D in Educational Leadership in 2018. Currently, Hope resides in McMinnville, Oregon with her husband of 25 years, her 3 boys, and her 2 dogs and 2 cats. She works as an adjunct professor at Linfield University and Oregon State University teaching mathematics education and educational psychology to future teachers.

Punk’s Plight was conceptualized after teaching future teachers about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Hope saw the connection between ACES and the journey of her own bulldog, Pumpkin, who was neglected, rescued, and spent the rest of her life learning how to trust and love again. Sadly, Pumpkin passed away peacefully in November 2020 after a long life with the Walter family. Hope wants Punk’s story to help children suffering from neglect by showing children they can recover, heal, and prosper despite experiencing neglect.

connect with the author: website ~facebook ~ instragram
Tour Schedule:

​Aug 23 - Splashes of Joy  - book review / author interview / giveaway
Aug 23 - Cover Lover Book Review - book review / guest post / giveaway
Aug 23 - Rockin' Book Reviews - book review / guest post / giveaway
Aug 24 - A Mama's Corner of the World - book review / giveaway
Aug 25 - Lisa Everyday Reads  - book spotlight / author interview 
Aug 26 - Pause for Tales - book review / giveaway
Aug 27 - Kam’s Place - book review 
Aug 30 - Literary Flits - book spotlight / giveaway
Aug 31 - The Momma Spot - book review / giveaway
Aug 31 - Cheryl's Book Nook - book review / giveaway
Sep 1 - icefairy's Treasure Chest - book review / giveaway
Sep 1 - Pick a Good Book - book review / author interview / giveaway
Sep 2 - I'd Rather Be At The Beach - book review / giveaway
Sep 2 - Bound 4 Escape - book review / giveaway
Sep 3 - Gina Rae Mitchell - book review / author interview / giveaway
Sep 6 - Westveil Publishing - book review / giveaway
Sep 6 - Sefina Hawke's Books - book review 
Sep 7 - Locks, Hooks and Books - book review / giveaway
Sep 7 - Lisa's Reading - book review / giveaway
Sep 8 - The Adventures of a Traveler's Wife - book review / giveaway
Sep 8 - The Phantom Paragrapher - book review / giveaway
Sep 9 - Jazzy Book Reviews - book review / guest post / giveaway
Sep 9 - She Just Loves Books - book review / giveaway
Sep 10 - The Bespectacled Mother - book review / guest post / giveaway
Enter the Giveaway:
Win a signed copy of TRIUMPHANT TAILS OF RESCUE DOGS: PUNK’S PLIGHT (USA only) (ends Sep 17)

TRIUMPHANT TAILS OF RESCUE DOGS: Punk's Plight Book Tour Giveaway



 

Etsy Find!
by Little Bear Crafts1

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Sunday, 29 August 2021

Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou


Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou
First published in French as Petit Piment by Edition Seuil in France in 2015. English language translation by Helen Stevenson published by Serpent's Tail on the 23rd March 2017.

How I got this book: 
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It's 1970, and in the People's Republic of Congo a Marxist-Leninist revolution is ushering in a new age. But at the orphanage on the outskirts of Pointe-Noire where young Moses has grown up, the revolution has only strengthened the reign of Dieudonné Ngoulmoumako, the orphanage's corrupt director. 

So Moses escapes to Pointe-Noire, where he finds a home first with a larcenous band of Congolese Merry Men and then among the Zairian prostitutes of the Trois-Cents quarter. But the authorities won't leave Moses in peace, and intervene to chase both the Merry Men and the Trois-Cents girls out of town. All this injustice pushes poor Moses over the edge. Could he really be the Robin Hood of the Congo? Or is he just losing his marbles?

Vivid, exuberant and heartwarming, Black Moses is a vital new extension of Alain Mabanckou's extraordinary, interlinked body of work dedicated to his native Congo, and confirms his status as one of our great storytellers.

I had Black Moses stored on my Kindle for well over a year after purchasing it and I have no idea why it took me so long to get around to reading this book. I'm now kicking myself for the delay! Moses himself, or Little Pepper as he later comes to be known, is a particularly engaging narrator who tells his story in such a humorous way that I often found myself distanced from the true darkness of this novel.

Little Pepper's childhood is scarred by repeated abandonment and delinquency which results in his suffering from delusions and mental health problems as an adult. The orphanage which houses him for fifteen years isn't a happy home for the children, with Little Pepper being one of the harsh Director's least favourite children. I loved Mabanckou's skill at illustrating the conditions for Little Pepper in that orphanage and, later, on the streets of Pointe-Noire so I could understand what he was running from, yet managing to keep Black Moses as an upbeat novel at the same time. Seeing events through Little Pepper's eyes doesn't shield us from knowing the truth, but his distinctive spin on the situations he faces allowed me to empathise with his outlook, even as it becomes obvious that his grip on reality is sliding. The circular structure of Black Moses made for a happy ending in a way. Although in writing this review I keep being assailed by the dark themes of Black Moses, I also remember as a heartwarming novel which I very much enjoyed.


Etsy Find!
by Metal YCK

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Books by Alain Mabanckou / Historical fiction / Books from Republic of the Congo

Friday, 27 August 2021

Because She Loves Me by Mark Edwards


Because She Loves Me by Mark Edwards
Published by Thomas & Mercer on the 2nd September 2014.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A gripping tale of jealousy and obsession, from the #1 bestselling author of The Magpies.

When Andrew Sumner meets beautiful, edgy Charlie, he is certain his run of bad luck has finally come to an end.

But as the two of them embark on an intense affair, Andrew wonders if his grasp on reality is slipping. Items go missing in his apartment. Somebody appears to be following him. And as misfortune and tragedy strike his friends and loved ones, Andrew is forced to confront the frightening truth...

Is Charlie really the girl of his dreams – or the woman of his nightmares?

I first blogged this review on Stephanie Jane in August 2015.

A friend recommended Because She Loves Me last year and I put it on my Amazon wishlist. Fortunately I decided to look through that list a week or so ago, on the very day that the novel was in the 99p Kindle Daily Deals. I keep thinking I should probably sign up for the Kindle Daily Deals email, but I can't read fast enough to get through all the books I already have!

A creepy thriller, Because She Loves Me is fluidly written with only a few inconsequential typos. The story examines themes of jealousy and possessiveness asking where to draw the line between normal behaviours and obsession. It is an easy read which would be ideal for taking on holiday. I wasn't convinced by the central relationship between Andrew and Charlie, and there were too many jumps in the plotline for my liking. Some of the characters are more strongly created than others. Tilly is good, but Andrew seemed overly credulous and naive. Oh, and I really didn't like the ending which suddenly swerved in and lacked depth!


Etsy Find!
by Art Made By Ash

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Books by Mark Edwards / Thrillers / Books from England

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Man's War Against Nature (Green Ideas) by Rachel Carson


Man's War Against Nature (Green Ideas) by Rachel Carson
Published by Penguin on the 26th August 2021.

Included in my Vegan Bookshop

How I got this book: 
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In twenty short books, Penguin brings you the classics of the environmental movement.

With the precision of a scientist and the simplicity of a fable, Rachel Carson reveals how man-made pesticides have destroyed wildlife, creating a world of polluted streams and silent songbirds.

Over the past 75 years, a new canon has emerged. As life on Earth has become irrevocably altered by humans, visionary thinkers around the world have raised their voices to defend the planet, and affirm our place at the heart of its restoration. Their words have endured through the decades, becoming the classics of a movement. Together, these books show the richness of environmental thought, and point the way to a fairer, saner, greener world.

Penguin's 'Green Ideas' series is a new publication of twenty short books each written by an eminent environmental thinker and focusing on different aspects of our planet's environmental crisis. I am grateful to Penguin for sending me review copies of five of these works and, on the strength of what I have read so far, I look forward to completing the set myself.

Rachel Carson's famous call to action book, Silent Spring, which was first published in the 1960s, has been on my TBR list for a few years now and I will get around to reading it one day but, in the meantime, the excerpt published as part of Penguin's Green Ideas series under the title Man's War Against Nature has given me lots to mull over. In this little book Carson talks about the disastrous effects of our widespread dousing of chemical insecticides and herbicides across agricultural land and urban centres.

At the time her words were written, DDT was the controversial new marvel - the Monsanto Roundup of its day - and Carson relates incidents of its use destroying natural food chains far beyond what it was originally intended to kill. She also brings other chemicals to our attention, explaining how, although they might be declared harmless by the companies trying to sell such products, their long-term effects are likely to be seriously detrimental to the health of the planet - including human health. Particularly chilling were her comments about the potential for increased cancer cases decades in the future. We now are decades into that future and seeing exactly that result.

Man's War Against Nature was a particularly apt book for me to read immediately after another Green Ideas publication, The Dragonfly Will Be the Messiah by Masanobu Fukuoka. Positioned opposite each other, Fukuoka's book discussed utilising nature's own methods for successful agricultural cultivation while Carson demonstrates the damage done by our arrogantly assuming we know better and can destroy nature at will. 


Etsy Find!
by ireneagh

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Books by Rachel Carson / Science books / Books from America

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Espoused by Jean Marie Davis + #Giveaway



Join Us for This Tour from August 16 to September 3!
 
Book Details:
 
Book Title:  Espoused by Jean Marie Davis
Category:  Adult Fiction 18+
GenreContemporary Fiction, Literary, Humor
Publisher:  Wren Park Publishing, 264 pages
Release date: July 2021
Content Rating:  PG for the subject matter of adult relationships/marriage/divorce, but there is no bad language or explicit sex scenes.
 
Book Description:

Espouse: (v.) to take in marriage; to make a marriage permanent by court decree; the court-approved process by which couples may stay together beyond the legal 15-year term.

In the contemporary world, fifteen years is considered the legal life cycle of a marriage. If a couple wants to stay together (married), they must hire a lawyer and petition the court to become Espoused.

After 14 years of marriage, Sara and Thomas Healy are still in love. Their decision to go to court to be espoused permanently is a source of great embarrassment for their children. Avery is ready for the benefits of uncoupling, and Sam really doesn’t need the social stigma of parents who decide to stay together, on top of everything else. Lame! Their espouse attorney, Gwen Stevens, has other problems. The judge for the Healy case is her nemesis, Carly Abraham, also known as “the Wicked Witch of the Bench.” Judge Abraham was previously married to Gwen’s husband Dennis, from whom she uncoupled after the allotted 15 years. She hates espouse lawyers on principle, and seems to have an extra dose of dislike for Gwen personally.

While the Healys struggle through the espouse experience—trial separation, uncouple counseling, and ongoing financial burdens—Gwen has to deal with the judge and her own struggles at home. In this fight for love, who has the answers?


Buy the Book
Amazon.com / Amazon UK


Meet the Author:

Jean Marie Davis was born and raised in Huntington, New York. After graduating from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, she moved back to Long Island where she worked in the Marketing Research industry for over 30 years. She currently lives in Centerport, New York close to her daughter and son.

Connect with the Author:  ​Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook  ~ Goodreads
 
Tour Schedule:

Aug 16 – I'm All About Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Aug 16 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Aug 17 – Twilight Reader – book review
Aug 18 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Aug 19 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review / giveaway
Aug 19 - Viviana MacKade – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Aug 20 – Lalitha's World of Serenity – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Aug 23 – Sadie's Spotlight – book spotlight / giveaway
Aug 24 - Kam's Place – book review
Aug 25 – Based on a True Story – book review
Aug 25 - Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Aug 26 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book review / author interview / giveaway
Aug 27 – Lisa's Reading – book spotlight / giveaway
Aug 30 - Celticlady's Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Aug 31 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Aug 31 – RebeccaReviewedIt – book review / giveaway
Sep 1 – Splashes of Joy – book review / guest post / giveaway
Sep 1 - Books for Books – book spotlight
Sep 2 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
Sep 3 – Adventurous Jessy – book review / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway!  

Win a signed copy of Espoused and a $25 Amazon gift card. Open to the USA only from the 25th August to the 10th September.

ESPOUSED Book Tour Giveaway

 


 

 

Etsy Find!
by The Metal Foundry

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Books by Jean Marie Davis / Romance fiction / Books from America

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

In My Mother's Footsteps: A Palestinian Refugee Returns Home by Mona Hajjar Halaby


In My Mother's Footsteps: A Palestinian Refugee Returns Home by Mona Hajjar Halaby
Published by Thread Books on the 5th August 2021.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


‘Refugees are like seeds that scatter in the wind, and land in different soils that become their reluctant homes’ my mother once told me. As a small child, I looked up at my mother and clutched her hand. The puffiness of her palm reminded me of a loaf of warm pita bread, and when she laced her fingers into mine like a pretzel, I felt safe. I would have walked with her to the ends of the earth.

When Mona moved from California to Ramallah to teach conflict resolution in a school for a year, she kept a journal. Within its pages, she wrote her impressions of her homeland, a place she had only experienced through her mother’s memories.

As she settled into her teaching role, getting to know her students and the challenges they faced living in a militarized, occupied town, Mona also embarked on a personal pilgrimage to find her mother’s home in Jerusalem.

Mona had dreamed of being guided by her mother down the old souqs, and the leafy streets of her neighborhood, listening to the muezzin’s call for prayer and the medley of church bells. But after fifty-nine years of exile, it was Mona’s mother who held her daughter’s hand as they visited Jerusalem together, walking the narrow cobblestone alleys of the Old City. Their roles were reversed. Mona had become her Mama’s legs and her memory – and the one to tell her story going forward.

In My Mother’s Footsteps is a moving and heart-rending journey of a daughter discovering her roots and recovering her mother’s beloved past. It’s also an intimate and tender account of daily life for Palestinians as never seen before. For fans of The Bookseller of Kabul and The Beekeeper of Aleppo.

In My Mother's Footsteps is a poignant memoir of loss and survival, of a people systematically ousted from their homes and of how those people's children and grandchildren are still traumatised by the way in which they were - and still are - treated in their occupied homeland. This book gave me an authentic first-person insight into the oppression I read about fictionally in Occupied by Joss Sheldon and My Name Is Adam by Elias Khoury. Through her own memories, family anecdotes and letters from her mother, Mona Hajjar Halaby emotionally describes how the 1948 Nakba, the violent Israeli cleansing of Palestinians from their homes, directly resulted in her family's sixty year exile. It was particularly saddening for me to understand how the open, tolerant and multicultural Palestine of the 1940s and earlier has been warped into impoverished, isolated communities that still remain and to understand how much ancient Arabic history and culture was both destroyed and denied by the people who now live on that land and, in many cases, in the very same houses from which Palestinians were ousted.

I felt Halaby related particularly well her internal anguish at being overlooked and unseen within her own homeland. I was frequently surprised at her polite restraint when faced with people who blithely believed official propaganda about how Palestine had been prior to its being split in 1948 (it certainly wasn't a wasteland!), and with the daily grind of obstructive bureaucracy and ridiculous rules for Palestinians today. Her rage is palpable, but this book is a balanced account, not a tirade. I was wearily ashamed to spot too that historic high-handed British interference was the root of the present day impasse. Is there anywhere in the world we didn't march into and wreck?

I appreciated the varied aspects of Halaby's Palestine experience that she chose to share with readers. In My Mother's Footsteps comprises an intensely personal family history, but we are also given an insider's view of the year she spent working within a Palestinian school. Halaby's specialisation in conflict resolution would seem to have been tailor-made for this opportunity, but her realisation of just how negatively affected the children are by the extreme violence they have witnessed made for uncomfortable reading.

I think there is dawning awareness globally of the plight of Palestinian people and a sense that the international community needs to step up. The events of the Nakba should be widely known and understood beyond the Palestinian diaspora and I think In My Mother's Footsteps is a valuable resource for spreading the word. I was both impressed and moved by Halaby's memoir. 


Etsy Find!
by Boho Flea Market

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Books by Mona Hajjar Halaby / Biography and memoir / Books from Palestine

Monday, 23 August 2021

Seventeen Butterflies by Anna Katmore + #Giveaway + Excerpt

Seventeen Butterflies
Anna Katmore
Publication date: August 23rd 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

The embarrassment of being the only unkissed girl in high school is something Sandy Cardington refuses to accept. The first kiss project is her foolproof plan to finally get rid of the status at her 17th birthday party, while her parents are out of town.

With several kissable boys on her guest list, this should be a walk in the park. But she didn’t count on her older brother returning from college and throwing a wrench into her plans. To make matters even more complicated, he has a friend in tow, and the cute hockey player stirs unexpected butterflies in her stomach every time their paths cross.

While Sandy moves heaven and earth to make her party and project come true, it looks as if Thane Griffyn has his own plans to teach her the real meaning of a first kiss…

A compelling, sweet high school romance, perfect for fans of Kelly Oram, L A Cotton, Cassie Mae, and Erin Watt.

Goodreads / Amazon.com / Amazon UK

EXCERPT:

“Who. Are. You?”

The words fly out of my mouth even before the front door falls shut behind me. There’s a stranger in my house—built like a demi-god, demonic dark hair, and with eyes like an angel. He comes out of the bathroom as if he’d just taken a break after parking himself in my home for a cozy film marathon. Hello?

The intruder with the white t-shirt wipes his still damp hands on the back of his washed-out jeans, not even half as confused as I am, obviously. “My name’s Thane,” he says. Then he smiles, and the sun is rising a second time today at half past six in the evening. What the hell?

He cocks his head. “And yours?”

My backpack slides from my right shoulder, pulling one side of my unzipped dark blue hoodie with it, and hits the tiled hallway floor with a thud so loud the neighbors could hear. That’s from the five new books I just borrowed from the library. All hardcovers. “Huh?”

Dimples and an amused look make the young man’s eyes scrunch a little tighter. “Your name?”

Jeez, burglars don’t usually smirk and engage you in conversations, do they? Then again, we’ve never been robbed before, so what do I know?

With a jerk of my shoulder, I push my hoodie back in place and then grab my brother’s old hockey stick from behind the chest in the foyer. We’ve been keeping it there since the day I watched my first murder mystery as a kid, and today I swing it for the first time.

“I’m Sandra Michelle Cardington. Cardington as in the name written on the mailbox outside this house. My house.” Need I say, “I live here!” My fingers clenching around the wood, I move one step closer to the housebreaker. “You don’t.”

“Whoa.” His chuckle runs wild into nice boyish laughter, and he lifts his hands in surrender.

Not gonna help, cutie. I’ll knock your lights out.

As I scowl like a wild dog, he keeps his body rigid, but his star-blue eyes move to the right as he shouts over his shoulder, “You didn’t say you’re living with Harley Quinn, Cam.”

The next instant, he moves forward so swiftly I totally miss the moment. With just one hand, he brings my arms down then casts a friendly look straight into my eyes. “Let me show you how this works. This isn’t a baseball bat, you know. You use it a little closer to the ground.”

Author Bio:

"I'm writing stories because I can't breathe without."

Anna Katmore lives in an enchanting world of her own, which allows only those to enter who are ready to hand in logic and rationalism. But beware, if you dare to step through this door, you'll never want to leave again...

Disney is her attitude towards life, and if she could, she'd save the world from itself. Her patronus is a wolf, her wand the broken twig of an apple tree, 13 inches long with a unicorn hair core. Glitter on her shoes is a must, though she doesn't care for Cinderella's glass slippers. Too risky that something might break...

For more information, please visit www.annakatmore.com

Website / Goodreads / Facebook


GIVEAWAY!

Win a $10 Amazon gift card or 1 of 4 ebook copies of Seventeen Butterflies. Open internationally until the 2nd September.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Etsy Find!
by Signature Cakery

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Books by Anna Katmore / Romance fiction / Books from America

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Ten Thousand Shells and Counting by Nadija Mujagic


Ten Thousand Shells and Counting by Nadija Mujagic
Published by Pioneer Publishing on the 29th August 2020.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Sarajevo 1992: a page-turning witness account of teenage life in a city at war that will immerse you in a world where survival is the only thought.

At the age of fourteen, Nadija watches from her window as tanks roll into the airport across the street. It’s the beginning of the Serbian siege of the Bosnian capital. When a sniper kills their next door neighbor, Nadija and her family are forced to flee. Where can they find safe refuge? How does this young girl cope during the terrifying and seemingly never ending war? The true story of a teenager who learns to survive under the brutal war-sculpted lifestyle and losses under siege.

I recently requested a review copy of Nadija Mujagic's newest memoir, Immigrated, from NetGalley, not realising it was her second book, so was grateful when her publisher got in touch asking if I would like to read Ten Thousand Shells and Counting first. (My Immigrated review will follow next month!) Mujagic writes eloquently and candidly about her life under siege in Sarajevo during the 1990s war, describing in detail how her family lost their home and how they managed to survive those awful years. What really came across to me throughout Ten Thousand Shells and Counting is just how young Mujagic was at the time and, therefore, how different her teenagerhood was from that of kids in other countries or even from young Sarajevans just a few months previously. I was reminded of Yusra Mardini's memoir, Butterfly, recounting her experiences in Syria's war, by how these two young women approached and coped with such extreme circumstances.

The Bosnian War was particularly traumatic for Sarajevans, I think, because of how swiftly neighbours were turned against each other in what had previously been a peacefully mixed city. Mujagic talks about this, particularly her family's struggle to understand how so many people could have blithely believed politicians' propaganda and lies over the evidence of their own experience. She also amusingly recounts her attempts to just be a teenager, staying out late and smoking too much. It was poignant though that whereas many young women might rebel by daringly nicking a cheap eyeliner from Boots (or so I'm told!), Mujagic climbed a gate in order to purloin vegetables to feed her family.

Ten Thousand Shells and Counting is a good read. Engaging and honest in its portrayals of civilians in the midst of a baffling war, I felt it gave me an authentic insight into just what Mujagic and her extended family had to endure, both during the war years themselves and also, after peace was declared, in the times that followed when these people had to come to terms with everything that had been done and the traumatised memories that remained.


Etsy Find!
by The Night Press

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Books by Nadija Mujagic / Biography and memoir / Books from Bosnia and Herzegovina

Friday, 20 August 2021

The Dragonfly Will Be the Messiah (Green Ideas) by Masanobu Fukuoka


The Dragonfly Will Be the Messiah (Green Ideas) by Masanobu Fukuoka
Published by Penguin on the 26th August 2021.

Included in my Vegan Bookshop

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In twenty short books, Penguin brings you the classics of the environmental movement.

In The Dragonfly Will Be the Messiah, the celebrated pioneer of the 'do-nothing' farming method reflects on global ecological trauma and argues that we must radically transform our understanding of both nature and ourselves in order to have any chance of healing.

Over the past 75 years, a new canon has emerged. As life on Earth has become irrevocably altered by humans, visionary thinkers around the world have raised their voices to defend the planet, and affirm our place at the heart of its restoration. Their words have endured through the decades, becoming the classics of a movement. Together, these books show the richness of environmental thought, and point the way to a fairer, saner, greener world.

Penguin's 'Green Ideas' series is a new publication of twenty short books each written by an eminent environmental thinker and focusing on different aspects of our planet's environmental crisis. I am grateful to Penguin for sending me review copies of five of these works and, on the strength of what I have read so far, I look forward to completing the set myself.

I didn't find The Dragonfly Will Be the Messiah as easy to get into as the previous two Green Ideas books I read, The Democracy Of Species by Robin Wall Kimmerer and This Can't Be Happening by George Monbiot. Fukuoka seemed to jump between ideas too frequently so this book felt bitty. That said though, it still packs in lots of intriguing food for thought. Through it I have newly discovered Fukuoka's 'do nothing farming' system, elements of which reminded my of the Native American 'Three Sisters' agricultural method. The aim is to work with nature rather than to attempt to impose upon it - an idea which seems blindingly obvious when Fukuoka explains how his farm works, yet is completely at odds with most Western farming practices.

The Dragonfly Will Be the Messiah is an excerpt from the longer work, Sowing Seeds In The Desert, which I am now curious to read and am also keen to find a copy of Fukuoka's even earlier work, The One Straw Revolution, which gets a couple of mentions. I think despite its 1970s publication, will be quite the eye-opening read. I love how Penguin's Green Ideas series is bringing to my attention amazing thinkers who might otherwise have passed me by.


Etsy Find!
by Obsessivo Art

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Books by Masanobu Fukuoka / Philosophical books / Books from Japan

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Creation (Why Odin Drinks #1) by Bjorn Larssen


Creation (Why Odin Drinks #1) by Bjorn Larssen
Published by josephtailor on the 4th August 2021.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook via Bjorn Larssen's Ko-Fi Page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In the beginning there was confusion.

Ever woken up being a God, but not knowing how to God properly? Your brothers keep creating mosquitoes and celery and other, more threatening weapons. What can your ultimate answer be – the one that will make you THE All-Father and them, at best, the All-Those-Uncles-We-All-Have-But-Don’t-Talk-About?

“FML! The answer’s why I drink!” – Odin

Perfect for fans of Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, and Mrs Brown’s Boys.

I'd been reading snippets from Bjorn Larssen's new Norse mythology novella, Creation, on his Ko-Fi page for a few weeks prior to the book's launch there so I already knew I would chuckle at it's humour. Creation is very different in its tone to Larssen's historical fiction novel, Storytellers, but it shares his astute observations and understanding of human nature - or godly nature as it should be in the case of Creation. I loved following Odin's baffling first few days of life, the world springing into being around him as his two brothers vye to create beauty and horror respectively. There's a wonderfully dry sense of humour throughout this novella so I would caution against reading it on public transport - everyone will glare grumpily at you if you can't stop giggling. I just wish Creation had been a longer work. I do hope Odin doesn't take to long on book 2!

Etsy Find!
by Norseman Arts

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Books by Bjorn Larssen / Mythological fiction / Books from Poland

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

The Man Who Wasn't There by Henrietta Hamilton


The Man Who Wasn't There by Henrietta Hamilton
Believed written in 1956. Published by Agora Books on the 12th August 2021.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Man Who Wasn’t There is the first of the recently discovered Henrietta Hamilton mysteries to be published and is part of the Sally and Johnny Heldar mystery series.

People who get mixed up in murder cases must expect to be bothered.

And so it is for amateur sleuths Sally and Johnny Heldar late one evening. It seems cousin Tim has found himself in a bit of a pickle: his fiancée, Prue, has reneged on their engagement after becoming a suspect in the murder of her unlikeable employer.

Desperate to clear her name and win her back, Tim pleads with the Heldars to help clear Prue’s name. But Sally and Johnny find themselves perplexed by the Willow Walk murder. Filled with blackmail and plagiarism, wartime treachery and lying witnesses, the crime-solving duo have their work cut out for them.

But will they be able to clear Prue’s name… or is she more wrapped up in the case than Tim realised?

The Man Who Wasn't There by Henrietta Hamilton is a newly discovered and previously unpublished Sally and Johnny Heldar mystery believed written in 1956, but not available for crime fiction fans until now. Having enjoyed Hamilton's first novel in the Sally and Johnny Heldar series, I was keen to give this one a try too. Unfortunately the story is primarily told through a series of interviews so I didn't feel that any of the characters had the opportunities to particularly well define themselves. The book felt a bit flat on that account, however I did enjoy the intricacies of Johnny's investigation into the case. Sally is too sidelined by domestic duties to take much part. I was pleasantly surprised by Hamilton's ultimate revelation, having completely failed to draw the correct conclusion myself.

Hamilton does follow Christie's example of hinging her plot on A Foreigner which was especially curious here as half the characters seemed to be French, yet only one of them gained the Foreigner moniker - and the only person to speak with a phonetically written accent was the suitably common charlady. The Man Who Wasn't There is certainly a book of its time, but none the less engaging for that and I look forward to reading more of this series as Agora publish them for us.


Etsy Find!
by UKAmobile

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Books by Henrietta Hamilton / Crime fiction / Books from Scotland

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Now I Found You by Mila Oliver + #Giveaway + Excerpt

Now I Found You
Mila Oliver
Publication date: July 20th 2021
Genres: Adult, Suspense, Thriller

Seven years ago, Kate Hartfield’s little sister disappeared.

An ordinary summer day of fun at the lake turned into a nightmare when young Emily Hartfield suddenly could not be found. When badly battered body parts were discovered three days later, the investigation concluded that they were Emily’s and the case was closed as an accidental drowning.

Now Kate has returned to her hometown in the Catskills for the first time since her sister’s death, for a work retreat. While at her boss’s lake house, she briefly spies a familiar face.

It’s Emily.

She’s all grown up, but Kate knows her sister’s face better than anyone. The sighting reignites the doubts Kate has always had, and forces her to revisit all the mysterious circumstances that surrounded that day. As she desperately tries to track down the girl she saw at the lake house, Kate discovers shocking secrets from the past, confronts her own guilt from that day, and becomes obsessed with uncovering the answer to one question.

What really happened to Emily?

Goodreads / Amazon.com / Amazon UK

EXCERPT:

Back at her apartment, Kate peeled off her clothes and threw them in a corner before crawling into her twin sized bed.  She stared up at the ceiling, her eyes painting it with lush green trees and soft wood trails.  It had been six years since she left, but she could still smell the clean mountain air.  She could still feel the leaves slapping against her arms as she and her cross-country team ran through the woods.  She could still hear the soft fireflies zipping through the quiet of the night, and taste the fresh raindrops that would fall softly onto her face.  And she could still see her little sister, in her bright yellow swimsuit, smiling at her from the shallow end of the lake, her face partially blocked by the blinding glow of the setting sun.

Kate remembered the first time her memory of Emily had started to fade a little.  It was a little over two years after Emily died.  Up until then, every detail of Emily always lingered at the periphery of her brain.  She didn’t even need to conjure it up, it was just always there.  Every freckle on her face, the sparkle of her bright blue eyes, the softness of her lush blond hair.  The smell of the vanilla sugar body splash she wore every day.

But then suddenly, on an otherwise ordinary day, Kate woke up and, for a few seconds, Emily’s face was fuzzy.  Her memory did not have its usual depth and clarity.  Kate had trouble feeling Emily’s silky hair through her fingers.

The memories returned in full force a few moments later, but the shock of it had engulfed her like a tidal wave, pulling her down into a deep depression.  It was the first time Kate realized that her memories of Emily would not always be as strong and clear as they originally were.  That over time memories would take a new form.  They would become more like looking back at old photographs or home movies, rather than the very real feeling of Emily standing right there in front of her.

Kate reached for the small container on her nightstand and shook out two pills.  Every so often, she found that alcohol was not enough to blur her memories and lull her peacefully to sleep.  The pills snagged against the back of her throat as she swallowed them dry and waited listlessly for darkness to fall.


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Etsy Find!
by The Sassy Treasures

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Books by Mila Oliver / Thrillers / Books from America