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text 2018-02-16 18:51
Landmarks - Robert Macfarlane,Roy McMillan,Penguin Books Ltd

Why did I read it?  When first published, several people recommended this book to me, and it was recommended more than once by some.  I imagine those recommendations came because of my like of the natural world, and of language.  I have no idea why, but I put it on my 'wish list' and then my 'to be read</i>' pile, but never actually started it; these decisions I now regret.

What's it about? With the Oxford Children's Dictionary removing words relating to nature, e.g. acorn, in favour of technological terms, Robert Macfarlane explores the United Kingdom in search of those words to describe, and connect us to the natural world.  Connection.  That is the key to this book.  In a time, and place which seems to breed disconnection, this book seeks to reunite us with a deep love for landscape, and language.

What did I like? Every single word, and most especially the glossaries.  Rich in words and landscape, there is so much to enjoy, and explore in this book.  I listened to the audio book, which is rather nicely done.  I did query a few of the Gaelic pronunciations - being a learner of the language, not a native speaker, I may not completely comprehend the dialectal nuances.  I am very pleased I opted to purchase the Kindle edition, too, so I can explore those glossaries at my leisure.

Oh, the joy I found in this book: learning new words for phenomenon I had no idea might even exist; remembering 'childish' the way children use language to describe their surroundings; and discovering new Gaelic words I wanted to include in my (ever-expanding) vocabulary.  

The narrator, Roy McMillan|, did a splendid job.  I'm afraid I have no idea of the name of other gentleman whose voice was used to read out various words, but his voice gave  luscious contrast to Mr McMillan's smooth tones.

What didn't I like?  I could find no fault with this book.  I find fault with myself for not reading it sooner.

Would I recommend it? Yes! Yes! Yes!  Not necessarily the audio version though - not because it is not well read, but because once you've read the book, I'm pretty sure you'll want to keep it to hand to pore over the word glossaries, and then add to your own.

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review 2018-02-16 18:34
Pilgrimage by Derry Brabbs
Pilgrimage: The Great Pilgrim Routes of Britain and Europe - Derry Brabbs

I love to travel. I love to see new places, experience the sites and sounds of places I have never been. I have been a lot of places, and I will still go to more places. But there are some places I know I will probably never get a chance to visit. So I travel through books about real places. This is one of those books. Pilgrimage by Derry Brabbs is an amazing book to armchair travel and it is also a great guide book if you were to get a chance to actually go to the laces in the book. 


There are 11 routes in the book that Europe's Pilgrims used. From 3500 people walking the route from Northern Spain to the Shrine of St James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela in 1988 to 277,000 as of  2016. 


The book features amazing photos along the routes, maps, and lots of information about all the stops along the way and of course the ending point.  It tells you how many miles the route is and how many days it should take to cover the route. These routes are done by walking, they way the original Pilgrimage took place. I am sure some of the routes you could go by car but if you wanted to experience the routes they way the pilgrims did you would want to walk the route. 


I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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review 2018-02-12 13:33
If you enjoy well-researched international thrillers and love team-spirit, don’t miss this one.
The Violin Man's Legacy - Seumas Gallacher

I had read Gallacher’s Self-Publishing Steps to Successful Sales (you can check my review here) a while back and had several of his books waiting to be read but had not managed yet. But when his first novel, The Violin Man’s Legacy became available in audiobook format, I knew I had no excuse.

Although I tend to use the text-to-speech facility on my e-reader, I haven’t listened to many audiobooks (mostly my own) so I was intrigued by the experience. I found the narrator, C.C. Hogan, engaging, able to hold my attention, and very good at keeping the characters separate (and there are quite a few!) and individual. He is also very good at accents and managed the international locations and names without faltering. Unfortunately, my Kindle is quite old by now and could not accommodate the Whispersync option, that would have made it easier to check some things (like names and details), as I also had a copy of the Kindle version of the book.

I’m not a huge reader of spy novels, and although this book is classified within the crime and suspense thriller category, this international action-thriller reminded me in style of many spy/international conspiracy novel, although with a more European feel, and less frantic in pace than many American spy thrillers. There is plenty of action, and even some sex (and yes, the main character is incredibly skilled, can fight like the best of them, and outwit his opponents, although the brains behind the operation is his boss), but there are also slower moments when we learn the back story, not only of the main characters, like Jack and his teammates, but also of some of the people they collaborate with, and even some of their enemies. This allows us to get to know more about the players and to understand how they got to where they are. (The story behind the title and the way it relates to Jack’s past is particularly touching).

The book is narrated in the third person, from a variety of points of view. We mostly follow Jack Calder (as it should be, as this is his series), but we also are party to the thoughts of many other characters, although there is no confusing head-hopping, and even in the narrated version, it is clear which point of view we are being privy to at any given moment. This helps create a more complex story, with layers of information and to get a better grasp of what the different players have at stake. There are those who are only interested in money, others involved in power games and politics, and others for whom reputation and loyalty are the main objects.

The story takes us from London to Amsterdam, Hong-Kong, and South America, and the author is meticulous and well-informed, providing credible settings and a detailed exposition of the procedures and operations that brings to mind the best police procedural novels. But although we follow each detail of the investigations and the operations, there are always surprises to keep us on our toes.

Jack Calder, the central character, is a breath of fresh air in a genre where heroes are almost superhuman and can fight entire wars single-handedly. Although Jack, an ex-SAS captain, is indeed great at his job, he is traumatised by a family tragedy; he is self-deprecating and knows when to give credit where credit is due. He can follow orders and acknowledges his bosses’ superior planning skills. He is also a friend of his friends, and a loyal team-player and the novel highlights how important good relationships and contacts are in the world of international security firms and businesses.

I loved the fact that the characters talk like real people talk (yes, they use clichés sometimes, make bad jokes, and sometimes are lost for words), and, although there is violence and terrible things happen (justice and law are not always on the same side of the divide), there are also very funny moments.

The writing style is fluid and the pace ebbs and flows, with moments that are fast-paced and others that allow us to catch a breath and learn more about the ins and outs of the businesses and the characters involved. Readers need to remain alert, as there are many characters, locations, and plot threads, and, it is important to pay attention to the details.

I recommend this book to those who love spy and international intrigue thrillers, especially to readers who like complex situations and stories with plenty of twists and turns, but who don’t mind stopping to take a breath every so often. A great first book in the series and many great characters I hope to meet again.

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review 2018-01-17 21:26
Ambition and Destiny
Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution - Nathaniel Philbrick

The war for Independence has long been glorified in our history books. However, Nathaniel Philbrick looks through the layers and brings us a untarnished view on the history of the war.

George Washington and Benedict Arnold were two men that became legend during the war. While the war raged on, the two men could not have been more different. Washington worried about the army as the whole and suffered from indecision. Arnold thought of himself and what he could gain from the war. Two men who had greatness before them, but who could not have been more different in their mindsets and goals.
Benedict Arnold became one of the greatest traitors in the history of the United States, and his defection could have demoralized the entire army. However, Washington had been turning the war around, and those who had once been detractors of the Commander in Chief were realizing that he was the only one who could effectively lead the army. Arnold wanted to enrich himself, and come out of the war as a hero, but his actions can speak to anything but. Instead of working toward the betterment of his country, he became a turncoat, and began to work with the enemy, with the urging of his second wife, Peggy.

This is one of the best books on the American Revolution that I have read. While Benedict Arnold and George Washington are the two main characters, there is so much more present. The highs and lows, the good and the bad are all played out on the pages, and no one is spared. From the Continental Congress, to the French allies - every leaf is overturned to give a comprehensive view and greater understanding of what lead to the defection of Benedict Arnold.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the war, and the men who's names have become entwined in history.

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text 2018-01-11 02:26
Tapping out a third of the way through
Modernity Britain: 1957-1962 - David Kynaston

That I'm moving this to my "DNF" pile isn't a knock on the book; it's every bit as evocative and illuminating as his previous three volumes (even if he dwells a lot on housing). But deadlines are starting to appear and I just don't have the commitment to finish the hundreds of pages still ahead of me,


I'm kicking myself for not starting this last month. I decided to read it after watching season 2 of The Crown (which covers almost exactly the same number of years as this book), and i definitely would have had the momentum then to finish it quickly. Now it will await finishing on a later date -- and reside on my "to read" shelf until then (grr).

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