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Archive for the ‘book reviews’ Category

I’m going to have to start getting up earlier in the morning if I want to catch the sunrise 🌅 Got to the promenade at just before 8am but the sun was already above the horizon albeit behind the clouds.

The weather is amazing once again, its so mild out. And we’re still waiting to say #Peanutisontheway❣️ 👶🏻 💙 This lad is surely taking his own sweet time…. although actually it’s exactly 40 weeks tomorrow, so perhaps will arrive he is ready and not when the NHS say he should arrive.

I went to see the film ‘Wildlife’ last night. Its an incredibly weird film and the jury is out on whether or not I actually enjoyed it… I didn’t. 🤔🙄

It was such a mild evening I decided to take a short walk along the beach… What a blessing to live so near to the sea.

I could hear the crashing of the waves behind the harbour wall so walked over to see what I could ‘sea’… Which wasn’t much, but I could hear it and that sound is like music to my ears.

Afterwards my daughter (the very pregnant soon to be Mummy), her hubby and I took a slow midnight stroll along the promenade in the hope it might encourage baby to start his journey…

The evening air, albeit only 2 degrees out, was perfectly still with a 3/4 moon and a canopy of ✨ crispy clear and really mild.

This morning, although I was tempted to stay in bed, I made the effort to get out to capture the sunrise. I really want to be sure to have a photo for Peanut’s book…on the day that he is born. I hope that’s soon 😀👶🏻💙❣️

Meanwhile I’ve started reading Simon Reeve’s book Step by Step. He’s my favourite travel presenter and I’ve watched all his travel documentaries which are a real eye-opener. By page 33 I’ve concluded he was a naughty little shit 😂 😂 😂 which explains the ever present twinkle in his eye and the quirky smile.  I also discovered quite weirdly that his Dad’s name was Alan which is my middle name. His Mum’s name is Cindy 🤔🤔 and his brothers’s name is James (my grandson’s name). Totally weird.

Meanwhile I shall get back to the book I’m compiling for said grandson and hold thumbs that soon I can say with absolute certainty that Peanut is on the way 😀😀😀👶🏻💙❣️

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This morning I finished reading the book; Arabia, A Journey Through the Heart of the Middle East by Levison Wood – curled up in bed, snug and warm with a cup of tea (me that is , not the author haha), I settled in to finish the last 100 pages of this incredible story….and from that, you can deduce that I did not go walking today…it’s cold and grey out and I’m still shattered after all the stress and trauma of yesterday’s morning visit to the labour ward…more about that in a separate article.

book reviews, book recommendations, walking the nile levison wood, arabia levison wood, travel adventures

Viking Bay, Broadstairs after lunch

As with Walking the Nile I am left feeling just a little bit bereft at reaching the end of this particular journey. Even if the book had been a massive tome of 900 pages or more, I would still be feeling sad that I’d read the last page…. this time even the acknowledgements had to be pored over – their names all bear witness! Of the many characters met along the way, their personalities briefly revealed, the one I liked the most is Nada. My kind of fiesty lady. Whereas the name of Khaled al-Assad left me in tears. I remember reading about this amazing man at the time…over 3 years ago already 😦 My heart aches for him and his family. My heart aches for us.

I feel as if there is a story waiting to be told for each country visited. Delving deeper into the lives of people met, the places they live and the fabric of their lives. Imagine what a collection that would make on the bookshelf!! I feel as if I would like to meet each and every one of them – even the bat-shit crazy ones, linger over a meal and learn more about who they are and where they live. After all, regardless of location, race, colour, creed, religion, beliefs or values, at the end of the day we are ALL just people living our lives with hopes and dreams.

I am left both inspired and saddened by this journey through Arabia – A Journey Through the Heart of the Middle East. I have learned SO much and it infuriates me that we in the West are fed so much misinformation. It FRUSTRATES and angers me that there are so many factions, and frictions, old betrayals and new. That we, the UK, have even had a part to play in this over the centuries is both heart-breaking and sickening. I’m not going to delve into my political thoughts and feelings, since it’s not appropriate for this particular article, suffice to say that my eyes are just a little more open and I can’t imagine the conflicting emotions the author must have felt at certain times considering his background.

I am inspired to learn more about the adventurer TE Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia), who travelled those paths before Levison. To learn more about the Victorian explorer Richard Burton and Wilfred Thesiger, and to visit some of the places mentioned in the book; Jericho, Bethlehem and Damascus  in particular, as well as the many, many wondrous and ancient places he visited, to stand on top of those mountains and see the verdant valleys below in Lebanon and to spend a few days in the desert with a Bedouin tribe. Petra has always been high on my list of places I want to go…..

The Middle East seems to be a real contrast of expectations and reality, and there is so much more waiting to be discovered just below the surface. I was left bemused, terrified and exalted at various points along the way. I also cried at times….tears of despair and joy – the event in Bethlehem in particular brought me to tears…in a good way. The risks the author took in order to follow through with his journey and to reach his destination were extraordinary. The people who helped him along the way, sometimes at great risk to their own personal safety are extraordinary. Where there is a will, there is indeed a way. And how lucky are we, the reader, that they all did take those risks.

This particular book; Arabia, is not your usual travel journey that paints a pretty picture of places explored. No, it’s gritty and harsh and at times you are left feeling devastated at the destruction of a people and a place…and I’m talking in particular of Syria and Palestine. (p.s. if you have myopic views about the situation in either of these two countries please do NOT feel the need to express them in the comments).

If you have read this far, then I can highly recommend both these books; Arabia and Walking the Nile. So what’s next? Well I guess I am going to have to track down Walking the Himalayas….no pun intended LOL and Walking the Americas and make a plan to watch the Channel 4 documentaries.

Unfortunately for them, the charity shops won’t be seeing either of these books, Arabia or Walking the Nile from me LOL. Instead I shall treasure them and encourage my grandson to read them when he is ready; hopefully to inspire him to travel the world. I will most certainly be delving into them again….hopefully at a slower pace next time. As with all journeys, I’m sad it’s over.

I am left with the words of the John Lennon song in my mind; IMAGINE – all the people living life in peace….

I can highly recommend this book as a damn good read; Arabia; A Journey Through the Heart of the Middle East and while you’re at it….why not read Walking the Nile. Author: Levison Wood.book reviews, book recommendations, walking the nile levison wood, arabia levison wood, travel adventures

Meanwhile back at Planet Thanet, I have the book I’m writing for my grandson to complete. He’s due within the next 2 weeks and I’d like to complete it before he arrives. The Incredible Journey of James Alexander McKenzie-Hoult aka Jamie aka Peanut 🙂 I am SO looking forward to saying for real….. #Peanutisontheway

And I have An Evening with Levison Wood to look forward to next week…my tickets have been purchased and I’m ‘praying’ that Peanut doesn’t decide to arrive on that day…..before would be good and after just as well. LOL We’re focusing on the 18th…..

Alhamdulillah and RIP Khaled al-Assad may you truly have found peace, I’m sure you will never be forgotten.

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And so the inevitable has come to pass…. I’ve reached the end of the book. There is a certain sadness when you reach the last page of a story in which you’ve been, on a journey if you will, a journey you wish could continue for longer. But inevitably, no matter how long the book, you would finally reach the end of that too. When I first saw this book I got really excited about reading it because its one of my dreams to walk the length of my beloved River Thames and the River Severn, so to read this book became imperative and made a superb Xmas 🎄 gift from my son-in-law.

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I started reading it immediately and have barely been able to put it down…..I got so much more than I bargained for.

Being a long distance walker myself (albeit not on the scale of Levison’s walks by any means) it struck a chord and I had certain expectations of how the story would progress…it turned out to be completely different to what I expected…a journey through Africa’s turbulent history and meeting her people, as varied as what they are, and I have learnt much that is both intriguing and horrifying. I also remember many of the events that took place in recent history.

walking the nile levison wood, books to read, book recommendations

such an interesting albeit scary book at times. a very good read

There is one sentence in the book that sums it up perfectly for me, a sentence I can so identify with since it is an emotion that has caught me out at the end of my walks, most especially when I finished the Camino de Santiago last year… “There was nowhere left to walk”. I remember feeling absolutely bereft when I realised that, as excited as I was to reach Santiago, it meant I was at the end of my journey…and there was nowhere left to walk. Of course the context is completely different and I could have walked on to Finisterre and Muxia, but for that particular time, it was the end.

If you enjoy long distance walking, adventure and reading, and even if you just enjoy a damn good story, I can recommend this book. I plan to read it again….albeit at a slower pace than normal 😂 😂 and no, I have no plans for #WalkingtheNile myself 🤔😉😂

 

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I finished reading a book by one of my favourite authors last night, just in time for National Book Day – which is today 🙂

Val McDermid is one of my ultimate favourite authors and whenever I come across one of her books that I haven’t yet read, I grab the opportunity with both hands. I don’t often get to read a book much these days what with one thing and another….like planning a pilgrimage or two LOL and getting some miles under my belt (or is that feet?) for the #walk1000miles challenge.

As mentioned many time before, I’m really lucky in that my job takes me to so many new places around the UK and so the temptation to get out and walk and explore is overwhelming. But what with my unsociable hours whilst on the job, I seldom get time to sit down and just read.

However with the recent appearance of the #beastfromtheeast I’ve had a good enough excuse to not go out too often during my breaks and have instead snuggled up under the covers and read….I finally reached the last page of my current read; Splinter the Silence just after midnight, unable to put the book down at a reasonable hour. It’s just such a good read.

Prior to that of course it was Shetland on TV before bedtime so by the time I settled into bed it was almost 10:30pm.

Splinter the Silence is one of many books featuring the psychologist Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan. Of course Tony Hill is a favourite character of mine every since watching the TV series The Wire in the Blood with Robson Greene for whom I carry a schoolgirl crush LOL

The latest book (2015) in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan novels, Splinter the Silence is fast paced, full of detail that gives you a clear idea of who is who as it wefts and weaves the characters together; the killer, the victims and the crime fighters, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses with snippets of background in an easy to read recipe for excitement as your pulse races along with the desire to get to the end and see ‘whodunnit’.

national book day, val mcdermid, splinter the silence, tony hill

Splinter the Silence – Val McDermid

I’m not one of those people who can pick up a book and put it down numerous times, I have to read as quickly as possible to get to the last page, often reading a whole book in one night – although I don’t do that anymore. I remember as a young girl I picked up the habit of reading the last page before starting the book….something that drove my Mother mad and she soon ‘beat’ it out of me…metaphorically speaking, and insisted I read the book through from beginning to end. Hahaha.

Splinter the Silence is a thriller and thrilling. I can highly recommend this as a thoroughly good read.

 

 

 

 

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31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful for reading; the ability to read.

Being able to read is a huge privilege and an incredible practical ability. Although it’s something we tend to take for granted, millions of people are unable to read.

Besides the lack of opportunity to learn how to read, physical disabilities can affect our ability eg dyslexia. “Britain has up to eight million adults who are functionally illiterate. The World Literacy Foundation said one in five of the UK population are so poor at reading and writing they struggle to read a medicine label or use a chequebook”.

Can you imagine that? Reading is such a fundamental function that we use every day. We grow up learning to read and it opens up opportunities we tend to take for granted without a second thought. What if we never had the privilege or ability to learn to read.

Could we apply for a job? Would we be able to write a job application? Would we be able to function in a work place where reading is fundamental to the job?

I was lucky enough to learn to read and write from a very young age. I’ve always loved books; a real bookworm growing up I spent every spare minute with my nose buried in a book….transported to different worlds. A voracious reader I went through school books like water through a sieve. My teachers had a hard time keeping me supplied and I went through the curriculum selection in no time at all.

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Going to The Chapel, and we’re…… having hot chocolate with oodles of cream. 🙂 The Chapel is a quirky bar/coffee/book shop. It’s actually a bar with hundreds of books that line the walls, from floor to ceiling in some places, where you can relax with a drink and read a book…you can also buy the books which is super cool.

Fundamental to reading is a good cup of tea and a packet of biscuits….my ideal day.

As a child my absolute favourite books were the Secret Seven or Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. Anne of Green Gables was a huge favourite and so many others. My Mother used to buy me comics every week when I was about 5 years old…I waited with anticipation for the latest to fall through the letter box. I loved all the fairy stories and the Brothers Grimm stories were read again and again. I remember in my teens and 20’s literally reading through the night and finishing a book a night. I used to read at least 2 – 3 books a week; spy thrillers, WW2 stories, conspiracy theory stories, love stories, historical novels, the list of my likes went on and on.

These are some of my latest reads as well as my fantastic collection of books about London. I adore London and love to read about her secrets and history.

 

book review

These days I don’t read hardcover books so much since most of my time is now spent writing, but I still read a lot via the internet – articles on travel – namely walks around the UK and the various Caminos in Spain. I read a lot about health and finance, as well as the occasional gossip column LOL Ergo, most of my day is spent in reading or writing.

Besides loving books, I love the English language; it’s such a rich repository of wonderful words that we’re able to play around with creating pictures using descriptive words to create an image or a story.

Alongside of reading comes writing. To be able to write is as much a privilege as reading. I can’t imagine not being able to read and write; it’s fundamental to my day to day life. My whole working life has involved reading and writing and even today in my current career reading and writing is a necessary ability. I’ve written poems, a short story and 3 London books, one of which is a travel guide.

I had a blind friend once who lost his sight when he was a young boy. He had to learn braille and over the years he managed to obtain a computer on which he could write using braille. He worked in the office of the Courier company I was working for and held down a most fundamental role in the company. But it was always a challenge for him.

If I was unable to read and write I wouldn’t have been able to take up most of the opportunities I’ve had in the past and certainly currently. My blog is a vip part of my day and besides sharing my stories, I’m able to follow the stories of those that I identify with. I’ve been able to follow walkers on the Camino, learn about health benefits and latest research. I’m able to follow articles on finance and learn about trends like Bitcoin and Litecoin…which I might add are bloody exciting.

I taught my daughter to read at a very early age and one of my most endearing and enduring memories of her childhood are the nights when I would read her bedtime stories. One of our favourite books (I still have the relevant book) was The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. An absolute favourite I would read two or three chapters, following the faerie characters on their many adventures. I would also invariably fall asleep…something that happens a lot these days too when I read a book LOL 2 -3 pages and I’m asleep.  Another favourite book was The Neverending Story….still a favourite and I hope to read these two books to my grandchildren one day.

One of the hardest of my possessions to give up when I packed up in South Africa was my books. I had to leave hundreds behind. But sadly I don’t have the space for them. I did keep many of the favourites though. One book I have is The Water Babies. An old book that belonged to my father as a boy….it’s a treasured item.

So today I am grateful for reading and alongside of that I’m grateful I can write. There are millions who cannot and I can’t imagine how debilitating and hindering that must be.

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 11 

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I love books. I have a weakness for books. I have a shelf of books (now in storage) that I love to look at and recall the tales between the covers. In South Africa I had hundreds of books…some as old as 60+. Sadly when I moved my possessions over from SA to UK I had to leave a great many behind due to lack of space in my current home and plans for the future….100’s of books won’t fit into a campervan 😉

I read voraciously as a child, seldom without a book in my hand, I read at every opportunity from morning till night and then some. At school my teachers were hard put to keep up with me….I’d get a class book and bring it back within a few days having read it right through. My teachers would get suspicious and ask me questions…..they soon learned to not bother but just kept me topped up.

Even today, I love nothing more than a quiet corner and a good book. As for organising them…..sometime, maybe, I may. But mostly they just live happily wherever they land. 😉 Most recently a very lovely and dear friend of mine sent me a book on the eve of my visit to Florence, Italy. – ‘A Florence Diary’ by Diane Athill.

a florence diary diane athill

One of the many fun things about coming ‘home’ after being away for 3 weeks is opening my mail. To my delight one of the envelopes contained this wonderful book ‘A Florence Diary’ from my lovely friend Lucy

 

What a delight. I started reading immediately, but unfortunately, once I actually arrived in Florence I was out from early morning till late a night, returning to the apartment only to brush my teeth, change into pyjamas and fall into bed till the morning; at which time I would repeat it all over again LOL So no time to continue reading in Florence I’m afraid.

But I have brought it with me to Ireland and with a few days of mucky weather in store I plan to read it…..Thanks Lucy my sweet, I shall treasure this little book and add it to my collection in the campervan 🙂

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I had a bit of a computer detox last week (in fact I didn’t open my computer for 9 days! – something of a record) and spent all my free time reading. I enjoyed both books tremendously.book review
1) recommended to me by one of my instagram connections… ‘The Gunner Girl’ by Clare Harvey – this story caught my attention in the very first sentence and kept me turning the pages, at times breathless with anticipation of which way the story was going to go. Set during the Second WW it follows the lives of 3 girls from very different backgrounds, thrown together by the war, the story twists and turns, at times happy, at others heartbreaking , the descriptions made me feel like I was right there with them…I could almost smell the air and hear the sounds of London during The Blitz. If I hadn’t needed to sleep and work, I would have read through the night till the last page. The story made me both laugh and cry and wail in despair…..sometimes life is just so bloody unfair.  Overall it was a wonderful read, ending too soon for me.

2) ‘Beneath the Bleeding’ by Val McDermid – one of my favourite authors, Val never disappoints and this book was no different, especially as I’m partial to our man Dr Tony Hill (of Wire in the Blood fame played by Robson Green). A thoroughly good murder mystery story line, I read till the wee hours and every spare minute during the day…a real page turner.

Prior to these two, just 3 weeks ago I read another two books… ‘Little Beach Street Bakery’ by Jenny Colgan and ‘Standing in another Man’s Grave’ by Ian Rankin.  The first book by Jenny Colgan was a first foray into this author’s writing, and what a delightful book it was. After finishing the book I felt like I wanted to jump on the first train to Cornwall and open a bakery on a small island…..not that I want to give away the story-line LOL.  It was delightful – again, one of those books that makes you laugh and cry and wail with despair. As with Val McDermid, Ian Rankin is an old favourite and I have read many of his books; his central character John Rebus is well-known to me….metaphorically speaking.book review

In my younger days (aeons ago) I used to read vociferously. Even as a very young girl, if my mother was looking for me, she would look no further than a corner in my room or behind a curtain. I remember reading a wide variety of books, mimicking my Mother’s favourite leisure activity…reading. In fact she was in the middle of a book; King Solomon’s Mines when she died…..I finished off the book some years later.  When reading I would be transported, my ears mysteriously filled with cotton wool, so absorbed would I be in the story.  I have been known to read through the night just to finish a book.  I also used to drive my Mother to distraction because sometimes I became so impatient to ‘know’ what happened that I would read the last page….LOL. But then I could just sit back and relax and enjoy the story.  At school I earned many a nickname, not all complimentary, because of my love of books.

The last few years have seen me busy online building my website and totally absorbed with social media…and precious little reading.  I’m glad I’ve taken some time out to get back into the life between the pages of a book.

When my daughter was a wee girl I would read to her at night before she went to sleep…oh wait….it was me who fell asleep!! hahaha. A firm favourite was ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton. I can’t tell you how often she would wake me up during our good night ritual.  She learned to read pretty quick….I wonder why!! And still today, she will be transported to other worlds by the magic of a book and  I still fall asleep when reading out loud. 🙂 Some things never change.

 

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