TBR Pile: Food Isn’t Medicine, by Dr Joshua Wolrich

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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 15th 2021 by Vermilion
ISBN: 1785043455 (ISBN13: 9781785043451)

Blurb

Losing weight is not your life’s purpose.

Do carbs make you fat?
Could the keto diet cure mental health disorders?
Are eggs as bad for you as smoking?

No, no and absolutely not. It’s all what Dr Joshua Wolrich defines as ‘nutribollocks’ and he is on a mission to set the record straight.

As an NHS doctor with personal experience of how damaging diets can be, he believes every one of us deserves to have a happy, healthy relationship with food and with our bodies. His message is clear: we need to fight weight stigma, call out the lies of diet culture and give ourselves permission to eat all foods.

Food Isn’t Medicine wades through nutritional science (both good and bad) to demystify the common diet myths that many of us believe without questioning. If you have ever wondered whether you should stop eating sugar, try fasting, juicing or ‘alkaline water’, or struggled through diet after diet (none of which seem to work), this book will be a powerful wake-up call. Drawing on the latest research and delivered with a dose of humour, it not only liberates us from the destructive belief that weight defines health but also explains how to spot the misinformation we are bombarded with every day.

Dr Joshua Wolrich will empower you to escape the diet trap and call out the bad health advice for what it really is: complete nutribollocks.

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TBR Pile Review: The Rivers of London Novellas, by Ben Aaronovitch

It’s been a while since I read any of the Rivers of London books, not since Foxglove Summer, but I have The Hanging Tree and Lies Sleeping on my TBR pile so I’m getting back into the ‘world’ by reading the novellas. I’m reading hem in publication order rather than series order.

36802162
Paperback, 118 pages
Published March 2018 by Orion (first published June 30th 2017)
Rivers of London #5.5

Blurb

There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.

Enter PC Peter Grant junior member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Assessment unit AKA The Folly AKA the only police officers whose official duties include ghost hunting. Together with Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police, he must brave the terrifying the crush of London’s rush hour to find the source of the ghosts.

Joined by Peter’s wannabe wizard cousin, a preschool river god and Toby the ghost hunting dog their investigation takes a darker tone as they realise that a real person’s life might just be on the line.

And time is running out to save them.

With this new novella, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch has crafted yet another wickedly funny and surprisingly affecting chapter in his beloved Rivers of London series. 

My Review
The Furthest Station is about a missing person and strangely behaving ghosts. It was a bit odd, and took a while to get going. Abigail plays a larger role in this novella than she has in the novels I’ve read so far. She’s fun, and clearly has something going on with the foxes, which I suppose I’ll find out about in ‘What Abigail did that summer’.
I enjoyed the story but I was a little underwhelmed.

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Hardcover, First Edition, 180 pages
Published June 13th 2019 by Orion Publishing Group (first published May 31st 2019)
ISBN:1473224314 (ISBN13: 9781473224315)
Rivers of London #7.5

Blurb

Trier is famous for wine, Romans and for being Germany’s oldest city. So when a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth.

Fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.

Enter Investigator Tobias Winter, whose aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger and paperwork. With the help of frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he’s quick to link the first victim to a group of ordinary middle aged men – and to realise they may have accidentally reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century. But the rot is still spreading, literally and with the suspect list extending to people born before Frederick the Great solving the case may mean unearthing the city’s secret magical history.

. . . so long as that history doesn’t kill them first.

My Review

Tobias Winter is sent to Trier by his Director, die Hexen auf dem Ostern, to deal with an unusual death. What he finds is a couple of river goddesses, a drinking club, a fungus and a 250 year old entitled brat.

His liaison with the local police is called Vanessa Sommer. Because someone is having a laugh. But Vani is actually really enthusiastic about the weird stuff, and helpful with infant river goddesses, so they tolerate the jokes and get the job done.

This novella has a bit more meat to it than The Furthest Station, maybe because Aaronovitch was testing the waters with his first novella in this world? It is written with his signature humour and attention to local detail. The plot is fun and kept my attention. Need to get the novels read soon so I can catch up on what has been happening, there were hints in this novella of events I haven’t read about yet.

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Hardcover, 232 pages
Published March 18th 2021 by Subterranean Press
Rivers of London #5.3

Blurb

Ghost hunter, fox whisperer, troublemaker.

It is the summer of 2013 and Abigail Kamara has been left to her own devices. This might, by those who know her, be considered a mistake. While her cousin, police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, is off in the sticks chasing unicorns Abigail is chasing her own mystery. Teenagers around Hampstead Heath have been going missing but before the police can get fully engaged the teens return home – unharmed but vague about where they’ve been.

Aided only by her new friend Simon, her knowledge that magic is real and a posse of talking foxes that think they’re spies, Abigail must venture into the wilds of Hampstead to discover who is luring the teenagers and more importantly – why?

My Review

My favourite novella so far. I’ve spent a pleasant three hours this afternoon reading my signed first edition hardback from Goldsboro Books. It’s close to novel size at over a hundred pages, and the space has allowed the author to really develop the story with an established character. Abigail, the foxes and Simon, a new friend, discover teenagers are going missing and decide to find out what is happening. The foxes help track the kids down to a house that really doesn’t want to let them go.

I liked learning more about Abigail and her home life, as a child carer and trouble causer. She’s open, honest and hardworking. She cares. I think I could make an argument for being neurodivergent. Simon too, in a different way. He definitely has a learning difficulty, and it seems as though his mother is the over-protective sort until you realise she works for the intelligence agencies of the Thames. He’s not book smart but he knows things, is inquisitive and adventurous, asks deep questions, and a very happy person.

It’s a shame Abi suggests sending him to a special school at the end, and that his mother says he’s thriving there. I’m sure there are ‘special schools’ where his strengths would be encouraged while his general education wasn’t neglected, but not at the ones paid for by the state (looking at you, NAS schools).

The house is complicated and it’s origins are fascinating, and I’m sure Abigail will be spending hours or possibly days in the Folly’s library looking up sorcerers and their ghosts. This novella adds dimensions to the Rivers of London world.


Now I’ve tackled the novellas IO think I’m ready to dive back into the novels. I was putting off ‘The Hanging Tree‘ because I don’t like Lady Ty very much. I’m allergic to supercilious posh people who like to manipulate anyone they think is inferior to them.

TBR Pile Review: Unconquerable Sun, by Kate Elliott

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Hardcover, 523 pages
Published October 1st 2020 by Head Of Zeus (first published July 7th 2020)
ISBN:1800243200 (ISBN13: 9781800243200)

GENDER-SWAPPED ALEXANDER THE GREAT ON AN INTERSTELLAR SCALE

Princess Sun has finally come of age.

Growing up in the shadow of her mother, Eirene, has been no easy task. The legendary queen-marshal did what everyone thought impossible: expel the invaders and build Chaonia into a magnificent republic, one to be respected—and feared.

But the cutthroat ambassador corps and conniving noble houses have never ceased to scheme—and they have plans that need Sun to be removed as heir, or better yet, dead.

To survive, the princess must rely on her wits and companions: her biggest rival, her secret lover, and a dangerous prisoner of war.

Take the brilliance and cunning courage of Princess Leia—add in a dazzling futuristic setting where pop culture and propaganda are one and the same—and hold on tight:

This is the space opera you’ve been waiting for.

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Review: Social Goodness by Claire Burdett

Blurb 

Social Goodness is a guide to how your business can meet your customer’s expectations through your brand actions and so ensure you don’t just survive but thrive in the coming decade. Perfectly pitched for busy C-suite leaders and entrepreneurs it is a meticulously researched, comprehensive trendspotting business bible, which is an easy to read, enthralling, and engaging page turner.

Social Goodness forensically investigates current trends, like sustainability, human marketing and ESG, and joins the dots to show you how it all connects and affects businesses in the wider world. It looks at what works and what doesn’t for brands post-pandemic in the new ‘normal’. Social Goodness examines why some companies are getting it right both on social media and with their brand actions – and thriving as a result – and why others are experiencing severe backlash and criticism.

It takes a view from a different perspective of social media and the central role it now plays in society and for business. Most business leaders still think of social media as somehow ‘other’ – an add-on to the marketing and generally of minor importance to their core business unless a social media crisis erupts. Yet, as we saw throughout the last few years, social media is at once a reflection of offline life and a petri dish that causes and influences real life events. It has resulted in a fundamental and irrevocable shift in how business is conducted – i.e. business is now totally transparent at every point. People can see for themselves if companies are lying, and pressure brands to change their policies and strategies, boycott their products, get others to also avoid buying and quite literally topple major brands, if they are behaving inauthentically or unethically.

Buy Links https://www.socialgoodness.co.uk/#thebook

Continue reading “Review: Social Goodness by Claire Burdett”

Review: Thought Economics, by Vikas Shah

Blurb 

Since 2007, entrepreneur and philanthropist Vikas Shah has been on a mission to interview the people shaping our century. Including conversations with Nobel prize winners, business leaders, politicians, artists and Olympians, he has been in the privileged position of questioning the minds that matter on the big issues that concern us all. We often talk of war and conflict, the economy, culture, technology and revolutions as if they are something other than us. But all these things are a product of us – of our ideas, our dreams and our fears. We live in fast-moving and extraordinary times, and the changes we’re experiencing now, in these first decades of the twenty-first century, feel particularly poignant as decisions are made that will inform our existence for years to come. What started out as a personal interest in the mechanisms that inform our views of the world, and a passion for understanding, has grown into a phenomenal compilation of once-in-a-lifetime conversations. In this incredible collection, Shah shares some of his most emotive and insightful interviews to date.

Continue reading “Review: Thought Economics, by Vikas Shah”

Review: A Book of Secrets, by Kate Morrison

Jacaranda | 25 March 2021
Paperback| Historical Fiction| £8.99
ISBN: 9781913090678| eISBN: 9781909762701

About the Book
A Book of Secrets tells the story of a West African girl hunting for her lost brother through an Elizabethan underworld of spies, plots and secret Catholic printing presses.

Susan Charlewood is taken from Ghana (then known as Guinea) as a baby. Brought to England, she grows up as maidservant in a wealthy Catholic household. Living under a Protestant Queen in late 16th Century England, the family risk imprisonment or death unless they keep their faith hidden.

When her mistress dies Susan is married off to a London printer who is deeply involved in the Catholic resistance. She finds herself embroiled in political and religious intrigue, all while trying to find her lost brother and discover the truth about her origins.

The book explores the perils of voicing dissent in a state that demands outward conformity, at a time when England is taking its first steps into the long shadow of transatlantic slavery and old certainties about the shape of the universe itself are crumbling.

A Book of Secrets gives a striking new perspective on the era and lets one of the thousands of lost Elizabethan voices, speak out loud.

Continue reading “Review: A Book of Secrets, by Kate Morrison”

Review: Hotel Cartagena, by Simone Buchholz

Pub date: 4 MARCH 2021
ISBN 13: 978-1-913193-54-6
EPUB: 978-1-913193-55-3
Price: £8.99

Twenty floors above the shimmering lights of the Hamburg docks,
Public Prosecutor Chastity Riley is celebrating a birthday with friends in
a hotel bar when twelve heavily armed men pull out guns, and take
everyone hostage. Among the hostages is Konrad Hoogsmart, the hotel
owner, who is being targeted by a young man whose life – and family –
have been destroyed by Hoogsmart’s actions.

With the police looking on from outside – their colleagues’ lives at stake
– and Chastity on the inside, increasingly ill from an unexpected case of
sepsis, the stage is set for a dramatic confrontation … and a devastating
outcome for the team … all live streamed in a terrifying bid for revenge.
Crackling with energy and populated by a cast of unforgettable
characters, Hotel Cartagena is a searing, stunning thriller that will leave
you breathless.

Continue reading “Review: Hotel Cartagena, by Simone Buchholz”

Review: Space Taxis, by A & H Frosh

Space Taxis

“A perfect blend of science fiction and alternate history”

He’s abducted by aliens to the planet Vost.

He’s saving up for his fare home.

But he’s got the small matter of a planetary apocalypse to deal with first…

In 1977 a New York Cab driver Mike Redolfo is abducted by aliens after being mistaken for a renegade scientist. Meanwhile, back in 1944 a mysterious man and his Jewish fiancée are fleeing across Nazi-occupied Europe.

Redolfo tries to keep a low profile on his new world whilst earning his fare home, but unwittingly gets involved with a shady gang of alien criminals, inadvertently bringing the planet to the brink of catastrophe.

As the link between the timelines becomes clear, Redolfo must discover secrets from the past that may hold the key to saving the planet.


If you like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5, and Frank Herbert’s Dune, you’ll love this gripping and entertaining sci-fi mystery thriller.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Space-Taxis-Adam-Frosh-ebook/dp/B08H19CCWR

US – https://www.amazon.com/Space-Taxis-Adam-Frosh-ebook/dp/B08H19CCWR

Continue reading “Review: Space Taxis, by A & H Frosh”

TBR Pile Review: The Library of the Dead, by T.L. Huchu

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Hardcover, Goldsboro exclusive signed and numbered edition (1000) with sprayed edges, 336 pages
Published February 2021 by Tor Books

Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things in T. L. Huchu’s The Library of the Dead, a sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.

When a child goes missing in Edinburgh’s darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She’ll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

When ghosts talk, she will listen…

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children–leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan…), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She’ll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa’s gonna hunt them all down.

My Review

I got this book from Goldsboro Books as part of their ‘SFF Fellowship’ monthly club. Its beautiful, and the ribbon is so soft. My signed copy is number 533 of 1250 of the first edition, with sprayed edges. The edges are a map of Edinburgh. The cover reminds me very much of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London books. I like them as well. Must get caught up on reading them.

The Rosie Synopsis

Ropa is a gobby, spunky teenager, the bread winner for her small, impoverished family in an Edinburgh devastated by some past disaster. Her grandmother is some sort of magician who knits, Ropa is a ghostalker who finds her way into the titular library, via her friend Jomo. She becomes a member of the library and casually starts to learn magic by reading. At the library, she meets Priya, a disabled healer with an adrenalin junkie streak.

Ropa makes her living taking messages between the dead and the living. One of the ghosts, Nicole, keeps bothering her about finding her missing son. Gran persuades Ropa to do the job for Nicole. This leads Ropa into a dangerous world, and answers the mystery of how there ‘national treasure’ looks so young.

The Good

I really enjoyed this book. It kept me entertained for all 330 pages.

Ropa and her family and friends are really defined, interesting characters. I want to know more about how her Gran came to knit a scarf for Callahan in the past. People at the Library know who Gran is, but no-one is telling Ropa.

Ropa carries the story, and as a first person narrative we only know what she knows, which means there are a lot of secrets yet to be revealed. I want to know what happens next. I enjoyed the differences in personality between Ropa and Priya, and their developing relationship. I can’t tell whether they’re flirting with each other or not. Jomo is going to be so disappointed if they are.

I liked how the complex history of Edinburgh and the changes that made it a dystopian hell are woven into the story, and want to know more. The snobbery of the magicians and scientists towards ‘allied trades’ is so reminiscent of 18th and 19th century medical doctors and their attitudes to non-doctor medical practitioners – surgeons, apothecaries and herbalists – I can only surmise that that is what the author is modelling them on?

There’s a lot of detail in this novel and the author has clearly worked out how the magic works in his world. I like that. It intrigues me, and makes me want to read the next book.

I love the fact that the disabled character in this book is a fully fleshed out human being, not a sad, pathetic character lamenting what she can’t do or desperately seeking a cure for her disability – that trope gets boring and is insulting. Thankfully these days disabled characters are more often getting to be in on the action.

I think this novel is an adult novel but it’s not dark or horrifying at all, so I think it would be suitable for teenagers too. The main character is a teenager as are her closest friends.

The Not-So-Good

There’s a lot going on and the author has crammed it all in, so there are plenty of lines to follow for future stories but it could have been overwhelming for some readers. I hope the author explores a lot of the background information he has put into this first novel.

The Verdict

Excellent novel, highly entertaining and I can’t wait for the next one.

Pen & Sword TBR Pile: A History of Death n 17th Century England, by Ben Norman

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Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 23rd 2020 by
Pen and Sword History
ISBN:1526755262 (ISBN13: 9781526755261)

Delve into the world of the unorthodox burial in seventeenth-century England, including mass interments in times of disease, the burial of suicides, and the unconventional laying to rest of English Catholics.

Death was a constant presence in the lives of the rich and poor alike in seventeenth-century England, being much more visible in everyday existence than it is today. It is a highly important and surprisingly captivating part of the epic story of England during the turbulent years of the 1600s. This book guides readers through the subject using a chronological approach, as would have been experienced by those living in the country at the time, beginning with the myriad causes of death, including disease, war, and capital punishment, and finishing with an exploration of posthumous commemoration. Although contemporaries of the seventeenth century did not fully realize it, when it came to the confrontation of mortality they were living in wildly changing times. 

My Review

Thanks to Rosie Crofts at Pen & Sword for sending me a copy of this book. It is one of many that I am working my way through.

This book covers the ways people died, how they were buried and how they were remembered in 17th century England. It’s a very specific subject, and it’s rather fun to read about a single subject sometimes. Sometimes I like learning about specific subjects as well as wider ranging books. This one was fascinating.

Humans have a habit of thinking that how things are now are how things have always been. In life and death. But that’s not always true. And this is one of those ways in which things are the same and different. People still die, are disposed of and are remembered, and most are buried in consecrated ground.

People don’t die from the plague anymore, and rarely die in war, Catholics don’t get buried in ditches and people who complete suicide aren’t buried at cross-roads with a stake through the heart. We don’t hang criminals either.

Which is nice.

This book covers the various ways people died, how they acted on the deathbed, funerals, unusual burials and how people remembered the dead. It has some interesting photographs and extracts from primary documents, to illustrate the descriptions.

I found the writing easy to read. I read a large chunk in one sitting and then had to finish the last chapter some weeks later due to other commitments. I could pick up the thread fairly easily and get back right into the book.

If you want to read a different perspective on the turbulent years of the 17th century, and you’re interested in death, I recommend this book.

For my friend Nicky: There are some good tips on ancient gravestones you could follow up for photographing.