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

54531941
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.

Continue reading “TBR Pile: Food Isn’t Medicine, by Dr Joshua Wolrich”

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.

42389859. sy475
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.

55855546. sy475
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.

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.

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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”

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

51351995
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.

Review: What the world needs now: Bees!, by @cherylrosebush @freshly_press @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Blurb 

Inside the sprawling forests of Ontario, Canada lives a  friendly black bear named Melly. One of Melly’s favourite  things to do is EAT! And many of the delicious fruits she  snacks on wouldn’t grow without the help of some very  important little forest creatures. 

What the World Needs Now: Bees! explores the vital role  busy, busy bees play in helping plants to grow the food  people and animals love to eat.

A message from the Author:

As you might have seen on IG, our UK Shopify online store is now open for business: www.Environmentalkids.co.uk.  We are really proud of our set up in the UK. All books in the series are printed in and shipped from the UK, which means we can pass along shipping savings to the customer, and the books have the lowest carbon footprint possible.

100% recycled paper, biodegradable lamination, vegetable-based inks and carbon-balanced printing we use, and now more than ever, these are books you can feel REALLY good about buying.

Continue reading “Review: What the world needs now: Bees!, by @cherylrosebush @freshly_press @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours”

Queer TBR Pile Review: When The Tiger Came Down The Mountain, by Nghi Vo

53265639
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 8th 2020 by Tordotcom
ISBN:1250786134 (ISBN13: 9781250786135)
The Singing Hills Cycle #2

“Dangerous, subtle, unexpected and familiar, angry and ferocious and hopeful. . . . The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a remarkable accomplishment of storytelling.”—NPR

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.

Nghi Vo returns to the empire of Ahn and The Singing Hills Cycle in this mesmerizing, lush standalone follow-up to The Empress of Salt and Fortune.

My Review 

In The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Chih hears the stories of the Empresses life and that of her loyal companion. In this, Chih is up in the mountains, riding mammoths and being chased by tigers. Tigers who are able to turn into humans.

In order to save their life, and that of their human and mammoth companions, Chih tells a story about an earlier human Scholar who meets a tiger who can become a human. The tiger queen interrupts and corrects the story repeatedly.

This is another story within a story, although more accurately it’s two stories in a story as the tigers tell their version of events and the humans write it down for ‘correction’. And to save their lives. As Scheherazade tells stories to save her life, so Chih tells the story and listens to the tigers’ story in the hopes that the sun will rise and help will come with it.

I should have finished this a month ago but stuff got in the way and really, I rushed from reading the first book to reading this one and it was a bit too much of a change in pace and setting for me. However, this afternoon, after I walked Ezzie, had teas and then waited for the shopping delivery, I picked up this book. The last two thirds flew by in an hour. It was most inconvenient for the shopping to arrive early for a change, but I went back to the remaining pages, gripped with anticipation. How would Chih save them?

Obviously, I’m not going to tell you how, but Chih and the rest are saved, and the tigers leave. There’s a love story in the story within the story, and seeing things through the eyes of the tigers was fun, because they obviously have different priorities to humans.

I enjoyed the evocative descriptions, and the cultures and mythology of the civilisation of the books, which are clearly based on broadly east Asian, possibly more specifically Chinese and Mongolian, history, culture and mythology. I can’t wait to see what Chih gets up to next.

Non-Fiction TBR Pile Review: The Dark Fantastic – Race and the imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games

42129087
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 21st 2019 by
New York University Press
ISBN:1479800651 (ISBN13: 9781479800650)

Reveals the diversity crisis in children’s and young adult media as not only a lack of representation, but a lack of imagination

Stories provide portals into other worlds, both real and imagined. The promise of escape draws people from all backgrounds to speculative fiction, but when people of color seek passageways into the fantastic, the doors are often barred. This problem lies not only with children’s publishing, but also with the television and film executives tasked with adapting these stories into a visual world. When characters of color do appear, they are often marginalized or subjected to violence, reinforcing for audiences that not all lives matter.

The Dark Fantastic is an engaging and provocative exploration of race in popular youth and young adult speculative fiction. Grounded in her experiences as YA novelist, fanfiction writer, and scholar of education, Thomas considers four black girl protagonists from some of the most popular stories of the early 21st century: Bonnie Bennett from the CW’s The Vampire Diaries, Rue from Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Gwen from the BBC’s Merlin, and Angelina Johnson from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Analyzing their narratives and audience reactions to them reveals how these characters mirror the violence against black and brown people in our own world.

In response, Thomas uncovers and builds upon a tradition of fantasy and radical imagination in Black feminism and Afrofuturism to reveal new possibilities. Through fanfiction and other modes of counter-storytelling, young people of color have reinvisioned fantastic worlds that reflect their own experiences, their own lives. As Thomas powerfully asserts, “we dark girls deserve more, because we are more.”

Continue reading “Non-Fiction TBR Pile Review: The Dark Fantastic – Race and the imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games”

Review: Smoke Screen, by Thomas Enger & Jorn Lier Horst

SMOKE SCREEN
by Thomas Enger & Jørn Lier Horst
translated by Megan Turney
PUBLICATION DATE: 18 FEBRUARY 2021 | ORENDA BOOKS | PAPERBACK ORIGINAL | £8.99

Oslo, New Year’s Eve. The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion and the city is put on terrorist alert.

Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, she is identified as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Semplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier … and never found.

Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…

The second in the hard-boiled and furiously compelling Blix & Ramm series, created by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst, two of the biggest names in Nordic Noir.

Continue reading “Review: Smoke Screen, by Thomas Enger & Jorn Lier Horst”