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Kika & Me, How One Guide Dog Changed My Life, Amit Patel

Kika & Me, How One Guide Dog Changed My Life, Amit Patel

Kika & Me: How one extraordinary guide dog changed my world by [Patel, Amit]

Genre: Non Fiction, Biography and memoirs

Well, most of us know about assistance dogs now, but when I was a kid Guide dogs were quite new, and there was lots of fundraising to train them. They really are a life line for people and in this book we can see just how important they are for visually impaired people.
Kika really did give Amit a new life. I remember a lady mum worked for as a cleaner, her ex policeman husband was blind. This would be mid 60’s, he spent all day every day in his bed in their living room. The house was a typical mid terrace, and from what I recall there was no support for him. What an awful life he must have had, they didn’t have TV, he couldn’t read, there was no such thing as audio books. Once every couple of weeks a friend would take him out for a short walk. Horrendous life, and yet apart from his blindness he was well. Dogs like Kika allow folk to keep their independence.

I have very bad eyesight, rely on some pretty strong lenses, and possibly may lose my sight as I get older. I treasure being able to see, to be able to do what I want, be independent still. I loved reading about Kika, her training, her individualism, her fierce protectiveness for Amit. When he gives examples of times when she refused to move and help that came told him she was right, to move was dangerous, it showed me just how much trust he needed to put in her. To regain his Independence it was necessary, but its not easy.

It was an inspirational read, Amit could so easily have lapsed into depression, as he did in those first days, and that would have ruined not only his life, but his wife and parents too. It must have been so hard to pick life up again – he was so young, but his wife and parents were determined being blind would just become part of his life, not the defining characteristic. I really enjoyed his journey from emergency doctor, to blindness ( not that I enjoyed that bit of course) and how he managed to get out of the depression, how hard he worked, how first the long cane, and then Kika helped him become what he wanted, a functioning, useful part of society, a god husband and son, and ultimately a good father too. All that took so much work, its not an easy journey and I am so in awe of his strength and support from family. May he have a long and happy life ahead of him.

Stars: Five, a fantastic, inspirational read of a real life experience.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Man Behind the Tudors, Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, Kirsten Claiden-Yardley

The Man Behind the Tudors, Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, Kirsten Claiden-Yardley

Genre: History, Non-fiction (adult)

I’ve read many books set in the Tudor period, set from the perspective of the Kings or Queens of the time. I’ve always wondered what drives the men ( and women) behind the scenes, the ones who have real power but need to keep on the right side of the Royals. Its a dangerous place to be.
Thomas Howard is one such man, well known in the context of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard but not really for himself. This book takes us from his childhood to his death in his eighties.
In an age where kings changed, loyalties changed, even religion changed that’s an incredible thing for a senior courtier to successfully wade through for so long. Many innocent people lost their lives on little more than the king’s whim, paranoia, gossips and hearsay. That Thomas managed to not only survive that but thrive in it, settling his family down, expanding his personal and family wealth and position is amazing to me. He was clearly a very clever man, but one able to walk that thin line between respect and honesty to his king, and telling him what he needed to know, doing what needed to be done for king and country.
I liked that the author explained where he’d sourced material, where it made it clear what was fact, backed up by primary evidence and what was speculation.

I found it an interesting read but….very much like a text book to read. Very date, people and places heavy, where I prefer a little more of the personal side, to really feel as if I know the main character.
Its just a different style of reading to that which I normally choose, and there is so much going on, so many people, so many changes, alliances, marriages and deaths, and remarriages, that I found it difficult to keep up. That’s all a personal issue though, nothing to do with the book. It never pretends to be anything other than an account of Thomas Howard’s life, but more an issue of my expectation.

Stars: Three, an excellent account of Thomas Howard’s life, very detailed but just a little too heavy for me personally to enjoy more.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Before and After, The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, Judy Christie, Lisa Wingate

Before and After, The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, Judy Christie, Lisa Wingate

Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children's Home Society by [Wingate, Lisa, Christie, Judy]

Genre: biography and memoirs

I loved Lisa’s Before We Were Yours, a heartbreaking story, and after publishing it she was contacted by people who until they read it didn’t realise they were part of the huge scandal, the selling of children. What an awful thing to learn.
Lisa decided to research more into the real stories, the awful business Tann ran, stealing children and selling them as orphans…..over 5,000 children stolen, often to a tailored description of the child wanted. We saw in the first book how those poor kids were taken, treated so harshly, how many of them died, and those that survived were treated as part of a for profit business by Tann. Its a horrific story, shocking how easy iot was for her to get away with it, how many people must have suspected even if they didn’t know, just what was going on. The poor kids too, taken from parents they loved, and treated as objects, no thoughts to how they felt, just how much money they would fetch. Families split up, so not only did they lose parents but siblings too.
Its makes heartbreaking reading, some of these real life stories, but at least many of those folk who’d always felt “outside” their families now have a sense of understanding why, and some were able to trace siblings. I still find it hard to get my head around the scale of the business, how it went on for so many years. As Edmund Burke says “All that is needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.”
Its a hard story to read at times, but with moments of lightness when things go right, and hopefully shining a light on this atrocity will help prevent future ones. Those children though, will never get that time with their parents back, had their lives changed irrevocably. They may have had good lives, but it still wasn’t the life they were meant to live. I had to read this in sections, it was just so emotional in parts.

Stars: Three, an emotional read, the story behind the story. I had to read in stages, I found it incredibly moving and I just kept thinking “what if?” what if someone had said something when it first started. We can’t change the past though, only hope it influences the future.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Mindful Artist: Sumi-e Painting: Master the meditative art of Japanese brush painting. Virginia Lloyd-Davies

Mindful Artist: Sumi-e Painting: Master the meditative art of Japanese brush painting.

Virginia Lloyd-Davies

Genre: Arts & Photography, Crafts & Hobbies

I’ve always loved the “less is more” approach of oriental paintings. I struggle with the concept, and fiddle too much, and that loses the lovely light serenity of these works. This books shows me some of where I’ve been going wrong and has some simple exercises to get started along this way.
I enjoyed too the focus on mindful painting, ensuring you are in the correct way of thinking, relaxed, not rushed, that enables such simple but harmonious works. I can see that’s something I haven’t paid attention to enough in the past. I had noticed in my art that seasons and my mood influences what I paint and the results, but haven’t tried to consciously influence my mood. That’s something worth trying in future.

I quickly learned another reason my attempts have been massive fails. I have good watercolour paints, brushes and paper, but they are not correct for this type of work, and as the basics are inexpensive I’ve ordered a few brushes, a couple of pots of ink and some rice paper to try once more, and of course this time I’ll pay attention to my mood, my consciousness.

Its a beautiful book, simple and effective and one that’s well worth any artist taking a look. I have it as an e-book, but I think as for so much non fiction practical books a physical copy would be better, and of course allow me to really savour those gorgeous illustrations.

Stars: Five a fabulous practical book, for both painting and relaxation techniques. When my supplies arrive I’ll be trying out the exercises here and hopefully improve upon my past attempts at painting in this style.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Edit Dec 3rd. My rice paper arrived a few weeks back, brushes last week and yay, inks yesterday ( just black, couldn’t afford colours yet) so I’ll be playing later today hopefully. Hopefully I’ll have some pics to add to my review soon.

Ancient Egyptian Myths, Gods and Pharoahs, Creation and the Afterlife. Catherine Chambers

Ancient Egyptian Myths, Gods and Pharoahs, Creation and the Afterlife. Catherine Chambers

Genre: Non fiction (Adult), History

The pyramids….who hasn’t been fascinated in their creation, the how and why Egyptians came to create them. They were incredibly elaborate decoratively, but the construction uses mathematical calculations we thought were discovered in the 1600s. Clearly the Egyptians were centuries ahead of modern day man in that way.
The Gods and Goddesses, the myths and legends that grew up around them fascinated me as a child and reading this wonderful book brought back much of that magic. Its a very dense read, Catherine fully explores all elements surrounding the Gods, the changing names, how they came about and why. It’s illustrated too with wonderful photos of surviving artifacts. It amazes me that we can still have things thousands of years old, I like to imagine someone carving one of these little objects, putting their heart and beliefs into it, and that carries through to today even though the creator is long gone.

Its a wonderful read but I have it on PC as an epub read, and for me that’s hard going, and the reason its taken so long to read. Its very full of information that can’t jst be skimmed but needs time to absorb and appreciate, so I’ve been reading a little every now and then, mulling over the content when not reading. My youngest grandson has just being learning about Egyptian history and we’d recently talked over some of the things I found in this book. It was good to have a wider and more complete source than an 8 yr old primary school text 🙂
I think that as with most non-fiction books it would be better in physical form. I love my kindle but undoubtedly some books need to be “old school” print to get the best from them. If I had this book as a physical one I’m sure I’d be dipping in and out of it constantly.
Even though this society is thousands of years past its still a fascination for so many of us, and this book really fleshes out so many of the myths I know on the periphery, and goes into detailed information as to how and why they may have originated.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read, but would be best on physical book form.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Nature Tonic, A Year in My Mindful Life, Jocelyn de Kwant

Nature Tonic, A Year in My Mindful Life, Jocelyn de Kwant

Nature Tonic by [Kwant, Jocelyn de]

Genre: Crafts & Hobbies , Outdoors & Nature

I’ve always loved Nature, loved to be outside, enjoying plants, trees and wildlife.
I was interested to read this book, as I think many of us have forgotten just how restorative nature can be. We live in a rushed world, dominated by clocks, timetables, schedules and maybe taking a step back and appreciating what Nature does for us, ruled by her own timetables of night and day, seasons, where each day is a fresh new start can really help us.
Studies have shown how depression is helped by natural light, and I think this book goes that step further, in encouraging us to look around, see whats surrounds us, how it works, how seasons change, even times of day bring variations in nature. Some plants open at night, others during day, and others only in full sun.

There are daily tips, suggestions on what to do each day to encourage the reader to focus on their surroundings. I think that’s great, sometimes we’re overloaded with advice, see the challenge of adding something new into life as just too much, haven’t the time, don’t know where to start. All those excuses, where in this little book all we need to do is just take one step, do one thing a day. There’s no pressure, its nothing more than simply looking, smelling, thinking.
For example there’s a section on trees, suggesting studying different leaves, pick one and identify it, look for baby trees around a mature one, look at bark patterns of different trees and perhaps draw some. Nothing that can’t be done in just five minutes if wished, but which can be expanded to take however much time we want to spend on the task.
I think for all of us this book is great at reminding us how nature goes on, year after year, without interference. It reminds us of our roots, our food, whats really important in life. (Tip: Its not just 9am at the office) work will be done and gone, what seems all important now and is causing so much grief and pressure will pass, but Nature is always there. Finding our place, fitting in to the world around us, feeling part of it is humbling but also uplifting, and its that uplift of spirits that so many of us need.

Take a few minutes out of your day to look around at nature for a week, see how much better you feel at the end of it. Then buy this book, and follow the suggestions, it’s really worth it, especially if you are depressed and maybe need that little help of the daily tips to get started. In keeping with the simplicity of the text there are numerous simple illustrations that fit perfectly.

Stars: Five, a really helpful book, whether you’re a nature lover or just looking for a way to get through the daily grind, and lighten your thoughts and stress.
Arc via Netgalley

Drawing: Horses, Walter Foster

Drawing: Horses, Walter Foster

Genre: , Arts & Photography, crafts and hobbies

This is a fabulous book BUT its not for beginners, whatever the blurb says. Each illustration has just 3-4 “steps” although the shading and rendering of individual parts of the horse is covered in more detail separately.
I know when I first started painting I needed the more detailed step by step books, those with about ten steps. I found with less my paintings would go from looking like the illustrations more or less in the early stage, to nothing like. I’d be thinking “but how did they do that bit?” and found it frustrating.
I could follow this book easily now but as a beginner I know I’d have struggled and been discouraged.

I think focusing on specific parts of the horse, and the tips on shaping and shading really useful. I liked that the book covers different breeds, as a horse lover and former owner I know just how different a Shetland is to a Shire or an Arab, and if you want your horses to look real, not a generic blend of horse shape this is essential.

Overall its a brilliant book IMO for those with some drawing skills and a little confidence but it is NOT one for beginners. If you do buy it and don’t have that experience I think you need to practice drawing the parts of the horse, hooves, muzzles etc before tackling the whole horse.

Stars: Four, its a fabulous book, full of tips to help draw realistic equines, but I’ve dropped a star because I just don’t feel this is suitable for beginners despite the description.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Some insights into reviewing

The fabulous Mary Ann Marlowe asked me if I wanted to take part in a blog post she was doing about reviewers. She had some great questions and it made me think about what I’d been doing as a reviewer. Its something I fell into by accident but have gained great satisfaction from ( and a lot of wonderful books to read). I still buy books, still am a KU member and borrow books that way. I just love to read.
Maryann’s books:  http://www.maryannmarlowe.com/?cat=7

Some Kind of Magic (Flirting with Fame Book 1) by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

 

 

 

My review of Some Kind of Magic https://jeanniezelos.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/caraval-stephanie-garber-some-kind-of-magic-mary-ann-marlowe/

 

A Crazy Kind of Love (Flirting with Fame Book 2) by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

 

 

 

 

My review of A Crazy Kind of Love https://jeanniezelos.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/a-crazy-kind-of-love-mary-ann-marlowe-van-a-cold-fury-hockey-novel-sawyer-bennett/

Dating by the Book by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

 

 

 

 

Coming 25th June 2019

How long have you been reviewing books? Why did you start?

Seems like ages, but its about six/seven years I think. I love reading, saw an ad on amazon forums for a reviewer for a blog reviewing supernatural reads. That lasted about a year before closing down, and in the meantime I’d found Netgalley ( Egalley ARC site) and started my own blog.

What’s your favourite thing about reviewing books?

I love to read, getting review books lets me indulge in my hobby. as a quick reader I couldn’t afford to buy all these books, although I still love to reread favourites.

How many books do you read in a year generally? How do you usually find books to read?

I read more than I review, with personal purchases, free books and KU reads. I don’t always review those, depends on time commitment but if I’ve received a book for review I always write review for that. I see it as my part of the bargain. Reviewing takes time, I do a first rough draft, then run through and correct it, adding more, taking bits out and correcting spellings, ( I can spell, I can’t hits keys in the right order!!) then save a copy and add to online sites. Although I often intend to review the other books life sometimes gets in the way.
I keep a spreadsheet with all review books listed and publication dates so I know when to post and where I’ve posted. I’m approaching 2,500 on the spreadsheet so as I only started this a year or so in to reviewing when I began getting more books, that sounds about right for the 2-300 a year reviewed.
I guess I read maybe 4-500 a year and review around 2-300. I’ve not done so many recently as I’m in temporary accommodation while my home is being renovated and its hard finding the right mindset to review.

What is your typical process for deciding which books to review? For instance, do you go by what strikes your mood or make lists to tackle like homework? Do you accept requests to review from authors directly (and if so, how)?
What I read day to day is very mood dependent, and being in temporary accommodation has meant i don’t read so many of the intense reads, the complex ones as its hard to concentrate, and I’ve not felt in the mood for those.
I write reviews in the mornings, so if I’ve just finished a review book I won’t read another in that genre until I’ve written my review – found out the hard way that its easy to confuse two similar books when writing reviews, so now i keep only one of each genre in my head until review finished.
When choosing books I have quite eclectic tastes but romance figures heavily, whether its contemporary, suspense or fantasy. I try to research titles when i can, looking to see if I’ve enjoyed past books by an author, trying to find a sample to read or to see if other reviewers whose tastes I share have read it. I hate writing low star reviews, just means a book isn’t right for me, not that its a bad book, and that’s not always easy to get across. By researching first hopefully I avoid most of those. I spend anything from a couple of mins to twenty mins or so looking at each book request. Sometimes its clear pretty quick that I’ll love or loathe it but often its a case of thinking, does this sound right? Do I feel a connection/am I interested to see what happens. Existing books are easier, I can download samples, but many review books are months ahead of release, so unless I’ve read from that author before its a tough decision. Do I risk having to write a two star if I don’t like it, or conversely refuse it and miss a gem of a read….
I mostly get books via Netgalley now, but do have several authors who’ve contacted me over the years and I review their new reads – if they sound right for me. I used to open my blog for reviews but got so many requests that I simply couldn’t read them all, and the pre-choice research takes time too, so I now have a message that I don’t accept requests. I still get a few offers that way, and each gets looked at to see if its one for me.
What I hate is when I get requests such as one recently ” I see you reviewed xyz title, and wondered if you’d review my book?” Very often, authors haven’t really looked at what I review, nor is their book comparable to the one they quoted. In one case, about a month ago, the book offered for review was a contemporary romance, a short story of just 12 pages. I never read those, they just don’t work for me, ditto novellas unless they’re part of a series, and the book the author compared hers to was a full length fantasy suspense.
I do get constant requests to review “how to make a fortune with bitcoin/forex/day trading/how to lose a stone in ten days/how to write a bestseller/how to xxx” Those just go straight to junk. If an author can’t be bothered to see if their book fits what I read I’m not going to waste time on it, and these scam books are a particular hot button for me.

Do you review every book you intend to? If not, why might you choose not to review?
Occasionally I’ve chosen one that sounds perfect for me but I just can’t get through it, I’ve one like that right now. I’m at 20% and struggling to like the characters, the story, just can’t get into the book. Its one where its me not the book though, so rather than slog through and regret the time I’ve wasted I’ll return it to netgalley with a note that i couldn’t finish. I think over the years I’ve been with Netgalley ( 2012 joined, I just looked it up) I’ve returned maybe 15 books that way. I’ve also had a handful with formatting errors, where text too faint to read, too small, or has weird gaps and words that run into one. Reference books too, cookery, and gardening are ones I love, but don’t really work well as e-Books and I don’t really read on my pc or tablet.

If you give numeric ratings, what is your strategy for determining values? Are you stingy with 5 stars? Will you give a book 1 star?

A good book is 3-4, a great book 4-5, one I don’t really like overall but enjoyed parts will be 2-3. I rarely write one star, only if the book is really error ridden ( not formatting, but basic spelling and grammar, what I think of lazy editing), or in the case of two I one starred, they were complete rip offs of another popular book. Both of those had the exact same story outline in detail. They’d renamed characters and made some tiny changes but presented the book as something original when it wasn’t.
As an artist copyright really is important to me and I hate seeing folk trying to profit from someone else hard work.

What’s your opinion on authors reading reviews of their own books? When writing a review, are you concerned the author may read it? Does that ever influence your review?
When I’ve been contacted direct I always send a copy of review to author, I’m happy for them to read what I’ve written, its my honest opinion. Its hard when I thought I’d like a book and didn’t, but I try to stress in my summing up that book tastes are subjective, and though I didn’t enjoy it others will. It doesn’t influence my review – at least not consciously – as otherwise review ratings would become meaningless. I do find sending an author a copy of a two star review hard…but hopefully my initial weeding out and research prevents that happening often.

What’s your philosophy about interacting with authors? Do you tag them on reviews? Follow authors? Chat with them?
I follow a few of my favourites who write series so I know when next due out. I chat with a handful via email, I probably ought to add tags to reviews but my non tech brain hasn’t quite got that fixed yet. I know how, its just more time though, looking up who to tag and adding it. Its something I need to work on…one day! I used to be FB friends with several authors until Amazon decided that friendship and reviewing were incompatible. Amazon can be pretty draconian about removing reviews. In the last year I’ve had that happen twice. 3,000+ reviews gone overnight. Both times I appealed, said I was open, honest about reviews, use my own name, don’t accept money or any free products except a copy of the book. They even regard things like author competitions where not just a book but a voucher is a prize, so I don’t do those now.
I’m really wary of falling foul of their rules, but as I’ve experienced, it happens really easily. there’s no communication, the first time I noticed when I went to add a book review and found I couldn’t, and that everything was gone, second time an author contacted me to say my review was missing although it had been there a few days prior. I was lucky getting them reinstated but I’ve no idea why they went in the first place?
Sadly their review rules now mean people still get products( free books are allowed, free products are not) free for review, but as its harder to find folk willing to take the risk producers now offer payment as well as free products. I know because I get maybe 100-150 requests to review products each week. The way they bend Amazon rules is reviewer purchases as normal, sellers then refund cost plus a small fee via paypal once review is up. Of course they want five stars and are unlikely to pay unless that’s what they get. So Amazon efforts to tighten up fake reviews have led to less reviews overall, but even more fake ones. IMO
I add my reviews to Amazon com and uk, goodreads and my blog, but of course its Amazon that’s what authors really want, so I’m very careful to stay within guidelines. I used to do B&N but their site is so temperamental I gave up some months back.

How do you think authors should interact with bloggers ? Do you want authors to read your reviews? RT links to them? Ignore them?
I’m happy for authors to do what they want, quote from reviews, read them, link to them, tag them. I don’t mind what they do, I write honestly so I don’t mind anything that helps sell books.

Have you ever received a response from an author after giving a bad review? If so, can you vaguely share what happened?
I hate low starring reviews but its necessary if I’m to be honest about how a book affects me. I have had one lady write to me about a two star saying she understood her book wasn’t for me, and she was pleased I’d made the point that it was a personal interaction with the story, not that it was a bad book. I still felt awful though, I know how hard authors work, and it must feel uncomfortable when someone doesn’t like your story. I paint, and of course there are folk that just don’t connect with my style, hate it. That’s how it goes but it still feels personal. I guess the art of growing a thicker skin is needed whether its books, art, anything you’ve created that others may have an opinion on.
I did get a lady email me to remove my review once. It wasn’t a two or three star review, but a four. It was her first book, and she was concerned because my four star review was showing first and a couple of five star ones were below it ( and reading them I suspect they were from friends, didn’t write much about the book itself just gushed…) . I was pretty astonished, to me a four star book is good. I thought hard but eventually removed it from Amazon, because I feel four stars is positive, and removing wouldn’t really make much difference. It stayed on GR and my blog. I felt an undertone from her in that what she really wanted was for me to make it five star rather than remove it, but for me a four was the right rating. I did tell her I wouldn’t usually remove a review, its an opinion from one reader, and I take time over writing them. I value them when I’m selecting reads, and I write honestly about how I feel as regards a story.
I also told her I wouldn’t review for her a second time ( but have just realised I can’t remember her name so in reality I may!) I’m still astonished by her request. I’ve been reviewing for maybe 7 or 8 years now and that’s the only time I’ve ever been asked to remove my review.

What advice do you have for authors who might get a negative review from you (or any blogger)?
See it as positive, its a balance, an opinion from one person. It may be that what that person doesn’t like is what makes it perfect for someone else. I’ve bought books for exactly that reason. Reading tastes vary so much, so not all books suit all readers even if brilliantly written. I hate Terry Pratchett, David Eddings, Neil Gaimon books, eldest son and millions of other readers love them. Perfect example, we both love Fantasy but different types of fantasy.
I tend to read a couple of high star reviews and a couple of low ones before choosing, so low stars help balance. If a book has a clutch of five stars but none really say anything except how wonderful it is I tend to get suspicious, ditto those where the reader has only reviewed this or a couple of books. I’m more likely to take note of a review from someone who’s reviewed lots of books.

Do you ever get any positive feedback from authors?
Yes, and I love it when authors take the time to say they like my review. Especially if I’ve picked up on a point they were making…its kind of hard to write what I mean, but that sort of undercurrent, seeing that someone isn’t all bad, connecting with a book on a personal level and knowing that there’s been a lot or research to get details right. That sort of thing. ( Pet hate: The Horse Whisperer. I took that to read in hospital not knowing what it was about – I just love horses and that connection appealed. Of course I should have read more, I was in to have most of my left leg amputated! I can tell you from experience getting back to riding after amputation is nothing like it was portrayed in that book, there are things there that are simply not physically possible ( continuing with a cracked limb socket, been there and it won’t stay on, climbing a fence and mounting – tried that too when i fell off out in woods, can’t do it) and made me really annoyed to read.

Have you met or become friends with any of the authors you’ve reviewed? If so, how has that changed your relationship with reviewing in general?
Never met any, have become in a lose way, online friends with a few but I try to keep friendship and reviewing separate. Having said that I’d find it hard to do if any of my longtime real-life friends wrote a book….

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened as a direct result of your decision to review a book?
Nothing really specific. Getting such a variety of reads is a bonus, I simply couldn’t afford to buy all the books I want. I used to be an avid library user, but I’ve eyesight issues that make printed text difficult to read and a whole book is impossible, so ebooks came at the perfect time for me. I can alter text size, fond, boldness etc.

One Million followers, How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days, Brendan Kane.

One Million followers, How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days, Brendan Kane.

One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days by [Kane, Brendan]

Genre: Business and Investing,  Nonfiction (Adult)

Like many of the (cough) slightly older generation I’m not altogether au fait with how the internet works. I use social media, blog about art and books, but actual publicity? Nope, my growth is just something that happens, I’ve little idea on how to influence it, so the title of this book intrigued me. 30 days – I could do that…couldn’t I?

Well, the answer is no. I could if pushed spend 30 days promoting my site but without substantial financial input that wouldn’t get me too far. Its not really clear from the title but this book is aimed at growing followers by spending money. Admittedly there’s lots of info on how best to do that, where to place it for maximum use, but I suspect most folk like me just don’t have a spare few thousand lying around to use on promotion.

I was expecting advice on how to make sites more relevant, how to make them attractive to visitors, pull then in that way and thus followers would be ones to stick around, but most of this appears to be about Getting the followers, not keeping them. A kind of Blunderbuss effect, throw a site in front of millions of folk and hope some click Follow. TBH one million people who don’t read books or are not interested in art, wouldn’t help me even if I spend money I haven’t got on getting them.

Its interesting reading in parts, bogged down in others, and I found myself skipping fairly huge chunks of it. It didn’t really tell me much I didn’t already know, and wasn’t really relevant to me as a small blogger.
If you’ve a biggish company with a promotional budget, I suspect you’ll find lots of helpful information here, but my little blogs don’t really compare to the sites of Taylor Swift, Rhianna, MTV et al, and without substantial inputs of money most folk aren’t going to achieve anything like one million followers.

Stars: Three, some parts were interesting to read but most just not relevant to the average small site owner.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Old English Medical Remedies, Mandrake, Wormwood and Raven’s Eye, Sinead Spearing

Old English Medical Remedies, Mandrake, Wormwood and Raven’s Eye,  Sinead Spearing

Genre:  Health, Mind & Body , History

I’m kind of conflicted about this review. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, which was actual historical remedies and then a discussion on individual issues from them in the light of today’s knowledge.
I’m fascinated by old ways, remedies that were surprisingly effective, gained from acute observation of patient, remedy and effects mixed in with what seems to us much weirdness, gathering herbs on certain days, standing in certain position, using different coloured materials and of course the ever present evils of the day….What I got was an intensely interesting read, but which was much more like an academic treatise, at times pretty hard going for a hobby historian like myself.
I think that really needs to be made clearer in the description as I can see from reviews several others felt the same.

I really enjoyed the remedies and discussions when they cropped up, learning about how many are finding their way into modern medicine. The discussion too on why practices that seem so irrelevant to us now, with our science knows all outlook, things like times, days, colours, that are all set down so precisely were so important and not the side dressing they appear.
It reminded me of the way I read years back that so many recipes called for “the water of a man-child” and that seems sexist. Did they really think male urine was somehow stronger, more special? No, but the penis naturally allows urine to remain sterile longer while female urine can get skin contamination more easily as its gathered. Simple but important stuff. They may not have know why, but observation and records will have shown them that male urine was more effective.
Then too we now have a whole school of theory based around bio-dynamics, incorporating moon schedules for planting etc.

I found fascinating the research now done on intention of thought, where research was done on stands of human DNA, one group were asked to hold the vial while maintaining a heightened state of emotional positivity, the second asked to mentally intend to unwind the strand of DNA and the third group asked to do both. There was a marked difference in the first two groups compared with the third, with that one showing material change. It lead to a conclusion that focused intention could produce a material change, a small study but certainly food for thought, and one that could explain why intention was regarded as so important.
We’re so quick to dismiss what doesn’t fit our current science theories that we often dismiss old words, and yet as shown on the MRSA antibiotic, we could be losing valuable cures. Just because there seems no science base, no logic doesn’t mean a theory or remedy in invalid. I remember my shock years back when my PC/IT son told me about water being research for computer chips as water has a memory…I still find that hard to take 😉

Its a fascinating read, but so intense and academic that I found it hard at times, and I’ve skimmed through, reading sections that catch my eye. Its certainly a read I’ll dip back into for sheer interest, and its very clear the author has a real knowledge and passion for the subject. I had convinced that what she wrote had been thoroughly researched and checked, and wasn’t just an opinion of hers, but something gleaned from thorough analysis of the texts available.
For me though a read that was a bit lighter, or a better description so I knew what to expect would have made me happier.

Stars: 4, a great read for anyone interested in old remedies and the history of why they were so used.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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