30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Eighteen.

104115253_3891626224242814_8857612714780911463_oDay 18: The Wildlife Trusts’ Big Wild Weekend kicks off today with a talk hosted by CEO, Craig Bennett. He chats to an exciting panel of authors who were inspired by the natural world! You can register for the free talk here.

Nature is one of life’s great inspirations and no wonder there are so many authors who were/are inspired by its cruelty, terror and sheer beauty. Below is a non exhaustive list of authors who have been thus inspired.

The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Graham

This classic children’s story published in 1908 focuses on the adventures of Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger and is an example of anthropomorphism. With it’s evocative descriptions of the Edwardian countryside it had to make this list.

Animal Farm – George Orwell

Another example of anthropomorphism, with farm yard animals overthrowing their human masters but in time themselves becoming corrupted. Orwell’s anti-utopian satire is based on the Russian Revolution.

The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkein 

Tolkein heavily uses the natural world as a backdrop for his The Lord of the Rings saga. There are mountain ranges, rivers and old gnarly woods. He also uses anthropomorphism with his Ents (trees), giving them voices and personalities. The Lord of the Rings highlights that industrialisation creates an alienation with the natural world.

H is for Hawk – Helen McDonald 

This 2014 memoir recalls the author coming to terms with her grief as she trains her unruly goshawk. This book speaks loud and clear of how wildlife and nature can heal a broken heart and mind.

The Lost Words – Robert McFarlane 

It’s not just adults who are becoming disconnected with nature, children too are not learning of the magic from the natural world. Words like, conker, ivy, raven are becoming lost and this book of spells beautifully illustrated by Jackie Morris hopes to rectify that.

A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson

Bryson’s 1998 autobiographical account of his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail, shows him struggling to cope in the American wilderness.

Crow – Ted Hughes – Crow

The rural landscape of Hughes’ birthplace, Yorkshire had a lasting impression on his poetry, especially the animals that populated the rolling moors. Crow, The Thought Fox and the Hawk in the Rain are just a few of his collections.

Bird Therapy – Joe Harkness

The author, struggling with his mental health, writes this memoir highlighting the importance of nature on our well being. Using bird watching as a way out of depression.

Many Victorian novelists were heavily inspired by nature, such as the Brontë’s, Thomas Hardy and Charles’ Dickens. Not to mention the romantic poets, William Wordsworth and his Daffodils, John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s To a Skylark.

What is your favourite nature inspired book?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

First Line Fridays

I really need to get back into my blog, it’s been too long since I wrote a post! Here’s a First Line Fridays, a weekly feature hosted by Wandering Words, on judging a book by its opening lines rather than its cover or author.

Listen. Three miles deep in the forest just below Arnott’s Ridge, and you’re in silence so dense it’s like you’re wading through it.

Would you read on?

The lines are from JoJo Moyes’ latest novel, The Giver of Stars.

Alice Wright doesn’t love her new American husband. Nor her domineering father-in-law or the judgmental townsfolk of Baileyville, Kentucky. Stifled and misunderstood, she yearns for escape and finds it in defiant Margery O’Hare and the sisterhood bringing books to the isolated and vulnerable. But when her father-in-law and the town turn against them, Alice fears the freedom, friendship and the new love she’s found will be lost . . .

Have you read this book? What were your impressions?

What books are you reading at the moment?

Thanks for stopping by, Christine x

A Year in Books 2020 – July to September

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A Year in Books

Oh well!

This quarter of 2020’s A Year in Books has been very sparse indeed. With only one book read and currently still struggling through two books. This review will be very short and a quick blog to write.

The books I am currently reading are; The Sight of You – Holly Miller and Under the Stars – Matt Gaw. I wonder if I shall finish them by the end of the year?

Beyond the Moon – Catherine Taylor ✩✩

A strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War in 1916 and a young woman living in modern-day England a century later, in this haunting literary time travel novel.

Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Part war story, part timeslip, part love story – and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art.

The premise to this novel was good, a sort of time travel but I wasn’t totally won on the romance side, it seemed a little contrived to me. The author depicts the horrors of war and the barbarism of the medical treatment in the field quite well. However the narrative looses its way half way through and it all got a little tedious and repetitive. I did lose the will at one stage but found a fresh wind and managed to finish it.

I feel like I’ve given up on reading this year. Who knows perhaps the cold, darker nights of winter my plunge me back into the pages of a book.

Have you read any good books lately, any recommendations?

Thanks for dropping by,

Christine x

First Line Fridays

It’s been such a long time since I wrote a First Line Fridays, a weekly feature hosted by Wandering Words, on judging a book by its opening lines rather than its cover or author.

Joel, I’m so sorry. To see you again like that… Why did I get on the train? I should have waited for the next one. It wouldn’t have mattered. I missed my stop anyway, and we were late for the wedding.

The Sight of You – Holly Miller

Would you read on?

The lines are from the debut novel The Sight of You by Holly Miller. Joel is haunted by premonitions about the ones he loves.When Joel meets Callie it feels like a new start for them both, until Joel has a dream about Callie. The novel isn’t a laugh a minute, but I’m enjoying the narrative and wondering how it will end. It makes you question that if you knew when your life would end, would you live it differently?

Have you read this book? What were your impressions?

What books are you reading at the moment?

Thanks for stopping by, Christine x

A Year in Books 2020 – April to June

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A Year in Books

Since the end of June I’ve been in a bit of a slump regarding this post. I’ve just had no inclination to write it. Do any of my fellow bloggers ever feel that way? Anyway, better late than never! My reading in April started well due to lockdown but slowed as the summer months progressed. I’m bogged down at present with Catherine Taylor’s Beyond the Moon, I just don’t care for the characters or narrative. Have you ever read a book that you struggled with?

Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult  ✩✩✩

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

Quite a hard book to get into at the beginning but once the story warmed up I grew to enjoy it. There were some parts regarding racism that were not easy to read but the court case was entertaining enough.

Silver Bay – Jojo Moyes  ✩✩✩

Liza McCullen will never escape her past. But the unspoilt beaches and tight-knit community of Silver Bay offer the freedom and safety she craves – if not for herself, then for her young daughter, Hannah.

Until Mike Dormer arrives as a guest in her aunt’s hotel, and the peace of Silver Bay is shattered. The mild-mannered Englishman with his too-smart clothes and disturbing eyes could destroy everything Liza has worked so hard to protect: not only the family business and the bay that harbours her beloved whales, but also her conviction that she will never love – never deserve to love – again.

This Jojo Moyes novel is definitely a book to read on a hot summers day. The characters were likable and I enjoyed the descriptions of dolphin and whale watching. With a heart warming ending, it made for a pleasant read.

The Five – Hallie Rubenhold  ✩✩✩

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women.

Now, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, and gives these women back their stories.

Ever since I was young I’ve always loved anything to do with the mystery that was Jack the Ripper. This book is trying to give voice to his victims. Some of the information gathered is vague but what a revelation regarding Annie Chapman, who was a well do woman who sadly became down and out and faced her end at the sharp edge of a knife. A very thought provoking book.

Swimming Wild in the Lake District – Suzanna Cruikshank  ✩✩✩✩

An informative and inspiring book for both new and experienced wild swimmers, exploring the larger lakes in the beautiful Lake District National Park. It contains sections on getting started in wild swimming, how to look after your own safety and impartial advice on all the essential kit you’ll need.

Illustrated with stunning photography, and featuring overview maps, the book has all the practical information you need to plan your wild swimming adventure.

Whether you’re an experienced wild swimmer or just dipping your toes in the water for the first time you’ll find plenty to inspire your next adventure.

This book came out at exactly the right time. During lockdown I’d been itching for a wild swim fix and this book helped relieve that itch somewhat. With detailed chapters on access to all of the big lakes in the Lake District, there were only two in the book that I hadn’t visited. The information from this book helped me plan my first swim of 2020 in Coniston Water.

Reader, I Married Me! – Sophie Tanner  ✩✩

After breaking up with the love of her life, Chloe’s friends tell her she needs to get back out there, and find another man before it’s too late. But after a particularly disastrous date and one too many gins, Chloe has a revelation – she doesn’t need a man to make her happy. It’s up to her to do it herself.

Never one to do things by halves, Chloe decides to make the ultimate commitment to self-love – she’ll marry herself! But planning a solo wedding isn’t easy, and soon Chloe finds herself on a bumpy journey of self-discovery. Will she finally get her happy ever after?

Oh dear, this isn’t my kind of book and I don’t know why I even downloaded it! Looking for something to read during lockdown, I saw an advertisement for the book and well, I’m glad I managed to get through it. There were just too many stereotypes for my liking.

Max, the miracle Dog – Kerry Irving ✩✩✩✩

In 2006, a traumatic car accident changed Kerry Irving’s life forever.
 
Suffering from severe neck and back injuries, Kerry was unemployed and housebound, struggling with depression and even thoughts of suicide. He went from cycling over 600 miles a month to becoming a prisoner in his own home.
 
With hope all but lost, Kerry’s wife encouraged him to go on a short walk to the local shop. In the face of unbearable pain and overwhelming panic, he persevered and along the way, met an adorable yard dog named Max. As the Spaniel peered up through the railings, Kerry found comfort and encouragement in his soulful brown eyes. This chance encounter marked a turning point in both their lives.
 
In Max, Kerry found comfort and motivation and in Kerry, Max found someone to care for him. This is their remarkable, inspiring story.

A lovely heart warming read about a dog rescuing a man. Max and Kerry, with Paddy and Harry in tow have a strong following on their Facebook page, Max out in the Lake District.

The Botanist’s Daughter – Kayte Nunn ✩✩✩✩

Present day: Anna is focused on renovating her late grandmother’s house. But when she discovers a box hidden in a wall cavity, containing water colours of exotic plants, an old diary and a handful of seeds, she finds herself thrust into a centuries-old mystery. One that will send her halfway across the world in search of the truth.

1886: Elizabeth Trebithick is determined to fulfill her father’s dying wish and continue his life’s work as an adventurer and plant-hunter. So when she embarks on a perilous journey to discover a rare and miraculous flower, she will discover that the ultimate betrayal can be found even across the seas…

Two women, separated by centuries. Can one mysterious flower bring them together?

I really enjoyed this book and will look out for more novels by Kayte Nunn. Both female protagonists were likable and the adventure to Chile was exciting. Nunn managed to weave an entertaining narrative with a sad and shocking end.

Holding – Graham Norton ✩✩

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste. So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel.

I’m sorry but I didn’t like this sedate bumbling novel by Graham Norton. I found the narrative rather boring and didn’t care what happened to the characters.

Have you read any good books lately, any recommendations?

Thanks for dropping by,

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Twenty-six.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_26Day 26: For today’s 30 Days Wild, I’ll partake in a new activity for me, I’ll listen to a nature podcast. After a quick search on Google, I discovered that there were many podcasts relating to nature. Below are links to some of the podcasts I found related to me, literature, metal health and wild swimming, but there will be podcasts more suitable for your interests too. Happy listening!

Ramblings: Literary Walks: In 2011 Clare Balding took a walk around Heptonstall and Hebden Bridge, a landscape which inspired the writing of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

The Outdoor Fix: Wild Swimming with Suzanna Cruickshank.

Wild Swimming podcast: Lake District swimmer Sara Barnes shares why swimming means so much to her.

Ramblings: Health and Happiness: Clare Balding shares her favourite walks over the past 20 years.

What is your favourite podcast to listen to?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Thirteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_13 Day 13: I’ve been feeling down these past few days so a bit of a lazy post for today’s 30 Days Wild I’m afraid. Today’s blog is a poem from Philip Larkin, taken from the illustrated anthology, Birds, from The British Museum, edited by Mavis Pilbeam.

We have another patient in the form of a pigeon called Pete who has a sore wing. Fingers crossed he makes a full recovery.

Pigeons

On shallow slates the pigeons shift together,
Backing against a thin rain from the west
Blown across each sunk head and settled feather,
Huddling round the warm stack suits them best,
Till winter daylight weakens and they grow
Hardly defined against the brickwork. Soon,
Light from a small intense lopsided moon
Shows them, black as their shadows, sleeping so.

What are your thoughts on pigeons?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Eleven.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_11Day 11: Today is Throw Back Thursday! In 2015 I watched goldfinch fledglings beg for food from their ragged parents, and similarly in 2016 I set up a camcorder to record the visiting birds to our yarden feeders. I took a trip to Formby beach in 2017 and displayed my findings on a nature table. In 2018 I got close up with a tadpole and read from Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’ The Lost Words in 2019.

So for today’s Throw Back Thursday, I shall return to Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’ wonderful book, The Lost Words

This adaption of Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending with ‘the little astronaut’, skylark spell was performed as part of The Proms, on the 25th August 2019 at The Royal Albert Hall.

What is you favourite piece of music inspired by a bird or animal?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays, a weekly feature hosted by Wandering Words, on judging a book by its opening lines rather than its cover or author.

It was widely accepted by the residents of Duneen that, should a crime be committed and Sergeant Collins managed to apprehend the culprit, it would be very unlikely that the arrest had involved a pursuit on foot.

holding

Graham Norton: Holding

Would you read on?

The lines are from the 2016 debut novel, Holding, from TV and radio presenter Graham Norton. I’ve not read any Norton but I am finding though his prose is easy to read, that the story is rather sedate. It reads more of an exercise in characterisation than a crime novel.

Have you read this book? What were your impressions?

What books are you reading at the moment?

Thanks for stopping by,

Christine x

First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays, a weekly feature hosted by Wandering Words, on judging a book by its opening lines rather than its cover or author.

Dear Jason, I’ve done a lot of things in my life but I definitely think writing a letter without knowing if it’ll ever get read has to be one of the maddest!

half a world away

Half a World Away

Would you want to read on?

The line comes from the 2019 Richard and Judy book club selection, Half a World Away by Mike Gayle. This is the first novel I have read of his. The story of siblings separated by the care system and then finally meeting after 30 years reads true. I’m halfway through and think the narrative is building to a poignant ending.

What books are you reading at the moment?

Thanks for stopping by,

Christine x