The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us ~ A Diary by Emma Mitchell
Welcome to my stop on The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell Blog Tour. It is thanks to bestselling author Joanna Cannon who pointed out Emma’s beautiful book to me and I rushed out and got myself a copy in January. As I write this piece for this blog tour I am watching a small group of Long-tailed Tits playing around the tree and one of the Long-tailed Tits comes and sits on the window ledge and looks through the window at me. It is as if it knows I am writing this important blog post. Nature really can inspire and heal.
At the end of this Blog Post there is thanks to Michael O’Mara Books a chance to win a copy of this beautiful and important book.
For Emma Mitchell who has suffered with depression (or the Grey Slug) as she refers it to moved away from the built up city to Cambridge and close to the fens. It was at this point that Emma discovered the real beauty of nature and it really became natures cure.
With each walk there would be photographs and collecting natures little gifts as well as drawing and painting and it is here within the pages of The Wild Remedy that you really get to see and experience the both the writer and artist that is Emma Mitchell. A real joy and a pleasure to read. But there is a purpose to this beautiful book. This is Emma’s guide to the natures calendar year. Starting in October as the leaves turn to their stunning colourful display before it shuts down for the winter this is a month by month guide on how to see nature in all its real beauty. A year of exploring and a year of discovering the flora and fauna of the walks Emma took close to her home and it is through words and paintings and
photographs that Emma opens up and candidly talks about her depression and also the darkest of times as Emma battles Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
But it through the walks and discovering nature through the year the change from Winter to Spring, a bird’s feather so delicate and intricate. Often Emma would walk with her Lurcher, Annie who is her walking companion and together seek the peace that only nature can give.
When Emma returns home, she recounts her walk with her writing and photos as well as her sketches and paintings. The Wild Remedy is not just a book about nature it is an important book about allowing ourselves to be at one with nature and also how nature can help us on our road to healing. A book to treasure and also to help each and everyone one of us. Highly Recommended.
PRIZE DRAW – A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF THE WILD REMEDY BY EMMA MITCHELL.
For a chance to win a copy of stunningly beautiful The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell. Head to my Twitter account @thelastword1962 Follow and Retweet either the Review or Prize draw Tweets. The competition closes on Friday evening 22nd March at 7pm.
Please note: This is a UK only competition and the winner will be drawn and notified by a DM message on Twitter. Michael O’Mara the publisher of The Wild Remedy will be sending the lucky winner a copy in the post. Good luck!
Thank you to Alara Delfrosse for the review copy of The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell.
The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell was published by Michael O’Mara and was published on 27th December 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell – The Blog Tour
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li
This book really intrigued me before I started reading Number One Chinese Restaurant the debut by Lillian Li. (One, Imprint of Pushkin Press). I need not have worried. An incredible novel set in a Chinese restaurant and the character’s that both run and work there. We have all eaten in restaurants but how many take time just to stop and think about what really goes on behind the scenes.
This really is the ultimate character driven novel as there are many and you get to meet them. The trials and tribulations of the members of staff at the Beijing Duck House, Rockville, Maryland. They have been dishing up Chinese food now for many decades but when you have many people working closely together even if they are as close as a family, there are the usual tensions that are bubbling away just under the surface.
One aspect of this fabulous novel that I really enjoyed was each of the characters you get to meet in each of the chapters. So many interesting threads through the book that keeps you wanting to know more about the people who work there many as immigrants and their offspring. This really is a very large family drama being played out page by page.
There is Jimmy whose passion is to break away and set up his own restaurant but his relationship with Johnny is complex and many then there is Nan who is the Manager of the Duck House Restaurant and that of Ah-Jack who seems to have been there forever but he is formidable character.
Even in the best of family’s trouble can simmer and bubble to the surface and this does come through in Li’s writing and it is Nan who seems to have to deal with the many complex characters who work there. We also get to meet one of the original owners Feng Fei Wang who is full of zeal, she is wise but can stand up for herself if needs be.
It is a heart-warming story interjected with humour of characters that are workers, friends, family and more. This really is a compelling novel I found hard to leave alone for too long. Lillian Li’s prose is delicious and one I devoured like my favourite Chinese meal. Highly Recommended .
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION
Thank you to Tabitha Pelly at Pushkin Press for the review copy of Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li.
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li was published by One an imprint of Pushkin Press and was published on 7th Febraury 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
Today as book lovers across the world we are celebrating are love of books as today marks World Book Day 2019 and book lovers are sharing their favourite books, past and present. Children are going to school dressed as their favourite characters from books they have loved.
Today I thought I would share one book I read when I was very young that had a profound effect on me. First released in 1971 ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ by Judith Kerr. This is a semi-autobiographical story of a young Jewish girl and her family escaping the Nazis.
The story begins in Berlin in 1933 and Anna discovers that her beloved Papa has gone missing. Papa knows that if Adolf Hitler wins the forthcoming elections the family will be in grave danger. Anna and the rest of her family do not wait to find out and secretly escape Berlin and head to Switzerland.
Anna cannot take all her toys with her and leaves behind her ‘Pink Rabbit’ and it is this that gives the book its title as Anna believes that Hitler has stolen her Pink Rabbit.
As the family settle in Switzerland Papa believes that the family should move to Paris so he travels alone to the French capital to seek a new family home but now the Nazis have found out and have put a price on Papa’s head.
So it was that When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr seemed to start me asking questions about what really happened in WWII and I started to read books from the Library on the Holocaust and the more I read the more horrified I was and I remember asking questions of my teachers at school that I wanted to learn about the persecution of the Jewish race from Germany and across mainland Europe and the death camps.
I watched in horror the major TV series World at War narrated by Laurence Olivier in what was the most expensive TV series ever made at that time equivalent to nearly £11 Million in today’s money. As they years moved on I learned more and more and read more and read the diary of Anne Frank and visited the home of Anne Frank in Amsterdam.
Bringing the story up to date I have read many personal accounts of survivors of the Holocaust and will continue to support their personal stories.
I am also proud and honoured to be supporting for the second year The Jewish Book Week which is currently being held in London.
For further details of The Jewish Book Week 2019: http://jewishbookweek.com/
Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li
There are many conversations we have in life and some that are difficult but at the same time there are conversations that none of us want to have. In Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li (Hamish Hamilton) is a deeply moving account of a mother having a conversation with her son who took his own life.
It is understandable that some may find this an uncomfortable book to pick up and read, but what I would say is do not be put off, this is a remarkable story that is being told. The narrator is a Chinese – American writer and it was her son Nikolai who was full of life took his own life, leaving his mother to try and understand why.
Soon after her son’s death a conversation begins between them and it is an extended conversation and sometimes Nikolai would seem to be a little harsh on his mother. We start to learn about Nikolai and what he really enjoyed in life but also the pain that was clearly there. As I was reading I guess I fell into a trap expecting to learn why Nikolai took his own life but it is his mother who talks of life after her son is gone. There are many questions in life and sometimes no matter how hard we try answers are never found.
I have been very lucky to have read many great books so far this year but there is something here that is just remarkable, there is no doubt it is an incredibly sad novel to read but Where Reasons End is nothing short of a masterpiece of a novel. As a writer Yiyun Li is at the top of her game as a writer and one everyone who loves writers should be shouting her name from every rooftop.
Of course this is a book that pour out grief and unspeakable pain and it should be, but this conversation that takes place is in a place that none of us want ever to visit.
There is real sadness about Where Reasons End when you understand Yiyun Li’s own life. Do writers sometimes write to escape? I don’t fully know the answer to that question but I would seriously recommend reading Where Reasons End.
Thank you to Hamish Hamilton for the review copy of Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li.
Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li was published by Hamish Hamilton and was published on 7th February 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl
(Translated by Don Bartlett)
I have loved thrillers and espionage novels for many years but along comes The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl (Orenda Books) and weaves them both together and set in the darkest part of Europe’s history. It set in Oslo in 1942 and Esther just manages to escape being seized by the dreaded Gestapo.
Ester manages to escape to Sweden, but she will never see her family again as they are arrested and sent to Auschwitz. It is while in Sweden she meets the mysterious and yet resistance hero Gerard Falkum. Gerard has fled the Gestapo and has his own story to tell.
There are stories about Falkum murdering his wife Åse who just happened to be Ester’s close friend while they were at school. Are these stories true and why would Falkum kill his wife? But then he dies in a fire. Ester wants answers to how and why her best friend died. There is immense tension all through the story as Ester plays a deadly game that could end in her being arrested by the Nazis and sent to one of the death camps. But Ester want and seeks answers.
The story then flits forward twenty-five years and the mysterious Falkum appears to have come back from the dead and shows up in Oslo. Where has he been all these years. There is danger ahead for Ester and she must use all her courage to keep one step ahead and stay alive. This is a superbly character driven storyline set in a time when many did brave things to defeat the Nazi’s. A tense and compelling plot that has many twists. The movement between different timelines is easy to follow as they are marked at the start of every chapter.
For Ester she seeks answers about her friend and also answers to what happened to her own family. There is incredible emotion at this point as I have read many books on the Holocaust.
It is not hard to see why Kjell Ola Dahl is so highly respected. The Courier is exceptional and is one of the best books I have read so far this year and will take some beating. Six out of Five stars. A MUST READ!
Thank you to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl.
The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl published by Orenda Books and will be published on 21st March 2018 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Flower Girls – Alice Clark-Platts
Another top notch thriller that hit the bookstands in January was The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Pulsating and compelling. A thumping good page turner. A story of a child murderer another given a new identity and what happens when that identity is revealed.
1997 and sisters Laurel and Rosie are playing in the park and invite another girl (Kirstie) to play with them. Kirstie does not return and is found murdered and horribly tortured. Ten-year-old Laurel is found guilty of Kirstie’s murder. Rosie who is only six does not stand trial as she is too young. Instead her and her new family are given new identities and moved away to a new town.
Bring the story to current day and Primrose now given the new name of Hazel is staying at a hotel, with the weather closing in and a child goes missing from the hotel. What now for Hazel and her past and also her real name? With the family now completely severing all connections with Laurel. Now all these years later Laurel is fighting to be released. She claims that she is a reformed character. She has a lawyer who also happens to be her Uncle.
Laurel and Rosie as children and Laurel and Hazel now nineteen years later and with a child gone missing the past could unfold in front them again. Hazel has spent these past years re-building her life while her sisters was locked up. The Flower Girls is a superbly written and gripping thriller. Alice Clark-Platts has created a tense and twisty thriller that will keep you on your toes until the very powerful ending. But with so many motives and also secrets especially with what really happened that day in the park. I love a thriller that makes the palms of your hands sweaty. I really love the way the author has created this storyline and keeps the reader guessing all the way through. How would the two sisters feel when they come face to face again after all these years? Highly Recommended.
Thank you to Ros Ellis (Bloomsbury Publishing) for the review copy of The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts
The Flower Girls was published by Raven Books and was published on 24th January 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Virginia Woolf in Richmond – Peter Fullagar
Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard moved to Richmond at around the same time as the First World War and remained here for ten years. (1914 – 1924). It was as we know the Virginia was more associated with Bloomsbury area of London. Author Peter Fullagar explores this part of the writer’s life in Virginia Woolf in Richmond. (Aurora Metro Books).
Many of Woolf’s admirers will know of the health problems that she went through. It was the move away from Bloomsbury an area that Virginia Woolf is so closely associated with that many will of course not fully realise that is was the move to Richmond-upon-Thames and the home that was Hogarth House that she came to love.
It was here that Virginia Woolf settled and some of her greatest writing was to have been written during the ten years. But that was not all and Peter Fullagar goes on to explain that this is where Virginia and her husband set up Hogarth Press set up in 1917 until she relinquished her role in 1938. In the book the writer also looks at the time she lived at Hogarth House and a time of great change when WWI ended and this time came to influence her writing using letters and diaries.
This really is a time capsule of a book that focuses of the writer’s life in this part of Surrey and of a time of real change in the life of Virginia Woolf and really does away with the theory that she never really settled in Richmond.
I have learned so much by reading Virginia Woolf in Richmond and this is published to coincide with a fund raising campaign to for a full-size statue of Virginia Woolf and details of the campaign can be found here: https://www.aurorametro.org/virginia-woolf-statue and you can follow more news on their Twitter page @vwoolfstatue If you enjoy the writing of Virginia Woolf then I can highly recommend Virginia Woolf in Richmond by Peter Fullagar.
Follow Peter Fullagar on Twitter: @peterjfullagar or visit his website at: Peter J. Fullagar
You can learn more about Aurora Metro Books on Twitter: @AuroraMetro or via their website: Aurora Metro Books
Thank you to Aurora Metro Books for the review copy of Virginia Woolf in Richmond by Peter Fullagar
Virginia Woolf in Richmond by Peter Fullagar was published by Aurora Metro Books and was published on 7th November 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Ten Poems about Walking – Selected and Introduced by Ana Sampson
One of my passions in life walking, be it watching wildlife along the rivers and canals close to my home or climbing mountains to touch the sky. When I was young I would climb the fells of the Lake District and it was here that I wrote poetry about the beauty of nature.
It is a real pleasure to bring you the latest poetry pamphlet from Candlestick Press titled: Ten Poems about Walking selected and introduced by Sasha Dugdale. Poems that take us from the ‘Lake’ by David Constantine and my favourite by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch ‘Climbing Helvellyn’ something I have done many times.
There is a poem by William Wordsworth one of my favourite poets. ‘Old Man Travelling’, There is a poem talking of a walk in the wood after a long loneliness.
The beautiful cover design titled ‘Head for the Hills’ is by Hugh Ribbans to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kent Downs as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Ten Poems for Breakfast – Selected and Introduced by Sasha Dugdale
Breakfast is my favourite time of the day. Especially at weekends. As the house fills with the aroma of fresh coffee and toast, I switch on the radio and quietly begin to think of the new day and endless possibilities. The latest release by Candlestick Press is Ten Poems for Breakfast Selected and introduced by Ana Sampson. With the first seven poems we are climbing out of bed and it is ‘Morning’ by Billy Collins. There is a poem called ‘Toaster’ and ‘Toaster’ about the joy of morning toast. Catherine Edmunds writes ‘Breakfast with Mother’ The final three poems are post breakfast and the possibilities of the day ahead. ‘Before the Lark’ by Phil M. Houghton. Short and sweet, now is that how you like your morning coffee.
Thank you to Kathy Towers at Candlestick Press for the review copies of Ten Poems about Walking and Ten Poems for Breakfast.
Candlestick Press are a small independent publisher based in Nottingham and were founded in 2008. The team consists of four dedicated people in Di Slaney (Publisher), Kathy Towers (Assistant Editor) and two admin assistants. Their aim is simple to spread the joy of poetry to adults and children alike who love poetry and or may be just beginning their journey in to enjoying poetry. These small pamphlets are just ideal for bedtime reading or like I have been doing and that is enjoying them on journeys.
They have published so many of these beautiful pamphlets on a wide range of topics from Christmas to Cricket, from Dogs to Sheep and even Clouds. With Christmas not too far away this is an ideal time to think of sending cards to loved ones and friends. The pamphlets of stories and poetry make the ideal gift to send. For more information, please visit the Candlestick Press website: Here
You can follow Candlestick Press on Twitter: @poetrycandle
Look out for more future releases from Candlestick Press in the months ahead.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
The London Library
Thursday 7th February 2019
Dracula comes home to St. James Square
Bram Stoker was a member of The London Library between 1890 and 1897 and it was during this time that he spent time at the library researching for his novel ‘Dracula’ and recently Philip Spedding, Development Director at the library discovered a number of books that Bram Stoker used to research his novel and these include notes and annotations by Stoker himself. An incredible find and so Bram Stoker used the resources to create this masterpiece of writing.
To think that Bram Stoker was present in this very quiet St. James Square and created Dracula himself which is known throughout the world in books, cinema and small screen.
And so it was that Dracula has returned to its rightful home at The London Library in the form of a quite stunning and remarkable play thanks to Philip Marshall, Director of The London Library and Creation Theatre and what a setting. Thursday 7th February was also the birthday of another literary giant Charles Dickens and Dickens himself used The London Library to write and research for some of his most famous of novels. Arriving on this very evening walking in the footsteps of the greats, there is a very special feeling. No wonder they call this London’s best kept secret.
This is the first time in The London Library’s 178 -year history that they have put on a play and it is thanks to the hard work of the staff that they set up the each of the performances and then return it to its library glory in time for the next morning.
The Production of Dracula is thanks to Creation Theatre and its Director Helen Tennison and Kate Kerrow who is responsible for its adaptation. There is a cast of two in the play: Sophie Greenham and Bart Lambert and what an outstanding performance by them both. The setting of the Reading Room at the library is perfect. It was as if Bram Stoker himself was present. There shelves floor to ceiling packed with books and its feel. This evenings performance in the presence of theatre critics and some celebrities.
And so the lights dim and the anticipation grew and the play began as we saw as Jonathan and Mina Harker who not long married appear. Jonathan who has recently returned from Transylvania and yet something about Jonathan is not right as Mina realises. But Mina is obsessed by her cousin Lucy who died very suddenly. But why did Lucy die and what was it that she has witnessed. Children have been disappearing but what has become of them. I just became engrossed in the performance of Bart Lambert whose enthusiastic grasp of multiple roles was just brilliant and for Sophie Greenham who also played multiple roles gave a superb balance.
Bats wings against the window panes deep red eyes seem to appear through the blinds and is that Lucy above us on the ceiling and crack on thunder and flashes of lights and then darkness. This was gripping stuff. And so to the cemetery to Lucy’s grave. But is Lucy dead or is she un-dead? Spine-tingling and darn well creepy.
If you are hoping for an appearance of Count Dracula himself then he is not here, this is the adaptation, purely focussing of Jonathan and Mina as well as Van Helsing, Lucy and Dr Seward. All played by Bart and Sophie. There are hints of sexual tension between Jonathan and Mina. I cannot think of a better setting than The London Library for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The setting and the aroma that is all the old books. A heady mix. Dracula really has come home to St. James Square.
For someone like me who read the book when I was young and saw the films, this combined with viewing of Bram Stoker’s books on display made for a remarkable evening. My hope now is that there are future plays connected to writers from The London Library performed here. FIVE STARS.
Performances take place between 2nd February to 3rd March 2019. Tickets are still available. Performances start at 7.30pm. There is also a display of The London Library books that Bram Stoker used for his research which include notes and annotations as well as Bram Stoker’s official membership form when he joined the library. For more information and tickets: The London Library/Dracula
The London Library.
The London Library was founded on the 3rd May 1841 by Thomas Carlyle and in 2019 celebrates its 178th anniversary. The list of those who have made The London Library their home is like the who’s who in literature. Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, George Eliot, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming. With current writers such as Sebastian Faulks, Jessie Burton, Kazou Ishiguro, Robert Harris and Sarah Waters making The London Library their home. It has been the home for 10 Nobel Prize Winners and 4 Poets Laureate’s. In 1948 Winston Churchill became honorary Vice-President. Laurence Olivier and Edward Elgar also made the library their home.
On over 17 miles of shelving you will find over 1 million books. Some of the most important documents and books dating as far back as the 1500’s is found here.
My thanks to Laura Creyke from Mark Hutchinson Management, Philip Marshall, Director of The London Library and the staff for their kind invitation and warm hospitality on what was a five-star evening.
The London Library: The London Library
Creation Theatre: Creation Theatre
Mark Hutchinson Management: Mark Hutchinson Management
Memories of a Lost Thesaurus by Katie Hall-May
Memories of a Lost Thesaurus is the debut novel by Katie Hall-May and was released in May 2018. A little late with this review as I read Katie’s novel in January but commitments sadly meant I am only now getting to put this review out.
This was intriguing me as there are four characters in this novel, Cath, Alice, Patrick and a mysterious unnamed character just called: M. This is really a story of relationships. Everyone has problems during a relationship, that is a fact of life. Ghosts from the past can affect the present day if they are haunting you and this really is the case with Alice. And then there is Cath is dealing with a present day issue that can cause upset.
Do we let the past something from the past influence today and tomorrow? Complex lives make good storylines and Katie Hall-May has written a debut novel that is touching and sensitive. The fact the story only contains three main characters and a mysterious one makes you concentrate on each of them.
You know characters make the novel, and each one here is pulling you into the story that the author has created. I just loved the plot and each of the complex individuals. Sometimes there is tension and will make you wonder about each of them.
This is a story that is worth every page, beautifully constructed with plenty of twists along the way to keep you wondering until the end.
Follow Katie Hall-May on Twitter: @mypapercastles
Webisite: Katie Hall-May
Thank you to Katie Hall-May for the review copy of Memories of a Lost Thesaurus
Memories of a Lost Thesaurus was published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing and was published on 1st May 2018 and is available through Amazon.