Category Archives: Unbound
Ring the Hill by Tom Cox
It is a book written around, and about, hills: it includes a northern hill, a European hill, some hills from East Anglia that can barely be called hills at all. Each chapter takes a type of hill whether it be knoll, cap, cliff, tor, bump or even mere hillock as a starting point for one of Cox’s characteristically unpredictable and wide-ranging explorations.
These can lead to an account of an intimate relationship with a beach, a journey into Cox’s past or a lesson from an expert in what goes into the mapping of hills themselves. Because a good walk in the hills is never just about the hills: you never know where it might take you.
Over recent years I have become a bit of a fan of Tom Cox’s writing, I pick up one of his books and I am lost for the entire day. Now just released by Unbound is his latest offering. Ring the Hill. This is a book about hills! So for someone like me who loves hills and mountains (though mountains are not included in the book) the first thing I did when a copy of Ring the Hill arrived was to Google: What constitutes a hill? The answer is really quite simple according to the National Geographic. A hill is a piece of land that rises higher than everything around it. So there you have it. Armed with this I settled down to what turned out to be a real gem of a read.
So what is Ring the Hill all about. In Tom’s own words A knoll, cap, cliff, tor or even just a bump, Tom is going to take you the reader on a trip across the country and even a European hill.
The first thing that I have to say is what a glorious cover design and Glastonbury Tor on the cover. I was sold straight away and talking of Glastonbury and its Tor, it does take centre stage for me in the book as Tom takes us around the mystical town and surrounding parts of Somerset that have mystery just around every corner. I hold Glastonbury Tor very close to my heart it is a very special place but I just don’t know why. It has history of course as the last About of Glastonbury Abbey, Richard Whiting was hanged, drawn and quartered along with two of his Monks on the 15th November 1539.
There is so much to rejoice in Tom’s writing as he makes it look so easy (I am sure he would argue with me over that) and it is a real pleasure to read as he takes us across the land to hills and bumps and Knolls. And there is great humour in Tom’s writing while on his adventure to discover the hills and the towns around them.
Ring the Hill is the sort of book you want to pack in your rucksack and head off to climb a few hills one Sunday and them find a cosy pub with a log fire and settle down with your favourite tipple and I promise you time will just disappear while you read this joyous book.
Now get your walking boots on! Highly recommended.
#RingTheHill @cox_tom @unbounders
Thank you to Unbound and also Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Ring the Hill by Tom Cox.
Ring the Hill by Tom Cox was published by Unbound and was published on 3rd October 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
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Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness
When Joe Harkness suffered a breakdown in 2013, he tried all the things his doctor recommended: medication helped, counselling was enlightening, and mindfulness grounded him. But nothing came close to nature, particularly birds. How had he never noticed such beauty before? Soon, every avian encounter took him one step closer to accepting who he is.
The positive change in Joe’s wellbeing was so profound that he started a blog to record his experience. Three years later he has become a spokesperson for the benefits of birdwatching, spreading the word everywhere from Radio 4 to Downing Street.
In this groundbreaking book filled with practical advice, Joe explains the impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites the reader to discover these extraordinary effects for themselves.
I have loved nature since I was a young boy. But the one thing I have always felt is that nature has a way of mending. But I have always felt the same way about books and reading. Many months ago I had a phone call from Joe Harkness and we had a long conversation and he told me all about himself and the book he wanted to write after all the planning and the writing and the worry Joe Harkness has written an astonishingly open book called Bird Therapy (Unbound) and this is a book that really does go a long way to heal.
Joe was a broken sole, he was at the lowest point any human being can get, life seemed dark and devoid of any hope. Jo had suffered a breakdown in 2013 and was looking into a void with no light. There is hope and there is help even when we don’t think there is.
Thankfully Joe got the help he needed and through this the first steps were taken and it was then Joe started bird watching and whether Joe found nature or nature found Joe it does not matter as in the end the light at the end of the tunnel was this. It has been proven how important nature is to mental health. Taking time out and looking at and even listening to nature is so important to all of us.
Joe has written in Bird Therapy a book from the heart. At the very start he talks in great courage to us about how low he mental health problems had got. But kit is through watching birds that has really helped Joe and his passion just pours out of the pages. Nature and people are connected and without nature we literally do not have a soul. Watching and studying birds requires time and patience not chasing around after rarities that are just a tick on a spreadsheet. But watching how birds interact with each other. We learn many things by watching each species and we learn many things that in turn help us.
I have spent many happy days in Norfolk birdwatching as it is one the premier counties from the coasts to the Norfolk Broads to the marshes and this is also home to Joe Harkness and how he talks about his home as he travels to watch birds. Home is where the heart is and this is really where Joe’s heart belongs.
The first pages of Bird Therapy may seem dark and difficult to read but to understand a broken soul you have to be honest and open and Joes does this. There is a foreword by Chris Packham that discusses the stigma about Mental Health even in today’s world and there should not be any stigma at all. Being allowed to talk about problems is the start of the journey to recovery.
As Chris Packham says in his foreword this book will save lives. It will. Joe it was a real pleasure talking to you all those months ago. I knew just by talking with you that something incredible was coming. You have created something very special in Bird Therapy I wish nothing but success. Many will read your book and empathise with your words and your honesty. Bird Therapy is Natures Cure in its own right.
Thank you to Unbound and also Joe Harkness for the review copy of Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness
Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness is published by Unbound and will be published on 13th June 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery
In 1850, young Scottish plant hunter John Jeffrey was despatched by an elite group of Victorian subscribers to seek highly prized exotic trees in North America. An early letter home told of a 1,200-mile transcontinental journey by small boat and on foot. Later, tantalising collections of seeds and plants arrived from British Columbia, Oregon and California, yet early promise soon withered. Four years after setting out, John Jeffrey, and his journals, disappeared without a trace. Was he lost to love, violence or the Gold Rush? Green Gold combines meticulous research with the fictional narrative of Jeffrey’s lost journals, revealing an extraordinary adventure.
Since my early days in studying horticulture plant species I have always had an interest in those pioneers and plant hunters who travelled to far off lands to seek new species of trees and rare plants. So it great delight I was sent a copy of Green Gold (Unbound) by Gabriel Hemery.
This is the true story of the Victorian plant hunter John Jeffrey told in a fictional account of his epic solo adventure from Scotland to North America. It is 1850 and the journey begins after being asked and financed by a group of wealthy plant collectors. John’s journey would take him from the shores of Scotland to Canada through to Oregon and California the landscape was harsh and unforgiving from the frozen wastelands across mountains. He would send back on a regular basis specimens and seeds and also rare Beetles. It was requested by Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Gardens that John Jeffrey would keep regular journals of his travels and findings to be sent back.
The story moves from present day to the past as John’s journals are discovered and from here the story is constructed in a fictional account. I have to say just how much I really enjoyed reading the account of John Jeffrey’s expedition even if it was told in a fictional narrative. The old plant hunter in me came out from the past as I read of the new specimens that John wrote about on his travels.
There is a real human story here not just a story of the plant hunter. The promise of sending back details of his travels and findings never happened and eventually the backers lost their faith in John Jeffrey but before they could take any further action, John had disappeared but disappeared without trace. Nothing was heard from the plant hunter. So many theories as to what happened to John Jeffrey. Did he get lost and perished, was he murdered, or did John find a love he could not leave.
I have to say that Gabriel Hemery has done an amazing job in telling the story of the plant hunter and his expedition through his journals. For anyone who loves history or the study of plants then Green Gold is a book you will enjoy reading.
@GabrielHemery @Unbound @Unbound_ Digital
Thank you to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) and Unbound for the review copy of Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery
Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery was published by Unbound and was published on 18th April 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Blog Tour
A Small Dark Quiet – Miranda Gold
With just a matter of weeks before London is thronged with crowds as the war is finally at an end and Germany has been defeated. It is March 1945. But the price of victory will always come at a cost as people not just in London but all over Europe will begin the long and painful journey of rebuilding their shattered lives.
Millions of lives have been lost and children without parents and children whose parents have been killed by the Nazi’s in Concentration Camps. In London. A Small Dark Quiet by Miranda Gold follows Sylvie as she fights her battle, she has given birth to twins but one of the twins is stillborn. Sylvie and her husband Gerald are distraught at their loss.
Two years later as they rebuild they have adopted a boy who was born into the horrors of the Concentration Camps. They have given him a new name of Arthur after the child they lost. For Arthur all his past seems to now have been lost and this in the years to come will be struggle as Arthur attempts to discover his Jewish history and all that that entails. He is trapped in a life and scared to seek his own past for what this will bring.
There is rage from Gerald who has been fighting his own battle since the end of the war and seems to take it out on Arthur and this will have a deep and last effect on the boy. What we also witness is the gradual collapse of Sylvie as the weight of grief is all consuming. Arthur’s shadow is his ghost of his past that is reluctant to leave it is later in life when he finally breaks the shackles of the torment by Gerald and seeks his way in life. Nothing is going well for him though and even in a relationship with Lydia that goes wrong after he is used by her. At times this is a dark novel to read with disturbing and fractured lives broken by war and torment.
Miranda has written a very powerful novel that explores many themes including replacing one son with another and attempting to hide the pain and suffering of death but over time creates more personal devastation on a boy who has witness’s horror on scale unimaginable. With a painful ending to the story it is still one book I would recommend.
Thank you to Unbound for the review copy of A Small Dark Quiet by Miranda Gold
A Small Dark Quiet by Miranda Gold was published by Unbound and was published on 4th December 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Glorious Dead – Tim Atkinson
All wars leave an unspeakable human cost, but the deaths of The Great War are on a dreadful scale. When the war ended what happened next? Many of the casualties of the battlefields of WWI were left were they fell or in temporary graves.
Tim Atkinson has just written a book called The Glorious Dead (Unbound) and tells the story in a novel format of some soldiers who stayed behind when the guns fell silent. Their story is about the gravediggers. An overlooked story of World War One.
It is 1918 and World War One is finally over. The battlefields are scarred and are a muddy grave to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and these battlefields hold the remains of thousands of soldiers who fell.
This story follows Lance-Corporal Jack Patterson and his men from the platoon who stayed behind to work in the appalling conditions to find bodies of soldiers and give them a final resting place. But that is not all that Jack stayed behind for. Jack has eyes for Katia who works in one of the bar. But Jack is not going to have everything his own way. What is there in Jack’s past that yet may come back to haunt him.
This is a story that never really gets told, the men who cleared the battlefields after the war ended. A deeply emotive story and one being told as we prepare to commemorate the Centenary of the Armistice which brought an end to a war that many believed would end all wars.
Back in the mid-1980’s I visited the WWI cemetery’s and it is one of the most emotive places to visit. Yet 100 years later there are still many who lie were they fell and have no marked grave.
Thank you to Anne Cater for the review copy of The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson and for arranging the Blog Tour through Random Things Tours.
The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson was published by Unbound and was published on 1st November 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Glorious Dead Blog Tour
Help the Witch by Tom Cox
To me autumn means many things days get shorter, the colour of the trees looking for natures rich harvest cosy days and evenings curled up with a book of short stories and if that book is one of old folk tales and creepy stories that just make the hair on the back of your neck stand up all the better. Well if this has got your attention then you are going to love Help the Witch (unbound) by Tom Cox.
Tom’s previous book 21st-Century Yokel was longlisted for the 2018 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize. Help the Witch is a book I just loved. This is just the perfect autumn book to curl up with. There are ten stories some of which I went back to read twice. I always feel a book of short stories should start with a story to grab the reader and in this case the opening story just nailed it. It is the story of the title of the book. Help the Witch. I just loved the setting and of isolation. A journey and in the snow and the snow gets heavier as you travel and then you arrive. I have always found travelling country lanes in the dark really creepy did I really see something or was that just a shape of a tree, a shadow. You have the feeling something is watching you. You get the drift.
Then there are a further nine stories to read. I was just totally immersed in each story. These are stories that that could have been written many years ago but Tom Cox gathered his inspiration from E.F. Benson and M.R. James. Some tell of natural landscapes and old broken sheds and rusty barbed wire with shred of old wool still clinging on despite best efforts of winter winds. Each story is unique but just perfect for this time of year. You know you are being taken on a journey but you are not sure how or where. Then there is the last story. I will just leave this hanging there.
I have come to really enjoy reading books by Tom Cox because you know you are reading a book by a very talented writer. Tom has covered many genres but this is his first foray into short stories and I am hoping there are more to come. Readers will flock to this attracted by the incredible cover designed by Joe McLaren and there are illustrations in the book by the authors mum. How wonderful is that.
Help the Witch is just superb and another by the superb publisher Unbound and I am delighted to Highly Recommend.
Thank you to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy Help the Witch by Tom Cox
Help the Witch by Tom Cox is published by Unbound and is released on 18th October 2018 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Help the Witch – The Blog Tour
Dear Mr Pop Star – Derek & Dave Philpott
One of my greatest loves is music and music from the 1960’s through to the 1980’s. During the late 1970’s I ran a few pirate radio stations and then moved onto running a hospital radio station through the 1980’s. Then onto interviewing some of my music idols from the 1970’s and 1980’s. I was in music heaven.
Just out from Unbound is Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott. A humorous book on letters written by Derek and his son Dave to pop stars and bands of the day to take umbrage at their lyrics. This is actually really funny as the stars actually write back. The letters back are really something to enjoy and some really do go into detail on their response. All done in the best possible taste of course. They saw the humour and went with it.
I would not normally review a book like this but I could not resist is unique charm from the music of the 1960’s to 90’s and the bands and pop stars read like a who’s who of their generation.
Just to name a few: Doctor and the Medics, Nick Kershaw, Deep Purple, Suzi Quatro, T’Pau, The Wurzels, Dr hook, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Tears for Fears and Paper Lace. Now I am going to be singing Billy Don’t Be a Hero all day.
A wonderful light hearted book with letters so wonderfully written as well as the responses. A book that really made me laugh and brought back some of the happiest memories. Oh to relive those years all over again. I am going to be leaving this book out on one of my coffee tables as I know some of my guests will grab this to read.
Thank you to for the review copy of Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott
Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott was published by Unbound and was published on 20th September 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Blog Tour
Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton
Many will know that I really enjoy debut authors and following their writing journey’s. I am so thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for the debut novel Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton and published by Unbound who are rapidly becoming a favourite publisher with the outstanding quality of the authors and writing.
This is a novel set over two periods in facts thousands of years apart. Dr Eloise Kluft is a geneticist working on her new project which are the remains of ‘Sarah’ who was alive 74,000 years before. Then we have ‘Sarah’ who with her new born baby they are alone in a landscape that is unknown but there is danger and it is not too far away.
London is the base for Eloise as she starts to piece together the remains of ‘Sarah’ from the incredible archaeological find. The story of Bone Lines is a story of two very strong willed women separated by time but the story could well be the same. Both women alone. For Eloise she is reminded of her own emotions and her past. For ‘Sarah’ she is alone and facing the hazard of migration but why is ‘Sarah’ alone with her child and were are the others.
The story is so beautifully written and told as the reader alternated between modern day London and a time 74,000 years before. Eloise is extremely dedicated to her work so much so that her personal life just seems to have been put to one side as she dedicates her life to her profession. She is missing out and she knows it.
One aspect I did like was the letters she was writing to Charles Darwin this fascinated me as Eloise uses this aspect to come up with solutions and ideas. For someone like me who studied Darwin many years previous this was an eye opener. Clever to use this in a novel.
Two incredibly strong willed women who struggle with their own day to day life for different reason, whether to stay alive or to come to terms with the past as shape the future. A story that may take a little while to appreciate but when you do, it comes together brilliantly. The research by Stephanie for Bone Lines is outstanding and deserves credit. Highly Recommended.
Thank you to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton
Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton was published by Unbound and was published on 6th September 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Bone Lines – The Blog Tour
America Über Alles by Jack Fernley
What an incredible idea for a storyline, April 1945. Berlin and the Russians are closing in on Hitler and the war seems lost or is it? Hitler brings in General Robert Ritter Von Griem and the flying ace Hannah Reitsch. Hitler has a new weapon. One that will change the course of history. America Über Alles by Jack Fernley (aka: Wayne Garvie) is an intriguing book that I was not sure about before I started and now I am already looking forward to book two.
So what would happen if Hitler could go back in time and change the course of history and one of the allies fighting against Germany in WWII would be on the opposite side. That is quite a scenario for a storyline and Jack Fernley pulls this off quite brilliantly.
Now go back to 1776 George Washington and his army are struggling in the War of Independence against the British. Now there is a German influence on the side of George Washington in the form of a large group of German mercenaries. Now the war is beginning to turn in favour of Washington’s men but at what price. Who are these Germans fighting for Washington and what is their ultimate ambition? The course of history could be about to change forever if two of the leading Germans get their way at any cost.
This book was a complete surprise to me, in the way that it was nothing like I thought it was going to be. Thoroughly readable and thought provoking. Jack Fernley has pulled a master stroke with America Über Alles.
Thank you to Unbound and for the review copy of America Über Alles by Jack Fernley (aka Wayne Garvie)
America Über Alles was published by Unbound and was published on 3rd May 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
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Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear by Lev Parikian
Men and birds, (the feathered type). What is it about why we become keen birders. I don’t just mean feeding our garden birds but actually going birding and trying to find birds in their natural habitat. Oh it does not end there, then we have lists and hi-tech bins and scopes that cost thousands not to mention cameras and then there is the lists. The birds you have seen in a calendar year. Lists for garden and your local patch and then you go chasing those very special rare birds that arrive on our shores during the Spring and Autumn. Welcome to the world of an avid birder. Yes, I have been there. Seen it and got the t-shirt. I want to introduce you to Lev Parikian. Lev is a very notable conductor and a birdwatcher. In Lev’s new book Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear (Unbound) he takes us through his story of when he was young he loved going birding and seeing new birds (or not as it transpires) and then he stopped only when he was fifty did his loves of birding return. This is his story of a year of birds, family, music and a look back through his younger days.
My library is stuffed full of bird books and stories of that writers birding year, some are really good and entertaining and some just do not cut it at all with me for a number of reasons. But Lev Parikian’s book is just that most wonderful read it is a riot of laughs and nostalgia. Starting in January 2016 this is his story of a lapsed birdwatcher aiming to see 200 birds in a year, that is REALLY seeing 200 birds in a year not ones he thinks he is seeing. Yes, Lev I have been there too.
When Lev was twelve-years-old he loved birds and birdwatching but like any keen young birder there is that urge to think you have seen a bird that in the cold light of day was not the bird you thought it was. Claiming to see a bird when actually you did not. But then after a few years and growing up the birding stopped and other things in life took over, like his love of music which in life became much more than an interest. Then of course there is cricket and girls.
There is something uniquely different about the way Lev has gone about writing about his birding year. His absolute pleasure at discovering his love of the outdoors and his love of seeing and finding birds again really shines through. But there is still that target of wanting to see 200 birds in a full calendar year. Does Lev actually achieve his target?
Sometimes seeing something really very special is something that should be shared with someone close to you. You will experience that in this glorious read. Together with Lev we travel the length and breadth of this beautiful country seeking birds in their own natural habitat. From woods to estuary and the lowlands to the highlands and a barrel of laughs along the way.
What shines through for me is the love Lev has for his family and his music and that he has found the real beauty in nature again. It is a gift for each of us to enjoy and treasure. I just loved Why Birds Suddenly Disappear and it now takes pride of place along with the very best nature books in my library. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Thank you to Lev Parikian and Unbound for the review copy of Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear.
Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear is published by Unbound and was published on 17th May 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
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