Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell (Review)

Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell

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About the author

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Katherine Rundell is an English author and academic born in 1987. Rundell is the author of many children’s books including Rooftoppers, which won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and Blue Peter Book Award in 2014.

Review

This will only be a short review as it is only a short book of 80 pages. This little book is an essay on why it is good to read children’s stories as an adult.

I personally love reading children’s stories as an adult and I think they are wasted on children because they can not appreciate them like an adult can. My particular favourite that I have read many many times is 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. So this book immediately appealed to me, hence why I added it to the cart on a recent Waterstones order.

To begin with I enjoyed this essay and Rundell has some excellent points in the essay but the thing that bugged me the most was that Rundell kept trying to be funny in the book and to be honest, in my opinion just trying too hard and after a while it began to wear thin and just annoy me. I believe if she had cut back on this and stuck to her essay she would have made a far better book.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and it only took me about fifteen minutes to read but because of the fake humour I only gave this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. A good little read but I will not be reading it again.

Purchase Links:-

Waterstones

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Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by Fereydoon Batmanghelidj (Review)

Your Body’s Many Cries for Water: You’re Not Sick; You’re Thirsty: Don’t Treat Thirst with Medications by Fereydoon Batmanghelidj M.D

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About the author

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Fereydoon Batmanghelidj M.D was born in 1930 in Iran and was a trained doctor who practiced medicine in the United Kingdom before he returned to Iran. He wrote many books related to health and wellness.

Blurb

You are not sick, you are thirsty! Don’t treat thirst with medications! This is an absolute must-read classic book on natural health. This ground-breaking book is the first of Dr. B’s You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty series of books. It introduces a new paradigm for preventing and treating many degenerative diseases. A self-help book that reveals the new knowledge of the amazing health values of natural, simple water in maintaining personal health.

Review

I got this book because it was part of the recommended reading for the Diet and Nutrition Diploma I am working on and whilst dipping into it for certain references I thought I would read it all. I am so pleased I did because I loved it.

I’ve always known since school that drinking water is beneficial to the body but after starting this course and reading more about the need for drinking water I have realised that it is critical for our bodies and must admit when I drink plenty of water I do feel more energised and focused.

This book has many interesting theories about just what water can do for you. A lot of these benefits I have heard of but the others in this book are completely new to me. The ones that intrigued me the most were the claims that asthma and allergies could be cured by being properly hydrated. As an asthma sufferer I was interested and found the chapter very interesting although I’m not sure I will give up my inhalers just yet and try using water and salt to cure an asthma attack.

The book was full of interesting points about water helping people to lose weight, help with arthritis, improve the brain functions, stomach ulcers and much more. I also loved the letters that were included from people who had started drinking more water and certain problems they had been having had started to get better or disappear due to water.

The other point that I appreciated and agree with in certain aspects is that modern medicine is far too eager to prescribe drugs to solve all problems. This book looks at the possibility that if we drink more water and our bodies are properly hydrated we will not have so many problems so instead of taking drugs to solve our health issues we should try water. After all, water is cheapest of all beverages.

I do not often read factual books and very rarely cover to cover, but I loved this book and since reading have been striving to drink more water and less tea. The writing style was easy to read and not too highfalutin to understand when you do not have a medical background. I highly recommend this book to everyone who is interested in their health and wellbeing and I have given it the full 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Book Details

Page count: 196

Format: Paperback

Published: 2008

Purchase Links

Waterstones

Book Depository

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No One is too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg (Review)

No One is too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

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About the author

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Greta Thunberg was born in 2003. In August 2018, she decided not to go to school one day, starting a strike for the climate outside the Swedish Parliament. Her actions ended up sparking a global movement for action against the climate crisis, inspiring millions of pupils to go on strike for our planet, and earning her the prestigious Prix Liberte, as well as a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Greta has Asperger’s, and considers it a gift which has enabled her to see the climate crisis ‘in black and white’.

Blurb

The history-making, ground-breaking speeches of Greta Thunberg, the young activist who has become the voice of a generation

Review

This book kept being pushed on Waterstones and I finally succumbed and bought it. I’m not entirely sure I agree with the fact that Greta and other children are on school strike but I agree with the point they are trying to push.

This did not take me long to read and to begin with I was hooked on Greta’s speeches but as the book went on I got a bit bored of the repetitive nature of the speeches. I know this repetition is due to help drive the point home to us all especially politicians but reading it in each speech one after the other was probably not the best thing for me to do. However, I do agree with all of her points and I love the passion she puts behind her words.

Greta’s speeches are powerful and very mature for a girl of her age and I am really pleased I have read this book and have recommended it to several family members. I have given this little book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase links

Waterstones

Book Depository

 

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The Brontësaurus: An A-Z of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë (and Bramwell) by John Sutherland (Review)

The Brontësaurus: An A-Z of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë (and Bramwell) by John Sutherland

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About the author

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John Sutherland is Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus at University College London and an eminent scholar in the field of Victorian fiction. He has published many books including a literary puzzle book called Who is Dracula’s Father?

Blurb

Did Charlotte Brontë take opium? Did the Reverend Brontë carry a loaded pistol? What, precisely, does ‘wuthering’ mean? 

Distinguished literary critic John Sutherland takes an idiosyncratic look at the world of the Brontës, from the bumps on Charlotte’s head to the nefarious origins of Mr Rochester’s fortune, by way of astral telephony, letter-writing dogs, an exploding peat bog, and much, much more. 

Also features ‘Jane Eyre abbreviated’ by John Crace, author of the Guardian’s ‘Digested Reads’ column – read Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece in five minutes!

Review

I received this book as a Christmas present off my sister in law last Christmas and since then it has been on one of my many TBR piles around the house. When I was waiting for a student to arrive this week I picked up the book and started reading and to be honest I was hooked.

I loved reading this book as it was a fresh take on the Brontë history and not to be taken completely seriously. Most of it I knew as I have read a lot about the Brontës and have visited the Brontë museum twice in recent years. I did realise a lot of it was Sutherlands’s opinions and some of them to be honest were rather sexist but considering he was thinking in Victorian terms I will forgive him, just this once.

I really liked how the book was laid out and that it was short snippets of information which were easy to digest and engaging. The only issue that drove me slightly insane was the constant see this below or above. I could have easily done without that as I found it broke up the narrative.

Bramwell the somewhat forgotten Brontë is mentioned quite a bit in this book which I found interesting as I did not know that much about him. It also made me feel slightly sorry for the poor man as I think generally too much was asked from him and he could not cope.

Charlotte I believe was not portrayed in a good light and yes I know that she could have destroyed a lot of her sisters’ works etc but none of this is proven. I want to believe that she did all her actions for a good cause and wanted to protect her siblings’ reputations rather than promote her own.

The history of the Brontës always makes me feel rather sad as they had such hard and short lives. However, this book showed me the good elements, like their love of animals and the little things in life. It made me smile and happy to realise that although cut short they tried to live their lives to the best.

All in all I enjoyed this book immensely and could not put it down which is unusual for me as I usually struggle with nonfiction books and tend to steer clear of them. Due to these reasons I have rated the book 5 out of 5 Dragons. If you love all things Brontë I highly recommend it.

To Purchase

Waterstones Hardback

Waterstones Paperback

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Lady Book Dragon

The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J. M. Nouwen (Review)

The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J. M. Nouwen

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About the author

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Henri Nouwen was a renowned priest and author, respected professor and beloved pastor of the L’Arche Daybreak Community in Toronto. His many bestselling books include The Return of the Prodigal Son, Home Tonight and Bread for the Journey. He died in 1996.

Blurb

The Inner Voice of Love is Henri Nouwen’s ‘secret journal’. It was written during the most difficult period of his life when, following the breakdown of a close relationship, he lost his self-esteem, his energy to live and work, his sense of being loved – even his hope in God.

For a long time Henri felt that what he had written during this time was too raw, intense and private to share. Instead he produced The Return of the Prodigal Son, in which he expressed some of the insights he had gained during the crisis. However, as time went on his feelings changed due partly in response to the persuasion of friends who asked ‘Why keep your anguish hidden from the people who have been nurtured by your writing? Wouldn’t it be a consolation for them to know about the fierce inner battle that lies beneath many of your spiritual insights?’

The warm reception enjoyed by The Inner Voice of Love over the years testifies to Henri’s generosity and wisdom in sharing this difficult part of his journey. For everyone who is living through the pain of broken relationships or suffering from the loss of a loved one, this book offers new courage, new hope, even new life.

Review

A friend recommended this book to me and last year I started to read it, since then I have dipped into it and read a little occasionally. This book is made up of one to three page reflections, which are all under different titles.

At the beginning I enjoyed this book and found it useful but as it went on I found it rather repetitive and it started to drag. I realise this book was written at a very difficult time of Nouwen’s life but I think it should have been edited as certain parts are basically saying the same thing but are just under a different title.

I also disagreed to a certain extent with his advice about relationships and how breaking of relationships can be devastating. As a priest he has never experienced in my opinion the biggest relationship which is marriage. Marriage is sacred and in the eyes of God forever, and to cope with a marriage break up must be devastating but Nouwen has no true experience of this, yes he will have seen marriage break ups and experienced the end of friendships and loss of loved ones but in my opinion he can not generalise all relationships like he does in the book.

I also disagreed with the fact that most of his reflections seem to be based on Nouwen withdrawing from society. This I do not find to be beneficial to anyone, everyone needs help from friends, everyone needs to know there is someone there for them.

All in all I found this book a bit of a struggle as I did not agree with all of it and found it repetitive. As a Christian I agreed with a lot about what was said about God in our lives but not all of it. I gave this book 2 out 5 Dragons.

Purchase from Waterstones

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On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas De Quincey (Review)

On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas De Quincey

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About the author

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Thomas De Quincey was born on the 15th August 1785 and died on the 8th December 1859. He was an English essayist best known for Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.

Blurb

The provocative early-nineteenth-century essayist casts a blackly comic eye over the aesthetics of murder through the ages.

Review

So on to the fourth Penguin Little Black Classics book and this one really took me out of my comfort zone. I picked this book up thinking normally I would never dream of reading a book about murder being a fine art and to be honest after this I do not think I will read another book about murder being an art form.

I did struggle a great deal with this book and I really did not see the comic side in it that is mentioned in the blurb. I found it very hard to get into and very disturbing that people seem to enjoy studying murder. I also did not like the fact that murder was referred to as an art form. However it wasn’t all bad, I did find certain little stories inside it interesting, for instance the story about Descartes was very interesting.

I think it was a disturbing essay and it made me wonder what type of mind Quincey has to come up with this essay. However the essay was an eye opener about things that were happening in that point of history. However I didn’t really enjoy the book and wouldn’t read it again. This is why sadly I have only given the book 1 Dragon out of 5.

To purchase this book from Waterstones please click here.

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The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne

The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne

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About the author

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Paula Byrne is a British author and biographer with a PHD from the University of Liverpool. Byrne is married to the Shakespeare scholar Sir Jonathan Bate.

Blurb

Who was the real Jane Austen? A retiring spinster content with quiet village life? Or a strong-minded woman who chose to remain unmarried and to fashion herself as a professional writer?

Bestselling biographer Paula Byrne uses objects that conjure up a key moment in Austen’s life and work – a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a writing box and a bathing machine – to unlock the biography of this most beloved author. The woman who emerges is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of ‘dear aunt Jane’ allows. Byrne’s lively book explores the many forces that shaped Austen’s life and her long struggle to become a published author, and brings Miss Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.

Review

As I think I have mentioned before I discovered this book in the hotel room where I was staying in Bath over New Year and I began reading it there and bought a copy of my own from the Waterstones in Bath. I must confess that I am not the best at reading non-fiction but this book read really easily and did not seem like a biography. Whilst reading it, I have been using the lovely card we had on New Year from the hotel as a book mark as shown in the picture below.

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From the first chapter of this book I was hooked, I loved the the way it was laid out, each chapter focusing on an object owned by Jane Austen. I enjoyed how Byrne linked everything together with Austen’s life, her letters, her adventures, and her novels. Byrne has quite clearly spent a great deal of time researching Jane Austen and reading all of Jane Austen’s novels.

I found this biography to be quite an easy read that did not require too much brain power to get through. I find some biographies of famous authors quite in-depth and difficult to read and I have to dip in and out of the book. This book flowed easily and I read it fairly quickly. The only thing I disliked was how Byrne put across Austen’s opinions, when really nobody knows for sure what her opinions were and Byrne is clearly making educated guesses. I would much rather she had kept to the cold hard facts and opinions that Austen expressed in her letters.

I did find Byrne was rather obsessed with Mansfield Park but I did not mind this too much as it has encouraged me to read it again, as it has been some time since I have read it. I would also like to read Lady Susan as I have never got round to reading it but own two copies of it.

My favourite chapters were actually the last two chapters The Royalty Cheque and The Bathing Machine. The Royalty Cheque I enjoyed because it showed Austen making a living from her novels and enjoying some of her own success. I also did not realise that the Prince Regent was such a fan of Austen’s novels and that Emma was dedicated to him and Austen paid for and had a special three volume set of Emma given to the Prince Regent which is still today in the Royal Collection. It is the little facts like this in the biography which makes the book such a joy to read. The Bathing Machine made me giggle quite a bit I must confess, the idea of ladies being fully covered in clothes and going for a swim or a paddle around if they could not swim to be quite funny but also dangerous. I do not think the freezing temperatures would have done the bathers any good at all.

I truly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to any Jane Austen fan, I have already recommended it to my sister, who introduced me to the works of Jane Austen when I was little. It is an excellently put together biography which links together beautifully and the illustrations and photos are excellent. I have given this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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