Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, edited by Adam Kay (Review)

Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, Edited by Adam Kay

Blurb

Created and edited by Adam Kay (author of multi-million best seller ‘This is Going to Hurt’), ‘DEAR NHS’ features household names telling their personal stories of the health service. Contributors include Joanna Lumley, Naomie Harris, Kate Tempest, Lee Child, Tanni Grey Thomson, Bill Bryson, Trevor McDonald, Jack Whitehall, Michael Palin, Stanley Tucci and many, many more.

Review

I had this book preordered as soon as I heard about it and I couldn’t wait to read it when it arrived. I love the idea of this book, celebrities, people we know so well, tell us their stories and thank you’s to the NHS in the format of stories, poems, essays and letters.

The first celebrity’s story is Graham Norton and I was hooked and could not put the book down. I loved how heart felt some of these stories were and how most people wanted to give their sincere thanks to the NHS. They also didn’t just thank the doctors and nurses, they thanked all the NHS staff, the porters, cleaners, everyone.

Some of my favourite stories were by Graham Norton, David Tennant, The Hairy Bikers, Stephen Fry, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and many more. This book really was an emotional rollercoaster. One minute you are almost crying and the next minute laughing at someone like Jonathan Ross getting a lollipop for being brave even though he is an adult.

There sadly were a few in this book that spoiled it for me. Some like Frankie Boyle who used his story as political rant and Jamie Oliver who promoted his own recipes and website. Some celebrities were just too self obsessed for me in this book and I really didn’t think that this wonderful book was the time or place.

I really did enjoy this book but because of certain people it was slightly ruined for me. However, I still recommend this book to everyone who loves the NHS and the fact that every copy bought gives a donation to the NHS is even better. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

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The Madness of Cambyses by Herodotus (Review)

The Madness of Cambyses by Herodotus

About the author

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Herodotus c. 484-425 BCE was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus in the Persian Empire. He is known for having written the book The Histories.

Blurb

The story of the great and mad Cambyses, King of Persia, told by part-historian, part-mythmaker Herodotus of Halicarnassus.

Review

Just recently I dug out my collection of Little Black Classics and selected all the ancient Greek and Roman books to read because I thought they would be good background reading for my course and this is the first one I have read.

This little book is only 50 pages long and is a nice little snippet from the main book The Histories by Herodotus. I happily read it enjoying the sunshine we have been having and drinking a nice mug of tea.

The beginning was a bit hard to digest due to all the different names but once I got past that I really enjoyed the book. The translation is a little wooden for me but it still flowed nicely. I must admit this did make me giggle as King Cambyses is completely mental and just kills everyone for the slightest thing and in most cases this is like cutting off his own nose to spite his face, because all this death doesn’t do him any favours.

Herodotus does meander about a bit with his knowledge but I loved that because you learn extra little bits about what the ancients thought about different cultures. Some facts Herodotus tells you definitely come across more as myths but I liked that because that is what the ancients believed.

I really enjoyed this little book, it was a quick and knowledgeable read and it was fascinating to see one of the world’s earliest historians at work. I highly recommend this little book to people who are interested in the ancient world and to people who want a gentle introduction into some ancient texts. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

Waterstones

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On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons by Laura Cumming (Review)

On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons by Laura Cumming

 

About the author

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Laura Cumming (born July 1961) the art critic for The Observer. In addition to her career in journalism, Cumming has written well-received books on self-portraits in art and the discovery of a lost portrait by Diego Velázquez in 1845.

Blurb

In the autumn of 1929, a small child was kidnapped from a Lincolnshire beach. Five agonising days went by before she was found in a nearby village. The child remembered nothing of these events and nobody ever spoke of them at home. It was another fifty years before she even learned of the kidnap.

The girl became an artist and had a daughter, art writer Laura Cumming. Cumming grew up enthralled by her mother’s strange tales of life in a seaside hamlet of the 1930s, and of the secrets and lies perpetuated by a whole community. So many puzzles remained to be solved. Cumming began with a few criss-crossing lives in this fraction of English coast – the postman, the grocer, the elusive baker – but soon her search spread right out across the globe as she discovered just how many lives were affected by what happened that day on the beach – including her own.

Review

I had such high hopes for this book and I was so excited when I bought it because I loved the sound of the book and thought it sounded like a fantastic read. Sadly, I was very disappointed, although I know that this is probably a controversial opinion looking at other reviews on Goodreads and on book blogs. I do however think the hype and advertising for this book has been very misleading in just how gripping the story is.

I enjoyed the beginning of this book but quickly guessed the outcome as it was just an age old story that has happened many times in history.

This to me was a book of meandering thoughts and it drove me mad, Cumming clearly knows her stuff about art and history but this book really needed to be more to the point. Cumming just kept going off course and it was infuriating, this also meant that there was far too much book for the main thread of the story. It really could have been half the length and for me would have been a lot more enjoyable if it had been shorter and more to the point. It was like Cumming was worried it was going to be too short so she padded it out with other random thoughts.

I can see that this story is written for the love of her mother and I can imagine that Cumming’s mother must be very touched by her daughter’s book but to the casual reader it is too much. It is also very repetitive at times. I was grinding my teeth in frustration. It really could have done with someone just gently removing the repetition from the book for Cumming.

Overall I’m amazed I stuck this book out because some days I could have quite easily chucked it through the window but I did finish it in the end just to see the outcome. I give this book 2 out of 5 Dragons because only books that I do not finish get 1 Dragon.

Purchase Links

 Book Depository  •  Waterstones

 

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The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young (Review)

The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young

About the author

Kite’s Nest Farm is on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment. It is run by Rosamund Young, her brother Richard, and her partner Gareth. Nature is left to itself as much as possible and the animals receive exceptional kindness and consideration.

Blurb

COWS ARE AS VARIED AS PEOPLE.

They can be highly intelligent or slow to understand, vain, considerate, proud, shy or inventive. Although much of a cow’s day is spent eating, they always find time for activities such as babysitting, playing hide and seek, blackberry picking or fighting a tree. Drawn from over forty years of organic farming experience, this is Rosamund Young’s affectionate record of a hitherto secret world.

Review

When I bought this book last year I will be honest it was because there were cows on the front. I love cows and have fond memories spending time with my dad when he needed an extra hand with the cattle (my dad is a herdsman). One of my favourite memories is of a bull called Dillon who would happily let you cuddle him and scratch his nose all day, he was just a giant teddy bear. This book is a first for me, I have read many cat and dog books but this is my first cow book.

This book took me no time at all to read and I could have read it in one sitting but started reading it before bed and eventually I had to give in to sleep and finish it the next day. On reflection though I think it is a perfect book to just dip in and out of when you feel like an interesting story about cows.

I love the many characters described in this book. You have the cow who enjoys playing hide and seek, the cow who takes a dislike to one of the farmer’s hats and likes to steal it. The relationships between the cattle are also endearing and I love how they will just go down to the farm house to tell the farmers that they need something.

The book is not just all about cows it does mention pigs, sheep and chickens. I love chickens and think they are amazing little characters so it was lovely to read some little stories about some hens. My particular favourite was the friendship between a pig and sheep.

The main thing I struggled with with this book was the many, many names of the cows, at the start of the book there is a family tree of the cows and their names but this does not contain all the many characters within the book and I must admit I was starting to forget who was whose child, sibling etc in the great cow family tree so in the end I gave up trying to keep them all related. It would have helped if the book was laid out in family groups but the stories were randomly scattered through the book with no kind of link.

I love the ethos that Kite’s Nest Farm live by and fully agree with it because animals should be happy and free as much as possible. I did find though that during the introduction Young gives she did tend to repeat herself a great deal and I just found that the whole ethos was a bit in your face at times.

I really enjoyed this book and the only things that let it down for me were the many names and the repetition that appeared within the book. Otherwise I loved the stories of the cows and the many different characters and highly recommend this book to animal lovers. I will be passing this book on to my dad next as after I mentioned it to him he is very keen to read it. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase links

Book Depository

Waterstones

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Be More Cat by Alison Davies (Review)

Be More Cat: Life Lessons from our feline friends by Alison Davies

About the author

Alison Davies is an author, columnist for Child Education and a freelance writer for a range of magazines including Nursery World and Mother and Baby.

Blurb

Careful observation of the behavioural quirks of our favourite felines can actually be very revealing. From living in the moment, to trusting our sixth-sense instincts, to taking cat naps, and even going feral, there are real benefits to being more cat! In Be More Cat, Alison Davies explores nine key traits we can take on board to be more cat-like and live a happier, healthier, and all around ‘feline fabulous’ existence. With practical tips and exercises, interspersed with folklore and fun facts about our kitty gurus, there’s something for everyone in this cute, fully illustrated guide!

Review

I received this book as a Christmas present off my cats, maybe they are hinting that I am too stressed and need to be more relaxed like a cat. This is essentially a mindfulness book, linking mindfulness with cats’ behaviour and how we can use things that cats do to become more relaxed.

I really enjoyed this book and it did make me giggle a lot and I must admit I read it in one sitting as I just could not put it down. The other element I really liked was that the book has nine chapters like a cat has nine lives and each chapter was somehow cat related.

The book gives helpful little exercises that should help us and are what cats do, for instance cats will stare at a wall for hours on end in our case we would meditate. There are a lot of these different exercises in the book to help us be more mindful but I must admit some do tend to repeat themselves. There are also some cat related tips in the book which are also very amusing and very factual.

The other thing I loved about this book was the wonderful little cat illustrations that run through the book. The book is also scattered with cat related quotes which I really enjoyed.

This book is basically a self help book and the exercises are all basically yoga or meditation based but linking them to cats is brilliant. I really enjoyed this book and give it 4 out 5 Dragons. The only reason it did not get the full 5 Dragons was because it was a little repetitive. Highly recommend to all cat lovers out there!

Purchase Links

Waterstones

Happy Reading!

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Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay (Review)

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

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About the author

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Adam Kay is an award-winning comedian and author of the million-copy bestseller This is Going to Hurt. He previously worked as a junior doctor and currently lives in London.

Blurb

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas is the hilarious, poignant and entertaining story of the life of a junior doctor at the most challenging time of the year. With twenty-five tales of intriguing, shocking and incredible Christmas incidents, the British public will finally appreciate the sacrifices made and the challenges faced by the unsung heroes of the NHS.

Review

This was a book I got on my Christmas shopping expedition to Birmingham where I went slightly wild buying Christmas books. I have not read Adam Kay’s previous book This is Going to Hurt but my best friend has and highly recommended the book to me but I started with his Christmas book instead and hope to read his first soon.

I did enjoy this book and loved the stories and it really does show how hard the NHS work and what they have to sacrifice in their lives. The other element that I liked was that Kay gave warnings about particularly harrowing stories and gave you the option to skip to the next story. I was brave and read these stories and I must admit the one nearly made me cry, I really did not realise even such a procedure existed.

This book really was an eye opener and really made me think about everyone who works for the NHS and what they have to put up with on a daily basis let alone over the holiday period. I really did feel sorry for Kay, that he had to work so many Christmas days over the years. I really think that something as special as Christmas Day should be taken in turns with staff.

The main issue I had with the book was that the comedy just felt forced and too much for me at times. I could have done with a little less comedy in the book and overall I think I would have enjoyed it a bit more. The stories in themselves were amusing and unbelievable in most cases they did not need Kay’s extra layer of comedy on the top.

I did enjoy the book and recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about working in the NHS and what an employee in NHS has to put up with. The book is only short and will not take long to read and you can easily dip in and out of it. I rate this book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

Waterstones

Book Depository

 

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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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