Aurochs and Auks: Essays on Mortality and Extinction by John Burnside

Aurochs and Auks: Essays on Mortality and Extinction by John Burnside

Summary:

Aurochs and Auks is a deeply moving and intelligent meditation on the natural processes of death and extinction, renewal and continuity. Prompted by his own near-death in a time of pandemic, John Burnside explores the history of the auroch (Bos primigenius), the wild cattle that has become the source of so much sacred and cultural imagery across Europe, from the Minotaur and the Cretan bull dances to Spanish corrida traditions. He then tells the story of the Great Auk, a curious bird whose extinction in the mid-nineteenth century was caused by human persecution and before stepping into multiple extinctions of the outer and inner world.

My Review:

John Burnside is a poet and an author, for his latest work Aurochs and Auks: Essays on Mortality and Extinction (Little Toller) John Burnside takes a look death and extinction in a collection of four essays which includes the story of the Great Auk that was extinct back in the mid-nineteenth century directly because of human persecution.

What prompted John to write his collection of essays was a near-death experience because of covid. This was the catalyst that created the four essays and begins with Aurochs. These were the very large Cattle that roamed the landscapes of Europe centuries ago. The very last Aurochs died out in Poland in 1627. The second is a look at extinction itself and a look really behind the word and Extinction Rebellion come into this chapter.

The third chapter is the sad story of the Great Auk that became extinct in the mid-nineteenth century again this was due man’s persecution. Been keen on ornithology I have read many books on this incredible bird. It is sad that we never had the chance to witness the Great Auk.

The final chapter ‘Blossom Ruins’ looks at the authors near-death experience due to covid and how close John was to dying, so much so that that his wife was told to prepare for the worst. To come back from this experience is life changing and you look at life and the world very differently. He notes in his account his deep appreciation for the NHS and the work they have done during this dreadful time and how they looked after him.

This may seem like a dark book to read but the message through these pages is loud and clear for all humanity to read. Maybe this is a book that politicians around the world need to read. John’s words are profound and prophetic if man does not change its ways. After all are we not the caretakers of this planet we call home? Not just for us but all the creatures on this planet.

128 Pages.

My thanks to Little Toller Books for the review copy of Aurochs and Auks by John Burnside. Published on 18th October 2021 and is now available direct through Little Toller Books https://www.littletoller.co.uk/shop/books/little-toller/aurochs-and-auks-by-john-burnside/ or through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or via Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

SAS Bravo Three Zero: The Explosive Untold Story by Des Powell and Damien Lewis

SAS Bravo Three Zero: The Explosive Untold Story by Des Powell and Damien Lewis

Summary:

There were three patrols that fateful January 1991 morning: Bravo One ZeroBravo Two Zero and Bravo Three Zero. It was the opening hours of the Gulf War and the SAS were flown deep behind enemy lines to hunt down Saddam’s Scud missiles, the use of which threatened a Third World War.

The men of Bravo One Zero stepped off the chopper, took one look at the flat desert devoid of any cover and decided no way were they deploying into all of that. But Andy NcNab’s famed Bravo Two Zero patrol did deploy, with fatal results – all bar one being captured or killed.

And then there was Bravo Three Zero. These men were different. Thought differently. Acted differently. Treating as gospel the SAS’s saying ‘any fool can be uncomfortable’, they deployed with vehicles, and while there was nowhere to hide they could make a dash for the border if desperate.

Even as warnings came in that McNab’s patrol was on the run, Bravo Three Zero remained undetected – the furthest Coalition forces behind Iraqi lines. Slipping through enemy positions, a string of targets were taken out. But with the desert turning bitter and snow starting to fall, they were forced to fight a running battle against the elements as much as the enemy.

Though overshadowed by the fate of Bravo Two Zero, the achievements of this highly-decorated patrol are the stuff of elite forces legend. Now, for the first time, SAS veteran Des Powell reveals their story in gritty, blow-by-blow detail. Written with acclaimed military author Damien Lewis, this is a tale of edge-of-the seat daring deep inside enemy lands. Brutal, savage, unrelenting – prepare to be blown away, in a tale that proves utterly the SAS motto – who dares wins.

My Review:

I am extremely grateful to Sophie Ransom for the review copy of SAS Bravo Three Zero (Quercus) by Des Powell and Damien Lewis that was released on 28th October. Today 11th November at 11am we mark Armistice Day. We remember those who gave their lives in service of their country and with remembrance Sunday this weekend.

This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the forming of the Special Air Service (SAS) and has its origins from the North African desert campaign in 1941. This year also marks the 30th Anniversary of the first Gulf War were the SAS played a significant role behind enemy lines.

And it is the incredible story of one of the three SAS patrols. The opening few hours were important and the SAS had its role to play. Bravo One Zero, Bravo Two Zero and Bravo Three Zero. Their main role that morning was to seek and destroy the Scud missiles that Sadam Hussain was trying to create a wider and more serious war.

It is the patrol that Des Powell was part of being Bravo Three Zero, these men decided they had a job to do and no matter they were going to do the job they trained to do. Meanwhile Bravo Two Zero was in serious trouble with men wounded or killed. All bar one of that team got out. Bravo One Zero did not deploy as it was too dangerous. This left Bravo Three Zero and this is the story of Des Powell and what took place in the desert.

This patrol and their story is now the stuff of elite forces legend and so it should be. Des Powell and the men of Bravo Three Zero are the bravest of the brave. They went far behind enemy line and taking out targets as they went. As I read Des Powell’s story, I was left humbled by their actions. But none of these men should ever have to go into action with sub-standard equipment.

Written by the acclaimed military author Damien Lewis, superbly researched as you would come to expect. These brave men do the work others could never do, and are the bravest of the brave. It was a privilege to be able to read in advance and SAS Bravo Three Zero is one book I would recommend.

Lest We Forget.

#SASBravoThreeZero

@P22Des

@quercusbooks

368 Pages.

My thanks to Sophie Ransom for the review copy of SAS Bravo Three Zero by Des Powell and Damien Lewis Published by Quercus Books on 28th October 2021 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

The Reacher Guy: The Authorised Biography of Lee Child by Heather Martin

The Reacher Guy: The Authorised Biography of Lee Child by Heather Martin

Summary:

Lee Child is the enigmatic powerhouse behind the phenomenally successful Jack Reacher novels. With devoted fans across the globe, and over a hundred million copies of his books sold in more than forty languages, he is that rarity, a writer who is both critically acclaimed and adored by readers. And yet curiously little has been written about the man himself.

The Reacher Guy shows us for the first time the young man behind the invention of Jack Reacher. Through parallels drawn between Child and his literary creation, it tells the story of how a lost and lonely boy from Birmingham with a ferocious appetite for reading grew up to become a high-flying TV executive, before coming full circle and establishing himself as an internationally bestselling author.

Heather Martin explores Child’s lifelong fascination with America – and shows how the Reacher novels fed and fuelled this obsession. Drawing on exclusive correspondence and conversations with Child over a number of years, she forensically pieces together his life, from Northern Ireland and County Durham to New York and Hollywood. This is the definitive account of the man behind one of the most iconic series of our times.

My Review:

I have to admit here that I read this some months ago when the weather was warmer and the days longer. Welcome to The Authorised Biography of James Dover Grant OBE. Or to put it another way. The Reacher Guy: The Authorised Biography of Lee Child (Constable) by Heather Martin. Huge international bestselling author does not do him justice. Lee Child is more than this.

I have to say a very big thank you to Heather Martin who I have go to know on Twitter and her inspirational comments. The paperback was released on 21st October.

This really is the stuff of boyhood dreams to become one of the worlds leading thriller writers. Everyone knows the number one worldwide Jack Reacher series from book to Hollywood silver screen. But how many of us know the man behind the writing?

What Heather Martin has done is to craft his story from the in-depth conversations over a period of time that has given Heather the chance to tell the story of Lee Child from childhood and his early school days in Coventry to the day he was made redundant, and this is where he decided that this was his moment in time to become an international bestselling writer. We all dream the dream of making good and the security this will bring but as many writers know there is rejection, but his time had arrived.

As biographies go this, I found to be a real page turner, as I have been fascinated with writers and their craft for many years and I must congratulate Heather Martin for the engaging way she has gone about writing Lee Child’s biography. There are interesting facts that come to light through the pages.

This is by no means a quick biography at 544 pages it is a fabulous read. If you have enjoyed reading the Jack Reacher series, then you must make The Reacher Guy high on your list as this will give a gripping insight to the man who made it all happen and proves that dream can come true.

There are also interviews with teachers, colleagues, and friends in interweaved with many stories of Lee Child’s life that eventually took him to the USA. One biography not to be missed.

544 Pages.

My thanks to Heather Martin, Little Brown and to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the  review copy of The Reacher Guy by Heather Martin. Published by Constable (Little Brown) on 21st October 2021in Paperback and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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Three Stripes South by Bex Band

Three Stripes South by Bex Band

Summary:

In 2016, desperate for a drastic change, Bex Band decided to walk the length of Israel with her husband: a 1000km trek including a dangerous crossing through the vast Negev desert.

She’d never done anything like it before and the experience changed her life, building back her confidence and self-esteem.

Three Stripes South tells the story of this transformative adventure – battling heat, exhaustion, self-doubt and prejudice – and the new life Bex built for herself when she got home, founding the Love Her Wild women’s adventure community.

‘Lacking confidence is something that a lot of women can relate to’ says Bex. ‘For me personally, it began at school with undiagnosed dyslexia and bullying. This fed into my adult years where I found myself in a vicious cycle of unhappy jobs and bouts of depression. I had low self-esteem and a belief that I really wasn’t capable of achieving much in life.’

Fast forward to today and Bex has transformed her life, tackling gender inequality in adventure travel, and championing women in the outdoors through regular talks, blogging and leading women on adventures all over the world. Nominated for multiple awards for her work advocating women in adventure, her story is an inspiration.

My Review:

Have you ever dreamed of just giving up your home and your job and just heading off on the adventure of a lifetime? Allow me to introduce you to Bex Band who did just that along with her husband and gave up everything and headed off to Israel. Three Stripes South (Bradt Travel Guides) is Bex’s account of their adventure.

The Israel National Trail is 1,000-kilometre trek that includes a dangerous trek through the Negev desert, and this is the trek that Bex and her husband gave up everything and head to Israel and complete the arduous trek in searing temperatures.

Bex has had to this point very little in the way of experience in trekking this sort of distance but after years of seeing dreams becoming stifled, she knew that there needed to be change and to find herself and regain the confidence that sometimes only the wild outdoors can bring. Nature as they say is an incredible cure. So now Bex found herself booking airline tickets. Just that little click, and her life was about to change for ever. Now the 1,000-kilometre trek lay ahead of her. Like a pebble tossed into a pond and watching the ripples spread outward, this was how this incredible trek, and its effect had her confidence and self-esteem. Just the thought of the trek through the desert is an incredibly brave thing to do when you do not have the experience. But does this stop Bex and her husband, not on your life.

Bex writes with humour and passion for what she does, and how this trek has changed her life, after returning home she set up Love Her Wild and this has inspired so many people with her social media posts and just reading Three Stripes South is inspiring. You will want to buy yourself a pair of walking boots and head off.

You can almost feel the heat of the sun from the pages, it is an engaging read, and I really enjoyed the adventure.

You can find more about Bex Band through her Twitter page @Bex_Band

216 Pages.

My thanks to Bex Band and Bradt Travel Guides for the review copy of Three Stripes South by Bex Band Published by Bradt Travel Guides on 6th August     2021 and is now available through Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings: A Medieval Ghost Story by Dan Jones

The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings: A Medieval Ghost Story by Dan Jones

Summary:

One winter, in the dark days of King Richard II, a tailor was riding home on the road from Gilling to Ampleforth. It was dank, wet and gloomy; he couldn’t wait to get home and sit in front of a blazing fire.

Then, out of nowhere, the tailor is knocked off his horse by a raven, who then transforms into a hideous dog, his mouth writhing with its own innards. The dog issues the tailor with a warning: he must go to a priest and ask for absolution and return to the road, or else there will be consequences…

First recorded in the early fifteenth century by an unknown monk, The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings was transcribed from the Latin by the great medievalist M.R. James in 1922. Building on that tradition, now bestselling historian Dan Jones retells this medieval ghost story in crisp and creepy prose.

My Review:

The days are getting shorter, and we are in the season for ghost stories and there is nothing better I enjoy at this time of year then a creepy old ghost story and bestselling historian Dan Jones has just released the perfect ghostly story. The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings (Head of Zeus) that dates to the 1400’s and written in Latin by a Monk from Byland Abbey in Yorkshire and discovered by Montague Rhodes James during the 1920’s. This is just one of the stories that was discovered and now Dan Jones has brought the story life.

This story follows a tailor called Snowball who is from Ampleforth and he is riding home after a days work when he things start to get a little creepy and is attacked first by a raven but then it transforms into something more creepy and sinister. This it transpires is a deceased member of the community that is not a rest due to his sins he committed during his life and now wants Snowball to seek out absolution from a priest and bring it back that will allow him eternal rest.

But there is a warning to Snowball that somewhere along this road there are two more spirits that haunt the road and if he fails to return to this very spot on the road with the absolution then there will be consequences for him from the two spirits.

What I loved is how the language brings this spooky tale to life and you can just imagine the quiet road a tired tailor riding his horse home and then creepy things start to happen around him.

There is an introduction by Dan Jones at the beginning including a look at Byland Abbey and there is also the Latin version of the story. Which I found to be a great addition to the story.

If you are a fan of the old spooky tales, then I cannot recommend The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings. Perfect for a dark autumn evening and being read via candlelight.

96 Pages.

My thanks to Head of Zeus for the NetGalley review copy of The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings: A Medieval Ghost Story by Dan Jones. Published by Head of Zeus on the 14th October 2021 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

The Genesis Inquiry by Olly Jarvis

The Genesis Inquiry by Olly Jarvis

Summary:

Is there one last undiscovered, great truth?

A moment zero, a place in time that links all cultures and creeds?

A revelation that will unite us all and change the way we see history forever?

Brilliant but burnt-out barrister Ella Blake accepts an apparently simple brief: investigate the mysterious disappearance of an African American polymath from his rooms at Cambridge University. The Inquiry quickly becomes the greatest challenge of her life – solving the mystery of Genesis.

Facing danger at every turn, can Ella find the answers to the riddles and clues left by the missing genius?

Reunited with her estranged daughter, the Inquiry sends them on a quest across the world and through ancient texts.

What is the secret that binds us all?

Who is behind the dark forces that will stop at nothing to prevent the world from knowing the truth?

The Genesis Inquiry is an epic and gripping thriller by the brilliant Olly Jarvis which asks a key question – what can our shared past tell us about humanity’s future?

My Review:

Back in October 2015 I was lucky enough to review Death by Dangerous by Olly Jarvis and now fast forward six years and I have been extremely fortunate enough to have read his brand-new legal thriller The Genesis Inquiry which was released on 12th October via Hobeck Books.

In this gripping thriller we are introduced to Ella Blake who was at the very top of her game as a QC, but she is burnt out after a case she was running was lost and now she is trying to run away from life and escape to the coast. Her daughter Lizzie meanwhile is studying at Cambridge for most parents this would be a proud moment, but Ella has little contact with her daughter. But things are about to change. Ella Blake has just come out of self-imposed exile and has taken on a mysterious case of a missing polymath from Cambridge University, and this means she could and does end up meeting her daughter.

But this case of the missing polymath will be the biggest challenge of Ella’s life let alone her career. This case not only becomes dangerous but there are riddles and clues but are some real or are some red herrings to put her off from finding the missing genius. What happens next is a thriller of a ride from continent to continent and ancient texts to solve the mystery add to this and a real sense that you are being watched and followed.

Does Ella make amends with her daughter Lizzie, well this and more you will have to read and find out. The Genesis Inquiry is an outstanding legal thriller.

A fabulous and compulsive read that had me wanting more and I for one really does hope there is more to come.

My thanks to Hobeck Books for the review copy of The Genesis Inquiry by Olly Jarvis. Now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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A Short History of Russia: From the Pagans to Putin by Mark Galeotti

A Short History of Russia: From the Pagans to Putin by Mark Galeotti

Summary:

Can anyone truly understand Russia? Let one of the world’s leading experts show you how, using the fascinating history of a nation to illuminate its future.

Russia is a country with no natural borders, no single ethnos, no true central identity. At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, it is everyone’s ‘other’. And yet it is one of the most powerful nations on earth, a master game-player on the global stage with a rich history of war and peace, poets and revolutionaries.

In this essential whistle-stop tour of the world’s most misunderstood nation, Mark Galeotti takes us behind the myths to the heart of the Russian story: from the formation of a nation to its early legends – including Ivan the Terrible and Catherine the Great – to the rise and fall of the Romanovs, the Russian Revolution, the Cold War, Chernobyl and the end of the Soviet Union – plus the arrival of an obscure politician named Vladimir Putin.

My Review:

When we think of Russia, we think of the Russian Revolution and more recently the Cold War. The world’s largest country has quite a history and how Mark Galeotti manages to keep it to under 210 pages is a real feat, but in A Short History of Russia: From the Pagans to Putin (Ebury Press) he manages this really well.

This is not a book the delves deeply into Russian history there are many books already out in bookshops that cover this but what Mark Galeotti brings us is a concise history of the rulers and from tsars to Communist Party leaders, of course there are the wars, and they are covered here. It is impossible to cover just about every aspect of Russian history. What I did like was the various timelines at the beginning of each of the eight chapters and there are photographs along the way and there are suggestions for further reading if you want to explore the various subjects.

But most of all I really enjoyed Mark Galeotti’s writing style, I found it easy to follow and really engaging. As you reach the climax of the book we get to the end of the USSR and then on to the rise of Putin. Which you could well write a whole book on.

All in all, this for anyone who has an interest in history and even politics I would happily recommend.

208 Pages.

On Friday the 8th October, we welcome back the Cheltenham Literature Festival and in-person book events.

Mark Galeotti will be attending the festival as part of the Understanding Russia event with details below:

Monday 11th October 2021. 10:30am for tickets to the event Understanding Russia:

https://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature/whats-on/2021/l092-understanding-russia/

The 2021 Cheltenham Literature Festival returns to live in person events this year. For further information on all events taking place over the next two weeks:

https://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature

#CheltLitFestival

My thanks to Sofia Sagir (Midas PR) for the review copy of A Short History of Russia by Mark Galeotti.

A Short History of Russia by Mark Galeotti is published by Ebury Press and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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In the Shadow of Queens: Tales from the Tudor Court by Alison Weir

In the Shadow of Queens: Tales from the Tudor Court by Alison Weir

Summary:

Behind every great king stands a queen. And behind every queen, the whole court watches on…

Over the years of his reign, six different women took their place beside King Henry VIII of England as his wife and queen.

But the real stories of the six Tudor queens belong to those who lived among them. Played out in glittering palaces and whispering courts, these are tales of the people who loved and served these women, and those who lied and betrayed them.

Collected together for the first time, In the Shadow of Queens reveals thirteen startling stories from the Tudor court, told by those at the very heart of that world.

ALISON WEIR.
Groundbreaking truth. Breathtaking fiction.

My Review:

I must admit to being an avid reader of history and historical fiction. If like me, you really enjoyed reading the six-book series of the wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir then you are going to really enjoy In the Shadow of Queens: Tales from the Tudor Court (Headline Review) that is released today 30th September. This is a fabulous collection of short stories based around the six books.

There are thirteen stories in the collection just perfect for dipping in and out of in a book that has been beautifully produced.

It could be that one of the reasons as to why I really enjoy history and historical fiction is how the stories are written, mixing fact and fiction together creates the perfect storyline and then the reader may well go off and want to find out more and that is exactly were In the Shadow of the Queens comes in.

Rich in personalities as you can imagine there is truth and there is fiction but going along with this is how much information is available. What I really enjoy about Alison Weir is how she writes her books, and, in this book, it is just how she tells the stories from within the Tudor Court and from the central characters.

At the beginning of each of the stories of the six wives there is a timeline which works well with the storyline and a little about each of the wives of Henry VIII. These are just wonderfully weaved stories and if you are a fan of powerful historical fiction then In the Shadow of Queens is your next book to read.

432 Pages.

My thanks to Caitlin Raynor (Headline) for the review copy of In the Shadow of Queens: Tales from the Tudor Court by Alison Weir. Published by Headline Review. Released on 30th September and available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

No Honour by Awais Khan

No Honour by Awais Khan

Summary:

In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.

When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore and then disappears.

Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.

Moving from the depths of rural Pakistan, riddled with poverty and religious fervour, to the dangerous streets of over-populated Lahore, No Honour is a story of family, of the indomitable spirit of love in its many forms … a story of courage and resilience, when all seems lost, and the inextinguishable fire that lights one young woman’s battle for change.

My Review:

Having read No Honour (Orenda Books) by Awais Khan during the last week of August I have been thinking about this book ever since. Trying to find the right words for this outstanding and poignant novel has been hard. As you read through the opening of the book you know immediately this is going to be a difficult and at times harrowing read.

In a small Pakistani village sixteen-year-old Abida lives with her family. This is a village were age old rules that must be obeyed. Her father Jamil loves his daughter, but the families honour must come first as the rules say. Girls are not allowed to go to school and must not disobey and uphold the families honour. But Abida loves Kalim and an intimate relationship begins. We find out that in a similar situation we find out that other young women have been murdered to protect the honour of the family.

Now Abida must flee the village before she is found out and faces a similar fate. Jamil loves his daughter and so he aids her escape rather than the public death that will follow. Abida now finds herself in the big city of Lahore. Very quickly she finds out that life here is going to be no better and in fact things start to get out of control. This is no life for a young strong minded young woman. Meanwhile her father Jamil recalls how he was brought up by his mother and how strong willed she was and now he sets off to find his daughter. Soon they are trapped in a desperate dark world where drugs and prostitution and corruption seem the norm. All Abida wanted was a new life for herself her child and Kalim. The narrative of the story alternates between Abida and her father Jamil and you may think that reading this that the novel is just too horrific to read and yes at times it is graphic and hard to read but what there is here is hope and Awais Khan has written a beautiful story.

As I read through No Honour, I wanted Abida to find the freedom to bring up her child and settle down with Kalim and Abida’s father who risked everything and the shame it would bring to his family. But love for his daughter is more means everything to him. This is an important book and there were times it felt as though my heart had just been ripped out. All I will say is here is that the one thing we have is hope, and we cling to that like a life raft.

What an outstanding writer Awais Khan really is. I await to see what comes next.  

276 Pages.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of No Honour by Awais Khan.

No Honour by Awais Khan is published by Orenda Books and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

We Are Animals by Tim Ewins

We Are Animals by Tim Ewins

Summary:

A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.

Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the passport-thief who stole his heart (and his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.

Jan has not. In his long search he has accidentally held a whole town at imaginary gunpoint in Soviet Russia, stalked the proprietors of an international illegal lamp-trafficking scam and done his very best to avoid any kind of work involving the packing of fish. Now he thinks if he just waits, if he just does nothing at all, maybe fate will find it easier to reunite them.

His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…

Will…

Not…

Leave.

But maybe an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find the missing thief?

Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a quirky, heart-warming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the certainty of fate (or lack thereof).

For the first time in her life the cow noticed the sun setting, and it was glorious.

My Review:

There are some books that just stand out and just being rather special and We Are Animals (Eye/Lightning Books) by Tim Ewins is one of those books. A story of a man and a woman both called Jan. A love story that will make your heart burst. It is also funny and at a time when the world seems to have become deeply troubled, this is a story we all need in our lives right now.

We find ourselves on a beach in a far-off land as the man called Jan is talking to a young man called Sharkey and he is recounting his life story to the young man. This is his story of a love for his girl called Jan from how they met in a tiny English fishing village to their travels around the world and in and out of each other’s lives. For Jan he has now ended up in Goa and hoping that one day his lost love will re-appear again but so far, his girl called Jan has not appeared. Each day Jan will wait on the beach in the hope that she will suddenly walk across the beach to him. But there is also a cow on the beach and the cow seems to be waiting for something to appear. This chapter about the cow really struck a chord with me. But there are many more animals that make an appearance through this wonderful novel.


There were times I found myself laughing out loud even in a train carriage when I thought I was alone. This is a different novel that is so profound and at the same time beautiful in the way the story just is told and how Tim Ewins has crafted the story and the interesting characters you meet and their own hope and dreams for their own lives and this for me was the real pull of the story and how in some small way in our lives we can make a difference to other’s lives. Sometimes we may not even know we have.

We Are Animals is a novel that will last in the memory for quite a long time to come and I am very grateful for the chance to have read this wonderful novel.

320 Pages.

My thanks to Tim Ewins and Eye and Lightning Books for the review copy of We Are Animals by Tim Ewins.

We Are Animals by Tim Ewins is published by Eye Books and is now available in Paperback through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org