July round up and next months plans

  1. 12 birds to save your life by Charlie Corbett
  2. The Heeding by Rob Cowen
  3. Still born by Guadalupe Nettel
  4. The instant by Amy Liptrot
  5. Space invaders by Nona Fernández
  6. The shape of Bones by Daniel Galera
  7. Empty words by Mario Levrero

This month start with how birds saw someone deal with grief and loss and how they can inspire a writer at the hardest of times. Then a collection of poems written during the lockdown that so how nature shone through during that time. Then two woman go there ways with their decisions to have or not have children with a book that questions why  ? Then we have a writer moving to Berlin from Orkney and seeing the beauty of nature in the everyday and also trying to find love at the same time as she rebuilds her life. Then classmates grow as one of their class is the daughter of a high official in the Regime we see how they get over the years. Then a man goes through his old neighbourhood and his past and present start to join together. Then a man struggles to write so he starts a daily writing exercise as we see the results. This month saw me fall back onto translations near the end of the month a few weeks away and I was ready to go back to the usual diet of this blog I will still be reading a few nature books as I do love them so much.I didn’t get to my Spanish lit month books but did manage four other books for the month.

Book of the month

Still born was the book that I connected with a lot this month that tale of these two women lives I just got drawn into. That said for me  it was a great months reading and although I read less than last month but I went away we had a heatwave which I worked nights through and the sleeping during the day meant I read nothing for a number of days.

Non – book events

We spent time in Northumberland on Holiday which saw Amanda and I finally get to `holy island  on a nice day. We loved it so much we are going back in a couple of months but we will be going to a few places in Scotland.I watched Only murders in the Building which is a clever comedy that takes a side swipe at true crime podcast. I manage to get an offer for to get Apple TV back so I watch theTom Hanks film finch which Amanda and I loved. I listen to the record store day collection of Patti smith that was compiled on two albums for record store day I have wanted to listen to more of her work since I read one of her books I had horse like most people do but hadn’t looked much further into her albums so this will be a great intro.The blog reviews also passed 1200 books under review

The month to come-

it is Woman in translation m month next month and I have decided to challenge myself as I worked out I had seven books read from woman writers in translation this year and also had a further 7 part read so I decided to try and review a book a day I may fail but I’m going to give it a good go. I was inspired by Simon from stuck in a book who did it the other m month posted 30 reviews in a month.I have no nights next month which usually mess with my reading and reviewing as I get a brain fog during my shifts and for the couple days after so I should’ve a good chance to review as many as I can.

What are you plans? any for woman in translation month?

Empty Words by Mario Levrero

Empty Words by Mario Levrero

Uruguayan fiction

Original title – El discurso vacío

Translator – Annie McDermott

Source – personal copy

I am back with another for my Spanish lit month and this time I am heading down to Latin America and one of the countries that I really should have read more books from over the year and that Is Uruguay and her we have a book from the late writer Mario Levrero a writer that as the translator said in the intro he is hard to put in a Genre. I liked in his Wiki page that it said he had left school due to a Heart murmur. Then he had spent his time listening to tango music and reading. He spent the latter part of his life trying to finish his novel The Luminous novel which he had spent a number of years working on he had been influenced by Franz Kafka and Lewis Carroll. This is the first book I have read by him and it was like going down a rabbit hole.

My graphological self-therapy begins today. This method (suggested a while ago by a crazy friend) stems from the notion – which is central to graphology – that there’s a profound connection between a person’s handwriting and his or her character, and from the behaviourist tenet that changes in behaviour can lead to changes on a psychological level. The idea, then, is that by changing the behaviour observed in a person’s handwriting, it may be possible to
change other things about that person.

My aims at this stage of the therapeutic endeavour are fairly modest. To begin with, I’m going to practise writing by hand. I won’t be attempting calligraphy, but I’ll at least try to manage a script that anyone could read – myself included, because these days my writing’s often so bad
that not even I can decipher it.

What he is trying to do is explained .

What happens when you get some writer’s block. Well, our narrator unnamed has been told by a friend to just write with a pen and paper every day ( this is something you see a lot these days in self-help videos and how to become creative). What we have here is his jotting the life his outpouring and over time you see how Levrero has let his narrator pour out his life and his life is one that is seeing him wanting to go up the ladder at work he writes crosswords and his mother is now showing her age. His stepson is distant so most of his time is spent Wirth his dog Pongo. But what we see is a man trying to write trying to expand from tales of his dog and the cat next door. This is one of those books that is just great but is hard to describe I’ve seen it compared to Bernhard in a way especially as he had Also written about trying to work through writer’s block.

4 October
A bad day for calligraphical exercises, and for lots of other things too. It’s raining (which I enjoy, though it makes me even more inclined than usual to sleep and do nothing). Yesterday (today) I went to bed after five in the morning; at ten thirty I was woken up by a truck with loudspeak-
ers attached, which stopped right outside our house and held forth about some stupid raffle, at great length and appalling volume. Then, without having got back to sleep properly – I’d been dozing, but that was it – at twelve thirty I was woken up once and for all by Juan Ignacio and his
grandmother, who were shouting for the dog in a deafening chorus. Because of all this, my eyes are burning and I don’t feel like doing anything. I notice, however, that except for the odd slip-up, my writing is large and clear.

A few days later and we see how he is getting on with his daily task of writing.


Another review said that Uruguay is known as the place of the strange ones when it comes to writers. I think that this would be one I struggle at times it is one of those books that hasn’t any real plot other than we know he is writing every day to free his writing up. this is an overweight guy with heart issues ( this is another nod to Bernhard in a way how often his characters have a sort of spite to their own world !!). It is maybe a writer trying to write about a writer trying to escape writer’s block whilst the writer himself is trying to escape the writer’s block he is suffering. His other book the luminous novel is also like this about trying to escape writer’s block. He likes to take the reader down rabbit holes of a writer struggling in his life there is a sense of the absurd nature of the world around us at times. The writers mentioned by his translator are evident Kafka there is a sense behind our narrator there are more mentions of having to live away from his home in Uruguay.An interesting book for this year’s Spanish lit month I will be getting his other book. Have you read this or any other writers from Uruguay? this is a Spanish Kafka trying to get out of writers block by imaging he is Thomas Bernhard whilst following his dog into a rabbit hole.

Winstons score – B a solid intro to a writer I liked to read more from a book that is unusual and challenging but the sort I love as a reader.


The Shape of Bones by Daniel Galera

The Shape of bones by Daniel Galera

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Mãos de Cavalo

Translator – Alison Entrekin

Source – Personal copy

Well, I’m back posting here post- heatwave and working nights during said Heatwave sapped my energy so I am running late with Spanish / Portuguese lit month-wise . BUT I think a few books was planning to read, I can carry over to next month rot go with my women in translation books I have planned to read. Anyway, it is back with a book I finished just prior to my holiday a book from a writer I had read before, I like blood drenched beard by the Brazilian writer Daniel Galera, a writer and translator that has worked on E-zines, launched his own publishing house and has seen a number of his works made into films and plays. He is considered to be one of the best young writers from Brazil. This is the second book from him I have reviewed. As we are near the endow this year’s Tour de France. A book that at its heart has a couple of bike rides seems very apt.

The Urban cyclist lies in the middle of the street for at least ten seconds, his leg still caught in the bike, while the neighbourhood dogs bark in a frenzy. When his brain starts working again, the first thing that occurs to whims is that his face must be deformed. He runs his hand over it and finds a little blood on his thumb. His tongue registers the sour taste and what appears to be a small flap of loose skin on his lower lip. He frees his leg from the bike, the right one and examines it. A small white circle under his knee begins to sprout minuscule red dots, which become drops of blood that swell and start to run down his leg.

I think we have all had a fall from a bike like this as a kid or an adult that bad crash.


The book has a twin storyline that both focus on Hermano a young surgeon and husband but he is distant in his marriage as we see him sneak away from his sleeping wife and child. As we follow him as he sets off early one morning to drive through Porto Allegro to fetch a friend for a ride. We see the man remember his childhood in the rougher side of time and the group of friends he knew then a bunch of rough kids as they tore through the streets like a character on a bike from an early Springsteen song as they grew up in Esplanade district of the town a working class young part of the city.  As we follow him in the present trying with a friend to scale a mountain ( apt as yesterday was the last day in the mountains in the Tour) he passed through his old neighbourhood on the way the past comes to the fore in his mind as the start to climb the mountain and we see how what happened in the past with the boy shaped the man how the urban cyclist and his gang made this distant surgeon in the present. How one event in those years is still haunting him in the present.

The street that served as a finish line at the bottom of the stairs wasn’t very busy, but it was still a miracle that there hadn’t been any deadly collisions with motor vehicles. The most skilled riders managed to stop their bikes with a skid before they got to the kern, but the manoeuvre came with its own risks.

This is one of the passages that made me think of those early Springsteen songs of kids in cars ion his songs but tearing through streets like they do here on the bikes on the edge of life.

I love novels that use the twin storyline as a narrative tool because when it is pulled off like it is here it is a wonderful way to give insight into a character’s past and why they are like they are in the present you get the sense early on that there is something in Hermano’s life that isn’t quite right yes he has it all the life away from his childhood home, the wife, the child the dream job but there is that niggling sense the way he sneaked off the way the drive through a place sparked the past that one moment in the past that set the present this book does that brilliantly also the pacing with the drive and ride on the mountain as pacing to the book as the morning and the memories of the gang the tearing through the streets this is a man-made good but at what cost!! I am teasing you as this is a book that I think maybe slipped under the radar blood drenched beard of Course with the title which grabbed people I would imagine is a great book but for me, this is the better book by him. Have you a favourite book that uses two timelines in the Narratives?

Winstons score – +A a man faces his past whilst on a bike ride perfect reading whilst the tour is on.

Northumberland trip book haul

We spent a few days last week in Northumberland anyone been around the blog for any time will know I lived there in my early twenties and since I ve been driving a few years ago have been visiting regularly for the last three years . We choose to spend time near Newbiggin a small town by the sea we had stayed near last year it has a nice long promenade to walk a couple small shops and a couple of coffee shops and the couple in the middle of the bay. This is a great base we had a day in Lindisfarne and Seahouse as last year when we went it a wet day and this time we saw the island in the sun.

We walked towards the castle and then around the harbour and abbey there is a small shop sell gin made on the Island and we finished at the Pilgrims coffee shop which is outside wonderful cakes and coffee they roast there own which I brought some beans home with me to grind(well I did and it was very nice). We sat and watched some sparrows help clean the tables by us. In Seahouse we finally got to look at the lifeboat which we want to see last time. The next day we went to Alnwick to Brater books of course , but wait there is also a wonderful new shop that is hundred. yards from where I lived on Narrowgate in Alnwick the accidental bookshop has a really high self of books and a great selection of books I will know so my haul from each shop.


First up was this by the South African writer Bryten Brytenbach I thought I had reviewed a book by him I had read one many years ago and think I have another on my shelf I was swayed by the cover plus I did like the book I read so I will have to review him soon as I know have three books to read from him.



Now we have a book that I know is published by NYRB Memoirs of Anti semite is a book I had hope to read at some point (I don’t know about you there is the list of books you just know you want to read this is one) This is an old picador copy.

Then a book from Javier Cercas I have read a number of books by him over the years so this was a great find as it is a crime series a move from the other books I have read by him that tend to use historical events.

This one appeals as I just love books about travel and I had just read Goethes Journey to Italy set. So a novel from the same time period. Also Mozart someone whom Goethe had seen the  young Mozart play and also Goethe had tried to write a sequel to to the Magic flute.


Another writer I have read in the past is Marguerite Duras so when I saw this one I just had to get it a woman watches a murder in a cafe and keeps returning to the scene of the crime.

Yet another writer that has been on the blog in fact Amos Oz has been reviewed four times. He is one of those writers I want to read all of his novels over time.

And lastly a master of the short story whom I have read but never reviewed on the blog that is the Polish writer Pawel Huelle . That is the last of the books from Barter books I didn’t find a nature writing book that jumped out at me. But as I was away and relaxed the passion for books in translation has come back I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was back to normal. So I put them in the car and we then head to the new bookshop which is so near my old flat it would be dangerous if I was still there me so close to a book shop.her is my books from the accidental bookshop.

Firstly two books from Latin America Space invaders I reviewed yesterday and Mona I will be reviewing this coming week at some point both had been on my radar I had read an earlier book by Polo Oloixarao.These struck me as perfect for this month’s Spanish lit month and also maybe for next month’s women in translation.

Then the other two are a piece of travel  writing about walking to the island Lindisfarne I love books that I will know the locations but also that are about pilgrimages I have alway been interesting in pilfgrims and pilgrimages what make people do them but also what it gives you doing them I have fancied doing something similar at some point.Then scattered all over the world by the German/japanese writer Yoko Tawana images the diaspora of Japanese descent when Japan it disappears and they are scattered all over the world what makes there identity ? I would highly recommend a visit to the accidental bookshop also a few doors up is a great deli with a cafe in its cellar that does great cakes.A nice few days we may be going back in a few months as we love it there and also are looking for the perfect place for when we retire up there which is what we plan to do. Have you been to Northumberland ?



Space Invaders by Nona Fernadez

Space invaders by Nona Fernandez

Chilean fiction

Original title – Space Invaders

Translator – Natasha Wimmer

Source – personal copy

I saw the cover of this book on Twitter and it caught my eye so when I was away last week in Northumberland and I had seen it in the new book shop in Alnwick and started to feel the Drag of books in translation again I decided it would be a great choice for this Spanish lit month. Nona is a pet name that the writer had growing up and she has had a variety of jobs firstly selling clothes growing up and Began to write she wrote her first novels whilst living in Barcelona. Her writing is considered part of the literature of Children’s canon(Literatura de Los Hijos) a term coin around a group of novels from Chile mainly but elsewhere in Latin America that view the years of the dictatorships around Latin America through children’s eyes. the term was originally coined by Alejandro Zambra. I have reviewed books by him here.

Santiago de Chile. 1980. A ten-year-old girl walks into Avenida Matta school holding her father’s hand. A leather satchel hangs on one shoulder and the laves of her right shoe are undone. Outside, the pavement is strewn with the remains of a celebration; flyers, empty bottles, trash. The new constitution proposed by the military Junta was approved by a broad majority. The school caretaker sweeps the litter from the gate, watching the girl’s father. The man takes off his officer’s cap to say goodbye to his daughter. He gives her a kiss on the cheek and whispers a few words in her ear. The girl smiles and heads down the hallway with one shoelace trailing on the tiles. In front of the statue of the Virgen del carmen, she kneels and kisses her thumb

The opening a girl with one lace undone is the centre of the book.

So this is a strange book as it isn’t a linear story more a collection of pieces memories, dreams, nightmares and letters about a class and one of the pupils in that class Estrella. She was in the class but her father was a high-ranking official in the Pinochet regime over a period of years from that ten-year-old girl with her father just as the new constitution was proposed. Then someone in the class remembers her two long braids and pulls them this is the nature of the book a fracture scattering of the class and what happens over time as they grow first in the present in retrospect that time and their present. Things like the regimented nature of the class line up singing the anthem(these bits remind me of old communist schools I remember seeing on the tv years ago that indoctrination at a young age). Then what it means to live under the regime when a teacher stumbles when asked about politics shows how dark these times were deaths in the poor areas common described through the eyes of the children. as the class moves through time we come back after each life lost a few years later to we come to them as adults. Add to this is a chunk of the 80s

a green glow in the dark hand. Riquelme keeps dreaming about it, can’t shake it. This time he sees it on a television screen, The hand advances rapidly, in the pursuit of extraterrestrial children. They run back and forth, fleeing in terror, but the hand clutches at the first martian within reach and at its touch there is an explosion. The body of the little Martin flies apart into coloured lights that vanish from the tv screen

The liking to the space invader as one of the other characters plays it.

This book tries to see how you cope with the trauma of being a child in a conflict and how those events can haunt our waking moments and or dreams as kids Estrella was in their class and the events around them were out of their control so this is a horrific fragment journey into there lives around Estrella and the events and how in retrospective they seem a lot darker. Nona uses the space invader of the title as a sort of framing device as the story moves on each part is life in the game. I have read a number of books from the children of literature over the years and they all have a fragment sent to them and also that sense of how we view and remember childhood events and then what happens when later in life parts cross again. I enjoyed this it is a mosaic of time and events it’s left for you to fill the gaps at times and it is like a collection of soundbites of the time. The book is a short one I read it in an evening and have reread a lot of it this morning. Have you read any books from the literature of children genre ?

Winston score – B what happened to the class is remembered and what it meant rinds deep.

The Instant by Amy Liptrot

The Instant by Amy Liptrot

Nature memoir

Source – Library

I am back to the Wainwright longlist and this is a book from a writer that had won the Wainwright prize a number of years ago for her book The Outrun (which I wish I had read first as this book follows on from that book) her first book The outrun covered the time she had to get out of London and the drink and drugs world she was living in and return to her native Orkney back to the sheep farm where she had grown up on as she tries to rebuild her life. This book follows on after that time and feeling better and drink free she leaves the UK to head to Germany, to live in Berlin for a year.

The internet is hectic and I go to the moon to relax, opening a new browser tabs for the moon’s wikipedia page and google maps of its surface. I follow new lunar developments from NASA. I learn that the moon was probably once part of the earth, sheared off by an asteroid. B who moved from Scotland to Tasmania, tells me that there is a different moon in the southern hemisphere: it waxes and wanes in the opposite direction. I learn that the moon is slowing down the earth’s rotation. The moon is holding on to us.

I grew more aware of the moon and, in particular, its effect on the tides when I was back home on the island. Low tide at the new moon is the time to dig for shellfish called spots on the beach, and after a full moon is the time to go looking for things washed up – ike driftwood and treasure – at the high-water line.

The moon is the way we follow the year as each chapter is called after the name of the full moon for that time of year.

This is a woman breaking free after a rough time and starting fresh in a big city and Berlin. As she wants to be inspired, find something she is missing (love or sex hard to tell or both !) alongside this it is clear she has grown in the country as some tat has partly spent time in my youth in the countryside you learn to see so much more about the world around us the changing seasons. as she starts to settle into life in Berlin in as she mentions what the Germans call a wandering year, she has the ability to be a digital nomad to live in Berlin and talk about seeing birds of prey trying top see a racoon ( this reminded me of a German novel I read about a lone wolf wandering through ice-cold Berlin. But there is a sense of being alone in a crown at times is Berlin just another Orkney? routines fill her day. Then she meets and falls for a man they camp with and grow close to him. But then there is a sudden change of heart on his part which sees her go back to her phone to the lunar cycle. we see Amy try and grow and live in a new city in a new country.

The racoons have become a symbol of this area of Plucky, scrappy Kreuzberg. The big  1 May party in the courtyard of our apartment block has racoon hand stamps. The racoons are known for resilience and adaptability that I hope to emulate.

I still don’t know if it was a racoon I heard from my bed that night but I know they are out there on the rooftops, moving silently and unknown above the reptiles and graffiti. I know we make rubbish to feed colonies, to build another city from, to shelter a species.

Racoon is a recurring theme in the book.

This was a surprise for me as I hadn’t read a book by Amy before I was aware of her just from seeing her earlier book in the bookshop. I like memoirs and I connected with Amy and her year in Germany as I had in my early 20s spent in Germany I lived for two years near the dutch border with a German girl. I connected with how it feels to be alone in a crowd but also that love and zest for life you can get in Germany a country where arts and being artsy or even in love with nature isn’t strange. I loved the way she used the moon’s cycle to navigate that year of lows and highs she also showed how love can be so passionate like a firework at times fly high than a bang. This was her rocket ride and it didn’t get a moon landing the voyage was good but it had to come back to earth. alongside this is a country girl’s eye to the world around her the birds the creatures she hears about like the racoons I never saw a racoon myself but saw so much over my years there that I couldn’t see here. Have you a favourite Memoir of nature?

Winston’s score – +B a solid memoir of a year in Germany brought back memories of my own youth which is always fun.


Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel

Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel

Mexican fiction

Original title – La Hija Unica

Translator – Rosalind Harvey

Source – Personal copy

It is always good to get back to a writer you have read and enjoyed it is like getting that old jumper out of the draw you know it will fit you perfectly. `So I am late to my Spanish lit month but I am starting in Mexico with Guadalupe Nettel. A writer from Mexico has written a. number of novels and short stories and we are lucky that most of her books have been translated into English. She is one of the group writers in the Hay Bogota 39 group a number of years ago. I have reviewed her twice before on the blog and both those books were ones I loved so when I saw this had come out I just had to get it to read especially when I read the theme of motherhood and being able to choose to have children something that has taken years for society’s view on women having children.

It is easy, when we are young, to have ideals and to live according to them. What is more complicated is acting consistently over time, and in spite of the challenges, life puts in our way. Shortly after I turned thirty-three, I began to notice the presence – the appeal, even – of children. For two years, I had been living with an artist from Asturias, who would spend hours in our apartment devoted to his work, impregnating the air of our shared space with the heady scent of his oil paints. His name was Juan. Unlike me, he knew how to be around children, and enjoyed it. If he came across a child when we were out at the park or at a friend’s house,

Nettel, Guadalupe. Still Born (p. 21). Fitzcarraldo Editions. Kindle Edition.

The book follows the path around the theme of motherhood or whether to be a mother around a couple of friends Laura and Alina who are high fliers in their jobs and are both climbing the career ladder. They don’t want to have children at the moment well Laura doesn’t want to and she felt as though her friend had the same feeling as she did. So when the two women go on their own paths as one decides to have not children Laura makes sure she can’t have kids. But at this point, her friend meets someone and then decides that she wants to have a child this is the second strand her first IVF treatment which is told with a wonderful detached nature that gives it that clinical feel to such a personal moment in a woman’s life. Then when during the birth there is a twist that will change the future of `Alina and her partner Aurelio when they discover their newborn will have a disability which makes them reassess their future and what motherhood will be for them with a child with a disability and short-lived outlook. Then add to this there is a second tale of motherhood with the son of a neighbour.

On Monday I turned up at my gynaecologist’s office without an appointment and asked him to tie my tubes. After asking me a series of questions to gauge how certain I was, the doctor looked at his diary. I had the surgery that same week, convinced I’d made the best decision of my life. The surgeon did his job skilfully, but while I was recuperating in the hospital, I got an infection caused by one of those superbugs are so hard to eradicate. I returned home with a fever and spent several days like that without telling anyone what I’d done, not even Juan. Afterwards, when I was given the all-clear, I called Alina, feeling sure that only she would be able to understand me.

Nettel, Guadalupe. Still Born (pp. 22-23). Fitzcarraldo Editions. Kindle Edition.


This is an insight into the world of choosing not to have a babe and it uses the two friends as a wider comment on how society views motherhood and having children. I thought back to a film like Parenthood that dealt with having kids but society has moved on and there are more women wanting children Later in life or not at all as they want to pursue a career. It is all about choices and the ability to have them. But it also tackled the problem of having a child with a disability, after 30 plus years of working with people with disabilities you find there are certain ways parents over time have dealt with their children but also the way things have changed over time. The narrative times in the book have a detached nature at times that may be due to Laura being the one that is narrating the events and is the one that isn’t into children or being a mother. She views the world in her way and that gives it an interesting perspective and feel to the book. bu Laurt has a close bond with her friend and the horror of learning about they’re  Child’s disability and the effect it will have on everyone. Have you read any books from Nettel ? or around motherhood or choosing not to have children?

The Heeding by Rob Cowen


Orgin: Middle English Heden, Old English hedan, Old Saxon Hadian


  1. To mind, to regard, to take note of, to attend to; to observe.
  2. to pay attention, care
  3. To guard, protect


  1. Paying particular notice or careful attention tp advice or warning.

The Heeding is another of the longlist books for the Wainwright prize and is the second book of Poetry I have reviewed in the 13 years of doing this blog, it isn’t that I don’t like poetry but maybe I don’t sit and dole I had here and read Rob Cowen collection. He is a poet based in North Yorkshire, which I passed through quickly yesterday on my way up to the Northumberland where we are on Holiday and when I arrived I sat and read this collection of 35 poems that followed a year like another book win the collection it was written during the lockdown year and sees row Observations of this unique year and how it changed the world for tat one moment of time and both Nature and also the Nature of people. The book is also accompanied by a wonderful collection of bold and eye-catching illustrations from  Nick Hayes.


Indigo sky pressing down like debt.

All cars quietened; nothing stirs.

Late spring status, abandoned, wrecked.

Hell of a thing to be afraid of air

Of touch of family. Of friends. Of work

To not leave home for four days straight.

This is the opening verse of Noise off

I’m never overly sure how to describe a collection of poems but in this one, I just decided I would mention a few of the poems and how I as a reader connected to them. First is the second poem which is called Noises off and is about the new silence of Lockdown we all remember the clarity of sound we all got during the day when there is no cars, no planes in the sky factories are silent the world but also a world of new fears and worries is as it once captured here b Rob and his words far better than I can. Then we have starling which is an ode to that little coal-black bird ( which seemed apt as I am staying in a former colliery village at the moment) this described maybe seeing afresh this little bird which is yes noisy and often in loud groups but when you actually look at this little bird it is so beautiful with as Rob puts it the iridescent purples, greens and blues, the rare hues of petrol on water when describing its feathers. I loved those images and yes they are as soon as I read those words I saw them I was also reminded that I want to see the murmurations (the patterns in a flight of starling of which a large roost near to me is meant to be a place to see this wonder of nature.

We forget that you one shimmered through the frozen air; ripple bird.

Shape-shifter, dusk dancer. Murmurer, sh=ky writer,

Endlessly becoming in the darkening Gold;

Animals, patterns, waves.

And how e wonderstruck, witnessed a nightly unity against death

The second verse of the poem starling mentions their flight of them in groups and the patterns and shapes they make which is so eye-catching and one of the true wonders of Nature.

Well I just mentioned two from this collection in depth the collection is bookended with two poems called the duel about hawks hunting and Hawks reoccur in another Poem that I loved about seeing them in flight whilst driving and Like Rob how often does this happen on a motorway I always nearly crash and often think which bird it was I know Kestrels well as I have seen so many of the years but as for other hawks and how to know which is which glimpsed against the sky I am never quite sure. He also shows how he was touched by ovoid from his personal experience to that off the loss of those around him near and also faces in a crowd like a man at his allotment. Rob captures those mad twelve months in these 35 poems with a poet’s eye that ability t see beyond to describe and in a time like that is what is needed in a time of Madness and the uncertain nature of the world we need a poet to be are guide to cross the river of covid to make sense of the currents and eddies of that river to show us what we missed those little moments in that time like a collection of items which ties into the start of the book which sees Rob describe his desktop and the collection of items he has a stone, musket ball an otter print. Well, this is his desktop of that year his collection of items picked up along that year. Do you think poets can be beacons in dark times to guide the world around us?

Winstons score – + A, a stunning collection that captures in Amber a once-in-a-lifetime year of wonder and fear.



12 Birds to save your life by Charlie Corbett


12 Birds to save your life by Charlie Corbett

British Nature writing

Source – Library book

I take another step along the path of the Wainwright longlist books. It is strange I picked a book last month of my Trio of books that I had enjoyed was a memoir about grief this is another book around Grief. Charlie Corbett is a writer and a farmer that has spent his time between the Wessex Downs and Isle of Mull( you couldn’t get two places further apart in the Uk.he lives with his wife on the downs with his sons and a field full of skylarks which is one of the 12 birds of the book where he uses his love of birds and mixes into a memoir of Birds and the death and how his family coped when their Mother died and how birds have been viewed through time and he mixes them up this is his life in a hard time.

Peewits (otherwise known as lapwings or green plovers) are, in fact, a bird of the coast – a wader – but they breed up on hills during the spring and summer. And if you scan the sky in February, you might see great flocks of peewits circling up above looking for suitable places to nest. I almost drove off the side of the motorway when I saw such a sight not that long ago (once you develop a love for birds, almost crashing cars will become a common occurrence, I’m afraid)

I used to see these on a drive between towns growing up a bird we see a lot less of these days.

The book uses twelve birds native to the UK, which are common bar two of them which are harder to see the sections combine Charlie’s family life at what is one of the hardest times in people’s lives and that is the loss of a parent the effect on the wider family and how the sight of the birds and connections about myths and legends around the birds and how they have seen them over time. He also has a comic touch to describe some birds and their wider family-like calling a Jackdaw like the Danny deviate of the crow world. Then at the end of each section a guide to how to see each bird and how common they are and also it highlights how some birds over time have drastically declined those so common and still common mare getting less so like the little sparrow. It shows how we have to feed and make sure our gardens make birds welcome.

And if Danny DeVito had an extrovert cousin who liked to dress in Paris clothes, then that would be the Jay. The Jay is another characterful member of the Corvid clan. Though instead of the usual sombre black ensemble, the Jay sports a pink suit, bright white shirt with dazzling electric blue wingtips and a snappy black moustache under the beak. You’ll certainly hear a jay before you see one(its Latin name is Garrulous Glandarius). If you are walking through woodland, your ears will be assaulted by a shattering shriek, just as you remark to your walking companion, ” What the hell was that bloody awful noise?”, you’ll see this pinky-blue-white blur fly past with a kind of lazy undulation lollo. Yet despite its shouty call and garish costumes, the jay is, in fact, really rather a shy creature.It lives in woodland and really ventures out.

I loved this description of a jay in the section about Magpies.

I loved this as many of you know I love books that connect objects to things to memories it has always been something that has driven me as a reward this was one of the books that really jumped out at me of the Wainwright longlist. especially as I have always had a love of birds but also the myths and legends around birds which is something I have always loved. I often look for a robin when a bird is meant to be the soul visiting you at my mum’s grave site. They are one of the birds Charlie talks about. Then he talks about Kingfisher a bird I had on my wall as a kid one of the birds I love to see as you only ever see a brilliant blue flash as they so often disappear so quickly. He also has anBarn Owl which made me think of My work Owl there is a Tawny owl I have seen a few times it sites of a post at the back of work and I see it there and think I have seen a couple of things it has killed on the gardens at work. I think it is great as the first time I saw it a patient showed it me it made their day, especially showing me. Have you a favourite book that deals with Grief and its effect on a family?

Winstons score – B solid book around birds and grief and how they enter our lives their but sometimes we notice them more.

July 2022


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