Book Review 2018 – Part VI

Earlier this year I read and then reviewed Narrow Dog to Wigan Pier by Terry Darlington (Book review here), which I think is his third book. As I enjoyed it so much I decided to have a look for his first book, Narrow Dog to Carcassonne.

narrow dog

Much like the other book, this is all about life on a narrow boat with a whippet. The big ‘hook’ with this book is that they made their way across the channel, in a narrow boat. Of coarse it took two years of planning, and most people telling them that they would die, but they made it. I don’t think that I’m giving anything away there. The book is written with great humour and a very unique style, which I greatly enjoy. They travel around the UK to begin with, from Stone to London and back, gaining valuable boating experience on the Thames and the Bristol Channel.

The canals of France are also very different from the narrow canals in the UK, as well as very few people having seen a whippet. You don’t need to be a fan of canals or boating to enjoy this book. One of the best books that I’ve read this year.

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Book Review 2018 – Part V

I’m catching up with another book review here. Generally I like to group two books that go well together in one review, but this time they are like the opposite of two peas in a pod. Maybe they are similar, much like a carrot and a washing machine are.

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I like Tim Moore’s writing and have read most of his books, including reviewing one of his in my first book review, many aeons ago (read it here). In that book he was cycling from northern Finland to the Med, in winter, on an old shopper made before the iron curtain came down. Bonkers! Loved it!

This time he is driving around Britain visiting the worst places, staying in the worst hotels, drinking in the worst pubs, driving the worst car and listening to the worst music. The car is an Austin Maestro, say no more. Hotels and pubs as reviewed on Trip Advisor. He went to Hull, Grimsby, Middlesborough and even staying in the last surviving Pontins.

It was a good read, although slightly depressing in an up-beat kind of way, although I would have put my foot down if I’d had to endure listening to Phil Collins.

The Rivers of London is a book that I’ve heard lots about, but it passed me by, until browsing my local Waterstones with a book token in my pocket which needed to be spent. I enjoyed it, but I still can’t really explain what it was all about. It’s got Vampires and Ghosts, a small sub-division in the Police force that deals with these sort of things, and a multitude of women who are ‘The Rivers of London’. There is also Old Man Thames and his tributaries upstream from London. They are all part of the main plot, a whole slew of grizzly murders.

The book is bizarre and unlike almost anything I’ve read before, and although I did enjoy it, I’m not sure that I enjoyed it enough to buy any of the sequels, which I think there are another five in the series. If I see one in the little library round the corner I will definitely pick it up (read about it here).

In other book related news, my parents have found my Kindle and returned it to me, which is a bonus if I’m traveling light, but might want to read lots and lots.

Book Review 2018 – Part IV

It’s been far too long since I blogged. Months in fact. I’ve been busy, which isn’t really an excuse because everyone is. Not blogging is an easy habit to get into, you miss a week or two and then before you know it, it’s been three months.

I’ll start my catching up on a couple of books that I’ve read recently, both exercise related.

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Salt, Sweat, Tears, as the cover implies, is all about the men (and women) who have rowed the oceans, from the very first over a hundred years ago to the more recent, including Adam himself. If the book was just about Adam’s crossing of the Atlantic I probably wouldn’t have picked it up, but it’s the chapters in between that make the book stand out, as well as interviews with some of the iconic figures in the ocean rowing scene.

I’m not a rower and have no intention of becoming one, but one thing that made me chuckle was when Adam mentioned his ‘crunchy’ tendons. I suffered from this for a week after I finished my triple ironman (read about it here) and it isn’t particularly pleasant.

Rowing fan or not I think you’ll like this book.

Sean Conway is a man that really doesn’t need an introduction. This is the third book of his that I’ve read and I devoured this one over a weekend in the lake district. He had already cycled and swam Lands End to John O’Groats, so he ‘only’ had to complete the run for the length of Britain triathlon. Unsupported long distance running is tough as you have to carry everything, and Sean had to contend with bad weather and as you would expect, the odd injury.

The book was very easy to read and I love reading about the sections I know well. As any long distance runner will understand, the speed that he was ‘running’ was decidedly pedestrian at times. One gripe was that he dismissed Youth Hostels, saying that he wouldn’t ever stay in them again for various reasons. I like them as you always get to meet new people, they have somewhere secure for your bicycle and they are a whole lot cheaper than a hotel, especially if you’re travelling alone.

Minor gripe aside, this was another great book, and I am looking forward to reading about his successful world breaking ride across Europe.

 

Little Free Library

I went for a run this morning with Nelly, our unruly English Pointer, and on the way back from the park we went down the next street along. The purpose of this little detour was to have a look at a free little library.

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What a great idea. On the wall outside a house is a small box full of books. If you like one take it, with the idea that you would replace it with a different book. This morning I got lucky with George R R Martin’s prequel to the Game of Thrones series.

throne

Later today I took a book back, John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar. Every now and again I feel the need to read something from Grisham. On the whole I find them an enjoyable blast, but he Rooster Bar was a bit dull, if I’m being honest.

Back to Little Free Library, and the website has a search function so that in theory you can find any that are near you. Unfortunately the search function isn’t particularly good, and the one in Lancaster isn’t listed, so there could be one only a couple of streets away from where you live, and you’d never know about it.

Book Review 2018 – Part III

Did I mention that I’d had a go at publishing my own short e-book? Read about it here. Sales have doubled today, it’s up to two copies.

Back to the book review, and I have two very good books for you (both much better than my short story).

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First up is What Goes Around by Emily Chappell. When I lived in Oxford I often travelled to London and I was always fascinated by the cycle courier’s, and slightly terrified by what they did day in day out. Emily’s book takes us from her start as a courier, when she was a newbie up to her being one of the most experienced couriers in London. She writes about the people she meets, other couriers, receptionists and her friends from the world of cycling. I love the short cuts and the hang-outs that only the courier world know about. I really enjoyed this book, although it reinforces by desire not to cycle around London. I find it bad enough between Wigan and Leigh and I doff my cap to cycle couriers the world over.

Next up is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl decides to walk most of the Pacific Crest Trail, a route that starts at the border with Mexico and heads all the way to Canada, passing through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. Many years ago, after reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, I was all set to take on the Appelachian Trail, but promotion at work put a stop do that dream.

In this book Cheryl doesn’t hide anything, including the death of her mother and her infidelities which led to her divorce, along with her intermittent heroin habit. She is also completely inexperienced when it comes to long distance walking, and never tries out her loaded rucksack until the morning she starts. Inevitably she can’t lift it as she is carrying everything including the kitchen sink. Fortunately she meets some kind and experienced walkers who help her sort out her kit, sending home the items that she won’t need. The year she’s walking also has some of the worst snow in history, meaning that almost everyone walking the trail has to leapfrog a section.

This is another book that I really enjoyed, even though its hard in places. As with the courier book earlier, I’m not planning on long distance walking, but that doesn’t stop me dreaming about other adventures.

I’ve Written a Book

When I say that I’ve written a book, it’s not a book. It’s a short story, very short, less than 7,000 words, or 36 pages of a Kindle. It was more of an exercise to see how easy it was, and if I could manage it. It’s fairly easy, although I would probably design my own cover next time, if there is a next time. I was also amazed that it isn’t that easy to publish your own book for free, which is what I intended to do, instead it is at the lowest price point possible, 0.99p. I think this is all about Amazon wanting to make a profit, although they do allow you to promote it for a few days for the knock down price of free.

What’s the book (short story) about?

Last summer, me and my lovely wife went cycling in the highlands of Scotland for a week, and this is my take on our mini adventure. Here is a link to the book, although I won’t be disappointed if you decline to make a purchase. Below is another link, and did I mention that I wasn’t particularly happy with the cover.

Within a day of my book (short story) being available, someone from Canada had bought a copy. I doubt if my royalties will allow me to get that Colnago.

As I said earlier, it was more of an exercise to see if I could self publish, and over the next few weeks I’ll probably post each chapter on my blog. If I’m honest I don’t think it’s very good, but then I’ve bought loads of books in my life that have been unreadable.

I would like to have another go in the future, but something longer but probably still cycling related.

Book Review 2018 – Part II

Normally I review two books at once, but this one deserves a review all of it’s own. Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff.

fire and fury

I’m not a fan of Trump, but this isn’t new. I didn’t like him years ago when he declared bankruptcy and stiffed loads of ordinary workers when his big casino failed. I never watched The Apprentice, and I wasn’t happy when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

When he stood for President I never expected him to win, like almost everyone. I would have liked to have seen Bernie Sanders stand, or Joe Biden, but as we’ve seen over the last year, Trump has been a complete and utter disgrace.

I tried to buy a copy of this book when it was released, but Leigh doesn’t have a bookshop, so I had to wait until the weekend. I don’t really need to go into too much detail about the book as it’s been in the news for weeks, but if you’ve been living in a bunker, the author was given access to the White House and had almost unfettered access to everyone. Apparently he has tapes as well, just in case anyone from the Trump administration tries to sue him.

The book plays to my prejudices, as I like to read about what a moron Trump is. I don’t watch the news on TV anymore, and I generally get most of my news from left leaning websites, for example, The Canary or Evolve Politics. I am just a guilty of this as someone who only reads The Daily Mail and sups up every last piece of hate. OK, so I’m not as bad as the hate filled racists who avidly watch Fox News or it’s ilk, but you get the idea.

Back to the book, and one of the most interesting aspects was how the whole Trump team who not only believed that they would lose, but actually wanted to lose, just not by too much. They could then blame illegal voting and try to claim the moral high ground, saying that Trump actually did win. This would then boost the Trump brand. This is backed up by the fact that there were no plans or policies in place just in case he did win.

The other interesting fact is that everyone close to Trump has to try to manage him, as he doesn’t read, and isn’t interesting in anything except himself. If there is justice then Trump and his entire family will end up in jail.

Read this book and laugh at how pathetic he is.