Category Archives: Book reviews

Whomerley Wood Moat, Stevenage

My booklet about the medieval moated site in Whomerley Wood, Stevenage has been published.  Details about the book and how to buy a copy can be found under the Cade Books tab on my WordPress Blog, or go direct by clicking here.

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In fact, if you’re in a hurry to get a copy, hit this button!Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

That was a shameless example of self-advertising, was it not?! But, with Lulu having probably hundreds of thousands of books for sale, and Amazon having millions, how else would anyone know about my little offering!

I went with Lulu in the end. The decision wasn’t easy, as there are so many different aspects to consider and each POD publisher had their pros and cons. Out of desperation as much as anything, I ordered a book from Lulu to see how they performed and promised myself that if it came back looking good I would take the plunge. The postage seemed a bit steep at £2.99, but like many Oldies I still compare prices to what they were in the sixties when half a crown bought a plate of pie and chips in the local pub.

The book was ordered last Monday afternoon, it was printed on Tuesday and it dropped on the doormat Thursday morning. That was pretty good service whichever way you look at it.  The quality of the book is far greater than I expected, with a fabulous glossy colour cover and clear easy-to-read text inside.

The physical act of publishing with Lulu was a piece of cake. They take you by the hand and lead you step by step through the whole process, and to be honest there wasn’t a single ‘gotcha’ that I can recollect. Even when I chose to use my own ISBN, that was handled easily and with no hiccups. The cover design would have been a bit tricky had I not realised it could be designed offline with MS Publisher and then uploaded as an image. A bit of form-filling and a few boxes to tick, and that was it.  My baby was on sale!

So, Whomerley Wood Moat is now out there for anyone to buy.  If you do, thank you, and I hope you enjoy reading about the moated site as much as I loved researching and writing about it.

Whoops, I nearly forgot to tell you which book I ordered for the test run. It was a copy of Nature’s Gold, by Penny Luker. I am an admirer of Penny’s writing, and this book contains a selection of her poems. Some of them are deeply emotional (Undeniable Love), others are light and easy going (Sneaky), a few bring a chuckle or two (Don’t Buy Me Apples). All of the poems are engaging, and it is clear they have been written from the heart with a profound sense of perception. If you think you might like Penny’s writing too, find her at her blog by clicking here.

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Book Review : The Hot Zone

Coincidentally, my bedtime reading this last couple of weeks has been The Hot Zone by Richard Preston.  I say coincidentally, because of the recent reports of a new Ebola outbreak in west Africa.  The book, written in 1994, is a true account of the time that Ebola infected a monkey house within a few miles of the White House in the United States.

hotzone

Preston takes the reader deep into western Kenya to Mount Elgon around 1979 with Charles Monet, to explore Kitum Cave, a favoured destination for mammals, reptiles, bats and insects over many millennia.  Seven days after his visit, Monet feels unwell and we are treated to a vivid description of what dying from Ebola is like.  To make sure we understand the horrors of death by a filovirus, Preston continues to present cases and uses these as a vehicle to describe the science behind Ebola.  He makes a good job of this, and never was I left feeling as though I needed a PhD in infectious diseases to understand what he was saying.

1983 sees the USAMRIID make an entrance, the US institute responsible for safeguarding against biological weapons and disease.  They are involved in carrying out experiments to create protection against diseases such as the Ebola virus.

Preston moves back and forth between the institute and the African rain forests describing more terrifying cases as he goes.  You would think by now the book would have become repetitive, but it didn’t seem like that to me.  I just felt as though something bad was building.

Suddenly, we are taken to a monkey house in Reston, Virginia, and the ‘something bad’ became apparent.  A new consignment of monkeys is flown into JFK International Airport from south-east Asia.  We are still not halfway into Preston’s work, but we know enough to work out that these monkeys are going to get sick.   This is where the book became a page-turner for me, the reason behind a few very late nights.

I guess the ending is predictable, although strangely the final part of the book, which takes us back to Kitum Cave, appears to take on a different genre.  We are treated to sensory descriptions, mental imagery and artistic metaphor.  Sufficient to give me goose-bumps, anyway.

After reading this book, you will be in no doubt that should Ebola wriggle its way into city populations that we will all be in trouble  Deep trouble.

The Hot Zone?  A chiller, for sure.

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Book review – The Testament of Jessie Lamb

Rarely am I motivated to write about a book, but this is the most enjoyable novel I’ve read in a long time.

Some of the best science fiction stories are those that you can imagine actually happening in real life, and author Jane Rogers follows a cautiously trodden path between the credible and the scary with The Testament of Jessie Lamb.

I found the book provocative, stimulating, and well-engineered.  It’s a fair bet that if you start reading it, you’ll go all the way to the end.

For the full review, click on the Book Reviews tab above.

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Book Review: Paxton’s Protégé, by J.P. Craddock

I desperately needed a break from the latest OU module, and came across this new book by John Craddock.  Having enjoyed one of his previous biographies (Jim Puttrell: Pioneer Climber & Cave Explorer), I knew I was in for a remarkable ride.  It did the trick, and now I’m back on course for the next OU assignment with renewed vigour.  Please click on the Book Reviews tab above to find out more about this fabulous book!

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