Mini Reviews autumn

Here are some more mini reviews of some NetGalley books that I’ve read recently.


From Spare Oom to War Drobe:
Travels in Narnia with my nine-year-old self by Katherine Langrish



From Goodreads: β€œ As a little girl of nine, Katherine Langrish fell deeply in love with The Chronicles of Narnia – she was even inspired to write a book of stories set in that world, complete with poster-paint picture of Aslan on the homemade dust jacket. Although she loved the Narnia books to bursting, others took their place as she grew up. For years they sat unopened on her shelves. She began to wonder why. Had they simply become too familiar? Had the charm faded? What might they mean to her as an adult?Β From Spare Oom to War DrobeΒ is a love letter to that early passion, as well as a reappraisal of The Chronicles of Narnia in the light of maturity and changing tastes. It brilliantly evokes her initial sense of childish wonder, and in a close reading of the novels, including analysis of the context in which other critics have placed them, she gives us a superbly rich, enlightening, and immensely readable guide to the world of these evergreen stories.

I think I was probably introduced to Narnia around the same age as the author, my oldest sister used to read them to me, and have I’ve loved visiting ever since. In fact I like to read, or rather listen to the audiobooks regularly, always starting off with The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe around this time of year, because of it’s Christmassy theme. I was intrigued when I saw this book on NetGalley and decided that I would read it alongside the audiobooks. Unfortunately this strategy didn’t work for me because I only got as far as The Voyage of the Dawn Treader(book 5 out of 7) when I’d had my fill of Narnia and to escape to some other literary lands. What did I read was really interesting, and I definitely want to finish reading it alongside the remaining audiobooks. I thoroughly recommend it for anyone with a love for all things Narnia!


The Collector’s Daughter by Gill Paul
narrated by Imogen Church

613cTFZZD2S._SL500_From Goodreads:“Lady Evelyn Herbert was the daughter of the Earl of Carnarvon, brought up in stunning Highclere Castle. Popular and pretty, she seemed destined for a prestigious marriage, but she had other ideas. Instead, she left behind the world of society balls and chaperones to travel to the Egyptian desert, where she hoped to become a lady archaeologist, working alongside her father and Howard Carter in the hunt for an undisturbed tomb.
In November 1922, their dreams came true when they discovered the burial place of Tutankhamun, packed full of gold and unimaginable riches, and she was the first person to crawl inside for three thousand years. She called it the β€œgreatest moment” of her lifeβ€”but soon afterwards everything changed, with a string of tragedies that left her world a darker, sadder place. Newspapers claimed it was β€œthe curse of Tutankhamun,” but Howard Carter said no rational person would entertain such nonsense. Yet fifty years later, when an Egyptian academic came asking questions about what really happened in the tomb, it unleashed a new chain of events that seemed to threaten the happiness Eve had finally found.”

Β I was so excited when I spotted this audiobook on NetGalley as I do love historical fiction, and I’ve loved Gill Paul’s books in the past, plus Imogen Church was narrating so it was no brainer for me. The Egyptian storyline in the 1920s story was great, I love this era so really enjoyed this timeline. I really felt I was there in the 1920s experiencing everything that Eve was experiencing. I especially loved her romance with Brograve Beauchamp, a man who was besotted with her but couldn’t always find the words to express himself. The excitement and secrecy of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb was described brilliantly as were the ensuing tragic consequences. I must admit that I wasn’t so keen on the 1970s story, as it was a more sombre, although I really enjoyed the cultural references, especially the mention as the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show. Imogen church was of course wonderful reading this audiobook, confirming to me once again what a superb narrator she is. Highly recommended if you enjoy historical fiction on audio.


Football Rising Stars: Marcus Rashford by Harry Meredith



From Goodreads: β€œMarcus Rashford MBE became the youngest soccer player to score on their England debut, ahead of the Euro 2016 tournament. Marked as a talented forward in the Manchester United Academy from a young age, the homegrown hero has become a force both on and off the pitch. From humble beginnings in Greater Manchester, to pushing the government to tackle food poverty, this young star shines brightly in the Premier League and beyond.
About the Soccer Rising Stars series:
Soccer Rising Stars dives into the incredible journeys of ten of the world’s best young players. Featuring fresh talents from England, Portugal, Norway, France, Germany and Spain, the series covers their unique rise; from playing soccer in the park and 5-a-sides to performing in front of capacity crowds on the biggest stage and in the biggest leagues.β€œ

I really enjoyed this book about Marcus Rashford, the Manchester Untied and England football player. I only knew about his campaign to continue free meals for children in the UK during the pandemic and knew nothing of his football career at all. I’d read about his childhood through an article in The Guardian last year so it was really good to discover loads more about him in the book. He really is a role model for young and old and this bookΒ  fills in the gaps for anyone who wants to know more about how his football career started.


Secrets and Spies: The Underground World of EspionageΒ 
by Anita Ganeri & Luke Brookes



From Goodreads: “Prepare to go undercover and enter a world of secret missions, covert operations and classified information. Explore the history of espionage from ancient secret agents to modern-day surveillance, and read about the lives of infamous spies and their missions. Learn the language of spies and how to read codes and ciphers, then ask yourself the all-important question – could you be a spy? An exploration of a hugely popular subject by the author of the best-selling β€˜Horrible Geography series.”

This was a fantastic book for all ages who might be interested in the world of espionage, from the ancient times right up until the present day! There were so many interesting stories and facts about real spies I’d never heard of from the World Wars and the Cold War. Of course James Bond is mentioned, along with his creator Ian Fleming, who was himself involved in the world of espionage during World War Two. The illustrations are fabulous, complimenting the text perfectly. I highly recommend this one, particularly with Christmas fast approaching!Β 


Abandoned Places of World War I by Neil Faulkner



From Goodreads: “From the preserved remains of the mighty PrzemyΕ›l fortress to the underwater wreckage of German warship SMS Scharnhorst near the Falkland Islands, Abandoned Places of World War I features more than 150 striking photographs from around the world.
An overgrown concrete bunker at Ypres; a rusting gun carriage in a field in Flanders; perfectly preserved trench works at Vimy, northern France; a rocky mountaintop observation post high in the Tyrolean mountains. More than 100 years after the end of World War I, the conflict’s legacy can still be seen from Europe to the South Atlantic. Abandoned Places of World War I explores more than 100 bunkers, trench systems, tunnels, fortifications, and gun emplacements from North America to the Pacific. Included are defensive structures, such as Fort Douaumont at Verdun, the site of the Western Front’s bloodiest battle; the elaborately constructed tunnels of the Wellington Quarry, near Arras, designed to provide a safe working hospital for wounded British soldiers; and crumbling concrete pill boxes in Anzac Cove, Turkey.

This was a very enjoyable coffee table book of over 150 photographs from around the world. I enjoyed reading about the different places that been destroyed by the Great War and sometimes the stories of the regiments who’ve left their personal marks behind. Although I knew that WW1 had been fought all over Europe, I hadn’t really thought about the bunkers and forts that could still be found outside of the Western Front in France and Belgium.would be found. The photographs are good quality and I definitely recommend this to anyone with an interest in battlefields of the First World War.