Friday, September 13, 2019

The Heat Of The Moment

The Heat Of The Moment:

Life And Death Decision-Making From A Firefighter

By Sabrina Cohen-Hatton

Published by Doubleday, 2019

If you have ever wondered how someone becomes a firefighter,  what motivates them, what inspires them, what scares them, what gives them nightmares, how they decide what they do during the course of their work and exactly *why* they make those decisions, you will enjoy this book.

If you wonder if joining the Fire Service is the career for you, you definitely need to read this book.....

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton's early life  saw her homeless, desperately struggling to get by, find somewhere safe to live, to keep on with her education and selling The Big Issue to do so.  She never gave up.

She joined the Fire Service, and worked her way up to become one of the most senior female firefighters in the UK, earning a PhD in Psychology as she did so,  and revolutionising how her colleagues are encouraged, helped and trained to make the professional decisions which could cost them their own lives as well as the lives of those they are endeavouring to save.

This is a superb book, filled with stories of bravery, heroism, even occasional errors of judgement, but always described with honesty and compassion, looking at how training and decision-making can be improved both for the firefighters on the ground and those in management positions.

The tunnel still haunts my dreams.......


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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Everyday Keto Baking

Everyday Keto Baking

by Erica Kerwien

Fair Winds Press, July 2019

I've been following a low-carb diet for about six months now, and the one type of food I really did miss was baked goods! Not so much the sugar side, but rather the texture and "mouth-feel" of pastry etc.

Eliminating wheat flour does limit the number of traditional cake/biscuit/pastry recipes you can use due to the vagaries of substituting and using coconut flour or almond flour - you really do need a specialist book from someone who has plenty of experience using alternative flours, and I am delighted to say that for me, this book works admirably, providing detailed but easily understandable guidance.

Even if you are completely new to low-carb or keto, this book will help you through each step to enable you to produce beautiful and delicious home-baked items for the whole family to enjoy.  If you have family members who need to have dairy-free recipes, you can substitute with nut milks and even easily substitute for eggs if necessary.

I am trying to reduce the amount of processed sweeteners I use to a minimum as I am finding my tastebuds are now appreciating many foodstuffs as being naturally sweet enough, but this book is fabulous if you are happy to use sweeteners in your cooking or if you are new to this way of eating. There is no need to miss out on your favourite indulgences any more, or feel guilty about eating them.


Thanks to the publisher for allowing me a free digital copy of the book via NetGalley in return for my honest opinion and review.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Kyra's Canine Conditioning

Kyra's Canine Conditioning

by Kyra Sundance

Published by Quarry Books, February 2019

This is a surprisingly fascinating book for anyone who has a dog and is looking for tried and tested ways to improve a dog's physical health in order to improve stamina, performance, agility, co-ordination and reduce the risk of accidental injury from everyday and unusual movements and activities.

The opening is a comprehensive overview of conformation types of different breed of dogs and the how even basic things like keeping your dog's nails properly clipped can affect their posture and movement and chance of injury.

Human exercises like Tai Chi can be adapted to help dogs, and there are full colour illustrations throughout to show you how to passively move a dog's limbs effectively to  gently stretch the muscles, how to warm up and cool down a dog before and after exercise, and most importantly of all, full instructions and ideas to get your dog interested and happy to  exercise, using simple equipment such as hoops and then onto more complex things such as jumps.

I am really looking forward to using this book with our young Labrador, who will love doing almost all of the exercises shown.

Many thanks to the Publisher and NetGalley for sending me a digital copy to read and review.

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An Amish Reunion

An Amish Reunion:

Four Amish stories

By Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston,

Kathleen Fuller and Kelly Irvin

Published by Zondervan, 9th April 2019

Four well-known and well-loved novelists provide stories relating to Amish folk's partings and eventual reunions under a wide variety of circumstances.

 These range from a separated couple still grieving the loss of their only child, to a single Amish mother who is shocked when the father of her baby arrives back in her community, to the reappearance of a much-loved Englisch friend after many years and a family moving back to their home town after a long period away.

I found them all spiritually nourishing,  all filled with grace and hope despite some of the hardest circumstances and situations that life can throw at us. A solid collection of Amish characters, some larger than life, some subdued, some lovable and some not so lovable, but all part of their communities and eventually accepted as such.

Thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for providing me with a free digital copy to read with a view to review.

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Earth To Earth

Earth to Earth

A Natural History of Churchyards

By Stefan Buczacki

Published by Unicorn, March 2018

If you have any interest in natural history or in churchyards in general, let alone in particular, this is a book you will enjoy.

Churchyards are generally tranquil places, often largely left to their own devices and as such can be veritable havens for flora and fauna of all sizes. Hidden treasures abound, whether your interest is gravestones, church architecture, history, birds, animals or even lichens and mosses.

 Beautifully produced, with a lovely green ribbon marker and filled with captivating and atmospheric photographs, paintings and line-drawings, this book is a pleasure to look at.

 It is also an enormous pleasure to read, covering the way churchyards hold a special place in our history, imagination, art, poetry and prose as well as the more practical commentary on how certain creatures such as badgers can cause problems.  For those in charge of churchyards, there is  valuable information on how and what to plant to encourage or safeguard existing wildlife.

A wonderful volume!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Human Kind

The Human Kind

A Doctor's Stories From The Heart Of Medicine

By Peter Dorward

Published by Green Tree/ Bloomsbury, September 2018

Dr Peter Dorward is a GP in Edinburgh, and has a very mixed general practice indeed. He also trains students. From his beginning days as a junior doctor, feeling out of his depth and battling extreme exhaustion in the "bad old days" of medical training to the current way of training and working, he looks at all aspects of medicine in a general practice and the incredible variety of patients, lifestyles and situations which he meets as a result.

He describes some memorable characters who stay with you long after you have closed the book - especially Alicia whose ability to interact with the world is sadly diminished and nobody really knows how much she takes in although her doting mother believes she is actually very able to respond and interact. From youngsters with functional illnesses to drug addicts, angry patients to depressed patients, from the terminally ill to the emergency cases he is called to see, Dr Dorward describes his attitudes and thoughts about prescribing protocols, moral and ethical dilemmas and what he believes are the societal and psychological underpinnings for many illnesses.

This is not always an easy book to read; there are quite lengthy philosophical discourses about the nature of health, illness, society and medicine and parts of the book are really very sad indeed. I  did find his commentary about a former student's Christianity very dismissive and patronising, which is a shame as Dr Dorward is otherwise obviously a caring and compassionate man.

I did enjoy the book, but I don't think it will be one I would read again.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Read To Your Baby Every Day

Read To Your Baby Every Day

By Chloe Giordano

Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books/Quarto,

5th March 2019

There can be few people by now who do not know the benefits of reading to children daily, but babies also love  looking at books and being read or sung to as well.

By adulthood, lots of people have largely forgotten all the words to nursery rhymes, but these are some of the easiest and most enjoyable stories in miniature to share with babies and toddlers. This book is an ideal "refresher course" for parents, grandparents and friends who want to make reading an enjoyable pastime to share with a small child.

Many of the old favourites are here: Baa Baa Black Sheep, Frere Jaques (in English and in French), Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush, etc, but how many of us know all the words to Old Mother Hubbard? This actually has no fewer than fifteen verses, which was news to me!

This delightful book is full of wonderful illustrations, all from Chloe Giordano's original pictorial fabric art embroideries, and they are absolutely exquisite. I don't know who will enjoy them most, the adults reading or the little ones listening and looking. I am certainly buying a copy for my baby grandson.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me see a digital copy to review.

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Friday, March 01, 2019

Master Recipes From The Herbal Apothecary

Master Recipes From The Herbal Apothecary:

375 Tinctures, Salves, Teas, Capsules, Oils And Washes

For Whole Body Health And Wellness

By J J Pursell

Published By Timber Press, Inc,  5th March 2019

This great book does exactly what it says on the cover title.

There is an initial specific chapter providing details of 60 key herbs and how they work. The author recommends becoming friends with 20 and learning as much as you can about them, preparing and using them. A valuable table provides information about dosing schedules depending on the format of the remedy made. Almost every kitchen will have the utensils needed to make herbal remedies; mine certainly does.The instructions for preparing each type of herbal remedy are simple, clear and concise, and well illustrated with colour photographs.

General Day-to-Day Health issues and their remedies are covered, along with chapters dealing with
Immune Defense,Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Care for Babies and Children,  Herbs for Elders and also chapters on herbs for Emotional Support and Travel Wellness.

There is an excellent chapter entitled Herbs for Odds and Ends, which covers flea treatment in animals, herbs for dying fabrics, domestic uses of herbs for cleaning, air freshening etc and in making notepaper.

I enjoyed this book so much I have ordered a paperback copy for myself :-)

Many thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for letting me have a digital copy of the book to read and review.

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Conquering Type 2 Diabetes

Conquering Type 2 Diabetes

By Richard Shaw

Published by Hammersmith Books, 19 February 2019

Richard was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, most definitely overweight and with a poor diet high in sugar and carbs. He dutifully attended medical appointments, took his prescribed medications, but it was only when he had an eye health scare that he made the conscious decision to improve his health.

He chose to follow the Banting diet, reducing his sugar and carbohydrate intake in favour of  increasing protein, fats, nuts and non-root vegetables. His health did not just improve dramatically, losing 31 kg, but he managed to significantly lower all the biochemical markers of Type 2 diabetes (which is traditionally held to be chronic, progressively degenerative and certainly irreversible) to a non-diabetic level.

This is not a "I am right, doctors are wrong" book, neither is it in favour of jumping on any particular  bandwagon that rolls along and catches your fancy. He is careful to stress that you should not abandon any prescribed medications and that you need to keep your GP/Consultant  aware of your lifestyle and diet changes and for your health to continue to be monitored carefully. He documents medical research and studies which he found of particular interest so the reader can explore the information and incorporate it into a planned change of diet.

Richard provides meal plans and forty recipes suitable for the low carb/high fat diet he chose to follow, along with lots of helpful general advice about exercise, water consumption, dietary modifications, getting into routines, apps and websites that may be of use to the reader too.

He is keen to stress that this worked for him, and the Banting diet - or variations of it - have worked for many people across the world, but it is not a guarantee of completely reversing Type 2 Diabetes for everyone. It will help to improve health, and that can only be a good thing.

This is an easy, quick and engaging read, and is full of useful advice even for those who  are not diabetic. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Monday, February 11, 2019

The Language Of Kindness

The Language Of Kindness:

A Nurse's Story

By Christie Watson

Published by Chatto & Windus, (Hardback) May 2018

Published by Vintage, (Paperback) January 2019

Christie did not take the typical route into nursing. Unsure of what career she might follow, she read widely, left home and moved in with her boyfriend at sixteen and was left looking for a home and a job when her relationship quickly ended.She found both when she found a job working with handicapped youngsters with severe physical disabilities in a residential home, where she saw caring and nursing in action, and her future career was set.

Managing to get into nursing school at a younger age than normal, she then spent twenty years nursing. In this book she takes us on a tour of a hospital, its departments and staff, bringing in details about people she looked after and worked with, the variety of areas of nursing work she particularly enjoyed, while weaving in the history of nursing, hospitals and health care from before birth to after death.

It is an interesting and moving book, written with a light touch but deep compassion.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for giving me a digital copy to read and review.

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Sunday, February 03, 2019

The Almanac

The Almanac:

A Seasonal Guide to 2019

By Lia Leendertz

Published by Mitchell Beazley, 2018

I have had occasion to use my copy of The Almanac multiple times this year already, to check sunrise and sunset times and to consult the tides tables, but there is so much more too.

The names on the months of the year are given in different UK languages including Jerriais Scots Gaelic, Ulster Scots, Irish Gaelic, Manx, Cornish and Welsh.

There is information about gardening according to the phases of the moon, religious and secular feasts and festivals, cheeses for each month, seasonal recipes including Epiphany Tart and Cullen Skink for January, as well as songs, folklore, facts about the weather,  the sky at night and loads of details about what flora and fauna can be seen at different times of the year.

It is a beautifully produced hardback book, with something for everyone, no matter their interests, and is a joy to look at and handle.

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Monday, January 28, 2019

The Ravenmaster

The Ravenmaster

My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London

By Christopher Skaife

Published by 4th Estate, 2018

This book is *exactly* what it "says on the tin" :-)

After a long and exemplary military career, Christopher Skaife applied to become a Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London. He subsequently ended up becoming The Ravenmaster.

He debunks many of the myths which have grown up about the Tower and its ravens, but what he reveals about these incredibly intelligent and fiercely independent birds and their interaction with humans is even more fascinating and valuable in its turn.
This really is a superb book, a fascinating, side-splitting, sometimes heartbreaking description of his life and work, entwining folklore, history, natural history, science and the minutiae of his and the ravens' daily routines.

I found it absolutely riveting and I was really very sad when I reached the end. My only quibbles are 1/ that the US version apparently has a super cover photo of The Ravenmaster in his official dress uniform rather than the brooding and rather Edgar Allen Poe-esque cover designed for the British market, and 2/ that the few photographs are black and white, but these are very minor quibbles and in no way detract from the quality of the book.

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Monday, January 14, 2019



Special Forces Cadets Series Book 1

By Chris Ryan

Published by Hot Key Books, February 7th, 2019

Max is ...different. An orphan, living in a children's home, he watches, listens and learns. He observes the world around him, reading about and learning any skill he thinks will be of use one day.

Those traits, his quick wits and decisive actions save his life and the lives of his companions one day when on  a group mountain climb that goes badly wrong.

What he doesn't know is that he has been watched for a long time by a secretive and shadowy group looking for youngsters like him, who have specific characteristics, skill sets and mindsets, able to go into situations of extreme danger where adult soldiers could not go unobserved.

The selection course he is invited to go on is cut short when a group of terrorists storm a London school and hold the pupils hostage, and Max and his fellow recruits are thrown in the deep end during their first assignment.

I loved Chris Ryan's "Agent 21" series and seriously doubted whether he could better it. Judging by this gripping first book in a new YA series, he has definitely bettered it.
Can't wait for the next book!

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Nine Pints

Nine Pints

A Journey Through the Mysterious, Miraculous World of Blood

By Rose George

Published by Portobello Books, October 2018

This was a Christmas gift, and what an engrossing read it turned out to be. 

As a UK blood donor, I thought I knew a bit about the Blood Transfusion Service, but that was very far from the case. The story about how modern blood transfusion services operate in the UK and abroad makes sobering reading; here we are so used to volunteers giving their blood freely that it seems almost distasteful 
to think of donors being paid in other countries. 

Blood always has and always will evoke strong emotions.  From religious sects who refuse blood transfusions to cultures where menstruating women are exiled from their family homes during their "uncleanness", from the fear of blood borne diseases and the problems that life-saving transfusions of clotting factors can cause when contamination occurs, to the use of leeches in modern day medicine to counteract clotting and poor blood flow after surgery, this book contains something for every reader.

Fascinating, horrifying, gripping, terrifying in some parts and always utterly absorbing, this is well worth a read.

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Favourite Christmas Reading, Old and New

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Piggy in Heaven

Piggy in Heaven

By Melinda Johnson

Illustrated by Soraya Bartolome

To Be Published by Paraclete Press, January 8th 2019

This is a truly delightful board book, written by the talented Melinda Johnson and beautifully illustrated by Soraya Bartolome, describing what happens when Piggy dies and wakes up in Heaven.

His initial confusion is eased when he finds new friends, discovers delicious things to eat and endless safe places to play.

The book has a serious message however, which is portrayed naturally, sweetly and simply: Piggy learns that love spans time, space, place and eternity, and that one day, we will be reunited with those we love and who love us.

Despite its sad beginning, this story is filled with joy, hope and anticipation. It is a hugely positive book, filled with faith and love, and is also a really great read.

I have lost count of the number of times we have had pet funerals with our children, spread over thirty years. I really wish I could have had an invaluable book like this to help ease the sadness when our girls were very young and had to say goodbye to a dearly loved little pet and work their way through the grieving process.

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Busy Life

Just a quick note to apologize for the lack of recent posts.

Our beloved elderly dog has been very ill and had to be euthanised.  We have since acquired a new young puppy who requires endless amounts of attention and the incredibly joyful  news of my first grandchild's arrival!

I am still caring for Elderly Relative on a daily basis and there simply are not enough hours in the day to do everything. Although I am still reading, I don't have the time or the energy to write much, and the longer I leave it, the more the read books are piling up before I can get round to saying anything about them, which makes me even more disheartened....

With all this in mind, I think for the next few months at least, I will just be posting photos of the books I have read, with maybe a few words about each, until things settle down a bit and I can get back to book reviewing in earnest.

Sorry for the inconvenience!
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Saturday, April 07, 2018

Just Read: The Flag

The Flag:
The Story of Revd David Railton MC and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior
by Andrew Richards
Casemate Publishers, 2017

Most people will say they know about the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, particularly as we are in the centenary commemorations of World War One, but not many know about the man who had the idea of bringing an unknown soldier home to Britain and was a war hero himself. 

David Railton was a Chaplain to British Forces on the Western Front and was awarded the Military Cross for his own bravery in rescuing others in the gravest of danger with no thought to his own safety. Throughout his war service, his primary concern was always for the physical, mental and spiritual welfare of the troops with whom he served and he was adamant that every gallant lad who died would have a respectful funeral, his body draped with a Union Jack flag which Padre Railton carried everywhere with him.

When his idea of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior finally came to fruition, it was his flag which hung on a pillar in Westminster Abbey very close to the Tomb, and for the first time, the full story of the life and work of David Railton has been depicted in this book. I found it really interesting indeed, but desperately sad in places, and I am really glad that Revd David Railton has finally had the recognition he deserves.

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Just Read: Slow Train to Switzerland

Slow Train to Switzerland
By Diccon Bewes
Published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2015

A chance encounter with a book's footnote detailing the published journal of a young British girl who visited Switzerland 150 years ago on a mountain climbing trip led Diccon Bewes to track down a copy of her journal. Fascinated, he then developed a plan to take his mother with him as they attempt to recreate the journey of Miss Jemima Morrell on the first ever Thomas Cook "Tour of Switzerland".

They use public transport, following the route as exactly as possible and attempting to stay in the same hotels, visit the same tourist sites, climb the same mountains and visit the same glacier. It isn't always possible to follow the itinerary slavishly, but they do their best and the differences between the oft-desperately poor and isolated inhabitants of the rural Switzerland of 150 years ago stand in stark contrast to the prosperous, healthy and health-giving tourist destination it is today.

Lots of old photographs of places Miss Jemima visited and excerpts from her journal give a lovely picture of this enterprising and rather brave young lady as she travels with her Junior United Alpine Club across some really quite dangerous terrain even for the modern well-equipped climber, let alone a lady wearing full Victorian dress.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, which I savoured slowly over a period of weeks and was very sad to reach the end, though there is a most interesting twist there too!

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Tuesday, March 06, 2018

REVIEW: Anaesthesia


The Gift Of Oblivion And The Mystery Of Consciousness

By Kate Cole-Adams

Text Publishing, February 2018 (in UK)

If you have any worries about needing an anaesthetic in the near future, this is definitely NOT a book you want to read. Modern anaesthesia is generally very safe and very effective, but what frightened me most was the fact that nobody, not even the anesthetists who use these medications every working day, is entirely certain how they actually work...... and why, sometimes, they don't. 

What exact part of our brain do they affect? Do they affect the entire brain and make it utterly impossible for your brain and body to retain any sort of awareness of trauma inflicted in surgery?  
Does anaesthetic awareness happen more often than we think? 
Does the lack of hard knowledge unduly worry some anaesthetists? Surprisingly not.
What constitutes consciousness anyway, and what makes us remember things? (And that really is a can of worms!)

Kate Cole-Adams is an Australian journalist with a long-term interest in anesthesia and its problems, who needed to undergo major surgery herself, and this book is the result of her researches and her own experiences. It is an interesting book, with lots of fascinating medical research introduced and referenced,  but the large amount of speculation as to the nature of consciousness could perhaps have been more tightly edited as parts of the book did tend to ramble somewhat, making it a lengthy read indeed.

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REVIEW: Pilgrimage


The Great Pilgrim Routes Of Britain And Europe

By Derry Brabbs

Frances Lincoln/ Quarto, October 2017

One might be forgiven for thinking there is a plethora of books about pilgrimages, and indeed there are, mainly concentrating on brief glimpses of many pilgrimages or in-depth travelogues of one major route.

This, however, is quite different and concentrates on the lesser known pilgrim routes for long-distance walkers, even those keen enough to tackle the Great St Bernard  Pass!

You will find the new pilgrim route of St Cuthbert leading to Holy Island, the route to St Thomas a Becket at Canterbury, the route to St Winefride's shrine at Holywell in Wales,  the French leg of the Camino to Compostela, the route from Cologne to Trier in Germany, Rouen to Mont St Michel, which graces the front cover, Seville to Astorga, Munich to Lindau,  La Verna to Assisi, and the longest route, Calais to Rome.

It is a fairly short book, only 256 pages, but it manages to pack in plenty of historical detail, pointers on what not to miss and best of all, the most glorious photographs of the lovely scenery. There really are not enough words to describe how beautiful this book is; it has earned a place in my library and inspired a burning desire to follow some of these paths for myself one day.

My only quibble may be that it did not include the modern Cistercian Way pilgrimage across Wales too, but perhaps that may follow in a subsequent volume :-)

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Just Read: Under The Knife

Under The Knife: A History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations
By Arnold van de Laar
Published by John Murray, 2018.

Somewhat of a misnomer as I have actually listened to this as an audiobook via Audible :-)

The author has picked 28 operations, some mundane and some utterly amazing to us nowadays, which have changed the history of surgery.

From Abraham performing circumcisions using a stone knife to the most high-tech equipment imaginable in the 21st century, from alcohol as an analgesic to the complexities of modern anaesthesia, this remarkable book covers the ever-evolving understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the human body and the evolution of surgery into what we are familiar with today.

 It covers Kings and Queens, Popes, Presidents and astronauts, as well as the brave ordinary folk who experimented on themselves or allowed others to experiment on them. This really was absorbing to listen to and the book would undoubtedly be just as enjoyable to read.

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Just Read: Swiss School

Swiss School

By Mabel Esther Allen

Girls Gone By Publishers, Radstock, 2017

I am slowly collecting as many school stories by Mabel Esther Allan as I can find, and this is a shiny new reprint produced by  Girls Gone By which I received as a birthday present from my family in the US.

I was especially thrilled to find this was not a stand-alone story but introduced an old friend from "Three Go To Switzerland", Hanni Werter, who befriends the newly arrived Felicity and introduces her to a way of life vastly different from that of her previous co-educational and very progressive school in the Welsh mountains.

There are trials and tribulations, misunderstandings and spats between girls, as you would expect in a school story, but Felicity is a nicely-drawn character and is is a pleasure to read how she settles in the new school and manages to cram in adventures too.
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Just Read: To Raise the Fallen

To Raise the Fallen: 
A Selection of the War Letters, Prayers and Spiritual Writings of Fr Willie Doyle S.J.
Complied and Edited by Patrick Kenny.
Published by Veritas Publications, 2017

I enjoy reading about WW1 in general, and was delighted to know this book had been published. There is a wonderful website by the same author about the heroic and saintly Fr Willie Doyle, covering his life and exploits in the First World War, but this book is rather more sober in content and repays slow and careful reading.

How a pious young lad who loved practical jokes but suffered ill-health ended up being accepted at seminary, being ordained and then saving many physical lives as well as countless spiritual ones by his priestly ministrations is inspirational indeed, and to read his own words about his spiritual life and how he tried to emulate Christ so closely is a privilege.
Many thanks to Patrick Kenny for the website and for this lovely little volume!
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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

With the End in Mind

With the End in Mind:

Dying, Death and Wisdom in an Age of Denial

By Katherine Mannix

Published by William Collins, December 2017

Katherine Mannix is superbly qualified to write this book, having spent a huge part of her long and distinguished medical career in palliative care, working with people who are dying.

From her first encounters with death as a medical student, then as a junior doctor, she has experienced dealing with patients, their often troubling physical problems as their health deteriorates, their families and all that the dying process entails. Familiarity does not breed contempt, however; rather it breeds sensitivity, compassion, respect, kindness and a respect for those about to undertake the final journey towards death.

Just as no two births or lives are the same, neither are any two deaths identical. They all may share similarities, but dealing with the dying and their loved ones can still produce surprises. Some people are in absolute denial that they are actively dying right up to the point where they lapse into unconsciousness; others request to be kept fully apprised of any changes in their medical conditions in order to plan ahead and prepare themselves and their loved ones.

There is no "right" way of dying and Dr Mannix discusses in some detail how different diseases influence the dying process and stresses that symptoms can almost always be successfully controlled to allow the patient to live as positively as possible until death supervenes.

I cannot find enough words to praise this magnificent book, but simply wish to echo her advice to discuss all these things with your own loved ones, make them aware of your thoughts and wishes and document your wishes. It will make life so much easier for you and for your loved ones when the time comes.

"In sharing the stories of so many ordinary people as they reached
their final days, I hope that I have shown that, in the end, none
of us is ordinary, that each unique individual is extraordinary in
their own way. As we approach the ends of our lives, we experience
a shift in perspective that allows us to focus on the most important
things in our own domain. This shift is both poignant and
freeing, as these stories illustrate. Living is precious, and is perhaps
best appreciated when we live with the end in mind.
It’s time to talk about dying.
I have. Thank you for listening. Now it’s your turn to talk."

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