Birdsong quote

I have recently finished Birdsong, and was shocked at how it impacted me emotionally. It wasn’t the story that I found so moving, but rather the parallel lives of those back in Blighty and the indifference they felt towards the front line soldiers.

A full review to follow, but for now a quote from the book that truly illustrates how this war affected the men who gave their bodies and minds to it.


12 years a slave

12 years a slaveBUY BOOK   BUY DVD

12 years a slave by Solomon Northup

The whole world is talking about 12 years a slave, the film not the book. Pestered to go and see the film I thought I would read the book beforehand, so as to appreciate the full narrative in my own time before being subject to someone else’s vision. I thought the book was compelling, there were moments when I couldn’t put the kindle down. It was the type of story that resounded in my thoughts all day long after having read during my morning commute.

I had heard that there are scenes in the film that are perhaps a little too brutally honest.  Although the story was hard to digest, it wasn’t because of the graphic scenes the narrator depicts. I have read a few historical fictions, autobiographies and memories on the ‘slave trade’ and no matter what scene unfolds within the words what disgusts me most is that I don’t believe I see guilt in the American population today. I completely understand that Britain had a part but we did not follow in their inhumane footsteps and we realised far sooner the wrong.

How many slavery films have been made? Wikipedia says 29, yet how many films on war? Hundreds. And now Hollywood have made a multi million dollar production with a no doubt more conservative approach to the story and all of sudden the world remembers? But, if a visual representation is what is needed to bring this level of inflicted suffering to the forefront of history…..

What a rant! I just hate it when truth gets glossed over in nice rose tinted glasses.

5 star

Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall



The book fairy came to me again yesterday, but this time he hand delivered the goods. He had been given this book in a corporate goody bag of some sort and thought I might like to read it! I glimpsed the Orange Prize sticker on the front and exclaimed my delight at award winning books. Then after he walked away I read the back and now I cannot wait to start it as it is only my favorite sort of book…historical, set in Tudor England 🙂

This is now next in line!!


Failures of Leadership: History’s Worst Rulers and How Their People Suffered For It


Failures of Leadership: History’s Worst Rulers and How Their People Suffered For It by Frederick Parker

“This exciting new book from historian and entrepreneur Frederick Parker looks at the 20 worst failures of leadership in history and the consequences it meant for those under their rule. Through these entertaining historical snapshots, you will learn about their failures so that you can avoid similar pitfalls on your path to success. This book is useful for business executives, managers, and any other type of organizational leader.”

(blurb from Amazon above)

Not sure this book really needs much of a review, it is a simple book that details exactly what it says on the cover. Not particularly exciting but very informative and at some points quite eye opening. For instance, one ruler killed so many people that it affected the carbon dioxide levels during those years….but you have to read the book to find out who and when.

Give it a go, it is only 116 pages.

4 star

What Papa Told Me


What Papa Told Me by Felice Cohen

After reading Anne Frank’s diary, and then the afterward I felt I needed to know more about the Holocaust. When I searched my kindle store for a non fiction book about the subject I was surprised by how few there were, but after reading What Papa Told Me I realise that it isn’t just the survivors that have difficulty in bringing their horrific memories to the forefront of their lives again but we, as mere readers struggle to come to terms with a reality we can’t ever comprehend.

I will be honest, there were several moments when I felt I could not go on, that perhaps this book was too much for my 21st century life, but I carried on because I felt I owed it to them, the survivors, to listen. Reading this book as a first hand account gives so much more than any history book can, this is a human being who lay among corpses in order to survive, who lost his parents, brothers and sisters, who witnessed cold blooded murders and yet still wanted to tell us about his experiences and to him we must be grateful.

I highly recommend this book, it isn’t very long but I believe that as children of the 20th century we owe it to the survivors because they suffered so we now don’t…..even writing this has bought more tears to my eyes.

I would also like to highlight Felice Cohen’s talent for writing and I have no doubt that this was difficult for her.

5 star





If you want to know more about Papa please visit.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

anne frank

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

I couldn’t remember if I had read this as a child or not, but felt that regardless this book deserved a second, more mature read and now as an adult I can fully appreciate this beautiful diary.

It is a marvel to read, listening to a young girl’s thoughts and feelings, watching her not only grow up but also fall simultaneously, deep into a sense of loneliness and despair.  But her story is not a tragic one, but a voice given to the millions of people who suffered during the second world war. Her face has now become synonymous with freedom and it was the afterward of her diary that brought tears to my eyes. Anne Frank wanted to be a writer, she wanted to be remembered after her death, and now, as one of the most famous faces (and names) of the 20th Century she has outlived history and has become a symbol of hope and learning.

Many of us have read this book at school as children or young adults, I really urge you to re-read it because as life brings us knowledge and empathy I felt  during this second reading that I understood why this book is a piece of art in a terrible slice of history.

And now, I feel must pilgrimage to Amsterdam so that I can visit The Secret Annex, walk the same corridors and stand in her room, contemplate the fate of those unfortunate, innocent 8 people. Because in reading her diary you feel that you are with her and that as the diary comes to an abrupt end you too have suffered a loss.  But she has surpassed even her own dreams and become timeless, forever a young, hopeful girl WRITER!.

5 star

Kaffir Boy


Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

I chose this book because I wanted to know more about the Apartheid regime after reading History in an Hour’s South Africa, and my goodness did I learn a lot!

Words fail to emit from my finger tips when I think of this book. The only way I can describe my experience reading Kaffir boy is to relay the emotions I felt throughout.

When I started reading it I was shocked at the appalling conditions Mark depicted regarding his home, his town and way of life. To say his family lived in poverty is a massive understatement, the Mathabane family along with millions of other families lived as 4th class citizens. Everyday was a quest for survival, fighting starvation, disease and unemployment wearing only rags and sleeping on cardboard at night with the rats.

As I read on and learnt about the treatment of the black community by the ‘whites’ I was angry! I felt as though I was teething with rage that in the 20th century people were still being treated like this!! Just 40 years ago! my rage kept growing as I was subject to account after account of violent experiences, royally unfair classifications and dam right inhumane regard…..his grandmother had to wipe the steps of a bus because Mark had accidently stood on it!

Then, whilst Mark remained calm and collected retelling his enlightening story I was breaking down for him. I was on the tube and I cried when he told of the event that led to thousands of children to be killed, it started as a peaceful student march and it turned into whites massacring black people.  When I learnt that countries around the world were boycotting South Africa’s trade, sports, policies… due to the treatment of their citizen, I was proud and I placed myself among one of these nations and believed that my anger could contribute to the abolishment of this satanic regime.

Finally, as Marks’ life began to ameliorate, I cried again. When he went to school, when he got accepted into a scholarship scheme for secondary school, when he walked out on the tennis court and made history and then finally when his dream came true.

Never have I been so emotionally affected by a book, a true story that is beautifully written. Mark has an amazing gift of retaining his dignity despite the very undignified story he is retelling.  A man that has made history for himself as well as his country and when I feel emotionally stable again I will read another of his many books.

Thank you Mark.

5 star

The best discovery since my Kindle…..History in an hour!



I have made a fantastic discovery, an e-book series called History in an Hour.

With a boyfriend in the military it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to avoid the war jargon and historical references he comes out with, the reason for avoidance is I do not understand what he is saying!! Or more specifically, I cannot contribute to the conversation. So I decided to brush up on my military history and I stumbled upon History in an Hour and ended up downloading several at once. In 1 week I have read 5 of the 25 books in the series, finishing a book in a day (using the daily commute as my reading time). With the tag line “History for busy people”, I could not ignore them.

history in an hour

To be honest I was fairly knowledgeable of the chain of events that sparked both the first and the second world wars but with the direct and concise approach to the books I learnt facts that made me say “huh..?” (with a nod).  The other book topics I know next to nothing about but have since been reciting many factoids…proudly.

There are so many books in the series, ranging from Tudor history to current world changing events. I have also found a series called Philosophy in an Hour (I think by the same publishers) and since I have always wanted to read Aristotle, but considered his works rather daunting to say the least, I have excitedly downloaded Aristotle: Philosophy in an Hour.

Download these books now! For next to nothing cost wise….what’s stopping you!?

5 star

Marie-Thérèse, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter


Marie-Thérèse, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter by Susan Nagel

When I saw this book in Waterstones I squealed with excitement…with no one around me to share in it! I spoke about this book for days whilst I was waiting for it to arrive and I hoped that I would not disappoint me and my goodness it most certainly did not. I was glued to this book from the first word.  With the most eloquent style of writing, Susan clearly has a talent for transferring boring facts into fascinating history.  I loved this book, I think you don’t need an pre-knowledge of the era to enjoy this book.

A well deserving 5 stars for blowing my mind and teaching me something simultaneously. A beautiful, raw biography that even made me tear up at a reality that I had never considered before. We often do not think of history as involving real people and real events, this book made me feel next to Marie-therese from birth till death.

5 star




The Narrative of Frederick Douglass

The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, by Himself

This narrative is the most beautifully written book I have ever read.  Douglass’ use of words is powerful, emotional and noble.

He paints the most romantic picture for a topic that at the time of his publication was still raw and unresolved. He was in favour of the abolition and actually became a spokesperson for it, but rather than slander the corruption and all those involved he respects the individuals, both his brethren and ‘masters’.  Despite his terrible ordeals he remains dignified throughout and it is thanks to the determination of him and other sympathisers that slavery was abolished.

A short book of only 100 pages or so, but I believe he has more publications.  I also discovered that this book is part of the American history syllabus in the states and that for most students this book is compulsory.  I enjoyed it, more than enjoyed.  I felt his plight and that of every other unfortunate in the same position.  In fact, I am still trying to get my head around the fact that slavery even existed, how anyone could treat another human being in the manner that is depicted in this book is…I don’t think a strong enough word exists.

I implore you to read this insightful slice of history, and like me, I am sure your eyes will open wide and will want to learn as much as you can about the truth.

(it is a free download in the Kindle store too!)

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser

What a book!! It is 100% factual and intelligently retold as a story. A very large and long read so not for the faint hearted, but I promise that it is well worth the time investment. Plus you learn some facts you can impress others with.

This book has been made into a film, trailer link;