Book Reviews - January 2019

Book Reviews – January 2019

by Elizabeth Kay

Elizabeth Kay offers Sussex Living readers her thoughts on recent reads that have caught her attention. She gives her views on a selection of books from different genres which may capture your interest

LONESOME BOG AND LITTLE DOG

by Iona Tulloch and Harry Woodgate

(Little Forest Publishing)

This is a picture book for pre-school children, and can be read by slightly older ones. The illustrations are scribbly and fun, with little snippets of newspaper text inserted as part of the pictures, giving them a collage effect. The bog is personified as a sort of sprite creature, who is just as lonely as the little stray dog who runs away from persecution by other local canines, and finds himself there where he knows he won’t be followed. This is because the bog has a bad  reputation; misty and muddy, and things get lost there – but the bog sprite shows him all the wonderful plants and animals that live in and around it. Eventually the dog asks to know the way out. The lonesome bog is very upset, but shows him the way. It all ends happily. The little dog persuades all the local dogs and their owners to follow him to the bog, and shows them the beetles, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs and birds. My only criticism is the use of bored of, rather than bored with.

FAR HORIZONS

by Frank Gardner

(Bantam)

Frank Gardner will be known to many people as the wheelchair-bound security correspondent for the BBC. He has always had the urge to travel, and this book charts some of his journeys from his gap year, student days, and territorial army trips. In 2004 he was shot six times and survived, although his cameraman, Simon Cumbers, was killed. He was left partially paralysed, but has shown little interest in curtailing his activities, as he has since managed a birdwatching trip to Papua New Guinea, surely one of the most inhospitable destinations possible! I had been to many of the places he mentions, and consequently found a lot of the information was well known to me. I did think some of the things he did were foolhardy, but then I was no better when I was in my teens. Gardner writes well, and there’s a lot of local colour and attention to detail. However, I found the account of his injuries and recovery rather sparse, but this may be because it’s dealt with more fully in his earlier book, Blood and Sand. An absorbing read, and illustrated with some of Gardner’s own photographs and sketches.

THE COWS

Dawn O’Porter

(Harper Collins)

Although this book is ostensibly light reading about three women in their thirties, it’s really about the power of social media and the devastating effect one brief clip on YouTube can have on someone’s life. Tara is a single mother, working in the media, who does one stupid thing that is videoed by a stranger on a train. Cam is a popular blogger, confident on a computer but far less so in real life. She is one of the very few people who stands up for Tara online. Stella is a twin whose sister has died. She was the unpopular one, and has medical issues that making having a baby rather urgent. Unfortunately there’s no prospective father in view, and she resorts to fakery to get one. Eventually all three women’s lives interlink, but there is a shock ending that I didn’t see coming at all. None of the characters are perfect, and sympathising with them is hard at times – but isn’t that real life? The beginning of the book is a little confusing as the viewpoints of the different people change rapidly, but once you’ve got the hang of the characters it’s easier to read. I read it on holiday, which is probably the best way!