Category Archives: nature

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook The Peacekeeper – Book 1 of The Good Lands series by B.L. Blanchard #BrainfluffKINDLEbookreview #ThePeacekeeperbookreview

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I read Maddalena’s excellent review of this one at Space and Sorcery – and immediately nipped across and got hold of a copy. I really love the premise as I’m always a sucker for a good whodunit in an unusual setting.

BLURB: North America was never colonized. The United States and Canada don’t exist. The Great Lakes are surrounded by an independent Ojibwe nation. And in the village of Baawitigong, a Peacekeeper confronts his devastating past.

Twenty years ago to the day, Chibenashi’s mother was murdered and his father confessed. Ever since, caring for his still-traumatized younger sister has been Chibenashi’s privilege and penance. Now, on the same night of the Manoomin harvest, another woman is slain. His mother’s best friend. This leads to a seemingly impossible connection that takes Chibenashi far from the only world he’s ever known.
The major city of Shikaakwa is home to the victim’s cruelly estranged family—and to two people Chibenashi never wanted to see again: his imprisoned father and the lover who broke his heart. As the questions mount, the answers will change his and his sister’s lives forever. Because Chibenashi is about to discover that everything about their lives has been a lie.

REVIEW: Yes… I do enjoy well-constructed thrillers, yes… I do appreciate complicated protagonists with a whole suite of luggage that skews their attitude towards the world. But for me, the highlight of this book – what makes it memorable and really stand out – is the setting. This is an alternate world, where the likes of Columbus and the hungry tide of conquistadors never landed on the shores of the Americas, so the indigenous people had the opportunity to develop on their own terms, with their own cultures largely intact. And while the inhabitants of the small village where the crimes occur still live in wigwams, this is a contemporary setting, so there are also mobile phones and high-speed trains. However, there is also a regard for the natural world that is woven alongside everyday life and I am delighted that Blanchard gives examples of how that works. I’d LOVE someone to make a film of this book – the twisty plot and anguished protagonist would work well on the big screen, but overwhelmingly, I think seeing Blanchard’s evocation of how modern life could work alongside Nature would be marvellous.

Getting back to the book, I did find it initially something of a challenge. Chibenashi, the main protagonist, isn’t someone I found easy to like – although learning of the terrible events that have destabilised his life did have me warming to him. Necessarily, the pacing at the start is a bit slow as the world also needs a lot of description. That said, I was never tempted to DNF it as the worldbuilding held me throughout.

Watching Chibenashi struggling to cope was also interesting – he isn’t a classic hero by any means and makes some really dodgy decisions – one in particular had me shaking my head at the time. I had guessed the murderer about two-thirds of the way through, but this time around that didn’t bother me all that much. In the event, the denouement was still shocking especially as the fallout was a bit heart-wrenching and messy, contributing towards making this one a very memorable read. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series to find out where it goes next. Highly recommended for fans of murder mysteries with unusual settings.
8/10

Review of NETGALLEY AUDIOBOOK Wolfbane – Book 9 of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver #BrainfluffNEGALLEYAUDIObookreview #Wolfbanebookreview

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I have read a couple of books in this well-known and captivating series – see my review of Spirit Walker. While it’s labelled as a YA/children’s read, it has captured the hearts of many adults over the years, including me. So I was delighted when the audiobook for the latest book in the series popped up.

BLURB: It is early spring, a turbulent, perilous time of sudden storms, frozen river fractures and drifting ice. Fleeing from a demon intent on devouring his souls, Wolf is swept out to Sea far from the Forest and his pack. The ocean too teems with danger: sea wolves, sharks and hunters of the deep, and the demon is gaining ground. Torak and Renn must race to save their pack-brother, battling the harsh, icy waves and merciless torrents. If they can’t find Wolf in time, the bond between them will be severed for ever…

REVIEW: This is a compelling adventure set in prehistory, when our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to be clever, brave and highly skilled at a multitude of tasks just to get through an average day. They lived in close contact with the natural world surrounding them, from which they derived their food, clothes and shelter. Small wonder they also formed a strong spiritual attachment to the animals and plants that impacted their lives. I love how Paver has characterised that attachment, as I listened to this gripping adventure facing Torak and Renn.

Wolf now has a mate and so when he is yanked away by the machinations of a major demon, Torak and Renn are determined to save him. But it’s a perilous journey that takes them far away from their beloved forest, where they encounter other tribes whose customs are different from their own. This is a delight to listen to – partly because the writing style is clean and powerful, but also because Sir Ian McKellan happens to be the narrator. His rendition is masterful – I’d listen spellbound if he recited the football scores, and I hate football…

Paver’s scene setting is vivid – I could easily envisage the landscapes she describes in a world not yet reeling from the environmental damage we’ve inflicted. The story holds real tension – and there is also a very moving scene where a much-loved character is laid to rest. The death rites are fascinating as well as poignant. All in all, this is a treat and highly recommended for fans of prehistorical adventure – though don’t start with this one. Instead track down the first book in this series, Wolf Brother. And a bonus is Paver’s Afterword, where she describes her research into aspects of her characters’ lives – it brought this highly enjoyable book to a fitting end. While I obtained a copy of audiobook Wolfbane from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
9/10

Tuesday Treasures – 32 #Brainfluffbookblog

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This week on Tuesday Treasures, the photos are from last week on a lovely sunny morning when I took a wander around the garden with my camera. The garden is in a dreadful state, given that it is busy being overrun by weeds and neither of us has the energy to do anything about it – but at least some of legal plants are also putting their best foot forward, too.


Tuesday Treasures – 30 #Brainfluffbookblog #LightintheLockdown

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Welcome back to my blog! Apologies for the long absence – but you might be aware that on that last Sunday Post, I’d just learnt that the illness we had gone down with was Covid 19 – and both Himself and I went down with it hard. I’m sure it didn’t help that I’d had my vaccination on the previous Saturday…

I don’t ever want to go through another month like March again. Himself missed going into hospital by a whisker, as he had significant breathing difficulties. As for me, I was coping with severe joint pain and life-muffling exhaustion. I just slept, or endured the pain. And no one could come in and help us. It was frightening and miserable. What we did have was a steady stream of concerned enquiries from loving family and my wonderful sister and daughter ensured we didn’t go without any medication or food – not that we ate all that much.

Himself has just started back to work, but I am still recovering. Yesterday I’d planned to start back on my blog, but it was a bad day. I woke up at midday feeling exhausted and by the time I’d showered and dressed – that was it. I’m having to learn to pace myself. So there will still be sudden absences, for which I apologise. But I’ve already learnt the hard way that if I try to push through it, I just end up feeling worse. And most of my mental energy has to go to my writing, which is what keeps my mental health topped up.

Today’s Tuesday Treasures are previous pics I’ve taken of Spring springing, which I’m aware has been going on while I’ve been indoors battling to get well. I’m hoping next week to have had the chance to actually get outside and take some new photos, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy these offerings from previous years. Please, stay safe. I’m here to tell you that this is a terrible illness.x

Tuesday Treasures – 29 #Brainfluffbookblog #LightintheLockdown

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In this week’s Tuesday Treasures, I’ve more photos of our walk on Sunday along the beach last week. It was dry and the tide was out a long way, so we were right down on the sands which we don’t often do.


Tuesday Treasures – 28 #Brainfluffbookblog #LightintheLockdown

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In this week’s Tuesday Treasures, I’ve some photos of our walk on Sunday along the beach (again!). We were lucky, as rain had been forecast but for once it held off and we were able to wander along the sands at low tide. Which means I’ve taken some pics of the pier looking up at it, instead of standing on it. There have been some storms recently, hence the quantities of welk egg cases thrown up onto the shore – though I’m not sure where all the dead crabs came from. However, as you can see, on Sunday the sea was really calm.


Tuesday Treasures – 25 #Brainfluffbookblog #LightintheLockdown

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In this week’s Tuesday Treasures, I’ve some photos of our walk on the beach on Sunday morning with Himself. As you can see, the sea was quite rough as we’d had high winds the previous night. It was a brisk day, with a temperature of around 39 degrees F – and yes… there were three surfers bobbing around out there in the water, which you can see in one of the pics.


Two MURDER MYSTERY Mini-reviews: The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne, and The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths #Brainfluffmurdermysterymini-reviews #TheNaturalistmini-review #TheGhostFieldsmini-review

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AUDIOBOOK The Naturalist – Book 1 of The Naturalist series by Andrew Mayne

BLURB: Professor Theo Cray is trained to see patterns where others see chaos. So when mutilated bodies found deep in the Montana woods leave the cops searching blindly for clues, Theo sees something they missed. Something unnatural. Something only he can stop.

As a computational biologist, Theo is more familiar with digital code and microbes than the dark arts of forensic sleuthing. But a field trip to Montana suddenly lands him in the middle of an investigation into the bloody killing of one of his former students. As more details, and bodies, come to light, the local cops determine that the killer is either a grizzly gone rogue… or Theo himself. Racing to stay one step ahead of the police, Theo must use his scientific acumen to uncover the killer. Will he be able to become as cunning as the predator he hunts—before he becomes its prey?

Ably narrated by Will Damron, who sounded exactly how I imagined Theo Cray would be like, I particularly enjoyed the opening where we were introduced to Theo, which was cleverly and originally handled. Overall, this was enjoyable, although the pernicky part of me was a tad annoyed at some of the plot holes and inaccuracies which could have been avoided with a bit more care. The progression of the story worked well, with some nice plot twists and a well-handled denouement. Highly recommended for murder mystery thriller fans, who like their protagonists nerdy and a bit too clever for their own good.
7/10

The Ghost Fields – Book 7 of the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths

BLURB: Norfolk is experiencing a July heatwave when a construction crew unearths a macabre discovery – a buried WWII plane with the pilot still inside. Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway quickly realizes that the skeleton couldn’t possibly be the pilot, and DNA tests identify the man as Fred Blackstock, a local aristocrat who had been reported dead at sea. When the remaining members of the Blackstock family learn about the discovery, they seem strangely frightened by the news…

Once again, Griffiths delivers a really strong, engaging murder mystery that manages to involve Ruth. A growing part of the enjoyment of this unfolding series is to catch up with the strong cast of characters who are alongside Ruth – and there are a couple of plotlines here that I followed with bated breath with probably more anticipation and interest than the unfolding murder mystery, if I’m honest. That said, the investigation once again ticks all the boxes with a suitably exciting denouement. Recommended for fans of murder mysteries that fall between the cosy kind – and those that are grittily drenched in gore, but whatever you do, don’t crash into the series here – go back and start with The Crossing Places.
8/10


Tuesday Treasures – 20 #Brainfluffbookblog #LightintheLockdown

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In this week’s Tuesday Treasures, I’ve taken a series of photos last Saturday in the garden, when we had a bright sunny day. I’m surprised at just how many flowers are still flowering amongst the seed heads, now that winter is properly getting going. That said, it was a mild November – if very rainy…



Tuesday Treasures – 14 #Brainfluffbookblog #LightintheLockdown

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Himself and I had a break a couple of weeks ago to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and visited Bateman’s, the home of Rudyard Kipling. Though the house is closed at present, we spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the gardens, which is where I took this week’s photos.