Book reviews: Jem, Feather Brained and Hillwilla.


Jem (Lessons in Living) by John Donald Middleton, ISBN: 9780996791519, Release date 9th February 2016.

A short account of John’s life with all of the fur babies he has welcomed into his home, and indeed heart, along the way! Jem is a real heart-warming and brutally honest memoir about living a life alongside dogs but it is also about life in general as John bares his soul about his struggle with alcohol and the steps he took to seek help. Jem was the dog that stole John’s heart and her loss was simply devastating. If you are, or ever have been, a dog owner, every word of this book will resonate with you. However, I think it is John himself who is the star of this book…

Feather Brained (My bumbling quest to become a birder and find a rare bird on my own) by Bob Tarte, ISBN: 9780472119868 , Release date 18th April 2016.

Perhaps it helped that I read this book in sunny Aberdaron with an abundance of birds around me, (oystercatchers to name but a few) but I loved Bob’s warm and honest account about his love of bird watching. Honest because Bob took some time to warm to the idea of birdwatching, quite a few years in fact, despite being exposed to the hobby from an early age. As he leads us through his experience I did find his growing enthusiasm inspiring and as a reader you are able to marvel at his findings alongside him. This is not just a book for enthusiastic bird watchers but for those who perhaps find themselves wondering about the many birds that land in their gardens/yards on a daily basis.

Hillwilla by Melanie Forde, ISBN: 9780988591974, Release date 1st September 2014.

A beautifully written book with a no nonsense protagonist named Beatrice who, after the death of her friend, has retreated onto a remote farm with her trusted dog and newly acquired llamas for company. Known by the locals as aloof and a loner, Beatrice’s outwards demeanour is just a mask she wears as behind closed doors she is finding more and more solace in alcohol. However, unbeknown to her, her life is about to get a whole lot complicated forcing Beatrice to scour her emotions and get involved with those around her.

I absolutely loved this book. There is nothing dramatic about its storyline and there’s no special effects as such, but that’s what makes it all the more enjoyable. The story is so well crafted and Melanie has taken a lot of care in introducing and then building up each and every one of her characters. Hillwilla is a refreshing story and an obvious portrayal of an author who has invested her time in not just her characters but that of the breath-taking scenery the story so vividly portrays.

On the Hillwilla Road is Melanie’s sequel to Hillwilla and was released on 20 November 2015. (Needless to say it is also sat proudly on my kindle and will be reviewed in due course!)


I received all three of these books for review from the wonderful people at Netgalley.


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