Review: Me Before You

I’ve always liked to think that I am one of those people that isn’t affected by advertising…Or books like this, unless I’m looking for ‘holiday reading’. But if you go and stick Finnick Odair’s (or Sam Claflin’s) face on the front cover of a book looking all fine and dandy, apparently I’ll buy it. Well played Penguin, well played.

I knew little about the book when I placed it on the counter of a WHSmith’s and paid £7.99. All I knew was: it’s now a major movie from Warner Bros, a colleague was keen to see it, and Finnick is handsome. For once I didn’t read the blurb – I wanted the story to be a complete surprise. Apparently I didn’t really look at the cover either, as it wasn’t until a few chapters in that I realised what it was about! The fact he’s in a wheelchair should have given me a little nudge in the right direction.

This is a ‘feel good’ (*spoiler alert* until the heart-wrenching ending) story of determination, friendship, and a fight for life and love. A weepy one, essentially. Lou Clark has lost her job, has a pretty rubbish boyfriend, and finds herself working for Will Traynor – a quadriplegic.

Moyes delves into a whole host of sensitive subjects: redundancy, disability and assisted suicide. But she does so in a very mature, unbiased and relateable way. Writing from the point of view of every character, except Lou’s parents and boyfriend, the reader has a full overview of how everyone feels and thinks of each situation. It is refreshing to read a book that doesn’t solely focus on one  character. It seems important to relay different ideas and opinions from different perspectives, and I praise Moyes for doing it so well.

I actually found that this novel wasn’t just a soppy, heart-felt, romance, but one that left me thinking about the more important things that she highlights; should assisted suicide be illegal? How far have we come in medical terms to ‘curing’ paraplegia? And, how would I cope if my partner suddenly got hit by a car or motorbike or anything else that left him paralyzed from the neck down: Would I leave him, like Will’s ex-girlfriend? Or would I fight for him like Lou?

This book, though I am sure will be slated somewhere for it’s content; that it is a poor portrayal of subject matter, should be given high praise, if for nothing more than making ordinary people think about matters they wouldn’t necessarily think of in the everyday.

I’m not going to rush to read the sequel, this was enough of a story and an ending to finish it there for me. And I’m certainly waiting for the film to come to DVD, just so that I can quietly, drool and lust over Claflin, and cry like a baby in private.


Review: Soviet Military Badges

A History and Collector’s Guide

Richard Hollingdale

Soviet Military Badges are fascinating objects too often neglected in English language publications.

With amazingly clear and well-detailed images, this book would appeal to both novices and enthusiasts (with me being a definite novice when it comes to military badges).

The aim of this book has been to offer the reader the greatest amount of information in the most readily accessible format – a pocket reference that can easily be dipped into in order to help the reader quickly identify the badges in their collections, or make them aware if other variations yet to be found.

Soviet Military Badges

This book does exactly that. You don’t need to read this title cover to cover by any means. What I loved about it was it helped me, and will continue to help me, understand more about a person in a photograph based on the badges they wear.

With good descriptions and introductions, although sometimes technical, it is in no way patronising in its approach, nor does it expect you to already know heaps about the subject.



Published by Amberley Publishing
96 pages
April 2016

Review: The Lancaster

Gordon A. A. Wilson
With photographs by Martin Keen

This book is both the story of the Lancaster and that of its seven-man crews: pilot, bomb aimer/nose gunner, wireless operator, flight engineer, navigator and mid-upper and rear gunners.

The Lancaster

This book is a great addition to Amberley Publishing’s library. I was swept away by the stunning photographs – both colour and black and white – that really helped to tell the story of the Lancaster and its crew.

Books like this are so important as they not only document history but they serve to keep memories alive.

Each chapter has an introduction, some that left me with goosebumps… *no spoilers*.

This is an exceptional piece of work that serves not only as something to be read, but something to keep. A great documentation of the history of the Lancaster.

Published by Amberley Publishing 
288 pages
November 2015

Review: Coventry and the Great War

This is definitely a book you should have on your shelf…

Coventry and the Great War
Coventry and the Great War is available from Amberley Publishing

This is a fantastic book, especially for those who are fascinated by the history of Coventry.

Although it starts with the school boy error of beginning a sentence with ‘On a warm summer’s evening…’, this can easily be overlooked as you read on and discover stories about the people of the city and what happened to it during the war.

McGrory’s addition of his own personal family history gives something a little extra and makes it all that more special.

Anyone that lives in or knows the area will enjoy seeing pictures of Great War Coventry and trying to imagine the difference between then and now. Especially as so much has changed around the Broadgate area!

Detailed with some great photographs and documents, this is definitely a book you should have on your shelf, even if just for reference or sentimental value.

Published by Amberley Publishing
128 pages
March  2016

Review: Socket Bayonets

Socket Bayonets by Graham Priest, as the front cover says, is a history and collector’s guide.

socket bayonets
Amberley Publishing 2016

Covering the history of the ‘socket’ from the sixteenth century, through the British Industrial Revolution to more recent warfare, this book is an interesting insight into the origins and developments of, not only the bayonet, but also the socket.

Alongside the brief, yet informative, text are colour photos of great detail that allow for a better understanding of some technical terminology.

The highlight of this book, for me, was that it didn’t just focus on one country’s development, but delved into the histories of other countries. It allows readers’ interest to blossom, and therefore initiating further research on their part.

This book would appeal to gun and weapon enthusiast, but I think reconnaissance enthusiasts as well.

Overall, a well-informed and researched, detailed, and informative book.