Welcome to the series where I will be sharing a selection of book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.
My first review from 2018 is for Wilbur Smith... having read every book he has written, most of them at least twice, I wanted to find out more about the man himself.. This is my review for his autobiography. On Leopard Rock: A Life of Adventures
About On Leopard Rock: A Life of Adventures
The first ever memoir from the Number One global bestselling adventure author
Wilbur Smith has lived an incredible life of adventure, and now he shares the extraordinary true stories that have inspired his fiction.
“I’ve been writing novels for over fifty years. I was lucky enough to miss the big wars and not get shot, but lucky enough to grow up among the heroes who had served in them and learn from their example. I have lucked into things continuously. I have done things which have seemed appalling at the time,disastrous even, but out of them have come another story or a deeper knowledge of human character and the ability to express myself better on paper, write books which people enjoy reading.
Along the way, I have lived a life that I could never have imagined. I have been privileged to meet people from all corners of the globe, I have been wherever my heart has desired and in the process my books have taken readers to many, many places. I always say I’ve started wars, I’ve burned down cities, and I’ve killed hundreds of thousands of people – but only in my imagination!”
From being attacked by lions to close encounters with deadly reef sharks, from getting lost in the African bush without water to crawling the precarious tunnels of gold mines, from marlin fishing with Lee Marvin to near death from crash-landing a Cessna airplane, from brutal schooldays to redemption through writing and falling in love, Wilbur Smith tells us the intimate stories of his life that have been the raw material for his fiction. Always candid, sometimes hilarious, and never less than thrillingly entertaining, On Leopard Rock is testament to a writer whose life is as rich and eventful as his novels are compellingly unputdownable.
My review for On Leopard Rock.
They recommend that you write about your own experiences in life when starting out as a writer. And despite the early age that Wilbur Smith first put pen to paper, he had already racked up enough adventures to inspire several books. l really enjoyed learning about his early life growing up in the African bush of the 1940s and 1950s. The days when hunting was for food for the table not sport, not just the family’s, but also the people who worked the land with them from the local villages. Wilbur Smith the boy, along with his best friend would take off for the day, walking miles in search of elusive game, and still make it home for supper. Sometimes barely! It was very different time and attracted some interesting characters from all walks of life to farm this rich land.
What also impressed me about Wilbur Smith’s approach to writing, was the commitment to researching each book meticulously, including spending time on a whaling ship, working side by side with workers in a gold mine, and immersing himself in the life he was portraying. I have read all of Wilbur Smith’s books; some of the earlier novels at least three times. I find my reading enjoyment has only deepened as my experience of the world has matured. Having read this memoir, I am looking forward to revisiting his books with a new perspective, one that respects the amount of time and thought that went into each and every one of them.
It was also fascinating to read about the 1960s in South Africa, in relation to Wilbur Smith’s books that were banned because of apartheid. I was in school in Cape Town at the time, and at that age didn’t really see the pervasive influence on all aspects of society that this produced. I read those banned books on our return to the UK when I was 11 years old little knowing that my school friends would be denied that pleasure for many years.
Apart from the stories about Africa, there are also other challenges during the writing process, and it would seem that dogged determination is also one of Wilbur Smith’s attributes. Hollywood it would seem is a jungle in its own right…
If you love the books of Wilbur Smith then I do recommend that you read this exciting adventure story that reads more like one of his novels than a non-fiction account of his life. There are thrills and danger, as well as inspiration for all writers to keep doing what you love, do it well and enjoy life to the full.
A small selection of other books by Wilbur Smith.
My next review for 2018 today is for Born in a Treacherous Time, which was the first book I read by Jacqui Murray.. but certainly not the last as I have enjoyed all her books since then and just reviewed her latest book Against All Odds (Book Three of the Crossroads Trilogy)
About the book
‘The book’s plot is similar in key ways to … Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear–Kirkus Reviews
Born in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.
Born in a Treacherous Time is prehistoric fiction written in the spirit of Jean Auel. Lucy is tenacious and inventive no matter the danger, unrelenting in her stubbornness to provide a future for her child, with a foresight you wouldn’t think existed in earliest man. You’ll close this book understanding why man not only survived our wild beginnings but thrived, ultimately to become who we are today.
My review for Born in a Treacherous Time.
Firstly, respect to the author for the amount of research needed to create this amazing story of early man born into a world still going through its growing pains. Combined with vividly created characters who you instantly relate to, this is a book you won’t want to put down.
Secondly, I now have a much greater respect for our early ancestors for whom life is brutal, with the earth still spewing lava and ash and changing the landscape continuously. Food and water is scarce; game is eaten when opportunity presents itself, and there is a hierarchy which places man way behind some of the dominant predators of the day. Some of those predators are next generation humans such as man-who-preys and they hover on the horizon menacingly.
Lucy is a female, wise beyond her years and her species, who leaves her clan following a tragedy, to bring new blood to a devastated group. She is an early healer with a knowledge of plants that is invaluable to those she comes to care for, and an ability to track and hunt as well as a man. This does not endear her to other females in the group, but as the story evolves you understand that even in this brutal time, tenderness and friendship are still possible.
This is an amazing world that Jacquie Murray has carved out of an alien landscape.There is danger, adventure, tragedy and sacrifice. There is also humanity between species and the beginnings of an understanding of the symbiotic relationship with non-humans.
I came away with a sense of kinship with Lucy and the rest of the characters. So many of their traits were recognisable even two million years later. It is only recently that they have established that most of us who are Caucasian have a very small percentage of Neanderthal DNA. That makes this story all the more fascinating knowing that there is still a connection to those who lived through this treacherous time.
A selection of other books by Jacqui Murray
About Jacqui Murray
Jacqui Murray is the webmaster for Worddreams, her blog about all things writing. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming prehistoric fiction, Born in a Treacherous Time. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for Ask a Tech Teacher an Amazon Vine Voice a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have found some books to take away with you.. thanks Sally.