#BiteSizeSaturday goes non-fiction with Amber Books! #BirdsofPrey #HiddenPlaces #nonfiction #NetGalley

Hi and welcome to #BiteSizeSaturday! 

Today, I’d love to tell you all about two coffee table books from my favourite non-fiction publisher, Amber Books.

The first book I want to talk about today is Birds of Prey by Tom Jackson. With my fascination for birds (of prey) and having loved Dogs and Strange Animals by the same author and publisher, I just knew I needed to read Birds of Prey, and I was absolutely right!
Birds of Prey is an absolute treasure chest of the most magnificent photos of all sorts of raptors doing all sorts of raptorish things, or you know, just striking a dramatic pose, as one does when one is a bird of prey. Having failed to take a decent photograph of any of the raptors I’ve seen in and from my own garden (including common and honey buzzards, a kestrel, a few kites, a rare male hen harrier and a caracara – escaped from a zoo!), I can only be amazed at what these photographers have accomplished.
As always with this type of book, for me the focus is on the stunning images, but (also as always), I did learn a few things. Did you know, for example, that the ears of an owl are asymmetrically positioned, with one higher on the head than the other, to allow the creature to pinpoint any noise? Or that falcons have a small protuberance, called tubercle, in their nostrils to twist and slow the high-speed air entering the nose during a dive, thus preventing lung damage?
I had a fantastic time with Birds of Prey and I would happily recommend it to any and all (wannabe) ornithologists out there.

Hidden Places: Exploring Beyond the Familiar by Claudia Martin takes us to remarkable natural or man-made places off the beaten track in the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and Asia and the Pacific. This is in fact a new edition of Hidden Places: From Secret Shores to Sacred Shrines, which was published in 2022. I wasn’t aware of that when I requested it, I’d hoped for a whole new book of hidden places, which, unfortunately, wasn’t the case and I did recognise quite a few photos. (I’m not sure if the ones that didn’t ring a bell are new ones, or ones I forgot about, my memory is what it is 😬).
In any case, I loved revisiting Hidden Places and I think that’s the highest praise you can give any book. Here is my original review I still stand by:
As a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s Rockton series, I loved seeing photos of Yukon, Canada and its second largest town Dawson City. I had no idea that there is a US national park protecting sand dunes up to 230m high in Colorado, nor that a few of the islands off Wisconsin get so cold in winter, their waves and waterfalls freeze, truly spectacular photos. I learnt a whole lot about Europe as well (did you know there’s a village in Italy you can only reach by means of a footbridge from the neighbouring town or that there’s a forest of crooked trees in Poland?) and Hidden Places made me put two countries I’d never even considered visiting on my travel bucket list: Slovenia and Romania. I also bumped Ireland up the list, I’ve always wanted to visit but now I’ve added Killarney National Park and its Torc Waterfall to my to-visit list, it’s one of my favourite photos in this book and I love the legend behind the name. Hidden Places is filled to the brim with stunning photos but two other favourites of mine are the Hitachi Seaside park in Japan, with its fields of baby blue-eyes flowers as far as the eye can reach, and the Rakotzbrücke in Germany, which is the only place I’d heard of before picking up this book.
Hidden Places is guaranteed to fuel your wanderlust and is a perfect book for any (armchair) traveller.

Thanks for joining me today! Birds of Prey and Hidden Places are out on 14 April in hardcover.

Massive thanks to Amber Books and NetGalley for the eARCs. All opinions are my own.

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