Top critical review
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Blows Hot and Cold
on 7 July 2008
This is the second book in a series which also includes 'Secret Lives of Garden Birds' and 'Secret Lives of Garden Wildlife', and is a difficult a book to review for the simple reason that it frequently alternates between the good and the bad.
There are 12 sections each featuring particular habitats for birds. The first half of each concerns a basic overview of the habitat and the animals that live therein. This bit is frankly quite boring and is basically a glorified list of the birds found in the area.
The second half of the sections are far more interesting. Three or four birds are chosen from each habitat, each having their own chapter focusing on an aspect of their lives unique to that species. This usually takes the form of migration, breeding or feeding behaviour and delivers detailed info in a light-hearted, enthusiastic and humorous fashion.
The layout of the text is not overly appealing and the photography is not of a particularly high standard. However these drawbacks are made up for by the artistry. Peter Partington is by far Britain's best avian artist and these drawings add more for the appreciation of the birds and understanding of their behaviour than any of the photos.
Overall this is a frustrating book. When it focuses on what it is supposed to be about it is fascinating and enjoyable, and the pages fly by. However the long habitat descriptions at the start of each section are hard-going and I found myself struggling to finish the book, which shouldn't have been the case.