Saturday, 14 October 2017

Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley

Book 52 is the 4th book of the Agatha Raisin series - Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley by M.C. Beaton.

This is my favourite in-the-middle series at the moment. It satisfies my Agatha Christie cravings in a very modern way.

The last book was lacking and that made me worry about persisting in this saga but this reaffirmed my enjoyment of this genre and author.

I can't tell you anything or I will spoil it. Read it but do read all the bits before.

4 fields of canola out of 5.

Should I read this? Yeah, it's fun.
What did I learn? Some people have far too much spare time.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Book 51 is Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

Being set in Seattle, this book has been on my list and towards the top since I first heard of it. That was years ago now but I finally made it. It was such a good read that I regret not reading it sooner. The truth is, it may mean more now that I live in Seattle. All the references felt overdone but still so like home.

I understand the plight of Bernadette. I was once her. I would never want to be her again. At least not the pre-where-are-you-? time.

This book meant so much to me on so many different levels. I'm not sure it would to everyone but it did to me.

The writing is good. The reasons are good. The mystery is good. The daughter is amazing. The Microsoft bashing combined with the intersection rants are legendary.

5 way intersections out of 5.

Should I read this? If you have ever wanted to run away from you life then yes.
What did I learn? Some birds are not meant to be caged. Conformity is pain.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Book 50 is Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown.

To start, I adore Brene Brown, which makes it sad that I felt so judged by this book. The thing is that being judged always makes me stand back and ask myself why.

I think she touches or sore points and things that once I feel less defensive, I can improve on.

This is one of those times.

I've never fitted in, at least not in a conventional way. That was something that I adjusted too a loooon time ago. Maybe when I realised at 12 years old that I'd never be cool so why bother trying?

I have been contented since then :)

This is the kind of book that I must digest and then take from it what works for me. As always, she has me thinking.

4 screams in an empty room of 5.

Should I read this? Maybe if you are looking for some kind of peace, some kind of silence.
What did I learn? I'm a pretty healthy human in a lot of ways and that has been a long journey. I have less of a way to travel but still a journey awaits me. See you on the road or somewhere in the wilderness.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It

Book 49 is Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant.

I wanted to love his book like I love myself but it felt like a sales pitch.

Kamal did sound sincere and vulnerable but he also sounded like he was selling an inflatable version of self confidence. Not the fake self confidence but truly believing in yourself.

As a disciple of cognitive behavioural therapy, I know you can reset your pathways and think differently. He didn't even touch the science around that. It was more of a "I got dumped and now someone loves me" chant. I wanted to hear that he was OK alone, not that he was OK in a relationship.

Disappointed at every turn, all I can agree with is something I've always told people myself: Give yourself oxygen before you help others.

There are many better books on this subject. Don't waste a couple of hours on this.

2 sales pitches of 5.

Should I read this? Sadly, no. Grab Brene Brown or Trevor Noah. There are many better ways to the same destination.

What did I learn? No one else can complete you. Being able to fall in love and be loved back does not define you. Standing alone is done alone and then others may join. He failed to express this.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Book 48 is The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson.

I've seen this book on best seller lists, in bookstores and did want to read it but it took my upcoming trip to Chicago to push me into reading it now and quickly.

This is a thick book so I wasn't confident in finishing it within the week I had before leaving for for my long weekend in that city.

I'm glad I started it. I'm glad I had no idea that it was non-fiction until about halfway through when I googled it and found out it was based in truth... actual truth.

As I head to that city hoping I shan't meet a serial killer, I'm excited to see the city that hosted the 1893 World's Fair. The city with soggy ground, enclaves, a huge mix of different people, high standards in food and a history.

Mostly, that history.

5 dead wives of 5.

Should I read this? One of the best books I have read in a while and absolutely the best historical non-fiction I've read in a decade.
What did I learn? No Air BNBs.

Saturday, 7 October 2017


Book 47 is Armada by Ernest Cline.

This is not a sequel or an equal Ready Player One but it is an enjoyable read.

The first half of this book had me thinking that this is what sedate geek boys who spend hours playing online games wish would happen and it made me laugh. Once I got past that, I enjoyed how it unfolded.

Yes, it was predictable in ways but there were enough parts I did not guess that made it enjoyable.

There are far too many sci-fi books written so they can easily be adopted by Hollywood. Cline is the father of this sad genre.

Despite that, it is an entertaining read.

3 drones on and on out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you are waiting for Ready Player One and can't hold out long enough.
What did I learn? I don't dream of Bejewelled invasions.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Girl Walks Out of a Bar

Book 46 is Girl Walks Out of a Bar by Lisa F. Smith.

This book is the kind of autobiography that makes you sad, angry and shocked.

Sad because she was set up to fail from childhood and through genetics.
Angry because no one else saw it and people actually encouraged it.
Shocked because you'd think someone would die before getting this far.

Maybe addicts are just people who haven't managed to kill themselves yet because their bodies have a high tolerance for abuse. That makes me sad.

4 bottles of wine out of 5.

Should I read this? If you enjoy rubbernecking then yes. I do so it was finished within the same day I started it.
What did I learn? There are high functioning addicts out there and you may never guess it. Disturbing and sad.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener

Book 45 of 2017 is Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener which is book 3 of the Agatha Raisin Mysteries by M.C. Beaton.

Book 3 in the series continues in the same sleepy village with the same neighbours and dramas that Agatha has become part of.

This mystery wasn't too hard to solve but the character growth is fun to read.

So as not to ruin this or any prior books in the series, I won't say too much more.

4 murdered gardens out of 5.

Should I read this? Again, if you like a Ms Marple style murder mystery.
What did I learn? A nice series that breaks up some of the more serious things I read, is a good idea.

What Happened

Book 44 of 2017 is What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

It is rare that I read a book right after it is released but having stood in the middle of the storm that was the 2016 US elections as an outsider watching it unfold, I wanted to look behind the curtain.

There are two sides if not twenty to what happened in November 2016 but this was the one I wanted to understand. How did someone so qualified for the job lose to someone who wasn't? It made no sense to me.

On reading this, I have had some major realisations.

I respect Hillary Rodham Clinton for the strong woman she is and the inroads she has made for women all around the world.

Her politics are still too conservative for me but I put that down to her generation and age. She was born in a different time and a more conservative world than most people in America today. I have no doubt that was one reason people could not connect with her.

And lastly, women are losing well before they even start. To be the first at anything or the only woman in the race is harder than anyone can imagine. You are not judged equally because there are no women to compare you to. So instead, you are judged as not being a man. She articulates this much better than me.

The reason I recommend people read this book is because she gives hope where others use fear. She tries to stand back and work out what she owns in this journey but does not take all the blame. She gets angry and punches out and although it's not ladylike, it's awesome to see. Why must women bow out quietly when they weren't treated fairly in the situation.

You should read it.

4 insights out of 5.

Should I read this? If you lived through the election that Trump won and see it as the election that Hillary lost then yes, yes you should read this.
What did I learn? So much American political history from both sides of the fight.