Tuesday, 20 March 2018


Book 16 of 2018 is Island by Aldous Huxley.

I've read reviews of this book that say it is one of his best but like most last-books-written by authors, this fell way too short for me.

Like all classic sci-fi of old, the author is more philosophical than a story teller. In this book, he preaches about how life can be lived well in contrast to the failings of modern western culture.

That got boring fast.

With some many other books of his being in my pile of favourites, this one will have to take a backseat. Not worth the time except to understand the references that people make to it. You can however gain that understanding using Wikipedia and save yourself the time.

2 attentions out of 5.

Should I read this? Nope.
What did I learn? I don't quite agree with what others think are classics.

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

Book 15 of 2018 is Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart.

Non-fiction is always much more terrifying to me than fiction ever could be. It's real. This is real. This book has me terrified of ever going out in the wilderness again.

Australia has the most painful stinging tree... that is no surprise. The surprise is that people have attempted to kill themselves to escape the pain.

The Nightshade family of plants has me scared of ever eating tomatoes or their relatives again.

Here I was thinking Venus Fly Traps were icky. There are much more devastating plants out there and they feel no remorse.

The structure of the book means you could break it up over time and read it while reading other books. I read it in a couple of sittings because it was fascinating.

4 deaths by plant out of 5.

Should I read this? If you are interested in plants that kill you then yes.
What did I learn? We are not safe anywhere!

Children of Time

Book 14 of 2018 is Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

This book is excellent in every single way. This may become on of my most recommended sci-fi books since The Martian.

I was engaged the whole time and at times stayed awake too late just to finish a few more chapters.

Not going to give any more than to say that this is sci-fi that forces you to explore the way you think or where we evolved from. Strong female characters and great writing had me thinking of this book while out with friends rather than paying attention to the conversation.

5 evolutions and revolutions out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes. No buts about it.
What did I learn? The world could have been a very different place.

A Study in Brimstone

Book 13 of 2018 is A Study in Brimstone by G.S. Denning.

This started off painfully and then moved on to become a rich new world of Holmes and Watson. It is the typical thing with Watson being the one with social skills and Holmes being the talent.

In the first book in the series covers several classic Sherlock Holmes stories with a demonic twist. With vamps, ogres and warlocks, I could only enjoy the rewrite of the classics.

A good little bit of escapism, even with simple writing and some predictability.

Two of my favourite genres in one.

3 out of 5.

Should I read this? If you like crime fiction mixed with light hearted mythology then yeah, do it.
What did I learn? Authors don't seem to challenge us with deep mythology anymore. Instead they build on Dracula and Harry Potter. It's a shame.

Monday, 5 February 2018


Book 12 of 2018 is IQ by Joe Ide.

Reading about the trials of African Americans makes me cringe on the best of days but I can't live here and pretend it isn't happening. So this year, I am reading as much as I can bear.

This book was absolutely brilliant. Very Sherlock Holmes mixed with Spike Lee mixed with Quincy Jones. I want to stay in Isaiah's life and watch everything be solved through observation.

Great writing lets you live the story without fighting the words. Even with a dialect I don't read naturally and references that I have to take in context, this was easy and enjoyable to read.

Do read this.

5 inductive reasonings out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes. Read it. It's that good.
What did I learn? The geek shall inherit the Earth. Or at least those of us who were picked last for sporting teams. :)

When the Air Hits Your Brain

Book 11 of 2018 is When the Air Hits Your Brain by Frank Vertosick, Jr. MD.

This was an odd book to read in this #metoo time. It lacked the entitlement and megalomania that I expected from a surgeon. Maybe I've just dated the wrong surgeons.

This author said brain surgery isn't brain surgery and I find that interesting. A lot of people want to make their professions seem impossible to enter, exclusive or next to godliness. He didn't make it out that way.

The anecdotes were interesting and told perfectly. The only thing I'd change is the self pity. You're a neurosurgeon, I don't feel sorry for you.

4 barbaric scull drilling tools out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes, it was fascinating.
What did I learn? Every profession is a life of learning but not everyone dies.

The Fountains of Paradise

Book 10 of 2018 is The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke.

Continuing my quest to read classic literature after a couple of years of reading things published in the last year, I had to go for the space elevator book. I know the ideas behind it and the basic story but I had never actually read the book. Now I have.

Clarke is a good writer. It is easy reading and the ideas are original and brilliant. This was done in two sittings because it was so hard to put down.

An absolute classic.

5 more metres out of 5.

Should I read this? Yeah, everyone should. It's just that easy.
What did I learn? There are ideas that will dominate our future that we have not even thought of yet.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Book 9 of 2018 is Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan.

My work published this book so I have heard a lot about it. It is at the top of a lot of best seller lists and there is a moving coming out. When I read the description of the book, I didn't want to read but I couldn't ignore how highly recommended it came.

I am really happy I read it. Some of it was hard to believe but I'm going to treat this as fiction based in history and leave it at that. This even changed my view of the Italians in the second world war. My opinion of the Nazis goes unchanged.

4 lucky breaks out of 5.

Should I read this? Yeah, it is well written and a fun adventure. Yes, there are tears.
What did I learn? The Italians were not simply complicit.

Consider the Fork

Book 8 of 2018 is Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson.

This genre of well written non-fiction based on epic deep diving in to a specific subject is becoming a favourite of mine.

I got this as an audio book and enjoyed both the facts, the pace and the narrator. It needed to be broken up over a few days to not be too much information at once but it was quite enjoyable.

 If you like to cook and have wondered why we do things in certain ways or use certain tools then this is the book for you.

4 saucepans out of 5.

Should I read this? For the home cook, yes.
What did I learn? Too much to list here. I did love hearing about the history of clay pots.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Rivers of London

Book 7 of 2018 is Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch.

This is my kind of series: Crime; Magic; and Gods.

There was nothing I disliked about this book. It took some time for me to read it because I keep putting it down. Not sure why but maybe because it was easy to pick up again. I must have read 20 books while reading this on and off. Still, it was a good read.

Now to continue this series too.

4 daughter rivers out of 5.

Should I read this? For those who enjoy mythology set in modern times.
What did I learn? London has a lot of rivers.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Anne of Green Gables

Book 6 of 2018 is the Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.

This is a re-read of a childhood classic and favourite of mine. I loved it more now than I did then. Yes, that is possible. I cringed, laughed and cried again.

I will not continue the series because I do know it well. Starting with the first book again was simply wonderful. Not a mistake to read this again.

5 imaginings out of 5.

Should I read this? Every little girl should read this.
What did I learn? Anne taught me young that it was OK to focus on things that others didn't quite care about because one day those things would matter.


Book 5 of 2018 is the 2nd book in the Arc of the Scythe series, Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman.

This is one of two series that I read last year and could not wait for the next book to be released. It's a new idea to me and executed very well. The twists are unpredictable and the characters are multidimensional.

Now I have to wait until the next book!

5 political moves out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes. It's a great series.
What did I learn? People can take seperate paths to fight the same battle. Life (and death) isn't black and white.

Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist

Book 4 of 2018 is the 6th in the Agatha Raisin series, Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M.C. Beaton.

Still loving this series. This is book six in that series and although her obsession with her male neighbour/almost husband/ex-fiance irks me in its pathetic neediness, I love their crime solving.

In a book that reminded me that timing is everything, jealousy is always the reason and that happiness is participating in life, my love for this series grew stronger.

It's light and lighthearted but always a fun ride.

4 international murders out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you like a light series. I like to read this when I am deciding what to read next. It's a filler series for sure.
What did I learn? Independence is grand.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage

Book 3 of 2018 is the 5th in the Agatha Raisin series, Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton.

I am so very glad I went on to the 5th book in this long series. This is one of the best books I've read since the first book and it is grand. Nothing goes well but many things do. It's what I like about the reality of this fantasy.

This is a series I am already continuing by consuming the sixth book right after.

4 complicated men out of 5.

Should I read this? Again, yes. For the Agatha Christie fans.
What did I learn? I love this style of mystery. So easy. So enjoyable.

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help YouFind - and Keep - Love

Book 2 of 2018 is Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help YouFind - and Keep - Love by Amir Levine.

A friend insisted I read this... multiple times. So, of course I did. Only in agreement that we would book club over it. That will happen soon.

Although I am an outspoken critic of evolutionary psychology since I don't believe it a science due to its inability to demonstrate scientific method behind its hypotheses, this was not so bad. It at least did what I like with therapy type approaches and offered solid skills and tools to learn to deal with the perceptions it presents.

There are a few tests in the book. I'm a Secure type with some Anxious tendencies. Very much not an Avoidant type. None of this surprised me too much.

One thing I did like was that this is the first time someone has said that sure, happiness is intrinsic but not when you are so closely connected to another person. In fact, you become biologically connected to people who you love. Their happiness does effect yours.

It never sat well with me that I was to blame for all sadness I have felt in life. Sometimes, I'm said because you are. Or someone leaves and it breaks my heart. Be it a break-up, death or a friend moving to another city.

This book will help me to build on my ability to identify what drives people and to be a better friend. It also gives me permission to say certain behaviours are not ok and to voice what I need. Those are all good things. Massive massive things.

5 secure boundaries out of 5.

Should I read this? If you are open to being a better person and face your challenges then yes. If not, go do something else.
What did I learn? I'm not intolerant. I just know my boundaries.

Monday, 8 January 2018

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Book 1 of 2018 is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

This is my life and my mother's life and my sister's life but in another country.

I said to a friend that this resonated with me and she asked if it was hope. I luckily didn't scoff out loud. Non-whites don't need hope. We are not hoping for white acceptance.

This book empowered me. It encouraged my strength built through adversity, rejection and overt discrimination. It articulated why I don't fall down or crawl away when someone from the ruling class kicks me.

I don't need to. I'm more robust than they will ever be. I see your ignorance, fear and awkwardness and continue being the lioness.

Everyone who does not identify as white must read this. I am so sorry I waited so long.

5 children's roars out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes. Just everyone. Read it please.
What did I learn? Australia doesn't have any idea about the plight of our Indigenous people.