Monday 26 December 2016

10 Questions to Myself on 2016

1. What were your top five moments of the year?

This took a lot of trimming down but I came up with my top 5, in no particular order...

1. Visiting San Francisco for the first time in my life with my sister. Running in to two Aussie friends that I've had for years and spending precious hours with them. Trina and I also visited Alcatraz. The whole trip was a highlight, even in the freezing cold San Francisco rain.

2. Visiting New Orleans for my 40th birthday with my sister. Riding an airboat on an alligator infested swamp. Eating the best seafood in the US. All the food was fantastic.

3. Heading home to Darwin. Surprising my Mum and Dad who had no idea I'd be visiting. Hanging out with old friends and making new ones. Eating the great topical food and Asian delights. Seeing my furbabies who I miss every single day.

4. My 40th Birthday. It was spent with very special friends and my sister. I celebrated a lot. It is marvellous being 40 years old.

5. My friendships. Working out who I want in my life and who I didn't and then making the changes needed to concrete that.

2. What are you really glad is over?

This one is a hard one to say out loud but if I am to be honest then so be it. I am glad to have moved on from a team at work that I had been on for almost two years. Having learnt a lot and finding my confidence to use my talents in Amazon, it was time to do something new. It is something I should have done three or four months earlier but it was nice to finally say goodbye to that chapter and find out what new adventures await me.

3. How are you different today than you were 365 days ago?

This one is much easier to answer. Today, I care much less about what others think of me. My sense of self is solid and being surrounded by very stable, kind and talented human beings leaves me little doubt that I am who I want to be.

4. Is there anything you achieved that you forgot to celebrate?

I have only recently started to stop and congratulate myself on seeing toxic people and situations early and walking away from them. It is something that became clearer to me in the last 12 months but I didn't realise how healing it is to stop and say "Good on you for walking away instead of tolerating it or fighting it." Some battles (inner or outer) are not worth it.

5. What have you changed your perspective on this year?

There were several moments or experiences that have changed my trajectory greatly in the last year. The biggest has to be my view of friendship. I cut off several very unhealthy friendships with people who brought their problems to everyone else's lives and were not very nice people. Instead of persisting with the friendship well passed its used by date, I am more willing to simply invest more in the ones I love and not waste energy on the ones that don't.

6. Who are the people who really came through for you this year?

Wow. That is a list. Not one I will share publicly though because they enjoy their privacy. They each know who they are. I tell them repeatedly and unguardedly.

7. What is something you tolerated for a long time, but now you will not?

I've long suffered people who believe ALL their problems are extrinsic and walk the Earth with a scary sense of entitlement. They are people I will no longer give energy to.

8. What old beliefs did you let go of?

I have let go of the belief that I do not deserve happiness. For a long time, I figured that was for other people and that I would simply exist and accept. That changed early on this year and late in to 2015. Now I am quite content with knowing that I do deserve all the love I get and that I am not lucky, I am treated well because I treat others well.

9. What was one thing that you found really challenging, but can now see supported your growth?

I had a workmate who befriended me who later told me she only was my friend to gain my support at work. When I challenged her methods and professional behaviour, she was honest about her motives. At first it was shattering but eye opening as well. Since I'd never do that, thinking someone ever would was beyond me. Now I've grown to be slightly less naive but still open and caring.

10. If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself this time last year?

I would tell myself to trust my instincts and leave when I know things are bad. Being a martyr and holding on through bad situations doesn't win me any prizes.

These questions were inspired by this post by Gala Darling.

Dear Diary

Years ago, I started blogging to share via broadcast to those opting in to hear what was going on in my life. It was also a way of practising writing, articulating my thoughts and ultimately documenting my life.

The audience wasn't supposed to be huge. I never really expected anyone but my parents and a few close friends to read. I even turned on comment moderation so that this became my pedestal and a place I could share my thoughts without hearing everyone else respond. That may sound like a control thing but it fitted the idea that this was a log. A captain's log for me going boldly where no Mana had gone before.

As my separation and divorce saw me tumble in to three years of severe clinical depression, this was a place to put the sadness so it was outside of myself. To write down and negate the negative thoughts. To explain the pain and why I coped the way I did. To remember moments that would not be concreted in memory due to the way depression screws with your head.

When I healed and went back out in to the world to try again, this was still a place for me to post the good and bad things that happened in life. Slowly, that migrated to Facebook and rapidly I stopped talking about what it was that shaped me.

Some of this came from any weakness feeling like a failure. Some of it came from people saying I was too high disclosure. A lot of it came from being happier and taking time to bask in the light rather than right it down.

It is no surprise that I return to talk to the ether when my head is in a confused state and my soul is in pain.

So, my dear diary, how do we get through this moment of darkness in to the light again?

I like the idea that this Gala Darling suggests to end the year on a high note. Might get on that.

Saturday 10 December 2016

The Chimes

Book 30 of 2016 is The Chimes by Charles Dickens.

It can't be Christmas without a lesson for the soul from Dickens.

This isn't A Christmas Carol but it runs along the same tracks. The Chimes however does not cross the times and resonate as its more famous sibling does. It is lost in class and superstition and old sexist ideas. Maybe a modern day rewrite would work.

Still, this book has brought the Christmas spirit out in me. Since it is an easy read, it is worth the moment it takes to listen to the ever present chimes.

Three chimes out of five.

Should I read this? Only if you need some Christmas reading.
What did I learn? Dickens sometimes wrote the same story twice, even the good ones.

Thursday 8 December 2016

Island Home

Book 28 of 2016 is Island Home by Tim Winton.

This book made me cry. This book made me homesick. This book made me proud.

Those are not things that I often feel and certainly not from a book. Maybe I read too much fiction or a kind of book that is abstract to me. Island Home was not abstract to me in any way. It was quite the opposite.

The way Winton describes Australia is so vivid that I found myself imagining the Northern Territory were I grew up, even while he was describing Western Australia.

Every part of this book broke me down and built me up simultaneously. I'm not even exactly sure why. It could be the visual he projects or the honesty with which he loves and sometimes doesn't love my home country.

This book confirms for me that we must travel far from home and see other places in order to truly appreciate the beauty of our own place. And for a nomad like me, it is hard to accept that I am so connected to a piece of land that it makes up most of who I am no matter how I sometimes fight it.

A book for all expatriates, even if Australia isn't your piece of dirt.

Five wide open spaces out of five.

Should I read this? If you aren't living where you grew up then yes.
What did I learn? I can fight it some days but Australia will always be my home.


Book 29 of 2016 is Zer0es by Chuck Wendig.

I picked up this book at The Elliot Bay Book Company on their shelf with recommendations from staff. They said this would be a book that would spark thought and conversation.

They weren't wrong but they weren't right either. The story is interesting enough but the characters are predictable, stereotypical... boring.

The premise is interesting. In an age of technophobia, it is right for us to stop and ask the question about how much technology is intertwined in our lives and what would happen if that was used against us.

Imagine if the Internet of Things was not controlled by us. Imagine if it isn't right now.

This is still a book I would recommend but more for the thought provoking ideas that drive it and not the characters.

Three intelligences out of five.

Should I read this? If you're at least open to the thinking behind a lot of technophobic literature, TV and movies now then sure. If not, this will bore you and seem paranoid.
What did I learn? Just because we can build it, doesn't mean we should.

Saturday 3 December 2016

2016 Didn't Suck

As an eternal optimist, it takes some effort to listen to the way people are voicing their dislike of 2016. Despite what I think, it is important that I do listen and try to understand why people are so disappointed and dismayed at the last 11 months.

In my short 40 years on this planet, I've seen the world change in ways I did not expect. Events like the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests;  the Arab Spring; the Collapse of Apartheid in South Africa; and many other pivotal moments/revolutions/movements.

Apart from political disruption and change, just this year there have been significant discoveries in science like mapping the epigenome; surprise concessions from religious leaders like the Pope allowing priests to absolve people of sins of abortion (no, I'm not religious, just surprised);  and the undeniable rise of Corpratocracy.

There are people swearing about the death of legendary entertainers from our lifetime. There are people screaming at people who voted a different way to them. There are people throwing their hands in air not knowing what to do. A lot of people think this year was awful and that the world is going to hell.

I don't agree.

Has the world all of a sudden become a cesspool or are we just more aware of what is going on?

I believe it is the latter.

The slow questioning of mainstream media, the rise and rise of social media and the increased pressure for individual critical thinking is pulling people away from their cat videos and making people think.

Conspiracy theorists are running with this. Liberals are smugly nodding that they told you so. People who took TV and newspaper news as gospel are the ones who are finding this the most revealing. They are wondering if anyone can be trusted and are now looking for new leadership. I truly don't know the answer but I have faith in people doing what is best for the group and not just themselves.

These are interesting times. Thing is, they have always been interesting times. People are now awakening to the fact that mowing their lawns, finding bargains online and watching the Kardashians may not be all that matters.

Realities may have to be readjusted. People may have to give when they once took and take when they were once taken from. Societies may have to take a long look in the mirror and decide how to improve.

As an eternal optimist, I don't think this is a bad thing. It is an uncomfortable awakening but an awakening all the same.

Thursday 1 December 2016

How Tolouse Petite showed their racist and sexist side

This is the email I wrote to Tolouse Petite in Seattle...

I am so traumatised by the experience I had tonight that I do not know how to quantify my horror.

I went in to your bar tonight to have some dinner after a long day.

Your bar tender was rude, condescending and blatantly racist. He took my order with contempt and would not take my friend's order at all. When he asked for my ID, he treated me (a 40 year old) as a possible criminal and said he didn't give a damn how old i was. It was odd and uncomfortable.

After showing ID, we asked for recommendations for what he should eat. The bar tender said he didn't care and he chose a few things anyway. The bar manager stood away from us and referred to me as black. We got our food fast and it was good except for once dish. When we commented, the bar tender said "But you ate them all" when referring to three oysters. I said "there were three" and he looked at me and said something about trash under his voice.

When I paid the bill, I asked for a manager to voice my complaint. The bar manager came up and called me a "bitch" and said "get out". We did.

I've never been treated this way ever in my whole life.

I will share this experience with everyone I know and advocate people never frequent your establishment.

After my experience, I do not believe I will get a decent response. I have only seen the worst of your establishment. I hope something will be done to rectify the horrifying service I got.

Sunday 27 November 2016

Slaughterhouse Five

Book 27 of 2016 is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

This book is original. It follows no cadence I know and chooses to tell it's story how it feels fit. You have to respect that. Or, so it goes.

It has been a very long time since I have read a book and felt every chapter was an easy breeze carrying so much weight. Actually, I'm not sure I can say it has ever been quite like this.

This is a war novel, a sci fi novel and a travel journal rolled in to one.

Five time travels out of five.

Should I read this? Yes. No buts about it. Just read this.
What did I learn? There is hope that life in not sequential.

Friday 11 November 2016

The Handmaid's Tale

Book 26 of 2016 is The Handmaid's Tale by Margret. Atwood

There is not a more apt book that I woman could read while living in the centre of the maelstrom that is the United States of America with Trump as President Elect. There is a level of uncertainty described by Offred in the start of the book as society breaks down that feels a like what people are talking about here and now. Finishing this book in the week Trump was elected surrounded by gasps of shock and a realisation that we missed seeing this coming is perfectly terrifying.

This great piece on the relevance of this book in this time is worth the read and consequent analysis.

Atwood is one of the best writers I have read ever. She managed to tell the entire story without explaining the intricacies. You can work out what is going on and how everyone feels without it being listed out for you. Simply brilliant.

Five red dresses out of five.

Should I read this? Yes. Especially now that Trump is in power.
What did I learn? Great writing on society is always relevant.

Wednesday 12 October 2016


Book 25 of 2016 is the fifth in the Lunar Chronicles, Winter by Marissa Meyer.

This is the end of the series and it was a thoroughly enjoyable. If you want the princesses to save the day then this is your series.

Four rebels out of five.

Should I read this? Yes. It is quite enjoyable and exciting!
What did I learn? The world is changing and women are now running it.


Book 25 of 2016 is the fifth in the Lunar Chronicles, Winter by Marissa Meyer.

This is the end of the series and it was a thoroughly enjoyable. If you want the princesses to save the day then this is your series.

Four rebels out of five.

Should I read this? Yes. It is quite enjoyable and exciting!
What did I learn? The world is changing and women are now running it.

Sunday 25 September 2016


Book 24 of 2016 is the fourth in the Lunar Chronicles, Fairest by Marissa Meyer.

My least favourite of the series is one of the .5 books. Yes, authors are writing middle books conjoining major titles in the series. Fairest sits between book 3 (Cress) and book 4 (Winter).

It did make me rightfully dislike the evil queen and give insight in to her insanity but I could have gleaned this having skipped this book. Read it or not, it won't make that big a difference.

This story is of the evil queen from Snow White.

Three my-parents-made-me-an-evil-queens out of five.

Should I read this? You can read this series without touching this book. It's short so read it if you read fast. Otherwise, skip it.
What did I learn? I have a good reason for disliking middle books. It's a money making venture.

Saturday 24 September 2016


Book 23 of 2016 is the third in the Lunar Chronicles, Cress by Marissa Meyer.

This is taken from the story of Rapunzel. When I say taken, I do mean that it starts there but goes off in the adventurous way that all the books in this series have.

The main series arc is rising to a crescendo with this third book of five. As they introduce a new character, the tension builds. I really like the characters. I like that they are not hopeless damsels in distress. I like that they fly spaceships and raid castles. I like that the prince charmings are supporting characters around these strong women.

Now I'm on to Fairest without hesitation.

Four space princesses out of five.

Should I read this? It's a fun series. I'd recommend you do.

What did I learn? Rapunzel is much more likeable than Disney would let us believe.

Sunday 4 September 2016

Ice Station

Book 22 of 2016 is Ice Station by Matthew Reilly.

I've only read one other book by this author and it was a good airport book. It is very Indiana Jones mixed with Chris Ryan. This is not the best writing you'll ever read but it is engaging.

The details around wildlife and most of the science stuff was pretty cool. The action was non-stop and so entertaining. He is worth the read.

Four marines out of five.

Should I read this? If you're in an airport and have a long flight ahead then, yes.

What did I learn? Lots about orcas.


Book 21 of 2016 is Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.

This is book two of the Lunar Chronicles. This is a series I am thoroughly enjoying and can not fault at all. This is a re-write of the classic fairy tales with a feminist and technological twist. How could I not like them? Now to read the rest.

Four princesses out of five.

Should I read this? Yes. Just do.

What did I learn? Some trilogies are different.

Saturday 6 August 2016

Cyber Storm

Book 20 of 2016 is Cyber Storm by Matthew Mather.

Another Kindle Unlimited book that disappointed me beyond belief. Despite the 3.7 star rating on GoodReads, this book failed miserably.

The whole story is quite a good version of a technical apocalypse that is completely negated in the last couple of chapters. I was going to give this a 3.5/5 before the final play. It was shockingly bad.

One lazy ending out of five.

Should I read this? Do not read this book. Ever.

What did I learn? A bad author doesn't know how to end a story and can ruin it at summation.

Monday 4 July 2016

The Marshmallow Test

Book 19 of 2016 is The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control by Walter Mischel.

A book based on a famous psychological experiment that anyone who has had their self-control falter has heard of.

I know the child I would have been. I'd not have taken the marshmallow because I was very obedient and knew to wait for the better option. Not sure that reflects in my current life though. My adult life.

The idea that nurture is as powerful as nature was interesting. This is something I have believed for a while but have not seen backed with a lot of studies.

The way this was written was not that interesting but the studies and interpretations were.

If there had been more tips and tricks for dealing with hot actions, that would have made this more worth the read but it wasn't.

Three marshmallows out of five.

Should I read this? Only if you have an interest in CBT and want more help with what to read more about around self-control.
What did I learn? All this talk of them made me want to eat marshmallows.

Sunday 3 July 2016

The 5th Wave

Book 18 of 2016 is The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.

This book has been on list of books to read since 2014. It was actually in my top ten reads and kept getting pushed down the list by other books because I always knew I'd read it one day. It only took two years to get there.

This is another Young Adult book, which is I genre I enjoy for the adventure and very easy reading.

This is another post apocalyptic tale with a strong female lead with a mission that will not be taken from her.

This is another sit down and read in two days book.

The main character Cassie is believable and likeable. There are moments when she says something very teenage girl and then snaps herself out of it. This gave truly gives away the fact that a man wrote her and not a woman. I say this because women can have multiple trains of thought going simultaneously without so deliberately halting a thought as silly and starting a new one. That other way is a very male way of thinking.

Through this book, all the major characters are fighting to save someone more innocent than themselves. It is as if when the world as they new it ended, they fought to hold on to their own innocence. This is repeated and honed as a well played metaphor in this story. Nicely original in many ways. Or at least originally presented.

Four waves out of five.

Should I read this? Yes, if you like sci-fi AND you like young adult fiction.
What did I learn? We protect in others what we lost in ourselves.

Needs and Wants

For one week in June, I did not buy anything unless I could without doubt say that I needed it. I didn't go without anything except my purchases made on a whim.

I always track my finances to make sure payments that hit my card are correct and that I'm on track for savings goals. What I do not do is look at what I bought and if that is valid... unless it is a big purchase and blew my usual spendings for the month.

At the end of June, I looked back and found that I spend around $365 less than my average month.

That is such a significant percentage drop and confirmed my inner revelation that I have become an American-like consumer. It actually needs to stop and finally, this is becoming apparent.

I have everything I want and it is as though I need ten of each thing. That is not a good way to think.

Changes, they are a-coming.

Sunday 19 June 2016


Book 17 of 2016 is Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles.

I mostly cringe at fairytales - originals or those retold.

Unlike the massive fail that was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as a mashup of genres, this sci-fi fairytale is a total win. Even the lovey dovey teenage rubbish doesn't dominate and is managed well by the female lead.

The plot was nowhere near as vacuous as the original and follows it very loosely. This was more like a modern teeny bopper sci-fi story than any fairytale.

Now to read the rest of the Lunar Chronicles.

Four kick-ass female mechanics out of five.

Should I read this? If you like old stories re-written well and with better female characters then you should.
What did I learn? Saving the world is much more important than falling in love.

Thursday 16 June 2016

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki

Book 16 of 2016 is Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami.

I enjoy most of what Murakami writes but sometimes find it tedious in its challenges. That is why I purchased this book at the end of last year but only read it now.

Once I picked this up, I could not put it down. Over a few days, it took self control (not my forte) to put this down and actually sleep each night. Last night, I completed the book after ignoring that pesky self control blah.

This is not so much a book about friendship as it is a book about having a sense of self and self worth in friendship. That is why I connected with this book. There are many moments of self doubt when I wonder why anyone would bother being my friend, when they are such a cool person.

There were unanswered moments of supernatural fear and this book left me wondering many many things. I think that is why some hate it and some love it. Not all questions are answered but then... some unasked questions are answered so sincerely that it feels balanced.

I want to gift this book to everyone I know. The last time I felt like this was last April when I read Love in the Time of Cholera.

Four friends missing their completion out of five.

Should I read this? Yes.It is simple. Yes.
What did I learn? Writing is a talent. Some people have it in spades.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Modern Romance

Book 15 of 2016 is Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari.

This book made me laugh. It is supposed to be a self help book based in psychology but feels more like a elf help book written by an academic and edited by a comedian to add funny stuff.

A lot of the studies used to argue hypotheses are interesting but some seem to be stretches to justify the point being made, The odd mix of humour and quasi-science left me giggling but unconvinced.

This book wasn't written for me though. It was written for single men who are terrified of commitment.

This book was not worth the reviews it received, in my eyes. Luckily I was gifted this audio book.

Three giggles about the scary commitment monster out of five.

Should I read this? If you are a single male who isn't sure whether monogamy is for you then yeah.
What did I learn? Some stereotypes are painfully accurate.

Friday 10 June 2016

Good Omens

Book 14 of 2016 is Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

If you've heard my Gaiman (or as I know him, Amanda Palmer's husband) rants then you will know that I love him as a person and have read many of his books. I loved Neverwhere but have not enjoyed much since. Yes, I even diss American Gods.

This book was recommended to me by so many people that I had to give in and read it.

I stand corrected. This is brilliant. That may be due to Pratchett though :p

The idea that the world isn't perfect but it is imperfectly wonderful, is one that I truly share. The pop culture references and hilarious British humour won me over within the first couple of chapters.

This is so good that I didn't want to finish. I am sad it is over.

Five cute hounds of hell out of five.

Should I read this? Yes. Even if you don't like Gaiman's other stories.
What did I learn? Good and evil are relative. I knew that but now more so.

Thursday 9 June 2016

Unsubscribing from All the Things

I reside in the home of consumerism and have been swept up in the ease at which everything comes to me in this country and specifically in Seattle, the home of delivery.

In my ongoing quest to consume less, I looked at where I am exposed to advertising which has so much say in what I buy. If you say it doesn't then I call bullshit on that.

The answer was in email and on Facebook.

I proceeded to unsubscribe from every email sent to me by a business. This has had me realise that they lie and keep sending stuff to you over and over until Google mail helps you unsubscribe. Yes, they mark those jerks as spam.

The second avenue is Facebook. I've stopped liking my friend's statuses that mention a brand of any kind. I'm also leaving all groups that are selling me something.

This has changed what I read in a day. Lets see what happens in a week.

Monday 6 June 2016

A week of not buying everything I want

Wow, is it difficult to not shop online constantly when you live in the US and work for Amazon?!

It's what the company I work for does best. Not just them but every online company in the US.

I can order everything online and have it delivered to my home with the only human inconvenience being dealing with my delivery guy (I joke):
We live in the future and I want my flying car!

You think I joke, but I have pre-ordered two Star Trek: TOS Bluetooth® Communicators. One for my sister and one for myself.

We live in a time when you can get anything you want. My smartphone is more powerful than the computer that landed man on the moon. My speakers hear my commands and turn my house lights on and off , read me the news and tell me the weather or time if I'm too lazy to lift up my so smartphone.

It is so easy to buy. It takes a level of mindfulness to wake up after a goodnight's sleep and cancel that order of plastic garden flamingos. Yes, that happened last week.

People joke that we once had arguments about facts and now google (with a small 'g') everything and Snopes it on the spot. I extend on that and say that we have a conversation and can act on every whim and buy any damn thing we want.

But do we need those things?

This week, I have decided to not by anything that I do not NEED. When I say need, it must be essential to my survival or maintaining my basic standard of living.

In the spirit of a good Amazonian, I decided to keep a Wish List of A Week of Wants and refuse to buy anything that didn't go under the banner of essential.

I'm not saying I will buy them in a week but I am keeping a list of everything I would have purchased given the chance.

This will be both informative and confronting.

Would you face your inner consumer and not be disgusted?

Friday 3 June 2016

Night Circus

Book 13 of 2016 is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

"The circus arrives without warning."

This book was recommended to me a couple of years ago when I was still in Australia. Pretty much every book story employee that I asked to recommend me their favourite phantasmagorical book recommended this one.

I was looking for Gaimenesque fantastical drama and this was the book to answer it, over and over again.

It is hard to describe this book as more than magical without ruining the story. Do what I did and don't read anything about it before you devour this book.

Four illusions out of five.

Should I read this? Absolutely, yes. It is a book for everyone.
What did I learn? Be good at what you do and always believe in the best of all outcomes.

Monday 23 May 2016

The Master Magician

Book 12 of 2016 is The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg.

This is the third book in The Paper Magician series.

If I had stopped at the first book, I would have missed the quality of books two and three. This series improved exponentially in time.

There are much better feminist protagonists but placing this in a historical setting helps justify her behaviour. Thing is, Jane Austin would have slapped her silly.

The second book is the peak of this series and I'm not stoked with how this went but it was ok.

Three teenage girls in love with their teachers out of five.

Should I read this? Only if like me, you have Kindle Unlimited. I'd not have read this series if it wasn't free to me, thanks to a Prime subscription.
What did I learn? Women can undermine themselves far too easily by dating colleagues. In all eloquence, I stick with the idea that you shouldn't shit where you eat.

Saturday 21 May 2016

The Glass Magician

Book 11 of 2016 is The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg. This is the second book in The Paper Magician series which I read last September.

The first book annoyed at how teenager whiney the first book was that I didn't want to finish the series. It was the reviews from Good Reads users who made me want to read the second book.

The second book is much better than the first and I went straight in to the third. This is mainly due to the female lead becoming less teenage infatuated girl and more grown up. Instead of courting her teacher, she goes out on missions to slay great magicians. This makes me happy.

Three broke mirrors and 14 years bad luck out of five.

Should I read this? Probably not. The first book is not easy to get through.
What did I learn? Competent woman are amazing.

Wednesday 4 May 2016


Book 10 of 2016 is Seveneves by Neil Stephenson.

This book has been a reading project for the last 4 months. At Christmas time, I bought four copes and distributed to my reading friends. One took it up and demolished it in no time while the others, I must chase to complete this 880 page tome.

What I can tell you is that this book is worth every second I got the pleasure to spend on it. There were no slow moments. Every part lead to the next. Every challenge felt uncomfortable but absolutely necessary. Each word and page and chapter and plot and play was well played and entirely satisfying.

I won't ruin anything for you except to say that if there were seven Eves then this is the way the nine should end.

In the words of the recently departed Prince of purple...
All seven and we'll watch them fall
They stand in the way of love
And we will smoke them all
With an intellect and a savior-faire
No one in the whole universe
Will ever compare

5 evolutions out of 5.

Should I read this? This is a sci-fi must. A must. Like, read it NOW.
What did I learn? Who runs the world? Girls.

Sunday 10 April 2016

I'm coming home, coming home. Tell the world I'm coming home.

Every day starts with a coffee. I stopped drinking non-fat milk so the 16oz full cream latte with no added anything else is my drug of choice.

Breakfast is becoming more of a habit now. Usually it consists of eggs or fruit but it isn't consistent and may never be. Someone once told me it is better to eat anything at all to start your day over eating nothing much. That sticks in my head each morning and is appreciated when my metabolism kicks in to high gear after a breakfast sandwich or bowl of porridge.

Monday 22 February 2016


Book 9 of 2016 is Timebound by Rysa Walker.

This was another Kindle Unlimited book that I chose because it was free. Again, this was a great recommendation that I didn't expect much from. When will I learn that the one thing you can trust on Amazon is a book rating?

Another strong female lead who I want to read more about. In fact, all the important characters are women or respectful supportive males. Obviously written by another female. I didn't know that for sure until I checked while writing this. Female sci-fi fantasy authors are owning the genre in these modern times and thank goodness for that.

These are not only written for women but for everyone and quite well. Well worth the read.

4 disappearing photo IDs out of 5.

Should I read this?  Yes and possibly the whole series. It is so promising.
What did I learn? Recessive genes can really count against you.

Tuesday 16 February 2016


Book 8 of 2016 is Departure by A, G, Riddle.

Again, I wasn't expecting too much and this could be because my random choices of science fiction are based on the blurb on the back of the book and that is never written well.

Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by the way this book was told in the male and female voice and that the twists really were not predictable.

There are many complex relationships in this book and a bunch of likable and drownable characters in this book, which leaves you feeling like you really cared what happened in the end.

The final couple of chapters kept me engaged right up until the last page.

This i an original tale and one I am already recommending to friends and colleagues.

4 flights to Heathrow of 5.

Should I read this? This is only for sci-fi fans.

What did I learn? The good of the many outweighs the good of the one. Haha, no, Spock taught me that.

Sunday 14 February 2016


Book 7 of 2016 is Frostfire by Amanda Hocking.

This is the first book in The Kanin Chronicles and that is the only thing that annoyed me about this book. It ends in a to be continued stance and this irks me because I think first books should always stand proudly on their own without the need of the rest of the series. If not, you better not carry on for more than 3 books.

The female protagonist is very teenage girl but she has an independent mind and that is nice to see in a fantasy book. A female author obviously makes for good female characters. The main character and the mysterious criminal she pursues make this series worth chasing alongside her.

4 gilled relatives of 5.

Should I read this? For fantasy readers who like mystery and good female characters.
What did I learn? Not all trolls are ugly.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Book 6 of 2016 is Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie.

A friend of mine came to see Salman Rushdie promote his latest book: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights: A Novel. This is her favourite book and hearing all the people at Rushdie's reading raving about this book and asking when the movie will be made. That was enough to see me buy this book on my very next visit to my favourite book store.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this book. It is for children and adults. It keeps you engaged the whole time and although words are wielded by the wizard that is Rushdie, it is easy to read.

In the style of Arabian Nights, the story is of a boy and his father saving the stories of the world. Everything is magical and fantastical. It is quite wonderful. Absolutely one of the best books I've read in a very long time. I wish I'd read this as a child.

5 happy endings out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes, you should. You should also read it to all the children you know or gift them this book.

What did I learn? Storytelling is alive and well. Literature is a good story.

Thursday 11 February 2016

Angela's Ashes

Book 5 of 2016 is Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.

I have intended to read this book for a very long time but only now got around to it.

McCourt makes this one of the best depressing reads since The Road and I loved it!

As an Irish descendant, this explained the great Irish migration away from the religious oppression, dire poverty and depression.

His writing is descriptive and brutally authentic. This is very much worth the read.

5 dead siblings out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you can deal with the suffering of children going through an economic depression. It may not be for everyone.
What did I learn? The Catholic church is even more horrible than I thought.

Sunday 24 January 2016

One Foot in the Grave

Book 4 of 2016 is One Foot in the Grave from the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost.

This is book 2 of the Night Huntress series and I think I will continue. This book was much better than the first book, which almost had me not touching the second. A few Good Reads reviews helped me go one.

I'm still not a massive fan of the whole bodice ripping genre but ignore that and it's a good plot with a strong female character. Although I read on, I am worried Cat may go the way of Anita Blake. Hopefully not.

4 vampire cultural rules out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you like Anita Blake, which owns that genre.
What did I learn? I don't care much for written porn. It bores me.

Halfway to the Grave

Book 3 of 2016 is Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost.

This is book 1 of the Night Huntress series and I've already started the second book.

Since the Anita Blake books went to hell in a handbasket around book 9, I haven't had a good vampire hunter series to read. This may be it.

The writing isn't very good but the stories are interesting and original. The sex scenes are boring and very Mills & Boon but they are few and far between and you can scroll by them.

3 half-bred assassins out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes, if you like the early Anita Blake style books or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
What did I learn? The writing isn't great but the story arc is promising.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

The Rook

Book 2 of 2016 is The Rook by Daniel O'Malley.

This is a book that my friend Jan chose for our distant book club. We will be discussing this over Skype when she finishes the read.

Having read The Hanged Man, this followed on quite well. Fantastical historical fiction is my new obsession and I am going to own this genre this year and read so much of it. This isn't the best example but it did introduce some nice ideas.

The reason I would read the rest of the series is because I had no love for any of the characters.

Told in the first person, the only possible sympathetic character is the story teller and seeing inside her mind makes her less-so.

The current to historical context is the most appealing part of this book. I can imagine it happening in almost modern day London but it misses something. It didn't bring me in to the place or the moment. My guess is that this is a British text written for Americans because it is nondescript and only hints of the culture.

What I would have liked was something distinctly English. Something that gave me an insight in to the culture and the moment. But alas, it did not.

3 forgotten moments due to amnesia out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you like fantastical history novels.
What did I learn? I like this genre and want to find better versions of this.

Monday 18 January 2016

3 Reasons to Treat Mental Illness like Cancer

1. Like cancer, it is an illness and not something you can just get over

2. People who are mentally ill should get treatment in the way you would naturally opt for with cancer

3. There are many different kinds and not one cure/solution for all

Monday 11 January 2016

A Man Called Ove

Book 1 of 2016 is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

This book was raved about for all of 2015 and I started it towards the end, like a chore.

The thing is, this is an absolute pleasure to read and not a chore. I recommended it to friends when I was less than half way through it and having finished it, I can only recommend it more strenuously.

There are many stories of grumpy old men but this old man stole my heart. I want to go out and hug old people everywhere but I may be shot for that in this country.

It has been a long while since I listened to a book and understood why I want to live my life with fury.

5 grunts of disapproval out of 5.

Should I read this? If you like stories about anti-heroes that you can't relate to but can like.

What did I learn? Good people don't always look like good people. Being good is all that matters.