Saturday 25 August 2018

The Plastic Magician

Book 30 of 2018 is The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg.

I love this series. I didn't at first but I can't walk away.

This is an American introduced in to a trying-to-be-British series. Holmberg writes the out of place American so well. So so well.

She's actually more likeable than any of the other protagonists. I just want to keep on reading.

5 new disciplines out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you like the other three. They are not for all.
What did I learn? A series can redeem itself.

The Name of the Wind

Book 29 of 2018 is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

This may be the best book I have ever read. It's looong and detailed and perfect. Every single part of it made me want to read more and more.

There is nothing to fault in this book or characters.

5 troupes out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes. Without a doubt.
What did I learn? Books can be perfect. Or at least this one.

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime

Book 28 of 2018 is Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid.

She isn't Mary Roach but she does tell her story in a way that makes me want to change professions.

This was an interesting look at crime, rather than the police. That surprised and pleased me. She talks about what they did and how they were spotted. She talks about how they avoided being caught and then were caught. It is VERY cool.

The thing I really liked was that she didn't make it glam. It's a scientific job that I can imagine going in to. That's cool.

4 imperfect crimes out of 5.

Should I read this? Every scientist should.
What did I learn? I need to know more about wet sciences.

Friday 24 August 2018

Radical Candor

Book 27 of 2018 is Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott.

I read this for my work book club. It used to be a book club for all the managers but it is open to the whole tech crew now. I like that.

This appealed to me in that it gave me permission to not hold back and speak the truth in a caring way.

It appalled me in that she is in a position of power to change things when most of us can not.

Rather than introducing new things, she gave me permission to do what I thought was right. That is major. Major and appreciated.

2 honest moments out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you need validation. Us women got this.
What did I learn? Obvious. So obvious.

The Fates Divide

Book 26 of 2018 is The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth.

This series excites and confuses me. She's so strong and still vulnerable. Her love is kind and confused. Same ol', same ol'. The thing is that you want more and that is where the parents come in. The dysfunctional family.

There are enough characters to keep me excited and not too many to Wheel of Time me.

I looked forward to every new chapter. The second book is better than the first.

4 journeys out of 5.

Should I read this? Only for people who can deal with the depths of human suffering and self journey.
What did I learn? I'm still searching for my place.


Book 25 of 2018 is Artemis by Andy Weir.

I loved The Martian so much,. I laughed, I cried and I scienced. Despite and in honour of the poo jokes, I read this book.

It took me a few months to get through it, while reading other books. It was enjoyable the whole time.

The female protagonist is immature but relatable. Mars is alien but relatable. The whole book is challenging but relatable.

It is not The Martian but it's great. Just great.

I gave my copy of this book to a bartender who served the bar I sat at while reading this. Hope he likes it.

4 domes out of 5.

Should I read this? Yeah, she's a cool character who I'd hang out with.
What did I learn? Humans will survive in all situations. We just do.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Book 24 of 2018 is Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger.

He talks about ancient cultures and primal cultures and current native cultures. He talks about how they have support and lack high rates of suicide because of support. The idea that the tribe and building a tribe is the way humans are meant to live.

Although I come from a modern tribal culture and the idea of building your clan, I disagree with the modern and ancient culture of total acceptance of who you. I can name many things like homosexuality, refusal to breed and wanting to leave the group as reasons why traditional tribes are not perfect.

He doesn't use data but instead make declarative statements about how the world should be and how a group of people you conform to makes that better.

There were some great ideas. We do need people. We do need acceptance or at least the place to voice who we are. We do need belonging.

My challenge is that it isn't as easy as finding a group to belong to. I belong to may groups and they satisfy a lot of my needs and wants. It's not black and white.

3 white defects to native American tribes out of 5.

Should I read this? Only with the intention to expand your philosophical views. Otherwise, nay.
What did I learn? We build our networks. They do not pick us.

Thursday 12 July 2018

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

Book 23 of 2018 is The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson.

Since Allison made me read Snow Crash, I have been craving every single thing he writes. It's always a loooong book with a great idea that I think I can't possibly finish but it ends up being a ravenous consumption of fiction.

The female lead is respectable, relatable and remarkable.

When science fiction, time travel and historical fiction mixes, you have a winner. At least when Stephenson writes it.

5 Neanderthals out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes. Yes. Yes!
What did I learn? History is much more interesting when you have context, any context.

Sunday 17 June 2018

Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death

Book 22 of 2018 is Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death by M.C. Beaton.

I do love this series and this book did not disappoint. After months away from this series, this was a wonderful snap back.

Agatha is independent and in love with James but not changing her life for him. You go, girl!

This is a series you should read if you like Christie.

4 shoes in the mud out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you like Agatha Christie.
What did I learn? Read ALL the things!

Sunday 13 May 2018

Treasure Island

Book 21 of 2018 is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Having read this book over 30 years ago, I thought I'd scan through it since we all know the story so well. The thing with me remembering books is that I recall the peaks and troughs but forget the detail after that long. I'm glad I re-read it.

Like all true classics that define their genre, it isn't perfect or even at the pace I would expect of a swashbuckling adventure but it is true to form. The characters are more complex than I remember them and the classism is cringeworthy but I must keep it mind that it was published in 1883.

This is more than a children's books and less than an adult's book so I am not sure whether to recommend it based on that. I can however recommend it based on it being fun and adventurous.

You can decide if that is for you.

4 Yo-ho-ho, and  bottles of rum out of 5.

Should I read this? Do it. It's a short fun adventurous read.
What did I learn? Rum is not a life for me.

The Gender Game

Book 20 of 2018 is The Gender Game by Bella Forrest.

I wanted to like this so much but I didn't.

For a perfect feminist book, it mansplained a lot of why the world is how it is and maybe how a female run world would be just as bad. It doesn't discuss how close to equality the female world is. Women are less oppressive. Children of Time did it better.

The premise is brilliant so I will read the second book and hope that she doesn't pursue the relationship with the hermit hipster.

2 mansplains out of 5.

Should I read this? No.
What did I learn? Women can mansplain too.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Book 19 of 2018 is Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend.

I only found out after reading this that it was written by an Aussie female author. That makes me proud because this is one of the best books I've read this year.

The female protagonist is curious, robust and sensible. Unlike most young adult novel heroines, she isn't clueless and silly. She thinks for herself and makes sensible decisions.

This world is phantasmagorical and wonderful. Reminds me of Night Circus.

Read it. Read it. Read it.

5 destinies out of 5.

Should I read this? Yep.
What did I learn? Female authors write brilliant characters and not just female ones.

Thursday 26 April 2018

Snow Crash

Book 18 of 2018 is Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

Finally got to read this book after every single big reader I know recommended it to me. Why did I take so long?

It was fitting that this was my tome when I watched Ready Player One. It helped me step back from my disappointment and realise that giant books can't always fit in to 2.5 hours.

This is a classic for a reason. A must must must read. I can't stop recommending this to everyone who loved RP1. It's the precursor for sure.

5 pwns out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you love retro sci-fi.
What did I learn? The geek shall inherit the Earth.

Wednesday 4 April 2018


Book 17 of 2018 is Damocles by S. G. Redling.

I liked too much about this book. The linguistics side. The idea that two people can connect simply because they are open to.

This book was rich and enjoyable but it wound up too fast and too simply. It betrayed the rest of the book that had so much effort put in to it.

I wish this could be rewritten with a better and less predictable ending.

4 words and hand signals out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes, actually.
What did I learn? I love language and the idea of communication across understandings.

Monday 19 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.

Sunday 4 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.

Sunday 28 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.

Friday 26 January 2018

Book 7 of 2018 is the Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. 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.

Sunday 21 January 2018

Forget Resolutions

Forget resolutions.

I always forget them after a few weeks and months.

2017 turned out to be a wonderful year and there was no ulterior plan in place.

Saturday 20 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.

Monday 8 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.

Sunday 7 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.