Category: books

by Peter Wohlleben

This is my book for Book 48 – A Microhistory

What a wonderfully interesting book this is. I experienced it as an audiobook and loved the narrator as much as I loved what he was narrating. It felt like I was being told secrets.

And in effect that is exactly what this book does. It tells you secrets. Amazing secrets about trees; about how they communicate and support each other, about how they care about each other, and how we create awful circumstances for them to live in.

I have always loved the idea of the slowness of trees and in this book a lot is explained about how and why trees live in the slow lane, and how that affects how they experience and react to life around them.

They are amazing life forms sorely misunderstood by humans because we do not slow down enough to see the effects of what we do, or how trees deal with situations. We do what we do and move on, assuming effects not immediately observed do not exist. Wait 4 decades and the trees will show you.

Also, the fact that they support each other by literally sending sick trees food makes me extraordinarily happy.

This book is packed with facts and new information that will make you gape in amazement and want to share it with everyone.

Throughout I kept thinking that finally the philosophical question “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” has been answered. A tree cannot fall and not be heard – the other trees hear.

An interesting, educational and delightful food well worth reading.

by Amanda Palmer
This is my book 17. A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift .My best friend lent me this book a while ago and for some reason I resisted reading it for ages.
What a silly person I was.
This book is amazing.
It is mostly memoir actually – not what I expected at all.
Palmer tells her story as a way to show the readers that it is okay to ask for help. And when offered help, it is okay to actually take it.
The most valuable lesson, I think, is that when asking you have to be okay with the answer being no. The possibility of being denied is half of the options and to ask with real integrity requires that a negative answer be as acceptable as a positive one.
That kind of thinking changes, for me, the process of deciding to ask for anything.
Palmer also differentiates very clearly between asking and begging. Asking, for her, includes an exchange. Art for money is her primary exchange and after her kickstarter phenomena she was accused of begging and taking advantage. In this book she makes it clear that firstly, people only gave what they wanted and, secondly, they got exactly what they were promised for what she gave.
She also talks about the other side of asking – accepting. She is great at asking for help and then taking what she is offered, but when an offer comes without the preceding asking, she crumbles. A lot of this book is spent with her agonising over taking a bit of bridging financial help offered to her by her (wealthy) husband. She clearly articulates that she understands she should be able to take it seeing as she asks strangers, but that it is so much harder for her to accept help from him. This juxtaposition is interesting and familiar.
Palmer is so human, so much all of us in many ways, this book is hugely accessible to everyone.
Palmer has also got right up the nose of so many establishment types because she won’t play by their rules. She offers her art freely online, asking people to share and love it – and pay her what they can and/or think it fair. This sends the capitalist business-types into fits of rage – partly, I think because it works.
I think Palmer is a revolutionary in her thinking. I don’t even think you have to like her music to like what she is saying in this book, and in her life. To be honest, I find a lot of her music a bit loud and screamy for me, but I love the lyrics and read them like poetry.
This book will make you think if you are willing to open your mind to a different way of being. A more connected way that, I believe, must be the way of the future.
As Palmer says – if someone offers you a flower- take the flower! And if you need a flower, ask for one.


by Diane Pomerantz

This is my book for Book 16. A book about mental health.

This is a most interesting memoir written by someone married to a man with some serious mental health and psychological issues. Through Diane’s description of her life with Charles, it is possible to see the awful effect untreated mental health issues have on everyone concerned.

What started out as a perfectly ordinary marriage turns into a cyclone of abuse. Through Pomerantz’s descriptions of life, Charles’ actions and her reactions, it is possible to actually see how his issues slowly change her mental health too. That abused people do not ‘just leave’ is something those never in abusive relationships don’t understand. In this memoir it is possible to see how Pomerantz is slowly rendered incapable of leaving. Not only is she financially beholden, she has been gaslit so often she doesn’t trust her own interpretation of events. She even has undiagnosed seizures for a while because she is not sure whether she lost time or maybe, as he says, she was driving too fast!

Charles is clearly not a very nice man but you have to wonder how much of that is because he is just a jerk, and how much of it is because of undiagnosed depression and/or a narcissistic personality. Not that this excuses how horrible he is to his wife and children, but even Pomerantz realises that he is not having much fun either.

This is a well-written recollection of an awful marriage. Pomerantz lived through some of the worst things we can survive, and all with a husband who gave zero support. The loneliness that comes from that is palpable in this book. I just wanted to cry with and for her as she sat alone, making excuses for why her husband was not holding her hand through her cancer treatment. Her brittle smiles to her children when he once again didn’t do what he had promised to do, when they were once again confused and hurt that daddy didn’t love them anymore, brought tears to my eyes.

Mental health is such a taboo subject still that people with less attractive disorders or issues, like narcissism or violent mood swings, struggle to even acknowledge their need for help, and then access it. The result is so many damaged people, some the innocent children of those struggling. Mental health stories range from Girl Interrupted in their severity and immediacy, to the slow destruction of families and communities through undiagnosed and untreated problems within those families and communities.

So much pain could be avoided if people were able to recognise and then treat mental health issues.

by JT Lawrence

This is the second book I have read for Book 3 – The next book in a series you started.

This is the last book written in the When Tomorrow Calls series but Lawrence has done a bit of a Stars Wars thing and written the books out of order. This book is actually the first in the series and sets a lot of the characters up for the reader.

I would not have thought it necessary because the characters seem perfectly whole and rounded to me when I read the series. But then I read The Sigma Surrogate and realised ‘what do i know!’ Suddenly it seemed both necessary and fabulous.

In this piece of the series, Keke investigates some odd goings on in the world of state surrogates, she meets important characters in future books, and Kirsten’s whole existence is questioned. Lots happens in this little book and it is impossible to put down.

I just love how Lawrence writes – her stories are as good as her writing skill. The words are easy to read and unfold into something you want to read. The combination keeps the reader going long after a sensible bed time has come and gone.

In this novella we get to meet some of the characters of the series, and also get some glimpses of the future world Lawrence has envisioned. Its an interesting world that gets more interesting in the series, when Lawrence has the time and space to expand many of her futuristic ideas.

Apparently this book will be permafree on Amazon – a rather clever move by the author to get readers interested in the whole series.

And it’ll work.

I challenge anyone to read this book and not immediately want to read the whole series. That is just not gonna happen.

by Fiona Snyckers

This is book 3. The next book in a series you started. I reviewed the first in the series as my book published in 2018. Both have been published this year so far.

Just like with Hacked, this book was easy to read, engaging and entertaining.  As cozy mysteries, both books are wonderfully accessible and gentle to read.

That does not mean, however, that this books is simple in construct or crime. There is still the sense of mystery and wanting to work out who did what to whom and why. Snyckers keeps you going; there are enough exciting scenes between the friendships and family politics (all filled with love and familiarity) to whizz the story along.

By the end of the book I felt like I had been on a wonderful adventure with people I knew and liked.

I will certainly keep reading each book as it comes out as I am more and more interested in the characters and their relationships, but also like the way the crimes are solved. Perfect cozy mystery really.


By C.S. Lewis

This is my book for Book 26. A book with an animal in the title

I read it because, although I know the book and get references to it and could probably con even myself I have read it, I don’t think I ever did. I seem to have missed a chunk of children’s book in my youth – I think I jumped from Famous Five to adult books because that’s the gap I have.

This book has been reviewed so often it makes little sense to talk about what its about in this note. We all know the story, even those of us who hadn’t actually read the book. And we all know the Christianity allegory etc etc.

What I found interesting to notice, and really mind, is the sexism in this book. I know it is not unusual for its time, but it is a clear indicator that we need more modern kid’s books for the children of today. The boys are Magnificent and Just while the girls grow up to be Gentle and Valiant; the boys go to battle and the girls administer cure-all drops to the injured men-folk, the girls cry over dead Aslan because, I assume, boy tears wouldn’t mean the same in terms of empathy.

The only strong female character is of course, evil.

What were we telling children in their bedtime stories in the 50s and beyond? I wish that this was some kind of weird historical example of what books used to be like, but sadly its not. These are the messages we continue to read to children. And then wonder why boys grow up entitled and girls grow up apologetic.

It really is time for more kid’s books that empower girls and tell boys it is okay to feel emotions. Everyone wins when we get there.

by Janet Fitch

This is my book for Book 32. A book from a celebrity book club. Apparently this was a recommended book in Oprah’s book club in 1999.

I don’t really know how to review this book – it is so magnificent is feels like anything I say will not be enough.

The narrative deals with the life a young girl, and then young woman, lives after her single mother is sent to jail for a murder. Astrid, the daughter, passes through foster homes and had some terribly sad and distressing things happen to her. She also develops as a human being and artist.

The themes of this wonderful book are love and entanglement, expectations and reality, and the line between love and control.

Ingrid, the mother, is a character with whom my relationship changed during the book, mirroring the changes in the relationship between Astrid and Ingrid. Fitch manages to change how the reader feels about Ingrid so subtly I barely noticed until it was irrevocable.

Is there anything more complicated than the relationship between a mother and a daughter? In this book Fitch takes those familiar complications and relationships, and unpacks them, using Astrid and Ingrid’s relationship, as well as those she develops with other women.

My heart broke for Astrid, and for all the real children in her situation across the world. Foster care can be brutal and without drama or gratuitous nastiness, Fitch exposes various aspects of this through Astrid’s experiences.

This is one of the very few books I have reread and I can imagine reading it again and again.

A simply stunning tale told beautifully.

by Cynthia Owen

This was my book for Book 2: True Crime

How people survive what Cynthia did is beyond me. And then they become valuable, kind, caring human beings.
It’s amazing

That people do this kind of things to each other, to children, to their own children just floors me.

I am speechless

 by Jo Nesbo
This is the book I read for Book 5. Nordic noir.
I have read some Nordic noir previously, without knowing it was even a genre. And this fits perfectly in that style of writing.
Not a great deal actually happens, it is slow and detailed, and there is weather. There is always snow and/or sun or darkness, and/or weather. And lots and lots of space.
All of these factors create a harsh but beautiful backdrop for the stories of this genre.
This particular story is about a man who runs from a real drug kingpin because he owes him money and corpse, and hides in the middle of nowhere far north of anywhere sensible.
I enjoyed the story – it is quick to read and pulls you in. I was invested in the characters.
I thought the end of the book was rushed and less than believable. It felt like it was tied up too quickly and too neatly and I didn’t really buy it all.
But I’ll read another Nesbo for sure – perhaps one of his Harry Hole novels as I have read they are deeper and more complex.
An easy read of a genre I really want to explore more – which is the point of the challenge really.

by Andrew Gross

This is my book for 50 – A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
I experienced the book as an audio book and it was the perfect story for that.
I found myself wanting to shout at my phone – run run run, or swear at it when things went awry.

Apparently this book is based on a true story which makes it even more thrilling.

The basic story is of a Jewish man who escaped Poland and got to America is asked to go back a camp to rescue another prisoner with valuable scientific information. We all know enough about the World War II concentration camps to know what a terribly dangerous idea this was.

What i loved about this story was that i expected a crazy chase and not much else, but instead I got well rounded characters with extensive backstories, all of which was interesting and gripping.

A war story with complex characters and enough emotion to have me smiling and crying along.

Not my usual fare but thoroughly engrossing nevertheless.