Books & Writers

Book Reviews of 2015 :: Part 1

IMG_20150418_203009Last year I began posting book reviews on the website, and it not only helped me remember what I’d read, and helped authors in the process, but gave me some insight into the books I read and thus, what inspires me to write.

I try to post them on goodreads soon after reading, and then summarise them here every 8 books.

I’m aiming to read 24 books this year, and here’s the first third, minus beta-reads, which I’ve mentioned to keep the numbers happy, but will not be reviewing until published.


January :: Devotion – Alex Franzen 

5 Stars

Devotion is a collection of essays; a non-fiction e-book which was easy to read and made me think about things I often take for granted. Much like voice of a character in a novel, the voice of the e-book kept me reading, noticing the dots as Alex joined them from one topic to another.


February :: The Art of Asking – Amanda Palmer 

5 Stars

The Art of Asking has an autobiographic memoir feel to it written in first person, jumping through time to various events. It has no clear chapters defined, but flowed back and forth through themes and time-frames. I was a fan of Dresden Dolls growing up (still am, though I listen to music less often these days) and found Amanda’s perspectives on trust, service, giving back and openness really interesting.

I had a lot of feelings while reading the book, and that makes it hard to review as I think each person would take different things from it. But for me, in my mid-twenties, trying to balance the “don’t leave the house, you’re a girl and there are horrible things out there” with the trust and compassion of spiritual teachings and my own experiences of the real world; this book felt like a real representation of how sometimes things happen we don’t agree with, and at other times, human compassion can bowl us over.

Definitely worth a second read, and I’d recommend it.


March :: BETA READ (MOA) – Ellie Di Julio 


April :: Blackbirds – Chuck Wendig 

5 Stars

I’ve followed Chuck’s blog and read his none fiction e-books on writing over the past few years. But I hadn’t read any of his fiction.

I don’t tend to read anything with much swearing, gore, or murder. I don’t read thrillers or crimes or mystery books. Yet I picked this up to see how Chuck applies his writing advice to a story, and it kept me hooked until I reached the end. I began reading this morning, and finished this evening.

The pacing was great – showing the important events and making every scene count, yet keeping me reading with a sense of urgency. The main characters had their own mannerisms, histories and motives, and the sub-plots came together in a really neat knot by the end.

I’ll definitely take a look at Mockingbird, the next book in the series.


April :: The Little CBT Workbook – Dr Michael Sinclair & Dr Belinda Hollingsworth 

5 Stars

Between the attempted PhD, health issues in my close friends and family, and changes in my work – I decided to give CBT a try. I had a few reasons: to keep learning, to manage some low moments, to have another tool in my job toolkit. I love the idea of redefining an experience via language, so CBT has always interested me as a tool.

The theory was not new to me: I have an A-level and two degrees in Psychology, but it was clearly explained and provided a really simple overview. Definitely a good thing for someone wanting to practise, rather than to study the methods in a scientific way (not my goal here).


April :: BETA READ (Planes Shifter) – K R Green


May :: Furies of Calderon – Jim Butcher  

5 Stars

The first book in the Codex Alera series; recommended to me using the story of how Jim came to write it. The story is that someone said Jim could not write a good story based on a rubbish idea, and then game Jim two ideas: “Lost Roman Legion” and “Pokémon”

It took me a while to really get pulled in, but this is not a genre I’m that familiar with, and I have to applaud the pacing, character development and descriptions. It wasn’t overly descriptive, but details were picked out to give the story and world enough flavour.

I was surprised by the plot twists and will definitely look at the next book in the series.


April :: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondo 

4 Stars

I partly picked this up because it was short, but also because we’re moving house in the Summer, and with the combination of two student houses into this one flat, we have a LOT to move. I wanted to look at this apparently new idea for de-cluttering and keeping things tidy.

Overall, it was a really interesting read. I’m surprised at how popular it has become, considering some of the less-western ideas presented, but I found it a simple read, and it definitely offers new ideas compared to many articles, blogs and books I’ve read around the subject.

I’ve tried a few of the techniques and not found them to all work for me, but I agreed with the idea that tidying is a skill that can and often isn’t taught or modelled when we’re younger. Definitely worth a look if you want to hear some alternative thoughts.


What books have you been enjoying this year?

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