1. Book Reviews – 2018

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Rating Scale:

  1. *****  Fantastic! You’ve gotta read this one!
  2. ****  Great. Well worth a look
  3. ***   OK. You may enjoy it.
  4. **    Not so great. Either dull, badly written, or just plain awful. Not recommended
  5. *     Unspeakably bad. Couldn’t finish it

“Marital Advice to my Grandson Joel: How to be a husband your wife won’t throw out of the window in the middle of the night” by Peter Davidson

Rating: ****1/2

Genre: Non-Fiction – Gift book

Read: January 2018

“Marital Advice to my Grandson Joel: How to be a husband your wife won’t throw out of the window in the middle of the night” by Peter Davidson is a delight and a treasure. The book consists of a series of anecdotes, observations and snippets of advice, to assist the unwary male in negotiating the ins and outs of marriage. Sure, some of the information imparted may be consider a little dated, or male-centric (which is the point of the piece, so relax about it), but among the often tongue-in-cheek, frequently humourous pieces are some grains of truth, well-worth observing (I’m talking specifically about the sections on flatulence, gifts, loo paper positioning and cleaning your shaving cream off the bathroom mirror!).

I see many opportunities for future books in the series, like “how to be a good father”, “dealing with teenagers” and alike. The book makes for an entertaining read, and would be a great gift book for any young man (or older man for that matter) about to get married.

“The Art of Aardman” by Aardman Animation Ltd

Rating: ****

Genre: Non-Fiction – Entertainment/Art

Read: January 2018

“The Art of Aardman” by Aardman Animation Ltd is a concise guide to the creation of animation (or claymation in case of Aardman). It offers a fascinating pictorial history of the development of characters used in various Aardman productions, including “Creature Comforts”, “Shaun the Sheep” and “Wallace and Gromit”. My only complaint is that I wanted more – more details, more pictures, more everything. I bought this book after seeing the 40 year anniversary exhibitions at ACMI in Melbourne. It is a wonderful companion piece for the exhibition. One for the fans.

“Pickled, Potted and Canned: The story of food preserving” by Sue Shepard

Rating: ****

Genre: Non-Fiction – Reference, Cooking

Read: January 2018

“Pickled, Potted and Canned: The story of food preserving” by Sue Shepard is a comprehensive review at the history of preserving food. Shepard examines a variety of techniques used in food preservation (including drying, pickling, salting and even refrigeration), describing the history of their use and applications. A must for the lovers of domestic sciences. A great reference book.

“Precious and Grace: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith

Rating: ****

Genre: Cosy Mystery

Read: January 2018

“Precious and Grace” number 17 (yes, really) in the series is another charming and easy to read cosy mystery from the Pen of Alexander McCall Smith. The women from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency are on the case again. This time, Precious and Grace are searching for the former nanny of a Canadian woman, keen to rediscover her past life in Botswana. While sorting through the lies, red tape and intrigue, Precious must also deal with a potential Ponzi scheme, snakes and a stray dog. Another delightful holiday-read from McCall Smith. Always charming.


Previous Years Book Reviews: Archives

2017: 2017 Book Reviews by Sarah Jackson

2016: 2016-book-reviews

2015: 2015 Book reviews download


FICTION: Chick Lit (inc. Romance)

**** ½ “The Starlight Tide” by Sarah Key

*** ½   “A Chance This Christmas” By Joanne Rock


FICTION: Crime/Mystery

***** “Dark Town” by Thomas Mullen

***** “Right Wrong Number” by Jim Nesbitt

**** ½ “The Drowning Pool” by Ross MacDonald

**** ½ “Finders Keepers” by Stephen King

**** ½ “Murder in Mr Martha” by Janice Simpson

**** “Ask the Parrot” by Richard Stark

**** “The Dry” by Jane Harper

**** “The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe” by Alexander McCall Smith

**** “The Nakamura Letters” by Frankie Bow

**** “Mother’s Day” by Frankie Bow

**** “The Musubi Murder” by Frankie Bow

*** ½ “The Cocktail Waitress” by James M. Cain


FICTION: General/Literary Fiction

***** “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” by Horace McCoy

**** “Mr Love and Justice” by Colin MacInnes

**** PENNY: Hands I passed through…Things I saw…Stories I can tell” by Peter Davidson

** “Trumpeter Ville” By Dean Gessie


FICTION: Horror/Thriller

***** “Stephen King Goes to the Movies” by Stephen King

**** ½ “The Thing on the Doorstep and other short stories” by H.P. Lovecraft


FICTION: Science Fiction

**** ½ “Renascene” by Leigh Goodison

** ½ “Project Emergence” by Jamie Zakian


FICTION: YA/Children’s

***** “The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast” by Alan Aldridge

**** ½ “The Epiplectic Bicycle” by Edward Gorey

**** “Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them” by J.K.Rawling

**** “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

**** “Taronga” by Victor Kelleher


NON-FICTION: Art/History/Music

**** ½ “Brave New World” – NGV

**** ½ “Homage New Orleans” by Leon Morris

**** “Bedlam: London and its Mad” by Catharine Arnold

*** ½ “Australia Remembers When” by Bob Byrne

*** “The History of British and American Author-Publishers” by Anna Faktorovich


NON-FICTION: Biography/Autobiography


**** ½ “Role Model” by John Waters

**** ½ “Snowy Campbell: Australian Pioneer Investigator of the Brain” by Malcolm Macmillan

**** “Bury my heart in Bermondsey: Memoir of A Funeral Director” by Barry Albin Dyer

** ½ “Uncommon Character: Stories of Ordinary Men and Women Who Have Done the Extraordinary” by Douglas Feavel


NON-FICTION: Gardening

**** “There is no excuse for ugliness” by Clive Blazey


NON-FICTION: Humour/Gift Book

**** “A Bag of Roosters” by Michael Leunig

**** “Better Call Saul: The World According to Saul Goodman” by David Stubbs

**** “The Bumper Book of Debauchery For Girls and Boys” by Chis Grosz & James Cockington

**** “F in Spelling – The Funniest Test Paper Blunders” by Richard Benson

**** “Five Forget Mother’s Day” by Enid Blyton & Bruno Vincent

**** Make Trouble” by John Waters

**** “Man Caves” by Jasper White

**** “The Travelling Leunig” by Michael Leunig

*** ½  “Shakespeare’s Insults For the Office” by Wayne Hill & Cynthia Ottchen

*** “Your Cat’s Just Not That Into You” by Richard Smith


NON-FICTION: Self-Help/Instructional

*** ½ “The Doodle Revolution” by Sunni Brown

*** “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano



**** ½ “The Best American Travel Writing 2016” edited by Bill Bryson

**** “The Road to Little Dribbling” by Bill Bryson

*** ½ “The Best Travel Writing, Volume 11: True Stories from Around the World” by James O’Reilly et al (ed)


*** “Savage Obsessions” by Glen McNamara