1. Book Reviews – 2017

Do you want me to review your book? Please refer to the “Applications – book reviews & book tours” page: Apply for a book review/tour here

———————————————————————————————————

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 recommend
  5. *         Unspeakably bad. Couldn’t finish it

“A Chance This Christmas” By Joanne Rock

Fiction: Holiday Romance

Read: December 2017

Rating: ***1/2

Rachael must return to her home town, the 365 days a year Christmas Village of Yuletide, for a friend’s wedding. Knowing that she must confront her past, she is surprised to discover that she still has feelings for her old crush, Gavin.

I must admit that I’m not usually a reader of romance novels and can’t make any judgement on how this book compares to others in the genre. I do, however, love a Christmas story, and am a big fan of the holiday read. I really enjoyed this book. It’s light, fun, and a little silly, but it’s a great holiday read. Enjoy it for what it is. I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

“Trumpeter Ville” By Dean Gessie

Fiction: Political Satire

Read: December 2017

Rating: **

“TrumpeterVille” by Dean Gessie is a political satire novelette. In some ways it’s similar to Orwell’s “Animal Farm” in that it’s a political satire using animals as characters, but it lacks the skilled writing, and nuances of a master author. The story presents an accurate portrayal of modern American politics and society (at least it looks that way to me as an Australian), and some elements of the story are amusing (including the potential future events, based on events of the past) – but it lacks any subtlety. If the novelette got any market traction it could result in certain litigious characters taking legal action. Overall opinion – it’s okay. It’s a quick read, and the author got extra points for using two of my favourite words – chicanery and charlatan.

On a technical note, I have a Kindle reader and found hat the PDF version did not transfer well. I needed to reformat it using Calibre. A mild inconvenience, but an inconvenience none the less. This may not be an issue for those purchasing the book.

I received a free copy of this book for a fair and honest review.

“Man Caves” by Jasper White

Non-Fiction: Humour, gift book

Read: December 2017

Rating: ****

 

“Man Caves” by Jasper White is a photo journal style gift book which examines the range and versatility of various “man caves”, garages, rumpus rooms and sheds. A quick read, featuring some great photos of interesting spaces. Great present for the man (or woman) who has everything.

“Stephen King Goes to the Movies” by Stephen King

Fiction: Horror/Thriller

Read: November 2017

Rating: *****

A wonderful collection of some of King’s stories made into movies. The stories in the collection include:
“Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” – you realise how good the film adaption was when you read the original
“The Mangler” – I must admit I didn’t know was written by King – love the movie – gory and silly
“Children of the Corn” – A far better written story than movie – but I still loved the original movie. You just can’t go past evil children
“1408” – I had never read this, so was interested to see the original idea behind the movie.
“Hearts in Atlantis – Low Men in Yellow Coats” – I had forgotten how much I loved this story.
A great read.

“The Cocktail Waitress” by James M. Cain

Fiction: Hard-boiled/Crime

Read: November 2017

Rating: ***1/2

I must admit that I didn’t get into this one straight away, but by the third chapter it got to me and then I couldn’t put it down. Being a bit of a fan of this genre, I’m sorry to say that I had worked it out early in the piece, but I still enjoyed the ride. The story, written in first person, follows the life of recently widowed, hard-done by waitress, Joan. Nasty, amusing, and well worth the read.

 “Dark Town” by Thomas Mullen

Fiction: Hard-boiled/Crime

Read: November 2017

Rating: *****

An excellent (fictional but I suspect that it’s pretty close to the truth) account of the experiences of the first police officers of colour in Atlanta 1948. Aside from the theme of overt racism, the story concerns the murder of a young African-American girl, corruptions in the police force and political intrigue. Great characters and story telling. One for fans of hard-boiled crime and social history. I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series. 

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

Non-Fiction: Gift Book/Humour

Read: November 2017

Rating: ****

F in Spelling is a gift book which is part of a larger series of “F” books. It is a quick and easy read and is pretty amusing . The “F” really refers to answers to exam paper questions rather than spelling alone, but it’s still funny.

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

Fiction: Children, Verse

Read: October 2017

Rating: *****

This is a beautiful book of verse, accompanied by full and lustrous illustrations of the Butterfly Ball. I remember this one from when I was a child – there was even a song and film clip released I believe. Great memories and a beautiful book that can be enjoyed by the whole family. A lovely addition to any collection.

“The Nakamura Letters” by Frankie Bow

Fiction: Cosy Mystery/Crime

Read: October 2017

Rating: ****

Professor Molly’s friend and colleague Emma Nakamura is on sabbatical, collecting samples in a remote area of the island. She is staying in an old, supposedly haunted, house, which is part of the national parks system. Emma is all alone aside from park ranger, Ellie, and a strange old woman Betty, who is camping on the land. During her stay, Emma discovers a note hidden among the house’s furniture, suggesting that a murder occurred there many years ago. Meanwhile Molly’s nanny turns up dead In her garden shed. This novella is a series of emails written from Emma to Molly (we never see the replies). I particularly love the quotes from famous scientists and philosophers at the end of each email. Entertaining and easy to read holiday reading.

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

Fiction: Adventure/Young Adult

Read: October 2017

Rating: ****

Delightful and well-written story about an awkward teenage boy’s quest to discover the truth of his “crazy” grandfather’s dying words. I bought this book over two years ago, and it had been sitting in my ‘to-read’ pile until recently – It was a delight to find this little gem. I love the journal-style presentation, and the inclusion of the photographs, which I felt added dimension to the story. Great fun!

“The Musubi Murder” by Frankie Bow

Fiction: Cosy Mystery/Crime

Read: October 2017

Rating: ****

I love a cosy mystery, especial when I’m after some holiday reading. This is the first in the Professor Molly series written by Frankie Bow. I have read two others in the series (yes, they are written so that you don’t need to read them in order) but have wanted to read the first for some time. The stories are set in a fictional low-rent Hawaiian university. In this outing, Professor Molly must deal with cheating students, ineffectual colleagues, a drug addicted ex, a new love interest and the murder of a major college beneficiary. Easy read and great fun.

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

Non-Fiction: Writing/Publishing

Read: October 2017

Rating: ***

“The History of British and American Author-Publishers” by Anna Faktorovich offers an interesting (if not a little one-sided) look at the history of authors who have self published, and the parallel independent publishing industry.

The PDF copy I received didn’t work well on my Kindle and I was unable to correct the formatting through Calibre. I would have expected a better formatted copy from someone in the publishing industry. Indie publishing shouldn’t mean second-rate. I thought that was one of the points of the work.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

“The Starlight Tide” by Sarah Key

Fiction: Thriller/Chick Lit

Read: September 2017

Rating: ****1/2

The Sisters of Light (Petra, Flash, Honey and Joanie) are embarking on an end-of season tour with Flash’s band, “Biskuit”. What should be a simple enterprise, turns into a crazy adventure, replete with murders, smuggling operations, boating adventures, family secrets, and a dash of racism.

“The Starlight Tide” is part three of the “Sisters of Light Trilogy” by Sarah Key, but you don’t need to have read the first two books (“The Dandelion Clock” and “The Butterfly Wind”) to enjoy it. The multiple story lines develop evenly and tie in beautifully to present the reader with an enthralling adventure that is hard to put down. Let’s hope that Key doesn’t leave the series as a Trilogy.

Key presents a captivating view of the geography, cultures and changing social structures of South Africa. It blends of old and new, mystical and modern, city and country. Her characters are believable and writing style endearing.

I thoroughly recommend “The Starlight Tide” by Sarah Key. It makes great holiday readying. Five Stars!

Suitable reading for a mature audience – contains some violence, realistic situations, and supernatural themes which some may find distressing.

“Bedlam: London and its Mad” by Catharine Arnold

Non-Fiction: History/Medicine

Read: September 2017

Rating: ****

An interesting and well-researched history of Bedlam and mental illness through the 18th and 19th centruries. Suitable for both mental health professions and the general public. Arnold has the right mix of history, technical information and appealing (if a little alarming) stories. Worth the read.

“A Bag of Roosters” by Michael Leunig

Fiction: Cartoon/Humour, Gift Book

Read: September 2017

Rating: ****

Another thoughtful, sometimes sad, sometimes hysterically funny, series of illustrations by comic artist Michael Leunig. In “A Bag of Roosters” Leunig presents his take on the cycle of life, and the meaning of it all. A wonderful coffee table book, and a great gift idea.

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

Fiction: Cartoon/Humour, Gift Book

Read: August 2017

Rating: ****

What a gem! This modern take on the “Boys Own” and “Girls Own” manual is an absolute hoot. Replete with delightful pen and ink illustrations and accompanied by witty, vulgar, and generally rude captions, this book has something for everyone.

“The Travelling Leunig” by Michael Leunig

Fiction: Cartoon/Humour, Gift Book

Read: August 2017

Rating: ****

I personally love Leunig comics/art. This great little coffee table format book is a collection of pieces which roughly fit a “travel” theme. Look all of Leunig’s work, there is a mix of humorous, poignant, witty, and sometimes sad illustrations.A great gift book.

“Brave New World” – NGV

Non-Fiction: Art/Gallery

Read: August 2017

Rating: ****1/2

Another wonderful book by the National Gallery of Victoria. The “Brave New World” exhibition examines all areas of Australian life between the wars and during the depression. The guide (like the exhibition) contains art, lithographs, house hold items, textiles and photographs of daily-life experiences of work, transport, furnishings, electronics, fashion, poverty, disability and aboriginal culture.

“Taronga” by Victor Kelleher

Fiction: Science Fiction/Young Adult

Read: August 2017

Rating: ****

A fascinating post-post-apocolyptic YA book (before YA was even a thing) set in Sydney, Australia. “Taronga” follows the journey of Ben (a young man who has a psychic connections to animals) as he attempts to find his place in the new world. Ben eventually makes his way to the old Taronga Park Zoo, where his connection with Ellie, an aboriginal girl, and the animals, give him hope in his otherwise bleak existence.

I really enjoyed the book and loved the retro eighties feel – the cover of my book is a “Ken Done” illustration, and if you took the path taken by Ben from the Blue Mountains, through Windsor and into Sydney these days, there’d be very little bush and loads of outer suburban housing – ain’t progress grand!

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

Non-Fiction: Health

Read: August 2017

Rating: ***

I must be honest and state upfront that I found the style of writing a little irritating. Having said that, the suggestions given in the book are – for the most part – sound: eat less, exercise more, establish a positive relationship with food, eat for the season, enjoy what you eat, throw diet books out the window. Although there isn’t anything new in the messages, there are some wonderful recipes for soups (and other menu items).

“Murder in Mr Martha” by Janice Simpson


Fiction: Crime – Thriller/Mystery

Read: July 2017

My rating: ****.5

The story opens in September 1953, when the body of 14-year-old Beverly Middleton is discovered in the driveway of a holiday home in Mr Martha. Without the benefits of modern day forensics, and confused by contradictory witness reports and mysterious phone calls – possibly from the murderer – police are unable to solve the case. Sixty years after the murder, junior academic and PhD candidate, Nick Szabo is embarking on research into the Hungarian water polo team defectors during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. During his interviews with retiree Arthur Boyle, their discussions turned to the violent crimes occurring around the time of the Games. Boyle was particularly concerned about the murder Ms Middleton, a former work colleague of his. As Boyle unpacks his memories of the events of the day, he comes to suspect that the murderer may be someone ‘close to home’.

Murder in Mt Martha is a captivating and entertaining novel based on a 1953 unsolved murder of a young girl. The novel successfully combines first person reflections of the murderer, Boyle’s recollections his life at the time, and the daily struggles of Szabo to keep the audience on its toes. The novel is replete with noir-style deceptions and lies and family secrets at all plot levels. Simpson’s style of writing is engaging and her characters are believable but not always likeable (mercifully). The descriptions of 1950s life in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs (and pre-Fitzgerald Inquiry Townsville) are well researched and provide insight into those moments in time. We look forward to more crime offerings from Simpson.

“The Dry” by Jane Harper


Fiction:  Crime – Thriller/Mystery

Read: July 2017

My rating: ****

When Aaron Falk, a Forensic Account with the Federal Police, receives a note demanding his presence at the funeral of his childhood friend, he is compelled to return to the small rural town of his youth. Falk returns to discover that there is some doubt about the murder/suicide of his friend (and family) and is convinced to stay on to assist the local cop with the investigation. His visit to the town reawakens memories of the suspicious death of one his close friends, the matter which caused him and his father to be driven from the town years ago. “The Dry” is a compelling and believable thriller. This is a wonderful debut novel for author, Jane Harper. She has an engaging style of writing and the work is well paced and captivating.

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

Fiction: Gift Book – Humour

Read: July 2017

My rating: ***

A parody of “He’s Just Not That Into You”, Smith’s offering aims to provide cat lovers with reason’s why their fur ball doesn’t give them the attention they desire. The book is presented in sections (based on kitty related issues) and set in a letter-to-the agony-aunt format, interspersed with fun quizzes and information pages. Great idea, but it fell a bit short of the mark for me.

“The Epiplectic Bicycle” by Edward Gorey

Fiction:  Children – Picture book

Read: July 2017

My rating: ****1/2

A quirky and non-sensical pocket sized children’s book, with many a laugh for all ages. Lovely black and white pencil sketches and clever prose. One for imaginative children.

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

Fiction: Gift Book – Humour

Read: July 2017

My rating: ***1/2

A rather natty gift book for those who love the bard’s wit and flare. This pocket sized book suggests a Shakespearean quote for all of those crazy office characters and bizarre office events. A light and fun read.

“Renascene” by Leigh Goodison

Fiction: Sci-Fi

Read: June 2017

My rating: ****1/2

Review: “Renanscence” by Leigh Goodison follows the adventures of a hand picked crew of scientists and explorer, who must collect samples and chemicals from an alien planet, in order to revive a dying earth.

I enjoyed this more that I thought I would. There are some great plot twists, plenty of action, and the characters are generally likeable and believable. There are a few leaps of faith in terms of the science, but it is fiction after all. Imaginative, entertaining and easy to read.

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

Fiction: Humour

Read: June 2017

My rating: ****

Review: An amusing take on Enid Blyton’s much loved “Five” series. In Bruno Vincent’s “Five Forget Mother’s day” Julian, Dick, Ann, George and her loveable dog, Timmy must join forces to help George cope with a visit from her Mother, Fanny. George has the terrible habit of forgetting birthdays, anniversaries and other key events. Will Mother’s day be a disaster too? An entertaining short read and a great gift idea.

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

Fiction: General Fiction

Read: June 2017

My rating: ****

Review:

“PENNY: Hands I passed through…Things I saw…Stories I can tell” by Peter Davidson traces the life and times of a newly minted one cent piece. The book consists of a series of self-contained vinaigrettes that follow the coin’s journey across American and through the hands of the rich, poor, famous, criminal, smart and stupid. “PENNY” reminds me a little of a film I saw in the nineties called “Twenty Bucks” which followed a day in the life of a twenty dollar bill. An entertaining read, very suitable for holiday reading.

“Mother’s Day” by Frankie Bow

Fiction: Cosy Mystery

Read: May 2017

My rating: ****

Mahina State is on the scrounge again. In order to curry favour with a wealthy benefactor, Professor Molly Barda has been assigned the unenviable task of providing private tutoring, for a less than average student. While dealing with her all-day morning sickness, the pregnant Professor manages unwanted advice from her mother, friends and relatives, all the while uncovering the sordid family history of her charge. Very entertaining and easy to read. The novella length makes it good for those who read on public transport or in short bursts. I have read one other book in this series and am keen to read the rest. I received this book for free in return for an honest review.

“Ask the Parrot” by Richard Stark

Fiction: Crime (hard boiled)

Read: May 2017

My rating: ****

Review: A twist on the standard thriller in that the protagonist is an anti-hero. Parker, a professional thief and career criminal, in on the lam following a failed bank heist. Stuck in an isolated rural community, Parker is taken in by a local recluse, in exchange for his help in robbing the local racetrack. Everything goes pear-shaped and Parker needs to rely on his criminal expertise to get a handle on the situation. An entertaining read, with punchy, short chapters good for those with little reading time on their hands.  This is number 23 in the series written by Richard Stark/Donald Westlake.

“The Drowning Pool” by Ross MacDonald

Fiction: Crime (hard boiled)

Read: May 2017

My rating: ****1/2

Four and a half stars – I’m the first to admit that I’m a bag fan of crime fiction (both hard boiled and cozy), so it was no surprise that I loved “The Drowning Pool”. This is Ross Macdonald’s second book in the Lew Archer series. Former cop, now PI, Lew Archer is hired to track down the writer of a blackmail letter. Things get mucky when what seems to be a simple case turns in to a murder investigation involving salacious affairs, family drama, theatre, and the oil industry. Wonderful prose, snappy dialogue and all you could want from a hard-boiled, LA noir, crime fiction.

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

Non Fiction: Travel

Read: May 2017

My rating: ***1/2

Having read a number of compilations of travel related short stories over the years, I must admit that these offerings are certainly among those with the highest standard of writing. The stories cover a range of adventures, in a range of countries. An interesting read, but I’ve read books with more amusing, interesting and exciting tales.

“Savage Obsessions” by Glen McNamara

Non Fiction: True Crime

Read: April 2017

My rating: ***

Honest and somewhat alarming true crime thriller about the goings on in Kings Cross (Sydney Australia) during the era of corrupt cops and gangland crime. A sad look at a disturbing time in the history of the Cross. Easy to read.

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

Non Fiction: Autobiography

Read: April 2017

My rating: ****

A fascinating behind the scenes look into the operations of the funeral industry, combined with a history of London’s Bermondsey district. Albin-Dyer manages to be both light-hearted and dignified in his explanations of the ins and outs of the business. He covers the heart-felt, sad, amusing and in some cases downright bizarre incidents in a relatable manner. An interesting read.

“Role Model” by John Waters

Non Fiction: Autobiography

Read: April 2017

My rating: ****1/2

Through “Role Models”, John Waters, describes his loves, hates, interests and fears, through his experiences with close friends, acquaintances, places, heroes and role models. I love John Water’s style of writing. You feel like you’re reading personal correspondence from a close friend – a kooky friend, whom you worry about terribly and are always pleased to hear that they got through the weekend safely. Not for everyone – there are some frank and fearless descriptions here. In fact, his life reminds me of exactly how conservative I really am (and not the crazy bohemian I imagine myself to be).

“There is no excuse for ugliness” by Clive Blazey

Non Fiction: Gardening

Read: April 2017

My rating: ****

An excellent guide to planting a perfect garden to guarantee a good mix of colour and texture for all seasons. Targeted to Australian and New Zealand climates. The book provides advice on exactly what varieties of plants are suitable for each climate zone, for each season. This was a very interesting read and highlighted my personal gardening failing, which is that I plant for Spring and not for Summer. Highly recommended.

“The Road to Little Dribbling” by Bill Bryson

Non Fiction:Travel

Read: April 2017

My rating: ****

A very entertaining follow-up to “Notes From a Small Island”. Having become a citizen of the UK, Bryson decides once more to explore the small island on foot. The book offers many handy insights into travelling around the UK, issues with transport, and the changing natures of cities. I absolutely adore Bryson’s curmudgeonly attitude to everything from grammar and punctuation errors, to TripAdvisor (I hear you!) and what appears to be the ever-expanding prevalence of general ignorance. An entertaining and rewarding reading.

“Mr Love and Justice” by Colin MacInnes

6ddbdffb76a9871596a574a6b41434f414f4141Fiction: Literary Fiction

Read: March 2017

My rating: ****

“Mr Love and Justice” is the final volume of MacInnes’ London series set in the post-war re-build of the late 50’s- early 60’s. The story focuses on the worlds of Mr Frankie Love, an unemployed seaman who’s been roped into the world of pouncing, and Mr Edward Justice, a recently promoted Police officer, who’s struggling with his obligations to the force and to his girlfriend, daughter of a criminal. “Mr Love and Justice” resides in the blurry line between between law and the sex industry, falling into the shaded grey area of London life. An enjoyable read, but I don’t feel that it has the ‘punch’ of the other two books in the series.

“Project Emergence” by Jamie Zakian

Fiction: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure

Read: March 2017

My rating: **1/2

“Project Emergence” by Jamie Zakian has promise. It’s easy to read story with potential for the Young Adult market. It has some plot twists but over all the story is a little clunky and really could do with a good edit. The ending was a little disappointing. It’s okay.

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

1408803011-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_Fiction: Children/Adventure

Read: March 2017

My rating: ****

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay” by J.K.Rowling is a charming and engaging adventure story that will appeal to children and adults alike. The story is set in the 20’s/30s in New York city, where Newt Scamander, zoologist and researcher of magical creatures, makes a brief stop over to return one of his charges. When his suitcase is accidentally switched with that of a Non-Mag (Muggle) some of his beasts escapes and the adventures begin. Wonderful fun!
Although I’m not fond of reading scripts/screenplays, I didn’t find that the the format detracted from the enjoyment of the story.

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

9537951Fiction: Literary Fiction

Read: March 2017

My rating: *****

I must admit that despite this being a classic I had neither read the book or seen the movie before now. “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” by Horace McCoy is the deeply moving story of Robert and Gloria, and their brief shared life experience as a marathon dance couple. Desperate to break into the movies – Gloria as an actor, Robert as a director/produce – the couple team up and participate in a dance marathon to be seen, to access free food and accommodation, and hopefully attain corporate sponsorship. The book offers a look into the seedier side of 1930s Hollywood, sleep deprivation, exploitation and mental illness. A challenging read and an outstanding classic!.

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

1622454421-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_Non-Fiction: Biography, Christian (not advertised as such)

Read: March 2017

My rating: **1/2

“Uncommon Character: Stories of Ordinary men and Women Who Have Done the Extraordinary” by Douglas Feavel, is promoted as a book of 26 inspiring stories of various men and women who have overcome adversity to create positive outcomes for themselves and others. And a third of the book is just this. The other two thirds consists of bible stories and Christian writing. I do not personally object if individuals wish to attribute the successes, personal strength and hard work of others to the deity/supernatural being/ magical force of their choice, but I don’t want to hear about it. I’m sure that it this book will do well if it is marketing to a Fundamentalist Christian audience. Its not for me.

I received this eBook through Library Thing’s Early reviewer program.

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

41gwmxpob0l-_sx331_bo1204203200_Non-Fiction: Biography, Science and Medicine

Read: February 2017

My rating: ****1/2

A wonderful collection of short stories describing various aspects of the writers world travels. So many good ones that it’s hard to pick a favourite – although the one about smuggling cigarettes in the Ukraine is particularly memorable. A must for lovers of travel and travel writing.

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

0142180033-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_Fiction: Horror, Supernatural

Read: February 2017

My rating: ****1/2

Brilliantly written and often super scary collection of some of H.P.Lovecraft’s best work. This collection includes “The Dunwich Horror” and my favourite Lovecraft short story “The Music of Erik Zahnn” (Apologies for the spelling there). A must for lovers of horror and the occult.

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

b10000000477bNon-Fiction: Biography, Science and Medicine

Read: February 2017

My rating: ****1/2

“Snowy Campbell: Australian Pioneer Investigator of the Brain” by Malcolm Macmillan” is well-researched, well written and a pleasure to read. Alfred Walter (Snowy) Campbell was instrumental in the establishment of the neurosciences in Australia. He completed medical training in Edinburgh before working in asylums in Prague and the UK. His initial research focused on the minute structures of the human brain. He then returned to Australia and begun his clinical practice and study of the cerebellum. In addition to his work with servicemen suffering from neurological conditions from Gallipoli, he served as a Specialist Witness in the New South Wales courts system, and investigated Murray Valley Encephalitis.

\Macmillan punctuates the descriptions of Snowy’s remarkable scientific research career with amusing anecdotes about his early life, his sporting prowess, student life, and later, his married life. The book provides, in part, a history of Australian life, and the history of brain research in Australia.The book is available from Australian Scholarly Publishing: Email enquiry@scholarly.info Malcolm Macmillan is a Professorial Fellow, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne

“Right Wrong Number” by Jim Nesbitt

51ree2wdt1l-_01_sr300300_Fiction: Hard-Boiled, Detective

Read: February 2017

My rating: *****

Ed Earl Burch is back. Having sorted out his legal SNAFU following the Carla Sue/Bonafacio debacle, Burch is bogged down in debt, bland casework, and hot sex with unreliable women. He spends his spare time drinking whisky in the local dive bar, doing the “shouda, coulda, wouda” karaoke with the other bar flies, hoping for more, but accepting less. His unhappy equilibrium is shattered when former lover and scam artist Mrs Savannah Crowe, lures him into a dangerous job with promises of a big cash payout. Her husband has been murdered. At least it looks that way. And every shady business partner he shafted along the way is chasing Mrs Crowe for their cash. Will Burch solve the case without being arrested or killed? Will he manage to get the girl this time? And more importantly, will he get paid.

A great example of a modern, hard-boiled detective story “Right Wrong Number” will appeal to lovers of the genre and Ed Earl fans alike. The book is replete with punchy dialogue, seedy characters, gratuitous sex and violence and all the good stuff we love to read. Another wonderful offering from Jim Nesbitt, author of “The Last Second Chance”.

“The Doodle Revolution” by Sunni Brown

1591847036-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_Non Fiction: Self help, Professional development, Learning

Read: January 2017

My rating: ***1/2

A fun guide to the benefits of doodling while you work, and how this helps you to think through problems, issues and keep you on track. The book includes practical examples for individuals and teams. Could be a useful tool for those responsible for staff training days.

“Homage New Orleans” by Leon Morris

0646938061-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_Non Fiction: Music, Photo journal

Read: January 2017

My rating: ****1/2

Beautiful photo journal of the musical history of New Orleans. Fabulous photography and a smattering of words about the history of New Orleans pre and post Katrina, and a guide to the city’s favourite musical artists, classified by musical genre. A wonderful addition to any music lover’s coffee table.

“Finders Keepers” by Stephen King

82f336c507c579d5967356b6e51434f414f4141Fiction: Crime/Thriller

Read: January 2017

My rating: ****1/2

I must admit to being a big fan of King’s cross-over crime fiction. I really enjoyed both “Mr Mercedes” and “End of Watch” (yes I read them out of order) and equally loved “Finders Keepers”. The story starts with the theft of money and manuscripts and murder of well-renoun author John Rothstein, by a sociopath bent on revenge for the “normalisation” of his favourite literary character. Morris (murderer) buries the loot and manuscript notebooks before being arrested for another crime. During his incarnation, young Peter Straub (now residing in Morris’ former residence) comes across the bounty. All seems to be going smoothly until Morris is released from jail and begins a search for the missing manuscripts. I really enjoyed the story and characters. My only complaint is that the last chapters seemed to rush to the climax. A great series and I hope that King writes more like this.

“Australia Remembers When” by Bob Byrne

aust-remembers-when
Non-Fiction: Reference/Popular Culture

Read: January 2017

My rating: ***1/2

“Australia Remembers When” is an easy to read book with some great pictures of Australian icons. The writing is pretty ordinary, and it is almost set out like an aide to memoire with the reader constantly being asked what they recall. There are some factual errors (The Big Pineapple is not and never has been in Gympie – it is In Woombye/Nambour). An interesting enough read worth getting for the pictures alone.

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

the-handsom-mans-coverRating: ****

Fiction: Mystery/Detective

Read: January 2017

“The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe” is book 15 in the “No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series.  In this offering Mma Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective, has been engaged to help a woman allegedly suffering from amnesia to uncover her identity. Meanwhile, her trusted assistant and business partner, Mma Makutsi tries her hand in the restaurant business, only to discover that it isn’t as simple as a planning process. Another wonderful holiday read – it doesn’t ask much of the reader and doesn’t disappoint. A simple story, lovely characters and easy to read. As charming and delightful as the rest of the series.

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

better-call-saul-coverRating: ****

Fiction: Humour

Read: January 2017

One for the fans of “Better Call Saul” and “Breaking Bad”. This pocket-sized, hard-cover book features great photos, advertisements and factoids about Saul and his legal firm. Entertaining and light hearted.

————————————————————————————–

Previous Years Book Reviews: Archives

2016: 2016-book-reviews

2015: 2015 Book reviews download

Books reviewed in 2017:

 

 

 

Advertisements