Do you have a child who loves animals? Do they want to be a vet? Do they just have an interest in pets in general? This book is going to be for them. With fun stickers, a poster and a model to build, this book has plenty of things to keep a child entertained.
This book covers animal health needs from pets, to zoos, to farms. It also has fun facts that will perk interest from adults as well. It could be a good book for a long car ride, because there are a range of activities to do.
The reading level in this book is probably a late primary school age, but you can also leave it with a beginning (precocious) reader who will flick through and look at the beautiful illustrations and then ask lots of questions!
This is a non-fiction, so I’m not going to be giving it any stars. But if you have a child who likes animals, or you need to give a gift to a primary school age child, this book is perfect. I can’t think of a child that wouldn’t enjoy having it, even if not all the animals take their fancy.
Allen & Unwin | 25th January 2017 | AU $19.99 | Paperback
George Lucas, A Life
Brian Jay Jones
George Lucas was born to an average family and was expected to follow in his salesman father’s footsteps. Instead, Lucas survived a horrific car crash, went to film school and created the iconic Star Wars.
For an unauthorised biography, this was pretty damn good! I found myself quoting weird things I learnt about George Lucas for ages afterwards. When I went to see Rogue One in the cinemas, I could pick out points that I knew Lucas wouldn’t have wanted Disney to do.
It was quite slow going at times and I picked it up and put it down over the course of about a week. I needed time to digest each of the facts. In fact, I found myself wishing I knew more about the other filmmakers that are referenced in the novel, and experienced more films. I haven’t even see Jaws, which was a friendly rivalry between Steven and George.
I wouldn’t reread it, I in fact passed my copy on to my father who partially started my own love of Star Wars. If you have a Star Wars lover in your family, and you have no idea what to get them, this novel offers you the perfect solution to your problems.
Belles on their Toes
Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
After the patriarch’s death, the dozen surviving members of the Gilbreth clan must learn how to get along with Mother away, and a budget of $600 for several months. Then there is a bout of chickenpox which can be cured by only one The blurb is quite misleading, suggesting that the Gilbreth children set up an egg farm to sell eggs. If this does occur, it’s not discussed in the novel. They do collect manure from the streets though!
This sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen simply didn’t hold as many good ‘tips’ on motion study as did the first one. It’s a bit more entertaining perhaps and catalogues what older society times thought of a woman teaching motion study to engineering men.
I think I’d like a motion study kitchen! Imagine the inefficiencies that have crept into smaller businesses from the loss of people like the Gilbreths from the world. My partner notices these inefficiencies every day in her workplace. Ah, for simpler times.
Do I give this stars? For GoodReads, I have to, and so there I’ll give it 5 stars. But here, it’s non-fiction, so I’m just going to recommend it as a good, oldfashioned non-fiction that illustrates what can happen in a big family after a father dies.
The Ethical Carnivore
A vegetarian/vegan for many years, Louise set out only to eat meat that she had killed herself, or at least saw killed. After a scarring experience at her first abattoir visit, Louise takes a while to get on the train of killing larger animals, but rediscovers a love of other animal meats.
I’m not exactly certain what to say about this book. It looks quite unflinchingly at the conditions at some chicken and pig primary production farms, but also shows the positive side of eating meat! I felt like I was wandering around the English countryside with Louise the whole way, which was fascinating just in itself.
Even her vegan friends tested the roadkill that Louise prepares for them to eat! It’s dead already of course (even if it was a human that killed it), and so they aren’t at fault right? The idea of being an ethical anything is difficult, let alone being an ethical carnivore when something else needs to die for you to eat.
After reading this novel I was filled with questions about meat! I wanted to get my hands on more meat to eat right away! Specifically, rabbit or kangaroo, as both of those are often considered vermin in Australia. I don’t have the experience, and the gun laws are quite strict here, otherwise I would love to test my nerve in killing my own food. As it is, I think I would just have to settle for learning how to dissect it for eating.
This is a non-fiction book so I’m not going to give it any stars. However it was well-written and enjoyable, and I would recommend it strongly to anyone who wants to know more about the meat they eat. “Meat, we were made to eat it.”
Bloomsbury | 1st November 2016 | AU $27.99 | paperback
This novel covers Australia’s first and only kidnapping to date – Graeme Thorne was kidnapped for ransom because of his parents winning the Opera House Lottery. Unfortunately his kidnapper, Stephen Bradley killed him by accident and the ransom could never be paid. Fortunately, Bradley was eventually caught and sentenced to life for this crime.
So you might think I have given away the whole novel with my opening paragraph – but in fact, you know all of that information almost from just reading the blurb and reading the first chapter. That alone would have killed the novel for me.
I picked this novel up from someone else’s TBR pile from publishers, because I was getting into crime and was excited to get my hands on some more Australian fiction. I should have known better perhaps. I so wanted to like it though!
This crime was one of the first to be solved using modern forensic techniques, and that alone should have made it more exciting for me. I like to know the science behind things, such as in Blood Secrets. Instead, I’m sorry. I found this novel utterly boring. I finished it only by skimming the last couple of chapters in despair of something truly exciting happening.
I’ve giving this novel 2 stars. Maybe another person who really REALLY loves true crime fiction will love it, but for me, the outcome was known too quickly and there was no sense of suspense to keep me reading.
Simon & Schuster | December 2015 | $32.99 | Paperback
One Hundred and Eleven Tweetable Inspirational Life Purpose Quotes: A Book of Original Thoughts
What can I write about ‘A Book of Original Thoughts, Your Life Purpose is Just a Tweet Away’? Shouldn’t it be speaking for itself? Nevertheless, I was sent a copy for review a long time ago now, and I didn’t know what to do with it.
Honestly, I think if I had paid for it, I would be asking for my money back. I’m not even certain it’s good enough to give as a present. There are heaps of little books like this that claim to change your life for you by just a little message here and there, and I’m not buying it.
I browsed through this in the hopes that something awesome would just out at me… But it didn’t.
Now, would it be irony that this book is a paperback, and it’s designed to be used as inspiration for Tweets, an entirely digital creation? You can source this information for yourself, and don’t let buying a book get in the way of actually doing something with your life.
As someone I read recently said, don’t let your life just get covered up with self-help books which can block the light just as well as depression if you don’t actually use them.
The Little Communist Who Never Smiled
A merging of fiction and non-fiction to fill in the gaps, this novel follows the early life and career of Nadia Comaneci, a pioneering Romanian gymnast who broke the scoring system by receiving the first 10 in the history of gymnastics.
The first half of the novel kept me enthralled, but this petered out in the second half. I was fascinated by the gymnastics, not by the politics. In the end, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to take away from the novel. Translated from French, I think this novel may have lost some of its charm.
At times I felt like the narrator and Nadia spent too much time fighting – and I was really confused about the intersection of the conversations they had. Were these actual conversations the author had with Nadia? Or something else? Nadia has also written an autobiography which I think could also be interesting.
Off the back of this novel, I watched Nadia’s performance at Montreal on Youtube. It is amazing the things they used to do on bars (they weren’t separated as they are now). My breath stopped every time it looked like she was going to fall. What many of the commenters on these videos were saying were that the tricks back then were easier than they are now. Having read this novel, I can confirm that is not the case. Many of the moves have changed, due to changing equipment or banning of particularly dangerous moves.
I’ll give this novel 3 stars – 4 stars for the first half, and 2 stars for the second half!
Allen & Unwin | 27th July 2016 | AU $27.99 | Paperback
Terry Ledgard joined the Australian Army because he thought it would be pretty awesome, and chicks liked guys in a uniform. While being a chick magnet seemed to be the major thing on his mind, his career as an acting medic during the war in Afghanistan is fascinating reading.
As long as you can get past the extreme amounts of explicit swearing in the prologue and first chapter, you’ll be golden for reading this novel. If that sort of thing bothers you, I advise skipping straight ahead. I put the book down and tried to take a nap instead of keeping reading at that point. Anyway, I persevered and it got better from there.
Ledgard has come through war and PTSD and emerged the other side an excellent writer. There were sections where I thought it was a little unclear or stilted, but overall the writing was great. It felt like you were within those war scenes. Something I found interesting was that he never (or at least I don’t remember) talked about ‘the War on Terror’. It was simply us against them.
I’m going to give this four stars, by pretending I didn’t read the beginning of the novel. It’s not the usual style of things I would read, but it was really enjoyable, if rather confronting.
Penguin Random House | July 2016 | $35.00 | Paperback
Stem Cell Battles : Proposition 71 and Beyond: How Ordinary People Can Fight Back Against the Crushing Burden of Chronic Disease
Don C Reed
Stem Cell legislation in the USA has been here and there for many years. This novel is now slightly out of date, but it still provides an accurate picture of how legislation for and against stem cells has developed. In fact, I might take that back. It could still be current – legislation can take a long time to change, even if the science tries to keep moving forward.
This book was actually enjoyable. I was hesitant. As I say though, Reed is from the people angle. After his son’s accident, he’s one of the people who have pushed forward from the ground up to make a difference in politics to change ordinary people’s lives. As a geneticist, this gets into all sorts of ethical ideas and messes, some of which are discussed here.
I recently taught a class on stem cells (three of them actually, all the same but with different students). This was a book I wanted to bring in and get them all to read. In Australia, the stem cell laws are just as annoying as far as I can see. There is so much potential in them (but also many hazards).
I received this novel a very long time ago now, and it was a Galley Proof, not for sale. I’m really not sure why I put off reading it for so long. I think I was sick of science, and didn’t want to read more about it in my free time! This is less about the science, and more about the people though.
Non-fiction, I’m not rating it. But if you have an interest in science, please go and get yourself a copy. It’s pleasurable reading, even for people who hate laws.
the Midnight Watch
John Steadman is a body man. His reporting for the Boston American newspaper involves finding those bodies, and writing a story of them that brings their lives back. When he gets caught up in the story of the ship that watched the Titanic sink, he finds himself losing himself in the story – to the loss of his own job.
What I loved was that the blending of fact and fiction made me feel at home in the novel. I didn’t object that I never really understood everything behind Lord’s motives. I didn’t mind that there was no happy ending.
I did feel a little confused towards the end, when John’s story of the Titanic is published. There is a disconnect between John’s words and the story, despite this being in chronological order as far as I could see. I felt that John’s newspaper story could have come at the very end of the novel, and I still would have been happy – as I would have seen it as an overall conclusion.
Confession – I’ve never seen The Titanic! Nor do I ever hope to have to sit through it. As far as I can tell, it’s a ‘classic timeless love story’ and I barely have the patience to sit through one of those in novel form, let alone a movie!
Giving this beauty 4 stars. It was surprisingly gripping, despite already knowing the major outcome (pretty much everyone on the Titanic died). Kudos to Dyer for this fantastic and well written novel, and my absolute condolences on it being from your Doctorate!