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Review: The Lost Ones by Anita Frank

Imagine Sixth Sense, Downton Abbey and Agatha Christie moshed up, and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect with Anita Frank’s debut novel. It’s a good read, especially for a first book – solid characters, good build up and avoidance of the standard tropes and cliches – but the writing was a tad bloated and could’ve done with a trim, the story didn’t merit the page count.

Very enjoyable – a solid 4 stars.

Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.

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Review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Crime fiction, especially cosy mysteries, aren’t my thing, but I read this one because it was written by Richard Osman. Whatever he’s on, he comes across as a genuinely caring, intelligent and funny chap, and these attributes made it onto the pages too – the writing is flowing, witty and often contains charming turns of phrases. The diary entries are a good example of that.

The characters were all sensitively handled, few stereotypes, and the plot clever (sometimes a bit too much). Some scenes didn’t quite work, such as Elizabeth interviewing the priest, but given this is his first book, that can all be forgiven. This is clearly setup to be a series, I’m not sure the characters and the location have the legs for it, but I’m sure fans of Mrs Marple would disagree.

A charming book, well written, and an excellent debut. A solid 4* holiday read.

Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.

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Review: Hope in Hell: A decade to confront the climate emergency by Jonathon Porritt

Most environmental books make for a bleak read – they tend to focus on the failure of previous governments to engage, and due to the ignorant deniers and the political lobbying they prophesize doom and gloom and the end of civilisation. Hope in Hell isn’t immune to this, but it presents a far more balanced outlook, citing improvements in technology and options for climate engineering that could, alongside emission control, help reduce the effects of this climate crisis.

Sir Jonathon Porritt has been in the game for many years. He was a member of Greenpeace in the 70s, chaired multiple environmental organisations, and is a university chancellor, so he knows his stuff This come across clearly in this book. He covers what you’d expect – the inactivity of governments, failed opportunities, Green New Deal, etc. – but this book is broad. It covers historical civil disobedience, how other campaigns in the past, such as the Suffragettes and the anti-slavery movement, garnered public support and how we can learn from their experiences and their mistakes to get better traction on climate solutions.

This was my first audio book, and on whole it was a pretty good experience, but I do feel the medium wasn’t being used effectively. For example, the narrator, Simon Slater, slips into an awful American accent when quoting or reading Americans, I can’t see why (copyright ownership aside) the original recording couldn’t be slipped in instead. The same for Greta Thurnberg’s speeches.

But a very important and very timely book, one that everyone, especially those in industry and government, should be reading.

Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.

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Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

Remote, by Jason Fried and DHH (the founders of 37signals/Basecamp), justifies the benefits of home working and offers some sensible procedures and techniques to ensure you and your team remain integrated and productive. The book is written as a series of short essays, all raising issues and skimming over solutions. There’s little depth – if you want that, listen to Matt Mullenweg’s (founder of WordPress) Distributed podcast – but as a quick introduction to the pros and cons of remote working, you can’t go wrong with this short, light read.

See review on Goodreads.

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Review: Metropolis: A History of Humankind’s Greatest Invention by Ben Wilson

Interestingly, after completing Metropolis, I picked up Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, which talks-up home/remote working. Early on in that book, they predicted the working from home movement (greatly accelerated by Covid19) would result in the decline of cities – people would choose to live in cheaper, larger properties out of the city. Being a city person, I disagreed with this statement, and after reading Ben’s Metropolis, I realised why.

It’s easy to label cities as dirty, violent, over-priced, etc, but that’s missing the point. They provide means of collaboration of ideas and resources, social opportunities and much more. Throughout history, cities like Uruk (six thousand years ago) have drawn people to them – to the point now where the majority of people live within them.

This well researched book does have it’s flaws. There are a few odd transitions which seem shoe-horned in, and a few chapters really could’ve used a trim (repeated discussions on the benefits and troubles of walking in a city, too many film plots explained) but otherwise this is an excellent book that I can see myself dipping in and out of in the future.

Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.

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Review: To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss

This is the first book by Nicole Krauss I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last. This collection of short stories have mostly been printed elsewhere, so fans of her writing may have read them before. The stories, Jewish influenced, explore relationships – the coming together and drifting apart. They’re quirky but intelligent, the writing poetic and lyrical. A lovely read.

Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.

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Review: The Art of Doing Nothing and Something: Pottering as a Cure for Modern Life by Anna McGovern

One of the most silliest, most oddest, most charming books you’ll read. When, in the opening pages, I was given detailed instructions on how to make a cup of tea, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. By the end, I got it. Not one to read cover to cover in one sitting, just pick up and put down when you’re pottering, read a few pages, drift onto something else. I’m off to organise my herb rack now…

Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.

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Review: Idle Hands by Cassondra Windwalker

An interesting, but flawed book. Perdie is a victim of domestic violence, and with Ella (the Devil) looking over her shoulder, waiting to influence outcomes, she has an opportunity to try a different route through her life.

Interesting, because it was a good idea, kind of like a Sliding Doors concept.

Flawed, because I felt the execution wasn’t quite right. Ella’s voice, while initially interesting, broke the plot too often for too long, with monologues that contributed less than intended. Also, it was a pity the alternative timelimes were limited to just one – after the setup, I felt there was scope to play with this, with more divergence, or parallel threads perhaps.

Still, a good holiday read! 4/5

Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.

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Review: How Should One Read a Book? by Virginia Woolf

An interesting speech given by Virginia Woolf to some students, edited into an essay. A quick half hour read, lovely for free, not sure I’d feel the same after paying the £7 price tag…

Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.

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Review: Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman

This is a fantastic read.

Bregman’s premise is that humans are a pretty decent species, and not the monsters that the media portrays through dodgy reporting and dubious science. The sections where he tears into widely reported examples of human selfishness and aggression – such as the Stanford Prison Experiment, the Milgram experiment, the self-destruction of Easter Island, Kitty Genovese’s murder (all of which I’d heard of and believed the established narratives) – was eye-opening and shocking, shocking in the sense that they’re still being used today, decades later, in school text books.

Right now, where societal divisions are being utilised for politcal gain, and it’s too easy accept that society would implode without the controlling hand of the state, it’s refreshing to read that humands are better than that. Leaders have to try hard to instill the hatred that’s the cancer of our current time, so when that leadership changes, there’s hope for us all.

An excellent book, read it.

Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.

See review on Goodreads.