Tag Archives: 2010

Review of the year (part 5- disappointing non-fiction)

Last but not least! (or least actually seeing as it’s the disappointing fiction!) Again the criteria is slightly different for non-fiction, this time scores must be below 3/5 (non including 3)

The nominees

Head Trip- Jeff Warren

Again only one nominee so I guess that makes it the winner! There really were some interesting aspects to Head Trip but they were few are far between and I felt it really dragged when it came down to it.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

This book will change the way you think, sleep, and dream for good. It is a book of psychology and neuroscience, and also of adventure wherein the author explores the extremes to which consciousness can be stretched, from the lucid dream to the quasi-mystical substratum of awareness known as the Pure Conscious Event. Replete with stylish graphics and brightened by comic panels conceived and drawn by the author, “Head Trip” is an instant classic, a brilliant and original description of the shifting experience of consciousness that’s also a practical guide to enhancing creativity and mental health. This book does not just inform and entertain – it shows how every one of us can expand upon the ways we experience being alive.


I must admit that although I found the topic of this book interesting I was glad when it was over. It was interesting enough, and pretty well written, in some parts it almost read like a novel, but I found Warren tended to dwell a bit much on one point and so it came across a bit waffley. Part of the problem for me though was it was a little over simplified- I had been expecting a bit more technical information, but I think for people with less knowledge of psychology or neurology it would make a good (if long!) introduction



Part 1

Part 2- best fiction

Part 3- best non-fiction

Part 4- disappointing fiction

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Review of the Year (part 4- the disappointing fiction)

To be nominated for this the books must score 2/5 or less.

The Nomeniees

Eclipse- Stephanie Meyer

Well I guess that makes it the winner! I really do not like the Twilight novels but something keeps me reading them, despite the fact I want to ram Bella’s head into a brick wall!

Synopsis (from Amazon)

‘Bella?’ Edward’s soft voice came from behind me. I turned to see him spring lightly up the porch steps, his hair windblown from running. He pulled me into his arms at once, and kissed me again. His kiss frightened me. There was too much tension, too strong an edge to the way his lips crushed mine – like he was afraid we had only so much time left to us. As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob – knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which? Following the international bestsellers Twilight and New Moon, Eclipse is the much-anticipated third book in Stephenie Meyer’s captivating saga of vampire romance.


Can someone tell me why I persist with reading these books?! They are awful. Badly written, and I want to smash Bella’s head against the wall to knck some sense into her.

And this one doesn’t even have a halfway decent plot behind it.

Yet I know I will still read the last.



Part 1

Part 2- best fiction

Part 3- best non-fiction

Part 5- disappointing non-fiction


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Review of the Year (part 3- best non-fiction)

For the non-fiction I can’t have the same criteria as for the fiction, seeing as nothing scored 5/5. So instead contenders must rate 4/5 or more

The Contenders

The Lucifer Effect- Phillip Zimbardo

The QI Book of the Dead

The Complete Polysyllabic Spree- Nick Hornby

This too is difficult, especially as each book is on a completely different topic. The Complete Polysylabbic Spree got the highest score so technically it should win, and it was certainly the most enjoyable. However the winner is….

The Lucifer Effect- Phillip Zimbardo.

This one wins because it was informative on a tough subject without dragging things out or becoming boring. It is written on a subject I am very interested in and in a way that’s easy to understand and engage with. Also because I really feel it’s an important book to read.

(from Amazon)

In The Lucifer Effect, the award-winning and internationally respected psychologist, Philip Zimbardo, examines how the human mind has the capacity to be infinitely caring or selfish, kind or cruel, creative or destructive. He challenges our conceptions of who we think we are, what we believe we will never do – and how and why almost any of us could be initiated into the ranks of evil doers. At the same time he describes the safeguards we can put in place to prevent ourselves from corrupting – or being corrupted by – others, and what sets some people apart as heroes and heroines, able to resist powerful pressures to go along with the group, and to refuse to be team players when personal integrity is at stake. Using the first in-depth analysis of his classic Stanford Prison Experiment, and his personal experiences as an expert witness for one of the Abu Ghraib prison guards, Zimbardo’s stimulating and provocative book raises fundamental questions about the nature of good and evil, and how each one of us needs to be vigilant to prevent becoming trapped in the ‘Lucifer Effect’, no matter what kind of character or morality we believe ourselves to have. The Lucifer Effect won the William James Book Award in 2008.


Oh how long have I been reading this book? Seems like I have been reading it for months! It has taken a long time but not because it’s uninteresting or badly written. In fact of the psychology books I’ve read aimed at none psychologists this is probably the best written. It doesn’t use too much specialised language and, unlike the others I’ve read, when it does it seems to be explained well. I’m probably not the best person to say that as I have a psychology degree but I was trying to think of how people who know little about psychology would view it. Despite a good writing style I can’t really say that it was easy to read. The subject matter was quite disturbing, in parts things which happened during the Stanford Prison Experiment and at Abu Ghraib were described in such detail that it actually made me feel a bit ill, there were pictures from Abu Ghraib that I’ve never seen before, and were nasty. The thought that anybody, any normal person, could do those sort of things is disturbing because it’s one of those things you never imagine you could do, but maybe that’s wrong. I’m glad to be aware of it though, it’s like a guard against it.

Certainly not an easy book to read, but an important one I think, and very interesting, I definitely recommend it.


I also want to make a special mention for The Polysylabbic Spree because it added so many books to my wishlist and got me reading Hornby.

Part 1

Part 2- best fiction

Part 4- disappointing fiction

Part 5- disappointing non-fiction

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Review of the Year (part 2- Best fiction of the year)

This year I’ve decided to make my criteria for books which I can nominate as my favourite reads of the year a little stricter. Last year the books had to have been given a score of 4.5/5 or above but this year it has to be a score of 5/5.  There are still quite a lot of contenders so I think I must have overall enjoyed my reading more this year.

The Contenders

Pop Co.- Scarlett Thomas

The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Steven Chbosky

The Elegance of the Hedgehog- Muriel Barbery

Room- Emma Donoghue

Kafka on the Shore- Haruki Murakami

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K Rowling

This is hard. I’ve loved all these books but for completely different reasons, so to compare them is not easy. I’m going to straight off strike out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because it was a re-read.

The Winner is……

Pop. Co- Scarlett Thomas.

This wins because it was the one which stuck with me for the longest time, and it was the book I spent most of my year saying had been my favourite book of the year, even after I had given other books a 5/5 rating. Plus it made me think about things that other books hadn’t- both to do with the main subject and not. Because this book won I will reproduce the entire review here

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Alice Butler has been receiving some odd messages – all anonymous, all written in code. Are they from someone at PopCo, the profit-hungry corporation she works for? Or from Alice’s long lost father? Or has someone else been on her trail? The solution, she is sure, will involve the code-breaking skills she learned from her grandparents and the key she’s been wearing round her neck since she was ten. “PopCo” is a grown-up adventure of family secrets, puzzles, big business and the power of numbers.


Wow. Just wow. I love, love, loved this book. It’s probably the best I’ve read so far this year. From the synopsis I had been unsure, and in fact almost bought it a few times before finding something I thought sounded better to read . In the end I mainly bought it because I had really enjoyed the End of Mr Y which is by the same author.

This is really a book which made me think, about corporations, and things we ignore but encounter every day. It talked of how corporations trick people, and how tose in marketing seem to be worth more than those who actually make products- and that’s just one issue it talks about. It doesn’t feel preachy though, it really does just make you think about things in a different way. It made me interested in alternative medicine, and veganism- and they weren’t even key themes!

It wasn’t perfect though. Some of the stuff about codes and maths really went over my head. Although I don’t think it was completely necessary to understand that it would have added something to my enjoyment. There was also a couple of adult scenes which I didn’t think were needed (I didn’t mind them being there though) which might put some people off, but there weren’t as many, or as graphic as in The End of Mr. Y.


I would also like to give a special mention to The Elegance of the Hedgehog because I went from finding it difficult to absolutely loving it and wanting everyone else to read it.

Part 1

Part 3- best non-fiction

Part 4- disappointing fiction

Part 5- disappointing non-fiction


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Review of the Year 2010 (Part 1- What’s happened this year?)

Review of the Year 2009- part 1

Review of the Year 2009- part 2

Can you believe another year has gone? What a year too. I have discovered the book blog hop over at crazy for books, and Semicolon’s Saturday Review of Reviews. I’ve found lots of fantastic new blogs and gained some lovely readers.

I’ve read and reviewed a total of 53 books and given up on 1- partly because I really wasn’t getting into it, and partly because it got ruined by a leaky water bottle.

Of these books the majority, 47, have been fiction, 7 have been non-fiction and 1 could arguably be either! 9 books have been read from The Rory List

Fiction books read this year

Jasper Fforde- The Fourth Bear The Third Angel- Alice Hoffman   Charlaine Harris- Club Dead

Dead to the World- Charlaine Harris Dead as a Doornail- Charlaine Harris Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Definitely Dead- Charlaine Harris All Together Dead- Charlaine Harris Pop Co. – Scarlet Thomas

Sunrise- Rosie Thomas Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte Water for Elephants- Sara Gruen

From Dead to Worse- Charlaine Harris Dead and Gone- Charlaine Harris Picture Perfect- Jodi Picoult

Eclipse- Stephanie Meyer The Rotter’s Club- Johnathan Coe Malinche- Laura Esquivel

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides Beauty- Raphael Selbourne A Girl Made of Dust- Nathalie Abi-Ezzi

Wicked- Gregory Maguire The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath A Matter of Death and Life- Andrey Kurkov

The book of Unholy Mischief- Elle Newman The Path to the Lake- Susan Sallis Northanger Abbey- Jane Austen

A Million Little Pieces- James Frey Alice in Wonderland- Louis Carroll Midnight’s Children- Salman Rushdie

The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky The Elegance of the Hedgehog- Murial Barbery

The Full Cupboard of Life- Alexander McCall Smith A Lifetime Burning- Linda Gillard Dead in the Family- Charlaine Harris

The Swan Thieves- Elizabeth Kostova   The 19th Wife- David Ebershoff High Fidelity- Nick Hornby

Vanity Fair- William Makepeace Thakeray (abandoned around 300 pages in)    The Confessions of Max Tivoli- Andrew Sean Greer

Therapy- Sebastian Fitzek Room- Emma Donoghue Double Vision- Pat Barker   Kafka on the Shore- Haruki Murakami


Non-fiction read this year


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