Home Feed
Home
Search
Search
Add Review, Blurb, Quote
Add
Activity
Activity
Profile
Profile
IReadThereforeIBlog

IReadThereforeIBlog

Joined August 2016

Longer reviews can be found at I Read, Therefore I Blog here: ireadthereforeiblog.wordpress.com
review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

Emily MacDonagh is a doctor who practices in the National Health Service. This is a well-intentioned book aimed at helping readers aged 9+ to understand and express their emotions and the impact of hormones as they grow older. Although there is some solid, practical advice, the tone is a little patronising at times and the illustrations by Josefina Preumayr and Ana Sebastian are pretty flat and uninspiring (albeit with good representation).

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

Bari Weiss is a journalist, writer and editor. This thought-provoking polemic was written in the aftermath of the 2018 terrorist shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue where she had her bat mitzvah and her anger at that atrocity permeates it. Unfortunately the valid points she makes about anti-semitism on both the left and the right get lost as she bangs her anti-liberal drum and she ignores completely the role of her own free speech movement.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Amazing Sister | Alison Brown
Mehso-so

Alison Brown‘s picture book (part of a series about family members) is a cute affair that celebrates the different kind of sisters you can have and your relationship with them. The rhyming is a bit twee in parts but I enjoyed the illustrations, which have energy and humour to them. If you are looking for a gift for a young sister or young sister to be, then I would definitely suggest this.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Redsight | Meredith Mooring
Panpan

Meredith Mooring‘s debut SF space opera romance has some interesting ideas, e.g. the use of a visually impaired protagonist, the idea of atomic manipulation and space ships built from asteroids, but the plotting is all over the place with some developments sign posted too early and a credibility defying plot twist in the final quarter, the central romance being under developed and ultimately a sense that nothing that happens to Korinna is earned.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

John C H. Spence teaches physics at Arizona State University and is Snell Professor and Director of Science for the National Science Foundation‘s BioXFEL Consortium. This is an absorbing historical account of how scientists learned to measure the speed of light but although I enjoyed the personal details Spence gives on the scientists and he does try to simplify the complicated mathematical formulae, some of the book was above my skill level.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Christy Webster‘s picture book adaptation of the THOMAS & FRIENDS episode, ‘Shake, Rattle, and Bruno‘ (by Daniel Share-Strom) is an enjoyable read that suggests Bruno is neuro-divergent (he memorises the train schedule to keep calm) and emphasises the importance of listening, not rushing into things and working together in order to resolve things. Although the pictures are a little flat and generic, young readers should still enjoy the story.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Big | Vashti Harrison
Pickpick

Vashti Harrison‘s self-illustrated picture book is a beautifully executed look at fat bias and its impact on young children. The text is sparse with the focus on the images of the nameless little girl as she endures the taunts and well-meaning but still hurtful comments from adults. It‘s wonderfully done and very moving such that I am still thinking about it. I‘d definitely read more of Harrison‘s work on the strength of this.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Hello Summer | Jo Lindley
Pickpick

The third book in Jo Lindley‘s self-illustrated picture book series is a charming look at the fun things that you can do in the summer but also how to handle it when you feel angry and everything gets on top of you because things keep going wrong. I enjoyed Lindley‘s illustrations and the friendship of the four Little Seasons really comes through such that I‘d be happy to read the other three books in this series.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

Zanib Mian‘s new mystery for readers aged 7+ (illustrated by Kyan Cheng) features fun protagonists and Maysa‘s insecurity that Musa has other friends than her is well done. I also enjoyed how their Muslim identity is central to the story, as it‘s a great way of learning about their faith but as the first in a series this needed more telling to establish backstory (especially Maysa‘s antagonism with Slime-ah) and the mystery itself is a limp.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Iron Robin | Rose Tremain
Pickpick

Rose Tremain‘s debut picture book has some beautiful writing but it isn‘t clear if Oliver‘s affinity for the robin comes from loneliness, although I did enjoy the snarky Draggi. Richard Jones‘s illustrations are superb and really get across Oliver‘s isolation and the robin‘s magic. All in all, I think it‘s a good read but the open ending and the fact that some of the themes are not fully explored may make it go over some young readers‘ heads.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

This entertaining picture book has been adapted by Rebecca Gerlings from 5 episodes of the kids‘ cartoon HEY DUGGEE! (originally written by James Walsh) sets out how the 5 very different Squirrels handled their first days and how Duggee and the other Squirrels tried to make it easier for them. It‘s all very charming and although I‘m not familiar with the TV cartoon, I can see why it‘s so popular with pre-schoolers.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Olaf Falafel‘s self-illustrated funny novel sequel for readers aged 8+ is a genuinely hilarious affair that combines Trixie‘s love of art with her desire to get revenge on those who have wronged her. I particularly enjoyed the mini fact files on artists and how Trixie incorporates them in her pranks while her cynicism is very entertaining. I hadn‘t read the first book but will rectify that mistake and I hope there is more in this series.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Panpan

Lauren Layfield‘s debut funny coming-of-age novel for readers aged 11+ has some amusing moments (notably Indi‘s imagined conversations with Gary the lizard) but I found Indi to be both a very unsympathetic character and also written in such a way that I didn‘t believe in her lack of emotional depth or self-awareness. Indi does grow in the final quarter of the book when she is called out on bad behaviour, but for me it was too little, too late.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

Elliot Ackerman is a novelist, journalist and former Marine who received the Silver Star, Bronze Star for Valour and Purple Heart during tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a sparsely written, thoughtful meditation on the US wars in the Middle East and his place in them and his meetings with Abu Hassar (an Al Qaeda fighter) are poignant but his reticence to go deep into the conflict make it a little frustrating at times.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Three Eight One | Aliya Whiteley
Mehso-so

Aliya Whiteley‘s standalone SF novel is a technically clever piece of writing (each section of Fairly‘s story is exactly 381 words) but its literary nature is one you either absolutely love or really don‘t dig. Sadly, I was in the latter camp as there isn‘t enough characterisation of Rowena or Fairly for me to engage with while the coming of age theme is under-developed and Fairly‘s story so thin that I couldn‘t understand Rowena‘s fascination.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
In The Ends: Book 4 | Alex Wheatle
Pickpick

The 5th in Alex Wheatle‘s YA CRONGTON SEQUENCE is a pacy affair whose portrayal of life on a council estate gives a feel of community and the ambition of its adolescents without downplaying the issues with living there. Wheatle‘s got a great ear for dialogue (although I fear that it may date it more quickly than it deserves) and the rapport between Jonah and his friends rings very true such that I need to read the other books in this series.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

G. M. Linton‘s debut novel for readers aged 9+ (illustrated by Fuuji Takashi and Emily Bornoff and the first in a series) is a sensitively written book about learning who you are and what‘s important to you while also dealing with the difficult topic of illness, death and grief. I particularly enjoyed the emphasis on Sunshine‘s Jamaican heritage and her and her family‘s pride in their identity and I look forward to reading more of her adventures.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Quiet Storm | Kimberly Whittam
Pickpick

Kimberly Whittam‘s debut novel for readers aged 10+ is a well observed novel about shyness, anxiety and standing up for yourself. I think that anyone who is quiet or introverted will find it very easy to relate to Storm and her worries and the way Whittam draws the relationships between Storm, Zarrish and Melissa and Storm and her brother is very believable. All in all this is a very strong debut and I look forward to reading Whittam‘s next book.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Lizzie Scott is a writer and editor of non-fiction books for children who particularly loves plants, animals and the environment. Stephanie Fizer Coleman is an experienced children‘s book illustrator who loves illustrating birds. This is a beautifully put-together book (part of a series) for readers aged 5+ that explores different aspects of summer and invites readers to think about what summer means to them and what they like about it.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Anna Claybourne is an experienced writer of non-fiction for children. This is a solidly written book for readers aged 9+ that‘s part of a series about issues related to the planet and explains what inequality is and how it can come about. Claybourne breaks down complicated ideas in an unpatronising way, but while it generally gets the balance right there are times when it‘s a little over-simplified and too broad.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Chris Smith‘s humorous fantasy mystery for readers aged 9+ nods to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and features warm, comic-style illustrations by Kenneth Anderson. Although the culprit is easy to guess, the wry, knowing narrative voice and the way Smith weaves the various plot lines and incorporates backstory and information through segments entitled a Traveller‘s Guide to Rillia is very entertaining so I would definitely read a sequel to this.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Sally Urwin is a 4‘ 10” former corporate marketer who became a farmer‘s wife when she married Steve a sheep farmer based in Northumberland) and started writing a blog recounting her experiences. This entertaining book that reinforces how difficult farming is both physically and emotionally (made worse by the perilous economics within the industry) is based on some of Urwin‘s blog entries and tracks a year of living on the farm.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

Andy Ruffell‘s debut fantasy novel for readers aged 9+ sensitively addresses the serious theme about how fear and hatred are used to turn people against each other. However the plot is predictable, the villain is under-developed with non-sensical motives, Lily‘s super powers develop too quickly and feel unearned and Ruffell bottles a character death in a way that feels cheap. It‘s not a bad book, but I wouldn‘t rush to read a sequel.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Reporter | Seymour M. Hersh
Mehso-so

Seymour Hersh is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist known for his work uncovering the My Lai massacre, the Watergate scandal and the Abu Ghraib war crimes. This memoir focuses on his career and how he broke his biggest stories but offers nothing personal, no analysis of changes in the profession or the ways anonymous sources can be used and misused. I think the book suffers for that, leaving it an okay factual read rather than an insightful one.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

Lauren Forry‘s standalone crime novel is one of those books where the journey is sufficiently fun and entertaining that it isn‘t until you get to the end that you realise how thin the characters are and that there are plot holes. This is not to damn it with faint praise, Forry‘s writing genuinely carried me along and there were enough red herrings to keep me turning the pages so despite the issues, I still look forward to reading her next book.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Adam Rutherford is a geneticist, science writer and broadcaster. E. L. Norry is an experienced writer of fiction and non-fiction for children. This is a very readable guide to genetics for readers aged 9+that explains evolution, genes, race and tying it in with racism and racist myths. Adam Ming‘s illustrations work perfectly with the text and I think the authors strike the right tone, getting over facts but with humour that keeps you engaged.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
The Art of Being a Brilliant Teenager | Andy Cope, Andy Whittaker, Darrell Woodman, Amy Bradley
Pickpick

Dr Andy Cope is a professional trainer, teacher and author with a passion for motivation and positive psychology. Amy Bradley is an experienced illustrator of children‘s and YA books. Brimming with positive messages, this is a useful guide for pre-teen readers on how to make the most of their teenage years and really encourages them to interact and make the most out of it (which the design of the book and illustrations facilitates).

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
The Spare Man | Mary Robinette Kowal
Pickpick

Mary Robinette Kowal‘s SF mystery is a delightful homage to Dashiell Hammet‘s THE THIN MAN, featuring a great central couple and making astute observations about fame, privilege and wealth. Although the mystery is a little thin, the side characters (especially Fantine who I adored) and their interactions carry you along and I admired how Kowal looks at what it is to live with chronic pain and loved the way everyone falls in love with Gimlet.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Panpan

Patrick Flesner worked for 20 years in private equity, venture capital and mergers and acquisitions and is now an independent board member who advises on leadership. Unfortunately, he‘s chosen to use poorly written fiction that includes some unpleasant sexism to convey leadership principles that I didn‘t disagree with (and indeed some of it is useful particularly if you‘re new to this), but which I think get lost in the alienating structure.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Straight Expectations | Calum McSwiggan
Mehso-so

Callum McSwiggan‘s speculative YA LGBTQ+ romance is an okay read filled with out and proud characters but Max‘s confrontation of his privilege and belief that the straights have things easier is unconvincing as Max is always fairly self-obsessed character while his friendship with Dean is more tell than show. That said, the romance is sweet, I liked Dean and Alicia as side characters and the plot has a lot of pace and energy to it.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

The fourth in Richard Osman‘s bestselling THURSDAY MURDER CLUB SERIES is a clever and emotional story that shows neat continuity with the earlier books and also fleshes out Ibrahim‘s backstory. Although there are no surprises here, it‘s considered and moving without being mawkish and ends in a satisfying way that allows Osman to go off and set up a new and different series of books while also allowing a return to the pensioner at a later date.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
The Murder Game | Tom Hindle
Mehso-so

The ambition of Tom Hindle‘s second crime novel exceeds its grasp, its characters too thinly drawn (with the younger characters being particularly unconvincing) and the mystery element too telegraphed for it to work effectively. It did hold my attention and I enjoyed the tensions between the local community members, especially as the secrets start to come out, but as a whole I think it‘s flawed although I‘d still check out Hindle‘s next book.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Although not officially part of the SLOUGH HOUSE SERIES, Mick Herron‘s latest spy thriller stands adjacent to it so if you‘re a SLOUGH HOUSE fan, you‘ll enjoy seeing some of its characters get more page time and backstory here. Caustic, cynical and at times very funny, I hugely enjoyed this story which bounces between time periods but I‘d suggest not reading STANDING BY THE WALL until afterwards as it does spoil some of the surprises.

blurb
IReadThereforeIBlog
Rebel Fire | Ann Sei Lin

The second in Ann Sei Lin‘s YA fantasy trilogy delves into the mythology of Lin‘s world, especially the backstory for Kurara and Haru and includes some heart breaking scenes as Lin also explores the bond between shikigami and Crafter and what it really means. However Tomoe and Sayo are very much bit players here and while I enjoyed the character development for Himura, Tsukimi remains too broadly painted to be a credible antagonist.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
The First Move | Jenny Ireland
Pickpick

Jenny Ireland‘s debut YA romance has a well drawn female main character and does a great job of showing what it‘s like to live with arthritis. However Juliet‘s relationship with Tara interested me more than the romance with Ronan, mainly because Ronan‘s backstory didn‘t ring as emotionally true with his relationship with his mother in particular feeling undercooked. That said I enjoyed reading this and will happily check out Ireland‘s next book.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
A Fatal Crossing | Tom Hindle
Pickpick

Tom Hindle‘s debut historical crime novel is packed with red herrings, an emotional backstory for Birch and has a sucker punch twist at the end that genuinely left me surprised. Although this is very much a First Class passenger affair, I enjoyed the Agatha Christie vibe and the allusions to Birch‘s war service but Temple is notably under-developed in comparison, which is a shame as fuller characterisation would have taken this to the next level.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Alan Bissett is a novelist, playwright and performer. This conversational antidote to toxic masculinity for readers aged 13+ combines personal anecdote with empathy and practical advice to tackle topics like internet porn, being ‘friend zoned‘ and ‘locker room talk‘. It‘s well done (including the page design, which gets across the key messages) but the readers who pick this up are probably the ones who don‘t need it in the first place.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
The Honjin Murders | Seishi Yokomizo
Pickpick

Seishi Yokomizo‘s locked room crime novel (the first in a series) was published in Japan in 1946 and first translated into English in 2019 by Louise Heal Kawai, who has done a wonderful job. I thoroughly enjoyed Yokomizo‘s slow reveal of the Ichiyanagi family‘s secrets, while Kindaichi is a fascinating detective (almost in the Columbo mode) and the solution is ingenious such that I will check out the other translations of Yokomizo‘s work.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
The Castle Rock Mystery Gang | Kim Curran, Vicky McClure
Mehso-so

Vicky McClure‘s adventure mystery for readers aged 9+ (written by Kim Curran and illustrated by Alan Brown and the first in a series) is well-meaning and sensitive in incorporating people with dementia within the story. The pacing works, the mystery well drawn and I liked the friendship that develops between the Crew but the marketing is a great example of why I don‘t like celebrity children‘s novels and as such I am not sure I would read on.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

Em X. Liu‘s SF novel is a tech take on HAMLET that explores themes of mortality, fear, intimacy and revenge. Although I enjoyed how Liu updates Felicia (the Ophelia character), I wasn‘t gripped by the story and the fragmented style, while true to the underlying themes of the play, further distanced me from the story. Ultimately, this is a clever and thoughtful book but not one that vibes with me, although I‘d still check out Liu‘s other work.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

Richard Wilkinson is Professor Emeritus at Nottingham University‘s Medical School and Kate Pickett is Professor of Epidemiology at York University. This book looks at how material inequalities within societies adversely affects mental and emotional health, but while it raises interesting questions, I wasn‘t wholly convinced by the methodology and you need to read their previous book THE SPIRIT LEVEL to get the most from the arguments here.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Mick Herron‘s short story set in the SLOUGH HOUSE universe is a pithy, fun affair. There are hints here as to a link with forthcoming book THE SECRET HOURS (notably a mention of Operation Monochrome), I always enjoy the self-delusional Roddy Ho and it‘s good to see River Cartwright make a return, albeit not in peak health. If, like me, you devour anything SLOUGH HOUSE related, then it‘s worth a look but occasional readers could probably skip it.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
The Starlight Stables Gang | Jo Cotterill, Esme Higgs
Pickpick

Esme Higgs and Jo Cotterill‘s horsey novel for readers aged 9+ (the first in a series and sweetly illustrated by Hannah George) really conveys why people love horses and suggests ways of doing it if you don‘t have a lot of money without denying that it‘s a privileged activity. There‘s a lot of set up in terms of character and so the mystery gets pushed to one side but there‘s a lot of potential here and I‘d definitely read the sequel.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Kate Weston‘s YA humorous murder mystery is a genuinely funny affair whose main characters wear their feminism on their sleeves as they navigate the perils of unpopularity, first romance and murder. I loved the relationship between Annie and Kerry and the romance element plays out neatly so it‘s a shame that the mystery kinda loses momentum in the final quarter and didn‘t quite work for me. That said, I‘d definitely check out Weston‘s other work.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Panpan

Sam Ripley‘s thriller blurs the line between urban legend horror and a straight-up serial killer tale but the execution is lacking. The three main characters are difficult to empathise with (each is so messed up that none rung emotionally true) and their stories are heavily contrived (which, is to tie in with the urban legend aspect to make you question them) such that I found it hard to maintain interest. Ultimately, this just wasn‘t for me.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Dr Ranj (aka Ranjit Singh) is a doctor, TV presenter and author. This book for boys aged 9+ (illustrated by David O‘Connell) counters the toxic masculinity that readers can find on-line and offers good advice about being yourself and dealing with pressure and insecurities, all coupled with personal anecdotes from Dr Ranj and others. It‘s a good starting point for a necessary conversation but I wonder Dr Ranj he‘s the right messenger here.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Chaos & Flame | Tessa Gratton
Mehso-so

Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland‘s YA fantasy romance (the first in a series) is a solidly constructed enemies-to-lovers story with thoughtful (if generic) world building including an interesting mythology based around magical beasts. However the pacing, for me, was uneven with the authors focusing largely on set-up so that the story doesn‘t really get going until the final quarter, although it does set up an intriguing premise for the sequel.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Ashley Harris Whaley is a writer, speaker and disability rights activist. This sensitive, clearly written book for readers aged 5+ (beautifully illustrated by Ananya Rao-Middleton) discusses disability, what it is to be disabled and most importantly, why disability is important and how we can benefit from including disabled people in everyday life and there‘s a handy note at the back for adults who are reading along with young readers.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Terry Deary is an actor and author who is well known for his best selling HORRIBLE HISTORIES SERIES for children aged 7+. This entertaining book (with fun illustrations by Martin Brown) sets out a top 3 of some of the nastiest, horrifying and disgusting parts of history. It‘s breezy and fun albeit quite western specific (I wish there had been more from Africa and the far east) but hopefully will stimulate readers‘ interest in the subject.

review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

Part of Dorling Kindersley Limited‘s SIMPLY SERIES, this is a useful book for anyone interested in understanding the basics of artificial intelligence (“AI”). I found the sections looking at AI‘s history to be the most interesting as once it gets into the science I found the explanations pitched at a level a little too high for me to follow while the chapters looking at problems with AI (including societal issues) were disappointingly brief.