Book Reviews: Non-Fiction

A recommendation from a friend. Lost at Sea is a collection of Ronson's more eccentric stories from his Guardian column. There are some weird and wonderful unique individuals alive in the world and Ronson has a met a few. 

Episodes include attending a UFO conference with Robbie Williams and a cruise with psychic Sylvia Browne. He spends time with indigo children, attends an alpha course to find out if it's a form of brain washing and patrols Seattle streets with Phoenix Jones; a real life superhero. 

The tales he weaves of the world around us is at times so surreal  you can't help but believe that we live in a wonderful world.

My guilty pleasure - A Bank Holiday read in the sun, just shows how much you don't know about people. This biography chronicles McFly from inception to present day, following the highs and lows of Tom, Danny, Harry and Dougie. A must for all fans who I'm sure have all got their signed copies already. There's much more to these boys than their public image and you should never judge a band by their photo shoots!

John Crace writes a digested reads column for The Guardian. In this book he takes one hundred books, ten from each decade of the twentieth century and puts his twist on them. Unless you are very well read you won't know them all, especially those from the earlier decades but this does not stop you enjoying Crace's unique perspective on literary classics.

I don't like giving up on books and it's not something I will readily confess to but The Olive Route is an Everest that I will never conquer. In this episode of the Olive Farm series Carol leaves her own olive farm in France and travels through the countries of the Mediterranean learning the history of olives. 

This is a very dense read, Drinkwater jumps from political, historical and religious aspects at the turn of a sentence and I got no further than 3 countries in before I could take no more. 

 Published by The Reading Agency, The Library Book is a celebration of the institution from authors, celebrities and self-confessed bibliophiles. Published during the height of library closures personalities ranging from Alan Bennett to Caitlin Moran share anecdotes on their library adventures, lessons learnt, friends made and beliefs made possible by the power of books and the dark grey buildings that house them. 

Uplifting and humorous at times - a good addition to any bedside or coffee table.

An unusual choice for me but I'm glad I persevered with it. I wasn't aware till very recently that one of our prime ministers had been assassinated and once I found out, I wanted to know the whole story. Ready for the history lesson... Turns out it's all rather dull and British really. John Bellingham had had enough in 1812 after a long dispute with the British government regarding a wrongful and long stay in a Russian prison. having no aide to afforded to him by the government of the day he did what he believed the last possible act of justice by shooting Spencer Perceval in order to gain an audience for his grievances.

For the novice historian this was very easy to follow with extracts from the trial and background of both the principles well explained. A must for any history buffs.

An anthology of poems from the last 60 years collected by Poet Laureatte Carol Ann Duffy to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee. Now I am by no means a poetry expert or necessarily lover but I was surprised at how few names I recognised in this anthology. Of course you have poets such as Roger McGough, Wendy Cope and Simon Armitage but more often than not I turned the page and thought who? This obviously doesn't stop the enjoyment although there it does not leave you feeling overly jubilant. This was a reading group choice and it was interesting to note that others remembered subjects from earlier years.

  I've always wanted to read Pepys' Diary but when seeing the epic-ness of it I thought this may be the next best thing!

Bastable recreates Pepys' world using extracts from Pepys' own diary and those of his contemporaries... very readable and easy to digest

A necessity for homemade Christmas presents and novice preserve makers! I made blueberry and lime jam and lemon and ginger marmalade from the recipes found and they were really easy to follow. Was also brilliant to read the advice about testing for sets and how to properly sterilise jars... v useful!

 After following a £10 note around for a weekend Steve Boggan went to the next step and followed a $10 around the USA for a month... with no input or influence Boggan follows the noted from the centre of America in Kansas to Illinois. As much a story of travel around USA what stays with you is the people Boggan meets along the way and the trials they face in modern day America... the kindness of strangers is abundant.. an interesting perspective and a quirky way of viewing modern american society.

This is a break from my normal read... it's all about a group of cricketers who go on a mission to play Cricket on every continent in the space of 3 weeks... humorous in places but not for the cricket novice!
I always thought Lizzie Siddal to be a misrepresented character of the Pre-Raphaelite age but this biography showed the character of a somewhat naive, weak and petulant person - don't get me wrong I'm not saying that she deserved to be strung along by Rossetti but it would seem she did rather enjoy playing her own games and her fatal addiction to Laudinum from early adulthood did nothing but dull the senses of a very talented artist and poet.

This title details the reading habits of Susan Hill (author of Woman in Black among others) as she decides to spend a year reading only books she has on her shelves at home. 

I've decided since reading this that she would probably be one of my fantasy dinner party guests; her style is so forthcoming and anecdotes fall onto the page as easily as water from a tap (poetical huh?). A must read for any bibliophile!

A beautifully written biography of one of the founding Pre-Raphelites... taken chronologically Fleming shows us the ups and downs for the very talented artist who found his gift before he was 5... the only criticism I have is that the pictures of Millais' masterpieces are shown in BLACK AND WHITE!!!!! 

Amazingly informative with a narrative as easy to follow as a simple novel!

A selection of Christmas stories from Phinn's Dales books... if these stories do not lighten your heart you're basically dead inside. A brilliant way of getting into the festive spirit!

I love Caitlin Moran's column and so this was a natural pick for me... I love the honesty of her words, her bravery in telling the truth even if it does make your stomach turn and the power her words are filled with... anyone that can put Aslan on a Hot List obviously has a lot more to say!!!!

A brutally honest memoir of the ups and downs of the life of Rob Lowe that will have you stunned... what a life! Lunches with Daryl Hannah before Splash, early meetings with Jodie Foster... plus he lived down the street for Martin Sheen!

It's not very often that "celebs" come across as nice guys but Rob Lowe endears himself to his audience and comes across as down to earth as the guy in the local coffee shop! I love him even more now!!!! 

This is not what it says on the tin... my thoughts are that if you pick this up you will probably know a bit about the period and are more interested in the story it has to tell but Summerscale seems to spend 10 pages on the story and 15 explaining the surrounding circumstances and historical context. 

The first part explains the background and affair? where as the second part is more about the court case... divorce was new at the time and not the complacency that it is these days... got to admit I was a little disappointed! 

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