Friday 4 May 2018

Monthly Muse - April

I managed to up my game last month and with the help of a weeks holiday got twenty books read. 20!! There is a little bit for everyone here, including most of the Wellcome Prize shortlist. So behind on reviews at the moment so some of these are not reviewed yet, but here we go:

Our present economic system is broken, it cannot predict the future and the way it is set up, it is consuming vast amounts of resources with no plan for sustainablilty. Rathworth is proposing that we adopt a system that considers the limits the earth can manage, the outer ring, with the minimum acceptable living standard for the global population. Well worth reading, though I am not sure just how much will happen just yet with the vested interests in control.

The cuckoo is one of our most distinctive migrants that most people have never seen, but who would instantly recognise the call of. Nick Davies is obsessed by them (to put it mildly) and this book tells the stories of his observation and experiments on the cuckoos of the fens. Fascinating stuff, and even though he is a Professor, it doesn't read like an academic paper

The universe that Fenn has created with the Sidhe, a forgotten race that still controls humans covertly reaches its finale in this the fifth book. A fast-paced sci-fi thriller that twists and turns right until the end

This is a loose tie-in to the TV series, that explains the actual story behind the fictionalised account that became the Corfu Trilogy. Lots of details and photos of the Durrell family in their homes in Bournemouth and Corfu

Maxwell had written several books before Ring of Bright Water became a massive bestseller. But his life story as a minor aristocrat, traveller, closet homosexual and consumer of vast amounts of whisky wasn't really known until his friend Douglas Botting told it in this book. It is brilliant too and this reprint by Eland in their distinct style is still worth reading.

Normally books about hostage taking are fast action thrillers that demand page turning rapidly as the plot races ahead. This isn't like that; the slow pace after the hostage-takers realise their there target isn't there allows the building of characters and some unexpected events.

A tragic balloon accident brings two men together, one who becomes obsessed with the other and begins to stalk him. This external pressure starts to unravel his marriage and sanity Until it reaches a dramatic climax. Wasn't so keen on this book though as there were several parts that didn't make sense.

Leon has just had a baby brother. who unlike him, is white. After his mum suffers a breakdown, they are both put into care and shortly after his brother is adopted, never to be seen again. The lady looking after him ends up in hospital, he is passed to her sister. Whilst he is fond of her, he still wants to bring his family back together again, and maybe the guys at the allotment might be able to help him with that. Poignant stuff about the care system in the 1980's.  

Patagonia sits astride two countries, Chile and Argentina and is a place that people go to to make or lose a fortune. In this classic travel book, Chatwin follows the stories around the bottom part of the American continent. Not as much of the place as I had hoped, but still worth reading.

This was a Wellcome Prize shortlisted book. Drug addiction routinely devastates families across the UK and it even happens at the very highest level of society. This is the story of Hans and Eva Rausing and their descent into addiction, Eva's death and the public attention in the story seen from the eyes of Sigrid, Han's sister. She is brutally honest about her own life and the failures in helping Hans and Eva, but also now understands the limits of what she could actually do at the time. 

This was a Wellcome Prize shortlisted book. This is a story full of love, life, death, tragedy with uplifting moments set in Nigeria of a womans desire to have a child to fufill her husbands families wishes. It is full of the politics of the country as a turbulent backdrop. Yejide is in between cultures as the old Nigerian ways clash with the new world and Western medicine and there is plenty of deceit and lies as the plot twist and turns and the truths are laid bare. 

This is the last book that the late Helen Dunmore wrote and it is a return to the origins as it is poetry. Like with all poetry there are some that I like and other that I didn't quite get. Mostly enjoyable though

This was a Wellcome Prize shortlisted book about the advent of modern surgery and clinical practices. If you were admitted to a hospital back in the Victorian era, then you stood as much chance of dying of your care as you did from the original problem. It does not hold back on the blood and gore, so not one to read whilst you're eating, but it is very good and from what the author said to me, may be made into a film.

Over 60 years ago, the chances of people surviving common illnesses were fairly low, but with the advent of effective vaccines then public health improved dramatically. This book is the story of the creation of those vaccines that have saved billions of lives around the world. It does get quite technical at times so might not be for everyone.

There are three things that are certain in life; taxes, your computer crashing and death. The final one of these is almost taboo now days but in this book Mannix tell the stories of those who have reached the end. Most are old, some are painfully young, but each family has come to accept the passing of their loved one with her and her teams help. A very moving book.

Spring is the most dynamic of seasons. The starkness of winter is thrown off with the new shoots, the longer days warm the earth and the annual migration of millions of birds from winter sites to breeding grounds begins. Rose follows the changing season from the very south of Europe across 35 degrees of latitude to the northern coast. Not a bad book overall.

People have spent ages messing about in boats, and after his friend, James made a two-seater canoe, it was time for Matt Gaw to join that gang. It is an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable read about the journeys that make on rivers near and far just because they can.

 has run the Aigas Field Centre for a long while now, but this is the story of his journey to that place so dear to his hear. He tells of the medical struggles that his mother had with her heart, of the frankly horrific school system of the day, and finding happiness at one in Lyme Regis Dorset, where the natural world came alive to him. There is, of course, Gavin Maxwell and the attempt to create a zoo on the Isle of Skye as well as all the animals that passed through his hands as a child. 

So that was it! any her that you have read, or now want to read? Let me know in the comments below


  1. I have read none of these books but will check them our, thanks xxx


  2. Thank you Lainy. I don't tend to follow the crowd when it comes to reading books