Category: Non fiction reviews

Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer

If you want to fit in, to know the dos and don’ts, and to understand the cultural oddities, you’ll need a copy of Ian Mortimer’s Time Traveller’s Guide. In it, he paints a living, breathing picture of the sickness and the suffering, the power and the glory that was Elizabethan England, and tells you everything you’ll need to know to survive in their world. When you arrive, you’ll find that your “ancestors are not inferior to [you]; they do not lack sophistication, subtlety, innovation, wit or courage”.

A review of The History of England Volume III: Civil War by Peter Ackroyd

Civil War is not for those who want a detailed account of the Civil war period specifically; it is particularly void of military detail, but offers an insightful and vivid narrative of the whole of 17th century England that retains the period’s intricacy and complexity. While Ackroyd’s style is to make the civil war period seem rather like a series of accidents, common themes emerge that still influence our culture today.

A review of Marxism: A Graphic Guide by Rupert Woodfin and Oscar Zarate

Now this was a big surprise, a highly detailed historic guide that is very easy to digest and also presented in a captivating and powerful graphic form, making it an excellent ready reference for students and the politically aware. This is not another boring history book. The first couple of sheets will confirm that as a fact. As each new page was turned I congratulated Rupert and Oscar for their informative style. It reminded me of a rather good visual lecture that lucky students would certainly appreciate.

A Review of Fire Road by Kim Phuc Phan Thi

A person who has experienced deep tragedy and lived to tell the story often comes to grips with profound truths along the way.  Such is the case with Phan Thi.  As she started her recovery, she had to endure daily baths to treat her burns.  She says, “Those baths were worse than death itself.  Dying is far worse than death.”  As I’ve observed this with people I know in my own life, I know this is a profound truth.

A review of 16 Pills by Carley Moore

Moore writes like her life depends on it. She dissects the stories of her life with intelligence and precision, and invites the reader to share in her examination. Feminist, political, funny, and irreverent, Moore’s essays are masterful, and show a true love of the form; the stories are deeply personal, while still tapping into shared human experience.

A review of A Way Out by Michelle Balge

It follows that A Way Out does not hesitate to divulge its author’s most intimate secrets in her long battle with depression and social anxiety. Such honesty and candour lays bare an individual life in ways that illuminate our own experiences of mental illness: in speaking of herself, she speaks of us all.

A review of Thrive Through Yoga by Nicola Jane Hobbs

There are plenty of yoga guides out there, and a very confusing set of different yoga styles and philosophies, but Nicola Jane Hobbs’ presents a particularly compelling approach that transcends style and focuses on practical application.  For one thing, she’s seriously charismatic, demonstrating each pose with grace and clarity, and very openly using her own personal story of anorexia, OCD, depression and anxiety in order to provide real empathy and connection. For another, she’s not just another charismatic young ‘influencer’.  Hobbs has serious qualifications in Yoga, Psychology, and Nutrition, and has clocked up many hours of experience which are put to good use in this very readable book. 

A review of Deliverance by Miantae Metcalf McConnell

The lives of forgotten, marginalized persons – among them, people of other ethnicities to our own, and women – are in desperate need of recuperation. Many of those lives are fascinating, enlightening and inspiring, but if we seek deliberately to make them inspiring from our own positions of power and privilege, then we do them a grave disservice and perpetuate the historical imbalances that marginalized them in the first place.

A review of Minimalism by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

Millburn and Nicodemus used their own discontent as a springboard to identifying the things that were ‘anchoring’ them or holding them back from finding meaning in their lives. This included the big mortgage payments that came with the expensive houses, unhealthy relationships, car payments, debts, continual spending and the high pressure careers with long hours that were required to keep the cycle going.

A review of Rome: A History in Seven Sackings by Matthew Kneale

Kneale’s two-millennium travel guide has enlightened my understanding on everything Roman, and this experience will remain within my mind indefinitely. This excellent book delivers a century-by-century account of Rome’s inhabitants, their commercial and cultural challenges along with endless religious disruptions and several sieges commencing with the Battle of Allia by the Gauls (Celts).