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I’ll be Mrs Messy Then! – Tim Harford’s Messy:The Power Of Disorder To Transform Our Lives

In Book Reviews, Business / Self Help, CannonballreadIX 2017, Non Fiction on April 22, 2017 by mrsdilemma Tagged: , , ,

CBR9 15Tim Harford’s Messy is an exploration of how the highly valued human qualities; creativity, collaboration and resilience can all benefit from a little bit of mess. By embracing the by-products of disorder and confusion we can grow, develop and flourish.

Each chapter outlines a specific topic that can benefit from a little bit of mess; perhaps by creating a new path which leads to improved outcomes. He provides concrete examples to back up his theory, he identifies what the mess disguises itself as ( no, its not always just the pile of washing on the chair in the corner of the bedroom. . . . ) and how it could help in our everyday lives. Harford also includes scientific research from fields as diverse as the neurosciences, psychology, anthropology and social sciences to back up his claims.

One example really stood out to me; Imagine that you live in London and catch the same train at the same platform at the same time every day to get you to work. Then imagine that a strike closes 171 out of the Tubes 270 stations – This happened in 2014 and 1 in 20 of those who developed a new route out of the mess that situation created continued to use that route; it was either cheaper, faster or in some way preferable to their old route. All they needed was a little bit of mess to seek out something better.

Harford’s writing is academic but not overtly so, it is easily read and not at all difficult to understand. His message is powerful and will find you searching for examples of mess in your own life; he proposes an counter-intuitive idea that our mess can contribute to our success.

Now get out there and get messy!

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There is no such thing as Perfect. . .

In Book Reviews, CannonballreadIX 2017, Feminism, Fiction, YA literature on April 16, 2017 by mrsdilemma Tagged: , , ,

Perfect is the conclusion of the duology which began with Flawed, it is their author Cecelia Ahern’s first time writing for a Young Adult audience.

The narrative is set in the not-too-distant future, in an unnamed European country where anyone deemed to have transgressed the social rules is branded – literally – as Flawed. After she was branded Flawed by a morality court, Celestine’s life has completely fractured – all her freedoms gone. Since Judge Crevan has declared her the number one threat to the public, she has been on the run. Celestine has a secret – one that could bring the entire Flawed system crumbling to the ground. Can she prove that to be human in itself is to be Flawed…?

Ahern’s writing is crisp, well paced and packs an emotional punch. Her take on a done-to-death YA genre is fresh and refreshingly simple. All of the classic YA story-lines are there but they are not over stated; yes; the good girl goes bad but she’s not really bad after all. . . Celestine’s story is so so much more than that – her character growth and development are superb.

Ahern provides us with what I would call a YA futuristic thriller – there are enough nail biting scenes and out of left field plot twists to keep any thriller fan happy. Perfect is often described as dystopian but Ahern has said she doesn’t regard it as so, whilst it does appear to meet the definition of said genre, I see her point. She has said she sees it as part social commentary on how our global society is becoming more and more judgemental, as a reaction to society’s finger pointing culture.

I think this is a work young ( and not-so-young ) readers should devour and then discuss – I think it is a ‘perfect’ book club read. I think Ahern’s message; That there really is no such thing as perfect, we all make mistakes – is one that needs shouting from the rooftops.

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off to bed with a good book. . . .

In Book Reviews, CannonballreadIX 2017, Fiction, what i'm reading now. . ., YA literature on April 9, 2017 by mrsdilemma

CBR914

It’s 8:45 on a Sunday night and I am off to bed with what I hope will be a good book; Perfect – the second in what I imagine is a trilogy from Irish powerhouse Cecelia Ahern.

The trilogy opened with Flawed – the world in which the series is set is defined simplistically ( in Flawed ) through this quote from the protagonist, Celestine; “Before I was born, there was a great recession in this country, banks folded, the government collapsed, the economy was ravaged, unemployment and emigration soared.” In addition to the criminal code there is a moral code by which society lives, the moral code is in response to what was believed to be the moral causes of the great recession. If you break this code you are branded; flawed.

 

 

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#dontfollowtheherd

In Book Reviews, CannonballreadIX 2017, Feminism, Fiction on April 9, 2017 by mrsdilemma Tagged:

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

“The Cows is a powerful novel about three women – judging each other but also themselves. In all the noise of modern life they need to find their own voice.”

The Cows tells the story of 3 seemingly unconnected women living in the same city – Cam, is a feminist lifestyle blogger with no desire to be married or to be a mother, Tara is a TV documentary producer and a single mum and Stella is PA dealing with the grief of losing her mother and her twin sister to cancer. Eventually all three women are connected and their lives are changed forever ( telling you anymore would take away from what they narrative has to offer. . . ).

Dawn O’Porter’s first foray into adult fiction ( she has previously written for young adults ) will be a resounding success – and, I hope, the promise of so much more to come.

O’Porters writing style is accessible, its casual and its easy to read, her prose discusses the conflicts and contradictions within contemporary feminism in everyday language and situations that will get even the most ardent anti-feminist talking. She uses trolling, sexuality, reproductive rights and stereotypes as backgrounds to her narrative – they are important issues but they never overpower the characters and their motivations – it all intertwines perfectly.

O’Porter is searingly perceptive, she is fearlessly frank – this novel is not one for the prudish, she is bold, brilliant and bad ass. The Cows is for women ( and open minded men ) to laugh out loud, to throw across the room in anger, to scream No! at the top of your lungs, its about being different, its about being smart and above all its about being yourself.  I cannot recommend this highly enough.

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a dash of frightening, a dollop of blood-curdling and a spritz of spine-chilling.

In Book Reviews, CannonballreadIX 2017, Fiction, NZ lit reviews on March 25, 2017 by mrsdilemma

“A blind teenager receives a corneal donation and begins to see and feel memories from their previous owner, a homicide detective, his father.  As Joshua navigates a world of sight he gets glimpses of what these eyes might have witnessed in their previous life. What was his dad up to?”

Paul Cleave is an author with the ability to write a thriller where the characters are totally and utterly believable – Joshua reminds me so much of a kid who lives at the end of my street, his writing is outstanding, its riveting, dark, intense and deliciously twisted. Cleave writes of hidden secrets in everyday scenarios and unspeakable horrors just next door – this is his 11th thriller/horror and if you haven’t read him before, catch up on his entire back catalogue.

Ok, confession time. A Killer Harvest isn’t due for publication until August 1st, 2017 – I live in Christchurch, New Zealand where Paul is from, I hosted his very first book launch & I know his dad – he’s where I borrowed a copy of A Killer Harvest. I am one very lucky broad, but I am genuinely addicted to his work and have gone out and bought a copy of each and every one of his books.

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Another tale of woe about a girl. . .

In Book Reviews, CannonballreadIX 2017, Fiction on March 18, 2017 by mrsdilemma

“Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on the condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be are-run of the girl before.”

I devoured this book at every opportunity over very few days, it was a narrative I was constantly post it noting – tabbing subjects to follow up later; Christopher Wren’s St Stephens in Walbrook, John Sloane’s house in Lincoln Inn Fields, Phillippe Stark’s Ghost Chair. . . .

The narrative really pushes the boundaries of plausibility, it is a well written ( although not quite to the level of the best sellers within its genre; Gillian Flynn or Harlan Coben ) and compelling read. It will demand you finish it but it will not make you care one way or another about any of the characters within its pages.

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative but the character development was sorely underwhelming. Written under a pseudonym in an attempt to disguise that the author is male writing with a female voice – one I don’t think he does a particularly good job of.

On the positive side the story is intriguing, the alternating narrators are an easy read but the suspense that is created is fairly transparent, there are too many simplistic red herrings for me.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this narrative, for me, was One Folgate Street itself. An ultra modern property that comes with about 200 stipulations within the rental agreement – compliance to the agreement is monitored by sensors, cameras, a cleaner and regular inspections. . . For as stylish and technologically sophisticated as all the tech is, it’s also fairly scary. Tales of woe like Orwell’s 1984 or Dave Eggers’ The Circle have taught that technology can be scary – It can be used against us. The Girl Before provides yet another cautionary tale about the technology that will make our lives easier.

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Sex Object: A ( ball bustingly honest ) Memoir

In Biography, Book Reviews, CannonballreadIX 2017, Feminism on March 11, 2017 by mrsdilemma

Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti

 

Jessica Valenti is one of a select group of Generation X feminist bloggers who have cemented their careers online – She is a force to be reckoned with, after publishing a litany of feminist tomes ( Full Frontal Feminist, He’s a stud she’s a slut ) Sex Object is her brutally honest, darkly funny memoir.

By retelling a series of formative events in her life, Valenti describes what toll everyday sexism takes on a young woman’s life. The events that helped shape her confident persona hid her damaged and insecure self, everyday sexism that was brushed off as a compliment or just boorish behavior became so destructive that Valenti struggled to maintain that confident identity.

Sex Object is a series of confronting episodes which made me look at the decisions in my own adolescence and the everyday sexism that surrounds me. Even in a small country on the other side of the world the situations Valenti finds herself in are not completely foreign to me – Her lessons about self translate into a memoir about society. The Change that we need to see in the world will begin to happen when more women speak out like Jessica Valenti has – and, more importantly, we believe them.

Valenti ends her memoir with an afterword that rapidly brings us down to earth – a series of emails and posts from her twitter and facebook feeds, tantamount to hate mail.

This is a book that has been heavily reviewed by the male patriarchy ( I really wanted to use another phrase here but that is the only one that truly represented what rubbish these men regurgitate. . . ) and to them it is a whinging, whining, #notallmen attack on the male species, I believe it is Valenti being true to herself, at times she makes poor choices but she owns them and doesn’t shift blame, she can appear frustrated but then who wouldn’t be in her situation. . . Its a book all Women should read and embrace.