Book review: “The Ladybird Book of Mindfulness” by Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris

I’m part of a project that teaches young people about mindfulness and wellbeing, so use Headspace a lot. My boyfriend has listened in on a few sessions, but doesn’t find it quite so relaxing (I think it’s the long periods of silence being suddenly interrupted by instructions), so got me this book for Christmas. Strangely enough, the coordinator of the project I mentioned got it from her family as well!

These books are definitely great stocking fillers: they’re small, cheap and tackle a range of modern subjects. I haven’t properly read any of the others in the series, but I really enjoyed this one. The humour is perfect for the format and subject matter: gentle and just the right amount of irreverent. The images that go along with each vignette are also chosen perfectly. I still do mindfulness and think it’s a very useful tool for a lot of people, but books like this remind us not to take it too seriously.

Book review: “The Whedon Three Way (Oneshot)” by Zack Whedon, Christos Gage and Victor Gischler

I picked this up in a comic book shop in LA when we visited back in 2014. I’m a big “Firefly” fan, but have only seen a bit of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and haven’t seen any of “Angel”. At only $1, though, I thought I’d give this ménage à trois a go. I did really enjoy the “Serenity” comic, to the extent where I’d definitely read the rest of the series. I also liked the “Buffy” comic, but have to say the “Angel and Faith” one didn’t make much of an impression. I did like how the artist managed to capture David Boreanaz’s somewhat wooden acting style though. Maybe I should revisit this collection when I’ve watched a bit more of the latter two programmes.

Book review: “The Bletchley Girls” by Tessa Dunlop

This is a book with five-star subject matter; however, just like the last book I reviewed, the way it’s written lets it down.

As many other reviewers have also pointed out, it was very difficult to keep track of all the women who were part of this book. A list at the start of the book with a few words to identify each of them would have been very helpful. (It would also have been nice to have pictures of all the women both “then and now”, though perhaps there were reasons why some of them didn’t want current pictures of themselves in the book.) I do understand why the author told their stories by having each chapter dedicated to a topic and giving each woman’s perspective on it, rather than dedicating a chapter to each of their individual stories, but it would definitely have worked better as a documentary than a book. That way it would have also been possible to enjoy the women’s stories without being filtered through the author’s voice.

I’m very glad that someone has captured so many of these women’s stories, particularly as even the youngest of them are becoming quite elderly and, of course, most histories of Bletchley Park tend to focus more on the men who worked there. I also appreciate that this book pays more attention to them as people than the technical specifications of their work. I found myself feeling quite sad that none of the women ended up fulfilling their academic potential, though I’m glad they’re now getting the recognition, accolades and exciting opportunities they deserve. However, I feel like this book could have done with a writer better able to weave their stories together in a more coherent way. I may try and check out some of the autobiographies of the women featured in this book.

Book review: “Since Records Began” by Paul Simons

Yes, I am a stereotype.

I don’t have much to say about this book, but you can probably tell from the rating that I wasn’t too impressed. First, though, the positive aspects. There are a lot of interesting weather anecdotes in this book, most of which I wasn’t familiar with. It is an easy book to dip in and out of as each piece is relatively short. I also thought the author explained things well, making the book accessible to the average reader. My favourite parts were where he pointed out connections between British culture and its weather.

However, my main issue with this book is that is just isn’t written that well. There are a lot of grammatical and spelling errors – way too many for a professionally published book. I’m sure I noticed at least one factual error too. There are no sources cited, which is disappointing, especially because there are a number of (apparently) direct quotes included in the text. There is also no index and the stories are loosely organised by season rather than types of weather event or something similar, so you can’t look up any particular facts that you might want to know. That seems quite a significant omission in a book like this.

The concept of this book is very interesting, but its content and organisation let it down. My search for a really good popular science-type book about the weather continues…