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Posts from the ‘non-fiction’ Category


#Non-fiction Writing Deep Scenes



  1. What did I learn?
  2. Goals (tangible) –>  provide motivation
  3. Obstacles–> provide tension
  4. Potential for loss –> provides action
  5. Action? forces the main character to change
  6. If I remember just these 4 tips
  7. I should be able to discover the essence of a story
  8. …which will make reviewing the book much easier!



  1. What did I learn?
  2. Concentrate on the ’emotional reactions’
  3. of the main character in the first 25% of the book!
  4. These reactions identify/introduce character to the reader.
  5. Compare these reactions to who the main character
  6. …what he/she becomes at the end of the book.



  1. I did not like this book.
  2. Chapter “The Basics” was good but I found
  3. that the rest of the book was a string of repeated phrases
  4. and simple concepts.
  5. The book was filled extraneous material!
  6. Examples are good, there’s such a thing as excess.
  7. I preferred: Plot and Structure


Plot & Structure Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell by James Scott Bell James Scott Bell


#Non-fiction This Thing Called Literature

Library Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


  This Thing Called Literature Reading, Thinking, Writing by Andrew Bennett by Andrew Bennett (no photo)

Finish date:  03 April 2022
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: B
Review: This Think Called Literature (ISBN: 978-1408254011

Bad news: Information how to read poem, short story and novel was as rich and dense as wedding cake, and just as hard to digest…in anything more than the smallest portions. At one point my eyes glazed over. Tropes were familiar: “A poem should no mean …but be.” (Archibald MacLeish) A short story produces “single effect”(E.A. Poe), A novel asks questions what it means to be human.

Good news: Offers practical tips and new ways of thinking about the familiar. This book did make me think about a thing that has troubled me: Why do I think a book is awful? Is it really the book…or is it me? Chapter “Thinking” (pg 79) is really an eye-opener!!

Best chapter:  How to read a play. I learned so much in this chapter. It made the book worth reading.
Best tip: BEFORE you start the play…read a critical essay or the Sparkenotes. It will help you find the details, the allusions…and in general the historic context.

Personal: I love to learn about literature. The only thing I really liked in this book was….it gave me some “food for thought”. I rarely ask the question: Why do some works of literature travel through time while others cannot?
Why is Shakespeare still relevant?
Why is Jane Eyre more than just a romance?
Answer: These literary works change every time we read them…that is their enduring strength. Be prepared to cherry pick…the best items of information for your own benefit. There is much to learn but you have sift through a lot of examples Mr. Bennett uses to support his arguments.

Last thought: Play: BOYS AND GIRLS (ISBN: 978-1786823144)
Staring one actor: Carey Mulligan
What a gripping play…I’ve never forgotten it.
Girls & Boys by Dennis Kelly by Dennis Kelly Dennis Kelly

  1. Dennis Kelly: Kelly was born to Irish parents  in London and
  2. is always described as a “London- based writer”.
  3. He is comfortable describing himself as second-generation Irish and
  4. indeed he holds both an English and an Irish passport.




#BlackHistoryMonth Unbound


33. Unbound My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke by Tarana Burke (no photo)

Finish date: 24 February 2022
Genre: memoir
Rating: B

Good news: #MeToo Movement: The movement was started in 2006 by a Black activist named Tarana Burke. Initially, the movement was focused on women of color….and their experiences with sexual violence. In 2017, white women began using the phrase as a hashtag. Their embrace caused the movement to gain a great deal of prominence This is Ms Burke’s story…

Personal: To quote the author  just sums up the core message: “When you’ve experienced trauma, it fundamentally destroys part of you. But that doesn’t mean that what you create from those pieces isn’t a beautiful thing.” I must admit….this was a difficult book to read. To Ms Burke’s credit who is a survivor of sexual assault herself, she has made it her mission with the #MeToo Movement, to find a way to let other women know that they were not alone. Intense…and unapologetically frank…fearless memoir that I probably never would have read…but it is a way to challenge myself to learn who Tarana Burke  is and why she is a survivor. Ms Burke was one of the TIME’S persons of the year: The Silence Breakers.






#NF The Crossroads of Should and Must



17. The Crossroads of Should and Must Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna by Elle Luna Elle Luna

Finish date: 20 January 2022
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: D-

Bad news: Collage slogans: Reading is disrupted by a waterfall of illustrations/taglines on practically every page! Less is more…..
Layout: Pages are a smattering of paragraphs and inspirational quotes…and the book could easily have been 80 pages instead of 160.

Bad news: Ideas in this book feel like they have been written on a laptop between Chia Lattes at Starbucks…highly-caffeinated content. When I closed the book an empty feeling of wasted reading time engulfed me.

Bad news: How to remove ‘should’ from our lives? Is this something I need to do? Really…there are plenty of “ should” we have to keep. Work: Like your job or not…a “girl’s gotta eat and pay the bills!”

Bad news: I shudder reading the “self-awarness” therapy exercises this book offers…skipping this “should” chapter. No…I do NOT want to write my obituary (part III Must, pg 80)…jich!

Good news: One thing I did like “Acquire one new skill a month…try new activities.” I can do that. No, I will not try to do headstands. Integrating solitude into our lives must be done. Well, during a pandemic that is a very easy lift! Find solitude in the craziest places…NO, I will not wash a head of lettuce leaf by leaf for a “kitchen” moment of meditation!

Personal: Why did I buy this book 7 years ago? Read in 1,5 hrs….learned nothing.


#NF Dawn of the Belle Epoque

Alfred Sisley:  Fog, Voisins (1874)



Dawn of the Belle Epoque The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends by Mary McAuliffe by Mary McAuliffe Mary McAuliffe

Finish date: 17 January 2022
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: A

Bad news: No book is perfect…but I had to think very hard to find a minus point in this book.
It was long (400 pages). That is a lot to cover in 2 days. I have the next book on my reading list but will have to wait until I digest this one. Rightly Ms McAuliffe touches on the politics and science (..few pages about Mme Cure) in the Belle Epoque. Honestly, I’ve read about – seen movie about The Dreyfus Affair so felt I could skim these pages. Also George Clemeanceau and all his band of merry men…don’t interest me. Also…there were not many illustrations in the book so I had to depend on Wikipedia/Google.

Good news: Now the real reason to read this book is the world of literature, art, music and engineering! 75% of the book is about the wonderful world of French painters who dazzeled the world. We all know the list of names but I fell very much head over heels reading about Pissarro. He tends to fall into the back round when you think about Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas, Manet brothers and Monet. But Camille Pissarro was the father figure who nurtured and held these men together! PS: Did you know Pissarro was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands?

Good News Having read bio’s about B. Morisot and V. Hugo I could quickly get through the first chapters. Also I’ve read all 20 of Zola’s Rougon-Macquart books….so references to Nana or L’Assommier, L’Oeuvre were familiar characters to me. I knew nothing about the great 4 composers Claude Debussy, D’Indy, Ravel and the wonderful Saint-Saëns. If you do anything listen to his Carnival des Animaux on Spotify…just breathtaking. This book contains tidbits of information that have slipped between the cracks of Wikipedia!

Good news: There were interesting chapters about the history of
the Pantheon in Paris (…..Victor Hugo thought is a wretched copy of St. Peter’s in Rome!) Statue of Liberty – Eiffel Tower. There were…steamy love affairs: between Debussy and older Mme Vasnier (married). Another affair between Claude Monet and Mme Alice Hoschedé (married) was very touching…they stayed devoted to each other for life! Loved the back round information about Rodin’s famous sculpture “The Kiss”…was it inspired by his affair with Camille Claudel or Dante’s Inferno 2nd level Francesca en Paolo?

Good news: Auguste Escoffier shook-up the world of haute cuisine and created Pêche Melba for Australian singer Nellie Melba and Fraises Bernhardt for Sarah, the great French actress. He was just as revolutionary as anything Rodin, Seurat, Debussy or Gustave Eiffel were doing! He looked at restaurant meals from a woman’s point of view….as every chef should!

Good news: Did I learn something I never heard about? Sarah Bernhardt was not only an actress but also a sculptor. I got a peak at the installation plans for the Statue of Liberty and Tour Eiffel. Learned about the uproar the controversial sculpture The Bronze Age by Rodin created. The model was a Belgian soldier and so lifelike no one believed it was not made with a plaster caste of the body! What a body! (see Wikipedia)

Personal While reading this book I had Spotfy to listen to the music of the composers and Wikipedia to have the many works of art (don’t forget the beautiful Art Nouveau illustrations by Alphonse Mucha….beautiful!) by the painters at my fingertips. It is the best way to read this book. Finally after having collected dust on my TBR for 5 years…I discovered this gem!


#Cultural History Motive for Murder?


6. A Cultural History of Causality Science, Murder Novels, and Systems of Thought by Stephen Kern by Stephen Kern (no photo)

Finish date: 09 January 2022
Genre: cultural history
Rating: C

Stephen Kern is an Distinguished Research Professor so I should not have been surprised how ‘academic, scholarly’ this book was But I was a bit bushwhacked. My rating is still C because the book delivered exactly what was intended but it was a difficult read.

Good news: Kern examines a specific factors or motives for murder.
Insightful to read the differences between
19th C Victor Hugo/Charles Dickens:
overbearing religious training producing killers like Frollo Hunchback of ND and Headstone Our Mutual Friend
20th C Patricia Highsmith/André Gide protecting loss of identity (Tom kills Dickie Greenleaf) in The Talented Mr. Ripley and the desire to commit a ‘motiveless crime’ (Lafcadio pushes man to his death on a train …for nothing. In other words: “I kill, therefore I am!”) in Lafcadio .

Bad news Not really bad….but you should be warned this book is not for the fainthearted!

Personal There is a lot to be learned in this book and if you see it in the library….take a look!
The best advice I can give is to skim the chapters and select the items that refer to a books (literature) that catch your eye. I will certainly look more carefully in CF, detectives and  novels for the
true motive (class difference, greed, fear, revenge, hatred, sexually repressed, traumatic childhood) for murder!


#Biography Thomas Becket

Academy Awards, USA 1965   Becket (Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton)



Thomas Becket by John Guy
Finish date: 05 January 2022
Genre: biography
Rating: B

Review: From my notes I see that the book captured
my interest starting with the “broken relationship” between King Henry II and Thomas Becket in chapter 12. So You have to plod on during the first 40% of
the book that was just a description of a middle class man who climbed the social, academic and political ladder. I was impressed by Becket’s mother and how keen she was  to see what her son needed for his future (education etc).

Bad news: Some key issues (Constitutions of Clarendon 1164, turning point in king-archbishop relationship) took a few chapters to get through. Tip: read about people/issues quickly on ( great reference website ) and it will save you time. The chapters can be ‘skimmed’ if you then wish.

Good news: This book really gave me an idea what happened in that period 1120 (birth) – 1170 (murder) -1220 (veneration of the saint). Focus is on the ruthless, untrustworthy vindictive character of King Henry II and Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury the ambitious, uncompromising zealot and how they clash. Sparks fly!

Personal: The only history about Henry II I knew  was from the movie Lion in Winter with Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn. I loved the film. It takes place years after Becket’s murder and I must admit Henry II is painted in the embellishment of Hollywood colors and does not divulge what (excusez le mot) a badass he was! Hepburn brought Eleanor of Aquitaine alive for me and I’ve read more books about her.

Trivia: She was one of the longest living royalty in the Middle Ages…reached the age of 82 and outlived 8 of her 10 children.


(published 2012, 448 pg)



#Non-fiction Things I Have Withheld (essays)


Quick Scan:

  1. The first thing that impressed me was the title:
  2. Things I Have Withheld
  3. This book explores the meanings of silence and the things we cannot say.
  4. There are letters  to James Baldwin and Kenyan writer Binyaranga Wainaina.
  5. But Miller also offers musings on his family’s secrets….


Who is Kei Miller?

  1. He is my selection for #ReadingDiversely
  2. Caribbean literature.
  3. Kei Miller  is a Jamaican poet, essayist, and novelist. (info wikipedia link)
  4. He is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Exeter.



  1. These are high quality essays
  2. …well written and they touch the soul!
  3. Unfortunately only 6 of the 14 essays touched MY soul.
  4. The introduction  is the hook… very personal, powerful.
  5. Miller’s first letter to James Baldwin  was absolutely wonderful!
  6. Second essay: Mr. Brown, Mrs. White  and Ms. Black
  7. highlighted the classism “…on these rocks that we call islands
  8. …that we call home.”
  9. The author shines as a storyteller in the essay that will catch
  10. every reader’s eye The Old Black Woman Who Sat In the Corner
  11. But after the first 6 essays there was less storytelling and more ramblings.
  12. The result is a mish-mash names, observations during Carnival in Kingston
  13. …trips to Kenya  and Ghana Africa and he text drowns in a sea of memories.
  14. Mr Miller tries to bookend the collection in the last essay
  15. …another letter to James Baldwin that was not as good as the first
  16. …but by now my interest was waning.
  17. #GoodRead essays 1-6 then
  18. ….I say try it and see if your like it more than I did.

#AusReadingMonth 2021 Wrap-up post

  1. It has been a long summer…
  2. filled with climate change events COP26  (fires, hurricanes, floods)
  3. ….USA finally ending a 20 yr war….(…exit was messy)
  4. ….battle to control Covid #DeltaVariant  and now
  5. …a new #OmicronVariant continues!!
  6. I always look forward to #AusReadingMonth2021
  7. @bronasbooks (This Reading Life)
  8. ….and want to thank her for doing a wonderful
  9. …job hosting and reviewing!


 For #AusReadingMonth2021 I read:

  1. Coda – Thea Astley (1994) (novella)  REVIEW
  2. The Year of Living Dangerously – ( 224 pg) Chris Koch (1978)  REVIEW 
  3. Always Add Lemon – Danielle Alvarez  REVIEW
  4. Vertigo: A Novella – (144 pg) Amanda Lohrey (2008) (novella)  REVIEW
  5. The Newspaper of Claremont Street – Elizabeth Jolley (1981) (novella)  REVIEW
  6. In Praise of Veg – Alice Zaslavsky  REVIEW
  7. Australian Food – Bill Granger  REVIEW
  8. Basics to Brilliance – Donna Hay (cookbook)  REVIEW
  9. Tea and Sympathetic Magic – Tansy Rayner Roberts (novella)  REVIEW
  10. I’m Ready Now – (156 pg) Nigel Featherstone (novella)  REVIEW



#NonFicNov 2021 week 4

Week 4: (November 22-26) – Stranger Than Fiction with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that *almost* don’t seem real. A sports biography involving overcoming massive obstacles, a profile on a bizarre scam, a look into the natural wonders in our world—basically, if it makes your jaw drop, you can highlight it for this week’s topic.


My choice are: 


Atomic Thunder by Elizabeth Tynan (2018)



  1. Between 1956 and 1963, the United Kingdom conducted
  2. seven nuclear tests at the Maralinga site in South Australia,
  3. The atomic weapons test series wreaked havoc on Indigenous communities.
  4. It  turned the land into a radioactive wasteland.
  5. In 1950 Australian PM  Robert Menzies agreed to atomic tests
  6. …and left the public completely in the dark.
  7. It is the uncovering of the extensive secrecy around the British tests in Australia
  8. ….and many years after the British had departed, leaving an unholy mess behind.
  9. Elizabeth Tynan has brought together a vast array of detail in this book
  10. that just made my jaw drop!
  11. #MustRead nonfiction
  12. REVIEW




Book nr 2:

Adani:   Following Its Dirty Footprint   by Lindsay Simpson


  1. Another JAW-DROPPING  non-fiction book
  2. that is SO  relevant today thinking about COP26 and
  3. the dangers of climate change.
  4. Absolutely disgusting….what is happening in Australia!
  5. Adani’s license to mine 60 million tonnes of coal for 60 years
  6. threatens Australia’s precious ancient source of groundwater
  7. …in the Galillee Basin, a vast underground water reservoir,
  8. part of the Great Artesian Basin, occupying more than 20% of Australia.