Horrible Science – Fatal Forces by Nick Arnold and Illustrated by Tony De Saulles

Horrible Science – Fatal Forces by Nick Arnold and Illustrated by Tony De Saulles

Published by Scholastic Group UK in 1997

ISBN 978 0439 94448 9

Horrible Science

Science with the squishy bits left in!

Why do your ears stop you falling off your bike?

How can a little bit of gravity make you lose your head?

What can make your fillings explode?

Get the awful answers in Fatal Forces


It is years since I read a science book, and I remember when I got to college thinking – this is completely different from what I read at primary school!  And it was!  Fortunately, Nick Arnold also saw that kids were struggling with todays’s science, so he grossed it up and made it fun.

Physics and Forces were never my thing, but I understand them a lot better now that I have read this delightfully sickening book.  Not only does it explain the different types of forces, but it also has quick biographies on some of the well known, and lesser well known scientists who contributed to the laws of physics.

A very useful book if you have teenagers in the house struggling to understand anything science.


Choosing the Amusing – Marilyn Meberg

Choosing the Amusing by Marilyn Meberg

Published in 1999 by W Publishing Group

ISBN 0-8499-3744-2

When was the last time you laughed till your sides hurt?  Get ready because it’s about to happen again.

What difference does it make whether you laugh or don’t laugh?  In Marilyn Meberg’s view, laughter makes all the difference in the world.  Laughter lifts the spirit, cheers the heart, and clears the mind.  So important is laughter that she proposes a “Laughter Lifestyle,” and while she makes her case, you find yourself smiling at her unexpected ideas, chuckling over her madcap experiences, and finally roaring with laughter as you read and reread her outrageous personal stories.

I found this in the local op shop and it sounded like the light and easy read that I could do with right now.  It wasn’t until I got home that I also discovered it was Christian based (which doesn’t worry me in the least).

Laughter is the best medicine, and it has been scientifically proven to be so.  It releases “feel good” endorphins into the brain, which help you to feel better.  But Marilyn goes a step further and states that you need to constantly look for laughter, whether it be through funny situations, or just acting like a child (which she is fully supportive of, and acts from some of the stories in the book).

As adults, we tend to find life a bit too serious, and I know that I suffer from this.  But there is nothing like knowing that Funniest Home Videos is on everyday from 5pm until 5:30pm, and I can get a full belly laugh which sets me up for the rest of the night.

Humour lightens the load, you feel relaxed, calm and restored when you have a good laugh.  When we don’t laugh, we feel undervalues, we aren’t heard and we aren’t real.

This book has some very amusing anecdotes and stories as well as explaining why you need to find humour in your every day life.

Wild Mind – Natalie Goldberg

Here is compassionate, practical, and often humorous advice about how to find time to write, how to discover your personal style, how to make sentences come alive, and how to overcome procrastination and writer’s block – including more than thirty provocative “Try this” exercises to get your pen moving.

And here also is a larger vision of the writer’s task: balancing daily responsibilities with a commitment to writing; knowing when to take risks as a writer and a human being; coming to terms with success and failure and loss; and learning self-acceptance – both in life and art.

Wild Mind will change your way of writing. It  may also change your life.

I read this book back in October last year while I was taking a break from my writing. I was hoping that it would help me figure out what was blocking me from writing my story, and while to begin with it didn’t seem as though I was getting much from it, by the time I reached the ending I was pleasantly surprised.

This is a meandering book, with the stories shared not being told in chronological order, nor do they always seem to have a clear point. However, there are lots of examples about how this particular author lives, and how the way she lives impacts on the way she writes. The things she shares are interesting, though sometimes I think a little outdated. A lot of this was written several decades ago and does show.

A lot of the information in this book is similar to the things you might find in other books about writing, so if you are new to the scene, or looking for a different take then it could be a good one to check out. Though if you’re turned off by Zen/Buddhist stuff, then you might want to pass.

Personally, it wasn’t until I very nearly reached the end that I started to grasp the revelation that has helped changed my mindset – the realization that is now allowing me to write without the pressure, to breathe in the story and exhale it onto the page.

My best writing comes when I write the story from beginning to end. When I write it full, when I infuse it with the details that make the characters and world come to life, those quirky things that are vital to the who and the where. And this is the message I am taking from this book.

I don’t think it’s for everyone, but for those who do pick it up, I think there is every chance you’ll find something useful to take away from it.

Sugar Nation – Jeff O’Connell (quick review)

Sugar Nation is more than a cautionary tale – it is the true story of one man’s struggle to regain control of his life and save himself from his father’s fate.

This prescriptive memoir tells the tale of a tall, fit Men’s Health writer who knew nothing about type 2 diabetes until learning one day that his estranged father had just lost a leg to the disease. At a routine physical the following week, he found out that same killer had him in the crosshairs as well. He was stunned and, like most people who receive a serious medical diagnosis, frightened.

Through the prism of one man’s experience, Sugar Nation is a penetrating, startling, and insightful look at this quiet killer and what nees to be done now to triumph over it – before it’s too late.

I picked this title up from NetGalley a few months ago, and it’s taken me a fairly long time to make my way through it – but then, I find that’s often the case with non-fiction. I wanted to be shocked, and warned off sugar, and this book certainly did that. It showed with great detail just how bad the situation is with diabetes and the foods we eat, as well as how the treatments are lacking.

While most of the stats were from America, there were several instances that gave a global picture of the increasing number of people world wide who suffer from this. But the book also highlighted that there is a shift of mind set that needs to happen before we (globally) can really tackle the problem, because this isn’t something you can just medicate and expect to go away. You need to make real lifestyle changes, and that’s not always easy.

One thing that really stood out for me was when he said something along the lines of: if you told a cancer patient that all s/he had to do was stick to a certain diet and exercise a certain amount in order to save their lives, they would do it – we know that cancer can kill us. Doctors say the same thing to diabetes or pre-diabetes patients, and they simply don’t/can’t seem to make the changes, even though it could very well save their lives.

It’s as if while we’ve been told that diabetes can kill, because the process can be so slow, we don’t really see it as a threat to our health in the same way that we view cancer. As an exhausted mother who frequently props herself up on sugar, I know just how hard it can be to wean off the wrong foods. Books like this help give me the incentive to change the way I consume.

This is a big book to work through. I’ll confess to skimming through parts of it, but I think there are some interesting points in there. It seems to be well researched, though I find it hard to believe that the medical professionals in America are as behind the eight ball on diabetes as they are shown here – I hope that’s not the case for all Doctors.

Compost – Claire Foster

It’s not often that I review a non-fiction book,  but I wanted to give this one a mention as I recently finished it and actually learned a lot! Spring is approaching here in the Southern Hemisphere, and as such my head is full of gardening plans – I always get into this mode, but this year am hoping that because the kids are that little bit older, I can actually make a good effort at producing a lot of our own vegetables.

A friend recommended that I pick up this little book (very cheap at the Book Depository, by the way), and so I did.

Wow, there were a lot of things I did not know about compost. This book gives a great run down of everything involved – from how decomposition works, what makes up soil, how compost helps your garden, the kind of ways you can compost, and even what you can put in it (I was astonished to learn that you can put hair from your hairbrush, and even the contents of vacuum cleaner bags in!).

For a beginner like me, it was the perfect introduction to something that I’ve been putting in the ‘too hard’ basket for a little while. I was under the impression that compost smells (every time I think about starting, my husband brings this point up), but now know that is not the case.

If you are a gardener and haven’t yet started composting, but have an interest in it, I recommend picking up this book. It’s an easy to read tool that will help you get the most out of your garden, as well as reducing the amount of rubbish you send to the tip – so much can be reused in compost, which in turn enriches the soil and helps your crops. Well worth investing the time in.