“This is going to hurt” by Adam Kay

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior DoctorThis is Going to Hurt is a hilarious account of what happens in a life of a Junior Doctor in the UK, before he lost his shit and quit. Now he writes TV shows and the like. If I understood correctly, the author was prompted to publish this work as a reply to politicians wanting to cut some funding of NHS in his country.

Not only has this book kept me up until 5 am (which resulted in a raging headache until well into my day – kids, don’t do this), but it has cemented my decision to never have a child growing in my uterus. The author shares to most disturbing, funny and graphic details of his former work as an OB/GYN doctor who has delivered over 1200 babies into this world and managed to convince at least 7 people NOT to name their child Adam at the same time.

He tries to make the topic light and funny as much as he can, but there’s only so much you can do when you write about bodily fluids, cutting open people, prolapses, forgotten sponges in one’s vagina of a prostitute and the dumpster fire that his private life must have been. There’s quite a lot of medical jargon thrown around but the author provides funny and helpful explanations, which were very much appreciated. Although, I could’ve easily lived the rest of my life without knowing a few things.

When I was a wee lassie, I entertained the idea of becoming a psychiatrist, because I have always had a morbid interest in all thing weird and mental disorders. In order to become one, I would’ve had to go to med school and go through the general practice before choosing a direction. After reading this book I am so grateful that my life has taken me in a completely different direction. I can’t even stand reading about blood, yet have someone die on my hands.

If you or someone you know is considering going down the path of this noble profession, I highly recommend reading this book as it sheds light on the really shitty aspects of the life of a doctor.

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“Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Rich Dad, Poor DadThis book basically boils down to live below your means and invest the rest. Don’t fall into the trap of paying stuff on credit and “Keeping up with the Joneses.” This, of course, is completely sound advice and I couldn’t have said it better. The Rich Dad, Poor Dad was an unnecessary gimmick that he presented so he could humanize his advice and call on the authority of fatherhood, making the author someone who knows how to appeal to his costumers. I admire that in a person.

What really annoyed me about this book was how the author was completely against taxes and how they make getting richer harder. This seemed like typical American bullshit about how socialism is a terrible thing and we should all be capitalists (he even mentioned how he admires Donald Trump and his bravado when dealing with business, but to be fair, this is back before the Millenium).

Taxes are there for a reason. If you want infrastructure and social security, you better fucking pay taxes. The only country in the developed world which has issues about taxes on all socioeconomic levels is the US. Maybe it’s the socialist upbringing in me, but hey, taxes are still important. There is also the moral obligation that should exist in the rich to not exploit their workers and to pay their dues to the society.

All in all, if you are starting out to read more about how to manage your finances, this little book is a good start, but don’t expect anything else than a presentation of the money-making mindset.

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“Cane’s Detour” by Dwayne Gill

Cane's Detour: A Kirsty wakes up tied up in a barn, surrounded by many women in the similar position. She casts one quick look around the place and spots a box with artificial blue roses. To her horror, it confirms that she was abducted by the Blue Rose Killer that has kidnapped a couple of dozen of women but hasn’t killed anyone yet. She struggles to escape and runs for her life, bumping into an assassin who is her only hope of survival.

“Cane’s Detour” is a short prequel for Dwayne Gill’s new novel “Written by Blood” which will be published this summer. The prequel introduces the main character of the novel, Cane, who is an assassin on his way to a mission but is caught off guard by a woman in distress and he decides to make a detour to save her and others.

While the author’s writing style takes some getting used to, the story is captivating and engaging. Kirsty’s distress, while she is in captivity, is almost palpable and the reader can’t help but to empathize with her.

The ending definitely is a cruel cliff-hanger and I would have liked more info on Cane and his mission. But I will make sure to watch out of Gill’s novel when it comes out in the summer and if you like a solid thriller, you will too.

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“Learning Alteryx” by Renato Baruti

Learning Alteryx

Alteryx is a computer software and platform that is used for data blending and advanced data analytics. It can be learned by anyone who wishes to do advanced data analytics and who isn’t necessarily a specialist and it’s a useful tool that any business can use to make predictions and make better decisions.

In his book “Learning Alteryx” Renato Baruti provides a simple step by step guide that helps understand how to use the software and how to solve some problems that one comes across in daily business life. It starts with fundamentals of analytics and slowly advances to the more complex concepts. The author decided to use data from the Healthcare domain throughout his book to remain consistent and further simplify the learning curve.

As an aspiring entrepreneur who tends to have big dreams about the future of her business, this book shed some light on Alteryx and taught me a great deal about using data analytics.This particular software is used by many big name brands, such as Audi, Coca-Cola and Microsoft, but it can also be implemented on small businesses.

This book can be used by people who want to get a feel for self-service data analytics or people who already know a thing or two but want to know more and further their education in this particular field.

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“Damselfly” by Chandra Prasad

DamselflyIf you ever wondered what would happen if you put teenage girls in place of young boys in the classic “Lord of the Flies”, then “Damselfly” will definitely answer all of your questions. The narrator, Samantha wakes up on an empty island, covered in bruises and mosquito bites. She soon recalls the plane crash and starts looking for her classmates. Some of them turn up dead while others are battered but alive. They soon organize themselves but under the pressure of danger from the unknown person and the cruelty that they show to each other, they slowly shed their humanity and crumble into a state of feral animals.

The author has a good grasp of the genre and the insight into the teenage mind. The language she uses is clear and manages to slowly escalate the tone of the novel to match the terrifying circumstances that the characters find themselves in.

The one dilemma I have about the structure of the story is about Rittika, who seemed unnecessarily cruel from the beginning and didn’t seem to evolve. The trope of the mean popular girl is quite common in the Young Adult genre but should have some layers or one redeeming quality. But I guess the author wanted to use her as the main sociopath and to emphasize the humanity of the rest of the characters.

My favourite character was Mel, the naturalist genius who takes a lot of o notice of the world around her and probably the only voice of reason in the whole book, apart from Pablo. But after a while, she too falls victim to escapism and carelessness.

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“Siding with Plato” by Michelle Manning

Siding with Plato: A Romantic Comedy Chick Lit about College Life, Love, and Chaos“Siding with Plato” is a funny novel about freshmen adventures of Brooke and her three new friends Darci, Stella and Kate in their first year at the University of Texas, Austin. They go out and party, do a lot of stupid things, get into different kinds of trouble and still manage to have fun and find love.

As someone who never had the American college experience, I found it really interesting, especially the way the author manages to talk about some serious issues of the culture. You have a bunch of young people who leave their parent’s homes for the first time and things happen, like binge drinking, random hookups, having guys keeping tally over sex and girls fighting other girls over dumb things. None of us are strangers to this kind of behaviour and it’s important to recognize that it’s not exactly a healthy behaviour. Michelle Manning manages to do it in a fun and engaging way and I thought that was pretty cool.

James was a bit of a too perfect character and I felt myself completely swooning over him, but that’s what we’re all looking for in a good book boyfriend, isn’t it? A perfect gentleman.

So if you’re looking for a good chick-lit that will definitely make you laugh, look no further. “Siding with Plato” will remind you of your college days or give you a bit of an insight into what it might be if you haven’t enrolled yet. I’ll be patiently waiting for a sequel that seriously needs to come.

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“The Long Body That Connects Us All”

The Long Body That Connects Us AllThe long body that connects us all” is a poetry collection composed of fifty-three poems and divided into three parts. It’s written by Rich Marcello who is an accomplished musician and songwriter, a creative writing teacher, a poet and an artist to his core. He already had three books published, two romance novels and a novel about grief and loss.

The poems found in this collection are often encompassed by the same theme of love and the human experience of what it means to be a man. There is something really special about poems and that is the way they manage to convey us so many emotions and images in so little words and poetry of Rich Marcello is no exception. He manages to provide us with a guide to life and a more emotional experience of manhood.

The first poem in the collection is a great start. “A Piece of Bark,” tells us how the author is heartbroken and that he harbours some guilt to what he had done to his former lover, but he knows that like the tree in the poem, he will heal too. Another poem which I really liked is “Thanksgiving”, which speaks of the family tradition and how the author connects with his father and recognizes that they are both uncertain how to treat each other.

The poet is direct and genuine and he uses metaphors to accompany the sentiments he is expressing. Enjoyment of these poems might be based on whether or not the readers have similar experiences though. But the poems are deeply confessional in nature and they are quite universal.

Poetry today, at least in its classical form, is somewhat a dying art. Although it isn’t my prefered form of literature, I quite enjoyed this collection. The author definitely made his mark on the medium and has developed his own style. I can’t wait to see what else he will produce in his future and I‘m sure many people would find his art enjoyable.

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“The Backseat” by Claire Rye

The BackseatAs American as apple pie, “The Backseat” is a collection of short stories written by an Australian writer Claire Rye. The stories follow lives of a couple of dozen people who are all connected to the 1959 Gothic Gold Chevrolet Impala is some way or another. They describe the little people who lived all around the US (and a couple of Aussies as well). They are a sweet reminder of the simpler times of the mid to late twentieth century, with a high focus on family values.

It all starts with one man who has been a worker for the General Motors for over forty years and his last day before retirement. He assembles his last car, a Gothic Gold Chevy, in which backseat people would give birth, lose their virginity, conceive a child, become a runaway bride, drive all the way to LA to find their fortune, try to reconnect with a father that passed away and so many other things. The car is a witness to life and all its little curiosities and circumstances.

The way the author writes almost resembles taking a quick photograph. The language is clear and simple, but it still manages to bring an emotional response. Also, the fact that she is Australian who managed to portray these snapshots of American culture so effortlessly tells so much about her competency as a writer. Not many people can depict a culture they haven’t grown up in truthfully enough.

There’s something pretty neat in the way all the stories are connected to one another. It really makes you question every little coincidence we all encounter in everyday life and makes you wonder just how many people are connected to us, without us ever meeting them. It certainly puts a smile on my face for some reason.

If you’re looking for a few short stories that will relax you after a long day and put a smile on your face, this is definitely something you should check out.

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“Men at Arms” by Terry Pratchett

Men at Arms (Discworld, #15; City Watch #2)Back in my early teens I rather enjoyed the Discworld series. I thought the books were kind of funny. It was a nice introduction to the genre of epic fantasy. But now, almost a decade later, I am completely convinced that Terry Pratchett was a complete genius and I can’t bloody believe that these books were put in the children’s section of my local library. Well to be fair, back then most of the jokes went over my head anyway.

What’s awfully depressing once you really think about it is the fact that I will never write as good as Terry (we’re basically on the first name basis at this point). At the first look, it seems like these novels are just a bunch of dirty jokes and you’d be completely right, but they are a bunch of intelligently scattered dirty jokes that are mostly hinted at, in the proper way of British humour.

It was especially interesting how the author talks about racism through this book. You’ve got trolls, dwarfs, the undead and humans living in the same city, all having some prejudice against the other. But once they get into the Night Watch, they stop being trolls, dwarfs, the undead and humans and just become the Guards. And that’s pretty neat. Especially the unlikely friendship of Cuddy the dwarf and Detritus the troll.

One of the best decisions I’ve made this year is to get my hands on all of the audiobooks. I’m going to try to listen to them all. I’m doing quite well at the moment. I’m even reading this in the awesome voice of Nigel Planer who really managed to make the characters quite real in my head. I swear I could almost see them all, Carrot walking around the city, Captain Vimes lighting his cigars and Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler selling his sausages in the bun. It definitely makes the time I spend commuting just flash through. I end up bursting into laughter randomly and people look at me funny.

One of the things that really impressed me about Terry’s writing was the obvious, but not overbearing character growth through the series. For instance, Carrot was so much simpler when he arrived at the city in Guards! Guards!, but now his royal blood is starting to shine through.

Anyway, I’m moving on to the Feet of clay. I really can’t get enough of the Night Watch.

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“African American Women With Incarcerated Mates” by Avon Hart-Johnson

African American Women with Incarcerated Mates: The Psychological and Social Impacts of Mass ImprisonmentIn the United States, one in fifteen African American men is incarcerated. The same ethnicity makes 40% of the total prison population, making it a high-risk ethnicity. In her book, Hart-Johnson provides a lengthy insight into lives of African American women who share the experience of having their partners incarcerated. Using interviews with 20 different women who shared their lives stories, the author describes all the consequences of that these women felt.

Incarceration really causes a lot of suffering to all the involved parties. Families often lose their breadwinners, children grow up without fathers and women lose emotional support that their partners provide. And not to mention what kind of monetary strain the families experience in just court-related fines and fees. There is also the sense of shame that comes with the involvement with imprisoned men, but also so much grief since they are removed from their families’ lives. They know that their husbands, sons and brothers are alive but they can’t share simple life moments with them.

What is unfortunate is that these men are often victims of the system which is almost rigged to make them fail. A combination of socio-economic issues like dysfunctional families, lack of proper education and living in a low-income household makes these men turn to crime. It often starts a new cycle in which the next generation has to deal with the similar circumstances.

“African American Women with Incarcerated Mates: The Psychological and Social Impacts of Mass Imprisonment” is a great guide for counselors that come from different backgrounds than the women they would like to help. After every chapter, there is a list of questions to think about and they definitely help to understand the matter better.

As someone who comes from a completely different cultural background than the subjects in question, I found this book extremely insightful. The US has the largest incarceration rate in the world and the fact alone should call for a reform of cultural and political norms that would provide a solution to this problem.

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