Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall

I had been spotting this in bookshops for over a year before I read it. Obviously, the word geography caught my eye every time (I have a BSc in Geography) and I was so so tempted but for some reason I never bought it. In the end, one of my friends off of my Geology masters had the book and allowed me to borrow it. I then hoarded it for a bit until Non-Fiction November came around, and now I had no excuse for putting it off anymore.

This book covers how the physical geography of our planet has influenced the political lines that are present today. How waterways can increase trade capabilities, how the US was so easily made into one large country (at the expense of the natives already living there) and why Africa isn’t as developed as other areas in the world as well as much more.

It goes into the impact that geography has had historically on politics, as well as what is happening in the present (Russia anyone?) and how the future is likely to progress, still being restricted by the world around us. An incredibly interesting read and one I’m glad I finally got around to! 4.5/5*

The Secret Barrister

I had heard of this book through Portal In the Pages mentioning it in her videos, and one day I happened to spot it in the fiction section of my local favourite charity shop! Why it was there I don’t know, but I picked it up either way and waited impatiently for non-fiction November to read it!

This is an anonymous work from someone who works within law in the UK as a barrister. Their anonymity means that they can be brutally honest about how the law works here in the UK and mention the flaws without possible backlash to their career. Not only did this book interest me, but it also taught me a lot more about the law in my own country than I ever knew. I now feel more confident about where to start if I ever required assistance, but that definitely isn’t the book’s intention, we’re just not taught about the law in compulsory schooling here in the UK.

There are so many issues with how we try criminals and intend to protect alleged victims, and although the individuals themselves try as hard as they can, they are working against a system that is designed for two things only: cut costs and imprison more people (innocent or not).

If you are living in the UK I recommend this as it will open your eyes to how the system works here, as well as recommending this to those who are interested in law from other countries, as ours functions quite differently to US law and other systems around the world.

Overall I gave this book 4.5/5*

Nature’s Home, the RSPB magazine

Until Non-Fiction November rolled around, I didn’t think that this magazine would count as “reading” in terms of including it in a wrap-up etc. Now I realise how silly that was, as if I count it as reading then it’s reading, hence you getting a review of a magazine for the first time ever!

This was a lot more interesting to read than I thought. It’s the migration edition, talking about birds both leaving and coming to the British Isles due to the change in weather. There are obviously sections about how to spot the birds and what paths they’ll take (and as someone who struggles to identify birds this isn’t the most interesting section), however, there are also interesting articles about which birds migrate and why, what we have learnt in recent years about migration both as a whole and for individual species and much more.

Also there are other typical creatures of British wildlife included, so if you like birds and being out in nature, a £4 a month subscription to help out the RSPB (and get this magazine 4 times a year), as well as getting free access to all their reserves might just be something to consider.

November Wrap Up| 2018

November was the month of Non-Fiction, and so I set myself a heady tbr of 13 books, some from friends, some from NetGalley and some I just have with me at uni. I ended up with a total read number of 9, but this wasn’t all of the books I put on my tbr at the begining of the month. I knew I was likely not going to get to all of them, as depending on how it’s written, non-fiction can be really slow going for me. However, I also picked up 2 non-fic books in a charity shop just before starting the challenge and this meant that I ended up reading them! But at least they’re read now! So let’s get into what I actually got around to this month.

hero at the fall

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton -> 5/5*

I finished this series off in the first few days of November and absolutely adored it. My heart was torn out, sewn up and then torn out again! This is one of my favourite series ever and I need to buy them all! (I got them all out of my libraries)

reasons to stay aliveReasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig -> 3.5/5*

This was a difficult book for me to read. I have depression, and hearing it talked about in this manner triggered it frequently throughout my time reading. However, it was also interesting hearing about his story. Just tread carefully if you struggle with mental health issues.

rspbNature’s Home by the RSPB -> 4/5*

This is the seasonal magazine that the RSPB send around to their members. It was surprisingly enjoyable and I am definitely going to read the ones I get in the future. I learnt a lot which I wasn’t expecting to and it was simply a nice read.

the secret barristerThe Secret Barrister -> 4/5*

I really enjoyed this, a book I had seen promoted on Portal in the Pages channel (click to see her YouTube page) so when I spotted it in the charity shop I just had to pick it up. It was incredibly interesting to learn about the structural failures and corruption issues present within the UK law system from someone who has no reason to hide anything other than their name (the author is annonymous). This was a great read.

Weird War TwoWeird War Two by Richard Denham -> 3/5*

Of course I was going to get to at least one WWII book in my selection. This one talks about weird tactics, rumours spread on purpose and weird beliefs of those on both sides. I knew a few of the facts within already, but it was also great to add more factoids to my knowledge!

love and kisses from my padded cellLove and Kisses From my Padded Cell by Dr Ellie Henkind Katz -> 3/5*

Dr Katz interviewed around 12 people who have came out the other side of the 12 step process of overcoming (a variety of) addictions. Some of them have been successful, some have not. And it also exposes their pasts and how they got to where they were. As someone who is interested in psychology this was interesting and a very quick read.

the path to changeThe Path to Change by Pope Francis -> 2.5/5*

An interview with the current Pope, this was incredibly interesting, however, also very hard to read. It was not written in an engaging way but I was interested in the content. Too much repetition meant it got dropped down, but I am still really glad I read it.

POG cover final.inddPrisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall -> 4.5/5*

This was such an incredibly interesting book. I learnt about how the past and the present have been hugely influenced by geology and geography and also how this is likely to continue into the future. It was also relevant with Russia’s current Ukraine situation so that was a nice added bonus.

what itWhat If? by Randall Munroe -> 5/5*

If you want scientific, thought out answers to absurd and stupid questions then this is your book! It satisfied the nerdy scientist in me and was also really funny to boot! Definitely one to pick up if you’re even vaguely interested in science!

And that’s that! A really fun selection and some absolutely great reads this month! Next month I should hopefully stick to my tbr a little bit more, but I’m still very happy with what I read this month. Have you read any of these? Or are you going to? Let me know in the comments!

The Path to Modernity

Another book that I chose to read for Non-Fiction November, The Path To Change is an official biography of Pope Francis (the current pope) conducted through interviews with the author. I personally am not religious, but Pope Francis seems to be more in contact with the current social climate than previous popes and I was interested to hear his thoughts and learn a little more about him.

This book tells us a little about his background and childhood, where he started and how he has developed into the sort of man he is today, but the main focus of the interviews is his opinion of events today. How the Church communicates with its members, various political concepts which are hot topics and also opinions on morality. Although I found him repeating himself a lot (building bridges is a favourite topic of his), it was interesting to see what he thought about these topics and learn a little more about the head of the Catholic Church.

I won’t lie, this wasn’t the easiest of reads, the interview format does not lend itself to easy reading and the repetition, whilst emphasising points, did make me zone out a few times. However, I am glad that I have read this book and have learned more about an area of the world to which I am not connected.

I gave this book 3/5 stars. Thank you to NetGalley for an ecopy of this book in return for an unbiased review.

Sending a review from My Padded Cell

This was a very quick read, being only 230 pages, and also an enjoyable one. An account of people lives and how various events and circumstances lead them to addiction. This book doesn’t just focus on drug addictions, but also on those of gambling and the need for attention.

We are given the life story of a selection of people. Their childhoods, which were normally not ideal whether due to abuse, poverty or something else, through to abusive of negative relationships, both romantic and otherwise, and then through to their struggle with “sobriety” and how they’ve dealt with the 12 Step Programme. There are some fresh successes, some who have failed and have come back again, and also some who have managed to stay “sober” and have decided to work with other addicts and help them to improve their lives.

It’s a very candid look at these peoples lives, and it very much made me feel connected with these individuals and feel more for their situation. All too often addicts are stigmatised within our society, but this stigma can prevent them from reaching the help that they need and deserve. Books like this one can help break down the walls of that stigma and in turn allow more people to recover and become active members of society.

I gave this book 3/5 stars, thank you to NetGalley for an ecopy of this book in return for an unbaised review.

My November TBR| 2018

This month I’m going for something a little bit different. The whole month is Non-Fiction November, so all of my TBR is non-fiction! Now this doesn’t mean I won’t be reading fiction during the month, and I also probably won’t be getting to all of these books within November. Essentially, this is the list of Non-Fiction books I have immediate access to while at uni that I’m going to try and read in November. As always I have done a video for this which is up on my YouTube channel Autumn of Pellinor (click here for the video link) and I’m not going to type up about the different challenges for Non-Fiction November here, so if you want more info about that then head to the video, or straight to Alex Black’s channel, as she is one of the hosts. Now into the tbr!!

POG cover final.inddPrisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall

My undergraduate degree was Geography BSc, hence my interest in this. I have borrowed it from a friend on my Masters course and I’m hoping it’ll be an interesting read from a Geographical and possibly Geological standpoint.

the secret barristerThe Secret Barrister

You’ll notice this book has no author. This is a memoir/biography/tell-all about the UK legal system and therefore the author has withheld their name to avoid tarnishing their name and losing their job. If I like the writing style of this, I anticipate it being a very fast and very engrossing read.

Image result for rspb magazine follow the flyaway

Nature’s Home by RSPB

This is a bit of a deviation from the norm, as it is a magazine which I get as I am a member of the RSPB (hence also the lack of cover). However, I checked with Alex and she said I was good to go with a non-fiction magazine so I’m looking forward to reading through this!

the path to changeThe Path to Change by Pope Francis

As an atheist, you might be thinking that this is a bit of a weird choice for me. However, I feel like this Pope is very much about humanity and kindness to others, and that is something which is universal across beliefs.

a forest in the cloudsA Forest in the Clouds by John Fowler

A memoir about someone’s time in a location that is no longer what it once was that includes ecology? Hello, I’m here! Whether I like this book or not definitely depends on how I feel about the writing style so fingers crossed.

butterflyButterfly by Yusra Mardini

A young girl escaped the war in Syria and made her way to the Olympics, and this is her biography. Of course I need to read this! This won’t be the happiest of books, I’m assuming, but I think it’s important to hear from those who have been impacted in Syria.

elon muskElon Musk by Ashlee Vance

This is a biography on the tech guru Musk, who until recently I thought relatively well of. In more recent times he’s become a bit egotistical and this has made me rethink my view on him. However, this doesn’t negate the work he has done and I’m hoping this will inform me about more of it.

love and kisses from my padded cellLove and Kisses from my Padded Cell by Dr. Ellie Henkind Katz

Interviews conducted by a medical professional with those who have suffered from addiction, something that greatly intrigues me as I have a love of psychology. Seeing as this has been written by a Doctor I’m hoping that any conclusions made will be done on the back of solid evidence.

five days that shocked the worldFive Days that Shocked the World by Nicholas Best

The first WWII book on this list! Finally! This covers five days from the end of the war and the shocking things that people witness on these days of lawlessness and panic. This one won’t exactly be a cheery read but it is something I will find incredibly interesting and thought-provoking.

the woman who fought an empireThe Woman Who Fought an Empire by Gregory J. Wallance

A tale from WWI for a change, this book is all about Sarah Aaronsohn and her part in the war. I know nothing at all about this individual or her actions so I’m looking forward to learning all about her.


Weird War TwoWeird War Two by Richard Denham

Weird arse stuff that people invented during the second world war to try and win, is essentially what this book is going to cover from what I can tell from the synopsis. I know a few weird tactics that were attempted or even used, but hopefully, this will add some more to that list!

life honestlyLife Honestly by The Pool

This is a collection of essays from the website named “The Pool” who are pro-egalitarianism. All the essays/articles in here are by female writers. I don’t know too much more about this work, but I’m hoping that there will be some interesting social commentary inside.

glory in their spiritGlory in Their Spirit by Sandra M. Bolzenius

I don’t read much about the US’s involvement in WWII, and absolutely none of that has involved black people. This is the true story of four black women who fought for their rights and their country in a time when their country didn’t want them. This should be such a powerful and educational read.


And that’s it! These are all the books on my tbr for November! There’s quite a few here I know, and I won’t get around to them all, but I hope I get to a good chunk of them. Have you read these or have them on your tbr? Let me know what you think of them and whether you’re going to participate in Non-Fiction November. Even just reading one non-fiction thing counts! Join in!