Ten Harry Potter Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island


I’m twisting today’s TTT topic in honour of Harry Potter Month! How’s that for killing two birds with one stone. These are the ten characters from the Harry Potter World that I would want with me on a deserted island. We assume that they don’t have broomsticks with them and that they can’t apparate from the island or transfigure into a sea creature to swim away… because that would just be too easy.

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Harry Potter And The “Occult”: How Reading Was Almost Ruined For Me


Last week I wrote about how much the Harry Potter books meant to me as a young reader – and to some degree, still does – but this week I’d like to write about how this lovely part of my childhood was placed in jeopardy.

As is wont to happen, there are groups of society who easily condemn anything that is popular as evil. I attended a conservative primary school, which was very vocal about its ideas of right and wrong. They declared things to be “evil” with striking regularity.

Heh… couldn’t resist.

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Book Review: The Country of Ice Cream Star


My name be Ice Cream Fifteen Star. This be the tale of how I bring the cure to all  the Nighted States, save every poory children, brief for life. Is how a city die for selfish love, and rise from this same smallness.  Be how the new America begin, in wars against all hope – a country with no power in a world that hate its life.  So been the faith I sworn, and it ain’t evils in no world nor cruelties in no red hell can change the vally heart of Ice Cream Star.

In the ruins of a future America, fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star and her people survive by scavenging in the detritus of an abandoned civilization. Theirs is a world of children – by the time they reach the age of twenty, each of them will die of the disease they call posies. Continue reading

Books as a Mirror for Attitudes toward Mental Health


For Mental Health Awareness Month I wanted to make a list of books about mental health. I was done with a rough draft when I realised I didn’t like it: I hadn’t read that many YA about mental health and some pretty voracious readers are sure to post some fantastic lists.

What I do want to talk about is how YA portrays mental health issues, even when it isn’t necessarily focused on mental health.

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Armchair BEA: More Than Just Words


I’m joining Armchair BEA for the first time this year by participating in a few discussions. My dream is one day to attend the real deal… but till then, this will suffice. Today’s discussion is about books that are “more than just words”, and to this end I’m sharing three mini-reviews for books I recently received via NetGalley. (Links click through to longer GoodReads reviews.)

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

I was a bit worried about reading this because I’m not a gamer and I feared that not understanding the culture would hinder my enjoyment. I need not have worried. In short, Anda is a bit of an awkward, seemingly unhappy teenager in a new town, who gets introduced to the world of Massive Multiplayer Online Games, where she joins an all-female guild and becomes known as a kick-ass player. But she also encounters “gold farmers”, a very real occurrence in MMOs. It becomes her mission to “kill” gold farmers, until she befriends one gold farmer from China and realises that most of them are playing long hours just to make a living. Continue reading

Book Review: Postmortem by Maria Phalime


A South African child, born in Soweto, grows through her hardships and losses, excels at school, and decides that to pursue a medical career. She endures great challenges to reach her goal, but after four years as a qualified doctor, she hangs up her stethoscope and leaves the medical profession for good.

What causes our brightest, most passionate minds to leave behind a dream they would have died for? Postmortem: The Doctors Who Walked Away is, at its core, an autopsy not only of Maria Phalime’s career, but of the many South African doctors who have left. Continue reading

Book Review: Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik


Look around you. Wherever you are now – in your room, at your favourite coffee shop – look around you and identify different objects. Coffee mug, shoe, these are pretty easy. Next up: identify some materials. This is a random question right? But there is so much STUFF around you, and it is exactly this STUFF that Mark Miodownik writes about in Stuff  Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape our Man-Made World.

Stuff Matters is a book about the study of materials and it is also hands-down the most fun and interesting sciency book I have ever read. I liked science in high school – particularly chemistry – and I had a great teacher who made the class fun. But I wish I had read this book then, because perhaps it would have made Chemistry dear to me, rather than a stepping-stone to Med School admission. Continue reading

Book Review: Seven Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them


Infectious Disease is interesting. In fact, I would wager that it forms at least part of the backbone leading to most medical students deciding to study medicine, regardless of whether or not they end up enjoying ID.

Seven Modern Plagues by Mark Jerome Walters investigates seven diseases causing havoc today. He looks at the circumstances that first brought them to us… and then illustrates how humanity has, in some way or another, influenced their massive growth. For example, the earliest known HIV case was in 1959, so how and why did it reach such large proportions in the 80s… and why do we still see new forms emerging?

This book is one of my favourite kinds of medical writing: it reads easily, but not so easily that it bores me. It has a good combination of things I already know and new information. The writing style is formal: not so academic as to be distant, not so colloquial as to lack respect for its subject matter. Continue reading

Ten Book Covers I’d Frame As Pieces Of Art


Book covers can be awful and they can be meh and then they can be fantastic – and I’d be lying if I said I’d never picked up a book purely because of it’s beautiful cover. With TTT this week, we highlight some of those covers we’d consider to be pieces of art, quite literally. These are all covers that I’d love to have as large versions in my own future personal library.

Books are listed by author and the cover artist, and linked to the artists’ sites where possible. Feel free to inform me if I missed something.

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