Wicked Plants

by Amy Stewart | 223 pgs, published 2009

I don’t have much to say – this is a non-fiction book about poisonous, deadly, and otherwise harmful plants. Interesting, but forgettable; also, the Kindle edition was a problem, since I couldn’t ever tell what plant I was looking at an illustration of.

Read it or don’t.

Buy Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities on Amazon


The Psychopath Test

by Jon Ronson | 288 pgs, published 2011

More non-fiction. Ronson learns how psychologists look for signs of psychopathy, and begins evaluating everyone he meets. He goes out of his way to interact with people he thinks might be psychopaths: a CEO who shut down factories, insane asylum patients, a death-squad leader.

I was too bored with the book to remember many more details.

It claims to be “A journey through the madness industry,” but it felt more like the author wanted to show how everyone is poorly adjusted and a little crazy. And maybe more people should be institutionalized instead of in positions of power.

The book has a 4-star rating on Amazon, and is one of the bestsellers for last year. I’m glad I just got the ebook from the library and didn’t contribute to that. If you want, read someone else’s review that nicely articulates how I felt about The Psychopath Test.

Skip it! Any recommendations for more interesting mental-health-industry-themed books?

Buy The Psychopath Test on Amazon

The Mistborn Trilogy

by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn | 544 pgs, published 2006
The Well of Ascension | 592 pgs, published 2007
The Hero of Ages | 576 pgs, published 2008

All sorts of exclamatory words!

Why didn’t I read this series earlier?!

So, I remember a friend telling me about it a few years ago, while I was pregnant with Evan. Maybe the description wasn’t quite right; it sounded vaguely interesting, but not enough that I went out to find the book. Or that I even wrote down the title.

When Jarom started his new job, he told me one of his coworkers likes reading. I immediately told Jarom to find out what the coworker’s favorite books were. (I assumed that someone who likes to read has good taste. That turned out ok this time, but I should probably not assume things like that.) He’s a big Brandon Sanderson fan, and mentioned Mistborn. School had just ended, so I needed something to keep myself busy. (As soon as I finished the series, we started buying a house. See how badly I need to be busy?)

I read Mistborn in about a day. I sat outside while the kids napped, and I got badly sunburned. I didn’t sleep. The book was that good. I would never stay up reading a mediocre book! (Maybe?)

And then I got the second and third books as soon as possible.

Ok, let me describe these in a way that is interesting, intriguing, and not boring. First, don’t look at the book covers. I got the books on the Kindle and I thankfully didn’t see the terrible cover art. It might have scared me off. But it does let you know that these are fantasy books. Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal. Think of Pathfinder plus a dash of Howl’s Moving Castle plus Sabriel plus your other favorite fantasy book. It reminds me of something else, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. So imagine that some people can ingest small flakes of metal (of varying types) and use that to enhance certain abilities.

Wow, see? Describing it is not easy. But imagine that, only it’s SO INTERESTING. Here’s how Amazon summarizes: “For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the ‘Sliver of Infinity,’ reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier ‘snapped’ and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.”

A little better?

So I quickly devoured the first book, like I said. The second and third books? Possibly more amazing, particularly the second (The Well of Ascension). Everything about this series is perfectly executed. The writing is so, so fantastic, the characters are wonderful, the story – overwhelmingly good.

If you like fantasy, or if you trust my opinion, READ THESE BOOKS. Biggest recommendation I have ever given! (Except maybe for Cutting for Stone, which you absolutely must read.)

Buy the trilogy on Amazon