Monday, 29 October 2012

Take Five by Renee Pawlish




This is a collection of five short stories by Renee Pawlish that I have had on my kindle for a good while now. I am not sure but it may have been a freebie so I am loathe to give a negative review but I have to be totally honest about how I feel about it.

On a positive note this book is well presented and well edited which you can't always say about other books on the indie market. However I found these small crime stories lacked something vitally important, maybe something extra that could get me on the edge of my seat.A hook or a clever plot twist or two? The stories are average at best and my main problem was just that.A couple of the stories had disappointing endings ( including one It was all a dream ending) that made me feel short changed. At least one of the stories had a bit of action in it which I thought was handled well and I do think the last story in the collection hints that Renee Pawlish may be be more suited to writing with a little bit of humour. I really liked the idea of a grown up man dancing in his living room with a mannequin!

An average 2/5.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

46 The Road by Cormac McCarthy



I read this on my kindle while I was taking a family holiday on the East Coast of England and it was a brilliant read. When my wife asked me what I was reading I told her it was about a man and a boy who are walking around on a dead world after there has been some kind of a catastrophic event and that people are going around eating other people to stay alive! That made me smile but is the general gist of the book!

I don't know how I came to have this book on my kindle but I remember that it was recommended to me from someone or other but I don't know who. The book is beautifully devastating and gritty and terrifyingly horrific. There's nothing funny about finding a corpse in the middle of a roadside but this book is beautifully written. In fact I don't know if I have read a more beautifully or skillfully written book this year. This guy certainly knows how to write and any aspiring writer only needs to read this book to learn what he needs to aspire too. This is a true artist at work and will have to look out for more from Cormac McCarthy.

I gave it a 4 out of 5 rather than a 5 merely because although it is beautifully written I have read more exciting books and perhaps it needed more of a plot or a twist or two for me to give it a 5.

The Girl in the Glass by Zoe Brooks




In the short time that I have been doing reviews for this blog I have learned that indie books are very much hit and miss. This one was pretty much a miss as far as I am concerned. It took me a few weeks to read and I read even a few books inbetween due to the fact that I found it tedious!

The story starts off in a promising way and literally fizzes out as it goes along. The premise of the book is a girl called Anya who lives in a house with a cruel stepmother who spends most days locked in a broom cupboard. Eventually she escapes and the story kind of loses the plot in more ways than one. My main problem with the book is that it is too confusing and there are too many gaps. Never at any point are we told where this story takes place, it could be in a mythical land or on the far side of the galaxy. We also have a strange character who is Anya's shadow. What or whom a shadow is is never mentioned or stated clearly. I found this confusing and frustrating. I do like the idea that we all have a shadow but I feel this idea wasn't explained or plotted properly.

I eventually read this book because I am determined to finish all the books I started but it was a pain to be honest. A boring and frustrating 1/5.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

43 Introducing NLP: A Practical guide by Neil Shah




After reading two books on body language it felt like a natural progression for me to be introduced to the subject of N.L.P or Neuro Linguistic Programming. It actually goes hand in hand with body language and body language is an element of NLP.

At first this book hits you like a brick and it comes across as being a little bit convoluted and after reading the first few pages I thought I was inducing a nice juicy migraine. But each chapter slowly makes sense and makes fascinating reading. NLP is an amazing tool in any area of life whether it is business, financial, family or personal growth. There's a lot to get your head around in this book and it's not something you can just read and put on the backburner for a while. NLP techniques need to be remembered and practiced on a daily basis in order for them to be become a part and parcel of your life. I was particularly fascinated by the concepts of mirroring and visualisation, embedded commands and anchoring; I really want to learn more about NLP and perhaps see where it takes me.

Anyone who is interested in self help and body language could find this subject helpful. I did and am hoping to learn more on the subject.


Food for thought. I give it a 5/5.

Friday, 7 September 2012

41 and 42 Two Books on Body language




Body Language of Love by Allan and Barbara Pease





Body Language ( Collins Need to Know) by Carolyn Boyes


I have recently become fascinated with the whole idea of Body Language and found these two books to be amazingly interesting. The first and possibly the shorter of the two focuses on the body language of Love. To tell you the truth it was an eye opener and I didn't realise courtship was so complicated and that womens body language was so complicated.Seriously it's like a whole new secret decoded language! I only wish I had a book like this when I was younger and in full possession of a good head of hair! It is a funny and engrossing introduction to body language and it has definitely given me a few pointers when it comes to reading women.I think any young and single bloke would do well to read this and maybe this old goat can learn a few things.


The second book by Carolyn Boyes was just as interesting and takes a broader look at body language and moves on from the previous book. It's really funny when you learn a little about this subject and put some of it into practice and it can be quite helpful to read and use body language too! The first book gave me a good introduction and helped me to understand this one even better. Will I ever become a body language expert? Probably not but it will be fun trying. This book features photographs which are helpful and hilarious at times and there is something for everyone whether you are searching for a soulmate or trying to sell carpets. The only issue I had was a small one. The book very much focuses on being confident and strong but I still think there is a lot to be said about the more introvert and shy amongst us. Sometimes shyness is better than over confidence.


Fascinating books. May give the Body Language of Love 5/5 and the second one 4/5.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Sawbones - Stuart Macbride



It's always cool to stumble across an Author that you haven't read before and I was lucky enough to receive this in a pile of books from a work colleague. I read this small book in two days and it was fun with a capital F.

There is a lunatic abducting young women in America but this time he has picked on the wrong woman. This time it's not the police he has to worry about but a notorious set of gangsters! Sawbones is witty and dark, fast and furious and highly entertaining. I really like Stuart Macbrides style and he is an author that I must revisit at some point.


If you fancy a quick filler, you can't go wrong with this. 4/5

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K Rowling




Ok it has been nearly two years since I read the first Potter book and since my intention (as a writer) is to read everything I thought it was about time I read another one. This is as fun and enjoyable as the Philosophers Stone and again I enjoyed it immensely. That is the great thing about these books, they are for the whole family, including me!

I think every aspiring author (of any genre) can learn a lot from Joanne Rowling. This book is imaginative and funny and well crafted and even though I confess I have never seen any of the Harry Potter books I actually saw the whole thing in my head as if it was a movie. I guess that is her talent, I have read so many books where I can't always picture the characters and the places but this isn't one of them. Will I ever get to read all the series? Maybe, I hope so.

The big kid in me says give it a 5 out of 5 and who am I to argue, I'm in a good mood.

Hogwartstastic ! 5/5

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Diary of Anne Frank




I could describe this book as moving. I could describe it as incredibly moving. I could also say that this book is devastatingly tragic but any words of mine are not enough. This is a book that was never intended to be read by anyone, let alone me, a 41 year old bloke from Chorley.It is a personal diary of a young girl who is hiding with her family and four other people in a secret annexe in Amsterdam, hiding from sickening and evil Nazi invaders.

It is a book of courage, of love, of family life and frustration. Anyone that reads 'The Diary of Anne Frank' cannot escape feeling her sense of claustrophobia and cannot escape a desire to go back in time and rescue her and her family from impending doom. This is more than just a history lesson, it is a life lesson, incredibly touching and inspiring. I dare anybody to read this book without feeling a tragic sense of loss and sadness at the end. I cannot rate this book, I can never write a book like this and nobody ever will again. I became Anne Frank for a few days and I will never forget this book. Powerful stuff.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

38 The Black House by Peter May




The quiet and remote Isle of Lewis in Scotland is disturbed when a man is found hanging by his neck on the rafters of an old boatshed. Detective Inspector Fin Macleod is sent from Edinburgh to investigate and finds himself in a private battle not only with an unknown killer but also with himself.His past and present begin to unravel and he finds that this tiny island has more than a few skeletons in its closet.

I can't believe this book has been sitting on my 'To Be Read' pile since March, I guess my problem was that I was expecting it to be just another average thriller and most thrillers are really not my thing.After hearing a few good things said about it I decided to take it from my bookshelf.

This is definitely not an average thriller, it is superb. I was really taken by the main character and I enjoyed the way I was taken on a journey through the past and into the present of the inhabitants of Lewis. I have never been to the Isle of Lewis but it was a beautiful and powerful backdrop to a delightful read. For the first time in ages I was emotionally connected to the story, a story that was actually revealed slowly piece by piece, something I really like in a book. The past and future were interwoven cleverly through alternating first person and third person perspectives.

Personally I wouldn't say it was an all out thriller as the crime mystery at the very centre of the plot was often on the fringes of the main story.It was more of a literary fiction piece with the story of Fin and Marsaili and Artair, the principal characters, as the main story. For quite a larger than average book The Black House is pretty impressive and won me over from the beginning. I was surprised and pleased to discover that this is the first in a trilogy and I am looking forward to continue my adventures on Lewis.Especially after reading the except from the second book that was included at the end.

A very good book, I gave it a 5 out of 5.

Monday, 30 July 2012

An Interview With John Blackburn




It is my great pleasure to invite John Blackburn to this blog, Author of the highly amusing and encouraging book Keeping Your Sense Of Tumour. Diagnosed with Myeloma, a cancer of the blood in 2008, this is the story of how a positive attitude and a loving family can help in the most extreme and trying circumstances.

His book is available through Amazon and directly through the author himself. All profits of this amazing book are going directly to various charity organisations.


John, for anyone who hasn't read your book can you describe it in a nutshell?


It’s the story of how my life was turned completely upside down when, having made the decision to retire early and enjoy some quality leisure time, I was rushed into hospital and diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer. For someone who had never been able to face even the slightest medical procedure before it should have signalled the end of the world for me, and I would fully have expected me to seek out a corner in which to crawl and just curl up and wait for the inevitable end but I didn’t – despite my worst fears, I have actually somehow managed to cope with it. It occurred to me that there must be a lot of people out there who might think that they couldn’t cope either with a similar scenario, and I felt that telling my story might help them too. I have also tried to ensure that the story has been well and truly injected as much as I have throughout but with humour, not drugs, as there have been a number of amusing incidents along the way in the midst of all the difficulties, and that just happens to be my style of writing.


What inspired you to write the book and where did the idea come from?


I had always intended to write as part of my retirement ‘plan’ and while the subjects I had in mind had nothing to do with medical matters, suddenly the material for my debut book was there right in front of me!


Did you make a plan for the book or did you just write it as you went along?


This particular book didn’t need much in the way of advance planning as it was written chronologically. Certain incidents from hospital as related in the book were already in my mind before I started to write and once I’d made the decision to begin I just had to make a note of anything which happened in advance of my getting to that part of the story.


Being diagnosed with Myeloma is such a life changing event and reading your book it is obvious that it has been a rollercoaster ride for you and your family. What keeps you going and what advice would you give to others who find themselves in a similar situation? I don't think I could be as brave or as courageous as you have been.


Yes I can’t deny that it has been as you say ‘a rollercoaster ride’ but you also said ‘for you and your family’ and the concept of a problem shared is a problem halved has a lot of merit in a situation like this. Had I been forced to face it all on my own I honestly don’t think I would have had either the motivation or any of the other qualities of character that would have been necessary to put up with all that was involved. However, I vividly recall seeing the sadness etched in the faces of my immediate family right at the beginning and I knew that I had to do whatever I could to survive as much for their sake as for my own. As for you or anyone else doubting whether they possess sufficient bravery or courage to face such an ordeal, you can never know until it comes your way! Given the level of support that I had, I promise you that if I can come through it then it is possible for anyone else to do so too. The other simple guideline I would recommend is to face each day on its own merits. One bad day doesn’t mean the next one will be too, likewise though with the better days. Some days are very difficult, others relatively easy, and that is as true for me now as it was when I was first diagnosed more than three and a half years ago!


What do you hope to achieve with the book, I know you are hoping to make some money for charity?


The charity side of it was the third element of my aims for the book and the one that can actually be measured. Before that, though, comes the hope that at least one person who thought they couldn’t face a similar situation will hopefully read the book and possibly find that they can cope after all. Also I wanted to publicly thank all who had helped to make it possible for me to come through everything – family, friends, everyone at the hospital and nursing-home, etc. etc. Quite a list!


What is your favourite book (or books), that you have read as an adult or when you were younger?


I was very keen on Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle as a teenager and this progressed into an interest in other crime whodunits later. Eventually, though, my interest in fiction waned and sporting and entertainment biographies and autobiographies took over. One book which has remained a favourite over the last ten to fifteen years, but which will need an explanation as to why, is a novel - “Sucking Sherbet Lemons” by Michael Carson. My latest genre of reading matter is the correct use of language books – “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” by Lynne Truss and “Between you and I” – I hate the modern misuse of punctuation (especially apostrophe’s – like that, grrr!) and basic grammatical errors, so I suppose I’m a bit of a pain where that sort of thing is concerned – LOL!!!


What was life like growing up for you as a child and what are your fondest memories?


I am the youngest of four children (though my sister is only five minutes older than I!) brought up in the relatively poor part of Chorley. It was the time of rationing in the postwar era, though we wouldn’t have been aware of it being any different from any other time. I’ve no particularly sad memories of my early life but our parents were quite religious and we certainly knew what a genuine Catholic upbringing was like, and the guilt complex so often associated with it. All this will hopefully be illustrated should I ever manage to complete the book which I thought would have been the first one to appear during my retirement. I started to write this more than twenty years ago and have returned to it at regular intervals since. It covers my life from the age of thirteen to seventeen and tells how I left mainstream schooling in order to join the religious order which taught at our school and put the fear of God up us all! Anyone who has ever known me since finds it rather incredible that someone such as I might have ever considered a lifestyle such as that, but I did! That book is about 75% complete and hopefully will one day see the light of day in its own right. What it has in common with “Keeping Your Sense Of Tumour” is that they are both basically serious subjects but as anyone who has read what I’ve written up to now the treatment which I give them is aimed to take the gravitas out of them and put a few smiles in there instead! One section of the novel I referred to, Sucking Sherbet Lemons, covers the same subject as my proposed book and, more than that, its setting is the same and so are some of the characters! It may be a novel, but it is an autobiographical one. The author was a contemporary of mine writing under a nom de plume and it’s fair to say that our approach to the subject is rather different and so is the way that both our lives have turned out. Suffice to say that I found Michael’s book to be well-written and very entertaining and having been able to contact him since via Friends Reunited I have to thank him for being very encouraging and supportive of my own efforts.


What do you like to do in your spare time, have you got any interesting hobbies and are you considering writing any more books?


It seems to follow then that I would have to list writing as one of my main hobbies, as it has taken up a large part of my free time over the years. As a result, my loft and, latterly, my PC, have become storehouses for a whole variety of complete, part-written books and ideas. Other than already mentioned, I wrote a shortish book about jogging back in the eighties when I did quite a lot of that activity, culminating in actually running a full marathon just before my fortieth birthday – hard to believe that now, eh? I made a start on a book about the long road from deciding to start a family before having to endure tests and culminating with adopting children – what a long and eventful time that was! Also in my loft is a huge collection of misprints and unfortunate headlines and stories from newspapers collected over the years – anything which has made me smile over the years has probably found its way up there and one day I’d love to get that organised and who knows…? I used to write comic poems for all occasions too which always seemed to be well received, and they are all up there too – it’s a wonder the bedroom ceiling hasn’t collapsed under all the weight!! Nor should I omit telling you of my other book which is on Amazon, if you haven’t already become aware of it. It’s a mini-book, only about eleven pages long so I didn’t bother trying to publish it in hard copy but just to use it as a practice to see of I could actually write and upload something suitable to then be downloaded for Kindles. It’s called “Ave Maria” with the sub-title “the first few steps on the way to becoming a Latin lover - maybe!!!” and is intended as a simple guide to the very basics of the Latin language using the hymn/prayer/hymn to illustrate it but as usuall in a light-hearted way. I priced it as low as possible just as an experiment and it’s actually sold quite well, so the proceeds from that have gone alongside those from my other book for our charities. Perhaps I should also mention that I’ve written a shedload of articles for the Chorley F.C. programme over the last ten years or more and for a few years prior to my illness I used to write all the football reports on Chorley’s matches for the Lancashire Evening Post and sometimes for the Chorley Guardian too. Other than the writing, then, I suppose my main hobbies stem back to my childhood and can be directly attributable to having two older brothers – from one I learned to love music (mainly popular but classical too provided it’s not too heavy) and the other one shared his interest in sport with me. In the last couple of years before I retired my wife Su and I started to get very interested in bird-watching as well. We had planned to do a lot of that in our retirement but have obviously been restricted so far. There may be some scope for us to indulge at some stage in the future, but in the meantime we have become avid watchers of nature programmes such as anything involving David Attenborough. The photography in this type of programmes nowadays is amazing!


If you could be any fictional character from the world of books or movies, who would you choose to be and why? You can't be Doctor Who.( I have already taken that one!)


I’ve never given this a thought in my life but I can guarantee one thing – I certainly wouldn’t be arguing with you about the Dr.Who role! Anything remotely to do with Sci-fi leaves me totally cold so you can be him and I hope you’ll be very happy! It’s a pity that I’m a bit too old to be James Bond – I may be younger than at least two of the actors who have taken the part but I’ve never seen myself as a suitable candidate for the role and I’m pretty sure that if I had auditioned for it I would have failed the medical! I wouldn’t have been happy with it in principle anyway – while I am a great believer in the philosophy that growing old may be compulsory but growing up isn’t, I can’t abide the sight of men lusting after girls who are at the very least old enough to be their daughters (and grand-daughters too in some cases!) – how degrading! To be honest I think I’d rather just remain being me – I’m not perfect, far from it, but at least I know myself quite well after all these years, and I don’t expect ever to be suddenly taken by surprise by unexpected negative qualities!


Finally I know you are a big fan of my local football team, Chorley F.C. What do you regard as their finest moment in history and do you think they will ever make it into the football league? And more importantly, are their pies any good?


I don’t think many would dispute that the highlight in our history was knocking Wolves out of the F.A.Cup in 1986 after three memorable matches with them. There was a lot of media coverage to accompany it which prior to that would have been very rare for a non-league club to get.. We have had other memorable times too, though – we were very prominent and successful at county level when I first started watching back in the fifties. We also knocked Bury out of the F.A.Cup in 1990, officially a better result than the Wolves one had been as they were higher in the league than Wolves had been, and in the mid-nineties we were only one step away from Wembley in the F.A.Trophy, the non-league equivalent of the F.A. Cup. We’ve had a dreadful time in the league, however, since we spent two seasons 1988-90 in the highest division outside the league proper, i.e. the Conference – until now! The appointment of Garry Flitcroft, the former Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers captain, however, as manager two years ago has sparked a massive revival both on and off the pitch. One promotion followed by a near miss has ensured that the interest is maintained and who knows what could lie ahead. A few years ago I would have replied to your question about getting into the league with a categorical ‘no way’ but with what we are doing now and looking at the example set by the likes of Morecambe and Accrington Stanley, who knows? It may still be unlikely, but you never know. In the meantime I understand that Morecambe’s pies are officially the best in the actual league (they sell them in Harrods, don’t you know?!!?), so maybe work could be needed in that regard too, especially now that Reuben Marsdens, for me the world’s best(!), are no more (at least not under that name!). Not that they ever catered for the football club anyway, I don’t think. One downside of my illness has been a gradual lack of interest in pies these last few years, something which I could never have envisaged ever happening to me. As a result, I fear that I’m no longer in a position to pass judgement on them. I think their current caterers are Halls and they seem to have been building up quite a good reputation in recent years, so maybe there’s still a chance for us after all!



John, thanks so much for letting me interview you. Just one more thing, how can anybody reading this get hold of a copy of your book?


That’s an easy one! There are many ways – the obvious one would be via the Internet as there don’t appear to be any copies available in High Street shops. Websites such as Amazon, W.H.Smiths, Waterstones, etc. all list it and of course there is the publisher – Upfront Publishing or Fast-Print Publishing. However, we stand to make the most commission for our charities by selling direct to the public and obviously I would be more than happy to sign any copies with a dedication if required as well. So, a simple email to me at johnblackburn@blueyonder.co.uk and a payment of £7.99 rising to £9.40 if it is to include p&p, payable either by cheque or via Paypal.



I would recommend this encouraging and funny book to anybody reading this and all profits are going to worthy causes. Thanks John.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

LOL by Charlie Nitric




One great thing about being a bit of a Twitter addict is that you can find a wealth of new authors and free books and this is one I recently downloaded onto my Kindle. Reading many of the comments and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads I was led to believe that this short collection of stories is LOL funny.The downside of Twitter is that not all free or cheap books are what they are cracked up to be and sometimes you are left scratching your head about the origins of such reviews!

I have always said that I want my book reviews on T.W.M to be honest although I want my reviews to be as positive as I can possibly make them. I personally wasn't too impressed with this collection of shorts. I found most of the stories to be mildly amusing at best and the stories themselves below average in content and writing style.Most of them seemed like first drafts which could have done with futher editing and attention to detail.

The exception to this are just two of the stories. The first and last story in this book are brilliantly hilarious! This just goes to show that Charlie Nitric is capable of much more than this collection gives us and if they are anything to go by I want to keep an eye on him. As this book was given to me completely free via twitter I can't argue about the price paid! I do hate to say anything negative about up and coming fellow Indie writers but honesty is my best policy or else this whole blog is a wate of time and energy.


2/5 Two stars for the brilliant stories at the beginning and end of the collection.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Brave New world by Aldous Huxley




Welcome to the future.

A future where humans are distilled like bottled water, where voices whisper to children from underneath their pillows,where drugs are spoonfed and given to stop people from thinking too much.
Bernard Marx feels like he is living on a different planet to everybody else and takes a trip to the Savage Reservations to find himself but ultimately finds himself in little spot of bother.


I have mixed feelings about this 'Vintage Classic' and I will try and write it as I see it. There is no doubt that Brave New World is incredibly original and imaginative and it is way ahead of its time. It was originally published in 1932 but it could well have been written in 2011, such is its relevance and offbeat syle.There is much to chew over from an intellectual point of view and I'm sure there is enough allegory in this book to keep a generation of English lecturers happy for a decade or two.

My problem is that I didn't find the book entertaining or interesting enough! The plot didn't keep me turning the pages and rather than being on the edge of my seat I was sat patiently waiting for a shock or a gripping plot twist. I also had no emotional connection to this book and the characters felt kind of one dimensional. It found it reminiscent of 'A Clockwork Orange' but not as powerful or emotionally engaging. I have read a few Dystopian novels but this one was lacking that extra bite to keep my interest.


This is however a very thought provoking book and maybe it's just not my cup of tea and we all like out tea differently.


3/5

Friday, 20 July 2012

35 - Lust, Money & Murder by Mike Wells




A young woman enters a casino to exchange a large amount of money for chips and ends up falling to her death from a cliff edge. Then we have Elaine Brogan who follows her dream of becoming a model and ends up working as a secret service agent to avenge a family tragedy.
This story takes the reader from casinos to exclusive private beaches and then all around the globe from the US, Bulgaria and Germany. Can Elaine get the revenge that she seeks on the mysterious man that has taken her father away?


'Lust' is part one of a series of books that I came across via Twitter, it is short and sweet and easy to read. Although this isn't really my kind of book it did keep me turning the pages and lovers of romance and young adult fiction would probably get more out of it than me. Personally ( I know this sounds daft) but this book read a little bit like one of those stories that you get in magazines like Woman's Weekly and Readers Digest. That's probably the best way I can decribe my experience, in other words it kind of felt a little too lightweight for my liking. Maybe you could also describe it as Coffee Table Fiction or the kind of thing you could read whilst sitting in a Doctor's waiting room. I have never read Mills and Boon but I can imagine that reading Mills and Boon is a bit like this!


I have read a few reviews of this book that state their disappointment at the fact that the book ends prematurely and that it is just a ploy to get the reader to buy the other two (or more) books. Maybe there is truth in that argument and perhaps this book should be called a 'sample' rather than Book One? I don't know if I am interested enough to read the rest of this series but if you like this kind of thing go and knock yourself out.


2.5/5

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Ancient Egyptian Oracle cards of RA-MAAT




By Norman Plaskett


This book/card package has been sitting on top of my bookcase for a long time and I don't even remember where I picked it up. It's almost as if it has been mystically transported to my little house in Chorley by the ancient Gods themselves!

It comprises of a 128 page book and 72 illustrated divination cards and is an alternative to the Tarot. The back cover blurb states that the origins of the RA-MAAT cards are shrouded in mystery (just like the Tarot) and the basic premise is the same. I have been interested in and been a private reader of Tarot cards for many years and I found the RA-MAAT cards interesting but a bit more convoluted and difficult. They are loosely based upon the Ancient Egyptian Gods and are split into four sections.

This book offers an intriguing alternative to the Tarot cards for anyone that is interested in divination and spirituality. I have actually learned a little bit from this package but I don't think I will be throwing away my collection of Tarot cards just yet. For anyone that has an interest in this area it is helpful.

A quick little filler of a read.


2/5

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Rose Madder - Stephen King



A single drop of blood on a bedsheet is the pivotal moment that sends an abused housewife over the edge and grasping for the front door handle.

Norman is a two faced coin. In the eyes of the public he is a hero but in the eyes of Rosie Daniels he is a monster. Terrified and in a noisy city hundreds of miles from home she is like a square peg in a round hole and she is like a red rag to a bull that is her husband.Can she escape his grasp and who is the woman in the painting?




'I'm really Rosie,

And I'm Rosie Real,

You better believe me,

I'm a great big deal...'


As a young teen of 14 or 15 I was obsessed with Stephen King. His books resonated with me somewhere deep inside and he has probably been my biggest influence as an aspiring writer. As I get older I'm not sure whether I have simply outgrown King or if he isn't as good as he used to be. My favourite books of his are 'Bag of Bones', 'The Stand' and 'The Long Walk.'
I was disappointed with this book but it's hard to put my finger on the problem. Maybe it's a little bit too long, maybe the chase theme is nothing new or perhaps the supernatural elements of the book didn't work for me. I found the juxtaposition between a thriller and a horror a bit awkward and at the end of the book I was expecting an explanation that never quite came. As I reader I was left with too many loose threads and convoluted and confusing plot elements. Stephen King is famous for saying that he rarely plans his books and this book felt like a book that had lost the plot and was making itself up as it went along.

I would say that 'Rose Madder' is an average Stephen King romp but an average Stephen King romp is still better that an average book by lesser writers. But sadly I will have to rank this alongside 'Thinner' and 'Rage' and 'The Running Man' as my least liked novels of his.


3/5

Saturday, 30 June 2012

An interview with Stuart Ayris



Stuart is the Author of the fantastic book 'Tollesbury Time Forever' and 'A Cleansing of Souls' and his new novel 'The Bird That Nobody Sees' will be out at the end of July this year. He was kind enough to let me interview him for this blog and it was a pleasure indeed.

Tollesbury Time Forever is a fantastic read, where did the idea come from? What inspired you to come up with the story and where did the initial spark come from?

The initial spark for Tollesbury Time Forever came when I stumbled out of The King's Head one night (not for the first time) and wandered over to the Village Lock-up – a really old structure in the village square where the local drunk used to be housed over night until he sobered. I thought then what it would be like if somebody went in there one night and when they were let out the following more their perception of their surroundings had changed. The lock-up in the novel serves the figurative function of a womb or a church or perhaps even a hospital. It is a place from which you hope to emerge somehow cleansed and with a better chance of surviving the perpetual struggle that is life.

Are you a big planner or do you like to write from the seat of your pants? How much do you plan when writing a book or do you prefer to go with the flow?

In the writing of Tollesbury Time Forever I had very little planning. The notion of FRUGALITY (which will make sense of you've read the book!) only came to me when I was about a third of the way through. As you know, Ally, the second half of the novel deals almost entirely in the implementation of this notion. So no, not much planning at all. I think it is the sort of novel though that is more effective with a less linear format. Some may argue that it goes a bit far the other way, but that's fine too!

Have you always wanted to write from an early age or did you want to be a train driver or an international pop star like everyone else?

From an early age I always wanted to play in a band! I managed to do this from the ages of 18 to 20 but ended up getting an electric shock off a mic stand and was thrown back into the drum kit to emerge with a dodgy shoulder and pretty much a life-long apprehension with regard to electrics! So I can play the guitar pretty well but I've had to work hard at it. Writing is about the most natural thing I do so I'm inclined to stick with it. Until the next folk-blues revival of course at which point I may strap on the battered old six-string again!

What Authors do you like to read and what books have inspired you?

I'd say my favourite authors are Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck and John Irving. My ideal book would be a combination of all three – the beautiful mad phonetic language of Jack Kerouac, the inspiring and emotional punch of John Steinbeck and the great story telling of John Irving. That would be heaven to me!

What advice would you give to any aspiring Authors out there?

You have to enjoy it to keep doing it. If at any time writing becomes an act of drudgery then maybe just do something else for a while and come back to it. Perhaps it's your mood, perhaps it's what your writing. Either way, don't force it. I have been known to write 10,000 words in a week then nothing for three months, picking up the story again when the moment feels write. Think of your writing not as a task but as a series of glorious moments!

Is Tollesbury as lovely as it sounds and what reaction did you get in the village from people that live there?

It is indeed as lovely as it sounds and just as bizarre as is depicted in Tollesbury Time Forever. Although I've lived there for a few years now I tend to keep myself to myself a lot of the time so I wander over to The King's Head (which is about a two minute walk from my home) and can be occasionally be found waiting for a bus in the square – other than that I kind of stay indoors. As such I don't know too many people. The reaction though, second hand, has been wonderful. My wife, Rebecca, is always walking the dog around the village so she knows loads of people!

What are your future plans as far as writing is concerned? Your experience as a Mental Health Nurse has obviously influenced this book, do you intend to explore mental health issues in your future writing?

Well my third novel, The Bird That Nobody Sees, will be released on 30th July 2012. It has taken me about a year to write on and off and I really like it. It as not as overtly concerned with mental health issues as Tollesbury Time Forever but of course whenever you have a novel with people in it you will have emotions and behaviours and reactions. So no, I won't be exploring mental health issues in my writing here on in but my fascination with both the beauty around me and the courage of the individual will continue to inform my writing.

If you could become any character in a book, who would you be and why?

Hmmm! I think perhaps Alice in Alice in Wonderland as that would be about as close as I could get to living in Tollesbury!

If you could look into a Crystal ball, where would you like to be in ten years time?

Just sitting in The King's Head having a drink with good people – that would suit me just fine.

Finally,

How much do you really hate Paul McCartney for the Frog’s Chorus and do forgive him now! Or is it just your main character Simon that hates him? I'm a Pipes of Peace man myself!

To tell you the truth my younger self detested Paul McCartney – particularly after John Lennon was killed. I somehow felt Paul should never smile again, wondering how an earth he, being a life-long friend of John's, could have got over something that I, a complete stranger was having difficulty coming to terms with. And then what did he do? The Frog's Chorus! But of course, my older self sees that life is too wonderful to let anything tarnish your experience. Bitterness and resentment just draw a shade down on everything and you may as well never open your eyes again. So yes, like Simon in Tollesbury Time Forever, I forgave Paul McCartney for that song – but unlike Simon, forgiving Diego Maradonna is, even for me, a fair way off yet…

Diego Maradonna will never be forgiven by me anyway Stuart!


Thank You Stuart for answering my questions and I for one will be looking forward to reading more from you in the future. Anyone wanting to find out more about Stuart Ayris can find him at Goodreads and on his Blog and he is also on twitter if you type in his name.

I will definitely be reading more of his work and wouldn't mind visiting Tollesbury one day to have a drink in the King's Head and to have a walk to the salt marshes!


Thanks Stuart.

Tollesbury Time Forever by Stuart Ayris



This is one of those books that has been silently lurking inside my kindle for a good while and I finally decided to give it a go. How happy I am then to say what a remarkable read this is!

Simon Anthony has just been to his local pub and has managed to stagger his way to the Tollesbury salt marshes where his intention is to end his life.With the sound of The Beatles whizzing through his head everything stops and he falls head first into a new world where reality has had a big chunk bitten off.

He finds himself back in 19th Century Tollesbury where cars have been replaced by horses, the ale is disgusting, his home has disappeared and a strange man knows more about him than he seems to know himself.

I have read a few independently published books in the last year or so but this is literally in a league of its own. It is beautifully and imaginatively written and keeps your interest all the way. If I had to describe this book I would personally say it's like 'Life on Mars' meets 'The Prisoner.' There are plenty of story twists and turns and Tollesbury Time Forever will stay with you long after you have read the final page. Stuart Ayris is an author that I'm sure has a big future ahead and I look forward to reading more from him in the future. He has also been kind enough to let me interview him for Travelling Without Moving.


5/5

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle



I must confess that I am one of the myriad of people who know a lot about Sherlock Holmes without having read any of the books. My only experience of Baker Street was having watched a couple of the films when I was a kid and it was fun to actually find out what Holmes was about from a literary point of view.

This is a collection of 12 short stories and was the third book to be written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring Holmes and Watson.Most of the stories follow a similar pattern. A man or women knocks on the door and asks for help from Sherlock who then proceeds to investigate each unique case in his own intelligent and meticulous manner. Each story is told from Dr Watson's point of view. I enjoyed all the stories and I found that they got better the more I got into the book, maybe the stories improved or perhaps I was just getting used to the writing style. A few of the books had disappointing endings but overall they kept my interest.

My favourites were 'The Man with the Twisted Lip', 'The Adventure of the Speckled Band' and 'The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.' I have since acquired the Sherlock Holmes collection and am hoping to see how the full novels compare to the shorts stories.

I enjoyed this collection of stories, although I wouldn't say it was the most exciting thing I have read this year but it is way above an average read.

~

From an aspiring writers point of view I learned that it is so important to have a storyline that evolves and reveals itself slowly so as to keep the reader wanting to turn the pages. The last story in this collection is the perfect example in which we are introduced to a secret room and its mysterious contents. I think every book needs a secret room or a locked door in some form or other.

3.5/5

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Book 30 - The Light of Evening by Edna O'Brien



Dilly is lying in her hospital bed and her thoughts fade in and out through the years of her life, from her frightening but exciting journey from Ireland to America in the 1920's, to lost love and her struggle to exist and to have a meaningful relationship with her children. Her lost daugher, Eleanora has her own struggles (and many lovers!) and is on her way to her dying mothers side.

This is another book that I came across on our bookshelf at work, having never read Edna O'Brien before I was interested to find out what this Author was all about. I am absolutely divided in opinion about 'The Light of Evening'. On paper this has to be right up my alley, it is literary fiction and it is beautifully and absorbingly written. Each page is like a work of poetry dressed up as a work of fiction and it is quite imaginative and original. It could have been amazing if it had had more of an interesting story and a better ending and I found it to be frustratingly Arty Farty!


Too often I found myself in the past and then the present and then inside a classic literary work of fiction and then a dream and then back again. I like it when books have depth and dimensions but sometimes (as in this case) it actually got in the way of a good book. It has wetted my appetite to read more from this Author in the hope that her other titles are more readable.

This book, from my point of view anyway, walked too close a tight rope between interesting and boring, frustrating and genius. It could have been genius and other readers may think it is.


3/5

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

29 - Corsair by Clive Cussler & Jack Du Brul



This story starts with a historical sea battle and then we are brought right up to the present time when the US secretary of State's aircraft has disappeared and she is presumed dead. An old sea trawler has been boarded by pirates and somewhere in the desert of Libya a group of archeologists bite off more than they can chew and there's also a search for an ancient jewel!

This is the third Clive Cussler book that I have read but it's a long time since I read the fantastic 'Deep Six' and 'Raise the Titanic' which wasn't quite so fantastic. I first tried to read this book a few years ago but stopped way short twice, so I was really determined to get through it this time. My problem with this one is probably a case of personal taste. I don't really like action adventure books, just like I don't really like action adventure movies. I know it sounds silly to say this but 'Corsair' was literally ( for most of the book) one big long action sequence and I found that rather boring! I was desperate for a good plot and some good character development and some emotional attachment to either the story or the characters. Maybe I am becoming a bit of a book snob, I hope not.

At times I was becoming nauseated and I just wanted the story to settle down and towards the last 200 or so pages it did. The story improved and the book became more exciting and gripping.I must say that the ending was particularly good and it was a pity the rest of the book couldn't have been so enticing. Perhaps one problem is that it is quite a long book at 537 pages and maybe I would have had more patience with this genre if it had been around 250 to 370 pages long. Can I forgive a book that bores the pants off me because it has a really good ending? Perhaps not but I wish more books ended so well.

If you are a lover of action adventure novels then this would probably be a good one to have in your bedside cabinet. From a writers point of view there is a lot to be said about the way Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul created novel depth by having several separate story threads going at the same time and that is something I want to take with me.

3/5

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Instant Confidence by Paul McKenna



I decided to purchase this book because at the age of 41 my life has been plagued by Social Anxiety Disorder and I am desperate to do something about it. I have had this disorder for as long as I can remember and I think it was the main reason why I went through years of bullying at school. Social Anxiety Disorder is a horrible thing and it makes the most mundane tasks seem like pulling out your finger nails one by one.. I came across this book at Amazon and decided to give it a shot.

It comes complete with a hypnosis CD which is a fundamental part of this book's Confidence programme. You know what, this book is the most important thing I have ever read. After just a few days I felt like a new man and although I have lost my beautiful cat 'Jubilee' this week, I have made tremendous progress. I know it sounds a little bit dramatic but I literally feel like I have been reborn since I started to read it. My Social Anxiety was getting worse and I couldn't even walk down a corridor at work without feeling very very low and like my head was about to drop off.

I don't know if it is just me but I really think that my social anxiety disorder is treatable for the first time. I can't afford private treatment so this book has been a Godsend. I literally feel as if I have become a new man after spending all my life living like a half man. There are various techniques that Paul teaches in the book and one of those is aimed at releasing our natural confidence. Because of this book I feel like I have taken off a mask and for the first time in my life I am beginning to feel happy. I also sense that people at work are beginning to look at me in a new light and I hope to practise these techniques and to finally get rid of my anxiety disorder.


If you are suffering from a lack of confidence or Social Anxiety and Shyness I would encourage you to make this book your next purchase. 5/5


RIP Jubilee, good night and sleep tight xxx 1994-2012

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Book 27 Soul DNA by Jennifer O'Neill




Soul DNA - Your spiritual genetic code defines your purpose- is a fascinating little book.

I have always been interested in religion and spirituality and am one of lifes more inquisitive souls. Give me any TV programme or book that even slightly touches upon the meaning of life or religion or spirituality or philosophy and I will be there with my ears pricked up like an Alsation.

I consider myself to be open minded when it comes to anything of this nature and I have one foot in the real world and the other tentatively placed on more imaginative and speculative plains. But what I loved about this book is that it is not just about Soul DNA and soul conciousness and reincarnation, for me I found it to be very much a life changing self-help book!

Jennifer O'Neil has managed to produce a book that introduces spirituality in an accessible manner and it is full of helpful ( well I found them helpfull anyway) life tips that I'm sure a lot of people will find incredibly useful.I am sure there are a lot of skeptics out there that would consider this kind of stuff as a load of old codswallop but Soul DNA made me think and I found it fascinating and very helpful. The chapter about finding a happy perspective was especially helpful. 4/5

The Lady and the Locksmith by Cody Young





This is the story of what happens when a locksmith goes out on a house call and finds a door that has been opened by force and a beautiful young woman who is not what she seems. Set in Victorian England, Carl Janssen bites off more than he can chew when he ends up on the run with an incredibly sensual side kick!

I enjoyed this short novel and it was the perfect little filler as I continue on this years 52 book challenge. As a balding, 41 year old northern bloke from Wigan this isn't the type of thing I normally read and I can probably count the number of historical romance I've read on one hand. Thanks to the Author Cody Young I found my blood pressure rising ( amongst other things) while sitting in my car during my normal book reading 20 minutes before the start of my working day! I loved the story and it was a pleasure to read. Just don't tell my wife! Maybe I should retrain as a locksmith. 5/5

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Bringing Down The House - Ben Mezrich



This is loosely based on the true story of one man who joins a band of card counters who take Vegas for Millions.

To be quite frank the first 175 pages of this were about as much fun as having a frontal tooth extraction. We follow the main character as he visits various casino's around the USA placing bets and then more bets and then more bets. I found myself in dire need of a plot or a point or anything would have done. I got that gnawing feeling in my stomach that usually tells me that I need to abandon and read something else.

After about 175 pages things improved a little and things got a little bit more interesting but I still didn't get terribly excited. Then the end just happened.

Maybe this book would appeal to people who are interested in cards and casinos and gambling but I'm afraid those are areas that I have never been interested in. On a more positive note the book has taught me a bit about a world that I am unfamiliar with and I now know what a BlackJack shoe is and what the inside of a massive casino looks like. And perhaps ( I'm seriously clutching at straws here) the book teaches us that sometimes people can make a new life for themselves even if it goes against what society tells us we should be doing.

After reading a few reviews it also appears that the story isn't exactly true to real events and that the author uses a lot of artistic license which isn't a good thing considering it is stated on the books blurb that is is a work of non fiction.

2/10

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Book 24 Before I Go to Sleep - S. J Watson



Christine wakes up every morning and doesn't know where she is or who the strange man is in the bed next to her. Every morning she looks in the mirror to find that she is an older woman and has no memory of anything that has happened for the last twenty years. Ever morning is the same, every morning she is lost.

Allow me to gush for a while as I write this review. Allow me to struggle to write anything that sums up how amazing this book is. I read Before I Go To Sleep on my Kindle, it is original and imaginative, filled with suspense, and is totally captivating. This book gets under your skin and you cannot cannot put it down once it gets hold of you. My head was filled with a thousand questions as I tried to figure out what was going on and where the plot was taking me and this disturbingly edgy book continued to call out to me even when I wasn't reading it.

I am a sucker for anything different and original and perhaps this book isn't going to satisfy lovers of action thrillers because this is more of a psychological thriller. If you are looking for car chases and fistfights then this may not be for you but i would highly recommend it.
This is S.J Watson's first published novel and I have to admit I read this thinking that the author was a woman! I only found out in the latter half of the book after doing a google search that S.J Watson is a man. I think this was partly because the main character is a woman and he abbreviates his name. Now that I know he is a bloke I can honestly say this is not only the best book I have read this year by a male author but probably the best book i have read this year. perhaps ever. I am not joking, I am gushing as I write this.

5/5 Captivating stuff.

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Death Review ( A Short Story)

I am drowning in a sea of blood. Gasping for air, kicking and splashing, I am going under. Hands beneath the surface are grabbing at my feet, pulling me downwards. A whole universe of flies is buzzing on my face and I feel like I’m being eaten alive. The sea is everywhere, there is no land, I am dying. I am going under.

Now I have found myself hanging by my feet on a tree that smells like coffee. I have a ball in my hands and it is spinning and it looks like a small planet but how could I be holding a planet? All around me is nothing. Nothing but me hanging on a tree with a whole world in my hands. I realise that I am the one doing the spinning and I am turning the planet over and over in its own orbit. Does that make me God or am I also on a small planet and somebody is holding my planet just like I am holding this one? I am slipping. The tree is getting thinner and is folding in on itself. I’ve dropped my planet.

I don’t like this place. It isn’t normal.

Pleasecomeinpeacebutifyoudon’twearequitecapableofdefendingourselves is a bit of a mouthful as far as planetary names are concerned but long names are very fashionable in this segment of the universe. My colleague works as a press photographer on Youmustcomeheretosampleourdelightfulandexquisiteselectionofcakes just next door which is only a short shuttle ride away.

The problem is that Pleasecomeinepeacebutifyoudon’twearequitecapableofdefendingourselves is in a constant state of flux. It is never the same for more than a few moments. Which makes it difficult for any journalist like myself who is just trying to go about their work.

I am now flying through some kind of an aluminium tube at twice the speed of light. My head seems to be tucked in neatly between my buttocks and my right foot is in my mouth.

They should rename this planet Don’tevercomehereifyouknowwhatisgoodforyoujustgohomeanddon’teverlookback. I think I was sick or am about to be sick. Time is all mixed up in this tube and I am getting on and getting off at the same time as I was hoping it would stop.

I am now lying in a bathtub and the water is beautiful and just at the right temperature. I am in the biggest room in the universe and all around me are thousands and thousands of bathtubs. They are occupied by humanoid creatures with different colours of skin. I myself am a lovely shade of orange. I feel wonderful and relaxed and I am hoping that this current manifestation of Pleasecomeinpeacebutifyoudon’twearequitecapableofdefendingourselves stays around for a while. My modesty is protected by an array of bubbles and all around me there is a pleasant chorus of sighs and the cracking of knuckles.

This is Heaven. I have been lying here for almost half an hour and as soon as the water temperature starts to fall it is reheated. I am being paid to lie in a bath and all thoughts about my latest review have disappeared.

Bath planet has gone and I am now in a yellow dinghy, floating towards my latest death. I know this because my dictaphone has appeared. In a few moments I have to focus on the job at hand. A Death review is just the same as a book review or a restaurant review only your subject is normally screaming in agony or garbling his last words. My job is to report it as accurately as it happens in time for Wednesday morning’s deadline. On a good week I can have up to twenty reviews, on a bad week I can find myself in hospital. Death reporting can be a dangerous occupation, depending of course on the circumstances.

I am still on my dinghy and it is an unusual kind of water. The dinghy is not moving, the water is moving instead. Everything is in reverse. Strange birds are in the sky but the sky is flying and the birds are stationary.

There is nobody around, just me in my dinghy and the birds. Death has never kept me waiting before, this is highly unusual. My dictaphone is at the ready, I just need my death to arrive.

An arm comes out of the water and lunges at me, I am caught off guard and lose my balance. Before I know it I am in the freezing water and I can’t catch my breath. The arm becomes a torso and the torso becomes a thin scarecrow of a man. Things are changing again but this time more quickly. The man is water and the sea is a long stretch of skin. I am no longer in the water, I am in him, I am falling into him. Drowning into him.

I am in the bathtub again but the bathtub is made of water and I am skin. I am stretching and stretching and now I am a bird and I am flying once again through the aluminium tube. I have arrived on the planet at the same time as I have left, I am aluminium and the scarecrow man is flying through me. Now I am back on the dinghy and an arm comes out of the water and lunges at me, I am caught off balance and I lose my guard. Wait no, that’s wrong. I think I am caught off guard and have lost my dictaphone. I think this is called a loop and I am caught in the loop.

I am exhausted. I am drowning in the water and I throw out my arm and it lands on a dinghy. I pull myself up and there is a young man sat with a small black device and he helps me up. I am heavy and I feel dull all over, I think I’ve stopped breathing. This young man is talking into his device, what is he doing that for?

I am lifeless. I can hear him talking into his device. I think I once knew what it is called and I think I was once this man or I was a bathtub, it’s all messed up.

He is speaking very slowly and very carefully.

“It all happened very fast, I don’t think he suffered. He is extremely emaciated, I think he’s been in the water for a long time. Probably hyperthermia, has taken in a lot of water.”

I think I am dead but why can I still hear this voice?

“There’s nothing more I can say, I just want to get out of this place. It gives me the creeps. Full stop. I think I’ve seen him before somewhere.”

I am dead. I am water. I am lying in a bathtub. I am aluminium.


Copyright

Ally Atherton 2012

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Apollo 23 by Justin Richards



It is a long time since I have read a Doctor Who book,in fact I spent my childhood years reading the old Target books which were based on actual TV episodes.I was always a bit of a nerd and all I ever wanted for Birthdays or for Christmas was Dr Who books or a dog. (I never got my dog!)I loved reading those Target books and I think they were partly responsible for my wanting to write and to become a proper writer one day.
This is one of the newer breed of Dr Who books which are not based on episodes of the show but include the main characters and I was given a box set of these a few weeks ago. Maybe I will read a few Dr Who books as part of this years 52 book challenge, I will see how I feel.

In Apollo 23 the Doctor stumbles upon a secret millitary base on the dark side of the moon which has a direct link to the Earth via some kind of a transmat beam. A spaceman appears in central London and a woman in a red dress is found dead on the moon and something strange is happening on the Moon Base. Add a mad scientist, a plot to steal people's minds and plenty of running along corridors and you have yourself an average Dr Who romp.
Really I don't think this book is aimed at a 41 year old bloke but more at a younger or family audience so I don't think my review accounts for much. For me it's average fair. The story is average, the plot is average, the characters are average and the front cover is average! I quite liked the aliens which made an appearance towards the end because they were silly and sometimes silly is good fun and it was nice to rekindle my childhood a little by reading a Doctor who book again. Even if I am old and bloated now and I am not being kicked around like an old can.


3/5

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Keeping your sense of Tumour by John Blackburn



This is the story of John Blackburn who was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2009, a cancer of the bone marrow. It takes us through his journey from initial diagnosis to his treatment and his continued rehabilitation.

I am always amazed by the bravery and strength of character that I come across, in my work as a Staff Nurse, of patients and their loved ones as they cope with all the various repercussions and complications of dealing with any form of cancer.I was happy to come across this book by a fellow northerner who seems to share my love of pies and football and is even a massive fan of my local team Chorley FC. I myself am an armchair Wigan Athletic supporter but really must get along to Victory Park if I am to progress to become a proper adopted Chorleyite!

What struck me was how professional this book is, considering how he more or less put it together himself from scratch. I have come across many books by well known Authors and publishing houses that are littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and John's book isn't one of those. I found 'Keeping a sense of Tumour' fascinating from a nursing perspective and refreshingly honest!

It is written with a brilliant sense of humour and I think that sense of humour ( and probably his extrovert nature) is one of the things that has kept John ( and his family) going throughout his ups and downs. I think this book will also be encouraging to other people that find their lives being effected in one way or another by a cancer diagnosis. My mother survived lung cancer a few years ago now but apart from that I cannot even imagine how I would really cope in his situation. As a Clinic Nurse the most I can do is act as Dr Kanyike's glamorous assistant and leave the more complicated stuff to Stuart, Claire and Louise who do a brilliant job as specialist nurses.

On a more personal note I found this book encouraging from another point of view. I have been interested in writing since I was 6 or 7 and my ambition is to eventually get published, it's all I have ever wanted to do to be honest. John has inadvertently given me a little bit of hope that that will happen one day, even if I end up being broke and living in a bedsit with a lamp and a canary for company, but I digress.

Buy this book from Amazon or contact John Blackburn at JohnBlackburn@blueyonder.co.uk to get a really nice hard copy. John is hoping to raise as much money for cancer charities as he can by selling this book, please give him a helping hand.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Looking Good Dead by Peter James



A man finds a CD on a train and puts it into his laptop when he gets home and ends up watching a gruesome murder.

Could he and his wife become the next victims? A body is found without a head with a dung beetle placed in rather an unfortunate place and Detective Superintendent Roy Grace has to figure out what is going on before another victim is found.

This is my second Peter James book after reading 'Dead Like You' some time last year and I enjoyed it just as much, maybe even more. I was more familiar with the main characters and James's style of writing and the book has a good mix of suspense and action. I really liked the fact that lots of the chapters ended with small cliff hangers and the plot kept my interest.

The basic premise of the story was quite interesting and original and slowly built up to the final few chapters well. I personally was a little bit disappointed with the ending, just when I thought I would get an explosive finale it kind of ended with a bit of a squeak! That is my only criticism of a fine book. 4/5

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold



What would happen if you found yourself in Heaven watching your family trying to come to terms with your brutal murder?

Susie Salmon is dead and is sat on a gazebo watching as the Earth spins around on its axis below her feet. Her rapist and murderer is walking free, her devastated sister withdraws into herself and her parents are on the verge of falling apart from themselves and each other. Her childhood friend is accused of her murder and a solitary girl places flowers in the cornfield and talks to the dead.

I have read many reviews of 'The Lovely Bones' since I had the pleasure of reading this a few days ago, some reviews I can understand and some are beyond my understanding. I guess at the end of the day we all like different kinds of books and for many this may not be their cup of tea. I found it haunting and riveting and an incredibly 'Lovely' story. It grabbed hold of me from the first few lines and I was transported immediately into this 1970's suburban America and to Heaven and back again.
I always think that the sign of a great book is when you reach the end and are sad that it has finished. This book lingers and continues to linger and continues to haunt you well after you have read the last page. Best book I have read so far this year.


5/5

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Three and a Half Deaths by Emma Donoghue



This a short collection of four stories by the Author of the amazing novel 'Room'.
Each story is loosely based on actual historical events in four separate parts of the world and are followed by a short note from the Author. I have yet to read any of Emma Donoghue's historical novels but this has given me a taste of what I have in store. Each of the stories are as brief as they are powerful and intense. The fact that they are based upon actual events made the book even more interesting.

As with most short story collections I found myself wanting more but that is what you get with this format. An enjoyable read and a reminder that I really want to read more historical novels.Must read more from this talented Author.

4/5

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Wardrobe ( A Short Story)



I’ve been waiting for Wardrobe to move for 25 years. Every evening I settle down with my coats and wait, it will move, I know it will. If I told anybody they’d just assume I was a loony tune, maybe they are right but I don’t think so. This is Wardrobe and it will move. One day before I die, it will take me there.

I’m all grown up now. I have a job and a bank account and a collection of ex-wives. I have photographs on the mantelpiece of family members who I remember to think about sometimes and I watch TV, brush my teeth and take a crap the same as everybody else. So I don’t see why I’m so different.

I’ve had this little ritual of sleeping in Wardrobe since I was 7. I don’t know if there’s a name for this like you have a name for people that refuse to walk over cracks in the pavement or who like to wear their mother’s undergarments. I’m sure it has a word. Maybe I’m a wardrophile.

It’s getting close now. For the last few nights I’ve been hearing little creaking sounds and I’ve felt a small vibration under my arse. It’s getting ready you see. One of these days I’m gonna wake up and my bedroom will be gone. Sometimes I spend all day in here in case it tries to catch me unawares. I would be bloody annoyed if I came home one day to find it gone without me. So just to be on the safe side I have started to spend more and more time in here. It’s a lot nicer anyway, it’s a bloody horrible world out there, that’s why I need to go.

Sometimes when I get a really good feeling I phone in sick. Tell the guys at work that I have a migraine or a bad case of the trots. I don’t think they believe me anymore but it’s better than telling them the truth.

It’s a simple affair, just your average bog standard IKEA wardrobe. You wouldn’t find it on the Antiques Road Show and it wouldn’t win any prizes at the Ideal Home Expedition. It’s just what is. A wardrobe is a wardrobe is a wardrobe just like a kettle is a kettle is a kettle. I'm just going to Narnia in mine.

I’ve got my affairs in order of course, haven’t left anything to chance. I’ve split everything up between my ex-wives and anybody else that is unlucky enough to know me.

To be quite honest I don’t care, they can have the bloody lot as far as I’m concerned. I’ve got nothing to write home about. They are welcome to my overdraft and my Motown collection and my signed Bryan Robson photograph from 1985.

Tonight I think is the night. The creaking sounds are louder than ever and the wood seems to be getting hot to the touch. That’s got to be a sign surely. I am starting to get the butterflies and I can’t stand the anticipation any longer. There’s a bead of sweat hanging on the end of my nose and I am desperate for a piss but I have to hold it in, if only I’d brought a bottle. I close my eyes and I feel like I am floating or Wardrobe is floating and spinning into the air and I am inside. But I don’t think it works like that. It isn’t going to zoom around my room like a firefly or jump through the window.

My knees are knocking. It’s starting to shake and I think I’m going to be sick I’ve been waiting so long for this to happen. I can hear a sound like air escaping from a balloon and there’s a metallic taste on the tip of my tongue. My heart is bouncing up and down, my throat has closed and my head feels like all the blood has drained out of it. I hold my breath and wait until it’s over. I am weightless. I am smaller than a pea. I am a blinking dot, I am losing consciousness.

I start to panic because I never dreamed it was going to be like this. I thought it would be all over in a flash and that one minute I would be sat in Wardrobe in the corner of my room and the next I would be doing snow angels.


I am awake and I am heavy again and I no longer need to piss. By the smell of Wardrobe I have already been there and bought the tee-shirt.

I can’t hear any familiar sounds like the ticking of the bedroom clock, I am freezing and Wardrobe door is hanging open. I grab a coat and crawl out on my hands and knees. It is absolutely beautiful and just as I have always imagined it. Everything is whiter than white and there is no sound. But something isn’t right.

My chest feels heavy. It feels like somebody is ripping out each of my ribs one by one.

I can’t move. I can’t breathe. It is Narnia and I have arrived here after all these years, Wardrobe has gone but something else is missing. I think air is the thing that is missing.

It wasn’t like this in the movie.



Copyright Ally Atherton 2012

Friday, 6 April 2012

Book 18 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain



I didn't know what to expect when I started to read this book, and was pleasantly surprised.

Set along the banks of the Mississippi river, it tells the tale of Tom Sawyer, a michievous boy who loves nothing more than to do the complete opposite of what everyone tells him to do! He plays truant, falls in love, witnesses a homicide and runs away with his friends Huckleberry Finn and Joe Harper. It is a novel of adventure and takes the reader on a journey into the heart and soul of childhood.

What I like about this classic childrens novel is that it's as appealing to adult readers as it is to children. Not only is it a wonderful read but it also made me feel like I was a child again and even made me feel more of a child than I ever was thirty odd years ago. I wish I had a childhood like Tom Sawyer, well maybe if you cut out the bit where he gets trapped in a cave. Loved it. 5/5

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ

The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ [Kindle Edition] By D.M.Murdock This small book is a fascinating look at the stories in the bible from a different angle.It focuses on the author's theory that Christianity originated from ancient mythology and Sun Worship, and that Christianity as a whole can be explained away as simply a by product or an evolution of earlier myths and beliefs. It is an eye opening book that appears to be backed up by mulitiple sources and his arguments are quite interesting. Of course there are many Christians who would argue (and indeed do) that this book is way off track and that its sources are debateable or outright incorrect. However when you look at certain things in the bible it is easy to find many simalarities and connections to the movement of the sun and its journey around the constellations. I have quite an open mind and have been on my own personal journey in and out of Christianity since I was about 17, and I will simply say that this book is a thoughtful book that makes you wonder. 3/5

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Are You Turning Into Your Dad? - Joseph Piercy



"You know when you're turning into your Dad when......


The end of your tie doesn't come anywhere near the top of your trousers.

The four letter word for something two people can do together in bed is 'read'.

The gleam in your eyes is the sun hitting your bifocals.

Work is a lot less fun, and fun is a lot more work.

You can live without sex,but not without your glasses.

You have a party and the neighbours don't even realise it.

Your ears are hairier than your head.

You start making maps of your wrinkles in the mirror."


This is a very funny little filler that I was given a few weeks ago. It is full of humorous quotations and anecdotes about the joys of getting old and realising that you are in fact turning into your Dad! I couldn't find many reviews about this book online and this may be the only one out there, but I would recommend it if you want a good giggle.

Personally I have known for a long time that I am a clone of my Dad, and its not just because of my thinning hair and belly. I have lost count of the number of times I have gone visiting my parents, only to be stopped in some store or chippy by somebody who thinks I AM my Dad! Either I look old or he looks young!


" Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed."

Charles Schulz


4/5

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater







Puck and Shaun live on an island called Thisby, a quaint, old fashioned kind of a place where killer horses come out of the sea every October!

      Puck is an orphan and is struggling to make ends meet and decides to take matters into her own hands by taking part in the famous Scorpio Races, where islanders race the dangerous water horses along the treacherous beach. Every year this beach is left covered in blood and the population of Thisby is viciously reduced. If Puck can win the race she will be able to save her home but things take on a new meaning when she meets Shaun Kendrick, the local horse whisperer who has his own reasons for winning the race.

      I was attracted to this book after reading a review in my local newspaper and also by its beautiful cover! It's a little bit longer than your average novel but well worth the read, I really liked the story and the two main characters were real and captivating. The island revolves around the magical and dangerous horses or Cappaill Uisce that live in the sea and the whole book has a lovely magical feel to it. It definitely has a Young Adult feel to it but also has a little bit of everything for all ages including fantasy, horror and romance! I'm not a young adult but really enjoyed this book. It is colourful and imaginative just like its wonderful cover design. It leaves you with just enough answered and unanswered questions and builds to a satisfying ending.

      I have read some mixed reviews for 'The Scorpio Races' and for Maggie Stiefvater's other books ( which I haven't read) but mine can't be anything other than positive. Well worth a read, whether you are currently sitting your school exams or slowly decaying like me.

5/5

Monday, 19 March 2012

Transform Your Life - Penny Ferguson



I purchased this free for my kindle a few months back because the title jumped out at me and the idea of transforming my life is an exciting concept!

I haven't read many self-help books and I was looking forward to trying one or dipping my toes in the water so to speak. To be honest I was first a little disappointed because about 60% of the book is more like a leadership or management tutorial. However I did find those parts quite interesting and hopefully it will help in my role as an RGN and as a father of two teenage boys( and hopefully one day as a multi award winning author!) It pretty much has a big emphasis on listening and encouraging others instead of simply trying to get your points across.

The rest of the book is full of helpful life tips such as positive thinking, finding out what you really want to do in life and even writing your own obituary! I havent wrote mine yet but I intend to (maybe today or tommorrow), hopefully before someone else does! Overall I found this book to be quite motivating and helpful in a constructive way and I am hoping to digest and develop some of its ideas for my own life. 'Transform Your Life' is built around 52 ideas with some bonus ideas at the end. For some reason one of these bonus ideas goes into a long discussion about growing your own vegetables which had me scratching my head and thinking I had started to read a different book by mistake!

This is an interesting read and hopefully it will help me to transform my life, only time will tell.


3/5

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Sentinel - Arthur C Clarke



This is a collection of short stories written between 1946 and 1979 by Arthur C Clarke.

I have only ever read one of his stories and that was a few years ago, he was also famous for his supernatural TV series of which I was an avid fan growing up.
These nine stories are of various lengths and are what I would describe as traditional old fashioned Sci-Fi. You haven't got all the flashy monsters and space battles typically found in Star Trek and Star Wars and later books and movies but what you have got are a collection of good honest stories. Most of the stories kept my interest without blowing me away completely. My favourite was the highly original 'The Wind from the Sun' where the protagonist takes part in a space yacht race to the moon. Other highlights are 'A Meeting with Medusa' and 'Breaking Strain.'

Overall this was a pleasant and interesting read without really getting me too excited.

3/5