Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Robert Lowell - Selected Poems

I have always had a love hate relationship with poetry. I really don't like the kind of stuff that makes no sense whatsoever and is filled with nods to greek mythology and other so called 'intellectual' rambleshit. I don't want to read poetry if you have to have a masters degree in ancient history to understand it.

However this collection is superb. There were a few pieces at the beginning that tested my patience but the main bulk of the poetry in the collection are pretty amazing. Most of them are based on Robert's life as a young man and his family. There are lots of good poems to enjoy but my favourite was Night Sweat

An enthralling collection for anybody who likes poetry.


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Heroes by Robert Cormier

This is another one of those books which my son brought home from school, apparently it is part of his GCSE English curriculum. I wasn't really looking forward to it and I was thinking it was just going to be a war thiller.

Francis has come home from WW2 after suffering a horrendous disfigurement. He has his face covered in bandages and a scarf and goes back to the town where he grew up. Where other war veterans are thinking of ways to get their lives back together, Francis has other things on his mind. In his duffel bag is a gun and he has to use it on somebody.

This, my seventh read of the year, is a remarkable book, short and light but it packs an emotional punch.The story captures you from the start and we are left second guessing what is going to happen all the way through.It is brilliantly written and easily read.
There are some books that just grab you emotionally and this is one of them.

I was pretty amazed that the author Robert Cormier wrote this in his seventies and only got published in his forties. Bloody hell there's hope for me after all !

A pleasure to read 5/5

Incidentally my son wasn't too impressed, he didn't really like the ending. Having a 16 year old son is not easy at times and it was just good to have something to talk to him about ! Maybe I should buy him a few books.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Cesar's rules by Cesar Millan

When I got Bailey, my Pug Cross, he wasn't very well behaved and he would always take me for a walk around the block. He had several issues including dog aggression mainly due to the fact that his previous owner kept him inside her house most of the time.I have been making a big effort to train him and that's why I read this book. I read another great book around Christmas ( Feisty Fido) which really helped and I would recommend that to anybody who has a dog aggressive dog.

To anyone who doesn't know, Cesar Millan is the star and host of TV's The Dog Whisperer. I must admit I haven't really watched much of this show but I thought I'd see what he has to say in this book.

On the whole I found it to be very helpful. A lot of the book is focused on creating a good relationship with your dog and ensuring that her basic needs are met. He (rightly so) emphasises the need to give your dog, amongst other things, adequate exercise, play and motivation. The book also brings in the thoughts and expertise of other dog trainers who don't always see eye to eye with his methods.

I have definitely learned a lot from Cesar's Rules and am hoping to put that into practice with Bailey. Training a dog ( or rehabilitating a dog )as Cesar prefers to call it, takes practice, patience and a whole lot of love and understanding.

I am really glad I read this and am hoping to catch a few of his shows.

4 stars.

Me and Bailey

Blog Note ;

If anybody has noticed I now have changed my name on here and at Twitter due to Copyright issues and my pseudonym is now Ally Atherton. I'm sorry for any confusion. Unfortunately there are a few Authors and poets out there called Paul Henry and I don't want any more confusion. Albert Atherton was my great Grandfather, a lovely man who was taken from this world at too young an age. I never met him , he died in the early twenties, but I fear he has become forgotten because he was a conscientious objector. A writer himself by all accounts, my pseudonym is dedicated proudly to him.

I hope he doesn't mind me messing around with his name a little ! RIP Great Grandad x

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Book 5 Liberty by M.A Leslie

Book five in this year's '52 books in 52 weeks' challenge was kindly offered to me by the author's for review purposes.

Liberty Sytes is working for the Jersey Police in her summer break from a business course at college when suddenly she finds herself inside the body and mind of a merciless killer. She is powerless to act as she watches each victim bruised , beaten and cut to shreds. She is also haunted by memories of her childhood and is left trying to put together the pieces of these childhood memories before it's too late. Why is she witnessing each murder ? What has it got to do with her mother ?

This book is imaginative and quite original and the whole premise of the story is a great idea. It is easy to read and I particularly enjoyed the action scenes which were written as well as anything I have read.

However I have decided to give 'Liberty' 3 stars out of 5 purely because I 'personally' think the author's have so much more to offer in the future. I think the writing in parts could have been tighter and I also thought the storyline ( especially the first two thirds) was a little bit repetitive in nature. Also some may argue that the story was a little bit unrealistic in parts.

However I think there is much more to come from M.A Leslie in the future and I hope to read more from them. M.A Leslie are actually a husband and wife writing duo and you can read a bit more about them at Goodreads or on their website


Monday, 16 January 2012

Room by Emma Donoghue

Jack is 5 and lives in room with his Ma. There's nothing outside, just Outer Space.

This, my fourth book of the year, is an astonishingly good read. It's original, beautifully written and emotionally spine tingling. If ever the phrase ' a real page turner' was written for a book, this is it.

'Room' is cleverly written and pulls at the heart strings. There's nothing more that I can say about this book.

Ok there's one more thing. WOW !

I'll definitely have to check out more from this Author.


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Where have all the bullets gone ? Spike Milligan

I was too young to appreciate Spike Milligan in his hay day and only have vague recollections of his humour, and 'The Goon Show' was before my time.I picked this up on holiday in a second hand book store because I have been wanting to read more humour. I wasn't disappointed, it is a very funny book. But it's also a fascinating insight into one man's ( one funny man's !) experience of the latter part of World War 2. This is part of a collection of memoirs written by Spike but the fact that I haven't read any of the others is irrelevant. Anyone interested in the war years would probably like this book, especially if you have a sense of humour. For those of a more prudish constitution beware there is some lively language.

I really liked this book and it kept my interest all the way. It has made me want to learn more about Spike and his history and the history of the Goon Show ! The book is funny, eye opening and educational. Best book of the year so far, but it's only number three !


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

This is my second book of this year's challenge and my first 'Classic' of the year.

I say classic but this book left me feeling slightly deflated. Maybe I am not the best person to judge this book as the thriller genre has failed to set me on fire.
Maybe a thriller fan would appreciate it more.

Richard Hannay returns home from the Boer war to find a strange man standing by his door, a man with a startling revelation. He invites him in to sleep for the night and the next day his new friend is dead.

Hannay finds himself on the run from the local police and a mysterious gang of criminals. Who is this mysterious gang and what has it got to do with the outbreak of the first world war ?

I found the whole plot dull as dishwater, from the beginning, right through to the disappointing end. I must say that I found the so called chase through the Scottish moors pretty lame and it wasn't much of a chase when half the local population is inviting you in for bed and breakfast !

If I had to say something positive about this book it would be that it was short.

I can't believe the amount of good reviews this book has, but maybe ( just maybe) it's not my cup of tea. I have never seen any of the film adaptations but I presume they tinkered around with the story. I also found much of the plot to be quite unrealistic and unbelievable.


Sunday, 1 January 2012

Book 1 Inside My Shorts by Adam Sifre

My first book of 2012 is a collection of 31 short stories that I read on my Kindle.

Although it contains different types of stories, a good majority are of the twisty horror variety with a good splash of humour. To be honest there were probably only a handful of stories which really impressed me, a few that were a little bit on the dull side and the rest were just about average. But, don't get me wrong, I think this young writer has plenty of potential, once he develops his voice as a writer. The 4 (or maybe) 5 stories which were good were really good and I think the horror/humour genre suits him.

My favourite story of the bunch was one called "Followers" which features a live 'Twitter' murder ! Other highlights include the funny and twisty 'Top 10 List', a strictly 'not for kids' Christmas story ! And look out for the highly original 'House Calls'.

On the whole this collection is a mixed bag and an interesting introduction to a new 'indie' author who I'd like to keep an eye on. A few too many spelling and punctuation errors didn't help the read though.