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 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.


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.


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