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.


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.


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.