Sunday, 31 March 2013

Paradise Road

By Stephen O'Donnell. Ringwood Publishing.

This is the debut novel by up and coming Glasgow Author Stephen O'Donnell and follows the lives of Kevin McGarry and several other football fans during the nineties and beyond, warts and all, the good, the bad and the ugly. Kevin has a very promising footballing career ahead of him until injury forces him to try and navigate a new direction in life, a life consisting of alcohol, girls, friendships and his beloved Celtic. It is a story of changes, a story of growing up within a culture of sectarianism, a story of broken dreams, laughter and cultural adversity.

As a self confessed bookaholic and football fan this book ticked a lot of boxes for me before I had even turned the first page. This is in many ways an unconventional book, you don't necessarily have any major blockbusting plot to grab hold of, the point of view changes from one character to another several times (and it isn't always immediately obvious who is speaking or thinking) but for me this unconventional style was one of its strengths. Lets not mess around here, Stephen O'Donnell can really write, Paradise Road is fresh and written with an efficacious combination of wit, realism and social commentary.

Like the main character I have Irish blood in me and am maybe quarter Irish (or maybe a fifth Irish) but unlike Kevin McGarry my family settled in the North West of England and I am a Wigan Athletic fan and not a Celtic fan. But as a football fan I loved how the story transported me onto a bus full of crazy Celtic supporters and onto the terraces of Celtic Park and into a collection of dodgy Scottish pubs! This is a must for any book loving football fans, not only is it hilariously entertaining, it is also thought provoking and touching. Maybe I should get along to Celtic Park at some point and I really wish Scottish football would get it's act together.

5/5 A promising debut novel.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Book 12 - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K Rowling

Harry Potter is on his way to his third year at Hogwarts, his Aunt Marge has been left floating to the ceiling like a balloon and a dangerous murderer has just escaped from a high security prison and is on his way to find him. Add to this mixture a flying Half Horse-Half Eagle,a wild dog that foretells impending death and a collection of creepy prison guards that feed off negative thoughts and we have the third fun packed Harry Potter book.

I have read a Harry Potter book every year now that I have been doing my 52 book reading challenge and I absolutely loved this one! The first two books were fun to read but this one is so much better, the plot just seems much tighter and is cleverly constructed. The great thing about these books is that they are fun for all ages including this 42 year old bald bloke.

There are lots of twists and turns and hints and clues and the ending was just right. Anyone that is interested in writing children's books could learn alot from J.K Rowling, me included. I want to go back in time and become her!


I still haven't seen any of the films and I would rather read the books first.

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Great Escape ( Devotional 1)

‘Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.” Acts 5 (17-20)

How many of us have found ourselves locked inside our own personal jail cells? Maybe you find are struggling to find the money to pay your mortgage, your rent, your electricity or gas bills? Maybe you have found yourself in some other seemingly inescapable Cul De Sac of life and you feel as if you are banging your head against the proverbial brick wall. Paul teaches us that God doesn’t do brick walls. He can remove bricks, one by one, he can open doors that seem securely locked. Have you asked him to unlock your doors? But then something even more incredible happened in the story of the apostle’s escape.

‘But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported. “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no-one inside.” ‘ Acts 5 (22-23)

The guards were standing at the doors! So not only did the Angel of the Lord open the locked jail cell to let the apostles out, he did it without the guards even noticing, in front of their noses! Now how amazing is that? Jesus is there for us, to plot our great escape. We don’t need to dig any secret tunnels, we don’t need to get down on our hands and knees or squeeze ourselves through the floorboards.

I also posted this to 'Create With Joy'. Please take a peek by using the link above and maybe take part in 'Inspire me Monday'.A wonderful blog.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

In Christ We Are Blameless

By Diana Medlin

This is my first Christian 'religious' book of the year and I think I came across it via a kindle bot that I follow on twitter. It really focusses on redemption and makes an argument that we don't have to ask Jesus for Forgiveness because he already forgave us on the cross. To be honest it's a something that I have never quite twigged and all the time I have been a Christian (on and off over the years) I have had it in my mind that I have to ask Jesus to all forgive my sins. But the main theme of 'In Christ we are Blameless' is that all our sins are forgiven on the cross and that it is important to confess our sins so that we can move closer to God but not to ask him to forgive our sins. It is a concept that may suprprise or even outrage a few Christians and to be honest I wasn't happy at first.But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If you ask Jesus to forgive your sins all the time it's like you are saying ' Hey Jesus, I don't believe you died for our sins at all!'.

Interesting stuff. The last few pages were full of bible verses aimed at particular areas of life. I'd recommend this book to any Christian that wants a closer understanding of redemption. 4/5

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Sense Of An Ending

By Julian Barnes

'A shiny inner wrist, steam rising from a wet sink as a hot frying pan is laughingly tossed into it, gouts of sperm circling a plughole, before being sluiced down the full length of a tall house. A river rushing nonsensically upstream.......'

This is how the book begins as a man reflects on his past and how each event is a mere memory, I guess this book is about memory. Or how sometimes a memory is as delicate and as many faceted as a polished sapphire.

I remember this being the book that won the Man Booker prize a few years ago and curiosity has always kept it at the back of my mind as a possible read. This is my first Man Booker prize winning book and so it came highly recommended from the higher echelons of the british literary scene! I didn't know what to expect, probably some high brow , radio four, Art Show, literary work full of long complicated words and ancient Greek and Shakespearean references. Not to mention the fact that because it had won Britains highest literary 'pat on the back' I was worried that the full weight of expectation wasn't going to bear fruit. I was more than pleasantly surprised.

For me this is the perfect 'Literary Fiction' book, a short but intriguing, well crafted story. Perhaps some lovers of crime fiction or the fantasy genre or the latest best selling thriller novel wouldn't 'get this' because there aren't any murderers on the loose, no ticking bombs hidden underneath a New York car park, no hints or even a suggestion of a body hidden in a basement. Just a well written story. That's all it is. A good beginning, middle and an end, and a superb ending as far as I am concerned!

I usually like a book to be original and imaginative and to be dotted with flowery and colourful imagery and description but 'A Sense of an Ending' doesn't come anywhere close. It doesn't need any of that. Although it somehow still manages to leave a trail of images that stay with you throughout the book. I like Julian Barne's writing style, it is thought provoking and also humerous and he kept my interest all the way. Towards the end of the book I was beginning to think that the story was going to fizzle out but instead it actually did the opposite, whatever the opposite of 'fizzling out' is! If you can think of a suitable word or a better way of putting it, please put your answers on a post card.....and send to or just yell rather loudly if you happen to be anywhere near Chorley in Lancashire or Preston Royal Hospital during the week!

So in the end I was wrong about the Greek and the Shakespearean references although there were lots of long words on every page that you probably only use on a regular basis if you read the Financial times, are a regular listener to Radio 4 or got educated at Oxford.

This is one of those books that stays with you and the ending will get you thinking until your heads hurts if you want to. I want to but that's because I'm like that.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Book 9 The Night Circus

By Erin Morgenstern

You're sitting on the branches of an oak tree and suddenly a circus appears in what was once an empty field. An illusionist turns a book into a raven, a young girl has her fingers split open and then puts them back together, you enter a tent where paper animals stick out their tongues and roar. Please don't adjust your imagination, you have just entered the Circus of Dreams, 'Le Cirque des Reves'.

I don't think I've ever read a book that has left me with so many conflicting thoughts and after reading some of the reviews it seems I am not the only one. On the one hand this literary fiction/ fantasy book is incredible. It is original, imaginative, beautifilly written and a feast of colour, sound and olfactory delights. You can taste the circus. You are transported on a journey through each tent like a child in his pyjamas at night, Erin Morgenstern creates something special and unforgettable here. I read the kindle version and lost out on a wonderful front cover but each page was colourful enough to make this a remarkable read.

However 'The Night Circus' isn't for everybody and my problem with it lies solely in the plot! For me I found it a little bit too convoluted, it's almost as if the author is trying to be too clever for her own good.The ending,in particular, is a bit of a headache and pretty over the top for my liking. Maybe it doesn't help because the fantasy genre isn't really my cup of horlicks but overall the plot didn't quite work for me and the resolution had me scratching my head a little! But I can't give this book anything less than 4 stars because at the end of the day it is amazingly well written and a rollercoaster ride of imagination for the senses. Try it and see what you think.

There are so many characters in this book, it's ridiculous! A totally different kind of a read, it's like a jigsaw puzzle that slowly comes together as you read further.For me it just felt like there was a piece missing at the end. 4/5