Thursday, 31 December 2015

End of year wrap up.

So there you have it I've finished my 53rd book of the year.

I've read a good mixture this year and here's to another year of good reading material.

So here are my top three of the year.

1   Misery by Stephen King.

I loved this book and comes in easily at the top position. It had everything I like in a book and it had me hooked right from the beginning.

2   The Call of the Wild by Jack London.

This is my favourite classic read of the year and my second favourite book read. Full of thrills, it had me hooked emotionally.

3   Lessons In Eating Soup by Melanie Grabowski.

This really is a beautifully written book.

So here's to 2016. I am hoping to again read at least 52 books and I am excited to know what will be coming my way.

The Invisible Man by H G Wells

For my last and 53rd book of the year I chose to read this old classic.

There have been lots of different versions of this done over the years, including on TV and at the movies, but it was fun to read the original. It was different to what I expected but it's a decent read considering it was written so long ago. It's cleverly written and it did keep my interest all the way. The Time Machine is still my favourite but this is still a fun read, even if it is a bit slow in parts.

An all round good romp.


Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Random Man by Layden Robinson

This is a collection of seven short stories. Unfortunately apart from the last one, I found them to be plotless, trippy and pretty nonsensical. Written in a stream of consciousness style they left me trying to connect the dots too much.

This guy definitely has a great imagination and with the last story in the collection he proves that he can write a decent short story. I get what he was trying to do but it didn't work for me. Many of the characters in this short book are under the influence of drugs and alcohol and I get that but I still need a story to follow.

The last story entitled Leonard's Violet Dilemma is the best of the bunch and had just the right balance.

Finally this book could do with a decent cover and some further editing to iron out a few wrinkles.


Dougal Round The World by Eric Thompson

The folks from the Magic Roundabout go travelling!

I've had this book since I was a very young child and thought it would be nice to read it again after all these years for old times sake.

It's such an old book that I couldn't even find a google image of the front cover! My mum and dad met Eric at an event in the early seventies and he signed this for me and my sister so it's extra special. He sadly died at a young age but his two daughters have gone on to become famous in their own right as the actresses Emma and Sophie Thompson. 

This is a fun book for young children with lots of imagination and humour.

I can't really give it a rating. But kids I'm sure would still enjoy it even though the world has changed and The Magic Roundabout is no longer on our screens.

Friday, 25 December 2015

The Boy who became Father Christmas by James Wilmot

It's Christmas morning and I've found myself with a few hours to spare before the madness begins during which I found this audio book on You Tube. I love it!

It's the perfect book for a child to read at this time of the year. It tells the story of how Father Christmas became Father Christmas! Even if you are just an old soppy sod like me you should read this and it will get you in the festive mood. It's well written and beautifully told. It will warm your heart.

Merry Christmas :)


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Cookie by Jacqueline Wilson

This is the story of a girl who is brought up by her mum and an abusive father.

I always try to read a few children's books every year and I stumbled upon this on you tube and listened to the audio book. The colourful front cover grabbed my attention and I wasn't disappointed.

It's a great little story and it's probably aimed at 7 - 11 year olds but I think it could probably be enjoyed by all ages! It's a story that is full of light and shade and cleverly touches upon parental abuse but with an encouraging and happy ending.

I've read children's books by many authors but this is one of my favourites. I'd definitely recommend it to any parents if only to introduce their children to the fact that not all parents are good, but without scaring them too much. I'm not usually a big fan of audio books, they normally annoy me but this was great. It was well narrated and I loved the music as well. It's shame I didn't have the actual book because it sounds like the illustrations by Nick Sharratt were really good.


Thursday, 3 December 2015

Eve's Diary by Mark Twain

I found this as an audio book on You Tube and thought it would be the perfect quick read.

Written in the style of a diary it is a unique and humorous portrayal of Adam and Eve. Written by Mark Twain it was written after the death of his wife and is part of a series of shorts that he wrote featuring the biblical characters.

I found it lightly amusing and quirky but it didn't set my world on fire.


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Mortimer's Portrait On Glass by Joan Aiken

I needed a quick read to get this year's 52 book challenge back on track and I stumbled upon this on You Tube.

It's my first Joan Aiken book and it's a fun little story for young children. If you have a young child I'd recommend this one. It's got all the ingredients to keep them listening. Great fun, even for us older creatures :)


Friday, 13 November 2015

Instant Confidence by Paul McKenna

If you are struggling with confidence or interested in NLP this is a must read!

This is a re-read and I intend to read it at least once a year. I enjoyed it and found it helpful the first time around but on second read it works even better.

I can't afford to go to any classes to improve my confidence but this book really works if you read it carefully and follow what it teaches. It also comes with a helpful CD that reinforces what is taught.

Seriously if you struggle with self confidence. Pick up a copy!


Saturday, 7 November 2015

NLP. The Essential guide to Neuro-Linguistic-Programming by Joseph Owen and Ian Townsend

This is the second NLP book that I've read and it is fascinating.

I'd recommend it to anybody interested in the subject or anybody who wants to improve the quality of their life. It's informative and helpful and easy to follow. It has wet my appetite and now I want to read more about NLP and hopefully I will be able to get my hands on more.

Books like this can be life changing if you want your life changing. I do!

A great read,


Friday, 30 October 2015

Blackwater Lake by Maggie James

        A man and a woman are found dead in a local beauty spot but what is the secret 

                                                 they have hidden?

I came across this while searching the kindle free bestsellers list. And I'm really glad I did.

This novella has everything including a well crafted plot and lots and lots of suspense. It had me hooked from the beginning and kept me turning the pages until the end. Free books on Amazon can be pretty hit and miss at times but this one was a hit.

If you want a quick read that has some juicy meat on the bones, give this one a try.

I enjoyed it and will have to check out more from Maggie Jones.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Snow Burn by Joel Arnold

Two teenage boys build an igloo. They have wood for the fire. They have brandy and they have an escaped convict.

This is another great example of how you can find hidden gems at Smashwords.

I downloaded this a while ago but have only just got around to reading it. For a self published short novel it is pretty good. It is well written and the story kept my interest throughout. The characters are well drawn out and I was there in the igloo, freezing my butt off along with the three main characters.

Maybe it ended a bit abruptly and it's a little quirky but for a self published book it was a good read.

I think this is a story that will linger in the back of my mind for a bit and that says a lot. That's what good authors do.


Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Secret Of Dreams by Yacki Raizizun

     Are dreams simply a biological phenomenon or do they serve 

                                 another spiritual purpose?

I listened to this short book as a Librivox recording on You Tube and it is fascinating. It really makes you think about dreams and their purpose. Maybe dreams are just the result of our brains ticking over as we sleep but what if they serve other purposes?

Fascinating stuff. Librivox recordings normally annoy me but this was okay.


The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope

              The coronation of the King is in the morning but he is asleep 

                                      and he won't wake up. 

This is a short novel that has everything. A great plot, excitement, romance and sword fights!

I can't really fault this one. It had me hooked from the beginning and I like the way it is written. You wouldn't think it was written in the late 1800's because it's really accessible and isn't bogged down with wordy language. It doesn't contain a lot of description and I struggled to visualise some scenes towards the end but that's probably my problem and not the Authors.

Overall I can't really give it less than 5 out of 5 because it was a great read.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

A young girl and two others are invited to spend a few nights in a haunted house and soon things start to go bump in the night.

It's easy to understand how this book influenced the likes of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman.

In fact it doesn't take long before you stumble across something that King obviously borrowed and slotted directly into his first published novel Carrie. I listened to this as an Audio Book and it is creepy and scary and I'd recommend that you go the whole hog, turn off the lights and listen to it in all it's creepy glory, just like I did.

The writing is delicious but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had actually read a physical copy. I think you lose something when listening to an audio book. It's less personal and you can't beat hearing each character in your head instead of listening to somebody speaking the words for you.

You can't quite beat curling up to a book.

I enjoyed this and it reminded me a little bit of The Turning of The Screw. But I really want to get hold of a paper copy.


Friday, 16 October 2015

Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie

                   'I've just got to get rid of my husband.'

A woman tells everybody at a party that she wants to kill her husband and a few days later she is seen walking into his house and later he is found dead. It sounds like a cut and dried case but of course it isn't. This is Agatha Christie, the Queen of the whodunnit mystery.

This is faultless. Agatha Christie at her best. Again I admit she ran rings around me and I didn't have a clue who the killer was! But the plot is woven so perfectly and cleverly I doubt whether Einstein or Stephen Hawking would have worked it out.


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Ordeal By Innocence by Agatha Christie

A man is found guilty of a vicious murder and later dies in prison. But what if he didn't do it? 

And if he didn't, who did?

I haven't read an Agatha Christie for a long time so when I spotted two of her books on a bookshelf at my new place of work, I just knew I had to take them home.

This is a bog standard Christie novel. It has all the ingredients you would expect. A murder, a mystery and lots and lots of suspects. I usually have an inkling who the murderer is and occasionally I guess correctly but this time I had absolutely no chance. Agatha Christie pulls no punches here and weaves a tangled web for the reader to unravel.

If it was left up to me this murder would never have been solved!

Not the best Agatha Christie book that I've read but nowhere near the worst.

Good fun as always


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Twits by Roald Dahl.

It's a long time since I read a book by the fabulous late Roald Dahl. I grew up with his books and I'm sure, alongside many others, he was one of the writers that inspired me to start writing from an early age.

This is funny and quirky and perfect for all children between the ages of 7 and 11. I am a middle aged bloke but still enjoyed it and books like this are a great example of how to write for children. I listened to it on You Tube and it was narrated by a guy called James Murphy. e did a great job but no, I have no idea who he is. I'm sure he's really famous somewhere.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Portobello by Ruth Rendell

Found in Chepstow Villas, a sum of money between eighty and a hundred and sixty pounds. Anybody who has lost such a sum of money should apply to the phone number below.

I started reading this a few years ago and stopped. On returning to it I can understand why. I'd describe it as pedestrian. It isn't badly written and it's pretty easy to read and the characters are well drawn out but there's something vitally missing, A hook. Something to grab hold of the reader by the scruff of the neck.

The problem is that nothing really happens and when something does happen it's about as dramatic as a tripping over a carpet and bumping your head on the sofa. It's 375 pages of an okay story that doesn't really go anywhere.

Not terrible but quite forgettable. 3/5

Monday, 28 September 2015

Lessons In Eating Soup by Melanie Grabowski

'I am a refugee in an attic. Milky light spills in through a small window. I squat beside it on a footstool, keeping watch on the street below. I spy on the soldiers in stiff green uniforms, wearing rifles like handbags.'

This is another e book that I came across on Smashwords.

It gives an insight into the life of a child in Poland in the eighties during a period of martial law. It is delicately and wonderfully told. Melanie Grabowski's writing is incredibly fresh and crisp. Words fail me as to how well written this short piece is.

Beautiful   5/5

Will You Sing Fredric - Jacob Mossberg

"Will you sing, Frederic?" A gentle voice spoke as Frederic lay sleeping.

Frederic jerked and rose in his bed. He looked around, dumbfounded. The room was empty. He
must have been dreaming. So he lay down again while punching his pillow to adjust it.
As soon as he had put his head down, a gentle voice whispered once more; "Will you sing,

For my latest read I did a random search on Smashwords and found this.

It is quirky and imaginative and had me hooked from the very first line. In many ways this is right up my alley. I am a sucker for originality and anything left of centre. It is creepy with a pinch of humour.

The ending was a little confusing and vague but perhaps that is what the Author intended and maybe we are supposed to interpret the ending in our own way.


You can find out more about Jacob Mossberg on Goodreads


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Blue Moon - Oli Smith

It's 21st July 1969 and man is about to step foot on the moon. But they have company.

I found this short book online via the BBC and it's not bad. It features David Tennant's Doctor Who in a race against time to make sure the moon landing goes ahead without an unexpected alien hitch.

An enjoyable quick read.


The Snow Dragon - Vivian French

This is another children's book that I found and listened to on You Tube.

In a world on fire a boy goes in search of the last Snow Dragon.

This is a wonderful story and every child should read this. And every adult as well! It's pretty imaginative and great escapism. Children's writing at it's best.


Galaxy Four - William Emms

Following a skirmish in deep space, two alien spacecraft have crash landed on a barren planet in Galaxy Four. When the Doctor arrives, he discovers that the planet will explode in two days' time.

I grew up reading the Doctor Who Target books and so I thought it was about time I read another one for old times sake.

Written by the man who wrote the original 1965 script for the TV show, this is one of the early William Hartnell adventures and one of the missing ones at that. There is something I really like about early Doctor Who that has been lost over the years and this novelization captures it well. I think it's the fact that it's a simple, honest story without any gimmicks.

The brilliant thing about reading a Target novelization is the fact that it's all in your head. There are no bad actors, no terrible special effects and no wobbly walls. The acting and effects are as good as your mind can muster up.

This was a great read and a nostalgic one. I felt like a kid again. I'm still a Doctor Who fan after all these years.


Saturday, 26 September 2015

4 Books by Dr Seuss

I wanted to catch up a little on this year's 52 books in 52 weeks reading challenge and so I really wanted to read something quick and fun. At the back of my mind was Dr Seuss. I don't know if it's a result of being a child of the 70's in England but his books have escaped me growing up.

I found these 4 books on You Tube and listened to them one after the other.

The Cat in The Hat

The Lorax

Green Eggs and Ham


How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I can't believe I lost out on these child as a kid, they are fun and wonderfully written.

I also enjoyed learning a bit about the author in the process. I'm a middle aged bloke with a big nose so I don't think I can really rate them, I don't think that's my job. But I'll give them all a 4/5.

I really should read some more.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

A Village Affair - Joanna Trollope

A newly wed woman moves into the house of her dreams. It's idyllic and everybody is envious of her home, her family and her lifestyle. But there's something missing.

This is totally out of my comfort zone but I decided a long time ago that I wanted to read widely if I am to become a better writer myself.

This is essentially what I would call a Woman's Weekly book. It's woman's fiction or woman's family drama or however else you would describe it. It's actually not as bad as I thought it would be. I expected it to be nauseatingly boring and humdrum. But it's quite a decent and gentle story.

It has it's fair share of one dimensional characters and many of those one dimensional characters are pretty similar and that doesn't help. But it more or less kept my interest until the end and the main story is quite good.

A decent average read but totally not what I would normally read.


Friday, 18 September 2015

Revival by Stephen King

Everything is light as a feather these days. You can buy Coca-Cola Light, Marlboro Lights and Budweiser Light; but this one is a new one. Stephen King Light.

It's not up there with my favourite King books like The Stand, Bag of Bones, Misery and The Shining but neither is it down there with my least favourites. It's nowhere near as boring as The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon or Rose Madder or the house brick that was Under The Dome.

But it is Stephen King Light. It's not that scary. It's not that gripping. It lacks that terrifying but funny quirkiness that I love about King. But having said that it is a slow burner and a decent read. There are only two real scary bits in this book and the best one is found in the penultimate chapter. And it's a good one. Stephen King at his best. It's a pity the rest of the book couldn't have been so scary!

This is a real slow burner and if you stick with it, it's an average but decent read. Just not his best.


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

A young woman agrees to become a governess for two young children and soon realises that all is not what it seems in more ways than one.

If you can get past the very wordy, antiquated language of this one it's a really good story.

It's not the easiest book to read but I've found that's a common denominator with most books written and published in the 1800's. It comes with the territory. But as far as the story is concerned it's pretty creepy and disturbing. It's not exactly an edge of the seat page turner but it does suck you in all the way to the end.

I think the great strength of 'The Turn Of the Screw' is it's ambiguity. It leaves you guessing and speculating all the way through and once you read the last page the story lingers, and you are left wondering. A few readers would probably find this annoying. I don't. I'm going to be thinking about this book for a while, the reader is left filling in the blanks and that's more than fine with me..

I'd much prefer that kind of an ending to one of those endings that wraps everything up in a pretty little bow.

For me this was a bit like John Habberton's 'Helen's Babies' mixed together with a good chunk of Daphne du Maurier's 'Rebecca' if you add in a few creepy ghosts.

It wasn't the easiest book to read but it's worth a good 3.5 out of 5.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Terrifying Tales by Edgar Allan Poe

I'll start off by saying that none of these tales are very terrifying at all. Maybe they were terrifying in the 1800's when they were written or if you happen to find yourself reading them inside a big old creepy house in the middle of nowhere, with all the lights out. But it's essentially a decent collection of short stories.

It's hard going at times because it was written so long ago and people talked differently and wrote differently then to what we are used to. But if you can get past that it's a nice collection. My favourite was the very creepy 'The Pit and The Pendulum',  followed by 'The Masque of the Red Death' and 'The Murders in The Rue Morgue.' The lowest point came with the nauseatingly boring 'The Purloined Letter.'

A decent read and I also enjoyed learning about Edgar Allan Poe. An Author I didn't know a hell of a lot about until I came across this collection. His story is as fascinating as his written works.


Monday, 31 August 2015

Send Me No Flowers by Jenny Tomlin

Donna thinks she's found the love of her life but she's only met the man that will steal it from her.

If you read the introduction to this book you'll learn that Jenny Tomlin writes books about abuse so that she can raise awareness.

I think that's all fine and dandy but at the end of the day a book has to be entertaining in some shape or form. This isn't in any shape or form.

Send Me No Flowers gave me that familiar nauseating feeling in my stomach that I always get when I read a book that bores the pants off me. It lacks conflict, it lacks excitement. It isn't gripping whatsoever. It's the opposite of what I'd call a page turner.

The writing is pretty dull and below average and I think that's got a lot to do with it. Add a plot that isn't very well constructed and you've got a bit of a stinker.

This is gritty and touches upon a subject that does need to be written about. Just not in this way.

I was glad to finish it.



Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

New York City. Two in the morning. A subway car heading uptown.  Jack Reacher, plus five other passengers. Four are okay. The fifth isn't.

A few weeks ago I was lucky to receive several boxes of books for absolutely nothing and this is the first one that immediately caught my eye. It's also my first Lee Child book and apparently the thirteenth to feature his action hero, Jack Reacher. I liked it and didn't like it in equal measure.

So what didn't I like?

Gone Tomorrow starts off with a bang. The opening scenes grip you by the scruff of your neck and you're left with no doubt that the book is going to drag you by the ankles through a roller-coaster ride of thrills and spills. Unfortunately as a reader I was then left dangling.

A good portion of the book is then spent in what I can only describe as wall to wall meetings and interrogations. Meetings in cafes, meetings in hotels, meetings in police buildings, meetings in city squares, meeting after meeting after meeting! Meetings aren't very exciting. Not for me anyway.

Add to that the amount of time the main character and narrator spends banging on about the streets of New York. I don't know anything about New York and wouldn't know one street from another. So I found the constant street descriptions boring as well as confusing. Maybe if I knew the area I would have enjoyed those parts more.

So the good points?

Gone Tomorrow does keep you guessing all the way to the last page. You think you know what's going on and then you find out that you're wrong again, and again and again! The mystery does build up nicely and keeps you on your toes.

The action sequences ( when they happen) are brilliant. I don't think I've ever read a book where the action has been written so perfectly. Lee Child certainly does that well and probably better than anybody else.

So I'd give this one a 3.5 out of 5. A decent read with a well crafted thriller/mystery plot. It's just a shame that it was bogged down with so many tedious meetings and street descriptions.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Eight Bites Of Life by Barry T Martin

I read this last night, curled up on the couch with a bottle of red wine. The wine was lovely but it's a pity I can't say the same thing about the book.

I think I've been reading a different book to the one reviewed by a handful of people on Amazon and Goodreads.

This book contains eight rather bland and pointless stories. None of them really goes anywhere. Usually when I read a collection of stories there's at least one that I enjoyed. Unfortunately I didn't really see the point in any of them.

Great wine.


The Call of The Wild by Jack London

Kidnapped and sold to be a sled dog in the harsh and frozen Yukon Territory, Buck is passed from master to master and embarks on an extraordinary journey, proving his unbreakable spirit.

This is one of those books I've always wanted to read but never got around to it. But as far as old classics are concerned it's up there with the best. It sucked me in from the first line and didn't let me go until the last.

You know you are reading a really good book when you feel like you're in the story instead of just reading the story. I was there with Buck, racing over the snow, pulling that sledge. I felt his sorrow and his excitement and when Buck was exhausted, so was I. First published in 1903 The Call of the Wild is as enjoyable and accessible to modern audiences as it would have been at the time it was written.



Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins

In a palace in Venice, one man is dead and another has disappeared. But what exactly has happened?

I'd probably describe this as being like a Victorian Agatha Christie novel. It starts off really slow and in parts it's a pretty dull affair. I never really connected with any of the main characters or the plot but slowly it builds up to quite a decent climax.

I think the main reason I didn't connect with this book is it's age. It was written a long time ago.

Wilkie was writing at the same time as Charles Dickens and was apparently a bigger name until he died and then Dickens became the flavour of the month. People wrote differently back then and I did find it a bit of a chore at times. But the plot does crank up a lot towards the end and I ended up rather enjoying it.

The ending is a bit strange but in a good way. I've read a few books by Dickens but I think I prefer Wilkie Collins. I've heard he's wrote much better books so I intend to find out for myself.


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Law of Attraction Habits: 5 Habits That Super Charge Your Manifesting Skills

For anybody with an interest in the Law of Attraction this is very helpful little book.

It is simple and mumbo jumbo free. You probably have to know a little bit about the law of attraction before you read this because it's basically an additional guide. A top up if you like. I found it really helpful.


Sunday, 2 August 2015

Strangeville by Kenneth Tingle

A young man takes a wrong turn and ends up in a very strange place.

This book is responsible for one of the worst nightmares I've ever had. Thanks Mr Tingle! But it could also have had something to do with my mixing Cider with Champagne and a late night pizza. But Strangeville was definitely in there and played it's part!

But Strangeville isn't a nightmare, I actually quite like it. It's got some mixed reviews and I can see where some of the negative vibes are coming from. Especially when it comes to the ending. It's not the worst ending I've come across but it was disappointing. It could have done without the Twilight Zone twist and also the Epilogue. I hate end of book 'wrap ups.' I don't want to be told what happens over the next few years in the last three pages. I like to imagine 'what happens next' myself. It's part of the fun of reading a book. And end of book 'wrap ups' can sometimes rob the reader of that privilege.

Yes. You can tell this book is self published. You can tell it's not gone through the cogwheels of a traditional publishing house. And it is cheesy in places. But you know what?

I really liked Strangeville!  Warts and all. It was fun and Mr Tingle tells a good story. I was there. In a town called Strangeville. This is one of those rare books that actually manages to hook me. I felt like I was smack bang in the middle of a story instead of just reading a story. And not many books do that.

You either love or hate books like this and I kind of fell in love with a town called Strangeville.

I want to go there. I'm packing my bags.


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

                          Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket.

                                                          Perry Como

Hopelessly in love, a young man promises to bring back a falling star so that he can marry the girl of his dreams.

This, my first Neil Gaiman book, didn't disappoint me. It's imaginative and original and cleverly crafted. Very much a fairy tale for adults. The pages turn themselves.

A few nice twists at the end rounded off a good read. I'm not really a big fantasy fan but I did enjoy this one. It's not quite 5 stars but a solid 4.


Friday, 17 July 2015

The Forgotten Army - Brian Minchin

I'll keep this short because I didn't like it at all.

I'm a life long Doctor Who fan and I like my Doctor Who dark, scary, original and imaginative. This wasn't. It was quite the opposite. It's pretty terrible.

It isn't particularly well written and apart from the main two characters, most of the characters are one dimensional, walking talking cliches. It didn't have me on the edge of my seat and it isn't a page turner.

I wanted to throw this book out of a window.

But the main problem with 'The Forgotten Army' is the plot. It's completely unrealistic. Childishly so.
In any book, especially Sci-Fi, you can get away with a lot. But at the end of the day a plot has to be realistic within itself or the reader will just won't buy it. And I have seen CCB puppet shows with a more realistic plot than this. It went from the sublime to the ridiculous.

I won't give any examples because I don't want to even relive what I've just read.

Bizarrely enough the finale was okay. If only the rest of the book was written in the same manner.

So basically two good things about this book. The ending and the fact that it was only 248 short pages long.

I don't think I've given a 1 star for a long time but here you go.


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Gulliver's Travels by Johnathan Swift

I'm guessing everybody over a certain age has heard of Gulliver's Travels but not everybody has read the actual book. I've had a copy since I was around 10 and it's the one with the lovely red cover as in the picture above. But I never got round to reading it until now and I'm a lot older.

I think part of the reason I never read it as a kid is because it's not necessarily an easy book for a kid to read and even now I can't imagine many kids enjoying it.

It's split into two parts. The first part is where Lemuel Gulliver finds himself washed up on the coast of Lilliput, the land of tiny people. And the second part he ends up in the land of the giants, Brobdingnag. Gulliver's Travels is way ahead of it's time for a book written in 1726 and is probably one of the oldest book I've ever read. It is imaginative and pretty clever in the way it describes Gulliver's experiences. You wouldn't really know it was written so long ago if it wasn't for a few places where the book gets bogged down in political and social commentary and those parts are pretty hard to read.

On the whole it's a pretty cool book and I enjoyed it as an adult. It's very different from today's Children's Books. There isn't a lot of action and excitement and I'm not sure what children today would think about it, but I liked it. It's imaginative and clever more than it is exciting. And if you like a bit of political satire and commentary there is a huge chunk of it in this one but I preferred not to get bogged down in all of that. Of the two stories I enjoyed the second and least famous one the most.

It's nice to eventually get to read this beautifully bound book that I've owned since childhood. It really is a lovely cover. And for me its a 4 out of 5 Stars.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Misery by Stephen King

A best selling Author get's kidnapped by his number one fan.

I don't know why it's taken me so long to get hold of this. As a life long Stephen King fan I guess I never really fancied this one. It's also probably got something to do with the hype that the book and the film generated. Hype usually puts me off a little. Even before I turned the first page I had a feeling I wouldn't enjoy it. I mean a guy gets kidnapped and locked into a room? How can you spend over 300 pages reading about that?

I was thankfully wrong. This is superb. And I think it may well have toppled 'Bag of Bones' as my all time favourite King novel. I think the guy that invented the phrase 'a real page turner' should read this book. I read the first 30 or so pages and fell in love with it and I hoped it wouldn't become one of those books that start well and fizzle out. It didn't fizzle out. It gripped me from the beginning and didn't let go.

This is Stephen King at his best. It is creepy, horrifying and brilliantly written. It didn't keep me on the edge of the seat, I was hiding behind the sofa. It has everything I want in a book from the beginning to the spine tingling finale.

Only Stephen King could write something so gripping about a guy that is essentially stuck in a room.


Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Set in the deep American South this follows a young girl's journey into adulthood amidst a world of inequality, racial tensions and poverty. Abused by the man she calls 'Pa' and separated from her devoted sister, Celie struggles to carve out a future of her own.

In many ways I like this book. I like the characters, the clever way Alice Walker integrates and uses the unique voice of the main character and it is also quite educational. The story kept my interest all the way and overall it's not a bad read.

But I did feel kind of disconnected from the story. You know sometimes when you read a really good book and you feel like you are not just reading a book but actually 'consumed' by it? I didn't get that with this book. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's because there is so much historical hype about the Color Purple and whenever there is hype, genuinely I tend to be a little disappointed. Or maybe it's because this book isn't really aimed at me at this point in my life. I do feel like it's more of a woman's book and even though I'm not exactly a blokey bloke, maybe I'm still not the intended reader.

But I also think part of the reason I felt detached from this one is because there are simply too many characters to hold on to. I found myself struggling to keep up with what I can only describe as a literary version of ' Who's who.'  There are so many characters in this and so many locations it's not easy to keep up. It's not helped by Alice Walker's use of the 'Mr --' thing instead of just using people's surnames. But maybe that's the kind of thing the main character would have done in those days.

I did like this book but I didn't love it. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it when I was younger.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Hard Water by Jean Sprackland

First published by Cape Poetry in 2003.

I have always had a love hate relationship with poetry but I still try to read a handful of poetry books a year. This jumped out at me at our local library and it's a handy quick filler of a read.

This honestly has to be one of the best collections of poetry I have read. There's not really a damp squid in there. Jean Sprackland's writing is fresh and quirky and, in places, reassuringly northern. Her writing reminds me of Billy Collins who is still my favourite modern day poet.

 A few notable crackers: Hard Water, Caravan, Shocks, The Man Who Comes To Collect The Bottle Bank, The Light Collector and the unique and disturbing A Baby In The Filing Cabinet. I'd say the Light Collector is the pick of the bunch.

Overall a fab collection of poems.


The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the Attic recounts the trials and tribulations of the many Japanese women who travelled to America in search of a better life, clutching the photos of their new husbands to be, in the early 1900's. Some of them were as young as 12. Some of them were seasick. Some of them never made it across.

I've never read a book written in First Person Plural and I didn't know anything about the Japanese picture brides before I read this book. It's a book that shouldn't work. It should be boring. It is borderline Non-Fiction and there isn't really a traditional plot to grab hold of. But it does work. A lot of that is down solely to the wonderful prose that Julie Otsuka weaves the story with. Every line is significant. Every line is powerful. Every line is totally gripping.

The story is an eye opener. It's educational. It is tragic and inspirational. It's just the right length for the story that it tells and I think the biggest compliment I can give the Buddha in the Attic is that is has given me something different. It is unique in a great way and I can't ask for more than that.


Friday, 12 June 2015

Helen's Babies by John Habberton

There is something I find incredibly annoying about listening to Librivox recordings. I can't quite put my finger on it but I don't think I've ever listened to one that I didn't find annoying.

This is an old book and it's perfectly harmless. It's a book for children or a book for families, which ever way you want to look at it. It's about a well groomed city guy who spends a week looking after his sister's young children. He initially finds the children annoying but he ends up literally falling in love with them. They get up to all kinds of scrapes and mishaps but forgive me, I wasn't rolling around on the floor in hysterics.

I just found it boring. Maybe if I had read the book instead of listening to a woman reading it to me I would have appreciated it more. I just found her annoying, especially when she was reading the children's voices. I just wanted to chuck this book-less book at her!

Not my cup of bovril.


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Nailed by Lucia Jordan

As it's Valentines day I though I would try to get in the spirit by reading something a little fruity.

It's always been my mission to read as many kinds of books as possible so it was time for me to read another erotica book. I'm not going to beat about the bush with this one. Just a short, flash of a review.

So how was it for me?

It's another example of those marketing ploys that pisses some people off, where an author writes a book and divides it into 3 or 4 books and you are hoodwinked into buying 3 or 4 books instead of one. As usual the first one is free and then the publishers are hoping to get the reader hooked so that they will purchase the others.

I won't. This was fun, sexy and and probably written by a guy. Lucia Jordan, really?


Monday, 9 February 2015

Someone Like Me by Tom Holt

'Nobody knows where they came from.

Nobody knows what they want.

The creatures are killing humans for meat and nobody, it seems can stop them.'

It's Earth but not as we know it. Everything has stopped. Everything that we once took for granted has disappeared. Apart from the monsters. The monsters have arrived.

In many ways this is right up my street. Set in a dystopian world, it is creepy and dark and has periods of excitement. However the book as a whole suffers a little bit from what I call the Tom Gordon effect. Most of the book is centred around the main character's journey through a dark tunnel, which is great for a single chapter but for an entire novel it did tend to drag on a little bit.

It's Ok though and the writing isn't bad.



Sunday, 8 February 2015

Two Quick Reads

I had some catching up to do if I wanted to get on track with reading at least 52 books this year and so here are a couple of quick read reviews.

This is my second book by Carmel Carberry and it doesn't disappoint.

Once again it's such an inspiring and helpful book, with a mixture of real life stories, bible verses and much more. Communion With God , Soaring on Eagles Wings is a bright light on a dull day. It's a book that kept my interest all the way and I found it encouraging and educational at the same time.

Sometimes Christian books can be heavy and repetitive but this was neither. It was light and enjoyable. Grab it if you get the chance.


This was diabolical. The less that can be said about it the better.

I am surprised because Lynda La Plante is very much a household name and a highly respected screenplay writer and Author. I haven't read any of her work before but I have briefly come across her television adaptations. But this was shocking!

Although Lynda states at the beginning of the book that 'The Escape' is based on two actual prisoner accounts (and I have no reason to doubt what she says), this whole book is completely unrealistic and unbelievable from the very first page. Not only is every single plot twist unrealistic but this small book is littered with incredibly obvious coincidences masquerading as plot devices.

A prison guard is about to look at a photograph that would blow the whole escape plan but suddenly a fight breaks out so he doesn't look at it.

The prisoner escapes because his hand cuffs are removed in the magistrates court waiting area and his guard goes off into a separate room, leaving him alone next to the front door.

The prisoner runs out of the court and needs to find a mode of transport and just at that exact time an old man is propping a bicycle up against a shop window.

Too many coincidences. Poor, lazy writing. The biggest plot hole is the main plot itself. A plot hole bigger than the Eiffel Tower. Avoid.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Dying Photo by Alan Gibbons

A strange man takes a photo of Jimmy's family. As the camera flashes, Jimmy's parents vanish.

The only clue is a picture of his mum and dad screaming.

You know what, sometimes teenage books are fun to read.

This may never win a major literary prize and you're not going to see it being discussed on The Book Show on the BBC, but it is great! It's original, twisty, scary and imaginative. Everything I like in a book. So sometimes it's good to ditch the 400 page adult piece of literary fiction. This, for me, is what books should be about. Somebody telling a fabulous story.

What makes it even cooler is that it was published by Barrington Stoke for The Book Factor. A Liverpool project where a schoolboy called James Pybis came up with the story idea and another boy called Dylan Gibson helped to design the book cover. What a cool idea!


Monday, 2 February 2015

Relentless - Jeff Bezos

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with poetry. I like poetry as long as it doesn't try to talk to me as if I'm a two year old or expects me to be impressed because it knows all the names of the Greek Gods (or the colour of Jane Austen's knickers) and I don't.

Anyway it's about time I reviewed a poetry book and I was lucky enough to have discovered this wonderful little collection via the Twitterverse,  edited by Russell Bennetts and published by Pendant Publishing. I was minding my business when it popped onto my screen this afternoon.

It's a rather witty and imaginative collection using business magnate Jeff Bezos as inspiration. To be honest he's not somebody who I know an awful lot about. Maybe it's because I'm British or because in many ways the i pod generation has slipped me by, and I can't afford all that stuff anyway. But it's a great read that takes you on a satirical journey that borders on insanity in parts. In parts it's hilarious. But before I say anymore, just read it.

Maybe not all poetry is annoying after all.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Vision Board

This is my first read of the year and as I am hoping to get through quite a few spiritual books this year I couldn't resist downloading this free book from Amazon UK.

I'm still not entirely sure who it is written by. The mysterious Author of the 'Love Your Life,' series is only briefly mentioned as somebody called Simone! It's ok. It's a brief introduction to the idea of using vision boards to manifest good things into your life. I personally like the idea of vision boards as I am a big believer in visualisation. However I prefer to use mental visualisation, rather than pinning an actual board on my bedroom wall. I still found this little book encouraging although it is littered with spelling and grammatical errors. Something hopefully the rather mysterious author will remedy at some point.

It is quite repetitive and most of what it contains can be found on any spiritual message board or website but it is ok. I'm glad I didn't pay for it but as it's free I can't really complain.