Worms On Parachutes by Sarah-Jane Phillips - One ladies incredible fight against Cancer, twice! @Sarahwop19
I did not know where to begin with this autobiographical book as it really did catch me off guard, I was expecting it to be sad and so-so serious (Cancer is serious and not a subject I like to think about), which it is, but, it is humorous and Sarah really did make me laugh at times when I was reading this book, it also made me extremely sad when reading what she went through, both as a child of 16 (her first meeting with the big C), and then again in her early 30's being diagnosed with breast Cancer. At this time she was married with two very young daughters and had a rock of a husband.
What they must have gone through, I, err, well, I can really understand based on my own personal experiences, it's just by reading this book, it puts everything into perspective; Sarah had and has a strong bond with her family, so much love from them and her friends also, she also after having her first breast Cancer operation decided that when she would have any further operations, she would get herself fit, eat healthy and then set a challenge of running the London Marathon! I don't want to give too much away as you really will smile, cry, adore this lady, be motivated, realise that life can be cruel but, it is how you deal with these issues, and Sarah writes in detail all of her up's and down's, and in heartwrenching detail at times, it does make you realise that if Sarah can come out of what she went though so positive, we all can and should take something from this. I finished this book with a smile, which when I was reading half-way through the book, I thought I would be crying at the end, I was not, I was so overjoyed at hearing how much money she raised for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and then to hear that HALF of the proceeds from this book are being donated to the NHS; remarkable, a remarkable lady.
Everyone should read this book as we all need to be aware of Cancer and what it can do to you and your families, I am so much more enlightened by having read this and will make the most out of my life as you never know what bad news is around the corner!
I will not mark out of ten as I don't think this would be high enough!
I looked on Amazon and to give you an idea, this book has 56 five star reviews and nothing less!
Buy it now
I was promised a travel book with a difference, the difference being that most of the destinations visited by Robin in this book are not your usual, albeit due to recent wars or political issues, destinations on most peoples bucket lists to visit. Robin saves us all the worries of venturing to some of these destinations by giving the reader a mesmerising account, often serious, frequently light hearted, always historically accurate; this book is a journey, and one that I am so envious yet one that I would/could not dare to go on, as he visited such incredible countries as Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and then also to Israel, Oman, Dubai, Qatar - with the last four being destinations not so much a worry to visit!
He visited some pre-current tensions/situations but most post such as Afghanistan and Iraq. He even describes landing in Kabul and being the only tourist on the plane with the rest being Non-Government Organisation staff or Private Security staff, and yes, he really did go on a tourist holiday to Afghanistan - think I will give that a miss for the time being!
Robin describes the great impoverishment of Yemen and then the vast opulence of Qatar/Dubai, without being condescending towards either, even though both are at opposite ends of the Arabic speaking Worlds financial spectrum. Sana'a in Yemen is one of the poorest places, if not the poorest, of the Arab speaking World, it is drying up yearly, so you will learn from this book, yet Robin does go on to say that the Yemeni people are some of the friendliest he has even met, much to what he and we all thought/think by being shown the news stories from Yemen and it being a no-go area for Westerners! He describes his journey to Damascus and Aleppo, now scenes of chaos and with the latter, mass destruction but, he visited before the current hostilities and provides a picture of places of culture and friendliness, which I can relate to based on my meetings with Syrian's in certain Arab speaking countries.
It is sometimes hard to review a book that is non-fiction and is aimed at a reader of a niche genre but this book captivates you, mostly because of what has been shown on the news for the last few years but, it takes those visions you have of these places and brings to life the love, the culture, the vast differences, the happiness of the people, the history and the true identity to give you a better understanding that real people live in these places of current or recent crisis, yet they go about there day to day business like we all do. They get on with life, just like you and I, it just makes you realise that you should never be swayed by what you watch on the news!
9 out of 10 - I cannot wait for Robin's next travel tales...
For Amazon orders - CLICK HERE
I did not know about this book until I was lucky to receive a copy, initially by way of recommendation by a good amount of people on Twitter, and then I came across the author and he kindly sent me a copy, to read.
Set in 1842, two drunken sisters (Judy & Maggie), both not married and running a failing business until Maggie has the idea of opening a Seance Parlour. Judy has other ideas and dreams of becoming a successful writer and then to meet a man of her dreams but gives into starting up the Seance Parlour whilst Blackheath has dead bodies appearing on and around the Common, oh, and there are Demons in it, sort of! You see, the book is also a book 'within' a book and we get to read the novel that Judy is writing which captures your imagination and, well, you just need to read it.
The way the story 'within' a story is written is genius, Alan Williams, who writes in a style as if it is written by the hand of a woman writing fantasy in the 19th Century, in that it being by Judy from the main story; even at one point I thought I was reading something written by Mary Shelley when I was reading this story 'within' a story! I guess that you could say that you have '2 books for the price of 1' here! Alan Williams also perfectly describes London for the year of 1842 and I have learnt a lot about such places like Bethlem Hospital (Bedlam) and the 'not so friendly way' the clergy treated certain findings back then (not real spoilers); don't get me wrong, this is no history book but I feel the research Alan put into this book is worthy of anything I have ever read about historical London.
This book deserves a wider audience and I insist you must download a Kindle Amazon sample first to give you a taster of what I feel is a hidden gem of a book that came out in 2013, and then purchase the rest of the book.
9.5 out of 10 - a must read!
Click here to download a sample from Amazon
Melanie is the main character "The Girl With All The Gifts" but the gifts are not the sort of gifts you would want a little girl having. It's hard to mention the other characters or even what the story is really about as it will ruin it for you, all I will say is that the other characters fit into the storyline perfectly and you will either love or hate them. What I can say is this, the novel is all about surprises, often shocking and hard to take in (those with young families will understand where I am coming from), whilst some of the surprises have you scratching your head thinking "Eh! Did I just read that correctly?" You see, the author M.R. Carey is a very intelligent writer and without giving too much away, he totally convinced me with all the medical jargon he uses in this book, that you would think he was a certain type of surgeon!
When the ending of the book was all but a few pages away, I was still working out how it would end, however just like rest of the book, it came crashing down as if taken out by one of the "Hungries" in the book - (oops slight spoiler there!)
One thing I did have when I finished the book was a big smile on my face. I really did not see that ending coming, it blew me away as some authors would end such a novel in the usual linear fashion but M.R. Carey keeps you guessing and then when you think "Oh, they will probably just live happily ever after" or "This will probably end this way", it's like "BANG! What the...?" When you get into the book you will be thinking how could I finish the book with a smile on my face once you know what this book is about but, trust me, you will smile too.
9.5 out of 10 - Brilliant!
Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell - One of the best fantasy debuts I have read! @decastell @fitzchivalry_ @jofletcherbooks
First I must say I want to be a Greatcoat and that I became engrossed in this book much to the annoyance of my family! The author served a master class in sword fighting skills like no other author I have read before, I came away from this book believing that I am now an expert swordsman!
Falcio is the hero we all would love to be, there is a master archer called Brasti (who never misses - he would tell you this himself, the modest man that he is!) and there is Kest who is the best swordsman in the Land having never lost a duel, apart from to Falcio, who likes to dwell on this. These three are Greatcoats, there were 144 of them before the King was killed. Now they are spread out and finding work, just to survive. The story goes from opening with our 3 Greatcoats acting as security for Lord Tremondi but in the first chapter he is murdered by a woman. And that is all I am going to reveal as everything is connected in this story and leads to a fantastic conclusion but does lead to a sequel. The story has surprises all over the place and will keep you turning the pages until you get to the end; much so that I had to finish it over a few days as I kept on thinking "Oh yes, now that makes sense!".
Sebastien de Castell is a brilliant story teller. This book reminded me of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie; high praise you may think but once you read this book, you will agree with me.
I have no fear in giving this my highest marks:
10 out of 10
For Amazon reviews/info - CLICK HERE
Fingers crossed the Winter Olympics is a great success and that there are no 'security incidents'!
For Monday I will have my review of Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell, this is setting the bar for Fantasy debut of the year so far!
Have a good weekend All.
If you have to read one book this year, READ THIS. If you have not read a book in years, READ THIS. Don't be put off by the storyline, it is satire at it's best. Having lived in Germany myself I know how the mention of Hitler, (only ten years ago) was taboo and anyone doing the Nazi salute was frowned upon (perhaps even a criminal offence!?!)
You see, since World War 2, Germany sort of buried it's head in the sand or should that be the Sahara Desert equivalent of sand pit when Adolf and his crimes were mentioned/not mentioned. Had this book been published by anyone not from Germany first, then I doubt any non-German publisher would have touched it, yet, it was a German who was published by a German publisher and it became a best-seller in Germany. Not because it glorifies Hitler, it portrays him in a light where he plays himself fully in this book but, as I mentioned already, this is satire at it's best, it is funny, laugh out loud hilarious at times, yet no doubt the political correct brigade may object but it is satire and in this modern age, by making fun of Hitler brings awareness to what he did, such inexcusably bad things.
"The storyline is written in the first person, i.e. by Hitler. He awakes in 2011 with a sore head and no recollection of why he was sleeping outside on the grass. No-one believes he is really Hitler. The story then shows how the power of modern technology could plausibly allow this monster to gain an audience again by the likes of Youtube, Google, etc..."
At no time did I want to put this book down, it is brilliant and I cannot thank the author and the translator enough for allowing me to read this English language version. I hope you will read this book, you should read this book!
10 out of 10 - yes TEN out of TEN!
For Amazon reviews/further book details - CLICK HERE
One is Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes - a satire containing Adolf Hitler which is not what you were to expect - so far so brilliant this one is!
The other is Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell - a rip-roaring fantasy debut (so far this is up there with the best fantasy debuts I have read!).
Both are in my top ten books for 2014 and I have not finished them yet!
If you click on the pictures, it will show you the book descriptions.
I finished the review copy of this book and all I can say is, Prajwal Parajuly, thank you for creating such a work of brilliance, the characters in this book are so real, so real that after reading it I feel I know them so well and even warmed to the main (often cold) character Chitralekha Nepauney and that I was actually at her Chaurasi (landmark 84th Birthday). Yet I know it was a story, a fiction story but one which had me addicted to it from the first few lines and it felt like I was taken to India where the book is mostly set and not actually in my office in Wales reading it! It is sad, funny, at times really funny and portrays everything and everyone in it perfectly, everybody has a story and each story is real and I know we could all relate to one or more of this individuals stories but, it is no comedy, it is about a real family, albeit a very well-off one but all the problems they have/had are interchangeable with anyones life who reads it.
For anyone that wants to read a master at work even though this is his first (long) novel (taking into account he wrote a book of short stories called
The Gurkha's Daughter), you will not be disappointed.
9.5 out of 10.
This book is released on the 6th February 2014 but is available on Kindle right now!
Click here for Amazon reviews/descriptions/author information.
So it's not much of a tip as I have not read it, yet. My Mother-in-Law (still) has the copy and is still holding onto it, I am not sure if she is reading it multiple times because she has had it for 2 months now!
The reviews both from the press and on Amazon have been nothing but amazing, so I was just wishing to know if anyone had read it, if so, should I just buy my own copy?
I may as well finish by saying that I am reading two books a week now,
two - is this enough?
For Amazon reviews - CLICK HERE