20 Apr 2018

A BETTER TEN COMMANDMENTS: A GUIDE TO LIVING LIFE WITH, AND ON PURPOSE.



A BETTER TEN COMMANDMENTS: A GUIDE  TO LIVING LIFE WITH, AND ON PURPOSE by JAMES MILLER.


Do we know better than God?

Is it our duty rather than a deities to make the most of our lives?

For the millions of non-believers and the rapidly growing number of religiously disaffected, A Better Ten Commandments filters through the chaos and confusion of everyday life and provides a foundational framework for finding fulfilment without taking anything on faith.

It combines the best from history and philosophy, religion and science in a simple yet powerful framework that you can incorporate into your life.

A Better Ten Commandments is about who we are, what we want, and what truly matters in life. The only life you can count on.

Love and respect, 
James Miller.
- Back cover Blurb

I vividly remember sitting in my parent's driveway, fondling my father's pistol and contemplating the best way to end my pain.
- First Sentence, The Birth Of A Book

The type of love I'm speaking of is platonic and given with no expectations. This type of love is selfless, not transactional. And the true wonder and beauty of this type of love is that if you expect nothing, then everything given will truly be a blessing.
- Memorable Moment, Page 17

SOURCE ... Received with thanks from the author.

READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.

MY THOUGHTS ... Challenging us to ...

Grow mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually
(Page xxviii)

Using the wit and wisdom of sources as diverse as  Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Gates, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius and Ernest Hemingway (and that's only the first 'commandment'/chapter). Whilst, as he readily admits in his introduction, most of the ideas contained are not new ... or even his. However ...

Formulated in such a way as to offer an alternative perspective that isn't deity driven. Argue or disagree, if nothing else, the author's Better(?) Ten Commandments, as arguably provocative as it may be, provides much food for thought. 

18 Apr 2018

JUST AN ORDINARY DAY.


Just an Ordinary Day: The Uncollected StoriesJUST AN ORDINARY DAY by SHIRLEY JACKSON.


A college student receives a diabolical visitor. Two little girls watch a child through a bedroom window. Malice and poison lurk beneath an elderly lady's perfect rose bushes ... A shudder runs through many of the stories in this collection from Shirley Jackson. From twisted tales of modern Bluebeards and Jack the Rippers to poetic fables and wry family dramas, Just an Ordinary Day shows the remarkable range of her writing, capturing the unease behind everyday American life with glittering brilliance.
- Back Cover Blurb

Several years ago, a cartoon of cobwebbed files discovered in a Vermont barn more than a quarter century after our mother's death, arrived without notice in the mail.
- First Sentence, Introduction

The page that told about the lamb chops was also the page that told about lemon meringue pie, and was thoroughly stuck to the next one. I had to put the lamb chops down to separate the pages, and the only place I could find was the windowsill, and I had opened the window to let the odor of burning crust out, and, anyway, I suddenly smelled something else burning, and when I leaped to see what it was I joggled the package of lamb chops on the windowsill, and there I was. Mallie came over to the window beside me and looked out.

'Well,' she said, 'your lamb chops, down there on the sidewalk. From here,' she added severely, 'they don't look like first cut lamb chops, either.'
- Memorable Moment, Page 65: Dinner for A Gentleman

SOURCE ... A Reading Group read.

READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No

MY THOUGHTS ... First up, an admission. I rarely, very rarely, read short stories and if this particular collection hadn't been the March choice of the Reading Group I attend I wouldn't have given it a second glance.

Still, who knows, in Shirley Jackson I may have discovered my new favourite author ... after all isn't that the beauty of reading groups? To read that which you may not have given a passing thought to before.

Normally put off such selections because I'm greedy and rarely come away from a short story (even a good one) feeling fulfilled and/or as is more often the case, given the confines of the short story I, all too often, find the characters underdeveloped at best, totally undeveloped at worst. However, the least of my worries, I'm afraid I found Just an Ordinary Day ...

Surprisingly juvenile. Many of the stories (and certainly all of those in part one, the 'unpublished stories') were undated and as such one could only guess as to the exact age of the author at the time of writing but I found a considerable number to be structurally awkward, full of cliches and generally lacking in the maturity I would have expected from someone so acclaimed. 

Worse still ... left feeling? Left feeling, what? Bewildered? Perplexed? With an uncomfortable feeling of 'huh'? Apologies if I'm not expressing myself very well here, I can only say I found myself scratching my head several times whilst reading. 

Regarded by many as a collection of witty, romantic comedies, of tales that ' reveal an eerie juxtaposition of good and evil', of vignettes with a humorous take on suburban life, married couples and troublesome children. Perhaps a window to the times in which they were written but, as it is, sadly I merely found them outdated, dull and, on occasion, bizarre.

16 Apr 2018

THE KAAWAD SCRIVENER.

Honoured to have read Brahmahatya by this author, I was delighted when they approached me to read yet another of their books.


A Russian boy visits an inmate in a mental asylum in India. The visit prompts the inmate, a writer, to narrate his life story to a nurse in the form of tales. Two friends from childhood, Balaji and Olga, his grandmother’s writings and the Russian fable of The Hedgehog and The Bear Cub are some panels that have shaped his journey. 

The novel grapples with attitudes and feelings, across generations and at various stages of a person’s life. Beneath the surface, this book is really about storytelling – the stories that are passed on from one generation to another, one person to another, secret stories we tell ourselves, stories from different points of view and the way that we use stories to underpin our lives and decisions.
- Back Cover Blurb

It was Dussehra when the strange white boy came visiting.
- First Sentence, Chapter 1

She was just about to step away again from my life when I called out, 'Olga.'

She  stopped and looked back. The other passengers were moving around her personal space. She waited

'Who are hedgehog and bear cub?' I asked.

She stared at me for a long time. Then she said, 'Come to me in Odessa. I will tell you.'
- Memorable Moment, Pages 262/263

SOURCE ... Received with thanks from the author.

READ FOR A BOOK CHALLENGE? ... No.

MY THOUGHTS ... A book that I essentially liked. I really enjoyed the relationship between the main protagonist and his, childhood friend, Olga, a fascinating character who oddly enough, of the myriad of characters, the one who I felt had the strongest presence. However ...

Though masterful storytelling, I felt the writing wasn't quite as strong, that, for me, taken by themselves the reminiscences of the writer now an inmate in an asylum made for a wonderful story but, sadly, the mish-mash of these reminiscences, the grandmothers writings and the fables combined meant the narrative didn't flow particularly well. 

Still, definitely an author to look out for if your looking for a read that is that bit different, that, like its predecessor, Brahmahatya, has a keen sense of spirituality about it.


* Want to know more about the author, of why he writes? Visit Suko's Notebook for a Guest Post by clicking here. TT




13 Apr 2018

DON'T EVER LOOK BEHIND DOOR 32.


DON'T EVER LOOK BEHIND DOOR 32 by B.C.R. FEGAN (With illustrations by LENNY WEN).


The magical Hotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… 

don’t ever look behind door 32
- Back Cover Blurb

Welcome to the magical Hotel of Hoo.
Where I'll be your host. 
Mr Nicholas Noo.
- First Sentence Verse

Through door number 20 
are cute little elves.
They help in the library and 
sleep on the shelves.
- Memorable Moment, Page unnumbered

SOURCE ... received with thanks from the author.

READ FOR A BOOK CHALLENGE? ... No.

MY THOUGHTS ... Though marketed at those aged three to eight years, still a big child at heart, I adored this book (as I'm sure its target audience will) with its grumpy clowns, its dancing zombies, its .... I could go on but why spoil the surprise that awaits visitors to the magical Hotel Hoo?

Delightfully spooky, educational and great fun. The imagination stretched, the suspense palpable, the second-person narrative drawing the reader in, encouraging discussion as to just who (or what) we'll find behind each door as we visit each room counting from one through to thirty .... thirty? Hmm, we are told 'Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32' but do we?

Written in rhyme, the author using only the words necessary to the story; nothing more and nothing less, making it a delight to read. The illustrator meanwhile shows us the characters and the hotel they inhabit. Beautifully done, the colours vibrant, I've read the book several times now and have always come away having spotted something new.

Summed up, as for as I'm concerned it ticked all of the boxes that make for a great children's read. Dare you look behind door 32? I certainly hope so.