Thursday, 15 February 2018

Attention Span - Pauline Wiles



Description

Revenge, rejection, resilience and revival: they’re all represented in this collection of fourteen short stories from author Pauline Wiles.
Ranging in length from just 99 words to long-enough-for-a-second-cup-of-tea, these stories feature locations from Switzerland to Seattle and the popular fictional English village of Saffron Sweeting in between. Some are light, several are quirky and one or two a little on the darker side. They explore the meaning of family, the search for true love, and the overwhelming importance of home.

Review

What a fabulous selection of short stories this is. I love Pauline's writing as she is able to capture the most mundane and everyday occurrences that has you thinking - yes! that's exactly what happens. Such as when Becky has the thin plastic handles cut into her fingers from the groceries she's carrying. 

Some stories are very short - just a page. Unlike some short stories where you turn that last page and are left wondering - "what just happened" or "is that it!" These stories have a satisfying ending and feel complete, with more depth than short stories usually have.

Two quirky stories are "On the Shelf" - the lives of items on a charity shop shelf and "Attention Span - the Facebook feed that comes to life. I just loved both of these for the unusual subject matter. Then there is the "Checking In" story another absolute gem. 

Do you know what an IFB is? You really need to find out by reading "Seating for Singles"!

I usually reserve short stories for reading in between other books. However I got so hooked on these that I read the last half all at once.

I'm giving this book 5 out of stars and my thanks to Pauline for my copy to review.

The last story is actually the beginning of  a full length novel by Pauline called "Saving Saffron Sweeting". You can read my review here for that book. This is also the first novel in a series the others being Sweet Pursuits and Secrets in the Sky. If you click the links you will go to my reviews of those books.


Books by Pauline Wiles

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Bring Me Back - B A Paris



Description

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Surprise Me - Sophie Kinsella



Description

Friday, 2 February 2018

Why we sleep - Matthew Walker



Description

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world - Alzheimer's, cancer, obesity, diabetes - has very strong causal links to deficient sleep. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why its absence is so damaging to our health. Compared to the other basic drives in life - eating, drinking, and reproducing - the purpose of sleep remained elusive.
Now, in this book, the first of its kind written by a scientific expert, Professor Matthew Walker explores twenty years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves in to everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence.

Review 

Matthew Walker obviously knows his subject very well and is passionate about it, however, the level of this book is more that of a text book than for the average reader. He does say he will find it a compliment if anyone falls asleep reading his book and I have to say it did induce sleepiness in me more than once!

Despite it being a little hard to wade through there are some gems of advice worth mentioning. Like you cannot combat tiredness when driving. All those tips you think you have he warns - forget them - you cannot beat sleep. So the message is do not drive if you are feeling sleepy. 

I did find some of the findings repeated within the book from a very slightly different angle, to the academic it matters, to me a casual reader I got annoyed with the repetition. This isn't the first book I've read on sleep so a lot of the material I was aware of, apart from of course the authors own research.

The most interesting thing I learnt from this book is that there is a direct correlation between the rise of heart attacks and the commencement of daylight saving. There is also a reduction in heart attacks when daylight saving ends. Like a lot of very interesting statements in this book, especially regarding Alzheimers,  I was disappointed that there is seemingly no follow through for them - they are just research findings.

I'm giving this book four out of 5 stars purely because it is a little heavy going, however, if you are reading this for your studies I think you would give it 5 stars.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Woman in the Window - A J Finn



Description

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Uncommon Type - Tom Hanks



Description

A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.
A hectic, funny sexual affair between two best friends. A World War II veteran dealing with his emotional and physical scars. A second-rate actor plunged into sudden stardom and a whirlwind press junket. A small-town newspaper columnist with old-fashioned views of the modern world. A woman adjusting to life in a new neighborhood after her divorce. Four friends going to the moon and back in a rocket ship constructed in the backyard. A teenage surfer stumbling into his father’s secret life.
These are just some of the people and situations that Tom Hanks explores in his first work of fiction, a collection of stories that dissects, with great affection, humour and insight, the human condition and all its foibles. The stories are linked by one thing: in each of them, a typewriter plays a part, sometimes minor, sometimes central. To many, typewriters represent a level of craftsmanship, beauty and individuality that is harder and harder to find in the modern world. In his stories, Mr Hanks gracefully reaches that typewriter-worthy level.
Known for his honesty and sensitivity as an actor, Mr Hanks brings both those characteristics to his writing. Alternatingly whimsical, moving and occasionally melancholy, Uncommon Type is a book that will delight as well as surprise his millions of fans. It also establishes him as a welcome and wonderful new voice in contemporary fiction, a voice that perceptively delves beneath the surface of friendships, families, love and normal, everyday behaviour.


Review

I'm going to have to admit upfront that I just love Tom Hanks - everything he does and he seems like a great guy too. I also love typewriters. So, unbiased review - really!

I did put this book at the top of my TBR pile and then read it in between another book. I don't like reading a whole set of short stories in one go, but I am a little sad now they are all read. BHowever, I've found out that the audio version of the book is read by Tom Hanks - I think I need to get it and hear them now too.

On that note, I did have Tom Hanks voice in my head whilst reading. Specifically his voice from "You've got Mail" (which also featured typewriters briefly) where he does read aloud a lot. This seemed to suit the timbre of the stories which are also very American, with some terms from way back that I have to admit I was not familiar with.

One character does crop up a couple of times, but otherwise each story is about a different person and situation. Some of them I found the typewriter connection to be a little tenuous and one I had to scan re read as I couldn't remember anything about a typewriter. 

I have two faves in this set of stories. One is a lady who buys an old typewriter for £5 bucks and her journey to get it fixed. The other combined into the mix another of my fave themes - time travel. I definitely could read this story over and over and it reminded me of Jack Finney's work.

In another story the typewriter takes the character back to recollections at hearing different parts of the typewriter, and as I read it, so did I - it was so spooky. Things I had not thought about for years - another one I would love to re-read. This book has got me hankering after getting an old typewriter - just like one I trained on years and years ago before my career went in another direction. I admit to having had a look online - oh Tom Hanks what have you started.........

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars and my thanks go to netgalley for an advance copy of the book for review. 

Monday, 22 January 2018

Boundaries - Jennie Miller and Victoria Lambert

Boundaries: How to Draw the Line in Your Head, Heart and Home by [Miller, Jennie, Lambert, Victoria]

Description

A four-step programme to help develop self-esteem, create time to do the things that nourish and fulfil you, discover a deep sense of calm, and achieve healthy control over your life, home and work, co-written by psychotherapist and relationship expert Jennie Miller and award-winning journalist Victoria Lambert.

The need to understand where to draw the line has never been more acute, with new online trends seeping quickly into our consciousness often before we’ve had time to consider what personal boundaries they might require. Covering email etiquette, office politics, healthy parenting, dating among the over 50s, oversharing, relationships and more, there is no other book that deals effectively and practically with the embryonic and ever-evolving relationship codes of today.

Discover how to set personal boundaries in the most important aspects of your life: from sleep to fitness, diet to social media and computer usage, and build the self-confidence that results from learning to care for yourself. Then you can progress to applying that knowledge to all aspects of your life including work, home and relationships.

With anonymised cases from Jennie’s clinical practice, Boundaries contains exercises, motivational quotes, statistics, and clearly signposts when exactly you need to bring in the boundaries.

Review

I'm always looking for enlightenment into personal development so when I received this book I dived right into it. I found it very easy to read and understand with well laid out headings across the four steps. 
Step 1 Me, myself, I
Step 2 The workplace
Step 3 Love and intimacy
Step 4 Your family and other animals  

The most noticeable thing about this book is how very up to date it is with dealing with issues like social media boundaries both at home and in the workplace. I've never personally read anything in a book like this before and if you are starting out in the world of work (or indeed aren't sure about protocol) then this is a good guideline to set you on the right path regarding how to behave on social media. It also tackles the subject of bullying at work - again I haven't seen this met head on before and am pleased to see this advice.

Throughout the book there are real life case histories so you can relate to how the advice works in real life. There are also little insights which make it seem like the book is a bit of a mind reader! How did you know I just thought that when I read the heading "Fitness"???

I found the first step the most useful for me. This is a book you can refer to again and again at different points in your life and you will find some sound guidance and advice.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. I received a paperback copy of the book from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.