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Jon Hinchliffe



Book Reviews

Last Modified On 17/07/2008

Here are the my opinions of the books I have been reading. I started writing reviews because I wanted to praise Woman In Whitle on As I often the case I thought it might then be nice to have a record what I thought of books when I read them so I have continued. The dates I finished reading are their because I have ME and I am interested in how frequently I am getting through books. I was an incredibly slow reader even prior to becoming ill!

Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
I am not Spock by Leonard Nimoy
I am Spock by Leonard Nimoy
The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde
Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carol
Countdown To The Millennium By Rodney Matthews
The Hunchback Of Notre-Dame By Victor Hugo
Read My Lips By Riki Anne Wilchins
Guide to Transsexualism, Transgenderism and Gender Dysphoria
The Whole Woman - Germaine Greer
Web - John Wyndham
Inside 25 Cromwell St - Stephen and Mae West
The Slade Story - George Tremlett
The 10 Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make And How To Avoid Them - Dr Arthur Freeman and Rose DeWolf
Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl - The Definitive Edition - Anne Frank
Talk To Me Baby : The Story Of The Blues Band - Roy Bainton
Wanderers Of Time - John Wyndham
Black Sabbath - An Oral History By Mike Stark
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Beam Me Up, Scotty - James Doohan
Jizzle - John Wyndham
EM Forster -The Machine Stops
Close To The Edge - The Story Of Yes - Chris Welch
The Consolations Of Philosophy - Alain De Botton
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Planet Of The Apes - Pierre Boulle
John Whydham - Exiles On Asperus
The Last Days Of Hitler - H.R. Trevor-Roper
Consider Her Ways And Others - John Wyndham
Inside The Music - Dave Stewart (plus a bit on The AB  Guide To Music Theory by Eric Taylor)
John Wyndham - Tales Of Gooseflesh and Laughter
The Chrysalids - John Wyndham
Amazing Stories - October 1965
The Magic Shop By H.G. Wells
Mr Wray's Cash Box by Wilkie Collins
Arabian Nights - A Selection - Translated by Richard F Burton
The Hobbit - Graphic Novel - David Wenzel & Charles Dixon
Chocky - John Wyndham
Desperate Remedies - Thomas Hardy
The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde by Robert Louie Stevenson
Genome: The Autobiography Of A Species In 23 Chapters By Matt Ridley
1-2-3 Magic - Effective Discipline For Children 2-12 - Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.
All About Attention Deficit Disorder - Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.
The Polio Paradox - Richard L. Bruno H.D., Ph. D.
The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
Black Sabbath Never Say Die! 1979-1997 - Garry Sharpe-Young
Ozzy Osbourne - The Story Of The Ozzy Osbourne Band- Garry Sharpe-Young
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
The Island Of Dr Moreau - H.G.Wells
War Of The Worlds - H.G. Wells
Catlore - Desmond Morris
Consider Her Ways And Others - John Wyndham
Derren Brown - Tricks of The Mind
How Black was our Sabbath - Graham Wright and David Tangye
The Man From Beyond - John Wyndham
Hypnotic Realities, Hypnotic Therapies, Experiencing Hypnosis - Ernest Rossi & Milton Erickson
Cesar's Way - Cesar Millan

Woman In White by Wilkie Collins - Dec 20, 1998

I first read this book as part of my English Literature course. I have always remembered enjoying it so I decided to read the book again nearly 18 years later. I have to say I probably enjoy the book even more this time. I love the characters and I love the plot. I am tempted to move straight on to the Moonstone. I am glad my English teacher got us to read this or I would never have heard of the book.

I am not Spock by Leonard Nimoy - Jan 16 1999

This book was very good read but I felt it did not tell me enough about Leonard Nimoy. He basically mentions is work only. Nothing about his upbringing and childhood. Mind you the book and is thin i.e. only 130 odd pages. I greatly enjoyed the Dialogues between Nimoy and Spock and I liked the introspective thoughts of the first few chapters where Nimoy wonders who Spock is. It's a daft thing to complain about but I found it confusing that the anecdotes changed mid-chapter without a line break. I kept looking for some connection that was not there until I got used to it. It's great that I don't have to wait 20 years to read "I am Spock".

I am Spock by Leonard Nimoy - Jan 31 1999

This is a very good book but like before it I was surprised at the lack of detailed coverage of his early years. If anyone is planing to read "I am not Spock" as well as this book definitely do so first. The coverage in "Not Spock" is less detailed and most of the important stories are covered in this volume. I missed the Spock/Nimoy chats in this book. Some are contained but mainly only as chapter headers. I suspect this book could be summed up as covering Nimoy's public life. Where as "Not Spock" gave up as bit more on his internal thinking. The stories that are in both books tend to have been expanded a bit in this volume. It is interesting to hear Nimoy's views on the making of the films. I don't think they add anything to William Shatner's Star Trek Movie memories but it helps validate Shatner's book for me. Definitely a good read. Buy it.

The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde - 16 February 1999

This is a book I have heard as a Talking Classic and seen in an old B&W film. It struck me as being very much written in the style of a play with lots and lots of dialogue. I was interested to see that when Wilde described the scene at the beginning in the Artists house he was using lots of colour. I did not enjoy the chapter which link the start of his corruption to the end of it's life. It just seemed to be long and pointless description. I got bored after a while and started skipping it. The story itself was excellent and I loved the character of Lord Henry with his interesting views on the world.

Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carol - 22 February 1999

What utter rubbish. Why is this book so popular? It is nonsense after nonsense if this entertains children it shows how out of touch I am with them. A complete waste of reading time. Thank goodness it is short. I had started reading it to Zoe and Abbie but they seemed bored by the idea. I certainly won't give it to them to read of their own accord.

Countdown To The Millennium By Rodney Matthews- ??

This is a book of Artwork by Rodney Matthews. I bought it because of my interest in the Pictures he painted for Praying Mantis but this is a very nice book and was a great pleasure to look at and read. It contains a round up of nearly all the record covers Matthews has ever done. And a detailed explanation of his covers between 1989-1995. It also contains a round up of his other work in this period such as some Alice In Wonderland paintings and some of the Biblical Book of Revelations. Early stuff having been covered in previous books I would now like to check out. I recommend the book to anyone who likes Matthews drawing style and especially fans of Hard Rock groups

The Hunchback Of Notre-Dame By Victor Hugo - 6 April 99

This one took me to two attempts two read as my mental abilities were reduced by ill health and this at times can be a rather long winded book. The book is actually broken into 11 books and I gave up after the first book last time. This time I was determined to get to the end as I don't like to be beaten and in the end I think it was worth it. The story is a good one and although the author goes of into what seem like long irrelevancies they mostly did have a point in the end. The big exception seemed to be Book 3 which is seems to be the authors views on the state of Architecture at the time (1850) and a tourists guide to Paris at the end of the 15th century obviously based on 1850. These two chapters did nothing for me at all and I think it is safe to miss them unless you have a better knowledge of Paris or architecture than me and find them interesting.

I have the Wordswoth Classics edition of the book and it is 397 pages long. The typeface in the edition is rather small at about 44 lines per page so beware.

The thing I did like about the writing style was it was very much like reading a film. He seemed to give overviews of scenes and then focus in on the detail. I don't recall reading a descriptive book that had the same feel to it before. It is certainly a completely different style to Wilkie Collins who was the previous Classical Author I read.

I was interested to read the other reviews saying this was a great love story. I am still not sure between who. Several characters seemed to love Esmeralda. Claude Frollo seemed the strongest love to me but perhaps that doesn't count.

Read My Lips By Riki Anne Wilchins - 16 Apr. 99

I got this book because my brother has recently broken down the walls he built up around himself to find he is really a she. I had in the past read Julia Grant's "Just Julia" out of casual interest and lending her this book in fact helped her identify herself. However I was after more details on Transexuality and Gender in general. This book has met this need very nicely. As someone from England I guess it is not the most relevant book since it deals with the Politics going on in America. But once you get through the first half of the book it really becomes mind challenging and I have to agree with a lot of Riki's points. As a new chapter start I would at first wonder what she was going on about but as I got to the end I felt I had a pretty good understanding and insight. The were lots of passages I thought I ought to remember and use for examples in future should anyone feel like discussing Gender with me.

Guide to Transsexualism, Transgenderism and Gender Dysphoria By A.Purnell - 22 April. 99

This was a good basic guide to transexualily and the things a transexual might face. It is written by a Medic so it did not really give me the understanding I was looking for as a brother of a transexual. I have just read Read My Lips By Riki Anne Wilchins (also reviewed) and that did cover this area for me so it might have removed this edge for me a bit. I also found this book a little less interesting to read. I would still recommend it as a general sympathetic guide though.

The Whole Woman - Germaine Greer- 23 May 1999

3 out 5 - An Interesting but flawed book.

Well this is a hard book to review. I got it because I saw a program about Greer and it's imminent release. Since I have been chatting with a feminist friend I thought I would see what I guessed was a feminist "leader" had to say. The book is basically a series of essays on various aspects of modern society. Some chapters are quite good some are appallingly bad. They are all very negative and have little suggestion as to what should be done to remedy the problems outlined. I started off thinking the book good. Then as no solutions were suggested and Greer repeatedly took two partially true statements and combined them in her lines of thinking to make ridiculous assumptions about men I started getting fed up with her and wondered what had happened to the seemingly intelligent and well thought out person portrayed on TV. I stuck with the book and again found chapters full of common sense (but still negative as no doubt a woman's life can be) and I thought perhaps the book will come up with some suggestions at the end. In fact it did in the final chapter a long time after a lot of people might have given up on her. I noticed a couple of times the books is written to a female audience (although it is full with interesting but blatantly biased Statistics). It also mentioned that feminists spend a long time arguing about their philosophies with each other. It struck me this book would achieve more if it had been better aimed at both sexes. If it put me, a liberal minded male, off at times there is no way she will change the males she really wants to get through to and educate. She just looks like a moaning woman and the book is worth a lot more than that.

To show you how it annoyed me here are some early notes :-

I got this book because I have been chatting to a fellow ME sufferer about Gender and Feminism etc and I expected Greer to be a good person at putting things a cross. But if she is no wonder she spends the book bleating about how poor woman's lot is compared men's. I read the chapters on beauty, manmade woman, womb, breasts and food and thought them all at least reasonable. Then I got onto Pantomime dames which I knew would be interesting as she is against Transexuals and my brother has recently worked out he/she is one. The argument put seemed fairly reasonable from a logical level. I.e. Transexuals probably would not exist to the same degree if men could get by with being "feminine". The world is not perfect though and we do have all these image problems with people so I don't think that is a reason to reject these people. She also barely mentions female to male Transexuals. I wonder why! Abortion was where I started getting annoyed with her. She is just blaming men because men happen to be the people running the world and giving woman what they want or are manipulating into wanting. Each topic has an interesting point of view in it and I was interested that she seems to be support woman's rights for self mutilation etc but by the time I got to the "Work" chapter it was starting to get to the same boring themes. Woman are mugs that don't seem capable of organising themselves into decent paid jobs and Men are a lazy idle good for nothings seems to be her main thrust. She gives all sort of fascinating stats (I thought woman aren't interested in stats? I heard a leading female sports commentator says so only recently.) about how much more woman do then men and then seems to defeat her arguments about unpaid work by claiming even when woman aren't doing the housework they are still working because they working on their appearance.

A typical example of my problem with Greer is that she takes reasonable interpretations of things and the builds on them on builds on them until she comes out with statements like "we might find ourselves having to admit that men are attracted to the infantile female in the same measure that they are repelled and revolted by the adult child-bearing female." She seems to take one negative view and then multiply it by another negative view to come up with an even more negative view that she has no solutions for.

I have been reading Greer on Marriage today. She was using Marriage stats the Most female divorces of Men are for unreasonable behaviour or adultery. I.e. implying that fact men are bad. This is backed up by men not bothering to defend themselves. It is this kind of false representation that makes the book so dubious. These to methods are the fastest and it is a waste of money disputing them as the divorce will still happen.

Web - John Wyndham - 31 May 1999

As you would expect from John Wyndham another excellent story that seems quite well thought out. Since the novel is quite short (too short really) the brief summary on the back gives almost all the plot away so don't read it. Just sit back and read the novel as it unfolds. In case like me you need to know what the books basic premise is I will say that it is an expedition to an island in order to create a new society.

Inside 25 Cromwell St - Stephen and Mae West - 14 June 1999

I was a bit disappointed to discover this book was a News Of The World publication. I suppose I should have guessed as it was bound to be a bit sensationalist. Or so I thought. Once I had actually read it I thought it was a fairly good insight into what it must be like to have relations that become criminally notorious. The book basically quotes lots of interviews with Stephen and more often Mae and presents them in topics with a brief editorial explanation of the circumstances. The authors seem genuine enough but since there is no outside comment it is difficult too tell. My perception of Stephen also changed once we got to the bodies being found and the trial (They were both obviously under a lot of pressure). I think I would have preferred to buy a more general book on the subject and will in all probability do so, so that I can compare it with this book. This book was released straight after the verdict for Rose West's trial so is perhaps a little to close to the events. Given the books was not quite what I was wanting I think it is a very good read all the same.

The Slade Story By George Tremlett - 20 June 1999

This was a very interesting book to read as it was written around 1975. It mentions events up to the making of the film 'Flame'. It is hard for a fan my age to remember that Slade had such a teenage fan base in their day. This book seems to be written to that market and it doesn't really give the depth I would have expected. It is more like a 116 page music article. It really labels the point that Chas Chandler was a good marketing manager. That Noddy's voice was considered like John Lennon's! And that Slade would be as big as the Beatles if they could only crack America. I guess things went downhill from here so it is fascinating to read how the band were viewed in this era. I thoroughly recommend getting a 2nd hand dealer for example Chris Morris to watch out for a copy for you.

The 10 Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make And How To Avoid Them - Dr Arthur Freeman and Rose DeWolf - 29 August 1999

This was a very good book to read. It lists what it considers to be the 10 easiest mistakes for people to make in there thinking and gives very good every day examples of people making the mistakes. It then goes on to list the basic techniques for overcoming these problems. I got the book because I was looking for something on Cognitive Therapy and I think this is probably a great book to give to someone who has low self esteem, is a perfectionist to the point of never completing anything or even has too much self esteem. There is a little quiz in the first chapter to help you focus on which mistakes you are making the most but all the chapters are a good read. I am not sure how it people will react to it who do make these mistakes as I was rather surprised to mind I already use most of the techniques mentioned here. I know many people that don't though so perhaps I make the 11 mistake of not knowing my faults!

Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl - The Definitive Edition - Anne Frank - 9 September 1999

This was a fascinating read no wonder it is so famous. It was interesting to see how the Dairy entry changed as she got older and started to mature. The Definitive Edition releases some details previous held back by Otto Frank due to there more personal nature (Nothing to bad in this day and age). It is a book I would like to recommend my daughters read when they reach their early teens as I am sure they would appreciate the life of someone their age during the war. And it would give them perspective of hopefully how good there lives are and the problems teenagers suffer as they change from children to adults. It might even encourage them to use a dairy as a tool for relieving stress/frustrations which I think should be encouraged.

Talk To Me Baby : The Story Of The Blues Band - Roy Bainton - 3 October 1999

This book seems to have been completely miss-titled. Or half of it is missing. For it to be the story of the Blues Band in my view and expectations it should tell the history and the Blues Band's life album by album. Instead it tells the Story Of The Blues Band's Members. I.e. it gives the members histories up to the point of joining the Blues Band then it says words to the effect "And the rest of course you know". Well excuse me but if I knew that I would not be buying this book. I am fascinated as to how the book got published like this. Is there a difference in style of Biographies for Blues artists to that of Rock ones? Very weird and a big disappointment.

Wanderers Of Time - John Wyndham - 2 November 1999

This is a book of long short stories first pubished in the 1930's. The longest being Wanderers of time itself. This was a very good read as usual. Some of the themes seemed a bit familar though. It was a kind of cross between the later Sleepers from Mars and The Web. Whydham obviously had some ideas he liked. It amused me how the lead character had to find love but it also interrested me how it wasn't the first character introduced or the girlfriend the original time travel was for. The Second story Derelict Of Space was more interesting than a good story. I was about the salvage of a Rocket in space which goes wrong. It was told retrospectively by a main character which is typical of Wyndham. It's fascinating that Wyndham predicts Space travel in great and to my knowledge accurate detail but does seem to have the idea for computers. It is also odd having space travel and the Third Reich in the same era. Child Of Power was a story I particularly enjoyed a similar story to Midwich Cuckoos or maybe Chocky (I can't quite recall). It was about a child with ability to sense Electricity as a sixth sense. It could easily have gone on to be a full book but instead is cut short by an accident. The story as usual is told by an observers retrospectively this time to people in a pub and I love the final paragraph. It is a classic! The Last Lunarians was an interesting story a little bit on the short side. About an ancient race of moon dwellers accidently brought out of suspended animation. It makes me wonder if they seriously thought the moon had had life in the past when this was written. Sadly this was no Star Trek first contact story. Just a mad savages story. The Puff-Ball Menace is a kind of day of the Triffids. This time set about as Biological warfare by a country fed up with the West affecting it's thinking and being too small for conventional warfare.

Black Sabbath - An Oral History By Mike Stark - 11 November 1999

As is often the case I have mixed feelings about this History. If I had written a review after reading the Ozzy Osbourne years only it would have been a lot more negative. At the time I was thinking "Hey I could do this so much better" There are very few "time of the album" quotes and I would have liked to see all the quotes dated. I know trips to the British library would produce a wealth of quotes from the magazines of the days. Weather permission to use them would be a problem I don't know.

As it stands that section adds very little to my admittedly  rather good knowledge of the band. It was however interesting reading Bill Wards quotes and it was also interesting seeing how they are written word for word like I do my Praying Mantis interviews. It's funny how you start noticing these things when you with you own inability's try and do them too.

As I say that is what I would have thought. Having finished the book I am a lot happier. It is all to brief but it does cover each and every lineup and a lot better than all the other Sabbath books I have seen (some only because they are written a long time ago). The Editor or someone got carried away with their spell checker and changed Ray Gillen into Ian Gillan but there is little an Author can do to stop this type of mistake. I am still waiting for the definite Sabbath History. I suspect I will wait a long time given the standard of most of Sabbath's non album releases but this at least points in the right direction.

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley - 15 December 99

This was and excellent read. I really enjoyed it. I found it extremely interesting how my sympathies changed as the story progressed. At first I was quite amused at the ridiculous extremes of the Brave New World. Especially that Huxley had decided to replace God with Ford and the Cross with a "T" for the Model T. But as the book came to an end and the Savage bought back from an Indian reservations received an explanation of how society had got to it's current point and I couldn't really see anything wrong with it. This worried me it has to be said. Perhaps it was because it was ideological and there weren't many examples of the system failing. The Savage ended up rejecting the new world and living alone which I understood to a degree. However he believed in suffering to make his soul pure and was religious which left me baffled as usual. Since the book was published in 1932 I again took great interest in what was being predicted for the future. The conveyer belt of Test tube babies and development was fascinating The Flamingo edition of the book also included a Forward written by the author in 1944. It was interesting to see how the authors views had changed. He realised the Human engineering was moving on a lot faster than he originally anticipated. I suspect it has moved on even quicker now. Fascinating stuff.

Beam Me Up, Scotty - James Doohan - 4 January 1999

This is an odd book. I obviously bought it for the Star Trek connection. That was the most disappointing part for me. I found it rather boring reading which epsidoes Doohan was in. Luckily it took Doohan more than half the book to get anywhere near joining the cast of Star Trek. The stories he told about the war and how he became an actor I found very interesting. I am not sure I completely like Doohan but he seems geniue enough. Perhaps I am a little put off by his eye for the woman and his confidence in his craft. I am suspect he is a good actor though. Not the most essential Star Trek read but it is a reasonable read all the same.

Jizzle - John Wyndham - 28 Jan 2000

This was a collection of short stories

"Jizzle" was an interesting story about a circus performer buying a monkey in a pub. It brings him fortune but breaks up his marriage. I guess a classic tale of money doesn't buy happiness. Or a just a mischievous monkey

"Technical Slip" was too short to be of any real interest. A man is dying and is returned to his childhood in exchange for his savings. There was a technical slip and he became aware of it until it was corrected. It seems he was able to relive his life several times.

"A Present From Brunswick" was a different take on the Pied Pipper. I was written in a very Wyndham way but it has to be said I didn't really understand it.

"Chinese Puzzle" was a good story about an egg received in the post that hatches into a dragon. I didn't understand why everyone in Wales was talking in bad English though.

"Esmeralda" is a flea. And the story was about her training and the effect of fleas on the trainers love life. A very interesting story. I am surprised at another circus related story.

"How Do I Do?" was a good story about a woman breaking with her fiancée and going to a fortune teller to get some direction back in her life. She thinks the lady a fraud so the lady makes her see herself in the ball. Woman are so stereotyped in these stories. Or realistic to the time?

"UNA" is a story about man induced creation of life. The result is Una and she takes a fancy to the Animal Welfare officer. A good story.

"Affair Of The Heart" was a good short story about a phonetician and his wife going out a for meal. They are accidentally seated at a table that has been reserved for a couple for the last 30 years. But all is not as it seems.

"Confidence Trick" was an intriguing story about a journey on the underground and an apparent crash. They go to hell but one passenger doesn't believe in it so they get sent back. I want to say it was well told but I didn't really get the point in the end so I am not sure.

"The Wheel" was a good story about a society where the wheel is banned because of the evil men did with it. Short and sweet but well told.

"Look Natural, Please!" Is the story of a man going to a photographer and being inspired to do better. Things later go full circle. The wife is very stereotyped as is typical in the book.

"Perforce To Dream" is about a novel writer getting her book rejected because someone else wrote the same book. Both had dreamt it. It was a good story.

"Reservation Deferred" is an extremely short story of a dying girl meeting a ghost and getting put off dying because she didn't like the Ghosts descriptions of heaven being for men.

"Heaven Scent" is a story about a wonderful new perfume additive which is guaranteed to make the person of your choice fall madly in love with you. While it lasts at least.

"More Spinned Against" was a rather enjoyable story about the wife of a spider collector. She ends up having a chat with a spider that was really a human cursed by a god.

Overall I enjoyed the book. I am not keen on short stories and some of these didn't work but others I thought very good.

EM Forster -The Machine Stops - 28 Feb 2000

I mentioned to a friend what I thought about The Brave New World and she suggested I read this short story. It was about 40 pages long and I have to say very good. It is about a society where mankind has perfected the machine to such a point they all the do is sit in individual honeycomb rooms and press buttons for all there requirements. Conversation so done with visuals but any facial expression was hidden by the machine so that thoughts weren't distracted. The machine delivers everything to them. Muscles and movement are discouraged. Everything is done through the machine. (In fact remember this story in later months it strikes me I am close to living on one of the Honeycombe cell myself due to my M.E.!

Unfortunately one mothers son (I am slow writing this up and can't recall how children happen in this society) seems to be too inquisitive for his own good. He has a fascination for nature and the stars. Eventually he works out the machine is dying due to faults in the repair center itself. Eventually the machine dies and that causes Airships from the days when people had to travel to crash into the honeycomb living centers and kill the main characters. It is not clear if the machine stops because of decay or sabotage from people who had been expelled to live outside the machine because they wouldn't conform to society. An Excellent little story. I must check out a full novel sometime.

Close To The Edge - The Story Of Yes by Chris Welch - 24 April 2000

This book was a treat to read. It seems a long time since I have read a Band Bio that goes into great detail. From what I can tell a lot of the facts have been well researched. Sometimes Chris seemed to repeat quotes but I know I couldn't have done better. It is interesting to see it happens even in a quality Journalist written Biography.

I didn't really feel he got to the bottom of Rick Wakeman leaving the last time. Maybe he did but I was frustrated by quotes from other band members which while semi-true didn't quite give the full picture. The impression given was that Rick didn't want to tour. I can't see this is true given Rick has done plenty of UK gig over the last few years. I guess it might be true that Rick didn't want to do 160 dates tours. The main problems seemed to be lack of communication between the band and procrastination.

The Consolations Of Philosophy - Alain De Botton - 4 July 2000

"Me? Read a book on Philosophy? No way!". I am sure this is what I would have said a few months back. However I have always been interested in people, their lives and how they interact with each other. So I guess it is logical that something would eventually catch my interest enough to read such a book on such a "Stuffy" subject. That something was a series on UK's Channel 4 called "A Guide To Happiness". As is often the case when something catches my interest I wanted a book as a future reminder of what I had seen so I got the book the series was based on. And I am glad I did.

It is difficult to know if this was philosophy made easy on purpose or if it just turned out to be that way. Whatever it was a good way to break my into the world of philosophers and it might well tempt to to read a bit more about one of them.

6 philosophers were covered on six areas which we can sometimes need consoling. Unpopularity, Not having enough money, Frustration, Inadequacy, A Broken Heart and Difficulties. Difficulties was in fact the hardest section for me to get on with. I think I agreed with it in principle but some of the smaller points seemed to miss me.

The chapter on unpopularity kind of reinforced my fear of letting the majority rule a country by votes on each bill on the Internet. The story of Socrates death seems to show perfectly how people are swayed by the current majority thinking without actually thinking things out for themselves. With the Power of the Media I find this really scary.

My favourite philosopher was Montaigne on inadequacy and he is the one I am most likely to be tempted to follow up on sometime. I wonder if I would be disappointed though as Alain uses modern examples and explanations in conjunction with original quotes.

My only problem with the book was it sometimes quotes a foreign language without translating it. Most long phrases were translated but I guess some where considered obvious but I didn't work them out.

I think this was an excellent book and of great interest to anyone interested in life and being happy.

Animal Farm - George Orwell - 13 July 2000

I got this book out of curiosity. People often quote the line "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others". And like 1984 it seems a popular book. It's a long while since I read 1984 and I seem to recall it was slightly hard going. This definitely wasn't. It calls itself a fairy tale and it has to be said after my previous book this was a fast compulsive read. I loved the way the corruption built up so subtly and the way the animals were confused in thinking what they remembered was wrong. It is very easy to relate this story to human society. At 5 UKP for a 94page book I thought the price was a bit steep but nevertheless it was a good story.

Planet Of The Apes - Pierre Boulle - 31 July 2000

First published 1963 this is the book that inspired the Films and TV series. With 38 chapters in only 180 pages or so I found this book somewhat compulsive reading and would often read slightly more than I intended because I was reading chapters and wanted to know what happened in the next only to find it out and decide with only 3 more pages I should go on to finish the chapter I had started.

I guess the story was in fact a combination of what became the first and third films. The main characters of Zira, Cornelius, Zaius and Nova existed in this original tale but the Ape city was slightly more modern than in the films. The main human character Ulysse spent an amazing amount of time not showing the apes he was as intelligent as them but I guess it helped the plot in the fact he and Nova eventually had a baby despite him initially feeling she was more like a pet than a human.

I liked the reasons give for the human decline and the nice little twist at the end.

It was also good to read a story that talked about interplanetary travel with the Theory of Realitivity involved and not just forgotten as an inconvenience. Thus while it took Ulysse two years to get to the Ape planet in earth time it was really 500 years.

I couldn't help thinking this book wouldn't have been written with the same emphasis today. In 40 years we have changed slightly and it is odd reading old views. Of course one of the biggest things to me someone who is 34 is the fact I have grown up knowing the films and TV series. The concept of a planet of apes is intriguing not horrifying. It wasn't till I finished the book I realised I was mentally imagining the apes as per the films and not the real animals that someone without the knowledge of the films would have done. This is a shame really. I will have to read this again sometime with that in mind.

An excellent book and cheap at only 4ukp for a hardback.

John Whydham - Exiles On Asperus - 26 Aug 2000

This is a book of three short stories.

Exiles On Asperus was written in 1933. And is a story about the Arrogance of humans and how our adaptability can also be our downfall. Asperus seems to be a small planetoid Whydham speculated would be discovered in our solar system. It has a population of Bat like people who are intelligent but don't have our hands. An Earth ship crashes on the planet and they are taken prisoner. The prisoners are encouraged to breed and their children are taken away to form a new society that are willing to help the Batrach. A very good story.

No Place Like Earth is a 1951 story. This was an intriguing story while I read it but once  I got to then end I was slightly disappointed. Earth has been blown up somehow and Bert an Earth-man is stuck on Mars. The Martians are an old race living simply and Bert dreams of the old Earth. After 13 years a ship of Earth-men arrive from Venus in the only Rocket-ship with fuel. They recruit Bert to help rebuild Venus. But Venus is like the earth old old using animals as slave labour and having a dictator as a leader. Bert escapes back to the life he found unsatisfying on Mars as he now realises how the Martian philosophy appeals to him.

Curiously there is a love interest but she doesn't really meet until he back on Mars. She is more an idea. The woman on Venus were also segregated from the average citizen on Venus. I don't think that  the Love was that bigger motivation though.

The Venus Adventure was published in 1932. I really enjoyed reading this story. A religious fanatic and a Rich man form a partnership to get to Venus. Once their they don't get on and form two societies which hate each other. After 800 years another ship left Earth thinking they would be first on Mars and the story is about how things have progressed their.

There were lots of interesting ideas in the story but again the thing that interested me most is the predictions about the future. I found it fascinating that Whynham could think it might take Earth another 800 years to rediscover rocket power. I was also amazed that he had no concept for anything like Televsion. Surely he would have had Films when he wrote this? But even 800 years in the future they are still using radios and books.

This is in no way a criticism I just love to see how things have moved along and things that I take for granted weren't even thought off. I guess it is amazing we made it to the Moon only 40 years after this. Mind you we are dragging our heals on the next step of landing people on Mars and Venus.

He had some interesting ideas of how Venus looked.

The story is written in typical Wyndham style. i.e. a Report by someone on past events.

I wonder what Whynham's Regious beliefs were. He made the Fanatics deteriorate as a society because they had a madness gene in there limited gene pool. The Rich mans society were more control about how they inbred etc. and were therefore the more stable society.

Overall I thought the book well worth seeking out in the 2nd hand stores.

The Last Days Of Hitler - H.R. Trevor-Roper - 21 December 2000

I thought I had taken an awful long time to read this book. Probably 3 months but apparently it was four. I am sure there was at least a month in the middle where I didn't read any of it. I guess that was probably longer too.

The first 40 pages of the book were an explanation by Roper of why he wrote the book and what methods he used. I actually found the explanation of how he looked for secondary evidence to point in the direction of main evidence very interesting. He pointed out if something is true lots of seemingly contradictory evidence will suddenly come together. If it is a lie there will be almost no contradictory evidence in the overal evidence.

I then got onto the main part of the book and rather bored. There was a lot of general information on the state of the War and Hitler's people during the last two years of his life. I found this stuff incredibly hard to take in and suspect I wasn't going flat out on the book which wouldn't have helped either.

I commented on a previous review that I find having lots of sections and chapters encourages me to read on. This book proved the reverse. The chapters are extremely long and there were no sections marks. Therefore when I was getting tired of reading after my usual 8-10 pages I had no incentive to read on to the next logical break 2-6 pages away. I tended therefore to just give up.

After a long break of reading current magazines and just being too tired, I decided to have a serious crack at the book and get it finished. I therefore have forced myself to read it most days and finish it before Christmas. Luckily I then got into the detail of the last 10 days of his life which was the last half of the book. This I found a lot easier to read and I got into it again. I was surprised at how strong the authors views were on some of the characters. The book was originally written in 1947 and I was reading a 1973 reprint. I suspect if it had been written now there would have been a lot more explanation of why people were described as Ninnies etc.

I found reading the Epilogue quite interesting to read. It was a summery of why the author thought Hitler a success and then a failure. I don't think his views had changed between the 1947 original and 1972 reprint I wonder if they have now. I also wonder if the author was still about to look at any evidence produced as a result of the Iron Curtain.

I am glad I read the book but I look forward to reading something lighter next. That won't be for sometime though as I had a heap of Back Issues magazines to read.

Consider Her Ways And Others - John Wyndham - 27 May 2001

This is another collection of short stories. Consider Her Ways is medium size and the rest a definitely short.

Consider Her Ways - This was a very good story. Like most Wyndham stories half the fun of the story is in seeing where this story went. It is therefore hard to give a summary without spoiling it. Basically woman a woman wakes up in a hospital with memory lose and a strange feeling of being in the wrong body. Slowly her memory returns and there is an interesting discussion of woman in society. Especially odd as Wyndham is a man.

Odd - At last in May I am backing to reading a book. I have missed it and it was really good to start with this nice little story by my favourite author. It was only 10 pages long and pretty predicable but a god little story behind why a man was left a lot of shares in a Plastics company.

Oh Where Now is Peggy MacRafferty? - This was an extremely odd Wyndham Story it just seem to be a story about plucking someone out of obscurity and making them  a film star. She was put through a film school and all her character was lost. Perhaps this was radical when it was written but now it is so common it was rather boring and very un-Wyndham like.

A Stitch In Time was back to normal Wyndham. A time travel story of sorts. Nothing to original but again a nice little read.

Random Quest - This was an excellent little story I felt could easily have been expanded. A man has an accident and wakes up in a Parallel universe where things are similar but different. He is married in that place and falls in love with her when he returns to his own universe he is desperate to find this woman.

A Long Spoon - This was quite amusing tale of an accidental summoning of the devil. The made doesn't want to make a pact with him so they come up with an alternative plan.

With Exception of MacRafferty I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Inside The Music - Dave Stewart (plus a bit on The AB  Guide To Music Theory by Eric Taylor) - April 2001

As a Clarinet/Sax/Wind Synth player I have never understood why chords are so important to guitarists and bands. I therefore wanted a book to explain to me what was going on. I had tried The AB  Guide To Music Theory but it was very dry and just explained how to read music etc. I found it interesting but not quite was I was after. I then got a Yamaha QY70 music sequencer as it would allow me to practice my Wind Synth away from Electricity. This was an expensive solution to my problem but quite handy as it solved a few other problems I had such as practicing against midi files from the comfort of my Bed. Anyway another useful thing is it allows you to write code backings and develop your own songs. This therefore inspired me to hunt for a book on how to compose music and I decided to go for this one as it talks from a keyboard point of view while also mentioning guitars patterns.

It is a well written book and quite amusing. I do know how to read music but I am not sure it is that essential for reading the book. I think having an instrument that plays chords probably is though. Especially as 40 of the 104 or so text pages deal with them. I must admit I got a bit bored by the third chapter on them. That was my only problem with the book really.

Everything else seemed so simply explained I almost wondered why I needed a book to explain it. I guess it is just a confidence thing really.

At then end of the book I certainly felt I could have a crack at writing a tune and in fact I did write a little 12 bar piece. Nothing special but more than I had done before.

I am not at all musical so I am not sure I would do any more writing but I feel equipped to play if I want to know. I think after a while I might find a more advanced book more useful but this book was a good introduction and I will keep it on hand for future reference along with the AB guide.

Incidentally I got a lot more from the chord chapters than I even did reading the AB Book. I think it was just too fast for me. It is more like a revision summary book than a teaching manual.

John Wyndham - Tales Of Gooseflesh and Laughter - 30 May 2001

This one took me a long time to get hold of and when I did I was disappointed. It contains many of the stories I had just read in Jizzle. This is an Amercan book hence the duplication but I don't seem to have come across all the stories.

The Stories I have already read are Chinnese puzzle, Una, The Wheel, Jizzle, Heaven Scent, More Spinned Against, A Present From Brunswick, Confidence Trick.

I have just read the notes for Teachers and Parents at the front of the book and they point out short story collections are harder work than novels since they are sometimes more difficult to understand. I was also amazed "The Wheel" was supposed be the basis of the Kracken Wakes/Out Of The Deeps. But that is because they said Re-Birth and I am not good with the American titles! ... A hunt up the loft later and I think Re-Birth is the Chraysalids and I will make that my next book to read.

I have also found out where the missing stories in this book are from. They are mainly in The Seeds Of Time. I am sure I read it in my long forgotten past but clearly I need to read it again. And since I will soon run out of new Whydham to read I am sure I will.
Back to the teacher notes and I was intererested to see that the choice of the first and last story in a collection are very important and therefore normally the best. There is then some discussion of the choices of The Chinesse Puzzle and Wild Flower and their similar ideas. All very good I thought until I remembered that in the UK "Jizzle" is the Opener and "More Spinned Against" the closer.

Compassion Circuit - This was the story of a woman not taking to using a Robot for house work. She became ill and then saw the benefits of them. The robots had a compassion curcuit built in them and this had interesting end results.

Opposite Number - Another time dimensions story. This one has the author describing the arrival of himself and an ex-girlfriend from another dimension and the results it had. Again a gripping but simple story.

Wild Flower - This one does indeed end "The seeds of Time" so it should according to the teachers notes be a masterpiece. Sadly and surprizingly for a 10 page story I found this slow going and rather descriptive. It just seemed to be about someone who was against technology. I didn't really get the point. Perhaps I was too tired.

The Chrysalids By John Wyndham - 12 June 2001

I must have read this book in less time than any other in the last few years. I probably only did 17 pages a day but that has caused me to worry about eye fatigue (not strain).

The thing is I thoroughly enjoyed this tale and decided to push the limits of my ME. I normally read to chapters or section breaks but I kept finding it so gripping that I pushed on more than my natural limits.

This is the 2nd time I have read this book the first was probably as a teenager and it may well have been the first Wyndham I read although I do have vague memories of reading Day Of The Triffids in the third year (age 14) at school.

It is certainly a good story for a child to read as it is told through the eyes of a ten year old. He develops to a late teenager in the story but it is still an easy read.

I have to confess I read the book and then wondered where the title came from. I ended up looking in the dictionary to see if it is a word. The closest I got was Chrysalis, which is a Pupa in a hard shell. At the end of it what looks like a new species appears so I guess I now understand the title.

The book seems to be set on a post nuclear war Earth. Specifically in Labrador. By the descriptions it was USA that was wiped out with a bomb or I guess a massive volcano.

Life is very simple again and the locals are fanatical about keeping stocks pure and religion. The writer’s talks with a sailor provide thought provoking topics. The Sailor points out people don't really know what is pure and in God's image. It is just down to Politics etc. I find the issues raised in this book very challenging and they probably further reinforce my ideas about individually and not following societies rules and conventions for their own sake.

The Pupa's in the story are children that have discovered Telepathy. This creates some questions in my head that never get fully answered but it doesn't really matter.

Wyndham curiously throws in that there is no "Z" in the current language in Labrador. I find this strange as they were supposed to have found a bible from the days of the old people.

To a certain extent the end book ends up as an adventure with a happy ending. I must confess it was not as happy as it could be and I was sad about how one of the early characters turned out. I guess I wanted a love story to happen there but it didn't.

Also having grown up on Star Trek having phasers set on stun the end seemed surprisingly brutal.

It is very difficult discussing a book without giving the story away. I also hope I have given myself enough clues so that in two years I can remember the basic story. I doubt it somehow but there we go.

It is an excellent read and I highly recommend you give it a go.

Amazing Stories - October 1965 – 24 July 2001

I have been buying up books and periodicals with John Wyndham short stories I don't recognise the title of. This is one of them and I have decided I will read some of them to I know what they are.

In this book were the following stories :-

Killer Ship - Murray Leinster - This is only half a novel so I guess not worth reading

The Eternal Eve - John Wyndham - This was an interesting read it used settlers on Venus and had local semi-intelligent natives called Griffas. This set up was used in "No Place Like Earth" from 1951. Another interesting parallel was that there were Mars colonies but also the key part of the story was that the Earth had just blown up. In this story it seems there were only a handful of people of Venus and only 4 women. Without Earth’s control and only poor radio signals from Mars the men all start fighting for power and for the remaining woman. One of the surviving women had loved and lost on Earth and had no interest in settling down for the sake of society and the story was basically about her. I guess it was slightly predictable but I enjoyed it all the same.

I was originally going to just read the Wyndham story but I figured I might as well check out the rest of the book.

The Chrysalis by Ray Bradbury - Having just read Wyndham's The Chrysalids and wondered why it was so named I couldn't resist read a story called The Chrysalis. Now it has to be said my interest in Science Fiction is mild to say the least. I enjoy Wyndham and Wells and also the classic series of Star Trek but things like Assimov's Foundation just bore me. Stuff that makes me tick is stuff that I can relate to my world. I am not interested in created fantasy worlds etc. Now reading this story I was very aware I had a lot of prejudice to get over. In theory Wyndham could have told this and it is possible for it to take place now but I still felt this was pushing my interest level a bit though. It was the story of a man called Smith turning Green and rigid and then into a chrysalis. A friend and doctor watched him as he changes and then he comes out. I won't give more away but I was highly unimpressed by the end of the story. The last paragraph was such a cop out. I had been reasonably interested to find out the point of the story but it didn’t have one. Oh well. I know I am being tough on this and a lot of Wyndham's short stories don't work for me.

Let's see how I take to the rest

The Metal Man By Jack Williamson - This was an interesting story that seemed to be written in the same sort of era as the original King Kong film. An explorer is hunting for Radium in the jungle and he fly's into a volcano. There he gets caught in a strange cloud and he finds his fingers start turning Green. Eventually he escapes but he runs out of berry juice, which stops him turning completely to Metal.

The Time Jumpers By Phil Nowlan - This was a poor man's H.G.Wells Time Machine. Once they were in the days before USA's independence it was just a boring story of looking for the time machine being chased by natives. The woman falling and them getting caught then escaping back in their time machine. It passed the time I guess.

Dusty Answer - Arthur Porges - This was a short little story about some inter-planetary explorers falling into an alien like a giant Trapdoor spider's hole. It was OK and could almost have been written for a jungle story here.

The book was OK overall but not really my scene and as usual when selected my next book from my unread collection I have changed my early intentions.

The Magic Shop By H.G. Wells - 31 Jul 2001

Well here's a first. I have just read my first E-Text. I normally read in the bath so there isn't much point in me reading something large on the Psion but I got a Program called Tomeraider since it was a cheap and very good way of carrying a couple of English Dictionaries with me. (I look up far more words now I can do it on the Psion!). I then had a look to see what other texts were about and I discovered two of immediate interest one by Wilkie Collins and this little short story.

I am not sure why it was written really but basically a man and a boy are outside a magic shop and the boy wants to go in. They do and everything is really magical. The boy is given presents and then made to disappear and the father gets angry and tries to follow the shop assistant to find him and finds himself out on the street with his son again.

It pasted the time of day I guess. I will now see how I cope with a more substantial piece in 5-minute bursts. It is certainly very handy I can stop anywhere I like and I won't lose my place!

Mr Wray's Cash Box by Wilkie Collins - 27 Aug 2001

I read this on my Psion and thoroughly enjoyed it. It seems reading in five minute bursts works quite well for me.

This was a ten chapter novelette by Wilkie Collins author of my favourite book "The Woman in white". This was I guess a fairly simple story about an ex-Actor called Mr Wray who moved towns after having the audacity to take a cast of William Shakespeare’s Bust.

I enjoyed the tale for what it was and found Collins chatty Author style rather unusual. He would often makes his presence felt by saying things like "Well dear reader I am sure you are itching for me to introduce the villain of the piece".

I think I will try a full length novel on the Psion now.

Arabian Nights - A Selection - Translated by Richard F Burton - 2 Sept 2001

The last time I changed books I was feeling adventurous I therefore picked Arabian Nights out of my heaps of unread books.

I don't tend to like books that are translated because there are normally still lots of difficult to read names. This book wasn't too bad from this aspect.

It is obviously a very old book and the stories are very one dimensional and politically incorrect. The stories apparently first appeared in the West in 1704 but I am not sure when they were based.

The book contains Ali Barber and the Forty Thieves and Aladdin And The Magic Lamp. These were all told within the story of Scherherazade and King Shahryar. I guess I originally bought it because it was cheap and because I was curious about the above stories.

To be honest I don't think the stories have much merit and the best one was The Tale Of Nur Al-Din Ali And His Son.

Aladdin was a lazy good for nothing made good by a merchant that needed someone to go into a hidden cave to fetch a lamp for him. The Lamp had an all powerful Jinnee. Aladdin innocently couldn't give the Merchant the Lamp so the merchant sulked and locked him in the cave. Aladdin eventually escaped and continued being a spoilt brat until the Merchant discovered Aladdin was alive and wealthy and tricked Aladdin’s wife into giving him the lamp. Aladdin of course got it back and killed the merchant.

It seems in these stories a good person is someone that is handsome as the moon. They don't seem to need to be good of character. Woman it seems are devious unfaithful enchanters that need a good beating from time to time.

In fact in Shahryar's case. He was a really good person until his wife cheated on him. He was then force to have sex with another man wife's wife or she would wake her husband and tell him and he would kill Shahryar. This severely effected Shahryar and he vowed no woman would ever cheat on him again so from that day on he had a fresh virgin delivered everyday and the next morning she was executed. After three years of this he came up against  Scherherazade and she cleverly kept alive by telling him stories until dawn and then keeping him in suspense until the next night. Arabian Nights stories are in fact are the stories she entertained Shahryar with.

The book was a reasonable read but mainly from the angle that these stories were considered good in the not too distant past. In fact I am surprised that the wedding night text in The Tale Of Nur Al-Din Ali And His Son got past the censors. It was Pornography really. Perhaps it was suppressed until recently. It is certainly not surprised the translator was the person that brought the Kama Sutra to western eyes.

The Hobbit - Graphic Novel - David Wenzel & Charles Dixon - 6 Nov 2001

I first read the Hobbit as a kid. I really enjoyed it and thought it might be good fun to get this version of the book so my daughters might get interested. As it happens my ten year old is currently reading the original book at school and wants to take this one in to show them. She isn't actually that impressed by the story but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it again in this format. The pictures are well drawn and Gollum looked like I thought he should.

I got thoroughly into the story again so much so it infected my thoughts during other conversations during the day. This is unusual for me. I had completely forgotten the ending with the battles over the gold and I was slightly disappointed it ended up with a war but I guess it was still moral enough for my liking.

I highly recommend it.

PS. My daughter ended up reading the Graphic novel off her on back she enjoyed it so much.

Chocky - John Wyndham - 3 December 2001

This was the first novel I had read in ages. That and being a John Wyndham book meant I read it rather quickly.

As I read it was a gripping as usual but I was wondering as I got close to the end how the story would conclude and weather it would be up to Wyndham's normal standard. I think the ending was OK but I suspect the impact of the book has been lost in modern times. It is clear what is going on in the story almost from the start. The book was published as a novel in 1968. It might have been a short story in 1963 but it is hard for me as someone born between these dates to look back and know if Alien Telepathy is a surprising concept then or not.

The end of they story seemed satisfactory to me and I am now interested to see what happened in the TV Series Chocky. So now I am going to read Chocky's challenge. It seems an ideal story for a follow up. I wonder how a new author will cope.

Overall I enjoyed this book despite it's simplicity. I also found some of the family life relationships a) interesting because they are now quaint but also b) relevant to some of my circumstances.

Desperate Remedies - Thomas Hardy - 13 Feb 2002

I read the first edition text of this book and it had notes and an introduction by Mary Rimmer.

The actual book and story I loved. From the very beginning I was in suspense as to what was going to happen and then why it had happened. For a book from 1871 I was a bit surprised at the scene where Miss Aldclyffe got into bed with Cytherea. Surely the book wasn't about a lesbian relationship? As I read on I discovered it wasn't but it was an intriguing side track.

I never know weather to read the editors notes as I go through the book in these stories, so sometimes I did and sometimes I didn't. I wish I hadn't as some emphasised a characters villainous nature before I spotted it myself. The notes in my view made him out to be more of a villain than I would actually consider him myself. He seemed a reasonably average person that made a few mistakes and then dug himself in deeper.

I got the book because it was supposed to have been influenced by Wilkie Collins and I love what I have read of him. The editor really seemed to have a downer on Hardy writing a sensational novel and the story in general. It seems a strange way to attract people to reading a book to me but there we go. I got un-graded in English Literature despite a lot of hard work, so I will clearly make no critic. I can just enjoy a book because it is interesting and fun. I don't have to care of if the characters in the story were doing the narrators job with their speech or if there was a bad use of quoted text. If you like a good "sensational" novel from this period read it. If you are a Hardy fan I suspect you will be disappointed if not you will probably have as good a read as I did.

The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde by Robert Louie Stevenson - 26 Feb 2002

I read this as an E-book and should have finished it month’s back but I seemed to lose interest in it.

The book suffers from too many TV and film adaptations and I have also heard the original as a talking story so I guess there was little new to discover in reading the original text. It is a good story hence the number of new versions and I enjoyed reading the description of events in the main part of the book but once we got to Jekyll's own statement in the last chapter it was just explaining the events we already knew about and given that I could remember the explanations given, that is probably why I lost interest in finishing the story.

I do wonder also if I find the story a little too non-scientific now. I suppose the story could take place now but it seems highly unlikely to me. But then again perhaps it could be translated to the drugs required to keep a child suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder from misbehaving.

I have changed my habits in the last few months and use my Psion less when resting due to fatigue. It will be interesting to see if I get into another E-book. I might try a Wilkie Collins I think.

Genome: The Autobiography Of A Species In 23 Chapters By Matt Ridley - 20 May 2002

I got this book as part of a 3 book set by the Bookpeople. I was actually after a book on the history of code breaking upon which a TV series was base. However last time I changed books this one grabbed my attention most. A great choice it was to.

This really was a great read. To start with I had slight worries as to how Matt Ridley seemed to be so knowledgeable on so many different topics. I originally figured he must be a Geneticist but it seems he is more of a Science and economist Journalist/Researcher. Whatever Ridley's qualifications for writing on the subject I gave up worrying and started trusting his research skills by about chromosome 10.

The book is structured so that each chapter is based on each of the Chromosomes. Some of the links are a bit tenuous but the topics covered work well in the order presented. Each chapter contains lots of thought provoking topics.

The book was first Published in 1999 and since genetic knowledge has grown so much in the last few years I assume there have been more developments on some of the topics covered. I don't think it should put anyone off reading the book though.

Obviously the subject matter is a bit technical in places and as I was travelling on a long journey in a car I thought I would take the opportunity to read the last chapter to my Girlfriend. I hadn't realised how I didn't bother reading words properly when reading in my head. Actually speaking the words was really tripping my tongue up and I found I wasn't able to say or read quite a few words.

Having said this Ridley goes to great lengths to explain everything with good definitions and examples. The book is definitely aimed at people like myself and if I can read it and follow it despite having ME I am sure anyone can. And I highly recommend that they do.

1-2-3 Magic - Effective Discipline For Children 2-12 - Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. - 27 Aug 2002

I read this book as my girlfriend had recommended it and we had just managed to get it back from a friend who had borrowed it for about a year.

It only took me a fortnight to get through which is very good for me and was made easy by the book being highly readable and having lots of short digestible chapters.

I have read various self-help books in my time and they always seem to just be common sense. The thing is you don't always have time to discover or work everything out for yourself.

I particularly liked the approach of this book because the author read other child rearing books and worked out his version of the best method and then got the parents to try things out and report back to him. Thus the book is written from the experience of many parents and if applied as stated in the book will work.

The technique is not magic and it is incredibly simple. If a child does something wrong. You don't talk you don't get angry you just say "That's 1". If they persist you continue, "That's 2" and if they still persist "That's 3 take x minutes". The child then has to go play quietly in it's bed room for the number of minutes times it's age. If the child does something serious like hitting they just get a straight "That's 3". It is all common sense stuff and easy to implement.

The book covers the conversation to introduce the new method. And it gives lots of great conversation examples were the parents gets it right and wrong in everyday situations such as meals and going to bed etc.

Counting is mainly used for "Stop" activities. IE you need the child to stop doing something. The book also discusses how to get them motivated for "Start" activities such as cleaning their room and doing homework. These are the areas I struggle with more but there are plenty of tips we will be trying out over time.

Using this method gives you quite a lot of power, which you could abuse so the book also covers Self-esteem issues. In fact the book suggests you should praise the child twice as much as you tell them off.

We have four children, two of my own and two of my girlfriends, between 6 and 11 and one of them has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. It is for him that the method has been particularly effective. It is really hard to get the correct amount of praise in though.

I tend to have a stricter approach than my girlfriend and I think it is more in line with the book. So far there has been a vast improvement and everyone knows or is getting to know that I mean what I say. Again it is hard to get them to appreciate this goes for the good things too. I tried to give Liam a Piggyback ride into the Sea but even a "£50 if I get you wet" offer didn't tempt him to agree.

I have read some reviews of this book on Amazon and it is clear to me some people have not read this book with an open mind. They seem to have gone in with a "This is the way I bring my children up" attitude. They are the people that don't value the book and method. If you are willing to learn and try the method as stated then this book will be a  godsend to you. You will use it for a while and it will work and then you will come back to it when you start slipping back into your old methods and you will start browsing it for tips and support again.

I liked this book so much I am about to order Phelan's books on Attention Deficit Disorder and find out what is in store with my eldest now that she is approaching the end of the 1-2-3 Magic age range.

All About Attention Deficit Disorder - Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. - 23 Sep 2002

This is an excellent source of information on Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder(ADHD). However if you have a child between 2-12 and discipline troubles you would be best to read 1-2-3 Magic - Effective Discipline For Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan since this contains all the information you need to get your life in some sort of order again. Once you are able to relax for the first time in ages this is the time to read this book. I am not sure it is a book you will want to read from cover to cover, I did, but I found myself getting impatient wanting to get to the bits of particular interest to my family. Perhaps the best thing to do is to pick and choose but then later read the whole book for completeness.

"The What Is ADD" section was excellent if we had any doubts that Liam had ADHD, which luckily we didn't as he has been correctly diagnosed, we would would have had now doubts after reading this section. It described the situations we get into with Liam perfectly. At this point in the book I was getting frustrated that although it was listing all the problems it was not dealing with how to resolve them in the slightest. This is why I recommend 123 Magic first. Once your child is diagnosed and on medication there is not a get deal more help you can get other than guidance on disciple. This book has a 10 page summary on 123 Magic and another chapter on the older child book Surviving your Adolescents but they recommend you read the corresponding book for completness. Once I accepted there was no extra guidance to be had I buckled down and accepted all the other information I was being offered.

It is hard to explain what I have picked up actually as the having been written from a browsing point of view, and not a cover to cover read one, it often repeats itself. Reading cover to cover though you soon feel an expert. You really know you know the facts by the time you are at the Adults with ADD section.

The chapter I found most useful on the new information front was Classroom management. Having four children to deal with it feels like a mini-class sometimes and you need to be careful you don't favour or ignore the non-ADD children.

In many ways the book seems bleak as you come away knowing full well that there are currently no overall solutions to ADD. Once you have it you have it. The best you can do is learn how to cope with it and how to maximise your possibilities given it. I think reading this book you will be in the best position to be able to make the best decisions for your ADD child or give the best advice to ADD friend, or lover. Hopefully the books style will also work for you if you are ADD yourself and have limited concentration.

The Polio Paradox - Richard L. Bruno H.D., Ph. D. - 27 November 2002

I read this book because it was recommend by the specialist that originally diagnosed my ME, Dr Elizabeth Dowsett.

She actually gives the book a recommendation on the back cover. I was diagnosed in 1994 and have fairly religiously stuck to her advice but there was only so much information that could be passed to me in a consultation.

Reading this book really felt like a detailed explanation of everything I was told. It gave me a much greater understanding of my illness and a valuable source for of reference for discussions with illness disbelievers.

It actually took me a lot of will power to read this book as I hate anything vaguely medical or Biological. This book starts off in an investigative sort of way and there was only about one chapter where I struggled to keep interested. This predictably was the detailed explanation of how Polio invaded the body and caused it's trouble.

I of course had an extra problem to contend with here. I am an ME sufferer and I was vaccinated against Polio so I can't have Polio or Post Polio Syndrome (PPS). As I read the book though I couldn't help noticing how 90% of the symptoms fitted my case. (This is most unusual for ME. I find my symptoms tend to only match 50% of other sufferers). I was therefore wondering all the way through what the link between Polio and ME would be. It was great getting explanations for my being colder than most people, my legs and brain more tired. To have a believable explanation model in print is invaluable for explaining to doctors, consultants and general disbelievers. I am also convinced it explains what has happened with the three other ME sufferers I know. I have discussed it with one but I still need to contact my other friends.

I think if an ME sufferer is to read this book, and they or someone close to them should, then I would recommend they read Chapter 17: Fatigue By Any Other Name first. This will at least then give the reader scope to chat about what they're reading in a more knowledgeable way as they are reading it. I found this book so interesting I wanted to discuss it with my partner almost chapter by chapter but I could not explain what the ultimate relationship to me was going to be so I didn't know if I was becoming a hypochondriac who was not aware they were getting phantom symptoms.

This book is also of interest to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Gulf War Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia sufferers among others. Again I recommend getting the context first by reading Chapter 17 out of order.

The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins - 27 Jan 2003

I finally got to the end of this wonderful book. I read it in two halves due to other reading commitments and perhaps lost some enjoyment because of it. I soon got back into the swing of it though and I couldn't wait to get to the end.

It seems a lot of people rate this as Wilkie's best but I found it a little more straightforward than The Woman In White so I don't think it was quiet a good.

It was certainly a good story and I believe it is considered one of the first Detective Stories. I probably lost some of the pleasure of the book because I heard it as a talking book in 1994 and also saw a BBC film version. This didn't spoil my enjoyment of Woman In White so maybe I am wrong and it is the different Genre that interests me a fraction less.

I love Wilkie's use of different storytellers to tell the story and I liked the way they each had their own quirks. Mr Betteredge's obsession with Robinson Crusoe particularly tickled me. Miss Clack and her attempts to redeem lost souls was also quite amusing but I was glad when she finished her narration as she was a bit tedious.

I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Black Sabbath Never Say Die! 1979-1997 - Garry Sharpe-Young - 4 Jan 2004

In February 2003 I moved into a new house with my later to be wife and her two children and my time for reading completely disappeared. I had no time and no energy. In mid November 2003 I got this book as I am still buying books I hope to read sometime and don't want to risk not being able to get them. Black Sabbath have always been my favourite band. Or at least their 70's period with Ozzy Osbourne. This book doesn't cover that period but instead covers the merry-go-round of people passing through the band right up to the time of Ozzy's return in 1997. There were some good albums during this period and a lot I am less interested in but I have always found previous Sabbath books really frustrating because they just dismiss this period. I wanted to know what was going on and why such strange things seemed to be going on. This book in all it's 400 page glory does a wonderful job of explaining that. I actually know the work Garry puts into his books because I helped him out with an interview of Praying Mantis's Dave Potts because he played drums with Ozzy for just one week in the formative days of Ozzy's first solo band. I actually started reading that Ozzy book but my interest in Ozzy is far less than that of Black Sabbath and that was the book I abandoned on moving to my new house.

I found it a little curious given Garry's detail that there was no mention of the Cross Purposes Live album when he mentions other potential live albums that could have appeared but didn't. And I also wanted to jump on him for not mentioning that the first 1997 Black Sabbath reunion gig had Bill Ward on drums and not Mike Bodine who replaced Bill on the Ozzfeast tour of the USA. I think I understand what happened there though. The book is not covering that period which again is a shame but expected given the title. All he was doing in fact was covering what the various people passing through Sabbath had been up to since 1997. I think these were the only two points I was a shade disappointed on. The rest of the book was very comprehensive. No I lie there, there was on another thing that disappointed me and that was the lack of detail on Bev Bevan (drummer from ELO's involvement). Garry normally mentions when he was refused help but there were no quotes from Bev and Garry's summary of Bev's next move was wrong. Garry could have also mentioned the band Beltch (spelling?) which I believe Tony Iommi sometimes played in with Bev and Jasper Carrot. I would have liked to know weather that was true and some details but it would have been off topic to a degree.

There was so much in this book I didn't know and even stuff that I hadn't heard rumoured on the Internet. It was really great to get answers to a lot of the points I wanted to know. I said in my review of Oral history I didn't think a book would cover what I want to know but this book does a very good job. I guess the only way we will get to know more is Tony Iommi ever writes a biography. Given they way he comes across in this book I don't think that will ever happen. It seems Tony is a great guitarist and fun person to play with but he is a lousy band leader and communicator.

This book is an absolute must for anyone that is interested in the non-Ozzy Osbourne years of Black Sabbath. Well done Garry!

Ozzy Osbourne - The Story Of The Ozzy Osbourne Band- Garry Sharpe-Young - 28 Feb 2004

Having got back into reading I decided I might as well finish this book. I think I had read about 60 pages by Feb 2003 I then moved into a house with children again and lost all enthusiasum and energy to read. This book was written prior to the Black Sabbath one and consequently I feel rather let down by it. Firstly I have read a couple of good books on Ozzy. Diary of a Madman by Mick Wall. I seem to recall this was very good. That covered Ozzy's public press profile. This book doesn't really cover Ozzy at all. It is as the title says the story of the band. If I had read this before the Sabbath book I would have thought it very good. Reading it this way round though I felt it was all a bit breif and rushed. I also felt disappointed some parts weren't covered as well as I would have liked. I wonder if Gary tried to get in touch with Rick Wakeman. I would have thought Rick would have been open to an interview if he had. It would be a shame if he hadn't tried. As mentioned in the Black Sabbath review I was actually able to give a hand in this book as Dave Potts the former Praying Mantis drummer tried out with Ozzy for a week

What is in the book is very good and very interesting. You do get a good picture of how Ozzy operates and it does seem interesting there is more to Ozzy music wise and personality wise that even comes across in MTV's "The Osbournes".

I do recommend this book but I would like to have seen a little more detail.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss - Oct 2004

I was bought this book by my wife. To be honest I was a little baffled as to why. I wasn't sure if she was trying to educated me or if she was saying I was a perfectionist and therefore this book was designed for me. Anyone trying to read my website will know I am appalling at Grammar. But I am a perfectionist in many respects. This book was therefore an interesting read. It drives me nuts that people are always pointing out my spelling mistakes etc. I feel as long as they understood what I was trying to say surely I have communicated correctly. This book explained the other side quite well to me. I found it made me want to start another quest for a Punctuation exercise book to help sharpen my skills. (I failed again incidentally. All books are for children or cover too many subject areas.) I certainly want to be like Lynne. I just can't spell and I don't remember the rules of grammar from one month to the next.
I enjoyed a lot of the humour in the book and the discussions of how the current standards have evolved and even how the experts that are picky don't even agree what is correct. I am not sure I could recommend the book but it certainly sparked my interest and was readable in a period when I was struggling to read. It won favour because of its short sections and light nature.

The Island Of Dr Moreau - H.G.Wells - 17 April 2005

I have really struggled to find the time and energy to read in the last year or so. I have actually started a very good book called "Raising Resilient child" but I am not always in the mood to read it and when I am it has to be small bursts because of my fatigue levels.
I switched to reading this book because I saw the film of it. I think the film I saw was from 1996 or so and I thought the story so bad I just could not believe H.G.Wells had written it.
The film was based on the book but like the recent Time Machine film it had been messed up by trying to make it for a modern audience. The original story worked far better for me and was a much better read.

War Of The Worlds - H.G. Wells - 21 May 2005

Since this was the next book in my volume of four H.G.Wells stories I decided to continue on with it. I know the story quite well because of the Jeff Wayne War Of The World's album. I have also seen a dreadful film on based on the book. As I read the story it was great to read so many lines that had been lifted directly by Jeff Wayne and put on his album. He had been very faithful to the story. It was also interesting to see what he had missed out. I don't remember any mention of the Black Smoke clouds killing people. I had also always puzzled how just one ship the Thunderchild could be the last hope for Mankind before the Earth was in control of the Martians. The answer was in the book. It wasn't. Wayne had just simplified things a bit. I tried to figure how this would be tackled on film now and decided if it was brought up to date it would not work. The beauty of reading this is that it is a good look at how things used to work. There was no mass communication except for newspapers and this story shows their limitations.
This was an excellent read. I really got hooked up into it. Especially when the Martians where moving into my area. I don't think I had picked up where the Thunderchild section had taken place before.

Catlore - Desmond Morris - Nov 2006

Unless I have missed a book I seem to have spent about a year catching up on all the Rock magazines I can't keep up with. The book that broke me back into read a book again was this one by Desmond Morris. I am and have always been a cat lover. Back in the mid 80's I read Morris's Catwatching book and loved it. (Mmm I see I have not reviewed it and yet I have two copies of this book as I bought a new version of it and then my mother-in-law had a copy of the original print that I read in the 80's come into her charity shop. I felt sure I had read it again lately. I guess I will never know)

I was therefore stunned when one day my wife gave me this book. It apparently first appeared in 1987 and I had never seen it. I was chuffed to bits. The book is in the same questions and answers format of the original Catwatching book and is just as fascinating to read. The small chunks also meant I could pick up the put down the book quite often and consequently means I read the book fairly quickly again. Whether cat information has moved on or not I have no idea but this was very enlightening.

Consider Her Ways And Others - John Wyndham - Dec 2006

I saw a TV program called Random Quest on TV and was surprised I could not remember the story. I therefore started reading the John Wyndham story which was much better than the adaptation and then moved onto some of the other short stories in the book again. I then thought to check here and saw I had reviewed the book in 2001 and totally agreed with myself (most unusual)

Derren Brown - Tricks of The Mind - Jan 2007

I saw this book on the Bookpeople website when I was placing an order for the complete James Herriot set. Derren Browns stage show/TV series has impressed me immensly so I was quite intrigued by this book and got down to reading it as soon as it arrived. I really liked Derren's writting style. It is quite funny and also a bit chatty. I don't think it revealled an awful lot but it does give you starters in the various topics it covers and if you are seriously interested Derren makes recommendations on what to read next. At present it has got me intrigued and wanting to read more. Weather time and energy will ever allow it is another matter. I highly recommend reading it.

How Black was our Sabbath - Graham Wright and David Tangye - 7 Feb 2007

This was a book on Black Sabbath by two of their roadies. The book was an enjoyable read. In a couple of places the editor seems to have missed some slight repeating but that is only a minor quibble. I know the Sabbath story quite well and I guess I was looking for slightly more insight. The authors were there and had good times with the band but they were not always on the inner circle as it seems the band kept the internal conflict mainly down to the four band members. If you are into the band this is a good read but if you are looking for more facts I suspect there are better books.

Hypnotic Realities, Hypnotic Therapies, Experiencing Hypnosis - Ernest Rossi & Milton Erickson - 30 May 2007

This is a series of three books I have read because I am soon starting training as a hypnotherapist. This is an odd move for me to make but after reading Derren Browns book I wanted to investigate some topics further and I came across some audio tapes of a training course in Inderect Hypnosis by Stephen Brooks. Indirect Hypnosis is hypnosis where there are no commands and all the guidance is done subtly and very cleverly. This course totally fascinated me and I wanted to learn even more when I finished the tapes. I am still ill with ME and I don't know that I can handle the course and even if I can I don't know that I can do anything with it once I complete it but I decided to give it a go and I have signed up to do a course with Stephen Brooks who has just this year come out of retirement. From reading these books it is possible that I might even free my conscious sets and manage to overcome the ME in some way. These books were suggested reading for the course and I have loved reading them. Typically I read them in the wrong order. So I read Hypnotic Therapies the 2nd book first. This was great and I think probably be best book of the three given the knowledge I had from Stephen Brooks tapes. This not only gave me the language of induction but suggested ways of working with people so I could enjoy it from several angles. The Experiencing Hypnosis book was short and I don't recall too much about it. It was mainly a mopping up of information missed in the other two books. The first book Hypnotic Realities was interesting but I devalue it some what because Rossi was still early in his discoveries and theories of how Erickson worked. It contains lots of good stuff but it is certainly a work in progress. Erickson was a pioneer who developed his own ways with fantastic results. Other people tried to copy him and struggled to replicate results because they could not see what he was actually doing. It took Rossi and Erickson working together to crack the problem and Rossi did a fantastic job of breaking things down and spotting the methods. These books are a fantastic historical read about the birth of indirect hypnosis.

I am now moving on to the Complete Works of Erickson I just can't get enough of these stuff. I am desperate for my course to start in September and I hope it helps me to improve myself and do things like speeding up my incredibly slow reading rate. I have tried self Hypnosis tapes on this but they are in direct language and they just don't interest me or seem to have any effect. I am probably just too engrossed in what is going on to relax and let it wash over me. I can't wait to see if someone can successfully get me into a deep trance.

Cesar's Way - Cesar Millan - 17/7/2008

It seems my hypnotic studies have quite rightly stopped all my non-essential reading. I have managed to fit in this book however. I am a cat person but we now have a dog. She is a nice dog and while she is only 7months still she is doing well with her training (I think). Since she is not a cat and she is nothing like a cat in her behaviour, I figured I better read up on the correct ways to train and deal with her. I started watching the Dog Whisperer on TV and I liked the approach. I was also interested at how Cesar was dealing with the humans. The book says he had help in this area and from my hypnosis training I can see this very well. Anyway I decided to read the book and it appears to have been written after Cesar's first series of "The Dog Whisperer" and during the filming of the 2nd series. As you read it you are taught over and over the correct way to be. There are certain phrases Cesar uses such as "Rules Limitations and Boundaries" and "Nose ears and eyes  ... in that order" that get emphasised over and over again. In some respect you get a bit tired of reading it but in others there is a definite progression of knowledge. You can probably get most of what you need from the TV series but the book adds to this by explaining the reasoning. Cesar constantly relates back to pack activity in the wild and this is really important. I feel there could have been more in the book but I am not sure what so I perhaps I am wrong. I certainly would like my wife to read the book now. It does a good job of explaining what can seem like hard issues to sort out and makes everything really easy.

The Man From Beyond - John Wyndham

My current book (non hypnotherapy book should I even get back to it)

© 2008 Jon Hinchliffe. E-mails welcome!