Profile for Sally Walker > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Sally Walker
Top Reviewer Ranking: 3,808
Helpful Votes: 175

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Sally Walker (Eastbourne, UK)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13
Born Free
Born Free
by Joy Adamson
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 17 Sep 2014
This review is from: Born Free (Hardcover)
Published seven times in 1960, three prints being made in the month of April alone this demonstrates the popularity of this book at the time. It was published at a time when safari package holidays had yet to be invented and the farthest that most English people traveled abroad was to a Spanish coastal holiday resort. Born Free brings directly into your life the African savanna and bush, the wildlife that inhabits it and what it is like to live amongst them. This will account in some measure for the rapturous reception of this book. In addition, and in the main, it will be because of the fact that it recounts an enduring relationship between a human being and an animal; most people, including me, cannot resist a good, high arrh factor animal story such as this.

Born Free, the first of a trilogy, recounts in detail Elsa’s early life and her transformation from a helpless lion cub only a few weeks old to a young lioness able to fend for herself in the wild. Even though I knew the story beforehand and I’ve seen the film decades ago and I’m now a somewhat world-weary cynic of a certain age, it has utterly captured my heart. This book has brought me much joy at the beginning and end of my days, sandwiching my daily stresses with tales of another world at another time.

Joy Adamson’s writing is direct and immediate with little lyricism, but this does not detract. It makes the story of her life in the African bush with Elsa highly engaging and accessible.

There is a naivety to Joy Adamson’s account of Elsa, which is infectious and somewhat beguiling. In essence Joy lays bare, (and thus made herself vulnerable to criticism) for her readers her undying and unconditional love for Elsa, which some may say was somewhat un-natural, but perhaps understandable for a woman who had had three miscarriages. Joy needed to have a means to pour out her un-expressed maternal love and Elsa turned up right on cue.

Joy Adamson found it difficult to find a publisher for her book, but when one finally said yes it set off a domino effect: Elsa, the wonderful lion cub and later lioness became known around the world, a film was made of her story, the making of the film had a life changing effect upon the McKenna’s who portrayed Joy and George Adamson, resulting in them founding the Born Free charity which continues to this day.

The work of the Adamsons with Elsa in bringing her up from a lion cub, whose mother George had killed with a bullet, to the point of her being able to fend for herself in the wild, is regarded by some as controversial. Personally I take my hat off to them for saving at least one of the three orphaned cubs from a miserable life in a zoo – Elsa’s two sisters ended up in Rotterdam zoo. In a sense, one might well think that it was the least they could do. Although Joy makes light of Elsa’s sister’s incarceration and says that she visited them in Rotterdam and reported that they were both living in excellent conditions, one has to wonder whether in fact she was glossing over the situation, given the state of most zoos at this time – lions in small and barren cages often with their occupants pacing up and down rhythmically. Maybe this is the price that had to be paid for the ultimate founding of the Born Free charity one of whose objectives is to free animals from appalling living conditions in captivity.

One has to remember that she lived the life of a colonialist employing Africans as servants to undertake menial housework, camp preparation and dismantling for her. There is obvious prejudice in her writing, which grates and it is pretty clear that she regarded Africans as inferior. Ultimately, many years later, she was to meet her death by another of her servant’s hands because of her attitude towards them. This gripe, in my estimation is not a reason to set this book aside.

For all those that love animals and who wish for escapism you will love this book.

Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton: The Marriage of the Century
Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton: The Marriage of the Century
Price: 3.43

5.0 out of 5 stars A page turner, 11 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Reading this book is akin to looking at a video of a train crash, in particular two trains meeting head on with one train being overridden by the other – Elizabeth over Richard. You don’t really want to look, to find out the awful truth, but you can’t seem to stop yourself.

It is well written. It is highly readable, as all tales of the hybrid breed of demi-gods and celebrities seem to be.

My motivation in reading this book was really to learn more about Richard Burton. In particular to try and find out more about his psychological make-up and to a very large degree the book delivered. I would say in almost equal measure an assessment of Elizabeth’s make-up is also possible.

We are given a biographical account of each of their early years and loves ahead of their cataclysmic meeting on the set of Cleopatra. Then the book proceeds to give a detailed account of their courtship, subsequent marriage, divorce, re-marriage and divorce. There is a short section covering Richard’s death, Elizabeth’s reaction to his demise and her life following.

I just could not help myself wishing that they had never met so that Richard could have, perhaps, found a more comforting and stable love match of the kind, albeit short-lived, that he seemed to achieve post-Elizabeth. But he seems to have been largely incapable of controlling himself as far as Liz was concerned rather like a fly around an electric light bulb. His coping mechanism of living with Elizabeth, who he became almost completely emotionally dependant upon, seemed to be to drink himself into oblivion and therefore deny himself of realizing his full potential as an actor and a human being.

Ultimately this is a tragic tale, which can be read as a fairly light behind the curtain account of two hugely famous peoples’ lives and loves, or you can if you wish, delve deeper and try and analyse what was going on beneath the surface gloss of happiness, all the money that bought the yachts, jewels, planes and cars, etc. This book allows you to choose for yourself what your journey through it will be.

For me this book represents a clear lesson in what not to pursue in a quest for happiness.

Well worth reading.

Stolen Innocence: The Sally Clark Story - A Mother's Fight for Justice
Stolen Innocence: The Sally Clark Story - A Mother's Fight for Justice
by John Batt
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Heart rending, 10 Sep 2014
I’ve just finished this book. The description of this book on its inside fly includes the statement that it is written with the power of a thriller. I think this is spot on. The facts of this case had many significant twists and turns. I was led through this book at a pace by the sheer horror of what I was reading, which, if it was contained within a work of fiction I’d probably consider far-fetched.

But of course this all actually happened to poor Sally Clark and her family. Her treatment at the hands of so called medical experts coupled with the vagaries of the British justice system dealt Sally with an inhuman blow, that she never recovered from despite her eventual release from prison in 2003. This book now has increased poignancy because subsequent to its publication in 2004 Sally Clark died of alcohol poisoning in 2007; she was unable to come to terms with what had happened to her.

This book is very well written by the solicitor instructed by Sally’s father, an ex- senior policeman, to hold a watching brief of the various court cases. He is of course highly critical of some of the key participants in the events but not to the degree that this criticism detracts from the overall account. It is devoid of any bitterness which might have made uncomfortable reading, but the Lord knows would have been justifiable.

Sally and Steve’s courage and dignity in the face of their extreme tragedy and the cruelty metered out to them are ultimately inspiring. This is an account of triumph over adversity. I am only too sorry that there was not to be a happy ending for them.

This is one of those books that occupies your thoughts when you are not reading it. I, as a mere reader of this book, now feel immense anger at the egotistical and arrogant behaviour of many of the prosecution expert witnesses and the prosecution team.

I highly commend this book.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 15, 2014 5:40 PM BST

Frank: Fighting Back
Frank: Fighting Back
by Frank Bruno
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and moving in equal measure, 14 Aug 2014
This review is from: Frank: Fighting Back (Paperback)
I read Frank’s autobiography in response to seeing him recently in a Q & A session in London. I wanted to know his journey from prize fighter to bi-polar sufferer.

If you’ll pardon the pun Frank pulls no punches in his autobiography, he is candid about his life’s events. Its engagingly written, the co-author Kevin Mitchell has captured Frank’s unique character and his take on his life convincingly well. Indeed I found myself hardly being able to put the book down and found my life an interference.

I’m not at all a boxing fan, but I found the retrospective accounts of Frank’s major fights gripping. Even though you know the result of the fight I, nonetheless, found myself wanting to somehow change history, so that the losses were turned into victories. I found myself willing him on and this has to be a measure of how much his account is captivating. I learnt a lot too and began to realise that boxing is not simply two men going hell for leather at one another, but that actually it is a craft requiring skill.

Frank’s tenacity, drive and determination are indeed inspiring, but I can’t help feeling that whilst they enabled him to achieve his holy grail of being crowned the World’s Heavyweight Champion, they, or rather their subsequent absence have contributed to his downfall. Because since his retirement from boxing in 1996, following his defeat by Mike Tyson, Frank has had relatively little to get out of bed for in the morning.

Frank’s on-going and much more enduring and significant fight has been against his fluctuating mental health. His autobiography begins with a no holes barred account of his sectioning under the Mental Health Act and the few weeks he spent in Goodmayes’ Pathways clinic in 2003, where he struggled to come to terms with what had happened to him and a diagnosis of being a bi-polar sufferer. Whilst the closing Postscript chapter of his autobiography is fairly upbeat, his book was published in 2006 and in more recent years Frank has unfortunately spent further stints in clinics.

For a more recent impression of how well Frank is coping you might like to watch on Youtube Rachel Bruno My Dad & Me BBC Documentary 2013.

Unless you’re made of stone you can’t help feeling moved by Frank’s autobiography and developing an overwhelming wish that all goes well for him in the future.

You don’t have to be interested in sport, or boxing in particular, to find this book worthwhile, because it is about so much more – one man’s attempt to come to terms with adversity.

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
by Walter Isaacson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 22.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and commendable, 28 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a very readable account of Steve Job’s life. Whilst it does go into some detail as to how each Apple product was produced this is not overly technical and so for me, as a non-techy, I did not find it boring. Rather I found that I developed a real appreciation for their products and to view them in a whole new light.

What shines through is Jobs’ unique personality which enabled him to achieve great things, namely ground breaking digital products combined with ground breaking designs with an emphasis on purity and simplicity. Uniquely Jobs worked at the interface of art and technology.

Oh, and did I fail to mention that he also, and at the same time! developed a world-class animation film company that slapped Disney around the face.

Now of course Jobs did not achieve all of these single-handedly he made great partnerships and then selected A players to be on his team. Jobs’ uniqueness is the way that he brought out the best of people’s abilities; he regularly made them go further than they thought they as people could go and that it was possible to go period. How he did this is not particularly pretty with a combination of staring, timed silences and simply telling somebody that what they had produced what s**t and that they could do a whole load better. Jobs’ world was black or white, something was either great or s**t and his opinion on a person or their work could vacillate between the two within the space of one working day! He said it like it was and regarded it as his job to do this.

He must have been a boss from hell but yet so great was his enthusiasm and so great was the product that was being developed that people stepped up to the plate to deliver. Their job satisfaction was in the delivery and getting that final ounce of praise, even if on occasion Jobs’ took all of the credit.

He was also a charismatic and fearless negotiator who would charm and bully the necessary people to get the best deal.

By him not shilly-shallying around and taking people’s feelings into account and being fearless he was able to achieve greatness.

Jobs’ attention to finite detail and laser-like focus was such that he would not baulk from going to a major re-design, just weeks away from the launch of a product. Design meant everything to him.

His laser-like focus enabled him to block out of his life things that he did not want to deal with. Most notably this occurred in his personal life when he was deciding whether to marry Laurenne Powel, or, most dramatically his own health. We’ll never know whether if Jobs had had the surgery on his pancreas when his doctors first advised him to have it, he would still be here continuing to develop great products.

The last one hundred pages left me with a heavy heart. It is within these pages that Jobs’ battle with cancer is recounted. I found myself willing him to beat the cancer, whilst knowing that he was already dead. His passing is a great loss because of the uniqueness that I have described above, namely the dove-tailing of art and technology.

So even if you’re a non-techy you will still enjoy this book. I highly commend it to you.

One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Helmand
One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Helmand
by Pen Farthing
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars It will warm the cockles of your heart, 29 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I’m a real sucker for this kind of book. One Dog at a Time is an autobiographical account by a Royal Marine, Pen Farthing, of his tour of duty in Nowzad, Afghanistan, focussing on his rescuing stray and bedraggled Afghan dogs. I have read this fairly soon after reading Treo which is about a military sniffer dog that goes with his handler to Afghanistan to search out mines.

One Dog at a Time is nice easy reading that will warm the cockles of your heart and get you teary in the final pages, if not before depending on how sentimental you are. The bond between dogs and humans is ever enduring, often far deeper than that between humans themselves. This book highlights the innate capacity that dogs have to weave their way into people’s lives, which knows no bounds.

Pen Farthing’s story is a real tribute to him, as is his creation of the Nowzad Dogs charity.

This book is really two books rolled into one: a combination of a cute animal tale and an account of a marine’ss tour of duty in Afghanistan. The latter is by no means, for me at least, a second fiddle. I just wound up thinking what on earth have we been doing there. Farthing’s account can therefore also be viewed as a contributor to the debate as to whether all the billions of pounds that have been spent on sending forces over to Afghanistan have been worth it. This book reveals, that apart from patrols into the odd neighbouring village, the majority of the squad that Farthing belonged to were holed up in a compound, listening and watching out for the Taliban, with whom they had the occasional long distance skirmish by hurling rockets at one another.

Farthing wanted to go to Afghanistan to make a difference to the local people, and he had to admit that he no difference had been made. This was squarely brought home to him by, Harry, the squad’s interpreter, who said: you have been here five years and nothing has changed. However, there can be no doubt that Farthing has made a long-lasting contribution to the stray dogs and cats of Afghanistan who now have a well-equipped rescue centre. At least some good as come from the bad, albeit that this was not what the Government had in mind when it decided to send our troops over there.

If you love stories about man’s relationship with dogs you’ll love this book. I highly recommend it.

A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople - From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube
A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople - From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube
by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful, 13 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is a wonderful account of a young Englishman’s journey, on foot, from the Hook of Holland to Esztergom on the Hungarian border. He left British shores at Tilbury Docks to start his walk from Holland to Constantinople on 9th December 1933; he was eighteen. A Time of Gifts is the first half of his trans-European trek. Leigh Fermor wrote this book some forty years following the end of his journey; it was published in 1977. So it is a much older and wiser man looking back at and writing about his journey. I believe this adds much to this book.

He was utterly free to go where he pleased apart from being at pre-arranged destinations to pick up monthly cheques written out for four pounds. He had no bed and board booked; he lived on his wits. Providence being what it is, he met many generous people who put him up and fed him. Some of the accommodation was that of peasants whilst others were manor houses and castles of the landed gentry.

What absolutely makes this book is its superb, mellifluous and intelligent writing. The author’s intelligence shines through every page. This is so much more than a journal, a day-by-day account of his journey. The landscapes that the author passes through; the people that he meets; and the architecture of the towns and cities he walks to, stimulate in him wide ranging thoughts and perceptions. Too you will learn much of European history by reading this book.

Given that this was an inter-war journey it is represents an absolutely priceless snapshot of Europe between the wars. The ascent of the Nazis in Germany is evident. Bar a few notable exceptions, the German people that Leigh Fermor encounters are lovely. There is much pathos, in particular, when he talks of the Jewish people that he met in Germany and Austria, because of what horrors lay in wait just a few short years away.

I can’t recommend this book enough and I can’t wait to read about the second half of his walk to Constantinople.

Just Julie
Just Julie
by Julie Goodyear
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The highs and the lows laid bare, 30 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Just Julie (Paperback)
My motivation in reading Julie Goodyear’s autobiography was to see if I could find the real Julie. The person left at the bottom of the sieve when all the showbiz glamour and the need to ‘perform’ in front of the camera have been shaken out.

I bought this book having listened to Julie on Desert Island Discs in which the snapshot of her life sounded very interesting. I also thought that Julie came across in that programme as a very different person to the Bet Lynch character that she is so famous for portraying in Coronation Street. I then, before reading her autobiography, saw her on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories show, in which she came across more like Bet Lynch, somewhat brash and egotistical.

So does Julie Goodyear reveal the real Julie to us? I think to a large measure she does. Whether her book has been largely ghost written or not, there is no doubt about it that it is written the way she speaks. You can hear her voice speaking to you through the pages, unpretentious and honest – this is me folks take it or leave it.

No doubt about it too that she has had some extraordinary highs and lows. Although, I would say that her autobiography tends to focus on the lows. Sometimes it reads a bit like an omnibus edition of The Sun or The Mirror, as she lurches from one disappointing relationship to another. Because of this Julie has created a page-turning account of her life and she draws you at high speed through her book.

In the final analysis Julie is a completely down to earth woman with a good heart. Somebody who enjoys the limelight when it shines upon her and will put on a good performance, but who equally and increasingly in her later years, seeks the fickleness of showbusiness less and concentrates more on her home-life, in particular her farm and rescued animals. But I think as far as relationships are concerned she has largely hardened her heart: viz. she is quite happy to be with a man and to marry him whilst stating in print that he is not the love of her life.

I do recommend this book.

Handsome Brute: The True Story of a Ladykiller
Handsome Brute: The True Story of a Ladykiller
by Sean O'Connor
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 3.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping from its first to last page, 24 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a superb book which I found totally gripping from its first to the last page. O’Conner has undertaken an amazing amount of extensive research and this has enabled him to place the murders that Heath undertook within the context of his life, how he had lived it and what had happened to him. And, moreover, O’Conner has placed the murders within their socio-historical context, which O’Conner believes was in part the reason for the murders.

I like the fact that the author has allowed the facts to speak for themselves and has not embellished them with his own interpretation of them in the form of a conjectured narrative.

Essentially it’s the story of a middle class lad who turns sour because of life events. A wasted life littered with squandered opportunities and leniency shown to him giving him the chance to make a fresh start.

Because his upbringing and life was within the middle strata and because he outwardly appeared to be such a charming man, albeit one who liked to drink, the murders he committed were perceived at the time as being all the more shocking. I am sure many women in particular were wary for some time afterwards of the charmers of this world.

Usually perpetrators of gruesome murders engender in me nothing but repulsion and revulsion, but curiously Heath, as portrayed by O’Conner, whose portrayal of Heath is based upon hitherto unseen documents, does not. Instead I found myself developing a degree of compassion for him. This was indeed felt and expressed by some following his execution.

This case was all about Heath’s sanity at the time that he committed the murder, (he was only tried for one of the two murders he committed). This case pre-dated the opportunity for a plea of diminished responsibility which was to be established later by the Homicide Act in 1957. Instead the relevant case law to be applied was the M’Naghten Rules of 1843. Applied to Heath it posed the question whether point one: did Heath knew what he was doing and point two: if he did know, did he know what he was doing was wrong.

His trial reads as being on the whole perfunctory, from beginning to the end taking no more than three days. Heath whose life depended on the key defence witness, a world authority in psychiatric medicine, was badly let down by an appalling performance by this witness. The Judge too was short-handed in the way he conducted the trial.

There is no doubt about it that what Heath did was wrong and abhorrent but I think he was let down by the legal system. With a different witness and a different judge Heath may have lived out the rest of his days in Broadmoor. This is thought provoking regarding the death penalty versus the state paying for the upkeep of a known killer.

I think most readers would find this book un-put-downable as I did. I therefore unreservedly recommend it.

It's All About Treo
It's All About Treo
by Dave Heyhoe
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cuteness and suspense action rolled into one, 6 Mar 2014
This review is from: It's All About Treo (Paperback)
This is most definitely a good feel book, that perfectly blends cuteness and suspenseful action. Because of this mixture this book will appeal to both the female and male of our species.

It’s a true-life story of one soldier’s devotion to his dog, Treo and of Treo’s utter devotion to his handler. The pair worked as an indispensable team in Afghanistan searching for and consistently finding explosives planted by the Taliban. Their work saved the lives of many soldiers.

David Heyhoe tells his own story in a highly accessible and immediate way. He gives Treo a voice often throughout the book, which adds another dimension and ramps up the cute factor.

Knowing close to zero before I read this book about the life and work of army dogs, trained to perform specific tasks, I have learned a lot. This has made me both appreciate and admire their capabilities.

Too, this book has shed light on the life of soldiers in Afghanistan and has made me think what is it really, that we have achieved out there. For sure Treo And Dave prevented the carnage of their fellows, but why are their fellows there in the first place. It would not be appropriate for this book to enter into a debate about such a weighty topic, but nonetheless it did get me thinking and has ignited in me a wish to find out more.

I highly recommend this book – you’ll love it.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13