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Glenn Hates Books Vol. 1: Brutally Honest Book Reviews
Glenn Hates Books Vol. 1: Brutally Honest Book Reviews
Price: £1.49

3.0 out of 5 stars In the author’s own words: a collection of brutally honest reviews., 19 April 2015
Before saying anything I think it wise for me to start with quotes from the book’s disclaimer:

‘WARNING: There's a lot of unnecessary profanity in this book. Why? Because... Because REASONS!’

‘These laugh-out-loud reviews are offensive in every way possible.’

I found it difficult to read my way through this book. Not only is the language very strong but I also found some of the suggestions of what should, in the author’s opinion, be done to authors and characters unnecessary, upsetting and, as he openly states, offensive. In view of this you may wonder why I read the book. You will find my explanation in the postscript to this review.

In an interview the author made the following response with respect to the style of his book:

Question: ‘Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?’

Answer: ‘Well, it’s not a novel by any means, even though it kind of reads like one. Because there’s even a character ark in it. My character arc. Because it starts with the 1 star books that I really hate, and ends with the 5 star books that I really love. And yes, there is a definite message that I would think is plainly clear: WRITE BETTER BOOKS, GODDAMNIT!’

In my opinion this cannot in any way be described as a novel. It is simply what it states to be: a collection of Mr Conley’s personal reviews of books he has read.

The good thing about his reviews are that they are truly honest, thorough and informative. We must remember, as he states in his disclaimer, he is not a professional. Consequently, as with most of us, the reviews can only be his personal opinions. He clearly states what he considers to be good, bad or poor. He will tell you such things as:

• The first 50% is rubbish but that the story improves in the latter 50%.
• The last 10% only is worth reading.
• 250 pages are rubbish but there are about 66 pages of story.
• The whole book is boring.
• It is just more of the same. This is where the book is part of a series or follow-on.

He also, fairly, acknowledges if he considers a book has been well written even if he hates it. And freely acknowledges other readers may like books he does not. For example he implies where he may give 2 stars others may give 4 or 5. So even in his brutality it has to be said he can be equitable.

I found Mr Conley’s range of reading a little limited. It would have been nice to see a much broader scope of genres. However, as previously made clear, this is a collection of reviews of books HE likes, or at least choses, to read. There are some very twisted, disturbing and apparently sexually explicit books amongst this collection. His descriptions of many are in themselves disturbing. Well at least to me.

Although I value his honesty and thoroughness I do consider he goes too far. Most of the reviews really are spoilers. He goes into far too much detail of the plot and story leaving little for potential readers to look forward to. I have to say I consider this not only unfair to prospective readers but also to the authors.

In reality this is not a book to be read through in the traditional manner. It could be a useful reference tool however, there is no index. Therefore, anyone wishing to read his opinion of a book would have to page through the whole thing. And then the book they are interested in may not be included. In my opinion this is a real failure with the book.

As I have already pointed out the language is strong. In fact it had me blushing for most of the time. I suspect the author may intentionally write like this so as to emphasis the points he makes. And, of course, some readers may find such terminology entertaining. I am afraid I do not. I am sure he would say I am too sensitive and no doubt will not have patience with me. However, this is who I am and I see no need to apologise for it. In the same way that he sees no need to apologise for his bluntness.

Besides the points contained in the disclaimer I think there should really be an age warning. Perhaps an adult content warning as included in some sites.

Cover: This does imply the criticism of books. The only thing is that as some site images are fairly small it would help if the book images where a little larger making them more visible.

Rating: You will undoubtedly have realised I found rating this book difficult. The language let alone a lot of the content was not for me and I did not like it. Nevertheless, I respect the honesty and, despite the spoilers, thoroughness. It is good to find someone who clearly states their reasons for liking or not a book. Following his own rating system I allocate three stars (3***).

I apologise for the length of this review which, in large part is due to the need to quote the author in places.

Link to author interview: This will help you understand the author’s approach and reasoning.

https://authorsinterviews.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/here-is-my-interview-with-glenn-conley/

Author’s blog site: https://ghbooks.wordpress.com/

Postscript:

In view of some of the comments made you may wonder why I even read this book. Mr Conley, having seen my request for a review of ‘Tears of Innocence’ in a Goodreads.com discussion, asked for a copy. I looked at his blogsite and the ‘Look Inside’ section of his book on Amazon. In consequence I informed him I did not consider my book would interest him. Nevertheless, he still requested a copy. He had also asked, not as a condition to reviewing my book, if I would consider reviewing his. I am not a selfish person and whenever possible like to help fellow authors as I hope they will help me. I therefore agreed but did inform him, due to my limited time availability, it may take a few weeks for me to read his book. In response he sent a copy stating at the same time he only had a couple of books to read before mine. It has now been several weeks and, as I regrettably find with many authors who agree something similar, he has not posted a review although he has posted multiple reviews of other books. I am sure he will not enjoy my book and will no doubt rubbish it. However, I do get annoyed when people give such undertakings and then do not fulfil them. Presumably they worry their rating or criticism may impact upon my review of their books. May I say to all who act in this way it is insulting and rude. However, when I undertake to do something I do it no matter what. As with this book. Not one I would normally have picked up.


Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends (Unabridged)
Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends (Unabridged)
Offered by Audible Ltd

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely Written, 22 Mar. 2015
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This is quite a difficult review for me to write. Why? Because this is the first time I have read in the ‘Fantasy’ genre and have found it really is not for me. However, I will endeavour to remain objective. It would not be fair to the author to be otherwise. I apologise in advance if my comments and observations become coloured by this fact; I will try and avoid this happening.

Regrettably, due to my very busy schedule, I have little time for reading. Consequently I chose to read this short story collection; it may have taken me weeks to get through a full length story.

These tales are generally well written. There are times when, from the descriptions, it is easy to imagine the scenes and characters. Remember many of the characters are created from fantasy and not human in the sense we usually understand. I did get a little lost at times in one or two of the tales but I think this may be due to the genre not being one I am into. I should mention I usually restrict my reading and reviews to biography, autobiography and memoir with the occasional rare exception.

These tales often have moral undertones and some definitely have clear realistic observances of the human condition though related in fantasy circumstances. Some are ‘feel good’ whereas others are dark and troubled. I must say I thought the mixture in this collection was well achieved. If you are into fantasy then I think this may well be a book for you. Also by virtue of being short, and a collection at that, it would suit anyone looking for lunch time, commute or respite from daily chores reads.

Having discovered this is not a genre for me the allocation of an appropriate rating has proved difficult. Nevertheless, it definitely would not be below three. In the end I decided it only fair to combine my comments and observations with those made by other readers. Consequently I am happy to allocate a rating of four stars (4 ****).

In view of what I have said above you may wonder why I have even bothered reading this book, let alone review it. Well, the author very kindly, and freely, interviewed me as a fellow author. I really appreciated this and, as I do not like to take people for granted, and where possible like to give something back, I decided to read one of her books. I must emphasise this was not a condition for, or expected, in relation to my interview. She was more than happy to post my interview with no further involvement from me. As I said I appreciated this and did not want to take her kindness for granted.

Alexandra Butcher regularly interviews fellow authors as well as story characters. I would recommend her blog to you as a means of learning from fellow authors and for learning more about how story characters are developed.

Here are a couple of links you may like to follow:

Alexandra’s blog:

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com

Me being interviewed by Alexandra:

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/author-interview-seventy-eight-t-r-robinson-autobiography/


Amie: An African Adventure
Amie: An African Adventure
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging read with an unexpected and dramatic twist., 14 Feb. 2015
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The author certainly has an excellent grasp of words. Considering her background I suppose this should have been foreseen but, in my experience, it is not always so. Her way of conveying scenes, emotions, tensions etc. draws you in. You have absolutely no trouble visualising the situations, frustrations, disappointments, apprehensions and fears Amie encounters and experiences.

At the start there were occasions when I feared Lucinda Clarke was going to go into too much detail but she never does. There is enough for you to understand and comprehend what is going on without dragging out every minute and unnecessary aspect or point. Neither does any of it leave you wondering what happened. She more than paints a picture with the words used.

To be honest there are times when I felt there was a memoir aspect to the tale. For example she realistically conveys the disappointment encountered on a family visit. The author is obviously an accurate observer of people and life.

I do not want to say too much about the story so as not to spoil it for those who are still to read it. Basically, it is the tale, from Amie’s perspective, of an unexpected move to live in an African country. It describes the very different society together with the accepted attitudes, practices and workings. The cultural shock to Amie is readily apparent. You can really visualise yourself being in the township as well as in the surrounding savannah (countryside). For anyone the least bit interested in Africa as a continent and in African life I would suggest this is a must read. Lucinda Clarke lived in Africa for many years and has readily and clearly conveyed what it is like to live there.

The story does have an unexpected and dramatic twist which will make you hold your breath at times. You will have to read for yourself. As I said earlier, I do not want to spoil this for future readers.

I found this an unexpectedly engaging read.

Cover: Because so many these days set such store by a book’s cover I have taken to commenting on them. Nonetheless, I have to say I think it very sad a reader will allow the decision whether to read a book or not to be governed solely by a cover design. Apparently many will not even read the synopsis. Well that is my little soap box speech over.

There can be little doubt the cover photograph was taken in Africa. It therefore does its work by letting a prospective reader know, without doubt, where the story takes place. Of course the title already does this but as mentioned above for some it is the initial glance of a cover that draws them to a book.


I,Win (Hope and Life my journey as a woman with cerebral palsy living in a non- disabled world)
I,Win (Hope and Life my journey as a woman with cerebral palsy living in a non- disabled world)
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Upbeat Personal Memoir, 27 Dec. 2014
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This will probably be one of the shortest reviews I have ever written but then it is one of the shortest books I have read (80 pages). In addition I do not wish to spoil the read for others by repeating relevant content, which with a short book could easily be done.

The author, who was born with cerebral palsy, was only twenty four when she wrote this memoir. As she says her desire was to honour her mother for how she loved and helped her. However, this memoir encompasses far more. In many ways it is an amazing tale of how someone with such physical limitations has lived a full and active life. In fact she, in the few years of life already experienced, has undertaken far more than many physically able people.

Throughout she is upbeat and positive and her exuberance for life is apparent. And she has the right to be proud (not arrogant) of her achievements. There is some repetition but this does not unduly detract.

Besides informing us, who did not before, about the different limitations of the illness and about the different types of cerebral palsy Win goes on to discuss how ‘able-bodied’ people tend to treat those with obvious physical disabilities. She wants us to learn and understand. I, having known people with a variety of different disabilities, may confirm she is very accurate in her observations. If we fail to understand it us who will miss out on knowing and connecting with some unique individuals.

The book is written in a short, concise manner with the author’s voice readily apparent throughout.

Cover: So much emphasis is placed on cover designs these days that I consider it an appropriate part of a review to refer to these. In this case the design does not really convey the content. However, the author is also an artist who has her own art business. The cover is an example of her artistic ability.

This is an upbeat and inspiring memoir showing how something most of us would consider disastrous may be overcome. I believe in applying star ratings according to their definition and happily allocate four **** to this genuine memoir.

The book is available from:

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009YLKW54

USA: http://www.amazon.com/dp/BooYLKW54

The author’s art business: http://www.redbubble.com


Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools
Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars This in itself shows what a good understanding they had regarding the necessary compromises required for ..., 6 Dec. 2014
In this book the author Victoria Twead shares with us some of the adventures she and her husband had when they first stayed in Spain. By her own admission the proposed move was inspired primarily by her desire with her husband being less enthusiastic. They therefore agreed on a five year plan (her husband was about to retire from Her Majesty’s forces) to see whether life in Spain would suite them. This in itself shows what a good understanding they had regarding the necessary compromises required for a successful working relationship.

This book is essentially about their experiences in entering and living in a totally different society and culture. Their current home was within the traditional confines of Kent. I wonder how many of us would have dared to purchase a property, in need of extensive renovation, in a foreign land knowing it would initially be just for five years. I suspect most of us would have opted for rented accommodation to see how we found the local environment. But these brave souls went much further.

I have to say I am a little envious of the good neighbours and efficient agent and architect they were privileged to have about them. When I built a small house in my parental home village I had none of that. In fact I had to cope with people constantly overcharging and deceiving me as well as with belligerent treatment. But that is my tale and not part of this story. I simply wished to point out how fortunate they were, although they still encountered some problems.

Victoria has a good command of words. She conveys scenes and occurrences in a clear, concise, light manner. Her sense of humour is always evident even in the more difficult situations. This style of hers makes the book an easy light read but that is not to say it has no depth, it does.

For the first part of the book I felt I really did not know her husband whereas her descriptions of the local inhabitants brought them to life for the reader. Later on however, we do get to know him a lot better.

For those who have not lived in, or spent any length of time, in a foreign culture this is a very entertaining and informative book. For those of us who have spent time abroad and lived in such societies it is perhaps not so much so, due no doubt to the fact we may have had similar experiences. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how someone else has fared in such circumstances and the author’s sense of humour and keen observations do make this an enjoyable read.

Victoria has done a great job of choosing what to include in her tale. So much more must have occurred in the five year period this first book covers. Deciding what to leave out must have been difficult. There are bits where sometimes I thought it would be nice to know more of what came about but that is probably just my curiosity. Anyway they would not really be relevant to her and her husband’s story.

As mentioned before the writing is clear, easy, concise and entertaining. And the story moves at a steady humorous pace. It is well written. I therefore allocate a four star **** rating to this book.

As always please remember these are my personal observations; I am by no means a professional reviewer.

My original review was posted at: http://www.trbooks7.blogspot.com


Eighteen Months To Live
Eighteen Months To Live
Price: £2.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Initially I was concerned the book may become tedious with constant talk of the medication and pain Midge ..., 9 Nov. 2014
This in many ways is a unique book in its own category. It certainly cannot be described as ‘conventional’. ‘Memoir’ covers it to some degree but in all honesty it is far more than that. This is one woman’s account of how she battled and lived with an unusual cancer after having been eventually told she had one to eighteen months to live.
Initially I was concerned the book may become tedious with constant talk of the medication and pain Midge Rylander (the protagonist) was taking and undergoing. However, I am very glad to say this was not the case.
It is hard to write a review of this book without giving away too much. I believe a review should reflect the reader’s (in this case mine) experience of the book. Did I like it? Was it interesting? Would I recommend it? Etc. Nevertheless, with this unusual book I want to share a little more.
This is a human tale recording what too many of us would be a bitter experience. Indeed it was a bitter experience but Midge does not allow herself to become embittered. She makes clear in her journal she chose to record her daily experiences in the hope that it would help others. A generous thing to do as it must have taken a lot of effort at times. It was also in many ways a brave thing to do.
We see a woman who wants to be honest but also clearly wishes to spare readers too much of the distressing horrific details. The fact she was in her life always a determined character also comes through. She is also very honest about her desire to overcome the disease by means of positive thinking, hope and, sometimes, denial. I suspect many would be the same when faced with such a destiny. Her sense of humour also comes through as she deals with her hopes and expectations. She also continues to plan a future especially with regard to her garden and the forthcoming birth of a grandchild. You cannot help but admire her.
Sometimes Midge mentions family upsets, which caused her stress, which in turn made her even more unwell. In the early incidents it would have helped the reader if the narrator Rachele Baker, her daughter and the person I must refer to as the author of the book although the majority is taken from Midge’s journal and letters, had added a little background detail. Later in the book Midge herself does add a little more indication of what was happening on subsequent similar occasions. This made it more interesting for the reader rather than being left to wonder what was going on.
I enjoyed, not sure that is the correct word, the way Midge mixes her everyday events with a record of how the pain affected her and how the medications she took helped or not. This indeed forms a unique diary in which she shares her hopes, expectations, frustrations and disappointments. It is particularly sad she was not provided with more information about her condition and what to expect. This of course is one of the main reason for her keeping the journal in the first place; so others would not have to go through the experience blindly.
There are many aspects which are not solely related to cancer. Many of the things she shares are applicable to other life experiences. I personally think anyone who is themselves or has someone suffering serious illness, let alone terminal, together with consultants and doctors would benefit from reading this book. Consultants and doctors in particular should take the time to understand what their patients are experiencing and, more to the point, what they want to know. For those of us who are fortunate enough not to be in or facing any such situation this does make for an informative and eye opening read. As mentioned previously this does not only relate to cancer but gives insights, should we take the time to see them, on how to deal with life’s ups and downs as well as the difficult frightening times and situations.
I could go on but must discipline myself to stop. You should read the book for yourself.
This is an emotive and emotional read. Consequently it is very difficult to rate alongside other ‘normal’ books. Nevertheless, taking into account the honesty and humanity together with the clear explanations and informative nature of the book I would rate it at four stars ****. It is a book I believe everyone would benefit from. Okay, it is not an easy read; it is sad and distressing at times but it also reveals a human, genuine character who really is not dramatically different to us.
I would like to thank Rachele Baker for fulfilling her mother’s wishes by having the courage to share this with us.


His Eye Is on the Sparrow: An engagement in black and white
His Eye Is on the Sparrow: An engagement in black and white
Price: £2.20

3.0 out of 5 stars Sad Reflection upon Society, 23 Mar. 2014
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This is a memoir of the impact a white, Jewish girls engagement to a Negroid man has upon their lives and those of their families.

I found the book interesting not only for the personal tale but also from a historic point of view. It is very easy in these so called days of equality, to forget how life was for people who dared break the ‘rules’.

We are told how violence was always on the edge. How the reaction of each family was so different. And how the girl’s father tried to bring an end to the relationship in a most unfair and dramatic manner. I do not want to share any more of the story so as not to spoil it for potential readers.

The book has been written in what I would refer to as a rapid fire style: a little like a machine gun. This style is not particularly to my taste but then we are all unique and different. Reading after all is a subjective experience. Nevertheless, I admire the fact that within this short sharp narration Ann Pearlman has successfully included all the relevant facts. She has also, again successfully, provided sufficient for us to understand the backgrounds and attitudes of the people and societies involved.

As regular readers will know, I have taken to commenting upon cover designs because so many writers, and readers, appear to put great store by them.

However, before I do I would mention the actual title. I thought it rather incongruous that such a short book should have such a long title. If it was intended to be one in a series then perhaps the ‘His eye Is on the Sparrow:’ may have a place. But, as far as I can tell this is a one off. Readers will understand from the text where this part of the title originates. To me the sub-title ‘A black and white engagement’, on its own, would have been more appropriate.

Now to the cover: I like the design but have to say it conveys nothing of what the book is really about. Okay it depicts two birds, in black and white, sitting close together but I certainly would not have picked up what the book is about from that. However, at the same time I have to acknowledge I do not really like the modern trend for over the top obvious cover designs. The issue appears to be, sadly in my opinion, unless the cover is eye catching the majority of book browsers will not even take it off the shelf to have a look. I shall resist commenting further upon this here.

I happily award a three *** rating for this book. The account given in this memoir is interesting and provides insight into sixties American attitudes. In many ways it is also shocking and sad. I believe the majority of books fall within the three star range unless they are abysmally poor or exceptional.

The book is available from Amazon:

You may read more at: [...]

Shebooks.net have stated all their books are priced at $2.99 (£1.88).

You may see this review and others at: [...]


21 Hours
21 Hours
Price: £0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Well paced action, 9 Feb. 2014
This review is from: 21 Hours (Kindle Edition)
As a rule I do not usually review this type of book. However, the author had sent me a request to do so which remained unseen for a considerable time. This was due to three factors; my involvement for a protracted period with family medical issues; subsequently catching up with hundreds of e-mails and social media messages and poor internet access, which did not allow me to get into many sites for sometime. I considered it would be unfair to reject his request after so long. I have seen several comments where authors complain that such requests are frequently ignored without even an acknowledgment. Such behaviour is so ignorant and ill mannered. Even if it is to decline, as I have had to do from time to time, it is only fair to acknowledge such requests. How do we like it when someone simply ignores our requests, messages or e-mails?

When reviewing, I usually try and avoid giving too many details about the story. I do not want to spoil the read for potential readers. However, in this instance, the book’s own synopsis provides much of the detail.

21 Hours is an easy reasonably paced action story. In many ways it is heartrending. Although a fictional tale, it portrays a realty which is horrible to imagine. It reminds us that such things not only go on but appear to be on the increase i.e. ‘human trafficking’. But this is not the place to discuss such matters. The story is consequently, in part, an emotionally human one.

The protagonist fulfils the role of ‘hero’ well. He undergoes no end of physical hardships his survival of which sometimes boarders on the unbelievable. But after all that is the nature of ‘heroes’.

The pace is just right, maintaining the reader’s interest throughout. The desire to know what is going to happen next and ultimately continues right through. The scenarios are varied and the twists and turns are often unexpected. In my opinion the book could easily be adapted into a good television drama/film.

Because of all the discussions surrounding book covers and how they impact upon sells I usually comment upon them. The cover for this book is of good quality but for me did not really convey anything particular. Certainly I did not feel it gives any clue to the story except for the fact it takes place in a city. Those of you who have read my posts here and in other social media know I personally do not put much store on book covers. As far as I am concerned it is the synopsis that decides whether I purchase a book or not. However, as said, the cover is good quality and fresh looking.

This is a good tale and for me falls within the general reading bracket. I happily give it a three *** rating. That is not to decry the quality. However, when it comes to a ‘general’ read I think the book has to be very exceptional to warrant four or five stars.


In the Beginning: Mars Origin "I" Series Book I
In the Beginning: Mars Origin "I" Series Book I
Price: £1.99

3.0 out of 5 stars It is possible, 19 Jan. 2014
As always I would like to make clear this is my personal review. I am not a qualified critic or professional journalistic reviewer. Nor do I usually review books of this nature; please see the `Personal note' at the end of this review for an explanation.

This in many ways is a tale of mystery within which we are taken on a virtual treasure hunt. Faith and belief and a fear of them being undermined are central to the story. Although biblically based, the protagonist is a Biblical Archaeologist, this is a work of fiction. Those who would naturally shy away from anything religious should think twice because this is more of an adventure story than a critique of faith or belief.

The plot and characters are well written. Indeed it is easy to visualise not only the people themselves but also the conversations they have. It is, to quote an old saying, "like being a fly on the wall". The plot unravels at a reasonable pace although there are occasions when it gets a little bogged down on detail. Nevertheless, this does not detract from the story too much and is obviously intended to set the background, roots and understandings from which the protagonist is working.

I found the idea behind the story intriguing and because I enjoy hearing about archaeological discoveries it caught my interest. It is a bit of a mystery tour which takes in a number of different global locations. We are not overburdened with descriptions of these locations, although there is probably enough for those who have visited the places to identify where the action occurs. For the rest of us, it means very little except when a well know district e.g. Gethsemane is mentioned.

The plot and ultimate conclusion are very plausible and, in my opinion, should not offend or challenge those with strong beliefs. If matters had occurred as suggested it does not diminish or negate traditional beliefs. If anything it gives them broader scope. I have intentionally avoided detailing the actual story so as not to deprive a reader of their enjoyment.

The protagonist's character has been written with considerable understanding. It could almost be autobiographical or based upon someone the author knows or has known who suffers from such neurosis and paranoia. Nevertheless, for me there were occasions when there was a bit too much of it.

There are several small errors throughout the book, which imply the author has done their own proofreading. The relevant word or phase may easily be determined but it tends to cause the reader to momentarily stop. An external proof-reader would have hopefully spotted these. I sympathise because I have also encountered this problem. I have learnt we cannot proofread our own work because we are too close to it and consequently continually blind to errors.

Due to the different definitions for star ratings across social media sites I had difficulty in deciding a rating but in the end have opted for three*** stars. I liked the story but, despite how well it is written, could not say it was amazing or extra special for me.

Please note: I do not usually review books of this nature on my blog. However, Abby Vandiver, in response to a post of mine on Goodreads, suggested we undertake a review book exchange. In other words I read and review hers and she would read and review mine. To date neither of us has done so. My available time is very limited and therefore it has taken a while to get round to reading and reviewing Abby's book. I did mention this to her at the time. For your information: I recently suggested she need not bother reading mine as I am now in the process of heavily revising it. Perhaps she will be kind enough, if her time permits, to read and review the new edition when it comes out.

The book is available either in paperback or as an e-book from Smashwords and Amazon.


Against All Odds: The Most Amazing True Life Story You'll Ever Read
Against All Odds: The Most Amazing True Life Story You'll Ever Read
Price: £2.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Hard Hitting, 5 Jan. 2014
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This is an honest hard hitting autobiography.

It helps those, who have not had direct contact with the sort of characters involved, understand what motivates them to behave the way they do. Hopefully it may also help overcome some of the prejudice that exists in society.

In my opinion Paul Connolly has indeed been brave to expose himself so thoroughly without attempting to shield his identity. His neighbours, work colleagues and clients will now be able to point him out to others. Let us hope they read his book properly so as to understand why he led the life he did and do not condemn or censure him.

Having been put out with the rubbish by his mother at two weeks old Paul Connelly goes on to have a terrible childhood in `care'. He shows all too clearly how social services and `care' systems failed not only him but so many children and young people.

The book details many difficult and horrible situations and circumstances. However, it has been written with a degree of sensitivity that avoids depressing or horrifying the reader too much.

* Sexual Abuse: Sufficient details are given, without being licentious or over graphic, for us to understand what was going on.

* Psychological Abuse: The author suffered very much from this. He effectively shows us how such abuse has long-term or rather life-long impact upon the abused. Much of his account explains how he dealt, or did not deal, with his own undermined personality.

* Violence: Paul Connolly bravely admits to his own violent nature. Although he very obviously regrets having such a nature, he shares unashamedly what are really the consequences of abuse. He explains very plainly what motivates his behaviour and where this motivation originates. It is so sad that someone who should have cared for him almost destroyed him and is in fact responsible for other peoples' destruction.

Mr Connolly also talks about his feelings of guilt and self-recrimination with regard to his boyhood friend Liam. I consider these feelings to be unfounded and, if not already done, would advise him to seek help in coming to terms with the realities. He had his own problems to deal with and probably could not have helped his friend. The psychological and physical damage to Liam had already been done and was most likely irreversible. It is easy to understand his feelings but they are not justified.

It is to his credit that he retained a sensible and pragmatic outlook on life. This enabled him not only to seek appropriate tuition, even if it was late in life, but also to go on to have a successful career. He has achieved far more than many who have had comparatively easy lives. It is to be regretted he has to endure a life long struggle with the violence that lurks just below the surface due to the failure of family, so called carers and an inadequate system. He is to be admired for his endeavours to control it and for his success in doing so.

I found this an interesting and informative read even though it is upsetting. It also provides a window onto some of the social behaviour of the time. Due to my own background I find all accounts of violent behaviour abhorrent and distressing. However, I must say although Mr Connolly describes his encounters to good effect the descriptions of brutality are kept at a reasonable level so as not to traumatise too much.

The work has evidently been edited but in such a way that it unmistakably retains Paul Connolly's own voice. It is a personal tale personally told and it would have been a shame to have lost the personal style. It reads easily and I think should be included in any collection of English social history. It may not be the most gratifying historical record but it is a true account which is supported and confirmed by public domain legal records.

This may not be the most literary book you will read but, for me, it definitely deserves a four **** rating.

Please bear in mind this is my personal review of the book. I am not a trained or professional critic.


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