book reviews , different studio guests each week. Join us every Thursday between 12 and 1pm on Radio Scilly 107.9fm or log on to

Missed any programmes? See below for list of guests, books and other details discussed.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Susan Bordo - The Creation of Anne Boleyn

Book Review written & read live on the bookshow by Maggie Perkovic 18th Sept 2014

I have always been a great fan of Anne Boleyn.I felt she had a poor press over
the years and her decision to marry Henry VIII was certainly not her plan when she first
came back to this country from France as she fell for Harry Percy. However although
he felt the same about her, he was already precontracted to Mary Talbot and the
arrangement was considered binding, so he returned to Cumbria and she was left
bereft. Henry VIII decided to woo her, and unlike a lot pf ladies at Court Anne was
not disposed to be a mistress or the like so he realised that he must try to
divorce Katherine of Aragon and marry Anne. Not so simple as he thought. The
whole process took over seven years and necessitated leaving the Catholic church
and Henry being in place of the Pope!!!Susan Bordo has written a very interesting
book with the early pages devoted to quite intensive research which actually shpws
that although Henry and Anne were not quite as happy as at the beginning of
their marriage he was still preparing to take her to France right up to April
before her arrest. Cromwell was the force apparently finding out about her so
called adultery, his reasons being he knew Henry was turning his fancy to
Jane Seymour and he was a fan of Wolsey and blamed her for his fall from power.
The author spends too much time on discussing the series on TV, The Tudors and
others such plus books and films.I didn't realise there was a society that studies
Anne Boleyn and several organisations meet to talk about her and her life!!
I did enjoy he book even though, being American her spelling and phrasing
confuse me, but I felt her summing up of Anne as a woman born out of her time
and a feminist before they were even thought of very fair.
Interesting read, but you have to be a Anne Boleyn fan to really enjoy it. Maggie Perkovic.

Cecilia Ahern - P.S. I Love You

Book Review written & read live on the bookshow by Maggie Perkovic 18th Sept 2014
This is a very readable and heart warming story.
Holly and Gerry have been together from school days, lived for each other, the
devastating news of his death renders both her and their group of friends
quite shattered and although family and friends do their best to help, Holly
has to go through a lot of trauma before she finds a way to carry on.
Her loving husband leaves her a series of notes to direct her life for the year
following his death. The result is both comical and touching. Her family, a lively
bunch  with mixed sentiments and brothers and sisters never short of advice,
help in every way they can. The end suprised me, which is unusual at my old
age,but I think was about correct. Very enjoyable!!Maggie Perkovic.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Robert Goddard - Blood count

book review by showhost
Dr Edward Hammond was paid handsomely to perform a liver transplant on Dragan Gazi, a Serbian gangster in former Yugoslavia, in the 1990's.  The operation 13 yrs ago saved Gazi's life but he went on to kill thousands more people.  A fact unknown to Edward Hammond at the time.
Edward Hammonds wife was killed in the 1990's but he was unaware that his surgery all those years ago was behind it.
Edward Hammond is contacted by Gazi's daughter.  Gazi is standing trial in the Hague for all his war crimes in the Balkan.  His daughter Ingrid, wants Dr Hammond to find/contact her fathers accountant , Marco Piravani, and persuade him to transfer the money her father has stashed into her name.  If he doesn't comply they will tell his daughter that it was he, Dr Hammond, who arranged for his estranged wife to be murdered as a bonus pay off for the operation, because it would seem, that maybe Gazi did have his wife murdered but he can't prove it.
So, the action takes place in and around Bosnia/Belgrade and the Hague with lots of cross & double crosses as Dr Hammond chases the elusive Marco Piravani and is duped on many occasions.
Good book but found it annoying as to how witless the doctor was - stupid boy!  For me, not his best, I felt he strung it out a little too far.  Also, I fear the plots are becoming a little too similar all be it in different locations.

John Green - The Fault in Our Stars

review written and read live on the bookshow by Ro Bennett on 12th Sept 2014.
By June of this year, this book had already sold almost 11 million copies worldwide and has been on the New York Times best seller list for more than 130 consecutive weeks. The author has 2.4 million Twitter followers and 8.6 million subscribers on his various You Tube channels and the trailer for the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars is the most liked in You Tube’s history with over 20 million views, according to an article in the Radio Times. Currently that’s now over 28 million. 
This multi-million #1 bestseller is now a major motion picture starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as Hazel and Gus, a pair of teenagers both suffering from terminal cancer who fall in love. 
The inspiration for the character of Hazel was Esther Earl who tragically died of thyroid cancer in 2010 at the age of sixteen. She was a huge fan of John Green's books and was a nerdfighter, which is the name for the devoted fans of Vlogbrothers, an online channel the author created with his brother Hank in 2007. A video blog or video log, sometimes shortened to vlog - hence vlogbrothers. The author met Esther at a Harry Potter convention and they became fast friends. Saddened by Earl's death, he dedicated a eulogy in vlog format titled, Rest in Awesome, Esther. As far as the book is concerned, he wanted to make it very clear that although it was inspired by Esther, it is not her story, it is not about Esther. He says: She helped me see that people living with illness or who are severel disabled - Esther was both - have as rich an emotional life as anyone else - the same desires, the same frustrations. When Esther died, I was very mad.  Most of the book was written in furious grief after her death. Esther Earl uploaded her own vlogs onto Youtube. Shailene Woodley who is playing Esther in the film told John Green that she has watched them all. 
So about the book. This is the blurb: 
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.
To me it was a very interesting, unusual and heart wrenching book. 

Seventeen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster has terminal thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. She reluctantly attends a cancer patients' support group to placate her mother. Because of the cancer, she has to use a portable oxygen tank to help her breathe. In one of the meetings she catches the eye of a teenage boy who she learns is Augustus Waters. He's there to support their mutual friend, Isaac. Isaac had a tumor in one eye that he had removed, and now he has to have his other eye taken out as well. Augustus had osteosarcoma, but he is now cancer free after having his leg amputated.

A close friendship develops between Hazel and Gus and she shares her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, with him and together they obsess about the  novel’s ambiguous conclusion. It is about a girl named Anna who has cancer but the novel maddeningly ends mid sentence, so the reader doesn’t discover fate of the novel’s characters.Esther is desperate to know what happened.  Augustus manages to somehow get through to the author and when Hazel emails him, he invites her to come to Amsterdam to discuss the ending of the book. 
Will they be able to go? And if they get there what will happen? Will they discover the ending of the book? The book is full of unexpected twists and turns. There is humour and pathos and it is a tear jerker. 
Although the book is about cancer - cancer did not define the characters neither is it just a saccharine girl and boy fall in love tragedy, there is plenty to keep the reader turning the pages.

michael foxton & Max Pemberton

reviews written & read live on the bookshow by Ro Bennett 12th Sept 2014
Bedside Stories: Confessions of a Junior Doctor - Michael Foxton and 
Trust Me, I’m a Junior Doctor by Max Pemberton

I read both of these books to see how similar they were and how they compared to Hospital Babylon. Hospital Babylon was a year in hospital life compacted into a day written by Imogen Edward Jones from data provided from an anonymous doctor. These two books are both written by actual doctors describing their own experiences. 

Bedside Stories by Michael Foxton is the first book, written in 2007. I found this the more sombre of the two books.

This is the Blurb:
For two years, Michael Foxton wrote about his experiences as a junior doctor in the NHS for the Guardian. Vivid, hilarious and often alarming, his book has gone on to find a cult following among doctors and patients alike. His observations illuminate the quirks, horrors and delights of all aspects of doctoring, from casualty to the psychiatric ward. Foxton tells us what it really feels like to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and introduces us to a mixed cast of patients that includes the rude, the violent, and the outrageously flirtatious.

About the Author
Michael Foxton was a junior doctor in the NHS and wrote a regular column about his job for the Guardian. Michael Foxton is a pseudonym.

 The book is written in column format which makes it easy to read - The narratives focus on the trials and tribulations of the poorly-prepared junior doctor, entering an overworked and underpaid NHS system. Dr Foxton’s purpose was to show the general public what it is like to be a junior doctor in the NHS but in a series of often amusing anecdotes from his medical/surgical house officer, casualty and psychiatry rotations.

The second book, Trust Me I’m a Junior Doctor was written in 2008 by Max Pemberton is very similar. Max Pemberton is also a pen name. In fact there are so many similarities which I will go into later, that I wondered if they were the same person since Michael Foxton is a pseudonym. I found this book more memorable and more entertaining and enjoyable to read.

This the official blurb. 

If you're going to be ill, it's best to avoid the first Wednesday in August. This is the day when junior doctors graduate to their first placements and begin to face having to put into practice what they have spent the last six years learning. Starting on the evening before he begins work as a doctor, this book charts Max Pemberton's touching and funny journey through his first year in the NHS. Progressing from youthful idealism to frank bewilderment, Max realises how little his job is about 'saving people' and how much of his time is taken up by signing forms and trying to figure out all the important things no one has explained yet -- for example, the crucial question of how to tell whether someone is dead or not. Along the way, Max and his fellow fledgling doctors grapple with the complicated questions of life, love, mental health and how on earth to make time to do your laundry. All Creatures Great and Small meets Bridget Jones's Diary, this is a humorous and accessible peek into a world which you'd normally need a medical degree to witness. Max Pemberton is a doctor. He writes a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph.

About the author: Max Pemberton is a practicing doctor. As well as a degree in Medicine, he completed a degree in Anthropology for which he was awarded a first and a prize for academic excellence. Max has worked in a broad range of medicine from geriatrics, adult psychiatry, surgery and paediatric palliative care. He is also a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and Reader's Digest. In 2010, he was named Public Educator of the Year 2010 by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. His second book, Where Does It Hurt? details his experiences of working in an outreach project for the homeless and people addicted to drugs. It tells the stories of the people he met and his own journey as he tries to discover if one person can make a difference and if people really can change. His latest book, The Doctor Will See You Now, is based back in hospital and is focused on Max's time working in dementia and care of the elderly.

I couldn’t find any facts about the first author, or a picture of him. I was looking because some of the facts are so similar I wondered if it was the same person. There was plenty of material about Max Pemberton who has his own website,  is on Twitter and has a very interesting page on facebook. He is very dishy - and openly gay. 

Both books are a damning indictment of the way the NHS is run, but both authors are none the less both staunch advocates for the NHS. 
Both were overrun with bureaucracy, paperwork, targets, league tables etc Both had issues with consultants who suffered from an over inflated sense of their own importance or were unhelpful and arrogant.
Both hid in the loo when the cardiac alarm went off; quote Michael Foxton: The crash bleep went off… no doctor in sight… no way I was wading in there on my own: I turned and saw the loo. Of course I hid...
Both went on to become psychiatrists
Both had a deep desire to cry and give it all up 
Both wrote columns for national newspapers

I think the inclusion of Max Pemberton’s personal life, his flatmates and colleagues friends Ruby, Supriya and Lewis help to make his book a lighter read. Both were well worth reading though. 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Kate Atkinson - Life after Life

 review written by Babs simpson & read live on the bookshow 4th Sept 2014
this is an astonishing book - a great love story and one of the cleverest formats I have ever encountered.
Ursula Tod's birth begins the story - in two versions.  She is born in a snowstorm, the doctor doesn't arrive in time to free the umbilical cord which is twisted round her neck and she does not survive.  the second version sees her being safely delivered.  and the whole story is like this.  There are several versions based on the way particular events in Ursulas life and the consequence of the various scenarios are presented.
she is  born into an upper middle class family living in a large country house in 1910.  she has a kind father , Hugh, and a sightly scatty mother, Silvia, a glamorous aunt Izzie and brothers and sister.  the extraordinary clever thing about this novel is the 'what ifs' such and such had happened and the reader is taken back and forth - if one incident had happened her life would have taken this direction - if it hadn't then her life would have gone an entirely different way.
It is so cleverly written and convincingly that you follow every twist and turn without difficulty and each of Ursulas lives from birth to death are entirely compelling.
Kate Atkinson is a brilliant author who, amongst other scenes in the book, has written an account of the London Blitz in WW11 that is so vivid it takes your breath away.
i have read and very much enjoyed her other books but this one is in a class of its own - truly brilliant and amazing and it stayed with my a long time after I had reluctantly read the last page

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

RF Delderfield - The Avenue Goes to War

book review written and read live on the bookshow by Babs Simpson August 2014.
The very recent & moving commemoration of D-Day reminded me about a book I read years ago and wanted to read again.  This book is a marvellous sprawling novel about the residents of an ordinary street in an ordinary London suburb from the late 1930's onwards.  It is very like the street where I lived as a child in a small suburb about 12 miles from the centre of London and the people described will be familiar to all of us older types!
There is Jim Carver, father to a large almost grown up family - Archie, the eldest is a bit of a Del-Boy type, Bernie & Boxer are inseparable twins, Fetch & Carry, younger girls, also twins, with an eye for the boys.
There is Harold godbeer, a solicitors clerk in a city office and Elaine firth, close friend of Archie Carver, there are spinster ladies, married couples, everyone beautifully described and believable.   It's a bit like getting to know a whole new range of people and I thought once or twice, like a very enjoyable soap opera with really good stories.
the war begins and of course everyone is affected.  Unlikely friendships spring up, people go away to fight, Jim joins the ARP, no-one is untouched by events.  The Avenue shares in the awful sorrow when somebodys beloved son is missing in action, later reported killed.  then the blitz starts and as the Avenue is under the flightpath of the German bombers attacking London thee are inevitable tragedies and destruction of peoples property and lives.
but this is not a sad book.  It rings true as an honest account of how life was for so many millions of ordinary people in the Second world war.  there are inevitable tragedies but also moments of pure comedy and I challenge anyone not to really enjoy it.
this book was preceded by the Dreaming suburb but you don't need to have read the first one to get great satisfaction from this one.  RD Delderfield was a prolific and very popular author who wrote, amongst many others, A Horseman Riding By and To serve Them All My Days, both of which were very successfully adapted for TV. Give him a try.