Quick Book Reviews: ‘Alfie the Doorstep Cat’

alfie

Alfie the Doorstep Cat (Rachel Wells)

Not to sound snobby, but I was expecting this book to be one of those light, fluffy reads, the sort designed for you to read while lounging on a beach on holiday, i.e. nothing too heavy or complicated in terms of plot or themes. And yes, it basically is, but I still found myself captivated by this tale of a homeless kitty trying to find a home in a scary and unfamilar street. It probably helps that I’m a bit of a sucker for anything involving cats or dogs in the first place; partly why From Baghdad with Love proved such an emotional read for me as well, and why I was inspired to write a poem about my recently acquired pet cat, who himself was homeless and seemingly looking for a home to call his home just like the titular Alfie of this book. As explained within the book, a ‘doorstep cat’ is one who stops at various different homes in a neighbourhood, for food and/or human affection, not simply choosing one to settle in. Alfie feels compelled to do this after his elderly owner passes away, and does not want to be in a situation where he is left all alone again, so therefore opts to have several homes rather than just one. One of the most interesting things about the book is how it is actually told from the perspective of Alfie – he is the one speaking in the first-person (first-feline?) narration. This in turn provides a lot of the humour in the book, giving a feline perspective to the actions of humans, which of course do not always make sense when viewed through the harsh judging eyes of a cat. While the plot and events end up becoming rather predictible after a certain point, and the dialogue often coming off as unnatural and clunky, I still found myself rooting for Alfie and the various humans he encounters, all with their own problems and issues in life. As I said, the book probably relies on you being an animal lover in order to emotionally manipulate you, but a lot of the sentiment does indeed ring true – Alfie brightens these people’s lives, and call me a foolish romantic if you like, but I am convinced that my own cat, Charlie, is able to tell when I’m upset or I’ve had a monumentally shitty day, and is always able to make me feel better. The book is hardly a literary masterpiece by any means, but there is something about it that is still very compelling. I’m even tempted to check out the sequels that have apparently followed, of the further adventures of Alfie.

While I’ve mentioned the writing and dialogue isn’t always exactly stellar, there is a surprisingly deep message from our feline hero at the end of the book, and I will leave you with his perspective of what it is to be be human:

“…Not that you ever become completely healed, you understand. There will always be a part of you that is still healing, still hurting, but that becomes a part of your character and you learn to live with it. That’s what I think happens, anyway, because that’s how it feels to me”.  — Alfie.

Check out my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 9th August 2017)

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EDIT: Updated 9th August 2017 – The Handmaid’s Tale and A Clockwork Orange added to list.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

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The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 25th July 2017)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 25th July 2017 – Alfie the Doorstep Cat added to list.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

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The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 12th July 2017)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 12th July 2017 – Link to review for Misery added.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

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Quick Book Reviews: ‘Misery’

misery

Misery (Stephen King)

Misery is one of those well-known books that I somehow didn’t manage to get around to reading until very recently, nor had I seen the 1990 movie. Of course, I was aware of the basic plot, and the infamous ‘hobbling’ scene, but it was, perhaps criminally, not among the King books or movies that I had experienced thus far. I remedied that by finally sitting down to read the book recently (another that had been sitting on my shelf for a while, hence my motivation to start my ‘To Read List‘…) I have to say, I really was gripped by this one, and can see why it is one of King’s most higly regarded novels. The plot was already appealing to me being a writer myself, and King obviously relates the plight of the writer very well (this is why The Dark Half, one I had read a few years prior, is one of my favourites as well). King does a great job emphasising the sheer hopelessness of the author Paul Sheldon’s situation, trapped against his will in the house of his ‘biggest fan’ (who unfortunately for Paul just happens to be an ever-so-slightly unhinged former nurse-turned brutal murderer).

The concept of an obsessed fan forcing the author to undo the death of a character so beloved to them is a great one, and is perhaps even more chilling to read if you are a writer yourself. Notably, I have to say that I actually found the scene where Annie forces Paul to burn his manuscript very hard to read – perhaps more so than any involving physical torture or mutilation – and yes, even the part where she relieves him of a foot! (notably toned down in the film, but still effective). Despite the threat against his life, I found myself willing him to defy her and not to do it – no author should be forced into the situation of burning a finished manuscript to a crisp! He certainly feels the pain of having to do this as well, and it’s quite amusing that I considered this her biggest transgression considering the atrocious acts you discover she has committed over the course of her life. But I feel like this was perhaps King’s intention – while Paul’s situation is dire throughout the book, in his first-person narration he still manages to be flippant and sarcastic about the whole thing (mainly in his head, of course!) The climax of the book, where Paul finally gains the upper hand and escapes, is extremely satisfying (and intense!) to read as well, as he finally gains control of his own life again. I did find it interesting as well that during the point he is mostly resigned to his fate, he is nonetheless extremly productive in his writing. Under duress as he maybe, it still makes the point that a focused creativity is possible when the distraction of that pesky old outside world isn’t there!

Paul’s inner monologue is obviously lost in the movie, but I still found it an enjoyable watch. It takes some artistic liberties – fleshing out the local sherrif as a character when the book is more or less completely confined to Paul and Annie in the house – but it still works well, and I enjoyed the good natured marital ribbing between himself and his wife (making his brutal end at the hands of Annie all the more tragic). James Caan does a good job as Paul, but I do feel like it’s a role that could have been done by just about anyone. Kathy Bates truly makes the role of Annie her own, though, and she was certainly well deserving of the Oscar she won for this film. I was familar with some of her work previously, mainly in her roles in various seasons of American Horror Story, where she is always fantastic (bar the odd dodgy accent here and there), and knew before even watching the film that she’d be a good fit for the character. I was not disappointed with how the film handled the exhilirating climax either.

Overall, both the book and the movie were worthwhile to experience for me, and I salute Mr. King for creating such a claustrophobic and hopeless atmosphere, that keeps you rooting for the protagonist and yet still find the antagonist delightful in her quirkiness and derangement. King somehow manages this effortlessly.

So now I am reading The Green Mile, having already seen the film (but I expect I will rewatch it again after completing the book), so I’m on a bit of a King-fix at the moment, you might say. Stay tuned for the review on that very soon 🙂

Check out my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 6th June 2017)

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EDIT: Updated 6th June 2017 –  Pompeii recently completed, review to follow. Link to review for Switch Bitch added. Misery and The Green Mile added to the list.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

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The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 8th May 2017)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 8th May 2017 – Ah – been a while since I’ve updated this, hasn’t it? Apologies for that. In the time since the last post I have since completed Good Bones and Profiles of the Future, and may post some brief thoughts on them shortly. I have also added Pompeii and Switch Bitch to the list.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

Continue reading