Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down – Jo Brand

Ok, so I said I wouldn’t be reading anymore celeb biogs, I’m a sucker for punishment I know. However, this was at the top of the ‘to be read’ pile and I quite enjoyed her first biog. As Brand was a psychiatrist nurse before being a comedian then at least she has some interesting stories to tell.

This book chronicles her career from leaving nursing to starting as a stand up comedian. She writes about her rise and includes chapters such as good and bad clubs which she has enjoyed doing her routines at. I quite like her, she seems very down to earth with a dry, sarcastic sense of humour.

In another chapter she says ‘I have narrowed down my favourite comedy moments to half a dozen, leaving out an incident in a hotel with two comics which I’m sworn not to repeat’. I personally find this annoying, why put it in the book without more of an explanation, even though she’s probably just letting the two comics know she hasn’t forgotten the incident, just send them an email, not mention it in your book!

The rest of the book ambled along nicely although I can’t help feeling it was written in ‘blog’ form. Naming her favourite books, films and plays in theatre’s. Disappointingly there wasn’t a list of her favourite cakes, one I would have enjoyed 🙂

This was an ok book, the usual comedian standard. Thankfully this has been written up to her life so far so we won’t be having another book for a good few years.

Fourteen Days Later – Sibel Hodge

Fourteen Days Later is P.S. I Love You meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

When accident prone Helen Grey finds a thong stuffed into the pocket of her boyfriend’s best work trousers, it’s time for her to move on. His excuse that he needed to dust the photocopier and just thought it was a rag sounds like a lame excuse.

Helen’s life is propelled in an unexpected direction after her best friend, Ayshe, sets her a fourteen day, life changing challenge. Helen receives a task everyday which she must complete without question. The tasks are designed to build her confidence and boost her self esteem but all they seem to do is push her closer to Ayshe’s brother, Kalem.

How will Kalem and Helen get together when she’s too foolish to realise that she loves him? How can he fall for her when he is too busy falling prey to her mishaps and too in love with his own perfect girlfriend? How will Kalem’s  turkish cypriot family react when they find out?

Is it really possible to change your life in fourteen days?

My daughter said I must read this book as it’s the funniest thing she’s read in ages. One look at the cover and I thought said daughter had gone doolally as it looks like this book is a deep, dark horror story but it couldn’t be more different. A pure chick lit is what this book is all about.

It’s got the typical, stereotype characters, Helen, the single, ditzy, thirty something girl with curly hair (why do all heroines have curly hair)?  Kalem, the dark brooding type. Ayshe, the best friend thats getting married.

All the usual things happens in this book that normally happen with characters like this, walking out of the toilet with her skirt tucked into her knickers. Farting while doing yoga and many many more.

It sounds like I’m describing just another of the thousands of this type of genre, run of the mill chick lit but nothing could be further than the truth. This book was a first class read, it had the magic to draw me in despite the conventional plot.

Told from her point of view, Helen was an endearing character and I was rooting for her all the way through, for her to get what she wanted.

There’s a sequel to this book, My Perfect Wedding but sadly it’s only available as an ebook but hopefully will be coming out in paperback soon. I’ll be first in the queue when it does.

Hard Girls – Martina Cole

Hard lives, hard lessons. It’s murder on the streets.

Danielle Crosby had a body to die for. A body she sold to the highest bidder. But she ended up paying for it with her life.

When a prostitute’s body is found lifeless, mutilated and brutally raped, DCI Annie Carr has never seen anything like it and never wants to again. Kate Burrows, retired DCI and now consultant, has plenty of experience when it comes to murder – after all she caught the Grantley Ripper and broke the biggest paedophile ring in the South East. She is determined to help put the killer bars. But whoever it is won’t be easily caught. And when another girl’s body is found, even more horrifically disfigured than the last, it’s clear the killer is just warming up.

In a ruthless world where everyones out for them selves, Annie and Kate must dig deep if they hope to catch a callous serial killer who knows no limits and makes no mistakes. For some, prostitiution is seriously big business. But how many people will pay the ultimate price?

In this book we see the return of old favourite Kate Burrows, a character from earlier books, The Ladykiller and Broken. She’s still living with Patrick Kelly although due to his owning the properties where the girls are being killed as a silent partner causes them to split up. The book does focus a lot on their relationship, a bit too much at times, it got kind of repetitive, if Cole had reduced this it would have made a much better book.

Told in the third person narrative, the dialect used takes you straight to the streets of East End London. If a little old fashioned by now, surely the slang used has changed over the last 6- 8 years, in fact I know it has.

Nice short chapters made this book easy to fly through, one thing I love about books like this, so easy to read, can pick it up at anytime. Not too many characters to get confused.

I did like this book, Cole writing of late has been quite sub standard but this book proves she’s back on form. If you haven’t enjoyed Cole’s books lately then give this one a go, you won’t be disappointed.

Cathy Glass (a pseudonym) is the author of eleven works of fact and fiction. A foster carer for over twenty years, fostering more than fifty children throughout that time.

This book centre’s on one of the little girls brought to her called Alice, a sweet, well cared for four year old. She was due to come to Cathy but her mother snatched her and they were on the run for three nights, sleeping outside. Alice’s mother, Leah, is mentally ill and drug dependant. Alice had been staying with her grandparents, Leah’s parents but was being taken into care while her future was decided.  Also heavily involved in the story are Cathy’s son, Adrian, daughter Paula and foster daughter Lucy. All fabulous, unselfish children.

This book really was a pleasure to read, a pick up any time kind of read, in between cooking tea or bathing the kids. In fact it took me less than 24 hours to read this book! I’ve read a lot of stories of abuse over the last few years, to the point that they started to be unshockable. It was nice to have a different take on a child in care. While Cathy as a foster mother is obviously an official role, you wouldn’t get a story like this from other ‘officials’ eg: social workers.

It’s a book full of emotion, happiness, sadness and just plain joy. I think that Cathy has understandably captured all feeling into this book. She’s a remarkable woman, being able to express huge amounts of love to Alice but being balanced and honest about her future.

I will definately be looking at more works by this author.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

This is Larsson’s first of three books in the Millennium series. Tragically as you probably already know, journalist Larsson, unfortunately died suddenly and unexpectedly just after delivering the manuscripts to his publishers. He never got too see his work in print or see how popular his series became.

The book focus’s on three main characters, Henrik Vanger, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. Vanger is the head of the multi million kronor Vanger Corporation. His great niece Harriet went missing over 30 years ago and he’s still obsessed with finding out what happened to her so he employ’s journalist Blomkvist to write the story of the Vanger family and also to secretly find out what happened to Harriet.

Blomkvist has just been found guilty of libel against financier Hans-Erik Wennerstrom after publishing an article about him in Millennium magazine where Blomkvist is a journalist. He’s been sentenced to 3 months in jail.

Also heavily involved in the story is Salander, a weird character but top class computer hacker, don’t get on the wrong side of her!

This is a heavy book to get into and I don’t mean weighty on the hands but a difficult read! Translated from Swedish to English, it’s difficult to comprehend at times and quite confusing with a character called Frode and some of the female characters being known as Froker Salander or Froker Berger which I’m assuming means Miss. Also the places were baffling with the main action being in a place called Hedeby and the (from what I can gather) next village being Hedestad.

It took 300 pages for the plot to grip me, I wanted to give up but other readers kept encouraging me saying it would pick up soon. It was getting to the point where I was dreading picking it up thinking ‘Here we go again’! 300 pages is a long time for a book to pick up and I wondered if other readers have given up on it. Another thing was the amount of characters, only a few main ones but a few too many minor ones that didn’t need to be in the story. Handily, there’s a family tree at the beginning of the book so it was easy enough to flip back to check who was who!

That being said, when it did finally get going it was fabulous, a clever plot with plenty of twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. Plenty of little plots coming together to give it one big ‘kapow’ towards the end.

Told in the third person narrative, I totally identified with all the characters, all of them believable even if Salander is a bit odd but that gets explained later in the book but only slightly.

I have the second book (and third) on my ‘to be read’ pile, at the top but think I’ll put it a few books down as I think it would be a bit to much to read them all in one go!

 

Twenties Girl – Sophie Kinsella

Life for Lara Lington isn’t going well, her boyfriend Josh has dumped her, her best friend and new business partner,  Natalie has run off too Goa!

The story starts with Lara and her parents going to the funeral of a relative she’s never met, 105 year old Great Aunt Sadie. At the service, which only Lara, her parents, her sister, uncle, aunt and cousin attend, the ghost of Great Aunt Sadie appears but only Lara can see her. Aunt Sadie wants her necklace which has gone missing and enlists Lara’s help in getting it back.

This book was a bit of a mixed bag for me, some of the antics they got up too are funny, some of the situations are hilarious but generally the book didn’t ignite for me, I feel it’s one of Kinsella’s weaker works. I like a good chick lit but this was a bit sickly sweet. I believe, because I’m sceptical about ghosts in general then it put a question mark over the book.

The usual mix of characters are here, Lara, the struggling single girl, her parents (just known as Mum and Dad) who are worried to death about her, overbearing sister who only played a slight part in this book. Other characters include Uncle Bill who is Lara’s dad’s brother. A self made millionaire with a world wide chain of coffee shops. Diamante, Uncle Bill’s daughter is a pretentious brat.

Also there’s Ed. Aunt Sadie sets up Lara and Ed on a date, I won’t say no more as I’ll spoil the plot but the scene when Ed takes Lara to a business dinner is so funny, really made me laugh out loud.

I did finsh the book with a warm feeling, despite what I’ve said about it and the predictable ending. It’s a bit like spending an evening with a best friend, you know them that well that you can get away with only half listening sometimes!

Blindsighted – Karin Slaughter

Sara Linton, paediatrician and medical examiner finds a body while having lunch with her sister in the local diner. The victim, Sibyl Adams, is found with 2 deep knife wounds over her stomach that form a cross. She was also raped. What makes it worse is that Sibyl was blind.

Police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, Lintons ex husband is in charge of solving the murder. When another body is found, they realise that they are dealing with a violent serial killer.

This is my second time reading this, having first read the Grant County series in 2006/7. I love this book, the story is gripping and fast paced, I quickly got sucked in. Slaughter really is the Queen of Thrillers and has certainly done her homework in all matters in this book. Having a medical examiner in the story makes for some gruesome reading about autopsy.

The characters are believable and well drawn. The relationship between Linton and Tolliver is raw, even though they are divorced because he cheated on her, the feelings haven’t disappeared between them.

Also heavily involved in the story is Police Detective Lena Adams, identical twin sister of murdered Sibyl Adams. I was unsure of this character, she’s a woman with a huge chip on her shoulder and not very likeable. A bit like marmite, you either love her or hate her.

All in all a brilliant book, I highly recommend it. I can’t wait for the next in the series, Kisscut.

Life & Laughing – Michael McIntyre

This is McIntyre’s book, chronicling his life and career so far. From growing up in Hampstead, his time in university to how his career started.,meeting his wife Kitty and the birth of his first child.

This book was ok, just ok. There were plenty of laugh out loud moments which was the saving grace in this book. His story isn’t wildly exciting, especially his career, he charts his rise from working the Jongleur clubs to finally making it at the Royal Variety Perfomance. The same story could be said about anybody, rising their way from office runner to office management, McIntyre has the added bonus of being able to tell a story comically though.

To me he has such stage presence, he’s very flambouyant and likes to tell his story grandly. It didn’t work in writing though. If he was on stage telling his story then it would have worked. I could see him in my mind, in his expressive manner, proudly doing his gig and it would have come across a lot better than the written word.

I’m not sure what it is lately with celeb biog’s/auto biog’s, it seems like if they have a career of some sort for a few years then it gives them the ok to write ‘their story’ with part 2 following on a year later and part 3 two years later. What happened to the days when ‘celebs’ would not start writing their stories until they were in their fifties? Now it seems there’s so many brought out, in as few years as possible! I think I’m done with Biographies for a while.

Out Of The Shadows – Susan Lewis

What would you sacrifice for love?

Susannah is married to Duncan, who is becoming known as a hot shot producer. Susannah is going to be starring in her first tv programme when she falls pregnant with Neve. Duncan develops a drug habit which spirals out of control and leads to the death of a young man for which Duncan spends 13 years in prison.

Left to bring up 13 year old Neve alone, Susannah is working all hours just too keep their heads above water but she’s sinking fast. Things have gotten so bad, she works the back room doing topless waitressing at the club where she normally works the front desk, she’s totally disgusted with herself and depressed by the situation she’s in.

That is until Neve does some meddling, she gets in contact with Susannah’s old boyfriend Alan Cunningham through a social website, unsure if she’s done right or wrong, she tells her Mums best friend Patsy who thinks it’s a great idea. They tell Susannah what they’ve done and she agrees to meet Alan. Things go really well and their relationship develops, the girls move in with Alan and she’s able to give up her job, especially when she get’s offered the lead role in a brand new soap opera. Life is going really well, isn’t it…..?

As I started this book, for some reason I was drawing comparisons with Martina Cole type stories which was very unfair and not sure why I did in the first place and it’s for this reason I’m undecided about this book. While it wasn’t the best I’ve read, it wasn’t the worst either. There seemed to be no sparkle with this book, it trickled rather than poured. The characters were just as you would accept them to be, nothing outstanding about the main characters. I liked Lola, Susannah’s aunty, the best. They were definately believable but lacked depth.

Told in the third person narrative, the story was typical, there was nothing spectacular there, it seemed to lack emotion even though the story is meant to be emotional.

I feel I’m being unfair to the book as not once did I want to stop reading, I suppose it didn’t just do it for me, unfortunately. I would read another by this author, it hasn’t put me off.

Wild Things – Jo Carnegie

The village of Churchminster, devastated by floods a year ago, has gotten through to the last four of ‘Britain’s Best Village’ competition so sprightly Clementine Standington – Fulthrope makes it her mission for the village to win, enlisting the help of her granddaughters Camilla, Calypso and the other villagers.

All the plans are going well until a film crew turns up at Clanfield House, situated in the village, to film a new period drama featuring star’s Rafe Wolfe and Sophie Highforth. Rafe wants Calypso, Sophia wants Jed, Camilla’s boyfriend and will stop at nothing to get him. Clementine just wants them all to leave so she can get on with the competition!

Told in the third person narrative,this book is a real laugh out loud book, a very tame Jackie Collins meets Jilly Cooper type read. Straight away the chemistry was there in the book for me. It’s a story of a village pulling together in good times and bad, sprinkled with huge amounts of humour.

I identified with all the characters, even if one or two of them were predictable, Camilla being a settled type of character while her boyfriend Jed being a stoic, quiet type. I think Camilla’s sister Calypso was the best character though, a type who had plenty of get up and go, single with plenty going on in life to keep her busy. I also loved Clementine, a dear old lady who only wants the best for everybody. I think all the usual characters you would expect in a book about a village were there, a Lord and Lady living in the hall, the busy mum running the pony club, the people running the local shop and pub.

The ending was a bit predictable, slightly cheesy but even though I wanted it to work out that way, I still felt slight disappointment that I had guessed the ending. A good uncomplicated read. I highly recommend this book.

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