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.

Books Bought Today

This morning the postman brought me Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter, the first in the Grant County series. I read them in 2005/6 and loved them. Then though I was a huge RISI’er (readitswapit) and ended up swapping them which I now regret as there’s certain books that are (now) keepers for me. So I’ve bought the first in the series and intend to get the rest over the next few weeks.

This afternoon, me, K and K’s boyfriend went pram shopping (for S, not her!!) in Asda Living and we obviously ended up looking at/buying some books. Don’t you just love pram shopping lol. K bought, when I say K bought, I mean I paid and she had! Anyway, K had Tess Gerritsen – Never Say Die and Dean Koontz – The Taking for £1 plus she had Karen Rose – Have You Seen Her. I bought Philippa Gregory’s The Virgin Lover for £1 and I also had Room by Emma Donoghue. I’ve been reading a lot about this lately with it being one of the books on the TV Book Club and have heard some excellent things about it so I’m looking forward to reading this one.

I have a huge ‘tbr’ pile, although not as large as some people! I haven’t read the books I had for my birthday in June last year yet!! I am getting through them slowly but as I read one, I’m buying two to replace it! I had 17 books for christmas as well. I’m determined to read the birthday/christmas books first, in between oldest ds putting his read books on my tbr pile, it’s never ending! So my dilemma is, do I put my new books on the top of the tbr pile or at the end of the birthday/christmas books? Decisions, decisions, decisions……

Goldie Lookin Chain

For my very first music post, I’m going to post a video of Goldie Lookin Chain’s – Your Not From Newport. My fabulous hometown in South East Wales. I love this song, it’s set to the music of Jay-z feat Alicia Key’s Empire State Of Mind. Another writer came along and done a parody of it calling it Newport State Of Mind but it wasn’t very good, considering the only time he’s been  to Newport was to shoot the video says it all really. A member or two of GLC (Newport’s local band) decided to do their own version which sums Newport up mighty fine. They even mention the area that I live!!  Anyway, here it is…….

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.

Very Valentine – Adriana Trigiani

After splitting with her boyfriend, Valentine Roncalli leaves her teaching job and goes to work for her Gram at the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of custom made wedding shoes, opened in the 1950’s by her grandfather. Valentine meets and falls in love with italian chef Roman Falconi but the relationship doesn’t run smoothly.

The shoe shop is near financial ruin, which Gram is in denial about but can Valentine save the business or will brother Alfred have his way and sell the place. At eighty years old will Gram ever retire?

The plot in this book was very weak, while the art of shoemaking is close to the author’s heart, I don’t think it was enough to make a story from. The characters were bland, Valentine being a typical 30 something looking for love. I didn’t warm to her at all.

The book is described as hilarious and romantic but it didn’t make me smile although the romance was there. The descriptive passages were far too long, if you took half of them away the book would have been so much better, included in the passages were three quarters of a page devoted to tomatoes growing from seed to fruit, too much describing for me.

On the plus side, as the book was italian/american, plenty of italian food was mentioned and the recipes to the food mentioned were included at the back of the book which I thought was a nice touch.

There’s a sequel to this book called Encore Valentine, it’s not one I’ll be reading I’m afraid.

The ASBO Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Asbosen

I don’t think there’s much to review with this book, the title says it all I think.

It’s a collection of fairy tales told in modern language using modern situations. The stories include Snow White and the Seven Dads, The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Bailiff, Little Red Riding Hoodie, The Princess and the Oven Chip, Blingerella and Mouldy Locks and the Three Bears.

This book was quite funny to begin with, using situations such as The Jeremy Kyle Show in a story or two. In the end the book just got a bit repetitive, the female characters being ‘blinged up’ precocious princess’s and the male characters being ‘bad boy’ drugged up chavs.

It’s ok if you don’t take it serious but to be honest with a title like The Asbo Fairy Tales, how can you take this serious, A quick and light hearted read.

On Cats – Doris Lessing

This is a book by Doris Lessing and her life with cats, the book is based on her love of the feline creatures that habitats her life, included in the book are two chapters on two cats she was particularly fond off, Rufus and  El Magnifico.

This book is a lovely read, the style of writing is exquisite and she describes all manner of the cat’s personality and their traits. I wouldn’t say she has a particular love of cats but she sees certain qualities in them that draws them too her affectionately, referring to some cats at the beginning of the book as grey cat or second cat and not by name. Lessing chronicles all the feline’s behaviour from their fussy habits, who is the top cat to the way they move, the descriptions are exceptional.

I didn’t think I would enjoy this being a dog lover but it was a fab book, I’ll look at cats differently from now on. If your a lover of cats then I recommend this book to you.

New Year

So 2010 is nearly at an end and this is just a little reflection on the year gone by, so what has it brought. Well firstly it brought my darling baby son, now 8 months old, nearly crawling and getting ready to turn me grey over the next couple of years!!

He is the reason that my book count this year has been so low, 35 this year compared to 64 in 2009 and 2008, in 2007 the count was 74. I’m determined to change that this year so Im going to give myself a 50 book challenge. Will I manage it? Well I do hope so, I’d like to do a 75 or even a 100 book challenge but with 3 kids, a baby and 3 dogs to look after then I think that’ll be impossible.

So what did reading bring me in 2010, it started off with the christmas books, the usual selection from the kids, chick lit, books about poor abandoned dogs, I seem to have read quite a few vampire based books early in the year, then comes the usual list of crime, celeb biogs and comedies. A good year all in all.

As I’ve only read 35 books then I can only pick a top 3 reads for 2010 and they are (in no particular order)….

1. Living With Evil – Cynthia Owen   I’ve read a lot of abuse stories over the years and none had touched or shocked me as much as this one. It truly was horrific and Cynthia if ever you should read this, the admiration I feel for you is immense and I wish you well for the future.

2. Sh*t My Dad Says – Justin Halpern  This book was hysterical and unfortunately I could see me saying most of the things ‘Dad’ says, without the swearing of course!!

3. The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton  This book was wonderful, it weaved back and fore in time which confused some people but not me, can’t wait to read more of Morton’s works.

There are a few others I would have liked to have included here but I could only give myself a top 3. Here’s to a better year in 2011 !!

Anyway, I hope you have a great 2011, I hope it brings you health, wealth and happiness.

Happy reading x

The Best Of Men – Claire Letemendia

There’s  a civil war being fought in and while Laurence Beaumont is fighting in it, he’s also deciphered a coded plot with the help of his old tutor Seward. They discover that it’s a plot to kill the King but who’s written it and who was written too?

Set in England in 1642, it’s told in the third person narrative. This book was ok, I especially liked the character of Beaumont who stands to gain a lot with his noble birthright but being a bit of a cad he just doesn’t find it appealing. The other characters were good, however there was a downside to this book for me, too many characters, I lost sight of who was siding with the King and who was siding with Parliament. It did slightly spoil my pleasure in reading this book. In fact I got too about page 200 and started it again as I had lost sight of who was who. I wasn’t much wiser the second time around but wanted to finish it to see what happened with certain characters.

I would recommend this book but while the plot was accessible, too many characters made it distracting.

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