Tag Archives: Book Reviews

A Place To Call Home by Carole Matthews

This book was very easy to read and managed to keep me hooked through some long nights of reading as I was unable to put the book down. In the end I think I finished it in about 4 days.

It is the story of a beaten wife who leaves her abusive husband in the middle of the night with their child, struck mute from the horror she has witnessed.

They find shelter in a house with a mixed bag of damaged adults existing rather than living in a house in Hampstead.

I could say that it’s a story of love and hope and it has a happy ending but it is more than that. Unusually it had surprises lurking in the pages, even to the point where my heart raced desperate to turn the page and start the next chapter – convinced I knew what would happen, only to be sent down completely the wrong path and breathing a big sigh of relief.

It’s a lovely story and it touches your heart. I would say with holiday season on the horizon you could do a lot worse than spending a day in the sun reading a book like this.

Alanatomy by Alan Carr

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I have to say I’m not an avid fan of Alan Carr, I don’t watch his TV Shows very often yet for some reason I’ve been given both of his books as presents.

I found both books very interesting. Alan comes across as being a genuine person, embraces his faults and is open about them in a way more people should consider. It’s like you’re having a gossip session in the pub, cafe or living room with an old friend at times!

People always talk about your flaws and the weird parts of your personality whether you choose to accept it or not and Alan decided to write an honest response to those comments.

This book gives you an insight into what it is really like to be a ‘celebrity’ and I think most people would find it a bit of a shock. Not everyone gets 5* treatment wherever they go and freebies handed out like water. There are darker sides to people knowing who you are and thinking they own parts of your life.

There is also a knock on effect of fame on the people you love, who everyone assumes are just there for the name most of the time and that true love and affection doesn’t exist for people who are on the telly. Alan talks about the struggles his boyfriend went through in a way that some people will be able to relate to on one level or another.

What I gained from reading Alan’s books is a sense that people on the TV are not that different from those of us not blessed by the celebrity star. I think we all forget that from time to time.

The media like to sell us a life that is out of our reach because we aren’t sexy enough, tall enough, thin enough or rich enough but that life isn’t always as sparkly as we believe it to be. The people aren’t always as sexy, thin. tall or rich as we think and even if they are it doesn’t mean they are happy.

To be a celebrity means giving a part of yourself over to other people and allowing varying degrees of your life to be dictated by the whims of others. You can’t always make your own decisions or decide to call in sick one day as you never know, by tomorrow you could be old news.

I think the people who endure are the ones who aren’t afraid to be honest about who they are. Who stand up and say, ‘You know what I do that too’ and make us laugh about ourselves in a positive way. We all have flaws, even the biggest celebrities and we can embrace them and love ourselves or we can let other people break us down and make us feel smaller than we are.

Read Alan Carr’s books and you’ll see for yourself that being honest about yourself can free you and embracing it makes you stronger.  Or failing that you’ll laugh at his stories and cringe along with him.

The Wedding Diaries by Sam Binnie

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I’m not sure what attracted me to this book. I was never the little girl who dreamed of her wedding and getting married one day and as an adult it’s never been remotely on the cards. But it is funny how little girls still talk about getting married. I saw my cousins 4-year-old at the weekend and she told me all about who she was marrying, their wedding and what they had worked out for their life.

But in the interest of playing along I did have a think while reading this book of what my wedding would look like. I met someone a while ago that I could see myself living very happily with so I imagined him waiting for me at the altar. Then I promptly thought, sod it, no big meringue dress and formal stuffiness for me. I would just want all my family and friends to be in one place and have a big party. I definitely can’t see myself going all Bridezilla. It would be nice to have a pretty dress though, just not one that required extra wide doorways and a lifetime mortgage!

The book was written in a way I hadn’t seen before. It is in part diary entries and therefore the layout is similar to a script that people might read out. It took a while to get used to but in actual fact I think it worked quite well.

It makes your head spin all of the things they try to organise and all the unnecessary items you pick in the heat of the moment. We recently threw a 40th Wedding Anniversary party for our parents and I can attest to the lists of things we had to have getting longer and longer and in the end half of it never saw the light of day!

What was interesting was at the end of the book the author added tips that she wished someone had told her when planning her wedding. I guess if you were going to be planning a wedding then it might help to read a book like this.

I’ve seen people get so caught up in organising things that it becomes the only thing they can think or talk about to the detriment at times of actual life. This book helps you to remember that in some way.

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

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I was brought this book a while ago for my birthday. I was expecting it to be an autobiography charting her life up until this point, which it was but in typical Miranda fashion.

She muses on various areas of life in her typical awkward way and engages with her 18-year-old self to put her points across.

As a slightly awkward person myself, its nice to see people who don’t take themselves too seriously. We all make idiots of ourselves from time to time, but not all of us have the strength to own up to it.

If you aren’t a fan of Miranda’s humour, then I would say the book probably won’t appeal to you, as it is written in the same way as her TV show. I don’t recall ever laughing out loud watching the TV show or reading the book but nevertheless I found them entertaining.

The book was fun to read if you want something light-hearted that you don’t have to think about. I think it would make a good holiday read to dip in and out of whilst sunbathing.

As a side note, my friend was looking for a pen name a while ago and we were running through names together. Little did she know that I was referring to the books in my to read pile for inspiration. The name my friend chose was Kira Harte after I suggested Hart from seeing this book.

Round the Christmas Fire: Festive Stories by Vintage Classics

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I was given this book as a Christmas present last year and decided to read it in the run up to Christmas. The sleeve notes say that it is a tradition on Christmas Eve to read ghost stories.

It was a nice collection of stories by a variety of authors, some of which I had read before. There were ghost stories, diary entries, stories of Christmas carolling and feasts and each one made me want to read on.

At least at this time of the year you don’t have to get up early for work the next day, as I ended up reading well into the small hours. Sadly now the book is finished and the alarm clock is turned back on.

It also means tonight when I go to bed I get to be excited by which book I choose from my unsafely high stacked ‘to read’ piles. It doesn’t seem to matter how many books I have to read, I still seem to be unable to stop buying more.

I’m starting to dream of opening a book shop. Although sadly I think as a business plan it would be more fun in theory than practice given the competition of cheap book stores.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

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I heard a lot of good things about this book when it came out and it had been sitting in my to read pile for a while but I decided to get it out of the way.

A couple of chapters in I found out they had made it into a 3 part drama on the BBC. I’d missed the first part so I had to watch it on catch up and I taped the rest. Now I’ve finished reading I can catch up on the rest of the series.

I never really got into the book. The story was quite slow but by the end it began to take some turns I didn’t completely see coming. I felt the ending was quite rushed once the action started to happen.

I suppose with the election coming up it was a good time to read it seeing as the main point of the story is the election to fill local council position vacated by Barry Fairbrother whose character fills the book without really featuring in person very much.

The characters were very realistic. I live in a small village and could imagine half of them living in my area.

I’ll have to finish watching the series now to see if I enjoy the TV show more than the book but what I saw from the first episode they seem to have made quite a few changes from the book.

I hadn’t read any J.K. Rowling before, I plan on reading the Harry Potter books at some point but I have a lot of books to read first. I quite like her writing style but this book just wasn’t for me.

I’ve spoken to my work colleagues and they had heard mixed reviews about the book. It’s nice we have set up a little reading group sharing books amongst us that we have enjoyed. Although they read a lot more quickly than me!

I tend to keep the books I enjoyed so I can share them with others but this one for me was a one time read.

The World According to Clarkson Volume 4 by Jeremy Clarkson

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Not everyone likes Jeremy Clarkson but I find him quite funny. That’s not to say I agree with everything he says and does. I’ve read some of his newspaper columns and while most of it is usually rambling nonsense on occasion he makes an interesting point, often in a completely offensive way.

This book is a collection of his Sunday Times columns from 2008 and 2009, a bit out of date but then it has been sitting in my reading pile for quite a while.

Quite a lot of the columns made me laugh out loud, some made me consider that he might have a point on some issues even if he goes about addressing it the wrong way and the rest was just typical Clarkson.

I understand why people find him offensive and why he keeps getting into trouble but I think a part of that at times is the world seems to be loosing their sense of humour. Everyone takes everything so seriously.

There are obviously times when a joke is wholly inappropriate and should have repercussions but some things are better laughed off or ignored so as not to fuel the flames any further. I wonder if the reason people challenge him so much is the additional publicity they achieve by being outraged by his behaviour, but then I can be a bit cynical at times.

If you like Jeremy Clarkson and you’re looking for a book you can easily dip in and out of then give it a go. If you don’t like him don’t bother!

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