Wednesday 27 July 2022

And Away... by Bob Mortimer | Book Review

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And Away... by Bob Mortimer
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Publication date: 26th May 2022

Bob Mortimer’s life was trundling along happily until suddenly in 2015 he was diagnosed with a heart condition that required immediate surgery and forced him to cancel an upcoming tour. The episode unnerved him, but forced him to reflect on his life so far. This is the framework for his hilarious and moving memoir, And Away…

Although his childhood in Middlesbrough was normal on the surface, it was tinged by the loss of his dad, and his own various misadventures (now infamous from his appearances on Would I Lie to You?), from burning down the family home to starting a short-lived punk band called Dog Dirt. As an adult, he trained as a solicitor and moved to London. Though he was doing pretty well (the South London Press once crowned him ‘The Cockroach King’ after a successful verdict), a chance encounter in a pub in the 1980s with a young comedian going by the name Vic Reeves set his life on a different track. And now, six years on, the heart condition that once threatened his career has instead led to new success on BBC2’s Gone Fishing.

This is a very easy five star read for me. 

Bob Mortimer writes about life as a young boy right up to present day including the passing of his father, his work as a solicitor, his teenage friendships, how he met Jim Moir and the subsequent comedy shows they created and starred in.

I have been a massive Bob Mortimer fan since I was probably around 6 years old. I remember growing up watching The Smell Of Reeves and Mortimer and Shooting Stars with my dad. Mulligan & O'Hare and The Stotts hold a special place in my heart.

Being a comedian, I expected this book to be very funny and it being read by Bob in the audiobook version increased the hilarity. There were a few occasions when I had to stop myself from laughing like an idiot whilst listening on my walk to work. Notably, Mortimer singing the song Suits Me Fine from his short lived punk band days (Dog Dirt is a fantastic name if you ask me) and whenever he did Donald Stott's voice. That gets me every time.

Of course, being a life story, he writes about the sadder times too such as his depression at university and his fear when his health worsened and required an operation.

I genuinely loved hearing more about his life, especially in the solicitor days and also his feelings towards Jim are very moving. Mortimer ends the books with some lovely advice he wants to pass onto his sons, two of which are my absolute favourites and I will share below.

"Always walk kerbside when with a lady."
"A home should be full of books"

Thanks Bob, I will have a cappuchoochoo. Ciao!   

Wednesday 20 July 2022

Murder By The Sea by David Howard & Robin Jarossi | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a ebook copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Murder By The Sea by David Howard & Robin Jarossi
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Mardle Books
Publication date: 7th July 2022

A beach read like no other.

Be prepared for a journey from where the land meets the sea, to where life meets death.

There is something sinister about a British seaside town. On the surface they’re all funfairs and breezy promenades. Yet dig a little deeper in the sand and you soon uncover an underworld of murder, madness and mayhem…

This official companion book to the long-running true-crime documentary series on CBS Reality, dives into some of the most extraordinary murder cases in Britain’s seaside towns.

I am fascinated by true crime and always have been but mostly the forensic and psychological side of it.

Murder By The Sea is made up of ten chapters, each a story about a murder that happened in a seaside town. Some of these in more recent days and some dating back to the 1950s.

It reads exactly like a documentary (this book is taken from one such documentary of the same name) with information on the towns, backgrounds to both victims and killers and quotes from the officers and doctors who worked on the cases. I did not want to put this down and surprisingly I'd only heard of one case. Another case though, I think will stay with me forever. Mathew Hardman, that's all I will say. Wow.

I found myself wanting to know more whilst reading and did have an extra little Google at some stories. 

If you are a true crime fan, this is for you.


A massive thank you to Mardle Books for having me on the blog tour. You can find information about the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.

Friday 15 July 2022

Boys Don't Cry by Fíona Scarlett | Book Review

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Boys Don't Cry by Fiona Scarlett
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 20th April 2021

Joe is 17, a gifted artist and a brilliant older brother to 12-year-old Finn. They live with their Ma and Da in a Dublin tower block called ‘the Jax’. It’s not an easy place to be a kid, especially when your father, Frank, is the muscle for the notorious gang leader Dessie ‘The Badger’ Murphy. But whether it’s day trips to the beach or drawing secret sketches, Joe works hard to show Finn life beyond the battered concrete yard below their flat.

Joe is determined not to become like his Da. But when Finn falls ill, Joe finds his convictions harder to cling to. With his father now in prison, his mother submerged in her grief, and his relationships with friends and classmates crumbling, Joe has to figure out how to survive without becoming what the world around him expects him to be.  

What an absolutely beautiful book. I can't believe it is a debut. I am from Belfast and I just love reading work by Irish authors, especially when their books are set in Ireland.

This story is set in Dublin and follows 17 year old Joe and younger brother Finn, who is 12. They are a working-class family living in a flat and their dad is involved in some shady business. Joe gets a scholarship to a prestigious school and things are looking up. He won't end up like his da. But when Finn starts getting nosebleeds and bruises a lot and is later diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, how will Joe cope? The chapters switch between the points of view of Finn during his illness and Joe after Finn's death.

Scarlett writes humour and heartbreak together perfectly. Knowing that Finn is going to die makes for an emotional read and Joe struggling without his brother is a whole other heartbreak. He is adamant he doesn't want to turn into his da but can he stop himself after his brother is gone? 

I loved every single character, I felt every emotion, it is raw and moving and I will be thinking about this one for a while. I truly feel like it needs to be made into a movie.

Tuesday 12 July 2022

A Burning by Megha Majumdar | Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

A Burning by Megha Majumdar
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 17th March 2022

A girl walks through the slums of Kolkata holding an armful of books. She returns home smelling of smoke, and checks her most prized possession: a brand-new smartphone, purchased in instalments. On Facebook, there is only one conversation.


On the small, glowing screen, she types a dangerous thing…

‘If the police didn’t help ordinary people like you and me, if the police watched them die, doesn’t that mean that the government is also a terrorist?’

Set in contemporary India, A Burning is the story of three unforgettable characters, all dreaming of a better future, whose lives are changed for ever when they become caught up in the devastating aftermath of a terrorist attack.  

Jivan – a poor, young, Muslim girl, who dreams of going to college – faces a possible death sentence after being accused of collaborating with the terrorists.
Lovely – an exuberant hijra who longs to be a Bollywood star – holds the alibi that can set Jivan free, but telling the truth will cost her everything she holds dear.
PT Sir – an opportunistic gym teacher who once taught Jivan – becomes involved with Hindu nationalist politics and his own ascent is soon inextricably linked to Jivan’s fall.

Taut, propulsive and electrifying, from its opening lines to its astonishing finale, A Burning confronts issues of class, fate, prejudice and corruption with a Dickensian sense of injustice, and asks us to consider what it means to nurture big ambitions in a country hurtling towards political extremism.

This book is pretty heartbreaking and thought provoking.

Jivan witnesses men torching a railway station and the next day, videos are being shared about it on Facebook. Jivan shares her thoughts on how the police behave, the entirety of this book is political. This puts Jivan in a compromising position. She is arrested after it is found that she had Facebook correspondence with a terrorist recruiter. The police believe that she was behind the railway being burned.

The story is told from Jivan's point of view in prison, awaiting trial and from Lovely, an aspiring actress who was learning English from Jivan and PT Sir, one of Jivan's old teachers.

Lovely is determined to be a famous actress and PT Sir befriends a politician and ends up receiving gifts for providing eye witness testimonies against criminals when the courts don't have enough evidence. He believes his life is changing for the better. Both PT Sir and Lovely stand up for Jivan in court, but this may cause them to lose out on their dreams and aspirations. What will they do?

This is a politically heavy book set in India and honestly broke my heart. The corruption of the police and government and how they treat people was tough to read about. 

Friday 8 July 2022

Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee | Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Scribner 
Publication date: 15th April 2021

In the coastal resort of Margate, hotels lie empty and sun-faded ‘For Sale’ signs line the streets. The sea is higher – it’s higher everywhere – and those who can are moving inland. A young girl called Chance, however, is just arriving.

 Chance’s family is one of many offered a cash grant to move out of London - and so she, her mother Jas and brother JD relocate to the seaside, just as the country edges towards vertiginous change. 

In their new home, they find space and wide skies, a world away from the cramped bedsits they’ve lived in up until now. But challenges swiftly mount. JD’s business partner, Kole, has a violent, charismatic energy that whirlpools around him and threatens to draw in the whole family. And when Chance comes across Franky, a girl her age she has never seen before – well-spoken and wearing sunscreen – something catches in the air between them. Their fates are bound: a connection that is immediate, unshakeable, and, in a time when social divides have never cut sharper, dangerous. Set in a future unsettlingly close to home, against a backdrop of soaring inequality and creeping political extremism, Rankin-Gee demonstrates, with cinematic pace and deep humanity, the enduring power of love and hope in a world spinning out of control.

There is absolutely no doubt that this is a well written book that pushes climate change to the forefront of our minds. This could be a reality.

At the beginning of the book, six year old Chance is moving to Margate with mum and thirteen year old brother JD following a government grant to move out of London.

The seaside town of Margate where funfair Dreamland stands, is destitute. Sea levels are rising, buildings are derelict. There are no services. Most people are leaving but Chance's life there is just beginning.

Her family are doing anything to survive which ends in some heartbreaking consequences. Teenage Chance meets and seemingly falls in love with Franky, a girl who shows up from London working with LifeSave. But can Chance really trust her?

It is very heavily focused on social inequality and political extremism and forces us to both think and feel.

Monday 4 July 2022

This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno | Book Review

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This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: MCD x FSG Originals
Publication date: 12th October 2021

It was Vera’s idea to buy the Itza. The “world’s most advanced smart speaker!” didn’t interest Thiago, but Vera thought it would be a bit of fun for them amidst all the strange occurrences happening in the condo. It made things worse. The cold spots and scratching in the walls were weird enough, but peculiar packages started showing up at the house—who ordered industrial lye? Then there was the eerie music at odd hours, Thiago waking up to Itza projecting light shows in an empty room.

It was funny and strange right up until Vera was killed, and Thiago’s world became unbearable. Pundits and politicians all looking to turn his wife’s death into a symbol for their own agendas. A barrage of texts from her well-meaning friends about letting go and moving on. Waking to the sound of Itza talking softly to someone in the living room...

The only thing left to do was get far away from Chicago. Away from everything and everyone. A secluded cabin in Colorado seemed like the perfect place to hole up with his crushing grief. But soon Thiago realizes there is no escape—not from his guilt, not from his simmering rage, and not from the evil hunting him, feeding on his grief, determined to make its way into this world.

I have been waiting for a book like this. I am a massive psychological thriller reader but wanted to branch more into horror. I'd heard about This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno a lot and I was initially intrigued by the synopsis. A seemingly possessed smart home speaker? I'm in. But it is so much more.

The story is written as though it is being told by Thiago to his late wife Vera. We learn that Vera was "accidentally" killed and Thiago is retelling the story of her funeral, their life before she died and what happened following her death.

To me, it feels like two different stories but works so well. I absolutely loved the description of their relationship. Vera decides to purchase a smart home device called Itza and strange things start happening. They hear scratching in the walls, odd packages arrive that haven't been ordered. Following Vera's death, Thiago moves to Colorado, of course leaving the Itza behind, but the supernatural instances keep occurring.

This book is graphic and there are a lot of gruesome scenes. I listened to this on audio and had to go back and listen to the end twice. Damn near perfect.