A thrilling Alpine adventure starring a magnificent, bleary-eyed Richard Burton and a coolly anachronistic Clint Eastwood, Where Eagles Dare is the apex of 1960s war movies, by turns enjoyable and preposterous. ‘Broadsword Calling Danny Boy’ is Geoff Dyer’s tribute to the film he has loved since childhood: an analysis taking us from its snowy, Teutonic opening credits to its vertigo-inducing climax. For those who have not even seen Where Eagles Dare, this book is a comic tour-de-force of criticism. But for the film’s legions of fans, whose hearts will always belong to Ron Goodwin’s theme tune, it will be the fulfilment of a dream.
If you love ‘Where Eagles Dare’, this in-depth study of the film, with many amusing observations will appeal.
For other readers who are not devotees of the film, you will learn a lot about it from the author’s observations, but it’s like an ‘in’ joke you have to be there to find it funny.
The quality of the writing is evident, but I lost interest at times with the content, and I have seen the film more than once.
Conclusions, am I glad I read this book? Yes. Would I have read it if I’d realised how detailed the content is? No.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
To celebrate this, Shari Low has taken a baby wipe to the glossy veneer of the school of perfect parenting and written Because Mummy Said So to show us the truth about motherhood in all of its sleep-deprived, frazzled glory.
This is a book that every experienced, new or soon-to-be parent will relate to – well, hallelujah and praise be those who worship at the temple of Febreze. For over a decade, Shari wrote a hugely popular weekly newspaper column documenting the ups, downs and bio-hazardous laundry baskets of family life.
Because Mummy Said So is a collection of her favourite stories of parenting, featuring superheroes in pull up pants, embarrassing mistakes, disastrous summer holidays, childhood milestones, tear-jerking nativity plays, eight bouts of chickenpox and many, many discussions that were finished with the ultimate parental sticky situation get-out clause…
If reincarnation does in fact exist, can I please make a special request to come back as Julia Roberts? The lovely Julia was pictured last week leaving a Pilates class with her six-week-old twins. It was a sweet, precious and intimate snapshot of domestication: just Julia, her husband, her babies, and an army of helpers so large it could have invaded a small country.
Ladies, how many things are wrong with that scenario? Well, for a start, when my babies were six weeks old I couldn’t find my way out of my dressing gown, never mind into a wee Juicy Couture tracky for a jaunt up the leisure centre.
Secondly, the gilded A-lister was partaking in the practice of evil: an exercise class. Doesn’t she know that there’s an unwritten rule among the sisterhood (or should that be motherhood)? For at least two months – or in my case, years – after childbirth, we’re supposed to milk the memory of the physical trauma we’ve inflicted on our bodies by endeavouring at all times to have our feet in an elevated position and our mouths in close proximity to a chocolate snack. It’s the law.
And thirdly – and this is the real killer – Team Julia was carrying everything for her. She didn’t have a bulk-size box of Huggies strapped to her back. There were no bottles of milk dribbling up the arm of her jumper as she attempted to juggle baby, bag and feeding equipment. And she wasn’t within projectile-vomit range of either of her newborns.
That’s not motherhood, it’s a holiday.
While Miss Roberts gets the five-star, deluxe version of motherhood, this week I’ve been subjected to the self-catering, dodgy plumbing and offensive odours version. In the latest episode of my oh-so-glamorous life, I decided it was time for almost-three-year-old Brad to lose the nappies.
For those of you who are just tucking into a wee cup of tea and a bacon roll, I’ll spare you the details. But let’s just say that disinfectant spray became my very best friend. On the first day of Brad’s nappy liberation, I spent the whole time on my hands and knees contemplating puddles. Who knew children that small could store that much water? My second-born son is the toddler equivalent of a Saharan camel.
By lunchtime, I was soaked, exhausted and could feel the thud of my will to live tunnelling to freedom.
Worse, Brad was getting thoroughly sceptical about my promise that ‘Big Boys Pants’ would give him supernatural powers. Hopefully, one of which would be the ability to control his bladder.
Never has my familiar prima-donna war cry, ‘I bet Jackie Collins doesn’t have to put up with this pish!’ had a more literal meaning.
At four o’clock, wet, smelling of Eau de Sewer and covered in stains that I didn’t even want to think about, I speed-dialled the husband for moral support. It didn’t go well.
‘Hi, honey, having a good day?’ he had the absolute temerity to ask.
A GOOD DAY? Aaargh!
Yes, I know the poor man was only being polite but in my pee-soaked brain that somehow became a patronising comment from a smug bloke sitting in a comfy chair, in a civilised office, having conversations with other adults that consisted of words of more than one syllable, all the while partaking of hot and cold running bloody cappuccinos.
How dare he!
I slammed the phone down in disgust. I didn’t say I was rational. I’m a mother of two toddlers – that’s not in the job description.
Next day, over breakfast I was mulling over my dilemmas for the day: whether donning waterproof clothing was an overreaction, whether Dettox was available in gallon-size tubs and how to convince my husband that we didn’t, in fact, require a marriage guidance counsellor. So absorbed was I in my woes that I didn’t notice that Brad had left the table for a far comfier seat – one atop the porcelain throne. Yes, my wee angel had finally mastered the concept of waste management.
Overjoyed, I had an irresistible compulsion to call the One O’Clock News team to announce the thrilling news: Brad was toilet-trained. There’s only one downside – his aim isn’t brilliant. But then, I’ve never met a grown man who doesn’t share that problem, so I’m guessing it’s a gender thing.
There’s obviously a limit to the supernatural powers of Big Boy Pants.
Candid snapshots of life with children are popular at the moment, what makes this one different is that it is retrospective. A collection of thoughts that featured in the author’s column at the time ranging from 2004 -2017. Some of the people and events mentioned will bring back memories and add entertainment value to these amusing anecdotes about parenting and being a working mum.
This book is a fun-filled read for all parents, and its innate honesty is part of its charm. Being the perfect mummy, while holding down a full-time job was a mantra in the nineties, and the first decade of the twenty-first century, thankfully this stereotype has been ousted in recent years by a more realistic view of parenting which this book certainly showcases.
It’s worth reading because its funny, realistic, thought-provoking and poignant and given that many of the stories started in the early noughties a true original that has sparked the honest parenting blogs and books that currently are an important part of our culture.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Shari Low has published eighteen books under her own name and pseudonyms Millie Conway and Ronni Cooper. She is also one half of the writing duo, Shari King. She lives near Glasgow with her husband, two teenagers and a labradoodle.
Tess has downsized to a lively new town and is ready for “me” time. But her Zen-like calm is tested by her boomerang offspring, who keep fluttering back to the nest (usually with a full bag of dirty washing) and by her elderly mother’s struggle to hold on to her independence. Tess is also surprised to discover that there are dark resentments simmering beneath the vintage charm of her new hometown and a spate of vandalism has exposed the rift between the townsfolk and new arrivals like Tess. Tess enlists the help of gruff newspaper editor Malcolm to get to the bottom of the mystery, but when her ex-husband pays an unexpected visit, and her mother stages a disappearance, Tess starts to feel her new-found freedom wearing just a little thin…
I loved this story. It’s well-written with just the right amount of humour, romance and family drama and I can empathise with the main protagonist.
Tess’s move from London isn’t working out well. She misses her family and friends and wonders whether she’s made a mistake. Very soon, she is inundated with family including a very irritating ex and has more friends and admirers than she can cope with.
This contemporary comment on motherhood when the children are grown up and supposed to have left home is topical; with many young adults remaining in the family home until their late twenties because of financial constraints.
Tess is the hub of family life and her new friends’ dramas, so much so that she struggles to find any ‘me’ time. The resultant chaos is often hilarious and thankfully involves copious amounts of champagne. There is also a lovely sprinkling of mature romance, and every character is complex and adds to the story.
If you’re looking for a book to make you smile, this is the one.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A beautifully moving tale of loss and reaching out to the ones we love, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life. Our narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week . . . Because how do you decide what makes life worth living? How do you separate out what you can do without from what you hold dear? In dealing with the Devil our narrator will take himself – and his beloved cat – to the brink.
‘If Cats Disappeared from the World’ makes the reader think, what would I do in these circumstances. If death is imminent would I make a deal with the devil? What would I give up so I could live longer? Do I believe in the devil?
The main protagonist is a postman in Japan, only thirty with a diagnosis that makes death Imminent, Does he see’the devil?’ Or is this perhaps a delusional state caused by his illness. You decide, but the protagonist believes what he sees is real and that by giving up something important to him up he can cheat death of another day.
The saying is ‘you only regret the things you don’t do’. The postman’s consideration of what to banish from the world makes him look at his past life choices. He revisits his first love, his relationship with his dead mother and his estrangement from his still living father. The postman realises bartering his life for another living creature’s life is not as easy as losing things he considers essential.
A poignant, quirky tale, which on the surface is humorous and self-depreciating but dig a little deeper and you find out what our postman truly values in life. The author questions whether all the material things we consider vital are making us forget that it is other humans and living creature that enrich our lives and need protecting.
I received a copy of this book from Pan McMillan – Picador via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A hilarious contemporary retelling of the classic society novel, VANITY FAIR, featuring the irrepressible Becky Sharp
Beautiful, brilliant, ruthless – nothing can stop Becky Sharp.
Determined to leave her poverty-stricken roots behind her, Becky Sharp is going to take every opportunity offered to her to climb to the top. Whether it’s using her new BFF Amelia Sedley to step up into the rarified world of London’s upper classes, or seducing society’s most eligible bachelors, Becky Sharp is destined for great things – at any cost…
From London to Paris and beyond, the world is there for Becky’s taking – even though some people are determined to stop her along the way…
The old saying ‘history repeats itself’ is aptly portrayed in this witty, satirical look at contemporary society. Becky is every bit as irrepressible as the original 19th-century character and her single-minded determination to get the best out of her life has to be admired even if her methods of achieving this are often reprehensible.
This contemporary story retains the satirical sharpness of the original and demonstrates cleverly that 21-century society is surprisingly similar to Regency society. The characters are vivid and resonate, its hard to empathise with any of them but they are entertaining, and the story is easy reading.
I would love to see this made into a television series too.
If you enjoy an irreverent look on society, full of humour, a little romance, with glamour and squalor vying for attention take a chance on this, you won’t be disappointed.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction – Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Sarah is a former beauty therapist who doesn’t wear make-up. She’s a wannabe journo for gossip magazine Women’s Choice, but she knows nothing about celebrities. And now the love of her life has run out on her leaving her with a mortgage to handle on her own.
Her life hasn’t gone the way she expected, and Sarah feels her future slipping from her control, as life decisions come at her from all corners.
Heartbroken and fed up, she decides to take her career by the reins after standing still for far too long.
Sarah lands herself the assignment of a lifetime in Europe, with the gorgeous but egocentric photographer, Nick, who just happens to be her ex’s best friend.
But when Sarah’s assignment takes a darker turn, she discovers there’s more to this story than meets the eye. Is she ready to risk everything to get the scoop?
With a missing rock star, a suspected murderer on the run, and a race against the clock,Hot Pursuit will whisk you away to some of the world’s most romantic destinations.
Sarah is a frustrated journalist who is looking for her big break. Her love life is in tatters when she meets a man who may change the course of her life. A lighthearted read, but the subjects it touches are not. Sarah embarks on a trek across Europe following her story; she is naive as an investigative journalist, which produces some hilarious moments and quickly puts her in dangerous situations. Her partner in crime is Nick, the photographer, they have history, and she still has feelings for him, but they are confused, and this leads to snarky banter and sexual tension.
Sarah is a strong protagonist, and her tenacity makes sure she gets her story in the end, despite her inexperience and the numerous false leads she uncovers. Her relationship with Nick provides the story with its romance.
I received a copy of this story from Pantera Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Plus One [n] informal a person who accompanies an invited person to a social function or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none
Three little words all single ladies dread…
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.
But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…
Fun, bubbly and romantic with plenty of hot love scenes and 21st- century humour and wit.
The characters are vivid and the relationships dynamic. A simple plot is the charm of this type of book. There are characters to meet and get to know and romance to enjoy. This book delivers a fast-paced, humorous story, that’s easy to read, the perfect place to escape to plus one or not.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.