Fiction: Book Review – The World According to Clarkson by Jeremy Clarkson

The World According to Clarkson

Let’s face it, Jeremy Clarkson is the king of foot in mouth. He’s the prince of digging himself a hole and then jaunting off to get a JCB to dig himself in just a little deeper. He’s like many men of ‘a certain age’ throughout Britain – opinionated, but not necessarily always right and very rarely politically correct.

This book, which is basically an anthology of his Sunday Times columns, proves this point to a tee. Clarkson takes on topics including new-build properties encroaching on his precious countryside, the lottery and how he is a complete failure at anything of a green-fingered nature. Sure, it’s an easy read, and it’s amusing enough, but I guess I expected it to be funnier. There were a few times when I expelled air, or tutted in amusement, but actual laugh out loud moments were few and far between.

Mr Clarkson does have an excellent writing style, his prose sounds like him, it’s short, it’s punchy and he manages to convey a whole argument into not very many words at all, but it’s just not that amazing. Flicking through the book to write this review, I’m struggling to remember what some of the pieces were even about. And I guess that, again, makes him like those other men of ‘a certain age’ – caustically opinionated, but thankfully forgettable.

Passes the time, but not going to change you life.

Fabulous rating: 2.5/5

Fiction: Book Review – The Humans by Matt Haig

My latest read. #summerreading #books #TheHumans #MattHaig #lbloggers

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I’m not quite sure what happened with this book, it almost stalked me. Firstly a follow from its author Matt Haig on Twitter aroused my interest, followed by switching on Radio 2 one evening to hear them talking about The Humans. It was the book I couldn’t escape, and feeling that someone (possibly some clever marketers) was trying to tell me something I relented and hit-up Amazon for my own copy. I’m glad I did.

As the blurb says:

Professor Andrew Martin is not feeling quite himself.

I won’t spoil the plot for you by telling you why, although I will say it won’t take you very long to figure that out for yourself once you start reading.

With short, punchy, humorous chapters this book is an easy read. In fact, I found myself finishing it in a couple of days. But aside from that it’s a really, really clever way of questioning what it is to be human, why it is that we submit to certain social expectations and what is actually really important to us. Matt Haig manages to question some deep topics in such a humorous way, it’s comforting, uplifting and if you don’t feel alive after reading this, then, well, you’re probably dead (on the inside at least). The 97 pieces of ‘Advice for a Human’ are as genius as they are true.

Thought provoking, but without the flouncy deepness and with a whole host of laugh out loud moments. I’m glad this book stalked me until I relented and read it. You should do the same.

Fabulous rating: 5/5

Fiction: Book Review Run For Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

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I love, love, love books where you really get a mental image of what the characters look like. Slightly surreally with this thriller, my ‘good cop’ was the spitting image of Freddie Prince Jr , my ‘baddy’ bore more than a passing resemblance to Lord Disick from the Kardashians. Of course, the Irish Priest was Father Ted and the Irish Nanny was Alice Eve. My brain’s clichéd casting abilities aside, I really enjoyed this book.

As with all James Patterson novels, the chapters are short, progressing the story in enticing bite sized morsels. Each one leaving you wanting more. The sentences, paragraphs, pages are so well crafted so as to paint a picture, without any unnecessary fluff and avoiding giving the game away too early.

Detective Michael Bennett is assigned to the case of a serial killer who is striking at classy establishments all over New York City. The novel moves between the perspective of Michael and ‘The Teacher’, the ruthless serial killer who is on a moral mission. This adds great colour to the book – we learn about Mike’s turbulent home life, which endears us to him. And we slowly start to find out what’s made ‘The Teacher’ so mad.

A fast-paced crime thriller, if you like James Patterson novels, or you’re looking for an exciting easy read this would be a good choice.

Fabulous Rating: 4/5

Fiction: Book Review #19 – Cover of Night by Linda Howard

Life is too short to read a bad book, James Joyce

Via Pinterest.

Oh yes, monsieur Joyce. Never has a truer word been spoken.

Cover of Night is billed  – on the front cover no less – as…

Suspense that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat.

Admittedly that acclaim does come from middle-aged women’s magazine, Bella.

I tried with this book, I really did. I was expecting a tense thriller. Something where I needed to know who dunnit, why they’d dunnit and what they were up to next. I made it to chapter seven and then gave up…

Cover of Night by Linda Howard

Cate has moved to a sleepy town in Idaho after the death of her husband and now runs a small B&B. One of her guests mysteriously disappears (exiting through an open window in his room) and she’s kinda perturbed (although she seems more annoyed about having to tidy up his stuff than anything particularly sinister). She also seems to have a bit of a thing for the local handyman, although by chapter seven, she doesn’t quite seem to realise this herself. Then there’s the plot of the guys who are looking for the guy who escaped from the window. But it’s just, well, boring. Dishes have been washed, coffee has been served, Cate’s mother has come to visit, Cate has sent her toddler twins to the naughty chair on numerous occasions. But I kind of felt that none of this added anything to the story. It didn’t grip me, in fact it was so lack lustre that I’m surprised I made it to chapter seven.

One of the issues with this book, is that it has a bit of an identity crisis. It doesn’t quite know whether it wants to be a romantic novel or a thriller. It succeeds in being neither and is, instead, utterly boring.

The novel could also do with substantial editing. I know that when you’re trying to write you feel the need to include every minuscule detail to ensure everything makes sense/is in context etc… (heck, I often stage manage my dreams in such a fashion) but the art of a good writer (or editor) is to take bits out. The bits that are left out are as important as the information that’s left in. They’re the bits that make the reader use their imagination – the parts that make the story unique to them. Here’s one such instance which I think could have done with some editing…

Goss’s weapon of choice was a Glock, but in situations like this you took what was available on short notice. The two handguns provided were a Beretta and a  Taurus, with a box of cartridges for each. Goss had never used a Taurus before but Toxtel had, so Toxtel took it and let Goss have the familiar Beretta. They transferred the weapons to their bags, then called the pilot of their rent-a-plane to tell him they were on their way.

Because they were flying on a private plane, they didn’t have to go through security at the airport.

Seriously?! How can a few sentences about guns and ammunition be so blooming boring?!

I don’t like to slate things, I really don’t. But this just wasn’t for me.

Fabulous rating: 0/5

Check out my reading list here. What’s on yours?

Fiction: Book Review – The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

What I'm reading #17 #Fiction #RosaumundePilcher #TheShellSeekers

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It seems only apt that I finished reading this on the evening before what would have been my nan’s 92nd birthday. Apt because, when we came to the morbid task of sorting through her possessions after she passed away, this was one of the items that I decided to keep. I’d read some other Rosamunde Pilcher books, and although set in a bygone era, I’d enjoyed them. If only I’d realised my nan’s literary tastes were so similar to mine whilst she was still with us.

The origin of the book isn’t the only reason that my timing for completing it is so apt it’s also the content. The book tells the tale of Penelope, an artist’s daughter, now in later life, but still full of independence and energy. Penelope doesn’t take kindly to her children’s pleas to take it easy.  Neither does she take kindly to her children’s plans for her pride possession – a painting by her late father, which is now worth a considerable sum.

Family sagas, the battle between adult children and their independent but aging parents are just some of the topics which the book tackles in it’s charming, if a little dated, way. Throughout the book Penelope reminisces about her somewhat bohemian and action-packed life. I particularly enjoyed her war-time reminisces, which painted a real picture of who Penelope used to be, someone who perhaps, her children didn’t even realise she ever was, and a persona which Penelope seems keen to rekindle with her new acquaintances.

One of the things I really enjoy about Rosaumunde Pilchard’s novels is her character development. By the end of the novel you’ve got a really good feel of the individual characters of each of Penelope’s children.

The down side to the book is that, at 671 pages, it does get rather rambly. But perhaps that’s the point? Who hasn’t sat there patiently whilst an elderly relative regales you with tales of their youth? Certainly my nan could spin a good yarn about her younger years, or of when her father returned from the war.

Perhaps the moral to this book is that the next time someone takes the time to share their past with us, we should at least take the time to listen?

Fabulous rating: 3/5