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**BLOG TOUR** How Love Actually Ruined Christmas (or Colourful Narcotics) by Gary Raymond

I’m not a huge fan of rom-coms but I’ve always had a soft spot for the film Love Actually. With its stellar cast and feel-good story lines, I went to see it at the cinema, own the DVD and if I see it’s on TV, I find myself settling down to watch it once again. The title of this book, therefore, intrigued me – just how could this film possibly be accused of ruining Christmas?

If you have never seen the film, then this book will not make much sense to you! It is, essentially, a retelling of the plot, taking each aspect and dissecting it with a very critical eye. While my opinion of Love Actually has not been swayed after reading this, I do concede that the author has made some very valid points and I will definitely see parts of the film in a different light.

Gary Raymond definitely hits the nail on the head with regards to Daniel and Karen. This is a man who has recently lost his wife and yet his friend is pushing him towards starting a new relationship, seemingly even before the funeral! Until reading this, I had never given this insensitive behaviour a second thought! Likewise, the author’s comments on the Mark/Juliet/Peter relationship are spot on, although I am still a sucker for Andrew Lincoln’s (Mark) scene with the flashcards. The mention of Boris Johnson in this section may have put me off slightly, though!

If you have ever seen Love Actually, whatever your opinion of it, then I can definitely recommend this book. Well-written, witty and with some astute observations, there will be new thoughts running through my mind the next time I watch it. With Christmas coming up, that’s bound to be soon…

With thanks to Parthian, Gary Raymond and Emma from Damppebbles blog tours for my copy.

I, Robot: How to be a Footballer 2 by Peter Crouch

With what is going on in the world at the moment, I was in need of something a bit more light-hearted than what I usually read. I, Robot is the second book in a year from footballer Peter Crouch and if you were a fan of the first instalment, then you’re going to enjoy this one too.

If you’re looking for a serious autobiography, then you’re not going to find this here, but then, with Peter Crouch, I’m sure that’s not what you were expecting! What we have here is a collection of anecdotes from both his career as a Premier League footballer and from before this time, split into chapters with headings such as ‘Away Days’, ‘Referees’ and ‘Strikers’. While some sections are more successful than others, on the whole, this is a very readable book with plenty to keep you entertained.

As you would expect, in his writing, Peter Crouch comes across as a self-effacing character, honest about his career and team mates without ever being too shocking. Although he does give his opinion on many aspects of the game, it never veers from being a light-hearted take on the beautiful game. 

If you’re a football fan looking for a non-demanding, easy read, then this just might be the book for you.

With thanks to Ebury Press for my copy of I, Robot. 

 

 

Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sims

Mother of two, Ellen, is stressed. Working in IT with two argumentative children, a husband that is quite content snoring in front of the television and a dog that likes to judge, the big 4-0 is fast approaching and she’s exhausted. There must be more to life than this, surely?!

With the constant bad news at the moment, I was in need of something lighthearted to read and I remembered that despite reading books two and three of this series, I’d never read this one. This was also my first foray into the world of the audio book as I decided that this was exactly the sort of book that could accompany me whilst cooking and cleaning in self-isolation!

After reading the other books, it was good to see where all of this began and to be introduced, for the first time, to The Coven (aka the other mummies at the school gate) and her friends and family. Ellen is desperately trying to portray a middle-class images to the other mums, but feels she is thwarted at every turn either by her poorly behaved children or by her husband’s sister and her family. Louisa (or Amaris as she would like to be known) and her family were absolute gems of characters and you could truly visualise Ellen’s disdain of them.

Why Mummy Drinks provided me with many laugh out loud moments and was a much needed distraction from the current situation, read brilliantly by Gabrielle Glaister.

My other reviews:

Why Mummy Swears

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a …!,

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! by Gill Sims

With her marriage in tatters, Ellen decides to realise her dream of living in a cottage in the country. Unfortunately, the image she has in her head and the reality of rural life couldn’t be further apart! With two teenage children more concerned by the lack of wifi, a new dog that is definitely not Instagrammable and chatty chickens that appear to have an attitude problem, has she bitten off more than she can chew?

This, the third book in the series, sees Ellen at a definite turning point in her life, making it a much more melancholy read than the previous installment, Why Mummy SwearsAs well as the separation from her husband, there are several other traumatic events that Ellen has to endure, affecting her mood throughout the book. One, in particular, had my own heart racing as we see her fearing for the safety of one of her children.

Despite these events, the humour in this book is still there, with numerous laugh out loud moments. I particularly loved Ellen trying to relive her youth, accompanying her daughter to a music festival and having an unfortunate encounter with some body glitter! The love-hate relationship she shares with her teenage daughter, Jane, is very accurate, with her offspring displaying constant embarrassment due to her mother’s antics, despite her friends thinking that she has a cool mum!

Another thing I really liked about this book was the flashbacks it provided from my own childhood! I can definitely remember those rubber shower attachments which would fall off the taps at the worst moment possible, making washing your hair an impossibility!

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! provided me with much laughter, and if you have not read any of this series before, and are in need of a good laugh, I can highly recommend them.

Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years by Sue Townsend

41yMiciSptL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Now in his twenties, the eponymous diarist is not enjoying life. Still an aspiring writer, his debut novel, Lo! The Flat Hills of My Homeland is not going according to plan and this is only made worse when his schooldays tormentor, Barry Kent, has a book published and is becoming a minor celebrity. His personal life is not faring much better; lodging with the love of his life, Pandora, and her boyfriend is not an ideal situation for Adrian. As his life plummets from one despair to the next, there are little glimmers of hope for our hero that maybe life will, one day, take a turn for the better.

The Adrian Mole series is my go-to set of books that I revisit from time to time if I want to have a good laugh. I remember reading the first book in the series when I was only a child and it is only with hindsight that I wonder if I actually understood what I was reading about! When I saw that The Wilderness Years had recently been serialised on Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime, I decided that it would be a good time to ‘read’ this one again.

Still funny the second time round, it is hard not to feel sympathy for our hapless hero who goes from one bad situation to another with ease. Ever the dreamer, Adrian is still longing for Pandora who is enjoying flaunting her succession of lovers in front of him. When he finally realises that there may be other women out there, more suited to him, we begin to see a much happier character. Of course, in true Adrian-style, this turns into another disaster of mega-proportions!

As always, his family are causing him even more problems. His parents are no longer together and the death of a much-loved family member brings a rare solemn moment in what is a funny book; several moments did make me laugh out loud whilst listening.

Although this is not the best in the series, it is still a very humorous book that I will, no doubt, return to once again some time in the future.

 

 

Teacher, Teacher! by Jack Sheffield

The year is 1977 and Jack Sheffield has just started a new job as head teacher at Ragley Primary School in North Yorkshire. Teacher, Teacher! is the story of his first year in the post, showing how the young, inexperienced teacher deals with the staff, parents and pupils along with the numerous colourful characters of the local village.

Although I mainly read crime and thriller books, occasionally I like to venture into something a little more light-hearted so when I saw Teacher, Teacher! on The Works website, it looked right up my street. As someone who grew up after the time the book is set but remembers primary school with fondness, I looked forward to the book taking me right back to simpler times. As someone who works in education, I was also intrigued to see how schools today compared to Ragley in the 1970s.

Teacher, Teacher! is filled with laugh out loud moments from a cast of larger than life characters. A vivid picture has been painted of life in the school and it was easy to imagine people such as Ruby, the caretaker, and Mrs. Brown, the parent nobody wants to speak to at parents’ evening. There were numerous amusing tales of events such as the school camping trip and sports day – all before the days of health and safety and risk assessments!

The book also has its more poignant moments, the standout ones for me being Jack’s visit to a local special school where he spent his time dancing with a severely disabled child who could only ‘dance with her eyes’. This was a truly beautiful scene. I also enjoyed reading about Ping, a Vietnamese refugee who spent a short time at Ragley school. Both of these stories showed how important a nurturing environment is to children – a stark contrast to the current trend of testing and reducing children to statistics.

Teacher, Teacher! is a heart-warming read and I have already purchased the next in the series.

**BLOG TOUR** Full Metal Cardigan by David Emery

Full-Metal-Cardigan-Front-CoverFull Metal Cardigan is the first book from David Emery, detailing life as a social worker. While this is certainly a serious profession, it has also had its lighthearted and downright bizarre moments, many of which are recalled in this comical yet no-holds-barred look at life in social services.

They (whoever they may be) say that you should laugh in the face of adversity and it’s fair to say that David has found humour in some very dark places! Although he has faced some very dark events in the course of his job such as attempted suicides and physical attacks, he has clearly kept his sense of humour throughout, the numerous tales that had me laughing out loud being testament to this! From stories about being an unwitting driver to a drug dealer to nearly aiding a client on a one-way trip to Dignitas, Full Metal Cardigan provided laughs from beginning to end.

It must be remembered, though, that despite the funny stories, working in social services is not easy and is a profession that comes with a huge amount of responsibility. I have much respect for David and his colleagues, especially when reading about the lengthy working hours and amount of personal danger they are placed in. Not a job I would enjoy!

I really enjoyed Full Metal Cardigan and if you are looking for a quick, light-hearted read then this could just be the book for you!

With thanks to Fledgling Press for my ARC and to Kelly at Love Books Group for organising the blog tour. take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

full-metal-cardigan

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