#BookReview by Lou of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin @itsmcronin @alisonbarrow #LenniAndMargot #Fiction


The Hundred and One Years of Lenni and Margot

By Margot Cronin
Rated: 5 stars *****

Essential, witty and emotional – The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is marvellous and utterly unputdownable.
Find out more about the author, the blurb and review below.
With thanks to Alison Barrow at publisher – Transworld Books/Doubleday for gifting me a beautiful physical copy of the book.

About the Author

Lenni and Margot took me seven years to write and I’m very excited that their story is now reaching readers here on Amazon.

Before I started working on writing fiction full-time, I spent my days in academia, writing things that nobody wanted to read (not even my mum!). I have a PhD in Applied Linguistics but I don’t use the title ‘Dr’ on official documents because I’m scared of being asked to help in a medical emergency and having only a thesis on linguistics to help.

I like to write at night and I like to be alone when I do. When I’m not writing, I can be found trying to be funny in various improv groups or watching my recently-adopted cat sleeping under my desk.

LenniAndMargot Cover

Blurb

An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories.
Their last one begins here.

_______________________________________
Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it’s not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.

Dodging doctor’s orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.

To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.

As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.

LenniAndMargot Cover 2

Review

Set primarily in Glasgow, with tales of life being lived in London and on a beach in Troon,  the premise of life and death is fabulous and is as far from bleak as you can get with such a subject matter. This is pretty uplifting and also essential, as we all live and we all have final days and yet it isn’t talked about very much. For a debut novel, it is very accomplished and totally enthralling and utterly compelling and unputdownable.
Lenni is in hospital in Glasgow and it initially sounds pretty bleak, but this could not be further than the truth! It questions life and death in such a natural, funny and brave way. Lenni is foreward in giving opinions and statements and generally gives the chaplin – Father Arthur a run for his money, especially about life and death and God, and is in search of answers as to why life is ending at the tender age of 17. It is absolutely brilliant in how so many emotions are portrayed and how matter-of-fact thoughts and dialogue is.
Lenni and Margot, truly have a story of  significance and importance to tell, after all, this covers subjects that are natural and yet not properly talked about and it nicely doesn’t skirt around the cycle of life and subsequent death. It calls it all what it is, which is refreshingly honest. 

At the other end of the scale is Margot, who Lenni comes across in the hospital. She is 83. Here is the clever thing about the title. Margot (83) and Lenni (17) have the most extraordinary inventiveness how to reach 100, which is just joyous and bittersweet all at once, but with a wonderful upbeat determination.
What blossoms is a lovely friendship. This is, despite life coming to and end, just so heartwarming and beautiful to watch occur and what makes it so, apart from the humour, is that Margot tells Lenni about her younger years of life, and how she becomes interested in it. This is as much about life and not just merely existing, but truly living it, as it is in making the most of what is left of it. It isn’t about just about staying in a hospital bed either, it’s about still doing activities, as they met in an art class within the hospital and it is about when life was lived and death couldn’t be further away.

It’s a book that will make you laugh one minute and all sad in another as emotions oscillate throughout, this is a terrific debut novel, full of heart and the most unlikely of friendships, but circumstance brough Lenni and Margot together, because it can be extraordinary how and when and who with friendships are formed, which develop into something that becomes natural. It is a wonderful book from beginning to end.

#Review (by Lou) of Paul McKenna’s Positivity Podcast @ImPaulMcKenna – Rated 5 stars #podcast – A fascinating podcast of interviews about mindset, books, films and more… #PositivityPodcast #Podcast

 Positivity Podcast
Hosted by Paul McKenna
Featuring Various Guests
Rated: 5 stars *****

Positivity Podcast

Paul McKenna is an International Bestselling Author and Hypnotist. He also does online Zoom events and (when times are better, live venue events).
For a good while now, he has been doing a podcast, where he introduces his objective to the podcast, being to interview the most interesting people in the world and get insights to discover how it is they do what they do, what makes them unique and fascinating, their success mindset and what keeps them positive as well as what books they have published. The interviews are more realistic and down-to-earth than you would think, which is a postive in itself. Paul McKenna also has a new book out about changing your life, to add to his collection of many published bestselling books; he also has newspaper articles with practical steps to help reduce stress for adults and children, in national newspapers and online events. He also presents on radio and gives interviews about his latest work on national radio and tv.

As well as interviews on his podcast with well-known celebrities, he has also produced some podcasts that encompass techniques you can try at home – Unlocking Lockdown – Coronaphobia ♦ Unlocking Lockdown – Motivation for Life ♦ Control Stress ♦ Deep Sleep ♦ Stop Comfort Eating ♦ Stay Positive & Happy. All of this can be accessed for Free via this link: https://www.globalplayer.com/podcasts

I am impressed by Paul McKenna’s interview style and the questions and the time and attention he takes with his guests and how much he allows them to speak and really answer the questions. The questions mainly focus around what he knows best and seem formal and serious at times, but there are elements of lightness, that does come from him. His guests sound at ease, which allows listeners to gently ease themselves into the episodes and time passes by swiftly as they are compelling.

Each podcast takes just 30 minutes, which is absolutely perfect for those with busy lives and yet to hear some fascinating insights, which you may not already know about a person. It’s also perhaps, a bit thought-provoking for your own life as well There is something heartwarming and uplifting about these podcasts. As much as most of the questions appear to be the same or similar in the episodes, they are so open-ended that every answer (because everyone has their own individual lives and has different experiences), is where the real interest and unique content is.

He has made many episodes, all of which are still available. I am unsure whether there are more to come or not. Here are just a bit of what you can expect and with whom. I’ve written (with hopefully no spoilers), about 3 interviews Paul McKenna conducted with a sportsman, a dancer/author and an actor.

Positivity Podcast

Gareth Southgate – English Professional Football Manager (Currently for the English National Team  and Former Player).

This is a really lovely, grounded interview, which is just a joy to listen to.

He talks about being optimistic and a high work ethic and building resillience.

He has a new book – Anything is Possible. A set of life lessons, princpals for the journey of life. It is for people for all ages and covers many interests (not just sport). There is the basis for giving hope for the future. The proceeds go to The Prince’s Trust, which is an excellent charity.

Gareth Southgate talks about the dream he had for playing football and having a goal and how he overcame hurdles and obsticals and how he transfers it over to his team and breaking down big goals into something manageable to progress and improve. It sounds a realistic interview and how there are good and bad days and how to overcome the bad days and keeping perspective.

He also talks about who influenced him, which is an interesting mix of people, who created a balance for him.

Paul McKenna talked about how he helped in some of the preparation and how to visualise and getting into a peak state of performance.

He talks of his proudest achievement and what makes him happy and his projections for the future… Listen to find out what this…

Positivity Podcast

Anton Du Beke – Professional Dancer (can be seen on Strictly on the BBC and in theatres) and Author.

He has a new book (now published) A Christmas To Remember. It’s 3rd in the series, but all are standalone. He sets his novels just before the end  2nd World War. The book sounds terrific and is based on what he knows about elegance and dance. He can hear the people speaking and sounds and he can visualise it all. It all sounds opulent.

He has some wonderful advice of not looking back and talks about how he doesn’t plan for 5 years time and instead, looks a week at a time and makes an interesting presumption about his life. There are some great anecdotes and really good wiseness of life. It turns out Anton Du Beke is incredibly wise.

He talks of humble beginnings and it is absolutely fascinating how his parents came together and how they ended up in the UK. He talks about how he came across dancing and what he wanted, but was uncertain of the career path as to how to reach his goal, and yet sounds like he was certain how he wanted to dance.

He talks of internal conflict in being competitiveness and artistic dancing and how he chose which form of dance to concentrate on.

The interview swiftly moves onto character traits and this is possibly the most fascinating, with his sheer determination and optimism.

You can learn something about Anton Du Beke that is very surprising indeed relating to his mindset about his personality and what upsets him and also just how lucky he is, but also who he was starstruck with and how he reacted.

He says not to give up on your dreams. He has some great advice around this and there’s a kindness and warmth around it.

Positivity Podcast

James Cosmo – Actor of many films, tv programmes such as Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and much more…

He talks about his upbringing in Clydebank, Glasgow and how ordinary it was. He talks of being disinterested in some things and how he came to acting. He also has a wonderful word that it sounds like Paul McKenna himself learns.

James Cosmo talks about his mentors and who inspired him. The answer is very differently to how you may expect.

The way he talks about having a bad day or bad period of his life in such a realistic way and this is one of the things that comes through in the podcasts, is a realistic outlook and optmimism. He talks about growing up and perspectives and being grateful. He talks of his traits and how independent he was and the impact of this and being in tough times and surviving them. Where he gets joy from is absolutely wonderful and moving. They talk about giving and supporting each other and kindness and how nourishing it is.

He talks of his proudest achievement and his view on success, as well as being starstruck. What makes him happy shows him as having a humbleness.

He has just finished working on an audiobook called Hyde – a retelling of Jekyll and Hyde, which is very dark and gothic.
He has a movie coming soon, called Skylines (filmed a few months ago), which is based in a futuristic, dystopian world, which has aliens in it.
You can also find out what Paul McKenna likes to watch on tv, which relates to a show that James Cosmo was in, which is talked of with such fondness, especially the actors James worked with and there is much joviality.

James Cosmo has some lovely advice to give to listeners and how taking one road isn’t always the easiest ones, but can be the best ones to take. He also talks about a question involving younger people.

Discover more at https://www.globalplayer.com/podcast

#Review (by Lou)- Even More Trueman And Riley by Brian B. Thompson, @brianbthompson Starring @RobertDaws and #DuncanPreston #Audible #CrimeFiction #TruemanRiley

Trueman & Riley
Starring Robert Daws and Duncan Preston

Created by Brian B. Thompson

I started listening to Trueman & Riley during lockdown 1 and now getting back to it in lockdown 3, in between work. I’ve been savouring it because it is such a fantastically entertaining series, first created for the BBC, with a sensational cast, that can be listened to on Audible.

Written by BAFTA-winning dramatist Brian B. Thompson, this smart, entertaining crime drama stars Robert Daws as Trueman and Duncan Preston as Riley. Written by Brian B. Thompson. Produced and directed by Toby Swift and Jenny Stevens.

Links to previous episode review Chapters 1 – 5             Chapters 7-10

Below is episodes 11-14 reviews and with just a few more to listen to, it’ll be my weekend treat.

TruemanRiley

Chapter 11

A Man’s World – Back in the office  after a stint in the Student Crime Prevention Team, they back on the front line are on the case of thefts from pregnant women. Eileen Hayes is one of the midwives on duty as the local hospital is under scrutiny, where the crimes are committed.
There is interesting attitudes and points made about equality within employment. It cleverly puts a new slant on things and still most pertinent and an angle rarely talked about, making A Man’s World, not as predictable as listeners would think. There is quite a mammoth twist within this tale.
There are secrets in the midst with one of the women. Listen to find out who is telling the truth in this gripping episode.

Chapter 12

The Other Sheik This is a different start. There is a chase from the beginning for a potential perpetrator. A woman runs a lingerie shop on her own and it’s quite humorous in how she sees Trueman as she is being asked about what happened. It weaves in elements of the topic of objectification. There are some double-entendres and enough to make Trueman, perhaps hot under the collar, or squirm.
There are fires amongst lingeries shops and listeners can find out if or what the connection is and there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Chapter 13

Love Bites  banker boyfriend reports his 32 year old girlfriend missing. The case involves the real world and the virtual one and how people spend money in certain virtual games. The denials and the truth of Trueman and Riley and their thoughts on the virtual reality game is fun as is  how they create and use their avatar selves. It is fun how they use this to help solve the case.

Chapter 14

Every Dog Has It’s Day causes much excitement when the phone rings to report a murder case. It is not what they expect, which makes it funnier, but got to feel sorry for Trueman and Riley. Got to feel sorry for the victim and the brutal killing it endured. It isn’t their usual sort of case, to say the least and Riley wouldn’t mind being in with a person who is attached to the victim, despite not really being a match and Trueman trying to steer him into the mindset of the case, instead of women, or one woman who just happens to be divorced, but one with quite a history attached to her and she isn’t all as sweet as she may first seem. There’s also that age old thing of how married people behave with their husbands when a single person is around.
There’s some quips from Riley back to Trueman too.

Snakes and Ladders (Knight And Culverhouse series) by Adam Croft @adamcroft #BookReview by Lou #CrimeFiction #KnightCulverhouse

Snakes and Ladders
By Adam Croft
Rated: 5 stars *****

It is always a pleasure to find in my inbox, an invitation to review a book by Adam Croft, and that anticipation to see if it is as good as the last. This one certainly is. It is a great read with atmosphere and points for readers to ponder over at the side of it. Snakes and Ladders is, more than just a board game, it is now the hotly aniticipated title of book 10 in the Knight & Culverhouse series, but definitely can be read as stand alone or as part of the series.
Read further to discover more about this sinister book and my review.
Thanks to Joanne and Adam Croft for inviting me to review.

Snakes and Ladders

Blurb

A body lies amongst the undergrowth in Mildenheath Woods. His hands are bound behind his back, and he’s been killed execution-style.

But the victim isn’t a gangland kingpin: he’s a well-liked young man, never in any trouble, who had his whole life ahead of him.

But as Jack Culverhouse and Wendy Knight begin to dig deeper into what happened, a shocking new truth comes to light. Was the victim quite as innocent as he seemed?

Snakes and Ladders

Review

Maisie Daniels makes a great point about social media to begin with, which is pertinent and catches the attention fast!
In a wonderful, texturised opening chapter sets the story well. Culverhouse and Knight are then onto a case of a discovered body and all becomes rather mysterious as personalities don’t really fit into a neat box of what happened.
The book is rather vivid and is great for the senses to bring readers into the woods.

There are drugs and a murder and Jack Culverhouse has rather a lot to contend with including in his increasingly tangled personal life and working out how to best ensure Emily is okay.
Interestingly, there  is an insight into how experienced he is in policing and the way it is done is brought into the body of the story which is illuminating into what knowledge he has to be able to cast predictions on what briefs may say and how to enter different situations with a clear decision on what technique to use.
There are complications within dynamics and suspicions and it is intriguing to see who is actually trustworthy.

There are some rather blunt and yet, well considered and entirely valid comments on social media that are made within Snakes and Ladders, which I am pretty sure readers will see as giving food for thought. There is also almost a celebration in a way of pubs, in a way that makes them sound interesting places and have so much purpose as Jack Culverhouse has a few reasons for popping into one.
There are eloquent turns of phrases that are used, which adds to the gravity of certain situations and their enormity, especially near the end.

About the Author

Adam CroftWith more than half a million books sold to date, Adam Croft is one of the most successful independently published authors in the world, and one of the biggest selling authors of the past year.

Following his 2015 worldwide bestseller Her Last Tomorrow, his psychological thrillers were bought by Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon Publishing. Prior to the Amazon deal, Her Last Tomorrow sold more than 150,000 copies across all platforms and became one of the bestselling books of the year, reaching the top 10 in the overall Amazon Kindle chart and peaking at number 12 in the combined paperback fiction and non-fiction chart.

His Knight & Culverhouse crime thriller series has sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide, with his Kempston Hardwick mystery books being adapted as audio plays starring some of the biggest names in British TV.

In 2016, the Knight & Culverhouse Box Set reached number 1 in Canada, knocking J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child off the top spot only weeks after Her Last Tomorrow was also number 1 in Canada.

During the summer of 2016, two of Adam’s books hit the USA Today bestseller list only weeks apart, making them two of the most-purchased books in the United States over the summer.

Before writing full time, Adam had previously worked as an internet marketing consultant, delivery driver and professional actor.

Adam has been featured on BBC Radio, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Bookseller and a number of other news and media outlets.

Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves @g_c_reeves @AllenAndUnwin @RandomTTours #BookReview by Lou of #VictoriaPark #ContemporaryFiction #Fiction

Victoria Park
By Gemma Reeves
Rated: 3 1/2 stars

Well observed and captures the essence of Londoners, Victoria Park takes readers through a rich tapestry of various people’s lives. Also check out the wonderful cover, look through the window and then delve into the book to see what is beyond it. Please find out more about the author, the blurb and full review as you read through this blog post of the penultimate day of the blog tour.
Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to review on this blog tour and for a physical book.

Victoria Park Graphic

 

About the Author

Victoria Park Gemma Reeves Author Pic

 

Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London.

 

Blurb

Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year.

Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.

With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.

Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London.

Victoria Park cover Image

Review

Wolfie seems quite the busy man, with a wife – Mona. As well as building a shed for his garden, he also opened a deli near Victoria Park and certainly has a love of food. There’s a bit of history told about Victoria Park and why it was built, which is absolutely fascinating. There’s also all manner of life of people going about their business in the book. It’s one for those who like to observe life. There’s love, attitudes and sometimes waspishness and sometimes hardships and sometimes there are pockets of it being uplifting. It’s interesting reading about this community in London and it certainly feels very London like in many aspects. There are moments of aloofness and a sadness that hangs in the air.  It’s soft in pace, a bit like strolling through a park, as revelations then appear bit by bit as readers are taken through people’s lives one month at a time, during the course of a year, with the ever changing situations as the book focuses on twelve Londoners.
It’s a book that would feed curious minds as to what it can be actually like, living in London, largely away from all the main landmarks and activities that the city is known for, which gives people outwith London a look into how living there can be as it takes readers through the tapestry of various people’s lives. It shows that there are eperiences and behaviours that are not just unique to the city. There are also things to ponder, especially for people living in towns and cities, and also some nuggets for people in the country to consider too.

Victoria Park BT Poster

David Bowie by Robert Dimery #DavidBowie #Bookreview by Lou #LawrenceKingPublishing #NetGalley #NonFiction #Biography #Music

David Bowie
By Robert Dimery
Rated:
5 stars *****

Whether you are a seasoned fan of David Bowie or wanting an introduction to who he was, then this compelling book would make a great starting point or addition to anyone’s music collection.
Thanks to Lawrence King Publishing for accepting my request to review.
Read further to discover the blurb and the review in full.

David Bowie

Blurb

David Bowie was a restless innovator, scoring chart hits that broke radical new ground. His image changed with almost every album, influencing high streets and catwalks alike. He became an acclaimed actor, while his androgynous aura and ambiguous sexuality proved liberating to those uncertain about their own. This book charts his evolution in the sixties, his euphoric reinvention in 1972 as Ziggy Stardust and the excessive lifestyle that nearly cost him his sanity. It revisits his artistic rebirth in Berlin, the global stardom he achieved with Let’s Dance in 1983 and his triumphant farewell, Blackstar.

David Bowie is part of the Lives the Musicians series: highly readable short biographies of the most-popular musicians.

Review

A biography of David Bowie, I felt would be an ambitious book for anyone to pull off, there is after all, so much to say about him, but one that Robert Dimery has managed expertly to do, to make it an excellent introduction or addition to anyone’s musician book collection.

The contents page is enough to intrigue and scoop David Barlow fans up:

Becoming Bowie ♦ Of Mods and Mime ♦ Lift-off ♦ Rock ‘n’ Roll Alien ♦ Ziggy Goes To America ♦
Diamond Dogs and the Thin White Duke ♦ Berlin Calling ♦ Scary Monsters (and Superstardom) ♦
Losing the Muse ♦ Art-house Rules

This book is mature in writing. Let’s face it, writing about someone as elusive and yet as popular as David Bowie must have been an exciting opportunity, but very nicely it doesn’t feel like the author has hyped him up. He hasn’t shied away from, what must have been challenging times in David Bowie’s life of not being instantly loved and having to face some criticism. There are also the times, which must have been terrific, when things were going well. It feels very authentic and rounded.

The book, after a foreward, begins to tell you who David Bowie was as a man, the street he was on and a bit about his close family life and extended relatives and the atmosphere certain developments created. It captivates and gives a bit more understanding of David Bowie, away from the professional, famous persona he had. There are also other popstars of the time mentioned, which gives depth and all relates to David Bowie one way or another and bands he was part of. It is interesting reading about the eclectic music involved and performing on music shows such as Ready Steady Go, in his early career. There is also a look at the actual development of how he became a solo artist. There’s a nuanced exploration into sexuality that pops up every so often, like just reminding people how this influenced people and how people related to David Bowie. It is evident that a lot of David Bowie’s life has been researched and also the wider sphere of it, which creates fascination and in a way, perhaps readers will see something of themselves reflected back at them or remember the quotes from some famous fans, from the likes of NME.
It says about the uneasy start of Space Oddity, which these days, it’s hard to believe, but this is what the book shows, that the pop business isn’t as easy as it makes out to be. It has a truth about it, that even the most well-known had very challenging times. The book  rolls into Bowie’s alter-ego – Ziggy Stardust and what influenced certain music, such as his stage entrances. There are nuggets throughout the book, which is like a glimpse of behind the scenes and into the music business, as well as his own individuality, creating such a fascinating book. Going stateside is quite the eye-opener in terms of music, but even more so in the affect it had on himself and Angie. Later it talks of Iman and takes readers right up to Blackstar, where it is all quite emotional due to his death, and yet stay in keeping with the tone of the rest of the book, which is factual and has a professional, rather than over-excited fan, feel to it and that’s what helps keep it interesting, at times intriguing and most certainly compelling. It feels like this is okay to read because it seems to document how things are and there are some well-placed quotes, which brings David Bowie’s voice into the writing. It feels respectful. In the middle of the book, there are also some fabulous photos of David Bowie, documenting through his years of being a star, pictorially.
At the back, readers are treated to discography and further reading of live albums.