#Review of the very funny book – The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor 5* @matson_taylor_ @ScribnerBooks #TheMiseducationOfEvieEpworth #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour #Fiction #Newbook

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth
By Matson Taylor
Rated: 5 stars *****

Written by Louise Cannon (Lou)

Today I am delighted and excited to present to you my review of the heartwarming and funniest book I’ve read in ages – The Miseducation of Evie Epworth. It’s a book I highly recommend. Find out more about the author, the book and my review below.

About the Author

Matson Taylor Author PicMatson Taylor grew up in Yorkshire but now lives in London. He is a design historian and academicwriting tutor and has worked at various universities and museums around the world; he currently teaches at the V&A, Imperial College, and the RCA. He has also worked on Camden Market, appeared in an Italian TV commercial, and been a pronunciation coach for Catalan opera singers.

 

Miseducation of Evie Epworth Cover

Blurb

Cold Comfort Farm meets Adrian Mole in the funniest debut novel of the year.
Yorkshire, the summer of 1962. Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become?
Up until now, Evie’s life has been nothing special: a patchwork of school, Girl Guides, cows, milk deliveries, lost mothers and village fetes. But, inspired by her idols (Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen), she dreams of a world far away from rural East Yorkshire, a world of glamour lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds).
Standing in the way of these dreams, though, is Christine, Evie’s soon to be stepmother, a manipulative and money grubbing schemer who is lining Evie up for a life of shampoo and-set drudgery at the local salon. Luckily, Evie is not alone. With the help of a few friends, and the wise counsel of the two Adam Faith posters on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’), Evie comes up with a plan to rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save their beloved farmhouse from being sold off. She will need a little luck, a dash of charm and a big dollop of Yorkshire magic if she is to succeed, but in the process she may just discover who exactly she is meant to be.

Mideducation Evie Graphic

Review

I love this book from the very first page. It is full of so much good humour. Humour, like writing and even my review, is subjective, but it takes skill to get humour down on a page well. Matson Taylor does this very well. What I really like is that it isn’t too silly and yet it is laugh out loud humour. It’s a hearwarming, cheery book with artistic placement of some words, which I enjoyed.

The pages are filled with so much energy, fun. Evie is 16 1/2, milk delivering teenager in 1960s, East of Yorkshire and is full of life. She also has an MG, her dad’s car that is, which she crashed, but is still good humoured. Evie loves the celebrities like Grace Kelly, who she tries to emulate in fashion, but her favourites are Adam Faith (who she wrote 3 times to and sadly he didn’t have the decency to write back. So sad), Shirley MacLaine and Charlotte Bronte. Then there’s The Queen, who she also idolises. She also seems to like Norse mythology and having fun with them. Who she doesn’t like too much and can be a bit scathing of is Christine, her soon to be step-mother and for good reason.

The book is set in Yorkshire. An area of the country I have explored some of and have loved. Evie’s dad has booked a trip to York to visit York Castle Museum ( which I recommend. It’s a place I’ve been to a few times and it never disappoints with its olde streets and ye olde shops inside it and fashions and more) and  Betty’s Tearooms (which I recommend you visit. It has a list of teas as long as your arm, perhaps longer and lovely cakes).

In her head she thinks about jobs she might do and can’t decide, but really all she wants is to be an assistant to Adam Faith. Evie is a character you would want to get to know. If she wasn’t a character in a book, you’d want to be friends with her. Her imagination is fabulously fun and pretty accurate for a creative, daydreaming, book reading 16 1/2 year old…

There are some philosophical musings around here and there about life.

The other people readers meet via Evie are amusing in the way that she sees them. There is however a kindness about her too. She has an interest in people who she can actually meet too, such as Mr and Mrs Scott-Pym and how Mr Pym was involved in the Spanish Civil War and was a journalist and realises she knows very little about them. It’s a thought isn’t it? How much do we really know the people in our neighbourhood? Evie learns a lot from her about her family. It’s an emotional tale. The emotions of cheerfulness and sadness are skillfully written by Matson Taylor.

There are sections of just a couple of pages or so called “Interludes” throughout the book, which is an original way of telling other character’s stories. They give little insights of life of Arthur and Mrs Scott-Pym before the 1960s. It works very well because readers then get to see Arthur before having a child and when he met his first wife, Diana. It’s tenderly written. It gives insight into Rosamund Scott-Pym’s life when Caroline, her daughter, was younger, which is interesting.

There’s a triple celebration and what better than to celebrate with cake. Not just any cake though, it may contain some Yorkshire magic and a real need for Christine to eat some, to the point I was hoping she would take a bite. I found myself very firmly on Evie’s side early on.

The village fete is full of fun, cakes and cattle. Matson Taylor pulls off a joyful atmosphere very well.

Evie’s first day of work in a hairdressing salon is when the real world really hits home, it’s funny between her client and herself as there’s plans of subterfuge. Find out what else happens in this amazingly funny book that I highly recommend and if Evie leaves home for London or Leeds. 

FINAL Miseducation Evie Epworth BT Poster

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes – It does what it says on the cover @MarianKeyes @PenguinUKBooks #GrownUps #Review #Fiction

Grown Ups
By Marian Keyes
Rated: 4 stars ****

I thought I would check Grown Ups out via Audible. It is also available on e-book and print/physical form. So, I present my review of the book about what it means to be a grown up and what a life it can be. So, without much further ado, I introducereaders to the blurb and  my review as well as a bit about Marian Keyes. You will also find a link to her website.

About the Author

Marian Keyes is one of the most successful Irish novelists of all time. Though she was brought up in a home where a lot of oral story-telling went on, it never occurred to her that she could write.
Marian Keyes is the international bestselling author of Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Rachel’s Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Angels, The Other Side of the Story, Anybody Out There, This Charming Man, The Brightest Star in the Sky , The Mystery of Mercy Close, The Woman Who Stole My Life, The Break and her latest Number One bestseller, Grown Ups. Her two collections of journalism, Making it up as I Go Along and Under the Duvet: Deluxe Edition are also available from Penguin.

Click here for her website

 

Grownups.jpg

Blurb

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers, Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much…

Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife, Cara, gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?

Review

I thought I would listen to an audiobook whilst doing a bit of exercise and so, chose Grown Ups to see if it lived up to the hype. I pretty much does. The audiobook is actually narrated by Marian Keyes herself, which is very pleasant and actually fairly relaxing and she has narrated her story very well. It’s a book that is perhaps a little overly long, but you know what, to listen to it, the book, pretty much grabs you and I just had to find out how it all ended, even though by this time, to listen to it, it became quite a pleasant ritual and you can’t help by then, having a sense of involvement, so I’m pleased I did decide to give this a chance.

It certainly is an interesting family and is impressive in the amount of themes and different adult types it covers. Grown Ups is the perfect title for it. It does what it says on the “tin” or rather cover. I did also  wonder, in certain parts who would want to be a grown up with so much to deal with, after reading this as I decided that the cover looks somewhat appropriate.


Grown Ups covers so much of adult life and is certainly inclusive in that way, almost like no other book I’ve read or listened to. It’s quite original in that sense. It also makes you hungry to begin with, with all the food in the restaurant business. The family are far from as perfect as they seem to begin with, when it all seems like fun and romantic. Secrets just tumble out from Cara and everything starts to unravel as truths are presented.

Apart from the fun and lovely food, there are relationship troubles in every sense, there’s mental health issues in terms of bulemia mostly and therapy, it mentions the couples, the singles, business doing well and not doing so well and having to face challenges of restructuring. Even period poverty gets a mention. It did like almost every aspect of adult life was mentioned and yet it did all tie together to create a story that has some humour and some light entertainment throughout the emotions and at times is quite profound. There is also hope and light through some of the darkness presented as readers will head to the very satisfying conclusion.
The storytelling is very good and if you read it in book form, I know, from the way it was told, it would be to a very good standard too.

Review of the Outstanding – The Habit of Art By Alan Bennett #AlanBennett #TheHabitofArt @OriginalTheatre #MatthewKelly #DavidYelland #Theatre #VirtualTheatre #VirtualEvent #Review

The Habit of Art
By Alan Bennett
Rated: 5 Stars *****
Available now online

The Habit of Art Poster.jpg

I have been watching some online theatre because I’ve been missing theatre performances and stage doors. The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett is one of the terrific plays I have seen being streamed and you can too.This production marks the first ever revival of the play and I am so pleased it has been revived. On the poster it says “La
It is with great thanks to Alan Bennett for giving permission to stream his play that should have been touring and to The Original Theatre Company and cast and all those behind the scenes for also allowing this to happen. I only hope that one day theatres will re-open and that proceedings will be normal someday in the not too distant future and touring will re-commence.
I have a link after my short review.

The Playwright and Cast


Alan Bennett      Matthew Kelly    David Yelland
Alan Bennett                Matthew Kelly                       David Yelland

Playwright – Alan Bennett is one our greatest and most celebrated playwrights, with a cavalcade of stage and screen blockbusters including The History Boys, The Lady in the Van, The Madness of King George and Talking Heads. He is applauded as a genius for his sharp character observations and treasured for the way he beautifully balances wit, wistfulness and compassion.
Director – Philip Franks

Matthew Kelly – Olivier Award Winning (Of Mice and MenToast and Pride and Prejudice)
David Yelland (Chariots of Fire and The Crown)
Veronica Roberts (Tenko, Peak Practice)
Robert Mountford (Anita and Me)
John Wark (Dead Sheep)
Jessica Dennis (Henry Vand The Tempest, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre)
Benjamin Chandler (Passing From The Third Floor Back).

Synopsis

In The Habit of Art, Bennett gives us a play about a meeting between the poet WH Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten.

Exploring friendship, rivalry and heartache this multi layered masterpiece examines the joy, pain and emotional cost of creativity.

Review

Wow!!! Alan Bennett is a clever, genius playwright as lots of people will know. This play is absolutely brilliant. It is actually incredibly funny and poignant, even more so than what I first thought it would be. It is also thought-provoking at times as it explores life. I was going to see this in Edinburgh, but it got cancelled as lockdown occurred. I thank The Original Theatre Company for putting it online.

Matthew Kelly gives an outstanding performance in what is a play within a play as does David Yelland as WH Auden and Benjamin Britten as they portray the relationships between them and their lives. This is however also a play within a play, as I’ve said and so, this is where it also gets very funny because this is what they’re trying to do, is rehearse to get the play about these 2 men to its showtime stage. So, there’s the trying to get the lines just so and the little squabbles about things and the silent relenting to directions and the trying to get points across. So, it’s as much about the relationships between the cast and behind the scenes people as it is the actual poet and musician they are trying to portray. It all sounds more high brow than it actually is.

The emotion, the relationships of different kinds, the pain and the rivalries are captured tremendously in every word, in every nuance in the tones of voices. There’s the real sense of WH Auden and Benjamin Britten still wanting to produce great works like in their real heydays and the need to work together. I’ll leave it to viewers to watch to see if they manage to collaborate or not. 

There’s also the emotion and sometimes the frustrations of backstage people too as they try to get things just so for the actors and direct and so and so forth. Some of this is really poignant too, as well has having some humour, as you get a glimpse into that part of life.

 The actual play and the rehearsal go seamlessly together because the timings and the writing is also so outstanding. I will say that what you absolutely have to remember is to forget present day sensibilities, WH Auden and Benjamin Britten lived in very different times. I honestly cannot praise this play enough. I had a fabulous time watching it and I am sure many others will too. I hope one day it will be able to tour up to Scotland again. 

Just below is the link that will direct you to the page of the play itself. This is a paid performance whereby you pay whatever you can. Actors, backstage and front of house are all out of work just now and I must say this play is definitely worth paying some money for the privilege to watch it. It really doesn’t have to break the bank. You will get more directions online as to how to watch.

You can also watch The Croft too, all under that one payment. It comes directly afterwards. I will review this too. At the time of writing this review, I am yet to see it. I must say that it does sound very good too and very different in contrast to The Habit of Art.

Click Here For The Play

The Habit of Art Poster

The Midas Cat – The Harrington Collection by Tommy Ellis – A Highly Entertaining Read #TheMidasCat #TommyEllis #bookreview #humour #fiction

The Midas Cat – The Harrington Collection
By Tommy Ellis
Rated: 5 stars *****

 

About the Author

Tommy is an author and saxophonist. He’s played alongside Chas and Dave, Mud, The Troggs and Earth Wind and Fire, to name a few. He’s played in a nudist camp where he felt a tad over dressed and had to run away from a gun-toting audience member. He’s also had terrorists threaten to blow up two of his gigs! He is the author of The Midas Cat books; a series of surreal dark humour featuring an Adam Ant loving, talking feline that’s being tracked down by an unscrupulous banker. Think The Pink Panther as if re-imagined by Tim Burton. Available now: The Midas Cat: The Harrington Collection. A 3000-word short read. E book only. The Midas Cat: The Devil Wears Tabby: A 30,000-word novella available as an e book and paperback. The survival of Ralph’s marriage is dependent upon him capturing a hundred million dollar talking cat. Standing in his way, however, is the cat itself, Lord Lucan, an imaginary game show host, and a voodoo death spirit. Follow Ralph into insanity as the cat tears his life apart piece by piece.

 

The Midas Cat The Harrington Collection pic

Blurb

Discover the insane world of the rarest and most valuable feline on earth: An auction, an Elvis automaton, a truck load of jewels and the midas cat!

Review

Having enjoyed The Cat Wears Prada, I had high hopes for the next book. I wasn’t disappointed. It meets up with Ralph again, in a very sorry state of affairs for himself, after that book. Again, it is a brilliant quick story, of only a few pages and two chapters in length. It is a perfect, speedy story for adults, if you’ve little time on your hands and yet need some time to escape from the world for a bit.

There is a certain balance of humour and the somewhat downtrodden Ralph who is someone who readers can feel sympathy for, even though life is like no other, that I know anyway. There is an absurdity about it and yet that is exactly what makes for an amusing read. It’s also what makes for a most unusual cat that is worth following.

The story takes place at an auction house, with some collections that wouldn’t look out of place in the tv series Flog It and then there is the even more random. There is however The Harrington Collection, which has a very expensive pink diamond in it. The Midas Cat, that caused so many issues in the previous book (The Midas Cat Wears Prada), and who is worth a whole lot of money, is discovered now lurking around the auction house.
With references to Elvis, Postman Pat, When Harry Meets Sally and Peaky Blinders, this is a highly entertaining read.
I highly recommend it for the sheer fun of it all.
This can be found in e-book form and I am informed by the author, that it also may become an audiobook. So it could be worth also keeping an eye out for that in the future.

#Review of Blaze Dog Detective – The Magic Flag Mystery by Lin Anderson and Donald McKay @Lin_Anderson @Blazespage #BlazeDogDetective #Childrensbook #kidslit #mystery #adventure #cozymystery #kindle #ReadingforPleasure #Easter

Blaze Dog Detective – The Magic Flag Mystery
By Lin Anderson and Donald McKay,
Rated 5 stars *****

Today on Good Friday, to wish you all a good Easter weekend (even if it will be different), I am pleased and delighted to be sharing my review of Blaze Dog Detective – The Magic Flag Mystery. This is the first in the series, available now as an e-book on Amazon and will be available in physical form when normality resumes. 

Twitter page links:
For Blaze – Oor Blaze Fae Skye – Blazes Page
For Lin Anderson – Lin Anderson

I thank Lin Anderson for contacting me with the opportunity to review this book and for providing a PDF copy of the book, and the various photos of Blaze, which you will see as you scroll further down my blog post. 

About the Author

Lin Anderson is best known as the creator of the forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod series of crime thriller novels and is now also writing the children’s books – Blaze Dog Detective series. She is also known for her part in founding the annual ‘Bloody Scotland’ crime writing festival. 

Blurb

When the famous fairy flag of the Clan MacLeod disappears from a locked room at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, the police immediately call in Blaze Dog Detective.
After all his scenting skills on the island are legendary.
With his team of Rosa, Rory and wee brother Laoch, Blaze leads the chase to rescue this magical flag before it can be spirited away from the island forever.

Blaze Cover

Review

A map, a castle, a secret passage, adventure, cute dogs, robbers, police, a mystery to be solved, this children’s book has it all. There is wonderful mix of mild trepidation and humour and a terrific energy throughout. With all that and excellent characterisation and plot, I am highly recommending this book for children. Read on to find out more…

blaze fae Skye
Blaze from Skye

This is the first in a brand new detective series for children. Blaze happens to be a real dog in Skye who lives with his wee brother Laoch and their human dad and these are the main characters within this book, in fictional form.

The approach of writing about the dogs is excellent as they are not cartoon-like, they are written much more realistically than that. The instincts and observations of the dogs is cleverly written as they take on this quality that readers will want to get to know more of. There’s a warmth and wisdom in the characterisation that makes them endearing.

I enjoy the fact that readers will get to know the Isle of Skye, Scotland  and then the dogs and then the story pulls you in even deeper into the mystery of the stolen and valuable Fairy Flag.

I love that there is a map of Skye that children can have fun with. I love maps in children’s books. It always, immediately helps to give them a sense of place as the story is set, whether readers have been to the setting, in this case the Isle of Skye, Scotland or not. The writing throughout also gives a beautiful sense of Skye and its magical landmarks.

Blaze and naughty on beach
Blaze and Laoch on beach

Readers quickly find out how Blaze became a detective dog and also meet Granny Beaton (Granny B). She is no ordinary granny at all, riding a motorbike and possessing a crystal ball and has a 10-year-old granddaughter – Rosa from Glasgow.

There is a bit of danger within this story when news unfolds that the Fairy Flag at Dunvegan Castle, where the Chief of Clan McLeod lives,  has been stolen, meaning that the school trip for a summer castle party may be cancelled. There’s a terrific illustration of the castle and its grounds, plotted like a map to explore, that is a brilliantly conceived idea.

Fang is easy to sympathise with as his story unfolds and readers will find out if he knows anything about the Fairy flag or not and about the mysteriously clever crows that appear.

The hunt is on and there is a determination to find the Fairy Flag and who stole it, with secret passageways, a cave, a mysterious boat called The Darkness, there’s excitement, adventure and mild trepidation and team work to try and get the flag back, before it is gone forever. There’s also the distraction of rabbits to chase along the way and a hope that PC Munroe will be able to help. 

blaze and ferry          blaze figures it out

There’s some red herrings here and there, that creates for a great story for keeping readers guessing and gives scope to feel really involved in solving the mystery.

So this book is very much worth transporting yourselves to Skye and joining Blaze with his mischievous, fun brother in Skye, as he tries to solve this mystery.

The book is available now on Amazon and later on there will be physical copies available, when restrictions are lifted, so I highly recommend you watch out for all the different ways to purchase this book as they materialise. Just now, it is in E-book form and will make for perfect Easter weekend reading.

Click the link to purchase: Amazon

Blaze knows all the best walks in Skye and even sometimes comes to the mainland. 
Lin Anderson kindly shared a few. Hover your curser over the photos to find a little more about where Blaze is in each of the locations. 

 

Blaze 'n Trails
Walks on Skye

Happy World Book Day #WorldBookDay 2020 #Books #Bookish #CrimeFiction #Fiction #NonFiction #Kidslit #PictureBook #HistoricalFiction #History #Romance #Biography #ContemporaryFiction

Happy World Book Day 2020

Happy World Book Day and I hope that everyone is having a fabulous day, however you are celebrating. There are many author events going on around the UK in public and community libraries as well as schools. There are also lots of other bookish events too that can be participated in as you read for pleasure. There are also other ways you can participate in World Book Day, if you cannot attend an event, such as, curling up with a good book and leaving an author a review on Waterstones and Amazon.

Today I am attending a World Book Day Event to hear a talk by rising star Alison Belsham, author of The Tattoo Thief and then it will be my turn to host an event up here in Scotland too on Monday with Liz Treacher – author of The Wrong Envelope and The Wrong Direction.

I also have some great books in my review pile for both adult and children that are being published between this month and summer.

In the pile I am currently reading are fiction and non-fiction books. In no particular order of publication or review dates, look out for book one of a new series by Ben Kane – Made in Battle, Forged in War; Us Three by Ruth Jones (yes, the actor/writer from Gavin and Stacey and author of Never Greener); Eileen – The Making of George Orwell, Eileen was his wife, but not much is known about her, until now…; Paper Sparrows; A Conspiracy of Bones – the latest book by Kathy Reichs; I return to reviewing again for Lesley Kelly for her book Murder at the Music Factory – the latest in the health of Strangers series (read as a series or stand alone); I return to The Bobby Girls series to review the latest book – The Bobby Girl’s Secrets to see what the police volunteers are up to in their second and newest book.

I return to Janey Louise Jones children’s books to see what else Princess Poppy has in store now she has worked out how to save the bees. This time she is tackling plastic. I also will be reviewing for a charity Helping Hands who have had the Duchess of York on board to craete books  about how to tackle bullying, first days at school and strangers. There is a fantasy book to continue the series about Akra The Healing Stone, by Vacyn Taylor and a new book – Snow Child by a new author – Larraine Harrison.

This is just a few of the books sitting on my pile to date that you will start to see full reviews for soon. So, lots of books for you to look forward to exploring and to see what I think of. Coming up very soon are some children’s books and then an adult thriller that Lee Child and many other authors have a lot of praise for.

I of course thank all the authors, publishers and blog tour organisers for all these amazing opportunities to review and of course I thank just as equally, the readers of my blog as without everyone, my blog couldn’t exist.