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.

Review of The Midas Cat: The Devil Wears Tabby #TommyEllis #TheMidasCat #NewBook #Review #Fiction #Cats

The Midas Cat: The Devil Wears Tabby
By Tommy Ellis
Rated 5 stars *****

The Midas Cat

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 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.

 

Review

The cover itself is mysterously quirky with the cat’s piercing blue eyes and smoke all around it. It sets up the book perfectly.
The chapters are short and sharp. It’s a relatively quick book to read with 3 short parts in 1 book, creating this witty story. I really enjoyed it.

When I was reading it, I could not help but think about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It reads like it could be staged there or somewhere similar. If you want a jovial, jaunty read with some clever twists, this is the book for you. It’s as much fun as it is quirky and all in a good way.

Part 1 – The Midas Cat – The Devil Wears Tabby
Lauren wants a Midas Cat. Of course she does, we all would like one of those right? Or would they? Ralph has the unenviable task of trying to find such a rare cat.

This book is refreshing, quirky and really good read. Obviously there’s the whole take on The Devil Wears Prada and Lauren being a bit like someone from Vogue, but that’s where this book is cleverly funny. Fashion mixed with the strongest possible desire of a rare cat, that also trumps a friend, what’s not to like and be intrigued about?
There is also the personal issues about whether Ralph is having an affair or not and also begs the question of whether the Midas Cat has something to do with this and indeed with Lord Lucan’s disappearance.

This book is clever in other ways too. Readers actually get to follow the cat. Turns out Cat has a love of Lady Penelope style cigarette holders and Adam Ant and is written cleverly like part human, part cat. This adds to the humour of it all. There is also the calamity of Ralph trying to catch The Midas Cat for Lauren. 

Part 2 – The Midas Cat – The Cambridge Institute Lectures. Readers will rejoin Ralph and Lauren; Ralph now being very unwell after the escapades of trying to capture the rare Midas Cat before. Things aren’t going so well for Ralph anymore and can’t help but feel even more sorry for him after all the trouble he’s been put through and there is some seriousness about whether he will be arrested or not. 

As for the cat, well, it’s as surreal as ever. The Cat has landed firmly on its feet (paws) and is host to the Cambridge Institute Lectures. It seriously needs to be read to be believed. There are also interesting chapters about the professor and the scientific experiments. The writing is witty and descriptive.

Then comes the final piece of the tale – The Midas Cat – Part 3 – Man Friday the Thirteenth.Cat now has a Onesie with too many pockets that it can’t find the loyalty card. There’s a charity event and a pub crawl. The Midas Cat certainly knows how to enjoy itself, whilst poor Ralph is trying to still please Lauren. Readers then meet Marvin, who is also an interesting character, who Ralph tells about the Midas Cat.
Read the book to find out whether Ralph gets the Midas Cat and if his marriage can survive.

* I thank Tommy Ellis for the free e-book and for asking to quote from me, of which I am happy about and so pleased to be asked.

* The review is unbiased

Review of Killing Them With Kindness by Andy Paulcroft @AndyPaulcroft @rararesources #BlogTour #Review

Killing Them With Kindness
By Andy Paulcroft
Rated: 4 Stars ****

 

I am pleased to be on this blog tour for the quirky book with some humour and social themes – Killing Them with Kindness by Andy Paulcroft. We are now half-way through the tour. Today is my turn and I have a review. 

Killing Them With Kindness Full Tour Banner

 

Killing Andy PaulcroftAndy Paulcroft grew up in Weston-super-Mare, and his love of books started when he borrowed his sister’s copy of Five Run Away Together and exaggerated a minor illness in order to finish reading it. He has since worked as a chef in France, Switzerland, Corsica and the North Highlands of Scotland before settling as a catering manager at a boarding school in Dorset. After many years of writing two to three chapters of a book before discarding it, he finally published his first novel Postcards From Another Life – in December 2017. The wonderful feeling of completing a novel was only surpassed by receiving a positive reaction from people who had read it. He retired from catering and recently published his second novel Killing Them With Kindness. He is now working on his third book.

Follow Andy

@Andy.Paulcroft (Facebook Page)

https://twitter.com/AndyPaulcroft

 

Killing - KTWK eBook Cover Compressed(1)

Blurb

Deirdre Cossette is the self-appointed carer for the elderly on The Avenue and all of her friends have stories to tell. Margery, whose comfortable life was destroyed by a knock on the door. Stan, who made a mistake as a young footballer which cost him his friends and his self-respect. Marina, whose slim and stylish figure hides a terrible secret from the summer of Live Aid. And, Oliver and Archie, who have survived everything from post war homophobia to a family tragedy – and they have done it together. Deirdre believes that everyone should have a choice. If they want to live on a diet of cakes, drink the alcoholic equivalent of a small hydrotherapy pool, or take on a toy boy lover in spite of a dodgy heart, Deirdre believes it is their right to do so. If they remember her in their wills afterwards, that’s not her fault, is it? However, not everyone agrees with her. When disgruntled relatives from the present meet up with disgruntled ghosts from her past, Deirdre discovers the cost of being kind.

Review

There are certainly a whole range of personalities in The Avenue for readers to get to know. Each character has lived a life with unexpected stories to tell. I enjoyed this book. It has some pretty good humour within it as well as some twists. This book really engaged me and I loved getting to know all the characters and the carer who would give the residents of The Avenue, what they wanted. It turns out that there is a cost to being that kind as readers will discover as they progress through the story.

This is a pretty emotive story that is also thought-provoking at times and also heart-warming at times too. It’s also certainly quirky, but let’s face it, quirky can be good and in this book, it’s a good path to take these flawed characters down. Just looking at the cover I could tell it was going to be quirky and rather different. It’s certainly that, but whether you’re a quirky person or not, this is worth a read.

There are also serious themes covered within the story, quite topical ones actually – social isolation and loneliness, but are skillfully written with some wit surrounding, what are serious subjects as the wit doesn’t detract from this.

You do need to concentrate a bit on the characters so you remember how people are related, but not with too great a difficulty as the story pulls everyone together and will pull you into their lives. There are also some interesting back-stories periodically, that are written so they are succinct and flow well with the present time.

For something quite original and quirky, give the book a try.

With thanks to Andy and Rachel for inviting me onto the tour and for a print-copy of the book.
This is an unbiased review.

What to expect on the blog #blog #amreading #bookish #theatre

I have many more great sounding books in my To be Read pile. Some by very established authors, some not quite so, but are starting out. All look good!
A thud after the swing of the letterbox usually signals the post is more exciting than a bill. A huge thud that sounds like it is going to go through the floor means its a hardback book. Most are paperback and that too is fine and still sounds more exciting than a bill.

I have children’s books, young adult books and adult books. During February and March, there will be reviews of children’s books that promote the eco-system, take children on an adventure, show children interesting and fun characters.

For Young Adult, there will be coming-of-age and fantasy.

For Adult, there is Crime Fiction, Biography, Humour in Fiction, Families in Fiction, Historical Fiction and more…

I have also been to the theatre recently, so you can expect a review on a terrifically cast play by Alan Aykbourn.

Thanks for following my blog.

#Review of The Minotaur’s Son & Other Wild Tales – A moving book with lots of humour, covering all the genres in short stories @kevinansbro #TheMinotaursSon #NewRelease #ShortStories #FlashFiction #Fables #HistoricalFiction #Fiction #Fantasy @BookTasters

The Minotaur’s Son
& Other Wild Tales
By Kevin Ansbro
Rated: 4 Stars ****

 

About the Author

Kevin Ansbro was born of Irish parents and has lived in Malaysia and Germany.

He was educated at Hamond’s Grammar School in Swaffham, and at the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology in King’s Lynn.

Kevin also has a background in karate and kickboxing and has travelled extensively – particularly in the Far East.

He is married to Julie, and currently lives in Norwich, England.

Click below for Kevin Ansbro’s website and social media.

Website
Twitter
Facebook

Blurb

“Once the evening’s entertainment was over the Minotaur, as naked as Nature intended, clumped into Pablo Zapata’s bar…”

A baby with a passion for theoretical physics…

A winged nymph who exacts terrible revenge…

A stolen coin that releases a wish-granting genie…

And where else would you see Ginger Rogers learning the Ali shuffle, or a humble fisherman making friends with Poseidon?

Charlatans and shapeshifters, lovers and leprechauns, ghosts and office creeps are just some of the characters that Kevin Ansbro brings to life in this volume of short stories. His tales span the globe and range from the wickedly funny to the sad and deeply unnerving. With his perceptive take on human failings, his vivid imagination and his glorious grasp of language, Ansbro’s thought-provoking stories will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

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Review

This is an excellent book to read all the way through and then later to dip in and out of. Kevin Ansbro takes readers on a journey through these “Wild Tales” from space to many countries on earth again. You will enter different ages from as far back as the Ancient Greeks to the days of the Raj, to war times to the present day. You will meet mermaids, Greek Gods, a talking cat and many other creatures and of course humans too, including the intrepid author of this book – Kevin Ansbro. You are in for a real treat. These are tales of humour, trepidation, emotion and have great twists. To write short stories is as skillful as writing a novel and Kevin does them well. There is something in there for all sorts of people. The construction of these short stories are very good, including the endings, which was very pleasing.
I recommend people give them a try. I certainly very much enjoyed the majority of them. There are stories that I am sure will suit most tastes as Kevin Ansbro has skillfully covered all  genres.

Below I have written a little bit about most of the short stories, leaving some for readers to also discover too.

First you’ll meet a mermaid, a talking cat and its owner – Jacob in Sirens. Then it is off to space to meet Captain Chuck Montana of the Galaxy Ship Orion in Chuck Montana and the 22 Century to learn what the Lurgians are. Back on earth there is a 60th birthday celebration, but things don’t exactly go as planned in Doth Thou Thinkest Me a Fool. There is also a story later on that returns to the space theme. It’s a thought-provoking story called Extinction. They are well-written and Sirens is a great way to start this book as it pulls and tugs the intrigue of this book a bit further.

You’ve got to Be Careful What You Wish For in Brighton when it comes to octogenarians – Horace and Ethel and a promise of 3 wishes that will be granted. All is mysterious and just might give them exactly what they want, but there’s a twist in this cautionary tale.

Cache en Pleine Vue or in English – Hiding in Plain Sight in the little French hamlet of Culbiso holds gossip and secrets. Madam Pettier harbours the greatest secret of all as she isn’t exactly what you would expect.

Well, what can I say, except, it’s a Fait Accompli when readers meet Charles Remington and Veronica Meyer. Everything seems like it could be too good to be true.

In The Minotaur’s Son, you meet the mythical creatures and it comes with a warning, not to take things for granted. You certainly wouldn’t want to mess with strong female, Isadora.

The Show Off really made me smile. It features Kevin Ansbro, the author of this book. Quite unusually so, for a book of this type. It has you willing him on to do well at the book talk and it has the happiest, most amazing of endings.

A Matter of Honour is set during the Crimean War and the aftermath is realised of how PTSD can really affect someone and a family. It is written sensitively, with a rawness but also, I felt with care and with such emotion that comes from a certain truth.

Meet Yara – a Maharaja’s Concubine in 1932 – the days of the Raj in The Concubine and the Postman She is nothing ordinary. There are lessons those men who are greedy could learn and beware of a curse. Read to find out about how a postman comes into this story and what happens. It may surprise you.

The Fable of the Fisherman’s Hat brings back Isadora with her husband Demetrius and also mermaids in the sea. It has adventure and trepidation and nothing will seem as it once did.

The Leech takes readers to Japan and the people creating prosperity for their economy. It isn’t just a story for Japan though, some of the themes of recognition for those who make a difference are world-wide and as a result, has thought-provoking qualities.

Dorothy in Oz is a different perspective on her re-telling her story. I enjoyed this because, of course, who would believe you when you tell people a scarecrow etc talked to you and you had to click your red heels 3 times to get home.

Meet a Leprechaun in Ireland (of course) in Pot of Gold. This has a human and ecological tale within it, which is incredibly relevant for today and especially in farming.

Waiting for Ryan is a bit of a love story between two different cultures – Ryan from England and Mishti originally from India. Set in present times, they meet in Thailand, just before the well-reported tsunami that occurred there. There’s enough of a hook to keep wanting to read to see if the couple will ever see each other again, especially since time moves on and Ryan also returns to England.

Pantheon is just incredibly funny. Who can this mysterious man be at Christmas time? Well, it is up to authors, a pop star, a soul singer, a dancer and a boxer to ponder.
Meet Dickens and Hemingway, Shakespeare, oh and Oscar Wilde gate crashing a conversation and then add David Bowie into the mix and Ginger Rodgers and Muhammad Ali, it makes for a surreal but hilarious tale.

With thanks to Kevin Ansbro for supplying me with an e-book copy of his book and for agreeing to me reviewing.

The Minotaur's Son and other Wild Tales cover 2

Great Theatre Shows from 2019 and some to look out for on tour in 2020 #Theatre #Plays #Musicals #Humour #Drama #Theatregoers #London #Edinburgh #Glasgow #2019 #HappyNewYear #TheatreWrapUp #Review #culture

Great Theatre Shows from 2018 and 2019

I have seen some fantastic theatre shows and the shows I loved in 2018 and 2019 are, in no particular. Some of these plays are touring right now within the UK and others are getting set for national UK tours. So, I hope you have fun looking out for them. They are categorised by musicals and plays only. So, without any further to-do, here is my lists, with very brief reviews.

Musicals:

les mis        Theatre Strictly Ballroom musical
Strictly Ballroom – (on national tour in 2020). When I saw this in London, it was so much fun. It had a great cast, including Will Young as the narrator at that time. The costumes are outstanding and just so beautiful. The set was cool. The dancing and songs are expertly performed and choreographed.
Please take note that Strictly Ballroom (based on the same name) is doing a national tour within the UK (including Scotland in 2020). It has been expertly put together by Strictly’s Craig Revel-Horwood, amongst many other people. So, do look out for this fun, feel-good show. It is A-Maz-Ing… see what I did there? I couldn’t help myself, it had to be done. This is an exciting show and one that I am so pleased to see tour.

Les Miserables – This is exquisite and full of emotion. I’ve seen it twice, once in London, once in Edinburgh and it doesn’t matter where you see it, you are in for a treat. It is so well-performed and well-cast no matter the location. The performance, the set and the costumes are all so rich and it is all so atmospheric. It is often in London and also on tour.
A full review can be found within my blog

Plays:

The Greatest Play in The History of the World – This play was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has now reached London (check it out now for January 4th 2020. It’s an original love story set on Preston-Road and in space and time. Time has stopped in this wonderfully written and performed one-woman play that has poignancy and honour and I just love the use of shoes. You have to see it to see what I mean. I don’t want to spoil it. Shoes aren’t used in the conventional sense. Not when this was performed in Edinburgh anyway. There’s also great music too. The set may be minimalist, but the way it is written and performed feeds incredibly well into the imaginations of audiences because it is so cleverly done and so immersive and captivating.
It is performed by Julie Hesmondalgh (Haley Cropper in Corrie and other shows) and written by her husband Ian Kershaw (writer for Corrie, Cold Feet and many more shows).

This House – This play was an unusual play in that it encouraged people to be part of the cast on stage for the whole play. This was a political play set in the 1970’s and was set in the Houses of Parliament. There was a great cast playing the opposition party and party in power. There were high stakes, debates, fist fights in the parliamentary bar, crucial votes that had party’s hanging by a thread, games and tricks. It was all there. A friend and I with a number of others took up the limited spaces on stage, which was split for the left and the right of the House with its mocked up parliamentary seats. We were given our lines and directions as the play went on and followed accordingly to become part of the cast. It was lots of fun, if not a bit daunting looking onwards at a full theatre where the rest of the audience was sitting. It was completely immersive from our point of view and we are glad we did it and both enjoyed the experience immensely. Some of the key cast also took time at the interval to talk to my friend and I, which was most interesting and of which we again thank them for this. This immersive and brilliantly conceived play was written by James Graham.

ArtThis was a terrific play at the Glasgow Theatre Royal about 3 men and a piece of modern art, which happens to be a white canvas, bought for a huge amount of money. The play gets revived every so often and is worth looking out for. It is about friendships and those friends falling out and making up, it is about life and all the paths that it can lead people down. It also has a big twist in it. It is poignant, important, funny, sad and such a great pace. When I saw it, the cast was Stephen Thomkinson (Wild at Heart, DCI Banks and much more) Denis Lawson (New Tricks, Holby City and much more), Nigel Havers (Coronation Street, The Cockfields, Midsomer Murders and much more). I thank Denis Lawson and Nigel Havers again for their time in having a very pleasant quick chat and signing my programme.
Full review can be found on my blog. 
Duet for One – I saw this at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh as part of a national tour. I think I saw this in 2017, but then it toured again in 2018, which is why it is on this list. It was a both serious and funny two-handed play (tours from time to time), about a woman with MS, which at the time of me seeing  it was Belinda Lang, and wow, what a performance. She played someone coming to terms with MS and limited mobility as if she could have had it herself (I sadly speak from experience as a member of my family has it). The emotion was there, the movement and everything was brilliantly executed. If this ever tours again, seriously consider seeing it. This was a revival of this play, so it isn’t impossible for it to return. It isn’t as depressing as it seems. This play has humour at many points. It is so well-written. It was so lovely to be able to actually tell her how well she played her part and to hear what she had to say about it – which was all positive things. I also thank her again for signing my programme and especially for talking to my mother and being so insightful.
A full review can be found within my blog.

Humble Boy – directed by the always very busy Paul Miller, I wish it would do a national tour. If it did this, I would certainly write a full review. It is one of those plays I think people should see. It was a funny play that tackles love, death, friendship and the importance of bees. This play had it all. It had emotion, serious and tender moments, poignancy as well as so much humour. It was so well-written by Charlotte Jones.
The set was amazing. I saw it in a round theatre and it was set in a garden. The time it must have taken to set up the scenery must have been immense. Parts were actually real plants. I loved having to walk on the cobblestones to my seat with my friend (we were on the front row and the set started right in front of the front row). The cast were all fabulous – Belinda Lang (from 2 Point 4 Children she played the mother and other shows and theatre), Paul Bradley (Cardio-surgeon in Holby City and other shows), Selina Cadell (Pharmacist in Doc Martin and other shows), Jonathan Broadbent (Silent Witness and other shows). There was also Christopher Ravenscroft and Rebekah Hinds.
The cast all sounded like they enjoyed performing this show at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London. It was a joy and privilege to catch up with the cast after the show, of which I thank them for their time and their sheer kindness and also for signing my tickets.

The Importance of Being Earnest – This was a fun production of Oscar Wilde’s play, brought to the Vaudeville Theatre by Classic Spring. It was in London (another play I think should tour. His plays do tour from time to time nationally within the UK, so do look out for them. The play was full of humour and was recognisable from the film-version of the play. There was again, another great cast, most notably – Stella Gonet (House of Elliott, Holby City, Outnumbered and much more), Sophie Thompson (Coronation Street and much more, also sister of Emma Thompson), Jeremy Swift (Downton Abbey) and many more. A full review can be found in my blog. I thank Stella Gonet again for having a very pleasant chat and for asking if I would like my programme signed.

De Pro-fundis – Simon Callow performed this in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival when I saw it. This was a play I just had to say Wow at. I was hooked from the beginning to the end. I have seen quite a number of his one-man plays before. All are amazing and this was no different. It was played with conviction, energy and how he remembers all those lines, I will never know. If you ever see Simon Callow is doing a one-man play or even doing a book talk, I urge you to go. De-Profundis was the letter Oscar Wilde wrote from prison. It was haunting, dark. No one talked, no one made a noise in the audience, you could hear a pin drop, until the stunned audience erupted in applause at the end. He captured everyone from start to finish. The set was minimalist, his performance was passionate and full.

I have some plays already booked for 2020 of which I shall review and I am planning on doing a quick resume of different plays and musicals I have seen as many of them still run in theatres today and I suspect they will for many years to come. This will be done in- between book reviews and the occasional article. I’ve plenty of exciting things to be blogging about in 2020 and I hopefully many more exciting opportunities will crop up in the future. For now, I hope you enjoy what I have for my 2019 resumes and all else that is on my blog. I hope you all had a great Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2020. Thank you too for following and reading my blog, without such, it wouldn’t exist. I love writing my blog and always grateful to those who give me opportunities to review and to write and to talk to people and to those who read what I write. Thank you!!!!