If You Should Fail is a non-fiction book that is certainly informative and interesting. Find out more in the blurb and then my review. I also thank Viking/Penguin UK for gifting the book in exchange of an honest review.
There is an honesty and a clarity in Joe Moran’s book If You Should Fail that normalises and softens the usual blows of life that enables us to accept and live with them rather than be diminished/wounded by them’ Julia Samuel, author of Grief Works and This Too Shall Pass
‘Full of wise insight and honesty. Moran manages to be funny, erudite and kindly: a rare – and compelling – combination. This is the essential antidote to a culture obsessed with success. Read it’ Madeleine Bunting
Failure is the small print in life’s terms and conditions.
Covering everything from examination dreams to fourth-placed Olympians, If You Should Fail is about how modern life, in a world of self-advertised success, makes us feel like failures, frauds and imposters. Widely acclaimed observer of daily life Joe Moran is here not to tell you that everything will be all right in the end, but to reassure you that failure is an occupational hazard of being human.
As Moran shows, even the supremely gifted Leonardo da Vinci could be seen as a failure. Most artists, writers, sports stars and business people face failure. We all will, and can learn how to live with it. To echo Virginia Woolf, beauty “is only got by the failure to get it . . . by facing what must be humiliation – the things one can’t do.”
Combining philosophy, psychology, history and literature, Moran’s ultimately upbeat reflections on being human, and his critique of how we live now, offers comfort, hope – and solace. For we need to see that not every failure can be made into a success – and that’s OK.
Life is measured on success and failure, sometimes a long, seemingly fixed perception that is wide-spread in society, and sometimes a more personal perception. Joe Moran talks about the culture of success and now people are told that if they fail to try and try again and how fails become success. He talks more of the reality of this theory in quite a philosophical way. He also uses case studies and quotes from people from many different walks of life to illustrate the points he makes as he tries to change people’s perceptions on failure within the arguments he presents. There are mentions of well-known psychologists like Freud, literary people like Virginia Woolf, olympians and more…
It’s an interesting, philosophical book with something quite realistic, that may have readers examine their own lives in terms of failures and successes and how they perceive them and how society perceives them. It doesn’t try and set unachievable expectations or goals. I wasn’t as enthralled as I thought I might have been, even though it is at times, a deeply thought-provoking book, but don’t totally discount it as there are some interesting ideas and observations at how society is. There is a reality that most people at some point will relate to and may find useful. It is a book, perhaps best taking time to ponder over as you read and to reflect and think about what is being said in its well-researched weaving of historical and current time on the subject of failure and society.
The Repair Shop – Life In The Barn By Elizabeth Wilhide; Jayne Dowle Foreword By Jay Blades
The Repair Shop, a favourite BBC show for millions of us, it burst onto our screens in the UK around March 2017. It has been a go to tv choice ever since, with its main presenter – Jay Blades at the helm, the excellent expertise and craftsmanship by the rest of the workers (with Jay assisting them at times), their warmth, calmness and cosiness and the emotional stories and the origins of other people’s belongings, the reasons behind wanting various items repaired, the reactions is a winning combination. Now there’s a book with a Foreword by Jay Blades. Discover the blurb and my review below.
‘Heartwarming, magical and uplifting’
In today’s throwaway culture, there’s a counter movement growing that urges us to ‘make do and mend’. The BBC’s The Repair Shop has brought this waste-conscious message to an even wider audience, with its regular viewing figures of 7 million in the UK alone, cementing itself as a classic series in the vein of Antiques Roadshow.
This new book concentrates on the show’s much-loved experts, including woodworker and furniture restorer Will Kirk, clock restorer Steve Fletcher, metalworker Dominic Chinea, silversmith Brenton West, leatherworker Suzie Fletcher, upholsterer Sonnaz Nooranvary, and seamstresses Julie Tatchell & Amanda Middleditch – aka The Teddy Bear Ladies. Each of the experts shares their own stories and their repairs, capturing in the process the magic and ethos of the barn. Includes quotations and Q & As from the experts as well as Jay Blades on some unique restoration collaborations.
With the focus on the experts themselves, readers will feel as though they’re stepping straight into the ‘workshop of dreams’ and experiencing first hand the magic of the barn.
I love The Repair Shop, everything about it amazes me. The warmth that oozes from it to people mending things that are broken or well worn, I am in awe of it all and wonder where in the world did they learn their craft. I also wonder if I have anything they’d like to repair with sentimental value and if I’d be brave enough to write in, but that’s another story entirely.
This book oozes the same care and attention and love that the tv show does. It has many stories of life inside the barn from the experts. You can learn more about their expertise and the items for repair. It’s a fascinating, insightful book for anyone who would like to know more about this special shed that has flung its wide open for you to enter through this book. It might even answer people’s burning questions as the experts have put together a Q&A section. The experts the book really focuses on is woodworker and furniture restorer Will Kirk, clock restorer Steve Fletcher, metalworker Dominic Chinea, silversmith Brenton West, leatherworker Suzie Fletcher, upholsterer Sonnaz Nooranvary, and seamstresses Julie Tatchell & Amanda Middleditch – aka The Teddy Bear Ladies. It is a book you can dip in and out of and easily keep going back to.
We all know how everything is interlinked in the world, from humans to animals to plants; well this list also works in reverse and everything has a role to play. Humans can also do their bit, in this case, the focus is on birds. This is most suited for North America.
The growing group of bird enthusiasts who enjoy feeding and watching their feathered friends will learn how they can expand their activity and help address the pressing issue of habitat loss with 100 Plants to Feed the Birds. In-depth profiles offer planting and care guidance for 100 native plant species that provide food and shelter for birds throughout the year, from winter all the way through breeding and migrating periods. Readers will learn about plants they can add to their gardens and cultivate, such as early-season pussy willow and late-season asters, as well as wild plants to refrain from weeding out, like jewelweed and goldenrod. Others, including 29 tree species, may already be present in the landscape and readers will learn how these plants support the birds who feed and nest in them. Introductory text explains how to create a healthy year-round landscape for birds. Plant photographs and range maps provide needed visual guidance to selecting the right plants for any location in North America.
Perhaps you’re a bird lover who wants to know more about feeding them or encourage more into your garden, or perhaps you’ve suddenly got space to grow plants, whether in the ground or pots and want a wildlife food-bar. Whether you’re a novice or know a lot, this is a book I recommend for you. You don’t need to feed the birds with only “tuppence a bag” of seed, you can also grow your own.
In my garden, in the UK, for example, we grow cornflowers. Leave the flowers after they’ve finished flowering and birds like goldfinches will gorge on the seeds. This book will show you more plants and trees you can also grow and native to North America. It gives clear information about the plants to grow, how to care for them and a guide for sun exposure.
It’s useful as a reference and guidebook for those wanting to create or expand their own wildlife haven, as of course the plants you grow will attract more than birds too.
I have reviewed many books in 2022 and what a privilege it has been too. Here are some that I highly recommend out of the many books I have reviewed in 2022. I also have included links to my full no spoiler reviews where you’ll also find the blurbs. The mix of crime fiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, memoirs are in no particular order. Please also feel free to explore my blog for other great book reviews, author interviews and talks and theatre reviews.
The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures By Holly Hepburn – An antique shop, antiques, a mysterious puzzle box, a trip to Egypt, a mention of the Canarvon Family (think the real Downton Abbey), all wrapped up in a wonderful book full of splendid characters. Holly Hepburn has a new book coming this year that I will also be reviewing.
Suicide Thursday By Will Carver explores this and the darker corners of society. It’s a compulsive read with intriguing characters – Mike, Jackie and Eli. Will Eli leave a hated job and get past writing chapter 1 of a novel? What is written in texts? Find out the answers to these and more in Suicide Thursday.
All About Evie By Matson Taylor is a humorous second book to the much talked about The Miseducation of Evie Epworth that was a Radio 2 book club pick. There’s much humour mixed with poignancy and sadness. Find out what happens at a sound check at Broadcasting House, her friend, Caroline and life’s mishaps and incidents. It’s highly engaging. Find the blurb and review in the link: All About Evie
Yes, I Killed Her By Harry Fisher s full of chilling suspense. The question isn’t who, but it is how. How did a murderer commit such a calculated crime. Is it as perfect as he thinks? Here is a link to the blurb and full review. Remember, I’m not going to disclose the answers to those questions. That’s for you to discover yourselves: Yes, I Killed Her
Verity Vanishes By A.B. Morgan is book 3 of The Quirk Files. The books can be read as part of the series or as standalone as the cases each complete by the end of the book. The Quirks are quirky private investigators.
There are secrets to uncover, including who was Verity, why has she vanished and why is a tv station so interested in this particular case? It’s intriguing with wit. See blurb and review in the link –Verity Vanishes
Touching, haunting and a darn good unputdownable read. It takes place between Glasgow and H.M. Polmont Prison in Central Scotland. It’s gripping getting to know about what revelations unfold in Ginger and Wendy’s personalities and what happens to them. It’s a book of obsession and friendship and more in this contemporary fictional book… Find out more in the link to the blurb and my full review: Ginger And Me
The Homes By J.B. Mylet is set in an orphanage village in Scotland. Follow the lives of Lesley, Jonesy and Eadie, all from their points of views. How safe is The Homes? Murder strikes and everything changes in this fast-paced, immersive page-turner. It’s fiction based on a true story. Find out more in the link: The Homes
Remember Me by Charity Norman is gripping and addictive as the layers build up to discover what has happened to Leah, who has disappeared.
The book also follows Felix, who has Alzheimer’s. It’s authentically and sensitively written. Discover the blurb and the rest of my thoughts in the link: Remember Me
Should I Tell You By Jill Mansell is enthralling in both setting and the relationships between all the characters. Meet Lachlan, a chef in high demand and Peggy, a formidable, yet fun woman who puts up a credible argument as to why he should follow her to Cornwall to cook his amazing food. Also meet Amber, Lachlan, Rafaelle and Vee as you step into idyllic scenery. Is all well though? What would you make of the mysterious letter? Find out more in my link about this beautiful, compelling book that perfectly captures the lives of its characters, who are concealing truths. Should I Tell You
White Christmas on Winter Street has all the festive feel-good vibes you can want. Unearth the treasures in Corner House in Middledip. It’s a rather moving book as Heather returns to discover new friends and old. Find out more in the link: White Christmas on Winter Street
The Little Wartime Library By Kate Thompson is about a courageous librarian who took Bethnal Green Library underground during World War 2. It is fascinating and is fiction based on fact. Lots of research was done, including asking librarians, including me, many questions that then formed the basis of the central character. The Little Wartime Library
The Locked Away Life by Drew Davies is about 2 people who are seemingly poles apart. 1 is becoming practically a recluse and increasingly elderly, the other, much younger in need of a job, which is how they meet. Little do they know they need each other more than they thought they would. It’s a heartwarming story. Find out more in the link: The Locked AwayLife
Love Untold by Ruth Jones is uplifting, emotional and endearing, It crosses the generations from a teenager right up to a 90 year old. It’s well observed in all the complexities of life and interactions. Discover more such as the blurb and my review in the link. Love Untold
The Cliff House by Chris Brookmyre puts readers on an island. There’s a hen party set on a Scottish island. In some ways it’s a bit like And Then There We’re None by Agatha Christie, but there are also many differences.
There are frictions amongst the guests and things take a sinister turn. It’s a well-observed book in the way relationships are between the characters and what happens when people are on a remote island. Everyone has a secret and no one is safe. Find out more in the blurb and the rest of my thoughts in the review: The Cliff House
Cat Lady By Dawn O’Porter is very humorous but also very poignant and thought provoking. Within the book, wrapped in the cuteness of a cat, there is a great human story too and both together makes this quite different and compelling. There are 5 parts to Cat Lady – Mother, Career Woman, Animal, Wife, Cat Lady. Follow Mia and Tristan through the ups and downs of life. Mia is especially more than you would perhaps assume she is… Here is the link to the blurb and full review: Cat Lady
Thrown is a debut novel by Sara Cox. It’s heartwarming and uplifting at a pottery class. It’s about community pulling together and friendships forming. There are elements that may well tug at your heartstrings. Here is the link to the blurb and review: Thrown
The Cruise by Catherine Cooper takes place on the most luxurious cruise-liner. The type that would be a holiday of a lifetime. Something mysterious happens and it is compelling to travel around to try to fit together all the pieces to discover how they all fit together and some truths. Here is the link to the blurb and full review. The Cruise
Keeping A Christmas Promise By Jo Thomas is about 4 friends who have known each other for 25 years. Tragedy happens to one of them, meaning it is up to 3 of them to keep their bucketlist promise- to see the northern lights at Christmas. With themes of friendship, mortality and strength to carry on in the face of adversity and community, it’s an entertaining, heartwarming book. Here is the link to the blurb and full review. Keeping A Christmas Promise
The Echoes of Love By Jenny Ashcroft transports readers to the 1930’s to the 1940’s and then to 1970’s. It takes readers into the depths of love and war and how it reverberates years later. The book is set between Portsmouth in the UK and Crete. It is a story of war and love. A story unfolding at the BBC Broadcasting House. It is fascinating, poignant and beautifully written. Here is the link to my original review and the blurb. The Echoes of Love
Cooking the Book by various authors published by Hobeck Books also raised money for the Trussell Trust. It’s various short stories, each taking on a different sub-genres of crime fiction. Each also has a recipe you can create by each author. Here is the link to all the details Cooking The Books
The Language of Food is fiction based on fact. It takes reader into the life of a little known woman, by many, called Eliza Acton. She changed the course of cookery forever and when today’s cooks come across her, they are inspired by her story and style and have been influenced greatly by her. Annabel Abbs now opens up her life in this very interesting book. Here is the link to discover more: The Language of Food
Create Your Own Indoor Green by Joe Swift who is also an expert gardener on Gardeners World and various other programmes. The book is an easy step by step guide to indoor plants. It quite literally has everything you need to know, whether you’re getting started or already have indoor plants as there’s always more knowledge to be gained. There are handy hints and tips as well as growing and caring for them. I actually bought this for a friend after reviewing it and she is delighted. Find out the blurb and review in the link: Joe’s Create Your Own Indoor Green
Women Like Us By Amanda Prowse, is a memoir where she sheds light and insight into her life, which many women will be able to relate to or understand, perhaps more than they may first expect. It’s a highly interesting read. Women Like Us
One Night on The Island introduces readers to Cleo. She works for the magazine – Women Today and has an unusual assignment to do. Directed by her boss, Ali, the assignment is to marry herself (or self-coupling or sologamy) on a remote island. She has a few reservations to say the least. It’s an entertaining story with lots of heart and warmth. One Night On the Island
Mothers and Daughters By Erica James is a compelling story of family life and revelations. Families can be more complex than what they may first appear to be in this sweeping family drama. Mothers and Daughters
Marion Crawford, a bright, ambitious young teacher, is ready to make her mark on the world. Until a twist of fate changes the course of her life forever… This mixes fact and fiction with Marion and the UK Royal Family in a fascinating way, about a woman not everyone knows much about. The Good Servant
Wolf Pack By Will Dean is a Scandi-Noir.
Tuva Moodyson has a case on her hands to solve with Thord and Chief Björn. Elsa Nyberg is reported as being missing and chillingly, Rose Farm has quite the history of deadly things happening there, involving a family. It’s a gripping page-turner. Here is the link to the full review and blurb. Wolf Pack
The Empire By Michael Ball is exquisitely theatrical, after all, that is his background. It takes readers back in time to the glitz and glamour of 1922, where you’ll meet Jack Tredwell and a whole host of other cast. There are secrets and the future of the theatre itself is in jeopardy. It’s a page turner! Here’s my link to the blurb and rest of the review The Empire
How Apple Became A Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost It’s Soul
By Tripp Mickle
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I have a review about a book that may well interest people who are into their Apple Products or interested in technology or growth of companies and how they change from humble beginnings as well as what happens… I also think it’ll interest UK readers, certainly, who watch series on tv like “How do they (company name) do that and Inside (company name).
Below I have the blurb and my review and a bit about the author. I also thank Harper Collins UK, Non-Fiction for allowing me to review.
From the Wall Street Journal’s Tripp Mickle, the dramatic, untold story inside Apple after the passing of Steve Jobs by following his top lieutenants—Jony Ive, the Chief Design Officer, and Tim Cook, the COO-turned-CEO—and how the fading of the former and the rise of the latter led to Apple losing its soul.
Steve Jobs called Jony Ive his “spiritual partner at Apple.” The London-born genius was the second-most powerful person at Apple and the creative force who most embodies Jobs’s spirit, the man who designed the products adopted by hundreds of millions the world over: the iPod, iPad, MacBook Air, the iMac G3, and the iPhone. In the wake of his close collaborator’s death, the chief designer wrestled with grief and initially threw himself into his work designing the new Apple headquarters and the Watch before losing his motivation in a company increasingly devoted more to margins than to inspiration.
In many ways, Cook was Ive’s opposite. The product of a small Alabama town, he had risen through the ranks from the supply side of the company. His gift was not the creation of new products. Instead, he had invented countless ways to maximize a margin, squeezing some suppliers, persuading others to build factories the size of cities to churn out more units. He considered inventory evil. He knew how to make subordinates sweat with withering questions.
Jobs selected Cook as his successor, and Cook oversaw a period of tremendous revenue growth that has lifted Apple’s valuation to $3 trillion. He built a commanding business in China and rapidly distinguished himself as a master politician who could forge global alliances and send the world’s stock market into freefall with a single sentence.
Author Tripp Mickle spoke with more than 200 current and former Apple executives, as well as figures key to this period of Apple’s history, including Trump administration officials and fashion luminaries such as Anna Wintour while writing After Steve. His research shows the company’s success came at a cost. Apple lost its innovative spirit and has not designed a new category of device in years. Ive’s departure in 2019 marked a culmination in Apple’s shift from a company of innovation to one of operational excellence, and the price is a company that has lost its soul.
Apple is a company that’s a huge deal in the tech world. Most people own or have owned an Apple product of some description or been an onlooker. It’s a hard company to ignore with its technological advancements and widespread advertising. Even today, with my laptop needing a bit of fixing, I’ve turned to an Apple I-pad, my only Apple product, but a significant one, to use to write this review. As we all know though, there are multiple generations of the Mac, I-phones, I-pads, with major stores in cities, plus online. It’s a global trillion dollar company, and here, the author lifts the lid on it with a number of revelations.
Steve Jobs seemed creative with a vast get up and go attitude and vision, coupled together with that important know how as well (inspiration and vision is after all only part of what you need for anything), that is also hard to ignore.
There are recollections of meetings with Steve Jobs, referred often to Jony in the book, by staff. Steve Jobs, it seems, was well aware of his own mortality and it’s interesting how he looks at other companies such as Disney and Sony and what initially happened to them after the death of their original creators, as well as attempts to solidify his team for its future CEO.
I remember when it was announced in the UK about Steve Job’s death and everyone was shocked, from the tech geeks to the dabblers. The book gives a momentary glimpse into just how big a figure he was.
It’s fascinating being able to read about the staff, not all of it is in a business sense and you get a bit of a feel for their personalities, as well as seeing the ups and downs, some of the conversations had. It shows passion and encouragement as well as tempers and attitudes come to the fore at times. The direction of Apple itself is also interesting, with all the huge personalities and ideas, before and after Steve Jobs died in 2011. It shows the difference between Jobs time and post Jobs and the controversies and politics that followed.
The book’s sub-title is “How Apple Became A Trillion Dollar Company and Lost it’s Soul”. Within the book, you can see how this happened and why that is so apt. It also quickly becomes clear, the amount of substantial research that was done.
Interestingly the book a little goes into 2016 when a shocking incident happened with a gun wielding person getting into a meeting room. It certainly captures attention again, or at least in a way when in a country where that is not any type of norm. It then takes the company to 2019 when business-wise it gets interesting.
The book shows how powerful Steve Jobs was and those who surrounded him became. It shows how technology moved on in droves and the cracks that appeared and a glimpse into how amongst all the glitz and glam of new product launches, it’s still a company that, whilst still powerful, is still having issues to present day, especially 2021. It’s fascinating to read the impact staff taking over in top jobs have after the original founder leaves or in this case dies. Sounds like Apple and probably many others are lucky to still be around, but have increased turbulent times to navigate. The insight the book gives can be profound at times, as well as generally interesting.
It is a book that was better than I thought and piqued my interest in a way I had not expected it to. I was glad to take a punt on this book, even though it’s far from what I’d normally read, but Steve Jobs and Apple and the subsequent CEOs are, as I eluded to, are all around us and hard to ignore, as they all seep even further into the public consciousness, many use their products everyday or most days in some form or another. It feels an honest account of where Apple is and where it’s been heading. It’s surprisingly not all business-like, sometimes it has a raw emotion and other times, reflective. This certainly adds to the readability and accessibility, even if it piques your interest just a little.
About the Author
Tripp Mickle is a technology reporter for The New York Times covering Apple. He previously covered the company for the Wall Street Journal, where he also wrote about Google and other Silicon Valley giants. He has appeared on CNBC and NPR, and previously worked as a sportswriter. He lives with his wife and German shorthaired pointer in San Francisco.
Over The Hills And Far Away My Life as a Teletubby
By Nikky Smedley
Rating: 5 out of 5.
In the 1990s, the latest obsession for pre-school children was Teletubbies. I was on work experience in my final years at school, in a nursery and I still remember to this day the majority of children wanted a Teletubby cake and Tubby Toast for their birthday celebrations. It is to be reincarnated on a streaming channel, but Nikky Smedley, who appeared as herself on the morning news programme – Breakfast recently, talking about its global appeal and reminiscing of the phenomenon, was the original LaaLaa, the yellow Teletubby . I have a review of her fascinating memoir of this time.
Say ‘Eh-Oh’ to the performer behind the beloved Teletubby Laa-Laa in this candid and entertaining book.
Lifting the curtain on what it was like to be Laa-Laa and experience the astonishing success of the Teletubbies phenomenon, Nikky Smedley’s enchanting story is warm, affectionate and as lively and funny as the Teletubbies themselves.
Unique in its use of educational theory, child psychology and revolutionary linguistics, Teletubbies achieved global viewing figures of three billion a year. Airing in 120 countries in 45 languages, it was one of the most internationally successful television programmes ever.
Teletubbies as I said, was a global phenomenon as Nikky Smedley recalls. It also turns out, which I think is nice and respectful, that she is to be a consultant for its rebooted version. There were Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po, who were these funny characters who lived over the hill and far away.
The book is insightful into what the author is doing now for the reboot, but also in her memories of what it was like to be part of the production and some of the things behind the scenes, such as a certain clause makes for stark reading and makes you feel sorry for the cast of actors. It’s a real eye-opener into what one would assume was something that happened pre-90s.
She reminisces about what it took to get the part and then to be Laa-Laa, to create that character and truly embody her, costume and all on set in the countryside. She lifts the lid on what looks easy and perfect on-screen had its challenges to make it look accomplished. Then she regales the merchandise, of which there was loads.
With the success came extended contracts in 1999, which is when I first heard about it. It had been filmed for 3 years and at the end of the run, more series were wanted, despite some criticism along the way.
There is also an interesting look into life after Teletubbies for Smedley and the others who played the other Teletubbies and what became of them as it all came to an end in 2002.
It’s also interesting what being in Teletubbies meant to her and her lifestyle. The book is so down to earth, with concerns, happiness, sadness that is relatable on some level to people in and out-with show-biz. If you’ve heard of The Teletubbies or watched it in your youth, this is actually worth reading and more so than I originally anticipated.