When Emmett James was growing up in the 70's and 80's the weekly family outing to the local cinema was his escape from the grimy streets of Croydon, SWhen Emmett James was growing up in the 70's and 80's the weekly family outing to the local cinema was his escape from the grimy streets of Croydon, South London into another world.
At the beginning of each nice and short chapter a different film is mentioned and he describes how the flickering images on the big screen affected his growing up.
Career plans and life-altering directions throughout my childhood years were consistently dictated by the cinema and my favourite film at the time. I went from praying that I grew up to be a mouse after the highly emotional and utterly disturbing animated Disney film The Rescuers, to being sure my destiny was now in the field of archaeology after seeing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
He also dreamed of one day starring in one of the films; for most of us, these are just daydreams and real life takes over but for Emmett James he really does go to Hollywood and he really does fulfil his lifelong dream, eventually having a role in the biggest grossing film of all time (at least it was when he wrote this book!).
I thought that Emmet James dry and wry humour made for entertaining reading and I read this book quite quickly. My favourite story describes how he gatecrashes an Oscars party by pretending to be Richard Curtis (the writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral), who at that time was relatively unknown and no-one knew what he looked like!
From The Jungle Book to Titanic and all manner of genres in between, if you love films you'll love this!...more
The book is narrated by each of the people closest to Tolstoy in his final year, by alternating chapters.
Sofya Andreyevna - his wife for nearly 50 yeaThe book is narrated by each of the people closest to Tolstoy in his final year, by alternating chapters.
Sofya Andreyevna - his wife for nearly 50 years - to me had the loudest voice. She was an extremely complex character and not someone that I liked at all. She was paranoid, neurotic and extremely jealous of all the people surrounding Tolstoy. She was constantly trying to find out what he'd written about her; she wanted to read his diaries and letters. They even sent letters to each other, even while living in the same house!
I learnt so much about Tolstoy while reading this novel, he was such a revered man in Russia, very much like a celebrity of today, people hung on his every word. Indeed, his own physician, Dr Makovitsky, used to write down nearly everything Tolstoy said, even in front of him, which he didn't seem to mind, he was a very patient man.
Jay Parini's writing was never boring, and due to the many varied voices including his wife, daughter, physician and secretary all seeing him in a different way, I felt, by the end of the book, as if I got to know the many sides of Leo Tolstoy's character which made the story all the more fascinating, and sad. Tolstoy comes across as a humble man, tormented by his wealth and feeling guilty by living in a big house and wanting to be free; to live like a peasant; and to be free of his jealous wife; but never doing anything about it until his last days.
The book is based on the many diaries written by him and the people who surrounded him, and is definitely one that I will remember....more
The story starts in France in 1208 when one of the main characters, Bertran, a troubadour, witnesses the murder of Pierre of Castelnau, one of the PopThe story starts in France in 1208 when one of the main characters, Bertran, a troubadour, witnesses the murder of Pierre of Castelnau, one of the Pope's representatives, who has been visiting the Count of Toulouse. He knows that this could mean trouble. not just for himself. but for all the Pope's enemies and he tries to warn other heretics (like himself) who could be in danger from the Pope's revenge by travelling to the various towns and cities of Southern France.
The other main character, Elinor, a 13 year old noblewoman who is in love with Bertran, is also travelling through France with a troupe of minstrels in the disguise of a young minstrel boy. She runs away from her family rather than marrying an older man in an arranged marriage.
Mary Hoffman has woven an enchanting tale of love, poetry and music set against the backdrop of the invading army from the north.
I really liked the character of Elinor, the headstrong young woman, who was always at war with her mother when living at home and who had to grow up quite a lot during her journeys.
I especially enjoyed learning about the troupes of joglars; these were minstrels who wandered around to different towns entertaining the Lords and Ladies by composing poems and singing especially for them in their castles, or just singing in the marketplaces.
The easy flowing writing was a joy to read and, overall, I was absorbed in the story....more
If you're a male and reading this, I have a question for you - what would be your ideal fantasy life? How does having a string of 'Gentlemens Clubs' aIf you're a male and reading this, I have a question for you - what would be your ideal fantasy life? How does having a string of 'Gentlemens Clubs' and being surrounded every night by beautiful near-naked dancing ladies, earning millions of pounds/dollars, driving fancy cars, owning your own private jet and racing car sound? If that life sounds too perfect and nobody could be that lucky, then think again and welcome to Alan Markovitz's world! His true story charts how he rose to become America's most successful Gentlemen's Club entrepreneur.
But, believe it or not there are drawbacks, like being shot at not once, but twice, and still having the bullet lodged in your neck between your carotid artery and your jugular vein as the surgeons considered it too risky to remove. Or maybe having your then business partner hiring two hitmen to murder you for your share of the nightclub. Or even having to testify against the Mob!
Alan's father was a Holocaust survivor who was liberated from Auschwitz at 16 years and as he says "Maybe that's where I get it from - pluck, perseverance, determinations, balls, a little excess now and then. How else are you going to make it in this business?" His parents wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer, the typical young-Jewish-guy-does-well-for-himself success story but Alan had other ideas, he saw how his neighbour, Sol Milan, owned a bigger car than his parents and he owned a strip club, and from an early age Alan knew that that was what he wanted.
So, Alan went to Bartender School and, luckily for him, when Sol's regular bartender wanted weekends off he asked Alan to step in, obviously he jumped at the chance and so began his first foray into the world of the 'gentlemens clubs'. When he was just 20 something he bought a run-down strip joint and with Sol as his partner he opened his first club - The Booby Trap - it was a dream come true and he never looked back.
The first person to shoot him was one of his own dancers, a junkie by the name of Susie who he had just fired. She didn't take too kindly to this and came back later the same night and shot her .38 revolver at him, hitting him twice, once in his liver and the other collapsed his lung. She only received two and a half years for attempted murder!
Amazingly, the next bullets were from an off-duty policeman who was apparently not happy at being asked to leave one of Alan's Clubs one January evening in 1997, having consumed too much alcohol and starting an argument with one of the dancers. After leaving he came back and started shooting his .40 caliber Glock and, unfortunately, Alan was in the way of one of his stray bullets. His jaw was shattered in six places, losing several teeth in the process, he had to have six separate surgeries, plastic reconstruction and cost him almost a quarter of a million dollars!
The FBI was already investigating two thugs for other crimes when they listened in to their phone calls and uncovered a plot to assassinate Alan. Unbeknown to Alan, his business partner, Freddy Giordano, had hired the two hitmen to kill him, and Alan only found out about this while watching the evening news one night when they were arrested. Luckily for Alan they were arrested before they could carry out the hit!
The book takes us behind the scenes of how the business works, the girls who, Alan continually tells us, are not stupid but are doing something they enjoy and which can pay extremely well, his battles with officialdom, the vast sums of money that can be made, all the while saying that anyone with guts and determination can do anything if they want it badly enough.
Alan comes across as a likeable, decent guy, who has made mistakes in his life and admits them honestly, which is one of the things I liked about him. He wasn't flashy or pretentious, just an ordinary person living an extraordinary life. Even though I'm probably not the sort of person the book is aimed at ...... I'm a middle-aged female ....... I would guess the book is mainly aimed at males interested in 'gentlemens clubs' ........ but I really did enjoy it. I know I'll probably never find myself in one of these clubs, but that doesn't matter, I still found it a fascinating look at a different world.
The writing flowed quickly and easily and all the chapters were nicely divided into sections, eg. Tycoons are made not born and The Girls which is self-explanatory. ...more
When the retired Colonel moves to the picturesque Dorset village of Frog's End after his wife's death he expects to live out his days quietly, but wheWhen the retired Colonel moves to the picturesque Dorset village of Frog's End after his wife's death he expects to live out his days quietly, but when, on collecting for 'Save the Donkeys' Charity he discovers the body of Lois Delaney (an aged actress) his life becomes anything but quiet and boring.
At the Inquest into her death it is presumed that she committed suicide but the Colonel (who was a huge fan of hers) has his suspicions that all was not as it seemed and he does his own investigating. He discovers that Lois Delaney had just been offered a wonderful acting job on the London stage and was very excited about it - so why would she commit suicide when she was so happy? It just didn't make sense to the Colonel.
Set in a contemporary era, the small village is fully of quirky characters and we are introduced gradually to all of them.
There is the nosey neighbour, Freda Butler, who uses her late Admiral father's binoculars to spy on all the comings and goings ......... the two gay men living in the converted Hall which has been made into flats, one of which is where Lois Delaney lived ......... the sour old biddy, Miss Quinn, who also lived in the flat above. Plus an assortment of oddballs and even some normal inhabitants!
We also learn that many people in the village even knew Miss Delaney years ago when she was an actress, so do any of them have a motive to murder her? And why have they kept it quiet that they knew her?
The author, Margaret Mayhew, throws in a few red herrings here and there just to keep us guessing which all added to the enjoyment.
As we get to know the likeable Colonel and the villagers the plot moves very slowly and gently with not a lot happening but I was swept along and had finished it all too soon! At only 180 pages long it is a nice easy read.
If you enjoy Miss Marple or the Midsommer Murder type of story then you'll like this. But if you're the Harlen Coban or Lee Child fast and furious type of storyline fan then I think this will move too slowly for you. ...more
The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.
These curious words aFirst Line:
The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.
These curious words are spoken by the narrator, Willie Upton, upon returning to her home town, having had a disastrous affair with her married professor and now finding herself pregnant.
She slowly starts to get her life together by discovering the lives of her ancestors who founded the town of Templeton in the 1700's and through their words we learn of past secrets, lies and rumours.
Many of the chapters alternated between Willie's voice and some of her ancestors which helped to build up a fascinating picture of her weird family, some of whom I did find a little unbelievable, together with the growth of Templeton.
I thought the slow build up of the family tree diagrams throughout the story was a nice touch and the family pictures also added to the overall feel, making it all seem real.
The story of the prehistoric monster found in the Lake was a little unusual and the author kept referring to this throughout the book as some of the characters may have seen it over the years. I'm not sure if I liked this idea or not, I just found the whole concept a little strange.
Overall though I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it if you like something a little different from the normal historical/contemporary fiction.
I really enjoyed this book right from the start when the 4 main characters were given their briefing orders for this historic flight.
As their spaceshiI really enjoyed this book right from the start when the 4 main characters were given their briefing orders for this historic flight.
As their spaceship entered the Bermuda Triangle strange things happened to their instruments that they couldn't control, they lost contact with Mission Control, they were in total darkness and, as they were all beginning to feel scared and helpless, they were then surrounded by a bright blue light and appeared to descend to the ground. This seemed to be in the middle of a clearing surrounded by a forest.
We were then introduced to what seemed to be primitive cavemen hunters who lived there and who could talk English and even drank chamomile tea! I was constantly wondering where they had landed -- on another planet -- have they travelled back in time -- or among some long lost tribe deep in the forest? I loved the way that the author kept us guessing about this right to the end.
As the crew explored the area the story got quite scary, it actually seemed to be more of a horror book with some fairly graphic details (which I won't spoil by saying what they were!)
Overall, a confidently written story with some twists and unexpected turns, nice short chapters with cliffhangers at the end of most of them so you just have to keep reading!...more
When Pat Garrett shot and killed Billy the Kid on July 14th 1881 in New Mexico Territory a legend was born.
From the corrupt streets of New York to theWhen Pat Garrett shot and killed Billy the Kid on July 14th 1881 in New Mexico Territory a legend was born.
From the corrupt streets of New York to the corrupt towns of the Wild West, Billy the Kid's 21 short years are brought vividly to life by this fascinating biography.
So few actual facts are known about him that historians do not even agree about his birthplace or even his real name. Michael Wallis has painstakingly sifted through all the exaggerated stories and outright lies that have surrounded him over the years and through a mixture of anecdotes from people who knew him, reliable sources, historical documents, and his own meticulous research, he has debunked many of the myths of his murderous ways and discovered that
"the truth of the young man was neatly covered up through sleight of hand with historical facts by a host of dime novelists, journalists, and hacks.......he was then and forever a mirage."
Until his mother's death in 1874 when Billy was only 14, he was a normal mischievous boy. Afterwards he became a young man who had to fend for himself and grow up very quickly by living on his wits and eventually turning to horse stealing and gambling to live.
This is not just a history of Billy the Kid, but also a history of the Old West during the late 19th century, of the lawlessness and corruption during his short life, including the infamous Lincoln County War.
I particularly enjoyed the photographs dotted around the book, which included many of the characters and places mentioned, and the cover of the book shows the only documented photographic image of him, taken in late 1879 or early 1880. Paulita Maxwell, one of Billy's lady friends, said in later years, "I never liked the picture, I don't think it does Billy justice". The young man's image is forever frozen in time - just like his myth....more
I read Sophie Hannah's debut novel 'Little Face' (which I loved) so I knew what to expect ....... each chapter alternating between the main protagonisI read Sophie Hannah's debut novel 'Little Face' (which I loved) so I knew what to expect ....... each chapter alternating between the main protagonist and the police, the same high standard of writing, and the suspense being slowly and steadily built up.
The 2 police officers (Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer) who we were first introduced to in 'Little Face', didn't take her seriously at first until Naomi decides to take matters into her own hands with devastating consequences.
One of the things I love about Sophie Hannah's characters is that no-one is as they seem, so you're never sure what to believe and I was completely confused by the many twists and turns throughout until all the ends are neatly tied up.
Though not as gripping as 'Little Face' I was still turning each page eagerly....more
This is a very clever and unusual idea, using a real life writer (Josephine Tey) to help in solving a fictional crime set in the theatre world of theThis is a very clever and unusual idea, using a real life writer (Josephine Tey) to help in solving a fictional crime set in the theatre world of the 1930's. It was full of believable characters with depth and richness and I was constantly changing my mind as to 'whodunnit'!
A very entertaining read which I would recommend for fans of Agatha Christie type novels....more
This is an incredibly moving story of how Carrie Host deals with the most devastating news anyone could have.........being told that you have cancer,This is an incredibly moving story of how Carrie Host deals with the most devastating news anyone could have.........being told that you have cancer, particularly when your youngest child is not even one.
One minute I was in tears as she was preparing herself for how to gently tell her two teenage children of her diagnosis and the treatment she would be having, and the next I was smiling as she describes her husband, Amory, getting the car ready --
Amory is already dressed and scraping ice and snow off the car, shoveling a clear path for me. Before I can even get my coat from the closet, I hear the engine turning over .............. sadly, he has become accustomed to my waking him at all hours........ he's never annoyed or put out, he's just constantly bailing out my boat as it begins to fill with water.
Throughout the book I kept thinking how lucky she was to have such a wonderful husband and loyal friends who looked after the children at the drop of a hat, even though some of her friends did disappear as some people just couldn't cope with seeing her battle. She was incredibly philosophical about this and understanding - which to me sums up her whole attitude to her situation.
As I followed this warm, likeable and very strong woman as she dealt with her cancer, I loved the way she constantly compared her life to being in a raging river -- sometimes she felt like she was being pulled under the water, at other times she felt as if someone was pulling her out.
This is a lovely, feel good story full of hope and compassion....more
If you’ve ever wondered what life is like on the other side of the checkout as you buy your weekly shopping, then wonder no more as Anna Sam talks toIf you’ve ever wondered what life is like on the other side of the checkout as you buy your weekly shopping, then wonder no more as Anna Sam talks to you as if you were applying for the job yourself.
I learnt that supermarkets in France don’t supply their customers with free bags anymore, unlike the UK where they’re given out every day in their thousands and then thrown carelessly away, cluttering up the rubbish dumps.
I also discovered what the three most common questions the till operators are asked, and which European country uses the most toilet rolls! Oh yes, this book is full of gems like this.
I quite enjoyed her easy style of writing and short paragraphs with titles such as ‘Embarrassing Items’ and ‘My Till, My Love’. But I started to get a little bored about ¾ of the way through and I was glad it was just a short book (only 174 pages). It is a unique and very quirky read and there were some funny parts.
Even though Anna worked in France, I’m sure it is equally relevant wherever it is set, as I’m sure retail workers can identify with the many amusing, awkward and downright rude customers!
The moment that Lady Elizabeth Woodville (27 year old widow of 2 young sons) meets the handsome King Edward IV "who has beautiful women flinging themsThe moment that Lady Elizabeth Woodville (27 year old widow of 2 young sons) meets the handsome King Edward IV "who has beautiful women flinging themselves at him every night of the week," their lives are irrevocably changed forever as the young Yorkist King is smitten by the beauty and grace of the daughter of one of his Lancastrian enemies.
The Wars of the Roses is the backdrop to this compelling love story where, after secretly marrying, the King and Queen of England's many children include the 'princes in the tower', a mystery which has baffled historians through the centuries.
Elizabeth is the main character throughout and is not without her flaws, she can be a very loving wife and mother, but also very strong-willed. She also enjoys the power that the Throne provides, indeed her own brother says to her that "you distribute favours and wealth to your favourites, not to the deserving".
I was completely absorbed in this story, I thought it had everything: bloody battles, treachery, treason, romance, witchcraft, family feuds, murder, and at the heart of it the mystery of the two young and innocent little boys who are caught in the middle of a tussle for the Kingdom.
This is the first in Philippa Gregory's new Historical Fiction series - I can't wait for her next!...more
When the Cutters' neighbours, Mr and Mrs Langley and their young son Adam, are brutally murdered in cold blood everyone is shocked and when the policeWhen the Cutters' neighbours, Mr and Mrs Langley and their young son Adam, are brutally murdered in cold blood everyone is shocked and when the police discover that 17 year old Derek Cutter was hiding in their house at the time of the killings he then becomes the prime suspect. His friend Adam's computer is missing; what has that got to do with his mother's boss; and could a young man's suicide somehow be linked to the novel that was on the missing computer? Did the killers go to the wrong address - should they have been looking for the Cutters house instead?
Derek's father, Jim Cutter, is determined to prove his son's innocence and it seems that everyone has secrets to hide, even Jim...........
This is the 2nd Linwood Barclay book I've read - his debut novel was No Time For Goodbye which was a Richard & Judy pick. This is very similar in many ways: it starts with a mystery and the reveal is very slowly and tantalisingly uncovered with twists and turns along the way. The main narrator, Jim Cutter, was incredibly likeable, honest, protective of his family, talked in mono-syllables, and did not suffer fools lightly; sounds like my kind of guy!
I always think that with these kind of books (suspense, mystery) that the reveal is never going to match up to all the build-up throughout the novel, and Too Close to Home is no exception. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it, Linwood Barclay's fast writing had me hooked from the start, and I didn't guess the plot, but I just felt there was something missing and I'm not sure what it was!
However, if you enjoyed No Time for Goodbye or Sophie Hannah's books then I think you'd like this just as much....more