Making It Up As I Go Along – Marian Keyes

Making It Up As I Go Along cover

About Author 

About Marian

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. Instead she studied law and accountancy and finally started writing short stories in 1993 “out of the blue.” Though she had no intention of ever writing a novel she sent her short stories to a publisher, with a letter saying she’d started work on a novel. The publishers replied, asking to see the novel, and once her panic had subsided, she began to write what subsequently became her first book Watermelon.

It was published in Ireland in 1995, where it was an immediate, runaway success. Its chatty conversational style and whimsical Irish humour appealed to all age groups, and this appeal spread to Britain when Watermelon was picked as a Fresh Talent book. Other countries followed (most notably the US in 1997) and Marian is now published in thirty-three languages.

Marian’s books deal variously with modern ailments, including addiction, depression, domestic violence, the glass ceiling and serious illness, but always written with compassion, humour and hope.

In 2009, Marian experienced the start of a major depressive episode, and had to stop any work. Eventually she found that baking cakes helped her survive; and in 2012, she published Saved by Cake, which combines recipes with autobiography.

In 2014 and 2015, with the publication of the Woman Who Stole My Life, Marian appeared on TV programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing – It Takes Two, The Great British Bake Off Extra Slice and the Apprentice – You’ve Been Fired.

As well as novels she has written short stories, and articles for various magazines and other publications.  She has published three collections of her journalism, titled Under the Duvet and Further Under the Duvet, and donated all royalties from Irish sales to the Simon Community, a charity which works with the homeless.

Marian was born in Limerick in 1963, and brought up in Cavan, Cork, Galway and Dublin; she spent her twenties in London, but is now living in Dún Laoghaire with her husband Tony. She includes among her hobbies, reading, movies, shoes, handbags and feminism.

Information on Book 

‘Some people go to art galleries to receive an infusion of beauty, but other people it’s elaborate gardens, but I cant tell you the happy, happy hours, I’ve had lining my nail varnishes up on my bed, sometimes colour-coding them. Sometimes acting out West Side Story where a pink falls in love with an orange.’

‘I’m not a fan of perfume. Nevertheless, I get endless enjoyment from the ads and pass many a happy hour “doing” my own versions. Indeed, it’s a game that could be played by all the family “I am hirsute….. I am verbohen……I am certifiable. Certifiable. The new perfume from Marion Keyes.’

‘Hairdressers are not stupid. They have a low territorial cunning and hair salons are snake pits, hot beds of bitchiness, where each stylists regards all the others as mortal rivals and clients are jealously guarded.’

‘Because of the powerful hold sugar has on me, I can’t keep any in the house. But as luck would have it, I live five minutes’ drive from my parents, which is Trans-fat central – if you open a cupboard in their kitchen, you’re in very real danger of being brained by an avalanche of biscuits and their freezer is so jam-packed with magnums I sometimes worry that when I open the door the ice creams will explode at me, like chocolate-coated bullets.’

Extract from Book 

pg.25

“Addiction is often called the disease of more- because when we experience something pleasurable our brain produces dopamine (‘the happy hormone’) so if you’re an addict like me and you find something you like, you’ll keep replicating the experience in the hope of generating fresh hits of delightful dopamine. 

The long and the short of it was, I needed more Chanel varnishes, and mercifully family and friends helped out. Each little bottle marked an occasion; my mammy gave me Vendetta as reimbursement for paying her milkman whilst she was in hospital with pneumonia; Anne handed over Azure as thanks for minding the Redzers; and Catriona bought me Atmosphere in Rome airport because she was flying back to New York and I was going home to Dublin and who knew when we’d see each other again. 

I spent (and still do) on unholy amount of time on eBay, yearning after discontinued limited editions as rare as gold dust.”

My Views

I am a massive fan of Marian’s and have read pretty much everything she has written. This book was ideal for me as I read it just after my baby was born and because its almost as if each chapter is a short story it was perfect for reading in between dealing with my new born and the toddler. This book will make you laugh out loud and at times, I would properly belly laugh. It is a great book and if you have never read any of Marian’s books I think this is a great start. This is one book I would recommend.

Other Information

Price – £3.99

Author Website available here.

Copy of Book available

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My Sweet Revenge – Jane Fallon

My_Sweet_Revenge

About Author 

Jane_Fallon_HP

Jane was born in Harrow in North London and later moved out to Buckinghamshire where she attended St Bernard’s Convent School in Slough before moving back up to London to read history at University College.

Jane’s first real job was working as a ‘Girl Friday’ in a small Theatrical and Literary Agency. As soon as she walked through the door Jane fell in love with the idea of working in drama in some capacity.

Several other shows including ‘Teachers’ and ’20 Things To Do Before You’re 30′ followed before Jane suddenly got brave enough to have a go at trying to fulfil my life long ambition to write a novel in 2006.

 

Information on Book 

Sometimes there’s a good reason for behaving badly.

I want to make my husband fall back in love with me. Let me explain. This isn’t an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven’t been reading articles in old women’s magazines. ‘Twenty ways to keep your man’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tel him to get the hell out of my life he’ll care.

I want it to hurt.

Paula has had Robert’s back since they got together as drama students. She gave up her dreams so he could make it. Now he’s one of the nation’s most popular actors. And Paula’s just discovered he’s having an affair. She’s going to remind Robert just what he’s sacrificing. And then she’s going to break his heart like he broke hers. It will be her greatest acting role ever.

Revenge is sweet. Isn’t it?

Extract from Book 

pg. 126

‘It’s my first session with the personal trainer Myra has found for me. I tried to protest, but she wasn’t having it. Despite her feelings as if I’m letting the side down by attempting to get fit, she’s determined to help me achieve my aim of getting back at Robert. I’ve told him I am working an extra hour in the afternoon. And even though I’m dreading it, I’m glad to have an excuse not to go home. The idea of him hanging around the house for the next four weeks is filling me with dread. 

Myra waves me off like it’s my first day at school. ‘Don’t come back all super skinny will you?’ 

‘Very funny. I’ll be lucky if I come back at all.’

I’m expecting the gym to be filled of buff young people, oiling their muscles and twirling giant weights around their heads like batons. As it happens, the place is quiet. While I wait nervously in reception for the girl behind the desk to finish her phone call, I look around. One woman – older than me, I would guess, but in fantastic shape- is being shown how to do something that looks tortuous in one corner of the room, but she’s laughing. Whilst she’s doing it so that’s a good sign. Maybe she’s getting the endorphin’s they always talk about, or maybe she’s just a masochist. Other than her and her trainer, the gym is empty,’  

My Views 

This is the first Jane Fallon book I have read and I was not disappointed. Throughout the book, I found myself shouting at Paula and willing her to move on. You can see Paula’s confidence increasing throughout the book and her growing in confidence and planning her future on her own. At first, you feel her fear and that slowly diminishes. You can visualise the changes in both Paula’s body and mind. I did not like Robert and just scowled throughout the book even when his name was mentioned. We all know Robert’s in our lives and the one I know I keep my distance as I know that at times I can be brutally honest, which does not always go down too well.

Jane writes about real life women and real life situations which is a real talent and Jane will be on my permanent reading list.

Other Information 

Price – £3.85

Jane Fallon’s website is available here.

Purchase My Sweet Revenge here.

Under a Mackerel Sky A Memoir – Rick Stein

About Author 

Rick Stein is a well loved and respected chef, TV presenter and author who has produced an array of award winning books and television series, including Rick Stein’s Seafood, Seafood Lover’s Guide, Taste of the Sea, Food Heros, French Odyssey, Mediterranean Escapes, Coast to Coast and Far East Odyssey. All of his books and programmes show a commitment to good quality produce, sustainable fishing and good husbandry.

Rick owns four restaurants, a delicatessen, a patisserie, a seafood cookery school and forty guest bedrooms in a small fishing port of Padstow, Cornwall. Rick was awarded an OBE, for services to the West Country Tourism. He divides his time between Padstow and Australia, which he regards as his second home.

Information on Book 

Sometimes it’s the most surprising journeys that lead us to where we need to be…….

When Rick Stein was eighteen a tragic family event caused him to set out alone to travel the world. Leaving behind his idyllic childhood fishing off the rocks in Cornwall and roaming the Oxfordshire countryside near his family’s farm, Rick worked as a labourer in the Australian outback and on board a ship.

This strikingly honest and moving memoir tells how one of our best loved chefs discovered his talent for food and how a lost little boy found his place in the world.

‘All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.’ 

James Thurber

Extract from Book 

pg.202

‘These days, I just go in and stand on the pass and watch what everyone is doing. It’s a scene of quick concentration. Nobody raises their voices. I love it in there, always have, for all the hard work, sweating, stressing, yelling. Nowadays, it’s almost like a temple. It’s a friendly world where stocks and soups are simmering and fish and shellfish are grilling. The chefs are pleased to see me. I don’t say much, just notice that the horse radish and beetroot salad with smoked salmon is a little chunky. Mental note to ask them to cut the beetroot finer. I taste it. Needs more horse radish and a little more sugar. The sauce for the new season’s garlic with the monk fish is a little on the dry side. Will mention that. Grilled lobster looks perfect, as does the bass with the vanilla dressing which is hard to get right. Too much vanilla and it tastes weird just a trace and it’s exciting, seems to make the chargrilled bitterness of the skin taste memorable.’ 

My Views

I am a massive Rick Stein fan, I love his cook books and his shows. The combination of knowledge of his destination with English Literature and cooking is just inspiring.

From his memoir, I didn’t realise the sadness he had in his early life. You experience his loss and go on the journey with Rick to find himself and find answers to the questions he has ongoing in his mind.

If you like Rick Stein, this is the best book for you to read. You follow him around to him becoming an established cook and his business ventures. I just simply loved this book and one I would recommend. When you read this book, you can hear Ricks voice as if he is there telling you his story, which I think is hard to do. The only other author, I have experienced this from is Stephen Fry. Rick is brutally honest about his private life including the break down of his marriage to him falling in love with his second wife. You feel his genuine sadness that his first marriage did not last, but you then experience the overwhelming love and affection he has for Sarah his second wife.

Other Information 

Price – £7.99

Rick’s website is available here.

Copy of Book is available here.

May 2017 Book Haul

So, May has been a great month for me for books, I am starting to establish my blog and have been working hard on this – so stay tuned as there are many things in the pipeline. Here is a peep of the books that I have either bought or received this month. Lets get started………


Conclave – Robert Harris 

‘The Pope is dead. 

Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, 118 cardinals are meeting in conclave to cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election.

They are holy men. But they are ambitious. And they have rivals. 

Over the next 72 hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth. 

Which one of them will it be?’

This Was A Man – Jeffrey Archer 

‘This Was A Man opens with a shot being fired, but who pulled the trigger, and who lives and who dies? 

In Whitehall, Giles Barrington discovers the truth about his wife Karin from the Cabinet Secretary. Is she a spy or a pawn in a larger game? Harry Clifton sets out to write his magnum opus, while his wife Emma completes her ten years as Chairman of the Bristol Royal Infirmary, and recieves an unexpected call from Margaret Thatcher offering her a job. 

Sebastian Clifton becomes chairman of Farthings Kaufman bank after Hakim Bishara resigns for personal reasons. Sebastian and his wife Samantha’s talented daughter, Jessica, is expelled from the Slade School of Fine Art, but her aunt Grace comes to the rescue.

Lady Virginia is about to flee the country to avoid her creditors when the Duchess of Hertford dies, and she sees another opportunity to clear her debts and finally trump the Cliftons and the Barringtons.

In  devastating twist, tragedy engulfs the Clifton family when one of them receives a shocking diagnosis that will throw all their lives into turmoil.

This Was A Man is the seventh captivating instalment of the Clifton Chronicles from master storyteller Jeffrey Archer.” 

Broken Branches – Jonathan Lee 

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so. 

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family. 

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.’ 

(This book was sent to me)

This Family Of Things – Alison Jameson 

‘On the day Midge O’Connor comes hurtling into Bird Keegan’s life, she flings open his small, quiet world. He and his two sisters, Olive and Margaret, have lived in the same isolated community all their lives, each one more alone than the others can know. 

Taking in damage, sharp-edged Midge, Bird invites the scorn of his neighbours and siblings. And as they slowly mend each other, family binds – and the tie of the land – begin to weigh down on their tentative relationship. Can it survive the misunderstandings, contempt and violence of others? 

A poignant and powerful study of the emotional lives of three siblings and the girl who breaks through their solitude.’ 

(This book was sent to me)

Do No Harm – Henry Marsh 

‘Do No Harm offers an unforgettable insight into the highs and lows of a life dedicated to operating on the human brain, in all its exquisite complexity. With astonishing candour and compassion, Henry Marsh reveals the exhilarating drama of surgery, the chaos and confusion of a busy modern hospital, and above all the need for hope when faced with life’s most agonising decisions.’ 

Three Sisters Three Queens – Philippa Gregory 

‘When Katherine of Aragon is brought to the Tutor court as a young bride, the oldest princess, Margaret, takes her measure. With one look, each knows the other for a rival, an ally, a pawn, destined – with Margaret’s youngest sister Mary – to a unique sisterhood. The three sisters will become the queens of England, Scotland and France. 

Despite being united by family loyalties and affections, the three queens find themselves set against each other. But as they experience betrayals, dangers, loss and passion, they find that the only constant in their perilous lives is their special bond, more powerful than any man, even a king.’ 

The Floating Theatre – Martha Conway 

‘When young seamstress May Bedloe is left alone and penniless on the shore of the Ohio River, she finds work on the famous floating theatre that plies its trade along its banks. Her creativity and needlework skills quickly become invaluable an she settles in to life among the colourful troupe of actors. She finds friends, and possibly the promise of more……..

But cruising the border between the Confederate South and the ‘free’ North is fraught with danger. 

For the sake of a debt that must be repaid, May is compelled to transport secret passengers, under cover of darkness, across the river and on, along the underground railroad. 

But as May’s secrets become harder to keep, she learns she must endanger those now dear to her. And to save the lives of others, she must risk her own………..

(This book was sent to me)

SS – GB – Len Deighton 

‘For nine months Britain has been occupied – a blitzed, depressed and dingy country. However, it’s ‘business as usual’ at Scotland Yard when Detective Inspector Archer is assigned to a routine murder case. Life must go on. 

But when SS Standartenfuhrer Huth arrives from Berlin with orders from the great Himmler himself to supervise the investigation, the resourceful Archer finds himself caught up in a high – level, all-action, espionage battle.’ 

Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly 

‘Before John Glenn orbited the earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, some of the brightest minds of their generations, known as ‘human computers’, used pencils and added machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War and the Space Race, Hidden Figures is a powerful, revelatory tale of race, discrimination and achievement in the modern world.’

The Improbability Of Love – Hannah Rothschild

‘When lovelorn Annie McDee stumbles across a dirty painting in a junk shop while looking for a present for an unsuitable man, she has no idea what she has discovered. 

Soon she finds herself drawn unwillingly into the tumultuous London art world, populated by exiled Russian oligarchs, avaricious Sheikhas, desperate auctioneers and unscrupulous dealers, all scheming to get their hands on her painting – a lost eighteenth century masterpiece called ‘The Improbability of Love’. Delving into the painting’s past, Annie will uncover not just an illustrious list of former owners, but some of the darkest secrets of European history – and in doing so she might just learn to open up to the possibility of falling in love again.’

 

 

 

 

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

Product Details

 

About Author 

Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon and writer. He held degrees in both English Literature, Human Biology and History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine from Stanford and Cambridge University before graduating from Yale School of Medicine. He also recieved the American Academy of Neurological Surgery’s highest award for research. His reflections on doctoring and illness have been published in the New York Times, The Washington Post and the Paris Review Daily. Paul died in March 2015, aged 37. He is survived by his wife, Lucy and their daughter, Elizabeth Acadia.

Information on Book 

What do you do when life is catastrophically interrupted?

What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away?

What makes life worth living in the face of death?

At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul was diagnosed with an inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Paul’s transformation from a medical student in search of what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity- the brain, and finally into a patient and a new father.

Extracts from Book 

Foreword Abraham Verghese pgxix 

Be ready. Be seated. See what courage sounds like. See how brave it is to reveal yourself in this way. But above all, see what it is to still live, to profoundly influence the lives of others after you are gone, by your words. In a world of asynchronous communication, where we are so often buried in our screens, our gaze rooted to the rectangular objects buzzing in our hands, our attention consumed by ephemera, stop and experience this dialogue with my young departed colleague, now ageless and extent in memory listen to Paul. In silences between his words, listen to what you have to say back. Therein lies his message. I got it I hope you experience it too. It is a gift. Let me not stand between, you and Paul.” 

pg 124

“My family and friends quickly wired through our network of medical colleagues to find out who the best lung cancer oncologist in the country were. Houston and New York had major cancer centres; was that where I should be treated? The logistics of moving or temporarily relocating or what have you – that could be sorted out later. The replies came back quickly, and more or less unanimously; Emma not only as one of the best – a world renowned oncologist who served as the lung cancer expert on one of the major national cancer advisory boards, but she was also known to be compassionate, someone who knew when to push and when to hold back. I briefly wandered at the string of events that had sent me looping through the world, my residency determined by a computerised match process, only to end up assigned here, with a freak diagnosis, in the hands of one of the finest doctors to treat it.”

My views 

This book blew my mind away and I have never been left with the feeling that I felt at the end. It was not just the words of Paul that were powerful but his wife I felt was the strongest voice out of the two of them. Lucy from what I read was in a dilemma as to whether she should finish Paul’s work, I am glad she did as it was inspirational to hear her thought provoking words to the extent you could feel her tears as she was writing together with her sense of pride of Paul’s work not just with his book but his medical career.

You really live Paul’s fight with whether he should give up medicine to live his second dream which was to write a novel. My only disappointment was that he never got round to writing that novel and we have really missed out on hearing his words that are not related to his illness.

Paul was deeply honest throughout the book you feel the rawness, which includes his relationship difficulties, work life balance issues, whether he needs a career change and then his cancer journey and the difficult decisions he has to make as a patient rather than as a doctor.

This book is a must read to everyone, I know you are all shouting at me saying it will be a sad read. It is and it isn’t. You will be left with a “tinge” of sadness but left empowered and you realise the power words have.

I am not one to go back to read books I have already read- but this book has changed that and it is on my pile to re-read again as I feel that when I read it again, I will get something else out it and feel different emotions – which is not a bad thing.

A MUST READ !!!!

Other Information 

Price £3.85

Copy of book available here.