Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

ELEANOR OLIPHANT

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

by Gail honeyman

 

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine…but not really. her life consists of work – Monday to Friday, with very little in the way of human interaction. Then weekends spent at home, alone, not speaking to a soul from leaving work on the Friday to getting on the bus on Monday morning.

On Friday after leaving work she buys a pizza from Tesco and two bottles of vodka that she drinks throughout the weekend, never getting drunk but in a suitable haze to see her through.

Eleanor’s social skills are extremely limited; she has no filter for her thoughts and her only point of reference is ‘mummy’ who is cruel and vindictive and no longer in her life except for a weekly phone call.

Then three men come into Eleanor’s life…

The first she decides is the man for her: the one she will walk off into the sunset with. So she sets about updating her appearance for the meeting that will change her life, with hilarious consequences.

The second man is Raymond, the IT man at work. They meet when Eleanor’s computer breaks down. Raymond is one of the few people who is not put off by Eleanor’s blunt manner.

The third man is Sammy. When Sammy is taken ill, Eleanor and Raymond help him and the three become friends, resulting in Eleanor’s life opening up and a huge learning curve.

Eleanor is one of the most fabulous creations. Her thoughts on other people and the world around her are totally hilarious.

“I purchased it in a charity shop some years ago, and it has a photograph of a moon-faced man. He is wearing a brown leather blouson. Along the top, in strange yellow font, it says ‘Top Gear’. I don’t profess to understand this mug. It holds the perfect amount of vodka, however, thereby obviating the need for frequent refills.”

But at the same time she is vulnerable and holds dark secrets from the past. We follow her as she tries to come to terms with who she is and how she interacts with the world, with the help of the lovely Raymond. Their relationship is a joy to behold. His small kindnesses making all the difference to a woman who has never been shown any and known only loneliness.

This is such a powerful book, having strong themes of loneliness and heartbreaking sadness but with a huge warmth and tenderness. You’ll laugh out loud on one page and cry buckets on the next. I didn’t want this book to end and was bereft when I had to say goodbye.

Do not miss it. The best book of the year so far.

 

Many thanks to Harper Collins for sending me a copy.

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Prankenstein On Tour

prankenstein-on-tour

 

Prankenstein On Tour

by Andy Seed

 

The third instalment of this fantastic series is finally here! Soapy Thompson’s dad wins a world cruise for a family of five and Soapy convinces his parents that best friends, Arvo and Loogi should come along to stop him going mad with boredom.As they cruise past the East coast of Africa there is a great commotion in the dead of night and Soapy discovers that pirates have boarded the ship and taken two hostages – his parents – and are demanding GBP1m in cash. Soapy knows that his only hope is to unleash Prankenstein – his prank-crazed alter-ego and the adventure out at sea really begins.

 

This is the third book in the Prankenstein series, about Soapy Thompson, a young boy with an alter ego. I haven’t read the first two in the series, but as I am doing an event with author Andy Seed, I thought it only right that I should acquaint myself with the latest book, and I am very glad that I did.

Soapy, his mum and dad and his two friends go on a cruise, where things start to go wrong almost immediately, and Soapy has to call on Prankenstein to sort out the mess. Unfortunately, once Prankenstein has been released he is a very difficult character to get rid of. And his antics leave you roaring with laughter.

When Soapy goes missing,it is up to his two friends Arvo and Loogi, and the two girls they meet on the cruise, Minty and Ursule, to try to save the day.

This is a fabulous read for all children aged between 7 and 11. But I strongly suspect that if you have a reluctant boy reader then this could be the series to get them interested.

There is humour on every page. I personally loved the characters of Arvo and Loogi, from Estonia, and the dialogue between them and Soapy is hilarious.

As well as the humour,the story of the boys’s adventures is extremely readable. Which is a big help if you are a parent helping your child with his/her reading.

I would highly recommend this series, and although this book can be read as a standalone, I think children would love to start at the beginning with Prankenstein and follow his adventures through the series.

 

ANDY_SEED

 

Andy Seed is an author and poet, living in North Yorkshire. He writes memoirs, funny poems and humorous non-fiction books as well as all sorts of things for teachers. Andy’s most popular book for adults is All Teachers Great and Small and his most popular book for children is a non-fiction book, The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff, which won the 2015 Blue Peter Best Book with Facts Award.

 

 

The Rise And Fall Of The Miraculous Vespas BLOG TOUR

the rise and fall of the miraculous vespas

 

The Rise And Fall of The Miraculous Vespas

by David F. Ross

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll doesn’t necessarily mean a band. It doesn’t mean a singer, and it doesn’t mean a lyric, really. It’s that question of trying to be immortal.                                                                                 Malcolm McLaren

The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas is the timeless story of the quest for such pop immortality. When a young Ayrshire band miraculously hits the big time with the smash hit record of 1984, international stardom beckons. That’s despite having a delusional teenage manager guided by malevolent voices… Can Max Mojo’s band of talented band of social misfits repeat their success and pay back an increasingly agitated cartel of local gangsters? Or will they have to kidnap Boy George and hope for the best? Features much loved characters from The Last Days of Disco.

 

After reading and absolutely loving The Last Days Of Disco, (one of my top 10 books of last year. You can find my review here), I couldn’t wait to read David F. Ross’s next offering: The Rise And Fall Of The Miraculous Vespas, and I was not disappointed.

This is another fabulous read. It is the second in a trilogy about life in 1980s Kilmarnock, Scotland. But although I would definitely say start at the first book, you don’t need to, this can be read as a standalone, but then you’ll want to read the first book: so why not?

In this book our hero is Dale Wishart, son of  local gangster, James ‘Washer’ Wishart. When we first meet Dale, he is lying comatose in hospital after a bad beating, when the voice known as Max Mojo begins pounding in his head. Within days Dale has changed his name by deed poll and is looking for a band in his search for immortality.

The band itself is not without characters; singer and guitarist Grant Delgrado, originally Grant Dale; Maggie, the drummer; and the brothers Sylvester; Simon, a kleptomaniac and Eddie, the hypnotised agrophobic with a pressing need to wear a motorcycle helmet.

The Vespas make it to the very top, appearing on the live Christmas edition of Top Of The Pops: the pinnacle of achievement in the 80s. Unfortunately nothing is straightforward for the boys from kilmarnock and their meteoric rise is short-lived.

But the journey is a rip-roaring one. And just as in ‘Last Days‘ the music provides an unforgettable backdrop and anyone that lived through the era will recognise much of it

A lot of the characters are new, but it’s a welcome return for the loveable gangster, Fat Franny Duncan. Unfortunately for him his empire is on the wane and he has his hands full looking after his beloved mum who is not so good.

The humour is just superb. David Ross totally gets the working class lad: the banter, the mayhem, the ‘nothing to lose’ attitude. But there is also the undercurrent of violence with the different factions; the local gangsters and the revenge-seeking hard men from Glasgow. Not everyone is having a laugh.

As with the first book this one is written in the local dialect and it is this more than anything that gives the book its honesty.

This is another triumph for the author, it has it all; music, humour, love, rivalry and it’s very sweary and very human.

Highly recommended

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda books for sending me a copy.

 

David Ross copy

David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964, and he lived in various part of the city until the late ‘70s. He subsequently moved to Kilmarnock, where he has lived since. He was educated at James Hamilton Academy until being politely asked to leave.
 (Expulsion is such a harsh word, isn’t it?)
 Following a frankly ludicrous early foray into sporadic employment (Undertakers, Ice Cream Parlour, Tennis Groundsman, DJ … he’ll save these stories until he knows you better), David found himself at Glasgow School of Art, studying architecture.
In 1992, he graduated from the Mackintosh School of Architecture. He is now the Design Director of one of Scotland’s largest, oldest and most successful practices, Keppie Design. (Funny old world, eh?)

David’s most prized possession is a signed Joe Strummer LP, and The Last Days of Disco was his first novel, The Rise And Fall Of The Miraculous Vespas his second. He is currently working on the the third and final instalment The Man Who Loved Islands.

You can purchase The Rise And Fall Of The Miraculous Vespas here

You can purchase The Last Days Of Disco here

 

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour here:

vespas-blog-tour-banner

 

The One Plus One

the one plus one

The One Plus One
by Jojo Moyes

The One Plus One is the beautiful, poignant and utterly compelling new novel by the internationally bestselling author Jojo Moyes.

One single mum

With two jobs and two children, Jess Thomas does her best day after day. But it’s hard on your own. And sometimes you take risks you shouldn’t. Because you have to . . .

One chaotic family

Jess’s gifted, quirky daughter Tanzie is brilliant with numbers, but without a helping hand she’ll never get the chance to shine. And Nicky, Jess’s teenage stepson, can’t fight the bullies alone.

Sometimes Jess feels like they’re sinking . . .

One handsome stranger

Into their lives comes Ed Nicholls, a man whose life is in chaos, and who is running from a deeply uncertain future. But he has time on his hands. He knows what it’s like to be lonely. And he wants to help . . .

One unexpected love story

The One Plus One is a captivating and unconventional romance from Jojo Moyes about two lost souls meeting in the most unlikely circumstances

I have only read one book by Jojo Moyes before and that was Ship of Brides which I enjoyed, so when I saw this book and realised it was the same author I decided to give it a go. Am I ever glad I did. It is so enjoyable, full of wit and warmth but also in parts so very sad. If you can get through chapter 22 without your heart breaking I fear you may not have one.

The characters are so beautifully drawn that you just feel that you know them so well. Jess is mother to two children, her daughter Tanzie who is a mathematical genius and Nicky her step-son who is out of step with the rest of the world and being badly bullied for it. Jess is poverty stricken, trying to hold down two jobs that barely feed the family and trying to raise money to see Tanzie into a private school in the hope that she won’t be bullied like Nicky.

Enter Mr Nicholls (Ed), he fortuitously finds himself in a position to take the family to Scotland where Tanzie hopes to win a maths competition. Ed’s life is already in turmoil after finding himself unwittingly at the centre of an insider trading scandal and potentially facing jail. Ed is pre-occupied with his own problems but he’s a good guy and Jess’s warmth and optimism and over-riding love for her kids takes him out of himself.

The journey up to Scotland is both funny and tragic. Jess and Ed find themselves caught up in a budding romance which is lovely and warm but it’s the children who steal the show. Nicky especially with his geeky goth ways, he grows so much throughout the book.

The last word has to go to Norman, the family’s enormous, drooling, flatulent, loyal, loveable dog. This book wouldn’t be the same without him.

I loved this book and I will probably read it again which I don’t say very often.
****1\2