Book Review · Reflections · Uncategorized · Updates

Book Review: The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People. Andrew Marr

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I’m starting to really make time in my life to actually do some more reading. With the summer finally starting to look like it’s not fa away, I’m able to make use of my garden bench and enjoy the morning sun. Cup of tea and a good book are a great way to start the day!

This was another my my charity shop book finds. I’m pretty sure there was a buy one get one free offer and I picked this up as my freebie… anyhow, it’s been sat looking dispondant my bookshelf for years and on my bedside table for months.

Some good news! I have finally finished it.

Written by Andrew Marr, this book is seriously not a page turner. But if, like me, you have an interest/fascination with the British royal family, this book is really worth a read.

It contains a really interesting narrative about how the definition of being ‘Queen for Britain’ has slowly changed over the last century. He also describes how the Windor’s have learnt to cope with these changes, in order to stay relevant to a modern age.

Although a bit ‘stuffy’ (the total opposite to the style of, say, Phillapa Gregory) this book is worth perusing if you have an interest as the content is really fascinating.

So what are you lovely lot reading at the moment?

Mrs Kirsty Holl

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Book Review

Book Review: Twisted Wing by Ruth Newman

This review was originally posted in April 2014

Twisted Wing was one of my many charity shop buy bargains. It’s a murder mystery story set at Cambridge University. However, the twist at the end makes it a little different to the norm.

Ruth Newman is a psychologist and uses this to great effect as a plot tool. I think I can safely say she uses her knowledge of multiple personality disorder to create a very twisted love story. The main character, Olivia, is as scared and frighted as the rest of the students. However, she has no idea about her significance to the plot. Her boyfriend gets arrested after graduation and she’s shocked and horrified.

This is a fantastic murder mystery novel which uses novel plot concepts and has some great characters. Well worth a read.

Book Review

Book Review: Dara O’Briain – Tickling the English

This review was originally written/recorded in March 2014

When I first told my friends I was reading a book written by a comedian I was promptly informed that comedians can’t write. I have not read any other books written by comedians, but if this is the case this man is an exception to the rule.

Dara has a really easy and engaging writing style. I found this a great book to read just before going to bed. This is when I usually tend the find the time for most of my reading. He has divided his book by his tour locations and bite size chunks.

He writes the book from the point of view as an Irish immigrant and includes many examples of comedic remarks about English behaviour. Dara has also included my funny anecdotes of audience members from his tour. It’s worth reading just for these if I am completely honest. The Bournemouth anecdote did not do us justice.

I have to point out that the tour travel travel plan was completely illogical. However, this was my first autobiography. It has definitely given me the confidence to pick up another. Highly recommended.

Book Review

Book Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith AKA J.K Rowling

I wrote and recorded this review in March 2014

The shadowy figure on the front cover should have always been a hint that Robert Galbraith was actually a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. This was all found out by studying the linguistics of the book in comparison to her previous work. Respect to whoever did the detective work, although someone did also manage to spill the beans as well. 


I found this book a little bit slow at the beginning. However, it was really worth sticking with this book through until the end. J.K Rowling is particularly good at tieing all the strings together at the end. This book is no exception. The ending completely took me by surprise. 


The main character is a war veteran turned private detective – Mr Cameron Strike. The shadowy figure represents him really well. Thankfully this book is going to become a series as you do not fully understand him by the end of the book. When you first meet him, he has just out of a volcanic relationship. He is completely bankrupt as he has been fully dependant on his wife. 


Robin is the lady that joins his office as a temp. She is newly engaged and really excited. However, she suddenly finds that her new boss is not in the best of moods to share her happy news. Having had to follow her partner to London, she’s been forced to look for temp work while looking for a “proper job”. 


This is another mysterious death plot line. The dead woman was a glamorous supermodel who plunged to her death from a balcony. However, her adoptive brother does not believe it and comes to Strike looking for answers. 


The ending of this book takes you completely by surprise. Highly recommend this book. It is worth pursuing this through to the end. 

Book Review

The Boss Killers – For when you have a bad day at the office.

The Boss Killers by Keith Gillison
The Boss Killers by Keith Gillison

In all honesty, this is not a book I would have normally picked up off the shelf in a bookstore. It isn’t my normal cup of tea in terms of plot line. I certainly wasn’t sure what to expect from the front cover and I haven’t read a kindle book on my phone for a while. However, thankfully, I was asked to read this by a friend. So, dutifully, I downloaded the book onto my phone and sat down with a cup of coffee (decaf – 2 months (ish) clean of caffeine – yay!).

I did find the beginning of the book a little intense to read. There is a lot of dark, descriptive gore in the first couple of chapters – so I wouldn’t recommend this to any sensitive souls out there. As a result it took me a little time to really connect with the tale so my initial progress was pretty slow (not helped by the knitting projects I started around chapter 4).

Really wanting to finish the tale – I’ve managed to make some serious progress on the book this week (I’ve actually managed to finish it). It has been a case of making a concerted effort to move away from my desk and actually read at lunch. But it has been so worth it. There has not been a single chapter that hasn’t made me laugh out loud at something.

Around about 40ish % through the tale a really strong plot line started to kick in. The beginning become a really solid introduction to the tale, situation and then current scenario in the backdrop of this. I had the same experience with Game of Throne (part 1) so a slow start isn’t something that should put you off. Once you reach this point, it’s difficult to find the willpower to stop reading. If you want me to pick one word to describe this tale I would definitely class it as SURREAL.

I discovered new career paths such as “Human Demolition Services” (it does what it says on the tin) and about evil organisations all set out to kill you (in a colourful variety of methods). The tale also includes many satirical characters so ridiculous that you can’t help but wet yourself with laughter at the description.

Keith has judged the amount of humour to mix into his plot line perfectly. It’s so well balanced and really contrasts from some of the darkness bubbling under the surface of his main character (Ross). It also helps release some of the dramatic tension he manages to create. In the future, I would love to see this book voiced as an audiobook. The humour and strong characterisation of Ross really lends itself to this type of medium. I can only image that it would make the contrasting elements described above even more pronounced.

I’d really like to thank Keith for asking me to read this. It was a great experience and I look forward to his future novels. Since publishing this on the kindle he has also had some short stories published. So I will find out where you can see those and insert links below later.

If you’d rather read a good, trusty paperback – you can now also have that option. Only £6.50 🙂 You can buy it in paperback or download it from here: The Boss Killers: Bad day at the office? Call The Boss Killers

Book Review

Audiobook Review – Tribes We Need You To Lead Us. Seth Godin

After this book has been sat gathering dust on my self, it was time to try a new tact - an audio book
After this book has been sat gathering dust on my self, it was time to try a new tact – an audio book

This is a book that I picked up years ago in a book sale. It’s been sat on my bookshelf for years in the To-Read list. I’m quickly realising that I have limited time for reading in my busy schedule. So I have recently discovered and subscribed to a 1 book a month plan on audible.

The audiobook popped on a list that was for sale for about £1.99 (I’d already had my freebie for the month). It was irresistible – especially since it’s being read by the author.

So with all my knitting and walking at lunch I’ve been able to listen to it. It’s a great way of making my time more efficient – especially when it’s relevant to marketing and so hits the ‘useful for work’. Triple win!

The first thing I have to comment on is that Seth Godin is really easy to listen too. He is obviously really enthusiastic about his chosen specialist topic and this makes it more engaging.

In terms of the content, this looks into the concept of tribes and how you can use this for marketing. It’s a really new way of looking at marketing – and really building on the concept of branding being a loyal fan base that I learnt during the Future Learn Branding Course.

His theory is that if you can create a tribe with loyal fans then your organisation can grow. People will talk about you and spread the concept of what you are. From this they will return again and again – but next time they will bring friends.

I’m spending nearly every sentence going – “I completely get what you are saying” and “that makes so much sense”. It’s really motivational and really makes me want to push myself and try something new.

It’s leaving me with a sense of inspiration (and a firecracker up my arse to go and change things). There are things I can apply for work and for promotion of my blog. It’s time to stop being afraid to try things and just get on and do it.

I thiught I would share encase this also applied to you. If it does, I really hope it helps.

Buy the audiobook here

Buy the book here

Book Review · Game of Thrones

Review —> Game of Thrones – A Song of Ice and Fire – Book 1

Song of Ice and Fire – Book 1

Author: George R. R. Martin

Pages: 780

ISBN: 978-0-00-742854-0

My copy (obviously well loved by the previous owner) of Book 1 of the Song of Ice and Fire - Game of thrones
My copy (obviously well loved by the previous owner) of Book 1 of the Song of Ice and Fire – Game of thrones

Having watched the series 1-3 on DVD I was keen to read the books. My friends who had read it told me that the books were much better. So, unlike most times when I pick up a book, I already knew the plot line. This was an experience I had not had for a while. It did afford me the opportunity to get to grips with any hints and clues for the future plot – as I didn’t have to worry so much about what was going on now.

I initially picked up this book to read earlier this year. Possibly because of the size of it – I have a tendency to get bored – I read the first half of the book and then it was abandoned for a couple of months. It was then rescued from my bookshelf again on Friday and then promptly finished over the bank holiday weekend.

If you have watched the series – and loved it – then I do recommend picking up the books. The book gives a lot more time and singular focus to each character and their development within the plot. I have also been informed that with this new series the plot of the books and show start to differ.

In terms of writing style – this book brought back memories of attempting to read the Lord of the Rings in my early teens. Each chapter swaps between characters in different setting with different people surrounding them. Unless you have time to focus on what you are reading, you may struggle to follow the plot and progress. Because I already had a familiarity with the characters, I did have a better motivation to finish it. If you struggle with Lord of the Rings and not particularly keen on the TV series, then I don’t think you’ll get much enjoyment out of reading this.

The plot is constructed a bit like a play with heavy amounts of dramatic irony. It is a tale played out for the reader. The characters are blissfully unaware of their fates or the consequences of their choices. The reader is afforded a combination of explanation and hints about what is to come and why things have occurred. If the some of the characters knew what the readers knew then things would certainly play out in a different fashion.

My final thoughts upon completion:

If you to take advantage of the clues, etc, I would read this with a pen and paper beside you. I’m sure these hints will mount into something more significant over the rest of the series.

Unlike some of the novels I have read, this one has a significantly more complex plot line. This is telling multiple tales of multiple characters in sync with some cross over. It could be difficult to follow for some readers if you don’t get time to focus and read. But it is worth the effort if you’re looking for something more challenging.

SPOILERS

While I was reading this novel I kept a pen and notebook beside more to make notes for the review. In addition, I also couldn’t resist the urge to make notes of plot hints surrounding a mystery that intrigues me – Jon Snows Parentage.

This issue initially came to my attention when I found the Youtube video below. The presenter puts all the theories together really well – along with the evidence from the books.

This goes through in detail the theory of Jon Snow’s true parentage. Which adds in some very interesting possibilities of what might happen next. The final books of the series are not written yet – so no one is entirely sure and can continue to enjoy the theories.

Reading Resolutions 2015

  • A book of more than 500 pages
  • A book by an author you have never read before
  • A book based on or turned into a TV Show
  • A book with non-human characters.