#BookReview Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew

ABOUT THE BOOK

Over the course of almost half a century, puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew has worked with the greats – from David Bowie in Labyrinth to Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol. But the role that defined his career was Rainbow’s Zippy, who he operated for more than twenty years.

Zippy and Me is the first time a Rainbow insider has told the true story of what went on under the counter and inside the suits: the petty squabbles between performers, wrangling with TV executives, and scandals such as the ‘love triangle’ between musicians Rod, Jane and Freddy. Not to mention the now infamous X-rated episode shot for an ITV Christmas party, which subsequently found its way to the Sun.

Interweaved with the dirt on what really went on behind the scenes is the story of Rainbow’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s, when its stars found themselves catapulted into an exciting showbiz world – scooping a BAFTA award and even performing for the queen – and the story of a young lad from a south London council estate who defied his parents’ protests to became one of the most respected puppeteers of all time.

Published by Unbound

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

whsmith

MY REVIEW

I really love the way the UNBOUND site works – a crowd funding site to get books off the ground – and this is how Zippy and Me came to be, and I’m so pleased to have been part of it and now have my name in the book as one of the supporters!

Any excuse to walk down memory lane is fine by me, and this was a perfect example of an entertaining and enjoyable read which has me pining for the past and fun kids TV shows that I grew up with!!

Ronnie Le Drew is the puppeteer behind Zippy, one of the most loved UK puppets, and in his memoir he talks about his time on Rainbow – the good and the bad! – as well as how he got into the world of puppets, his childhood and the other work he used to do in TV, theatre and film. I loved how funny his stories are alongside some pretty tragic ones too that really affected him and those around him.

It was also fascinating to hear his stories about his time working on the Muppet films too and I’m now just itching to re-watch all of those alongside old episodes of Rainbow to see Zippy, Bungle and George again! A lovely memoir and one that was so much fun to read!

★★★★★

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#BlogTour THE WAREHOUSE by ROB HART #BookReview #RandomThingsTours #TheWarehouse

Delighted to be the latest stop on the fabulous Blog Tour for THE WAREHOUSE by ROB HART.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for the copy of the book and allowing me to be part of the tour to share my thoughts!

ABOUT THE BOOK

THE WAREHOUSE

ROB HART

HARDBACK / 15th AUGUST 2019 / £12.99 / BANTAM PRESS

‘TO BEAT THE SYSTEM, YOU NEED TO BE INSIDE IT’

An immersive dystopian thriller set in an America addicted to consumerism; gun violence, climate change and unemployment have ravaged the nation, and an online retail giant named Cloud reigns supreme. Rob Hart has taken our current reality and transformed it into a terrifyingly recognisable future.

Paxton never thought he’d be working Security for the company that ruined his life, much less that he’d be moving into one of their sprawling live-work facilities. But compared to what’s left outside, perhaps Cloud isn’t so bad. Better still, through his work he meets Zinnia, who fills him with hope for their shared future. Except that Zinnia is not what she seems. And Paxton, with his all-access security credentials, might just be her meal ticket.

As Paxton and Zinnia’s agendas place them on a collision course, they’re about to learn just how far the Cloud will go to make the world a better place.

The Warehouse is brilliantly devised and fantastic world-building. Set in the confines of a corporate panopticon that’s at once brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, The Warehouse is a near-future thriller about what happens when Big Brother meets Big Business–and who will pay the ultimate price.

Perfect for fans of The Circle, The Martian and Ready Player One.

EARLY PRAISE FOR THE WAREHOUSE

‘The Warehouse is an inventive, addictive, Crichton-esque, page-turning, near-future dystopian thriller about a corporation ruling over every aspect of our late-capitalism lives. While I hope Rob hasn’t been sent back from the future to warn us, we should heed him regardless.’

Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World

“The Warehouse is an absolute thriller. Using wit, insight and masterful story-telling, Rob Hart has written a riveting tale that reflects on the state of humanity and where we might be heading. Be prepared for the unexpected and to look at our world through a new, twisted lens.”

Ashlee Vance, author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

“On the surface, The Warehouse is a thrilling story of corporate espionage at the highest level, but dig a little deeper, and you’ll find a terrifying cautionary tale of the nightmare world we are making for ourselves—where our reliance upon e-commerce giants is turning them into malevolent entities more powerful than government.”

Blake Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter

“Fast-paced and unputdownable, thrilling and ominous, The Warehouse is a terrifying object lesson of a story that will haunt you each time you see a box on the front step—and yet make you wonder what colour your shirt will be, one day.”

Delilah S. Dawson, New York Times bestselling author of Wake of Vultures and Phasma

“I loved The Warehouse, although and because it made my blood run cold. The world Rob Hart creates is what our world could be by this time next year. Watching these oh so human characters try to cope, even thrive, in their new normal makes one alternately hopeful and despairing.”

SJ Rozan, author of Ghost Hero and Absent Friends

The film rights have been sold for a six figure sum after a five-way auction to Brian Grazer at Imagine Entertainment with Ron Howard set to direct, fresh from the Star Wars: Solo movie.

· Book rights already sold in 15 territories and counting and a major publication in the States. This is going to be the book everyone is talking about in August. 

· Rob decided to write the book because of this news story – the tragic death of Maria Fernandes who suffocated in her car whilst napping between her three shifts a day at different Dunkin Donuts stores.

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk  £10.25

whsmith  £9.35

waterstones  £12.99

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob Hart has been a political reporter, the communications director for a politician, a commissioner for the city of New York and is currently a publisher. The Warehouse is his first standalone novel.

MY REVIEW

Imagine a world that’s plagued with consumerism and gun violence and where climate change has altered the way people live – sounds a little too like reality now doesn’t it?! In The Warehouse we get to see in even scarier detail a world where the impacts of the way we live and shop have taken their toll and it is not a pleasant outlook for us all but it makes for a scarily realistic and fascinating story that had me hooked from page one – and now vowing to do all I can not to let this horror become our reality!

In this world the ‘Cloud’ reigns – it’s an online retail giant and it pretty much controls every aspect of your life! It pays employees not in money but in credits – they are in charge of their accommodation, who they mix with, the media – everything you could ever need is supplied by them so surely everything should be wonderful?!  I can’t think where the ‘inspiration’ for this idea came from……

Paxton finds himself becoming an employee of The Cloud, the company who destroyed his business, as security and meets Zinnia who joins at the same time but seemingly has her own reasons for wanting to be there.  There seems to be a connection between them as people but you’re still left wondering if she is using him for his inside knowledge to help her get what she wants.

The detail the author goes into about the working days and the control that The Cloud has over each employee is staggering and scarily believable!   And alongside the story of Paxton and Zinnia, we also hear the point of view from the creator of The Cloud – Gibson – who explains why he created this ’empire’ and how he saw his dream come to be.  He seemed to start up with good intentions but then you get the impression that he just went a little power crazy!

There’s a great mix of dry humour and darker tones throughout as you note the similarities to certain ways of our world and the control elements that certain businesses have put in place, and that the public are seemingly walking blindly into! The wearing of watches to track each employee and can only be taken off at night to recharge, the docking of credits if you were late or ill or lost your watch, taxes and housing costs taken straight from your wages by them…. it’s all portrayed as making your life as simple as possible but the reality is much scarier!

  I loved the little sub plots running through the story and the similarities of the world we live in now were just frightening!   A disturbing but brilliant read!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour A CHAIN ACROSS THE DAWN by DREW WILLIAMS #bookreview #RandomThingsTours #AChainAcrossTheDawn

An honour today to be bringing the Blog Tour for A CHAIN ACROSS THE DAWN by DREW WILLIAMS  to a close. My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for the copy of the book and letting me be part of this fabulous tour!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Bigger spaceships. Bigger explosions. Bigger planets. Bigger problems. 

 It’s been three years since Esa joined the ranks of the Justified after her rescue from the fanatical murderers the Pax. Together, Esa and her mentor Kamali travel from planet to planet, searching for children with supernatural abilities. It’s hard work, but Esa has never felt more assured of her place in the universe. 

 On a visit to a planet so remote that its inhabitants never learned that the Sect Wars ended over a hundred years ago, they learn that the Justified are not the only people searching for gifted children. There is a creature with unexpected powers who will stop at nothing to get its hands on the children that Esa and Kamali are trying to rescue.

 With their latest recruit in tow — a young Wulf child named Sho — Esa and Kamali will travel halfway across the galaxy in pursuit of answers. But the answers only lead to more questions, and the danger will only increase as their terrifying nemesis turns his eyes on them.

Published by Simon & Schuster

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £20.00

Hive.co.uk  £15.85

whsmith  £14.00

About the author: 

Drew Williams was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, in the southern United States of America. He is a bookseller at the Little Professor Book Center in Homewood, Alabama. A Chain Across the Dawn is his second book.

MY REVIEW

I was a little daunted when I first picked this book up when I found out that it was the second in the series (the first is THE STARS NOW UNCLAIMED ), but my fears were soon laid to rest as I found it so easy to catch up with these characters and the world they were in, and now I’m just eager to pick up book one to find out how it all started as I had so much fun reading this and following the ‘adventures’ of Esa and Jane as they travel to different planets to rescue childen with supernatural abilities – but this time they’re not alone as someone else wants these children, and will go to extreme lengths to stop others getting in their way.

The pace is relentless with this story and that’s what kept me so engaged! There was always something going on – action, battles and plenty of banter! The main draw of this story I think is the relationship between Esa and Jane and it was fun to see it evolving and to see how much they connect with one another – even if Esa does drive Jane mad with trying to guess her age all the time!

As they travel around they face a lot of danger (mazes of dead people is a new one on me!!) but never lose their humour and I loved the mix of the action with the sassy banter!!  My family thought I was mad sometimes when I was reading and would just burst out laughing at the antics going on!

I’m so glad that I was drawn to this book by the stunning cover and the premise of a space ‘soap opera’ as it definitely delivered on that front!  It was great to read about these characters who were faced with some difficult circumstances whilst having to deal with their own emotions and trying to do good.  Book 3 of the series will be out in 2020 and I’ll definitely be there for that as I can’t wait to hear more of Jane and Esa!

★★★★★

#BookReview Do Not Feed The Bear by Rachel Elliott @TinderPress

ABOUT THE BOOK

A life-affirming novel of love, loss and letting go – for readers of ELEANOR OLIPHANT, THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP and WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT On her forty-seventh birthday, Sydney Smith stands on a rooftop and prepares to jump…

Sydney is a cartoonist and freerunner. Feet constantly twitching, always teetering on the edge of life, she’s never come to terms with the event that ripped her family apart when she was ten years old. And so, on a birthday that she doesn’t want to celebrate, she returns alone to St Ives to face up to her guilt and grief. It’s a trip that turns out to be life-changing – and not only for herself.

DO NOT FEED THE BEAR is a book about lives not yet lived, about the kindness of others and about how, when our worlds stop, we find a way to keep on moving.

published by Tinder Press

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk  £15.25

whsmith  £13.29

waterstones  £18.99

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a really touching and emotional read featuring a cast of wonderful characters who are all dealing with their own grief and sadness, and how the kindness of others is sometimes the turning point in a life devoid of much hope and is able to give people a new perspective on what is happening in their life.

The story centres around Sydney who has dealt with some major trauma in her youth, and has carried that with her as she approaches her 47th birthday. Never really able to confront her emotions, she is a freerunner and uses that as an escape and a way of taking control over things she thinks she can’t control. Her partner Ruth is used to her ways, but still wishes she could open up more – she wants a little bit of normal in their life.

When Sydney takes herself off to a place that means so much, she is faced with new people and new outlooks. But still she can’t escape the past and you are very aware of the hold it has over all of her family and it was heartbreaking to read her thoughts as she remembered family holidays.

I loved the way the interconnecting stories flowed – from Belle the quiet soul who works in the local bookshop and hides herself away in routine and books, to Maria who wants to rescue the ‘angel’ she finds but seems unable to rescue herself. And I also loved the perspective of Stuart the dog – the family pet of Maria, Jon and Belle – it was just so cleverly written and very perceptive to have his thoughts on what was going on with his humans.

As Sydney, her father and her partner are made to face up to what happened in the past, it was really emotional to keep having their flashbacks and thoughts and to see how their prescence in this place is helping to shift the minds of the people they meet. It was so refreshing to read the different characters with such different outlooks on life – their hopes, their fears and the expectations you place on yourself and those around you.

Quirky, insightful and moving! Highly recommended!

★★★★
My thanks to the team at Tinder Press for my advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#20BooksOfSummer A New Map of Love by Abi Oliver #bookreview

Back on the reading challenge front!! And book 13 has now been finished! This wasn’t one of the books on my original list, but I found it while having a clearout and it fitted perfectly for the larger element of my challenge – 460 pages – and I found the audio version on the library Borrowbox app so I could listen to it as well!  

It was a little different to what I was expecting but still made for an enjoyable read!

ABOUT THE BOOK

How can you pack for the journey of a lifetime?

George Baxter has settled for a comfortable life, content as the years unfold predictably – until Win, his wife of twenty-six years, dies.

With his loyal dog Monty by his side, George throws himself into his work as an antiques dealer. His business is at the heart of the village and all sorts pass through the doors, each person in search of their own little piece of history. 

When George meets local widow Sylvia Newsome, he imagines a different kind of future. But life has more revelations to offer him. Over the course of an English summer George uncovers some unexpected mysteries from his past, which could shape his tomorrows . . .

Published by Pan MacMillan

MY REVIEW

This was a sweet and gentle paced read following George as he tries to get on with life following the death of his wife. He sees this as an opportunity to grab life and try new adventures but when faced with choices it seems he doesn’t really know what he wants and it shows him how much he misses his wife and realises how he may have taken her for granted while she was always around.

With his faithful dog, Monty, by his side there are many humorous observations to be had by the reader as you see him dealing with life on his own -always seemingly surrounded by a number of helpful (!) women who seem only too keen to care for him which he often takes full advantage of. 

I didn’t connect too well with George as he wasn’t the most likeable of characters – at first he seemed almost relived that his wife had died and would blame her for the fact he’d not been more adventurous and missed out on a few things because of her. 

It does a great job of showing the minefields of dating when you’re older, and the whole process of moving on and becoming too set in your ways to enjoy a change in routine. There was a big twist at the end which came out of nowhere which did add an extra element to the story and I think I would have liked more of that, than him dealing with various women throwing themselves at him! But it still made for an enjoyable read, and I listened to some of the audio version too which was brilliantly read and brought to life.

★★★

#BookReview The Cornish Cream Tea Bus by Cressida McLaughlin #publicationday #thecornishcreamteabus #bookblogger

ABOUT THE BOOK

Next stop, Cornwall! Hop on The Cornish Cream Tea Bus for a delicious, romantic adventure…

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine ‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley ‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Keen to give the bus a new lease of life, Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start.
Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the sexy but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel.
Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them?

published by HarperCollins

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This is the kind of book that just makes you want to run out, purchase a vintage bus and start your own baking business!! It’s made me want to do just that and it was a really enjoyable read that is the perfect slice of escapism!

Charlie inherits a vintage bus from her late uncle, and she wants to honour him by restoring the bus to its’ former glory but finding a way that she can use it to start her own business.  And her business is baking so she comes up with a plan to start a mobile cafe – sounds perfect to me!!

She ends up taking the bus to Cornwall to stay with a friend and to start some trial runs of how it could all work – everyone she meets is receptive to the idea apart from the owner of the local exclusive Spa, Daniel, who isn’t too keen on an old bus being parked in sight of his business so the relationship between him and Charlie doesn’t get off to the greatest start! 

But with her determination the business starts well, and maybe even Daniel can be persuaded that it’s good for the tourists visiting his spa too!  She knows how to use social media to create a buzz about her bus and it’s lovely to see how well the old and new sit alongside one another. It’s not all plain sailing though and she wonders who is out to cause trouble for her when things start going wrong.

I loved the different personalities within the pages of this book and the thought of all those cream teas on the bus just made me crave a scone or three!! The use of the bus was such a lovely idea and the character of Charlie was a joy to spend time with – very driven and focused on making the most of the opportunity given to her.  Very inspiring!!  A lovely read!!

★★★★

#BookReview The Beekeeper’s Cottage by Emma Davies #thebeekeeperscottage

ABOUT THE BOOK

Comforted by the gentle hum of the beehives at the bottom of the garden, Grace drains the last of her tea and walks slowly back towards the little hillside house she adores. Her marriage is over, but is it too late to start her life again? 
Beekeeper Grace thought throwing out her cheating husband would be the hardest thing she ever did. But when she opens the door to a property developer one morning, it’s clear that keeping the beautiful home and garden – her only sanctuary throughout her miserable marriage – will be the greatest challenge of all… 
Fleeing to her best friend at the flower farm next door, Grace blurts out all her problems, only to be overheard by Amos, a handsome, free-spirited visitor in bright red Doc Martens. Fascinated by Grace and her bees, Amos offers to stay in the village of Hope Corner, to help turn her home into a guest house in return for lessons on beekeeping. 
As Grace shows Amos how to nurture a hive and harvest honeycomb without getting stung, he is charming but secretive. He never stays long in the same place after an incident in his past involving a mysterious woman named Maria. But as their eyes lock over a jar of homemade honey, Grace can’t help feeling that she’d really like him to stay… 
Determined to dispel her growing suspicion that Amos is running from something serious, Grace goes in search of the truth about Maria. But when she finds it, will she still want Amos to put down roots in Hope Corner, and will they still have a house to return to?

published by Bookouture

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This book had me at the cover! A gorgeous house set in a gorgeous garden – it’s my idea of heaven!  And with the character of Grace I also found a kindred spirit! She’s always happiest when she’s in her garden! She understands the role it plays – both in nature and in her wellbeing! The peace it gives her from the stressful world around her, and the stressful situation she finds herself in when she calls it quits on her marriage of 32 years.  How she stayed with Paul for that long is beyond me, as his behaviour through the book had me shouting at him on numerous occasions! But she’s finally had enough and stands up for herself and wants to take back control of her own life.

Her dream is to keep her home where she tends her beehives, but her ex has other ideas for the future of the house so she is left to turn to her good friends for advice and help in thinking up ways to try and keep her dreams alive.  When Amos arrives in town he has everyone talking, not least Grace and she finds herself letting him help her – he’s not one to give much away though and she finds herself intrigued by him and his backstory as he’s always quite vague when people ask him.  I found myself wondering what he was hiding too!

I adored the setting and the characters of The Beekeeper’s Cottage – the scenery was brought to life so stunningly that you could almost hear the hum of the bees and the scent of the flowers in the garden!  In her ex you have the perfect villain to get you on the side of Grace and it was lovely to have  slightly older characters as the main focus of this story showing that you can follow your dreams whatever your age!  A wonderful read!!

★★★★★