Review: The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Catharina Ingleman-Sundberg

Title: The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules

Author: Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

Published: Pan Macmillan AU January 2014

Listen to an Excerpt

Status: Read from January 09 to 11, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Lily of the Valley retirement home was once a haven for Martha Anderson and her friends, but now under new management, and renamed Diamond House, the group had become victims of rate rises and repeated service cuts. Management’s decision to not provide decorations for the Christmas tree is the last straw for Martha who, after watching a television documentary, decides they would all be better off in a prison cell than as clients of Diamond House. Escaping the home is just the first step of a masterful scheme that includes the ‘League of Pensioners’ living the high life in Stockholm’s most exclusive hotel, a trip to the national art museum and a relaxing stay in a minimum security institution…but not everything goes to plan.

I can’t help but draw some comparisons between The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules and The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by author, Jonas Jonasson, the two books share a similar cover design, title, a ‘senior’ protagonist and both author’s are Swedish to begin with, but in truth there are few similarities.

While Allan Karlsson’s only plan is to escape his centenarian celebrations at the care home, Martha and her gang make meticulous plans for their break out and subsequent adventures with a clear goal in mind. The plot is largely straightforward with their initial schemes escalating when things don’t go exactly to plan. And things go wrong – a wild storm, a curious Yugoslav Mafia member and an ambitious hotel housekeeper, all add excitement and a touch of danger to the pensioners enterprise.

Ingelman-Sundberg plays it straight where Jonasson comedic sense wanders into the absurd. There is humor of course in a group of old age pensioners rebellion against society’s ‘rules’, the care home’s restrictions and their crime spree, certainly enough to raise a chuckle or three.

Commentary on the marginalisation of the elderly and their vulnerability to the power of care institutions, more concerned with profit margins than the well-being of their clientele, is inevitable though tempered by the idea of ‘growing old disgracefully’. You can’t help but admire the group’s sense of fun and mischief.

I read the English translation of the novel which I think was well done. I did find the pace a little uneven and thought perhaps overall the novel was a little too long.

I did enjoy The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules, it’s an entertaining, feel good crime caper which will have you cheering for the elderly rebels on the wrong side of the law.

Available to purchase from

PanMacmillan I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

AmazonUS I Bookdepository

around-the-world-2014

Review: Monkey Business by Kathryn Ledson

Title: Monkey Business {Erica Jewell #2}

Author: Kathryn Ledson

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin Au January 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from December 31, 2013 to January 02, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

A sequel to Ledson’s debut novel, Rough Diamond, Monkey Business sees Jack Jones heading out on another clandestine mission while Erica agonises over the status of their relationship and grows increasingly restless when he fails to return. When Erica realises Jack, and Joe, are actually missing-in-action and no one is willing to help him, she decides to go after him, flying to the troubled island of St Sebastian, where she quickly becomes entangled in some dangerous monkey business.

While I enjoyed the improbable but vaguely plausible plot in the first book this adventure didn’t quite work for me. Despite braving the trip to St Sebastian to rescue Jack, once there, Erica mainly wanders around aimlessly, asking random questions and being tortured by a cheerful taxi driver. I would have preferred Erica to be more active in her efforts to find Jack and while she eventually proves herself resourceful, in the depths of the jungle it has more to do with luck than good management.

I did giggle at the idea of black market Tupperware, the stuff is now so horrendously expensive that I am in fear of losing a piece of the 1970-80’s collection I liberated from my mother (including that lettuce crisper and the beetroot container).

Though not as strong as the first book for me, Monkey Business is a fast, easy read, offering plenty of laughs and I am hoping Erica Jewell will be back.

Available to Purchase From

Penguinboomerang-books_long  I Booktopia I AmazonAu

via Booko

AmazonUS

@ Goodreads

Click for my review

awwbadge_2014

Review: The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

 

Title: The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion

Author: Fannie Flagg

Published: Chatto and Windus: Random House AU November 2013

Status: Read from November 15 to 17, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy Anna at the ReadingRoom and Random House}

My Thoughts:

I adore Fannie Flagg’s southern fiction, and was thrilled to learn of a new release. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is a heartwarming tale of family, idenity and flying.

Sookie (Sarah Jane) Poole is a timid fifty nine year old wife and mother in Pt Clear, Alabama. She has never doubted who she is, despite being a continual disappointment to her mother, the imperious Southern matriarch Lenore Simmons Krackenberry, until she accidentally learns her mothers darkest secret.

The dual narrative alternates between the fallout of Sookie’s discovery as she struggles to reconcile what she has always believed to be true with what her mothers secret reveals, and the fascinating story of the Jurdabralinski sisters of Wisconsin, to whom Sookie learns she is connected.

Sookie’s identity crisis has her questioning the issue of nature versus nurture, wondering what might have been, had things been different. Though I thought perhaps her angst dragged on a bit too long, there is also a lot of humour and warmth in Sookie’s journey, and of course in the sharing of the eccentricities of her Southern Belle mother and the benefits and pitfalls of small town living.

I was, however, always most eager to get back to the story of the Jurdabralinski’s, a hardworking, Polish immigrant family of four daughters and one son. Fritzi, the most adventurous and unconventional of the girls, forges an extraordinary career as an aerial wing walker after being swept off her feet by a handsome but roguish stunt flyer. Unfortunately the war interrupts her career and she returns home where she is faced with the challenge of rescuing her family’s gas station business while their father is recovering from TB and her brother in serving in the military. At Fritzi’s suggestion, the four daughters of the family take over and manage to keep it profitable by exploiting the novelty of the girls being in charge…hence the title of the novel.
As the war drags on, Fritzi is finally given the chance to fly again when, due to the lack of manpower available, women were reluctantly recruited by the military to assist in the war effort, transporting goods, including the planes themselves around the country. Eventually three of the Jurdabralinski sisters become fly girls,
I was fascinated by this element of the novel, the WASP’s, despite skepticism, and sometimes outright opposition, proved they were more than capable of providing crucial assistance to their country, but were never given official recognition by the powers that be and were summarily dismissed when the war finally ended. I love that Flagg has given recognition to this group of unsung heroines.

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is a charming story combining southern humour and eccentricity with a fascinating tale of adventure and heroism. Flagg is a wonderful storyteller and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this delightful novel.

Available To Purchase From

Random House Au I BoomerangBooks I Booktopia I Amazon AU

via Booko

Amazon US I Amazon UK I BookDepository

US Cover

 

 

Review: Ride Like Hell and You’ll Get There: Detours into Mayhem by Paul Carter

Title: Ride Like Hell and You’ll Get There: Detours into Mayhem

Author: Paul Carter

Published: Allen and Unwin October 2013

Status: Read from October 21 to 23, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

A few years ago now I picked up Don’t Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She Thinks I’m a Piano Player in a Whorehouse by Paul Carter at the library on a whim. Part memoir, part travel diary Paul wrote about his adventures as an oil rigger around the world and I remember finding the anecdotes within to be oftentimes hilarious but also interesting.

In Ride Like Hell and You’ll Get There: Detours into Mayhem Pauli has grown older, if not quite up. Though now a middle aged, executive part owner of a successful oil-related company, and a happily married man with young children, British born/Australian resident Paul, continues to seek adventure and challenge, albeit a little closer to home.

Ride Like Hell and You’ll Get There chronicles,in the main, Paul’s efforts to race in Speed Week on a motorcycle (of sorts) engineered to run on bio-diesel fuel and go very fast on a salt lake in the middle of nowhere. Plagued by cancellations, logistical obstacles, lost keys and broken limbs, it takes three years before Paul finally gets a break.

Paul also writes of a motorcycle touring trip with a friend around Tasmania, a wild conference in the US and his temporary gig as a documentary presenter, marriage, fatherhood and business

Carter’s books could be accused of being juvenile and crude, and there is some truth to that. Reading Ride Like Hell and You’ll Get There is often like eavesdropping on a ‘boy’s’ only pub night, complete with poo jokes, copious amounts of alcohol, bad language and displays of machismo. Not everyone will appreciate Paul’s sense of humour but I found myself smiling widely often, even while occasionally shaking my head with a mixture of disbelief and wry contempt.
Yet Ride Like Hell and You’ll Get There is not all a ‘boys own adventure’, Paul also relates several serious moments though often tempered by the surreal, including suffering the side effects of food poisoning while his wife is in the throes of a miscarriage, a court case that drags on and on and on, and a ruined $1000 helmet thanks to a territorial dog and a potty training two year old.

I’m not that interested in motor racing or the specifics of alternate fuel (though I believe we should be investing in it) but I still enjoyed Ride Like Hell and You’ll Get There. It’s a quick read, mostly light and amusing and is as advertised -a detour into mayhem. I imagine this book will particularly find an audience amongst fans of the television show ‘Top Gear’ and its ilk and, with Christmas coming up, it would make a great stocking stuffer for your father/husband/brother etc.

About to Purchase From

Allen and Unwin I BoomerangBooks i Booktopia I Amazon

via Booko

Blog Tour: Seven Sins in Seven Days: Pride, with Gigi Levangie

7sins7days

Welcome to the Seven Sins in Seven days Blog Tour to introduce

Seven Deadlies by Gigi Levangie

SEVEN DEADLIES COVER_small

This quirky, satirical tale takes the form of a college admission essay sharing fourteen year old Perry Gonzalez’s insights into the privileged lives of her peers.

A precocious Latina scholarship student living in a tiny apartment with her estimable mother, Perry tutors, or babysits, the progeny of the Hollywood neighbourhood to save for her future. In this manner she is exposed to the personification of the seven deadly sins and writes of the inevitable consequences of lust, wrath, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy and pride.

From the demanding diva whose lust for her every desire results in electrocution, to the gluttonous appetite of a young boy who mistakes his own flesh for a leg of ham, there is plenty of humour, if morbidly exaggerated, in the stories Perry has to share. However in each vignette there is also the dark, sad truth of children corrupted by excess, variously indulged or ignored by their parents, and who ultimately pay a high price for their sinful behaviour.

While I was a little puzzled by the ending and didn’t think the twist necessary, I found Seven Deadlies to be an entertaining novel with the potential to find an audience with both young adult readers and a more mature audience.

***

Q & A With Gigi Levangie

I was invited to ask Gigi Levangie a few questions about Seven Deadlies and feature the sin of

*Pride*

Q: Tell us about Seven Deadlies…
A: The Seven Deadlies is about a scholarship student, Perry Gonzalez, who attends an exclusive private high school and finds herself tutoring teenagers who embody the Seven Deadly Sins. In a nutshell, it’s the Seven Deadly Sins in high school – and what better place to find them.

Q: What was the subject of your college admissions essay?
A: Good question! If I remember correctly, the subject of my college admissions essay was about the neighborhood I grew up in – the quintessential melting pot. There really were over 80 dialects spoken in my high school – Hollywood High.

Q: What or who  inspired the story of Pride?
A: Pride is the story of an athlete pushed to his limits – by himself and his father. I’m raising boys who are athletic – and I see this story played out over and over again on the field. (Hi, Baseball Dads – calm down! Little League isn’t the MLB!)  Then, there are the professional athletes – Lance Armstrong, whom I still admire for personal reasons, is obviously an example of Pride Gone Wild.

Q: What are you most proud of?
A: I’m most proud of my ability to bounce back. Knock me down 100 times, I’ll get back up on 101. Perseverance is key. I’m also really proud of the depth of my relationship with my children – all the kids in my family, in fact.

Q: Which sin are you most guilty of?
A: The sin I’m most guilty of? See above. Pride. My pride sometimes stands in the way of asking for help or appearing vulnerable. Just ask anyone I’ve ever dated!

Q: Who do you think will most enjoy Seven Deadlies?
A: I think the Seven Deadlies audience is pretty wide – starting with 12 or 13-year-olds – all the way to adult. I see it as a Tim Burton movie in book form. And Cecilia Ruiz’s illustrations alone are worth the price of admission!

***

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Blue Rider Press

I have

1 print edition of Seven Deadlies to giveaway

*US/Canada Only*

To Enter

Leave a comment on this post confessing the sin you are most guilty of and then

CLICK HERE TO PROVIDE YOUR DETAILS

Entries Close November 3rd, 2013

Drawn via random.org

Review: Rude Bitches Make Me Tired by Celia Rivenbark

Title: Rude Bitches Make Me Tired

Author: Celia Rivenbark

Published: St Martin’s Press October 2013

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on October 17, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Rude Bitches Make Me Tired is columnist and author Celia Rivenbark’s seventh book. Though I have never actually heard of her, I couldn’t resist the the title as I was desperate for something light and silly to read after a busy, chaotic week.

Rude Bitches Make Me Tired purports to be an etiquette guide for modern dilemmas discussing appropriate, and inappropriate, behaviour in regards to dealing with, amongst other things, funerals, dance mom’s, Facebook, PDA’s (public displays of affection) and dinner parties. Mixing personal anecdotes with snarky advice, humour tends to take precedence over wisdom. There are many lines that will make you laugh out loud, several that will make you cringe and a few that will have you shaking your head in disbelief at the decline of polite society. Personally though I’m with Rivenbark on thinking it would be ‘as funny as hell’ to slam a cart into the chatty b*tches blocking the grocery store aisle knocking them sprawling like bowling pins, and that anyone who does not respond to a RSVP is an inconsiderate loser, and worse.

If you are sensitive to profanity then this is not the books for you, but if you need a laugh, and are curious if it is appropriate to email your condolences to a bereaved family, then Ride Bitches Make Me Tired is a quick, amusing read.

Available to Purchase

St Martins Press I Amazon US I BookDepository

 

Review: Turn Around Bright Eyes by Rob Sheffield

Title: Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke

Author: Rob Sheffield

Published: It Books August 2013

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 05 to 07, 2013 {Courtesy HarperCollins/Edelweiss}

My Thoughts:

In Turn Around Bright Eyes, Rob Sheffield, a writer for Rolling Stone, shares his enjoyment and appreciation of Karaoke, and its meaning in his life and in his relationship with his current wife, in a series of autobiographical essays.

This is the third book by Rob Sheffield, his first [book:Love is a Mix Tape|46190] chronicled his relationship with his first wife who died unexpectedly. [book:Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut|7515197] focused primarily on the connection of music to his memories of youth.

I have sung Karaoke only once. I was very drunk and surrounded by my (thirty something) girlfriends as we belted out <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae7m1sNVkjM”>Bananarama’s ‘Venus'</a> waving our arms about while trying to stay upright on a tiny stage meant for one, maybe two people, not eight. (We placed third and won a round of drinks!)

For Rob, and his wife, an astrophysicist, Karaoke is a passion, though Rob confesses he is tone deaf. It is one of the ways the pair connect, something they can share despite their disparate professional lives, and an activity they indulge in with some frequency either at their local club which offers private rooms, or any place they encounter during their travels.

The essays in Turn Around Bright Eyes, each headed by or referencing a song title, range from Sheffield’s musings on how music is inextricably linked to his life’s experience, to his opinions on the genius of artists like Bon Jovi and Rod Stewart. This isn’t a treatise on the Karaoke phenomenon but rather Sheffield’s relationship with it and music in general.

Given I am about the same age as Sheffield, the majority of his music references were familiar to me and I spent much of the book singing the various pop hits mentioned, like Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ and Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’, to myself (the house was thankfully empty). Younger readers who have never heard of Nena’s ’99 Luft Balloons’ might feel a little lost in parts.

Turn Around Bright Eyes is both a homage to Karaoke, to love and to life. Funny, sharp and occasionally heartbreaking, it is book sure to entertain and make you want to sing.

Available To Purchase

@Amazon I @BookDepository

Review: The Erma Bombeck Collection

 

Title: The Erma Bombeck Collection: The Grass Is Always Greener over the Septic Tank;  If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?; Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession.

Author: Erma Bombeck

Published: Open Road Media May 2013

Status: Read from June 01 to 02, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy Netgalley/the publisher}

My Thoughts:

I’m not sure how old I was when I stumbled across one of Erma Bombeck’s books, The Grass Is Always Greener over the Septic Tank, in a second hand bookstore though I think I was maybe in my mid teens. I hadn’t really read anything by a humourist before and I wasn’t expecting to find much in a book written by an old (from my perspective), American housewife amusing but I did. In fact I think it was probably the first book that actually made me laugh out loud. After that I kept an eye out for anything else by Erma, at that stage (in the late 1980’s) she had published 8 books but they were difficult to find in Australia. Over the years I have managed to collect five of her books, and read 2 others (courtesy the library).

The Erma Bombeck Collection includes two of the books I already own – The Grass Is Always Greener over the Septic Tank, and If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? and a third I hadn’t managed to get a hold of Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession.

It’s delightful to discover just how timeless Erma Bombeck’s sense of humour is. Despite the generation gap and the seismic changes in society, her domestic commentary is still as relevant as it was 40 years ago.
My children regularly ambush me with the need for a costume/cake/working model of a rocket ship the night before it is needed, my husband can never find anything on a shelf in the pantry or fridge without my help and I haven’t seen the floor in my teenage daughter’s room for years. No matter if you are the mother of toddlers or teenagers, and regardless of whether you are a stay at home mum or work full time, it is easy to relate to Erma’s light-hearted diatribes.

Hilarious, heartwarming and wise, this is a wonderful collection of three of Erma Bombeck’s best, and a thoroughly entertaining read.

Available to Purchase

@OpenRoadMedia I @AmazonUS

Review: More Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

Title: More Sh*t My dad Says

Author: Justin Halpern

Published: Pan Macmillan June 2013

Status: Read on June 10, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the Publisher}

My Thoughts:

Justin Halpern’s twitter feed, Sh*t My Dad Says, spawned both a wildly popular book and a television sitcom starring William Shatner as Sam Halpern. More Sh*t My Dad Says is the laugh out loud and much anticipated follow up.

Justin, having moved out and reconciled with his girlfriend Amanda, is contemplating asking her to marry him and seeks his dad’s wisdom.

“So I’ll tell you what I did right before I asked your mother to marry me: I took a day and I sat and I thought about all the things I had learned about myself, and about women, up to that point in my life. Just sat and thought. I may have smoked marijuana as well, Anyway at the end of the day, I took stock of everything I’d gone through in my head, and I asked myself if I still wanted to propose to your mother. And I did. So that’s what I humbly suggest you do, unless you think you’re somehow smarter than I am, which considering you share my genetics, is unlikely.”

Justin takes his father’s advice and More Sh*t My Dad Says traces his journey from childhood, through teenage angst, career trials, and the complications of relationships, sex and love. Despite the navel gazing narrative, this is an enjoyable memoir of sorts but it is still the gruff and obscene commentary by his father, Sam, that steals the limelight.

While I didn’t find More Sh*t My Dad Says quite as hilarious or shocking as the first book it was still a lot of fun to read and at just over 150 pages it should brighten anyone’s commute. Personally, I think it would be the perfect gift for an unmarried brother, (male) friend or a heavy handed hint for a commitment shy boyfriend.

Available to Purchase

@Pan Macmillan AU I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia I @Amazon

via Booko

Review: Bedpan Blues by Sandy Thorne

Title: Bedpan Blues

Author: Sandy Thorne

Published: ST Publishing 2012

Synopsis: Sandy’s hilarious account of her two-month stay in a Sydney public hospital – far from the “back country” where she lives – will really kickstart your funnybone! With one leg out of action, getting ON a bedpan is one thing …. the you have to get off the bloody thing… Almost as big a challenge as trying to get some sleep (“Wake up! Heres’ your Panadol..”)

Status: Read on November 25, 2012

My Thoughts:

This caught my eye on the “new” shelf at the library so I scooped it up hoping for a quick read that would make me laugh, and that it exactly what I got. Bedpan Blues details the two months Sandy Thorne, a bushie from Lightning Ridge, spent laid up in a Sydney city public hospital after a repair to an ankle injury went awry.

Behind Sandy’s mild mannered facade (she is unfailingly polite to the staff and helpful to her less capable ward mates) lurks a bold, brash and wildly opinionated woman who compares the hospital food to cat spew and longs to twist the nuts off of television ad executives. She describes her politics as “a little to the right of Hitler”, and her views on many issues are decidedly not politically correct however she calls them as she seems them and her lack of self censorship is quite refreshing.

As ward mates, and their visitors, come and go, Sandy has to cope with a thief, a diva, a snorer and a dreamer. All she wants is a view out of the window and a little bit of peace and quiet – something the nurses don’t seem inclined to give her. It seems the orthopedic ward is a busy place and it’s no surprise Sandy can’t wait to escape.

Bedpan Blues is a quick, amusing read which will have you laughing and cringing in almost equal measure.

Available to Purchase

@Boomerang Books @Booktopia

via Booko

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,729 other followers