What if you could talk to the dead?

THE FIRST PHONE CALL FROM HEAVEN

BY MITCH ALBOM

American writer Mitch Albom is one of my best loved authors. He has sold more than 34 million books worldwide which is no surprise to me as his thought provoking novels are such lovingly crafted reads.

I have previously enjoyed 5 of his magnificent stories:mitch albom

  1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven
  2. Tuesdays With Morrie (Memoir)
  3. For One More Day
  4. Have A Little Faith and
  5. The Timekeeper

And his latest release is no let down! The First Phone Call From Heaven is a story of hope, loss, love, faith and the existence of Heaven. Residents in the small town of Coldwater, Lake Michigan begin to receive phone calls from loved ones that have passed away.

The world and its media descend on Coldwater hoping that this is the greatest miracle ever. Deceased sons, sisters and even former employees appear to be calling the people they left behind from the afterlife.

But not everyone is convinced. Some suspect a hoax, like lead protagonist and grief stricken single Dad, Sully Harding. Watching his son Jules waiting for a phone call from his dead Mum breaks Sully’s heart and he vows to uncover the truth. Continue reading

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The noise of sorrow itself

NICK CAVE – THE COMPLETE LYRICS 1978-2013

NICK CAVE LYRICS BOOK

The lyrics in this beautiful book span the entire career of singer, musician and author Nick Cave. From The Birthday Party to the Bad Seeds, Grinderman to film scores, every example of his dark gothic writing is collected and presented here.

Cave’s lyrics are often described as challenging, covering themes like murder, God, sex and death. His songs are commonly biblical and violent. However, he is also one of music’s greatest love song writers. Indeed the book opens with a transcription of a lecture that he delivered at the 1998 Vienna Poetry Festival entitled The Secret Life of the Love Song.

“I believe the love song to be a sad song,” he says. “It is the noise of sorrow itself.”

Nick Cave began writing songs following the death of his father. Aged 20 he started to read the Bible and began drawing on “the brutal prose” of the Old Testament for his songwriting. He became especially inspired by the Psalms, which he says “became the blueprint for my more sadistic love songs.”

NICKCAVEPROFILE

The Southsea Bookworm has long been a fan of Nick Cave particularly his work with the Bad Seeds so I found this book to be an absolute treat.

MY TOP 10 NICK CAVE SONGS: Continue reading

The best of The Bard

TEN YEARS IN AN OPEN NECKED SHIRT BY JOHN COOPER CLARKE

JCC book

Punk, poet, pioneer. That is how John Cooper Clarke is known to most of us. You can also call him The Bard of Salford or the name behind the hairstyle. This latest edition of his seminal works Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt has been reprinted over 25 years after it was first published yet it is as relevant today as it was back then.

Accompanied by Steve Maguire’s superb illustrations, the hipster poet’s performance verse still resounds today with his bitingly satirical and funny depictions of people struggling through hard times. He was the voice of the punk generation but he can equally speak on behalf of this one.

As author Roddy Doyle says: “Football is the only sport, Guinness is the only drink and John Cooper Clarke is the only poet.”

Though compact, this book collects together almost fifty John Cooper Clarke hits including; I Wanna be Yours, Evidently Chicken Town and Beesley Street.

JCC PERFORM

Here are some of my favourite verses: Continue reading

Burton’s last epic

THE RICHARD BURTON DIARIES

EDITED BY CHRIS WILLIAMS

Burton diary cover

Richard Burton was at one time Hollywood’s most highly paid actor, famed as much for his epic romance with glamorous Elizabeth Taylor and his heavy drinking, as he was for his magnetic performances on stage and screen.

Throughout much of his life, Burton kept a diary. Although he dismissed them as “merely a daily exercise in the observation of frustration,” they have now provided us with an invaluable insight into the life and mind of the legendary actor.

His diaries were published for the first time in full last year having been lovingly edited and referenced by Chris Williams using Burton’s original journals plus other photographs, newspapers, recordings, scripts and books.

The resulting 654 pages are utterly brilliant and as compelling a read as any great novel. Burton is articulate, charming, callous and full of fun and gossip. He writes with such a beautiful and poetic voice that you feel yourself falling for him.

Burton documents a life well lived amongst famous friends and the elite. Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando cop quite a bit of his wrath throughout!

 burton and taylor pose

As well as a journal of his own life it is also interesting to read Burton’s take on history, current affairs, travel and sport. From the moon landings to Churchill, Mussolini to golf, Burton offers intelligent opinions on the topics of the day.

The ease with which he uses quotes from, among others, Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas and  Yeats  to illustrate his thoughts and feelings is a tremendous delight to read and reread. You find yourself marvelling at his cleverness and recall.

We discover that he found the actual daily business of making movies a bore and that he sought other activities to stimulate his mind. He was a very well read man; devouring books almost at the same rate he did vodka and liking nothing better than hiding away from his family and his entourage with a good, or bad, novel. He also studied many languages including French, Italian, Spanish and Russian and liked to watch his weight with what he called “the drinking man’s diet.”

Below I have compiled my favourite Burton quotes from these diaries on subjects such as his darling Elizabeth Taylor, doctors, drinking, social occasions and attacking paparazzi. Please read on, these extracts are beautifully written and often hilarious in their spiteful observation. Who doesn’t love a witty put down? Continue reading

Moz Mania!

mozintairport

MORRISSEY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

BY DICKIE FELTON

Morrissey means just everything.

His music is a crutch, an emotional blanket.

It’s there when nobody else is or when you just need familiar words

(Olivia, Morrissey fan)

Dickie Felton is a Morrissey devotee from Liverpool. Morrissey International Airport is his story of following Moz on tour to 10 gigs in 10 towns in 5 countries. From Dunoon to Dallas, he covered 12,000 miles during Morrissey’s tour of far off places.

dickiefeltonHis book is full of shared stories, tales and experiences from fans all over the world who devote their lives to the legendary Smiths singer’s every move.

Often quiffed, tattooed and rocking the double denim look, The Moz Army  are world-renowned for their globe-trotting passionate pilgrimages. For them, no Moz gig is a gig too far.

But what motivates Moz mania? Why has Margaret from Fresno travelled 5,000 miles for a handshake with a 54-year-old pop star? I can understand it, as will most who read this book. But it’s also a great read for anyone who can’t fathom why we fling ourselves at stage barriers, write him silly notes, blow the overdraft and endure the endless pity of our loved ones for the sake of seeing up close what others perceive as a miserable old bugger.

Little do they know! Continue reading

The best 9 books to read with your kids

THE QUENTIN BLAKE TREASURY BY QUENTIN BLAKE

One of the best gifts The Southsea Bookworm received from Santa this Christmas was an anthology of drawings and verse from my favourite illustrator, Quentin Blake.

qb treasury

Undoubtedly best known for his artwork that accompanied Roald Dahl’s wonderful collection of children stories such as The BFG and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Blake fills every page he’s ever published with wit, wonder and joy.

This beautifully presented volume of nine books showcases his other work from his very first picture book through to his most recent short stories, poems and songs. And I can tell you that the drawings and rhymes here are an endless delight.

Here is what you’ll find included in the Treasury:qb treasury 2

  •  All Join In
  • Quentin Blake’s Nursery Rhyme Book
  • Patrick
  • Angelica Sprocket’s Pockets
  • Mister Magnolia
  • Quentin Blake’s ABC
  • Cockatoos
  • Angel Pavement
  • Mrs Armitage Queen of the Road

“All join in” and “Cockatoos” in particular made me yearn for childhood again. The witty rhymes are full of cheeky mischief and things like banana fizz and people with alligators in their pockets. His drawings as ever are stunning and hilarious – the kind of pictures you can look at for hours and suddenly see a bird hiding in the corner or a snake slithering up someone’s trouser leg. This Treasury is totally fun, very silly and enormously clever stuff.

Continue reading