Grandpa’s Great Escape

GRANDPA’S GREAT ESCAPE

BY

DAVID WALLIAMS

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I turn 36 years old tomorrow but I’m still watching the new episodes of Danger Mouse and I still enjoying reading brilliant children’s literature like this latest from bestselling author and comedy hero, David Walliams.

Many readers are of the opinion that Walliams is the natural successor to Roald Dahl, and I couldn’t agree more. Neither of them talk down to their young readers, instead whisking them along for exciting, perilous adventures and fairytale capers of love and friendship and of course, great dollops of horrid, hairy, farty things.

Dahl is responsible for the bookworm I am today. As a child his stories were eye-popping! They made me go “ooh” and “wow,” “eeeuuuuww” and “ARRRGHHH” in equal measure. Walliams possesses that same talent. I have read all seven of the Little Britain actor’s previous children’s novels and loved them all but this might be my favourite yet.

This is a story of a young boy called Jack whose Grandpa has become confused in his old age. He believes he is back in World War II saving the skies as an RAF Spitfire pilot. Only Jack understands him and sets out to rescue him from Continue reading

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Gorsky

GORSKY

BY VESNA GOLDSWORTH

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If you’re in the UK  you have probably seen huge window displays of this book in your local high street bookseller, such is the buzz around this Great Gatsby inspired page-turner. For once, this is rightly deserved. I devoured Gorsky over two train journeys and found it to be one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year.

Nick is a Serbian living in London and working in a shabby old bookshop. His humdrum life is turned on its head when the commission of a lifetime from Russian billionaire Gorsky sees him thrust into a world of wealth, beauty, art and sex. But, of course, all this comes at a price and Nick’s life is suddenly filled with danger.

Set in Chelsea (or Chelski!) the reader is immersed in a decadent world spilling over with previously unimaginable luxury, sums of money, Continue reading

Gut: the inside story of our body’s most under rated organ

GUT

BY GIULIA ENDERS

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This international bestseller “sets out to free toilet talk from its taboo,” according to The Times. In my family there is no such taboo! We talk about our guts, stools and movements often and openly. This isn’t out of vulgarity but more out of necessity as almost all of my nearest and dearest suffer with our guts – from the severity of diverticulitis to that familiar, uncomfortable bloated feeling.

I read Giulia Enders’ superb book in the hope of finding out more than my pill-pushing GP would ever bother to tell me. What I found has really opened my eyes. Enders shows the reader that rather than being the embarrassing, often overlooked body part, the gut is actually a spectacular miracle.

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We are shown what makes us vomit, the difference in dietary fibre and its effects on us plus how probiotics and prebiotics can help us. Whilst I struggle with mice being used in these experiments (humans please!), researchers are beginning to investigate the importance of “the gut-brain axis.” This includes how bacteria found in the gut can be linked to depression and the true impact of stress on our gut and in turn our mental health. Enders describes how an “emergency situation” develops between gut and brain when a person experiences anger, pressure or anxiety.

This book combining the perfect blend of accessible language with amusing, explanatory graphics (drawn by her sister), makes Gut as entertaining as it is informative. Enders compiles the latest scientific research that shows how the gut can play a role in everything – obesity, allergies, Alzheimer’s – and presents it as simply as one can such a complex organ. (That said the chapters on bacteria needed several re-reads before I got my grey matter around it!) Gut is a brilliant handbook that proves we can all benefit from getting to know our wondrous inner workings a lot better. Read on for some of the bits I found particularly fascinating: Continue reading

The Strange Library

THE STRANGE LIBRARY

BY HARUKI MURAKAMI

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I bought this book the day after I got made redundant from my library job. For twelve years I thought I had worked in a strange library – but thankfully not as dark and sinister as Murkami’s one!

‘The Strange Library’ is a fully illustrated and beautifully designed book. I loved the nostalgic old school library ticket on the front cover and the tagline on the back cover which simply read; “All I did was go to the library to borrow a book.” I’m a real library lover and can be a bit of a geek about it so although I have only ever managed to dip in and out of Murakami, I sensed I might like this! The illustrations inside enhanced this psychedelic tale providing a unique visual enjoyment alongside the text. I found the drawings, some of which are marbled papers and old pages from books found in The London Library, to be simultaneously odd and fun.

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But what’s it about? Well that is a good question! A small boy goes to the public library to borrow a book, once there he is taken to an underground reading room by a cruel old man. There he is locked in a cell by a “Sheep-man” and is instructed to memorise two large books to secure his freedom otherwise his brains will get eaten and Continue reading