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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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

BY ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

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This wonderful take on our favourite Sherlock Holmes stories is part of a new series called Classics Reimagined. For art and book lovers alike, these collectible titles are each illustrated by graphic artists and illustrators from around the world. Each artist offers their own unique visual interpretation of the most loved and read literature from renowned authors. The results are stunning!

I had been eyeing up this particular volume in my local Blackwells for some weeks before I bought it. Then payday came and it was mine! The cover is soft and luxurious, the pages thick and glossy, the artwork modern and thrilling and of course the twelve stories within are absolutely brilliant.

The 12 gripping crime stories in this book are:

  1. A Scandal in Bohemia
  2. The Red-Headed League
  3. A Case of Identity
  4. The Boscombe Valley Mystery
  5. The Five Orange Pips
  6. The Main with the Twisted Lip
  7. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
  8. The Adventure of the Speckled Band
  9. The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb
  10. The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor
  11. The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
  12. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

Conan Doyle’s Holmes would only deal with the unusual or fantastic cases. He enjoyed experiences that combined the striking, the bizarre and the criminal. He saw applying his clever logic to help out the frantic characters that knocked at his Baker Street door, as his art. My favourite of these excellent tales was the Red-Headed League which presented Holmes with “quite the three pipe problem.” I also particularly enjoyed The Five Orange Pips and The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle. Continue reading

Earth is the loneliest planet of all*

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THE HUMANS BY MATT HAIG

The Humans is quite simply one of those novels that you wish you had written. Remarkably inventive, heart-warming, very funny and gripping right up to the last page. Matt Haig’s fifth book is really something special.

One Friday night Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge. He feels lost amongst his new species. He is repulsed by human food, clothes, their appearance – and even by his wife and teenage son. In fact he hates everyone and everything except his dog, Newton.

But as he sets about the tasks that he has been sent to Earth to complete, he gradually starts to change his mind about the human race. Haig uses this fantastic story to explore what it is to love and be human and all that is weird and wonderful about that. Like looking at our planet through an outer body experience (from outer space). Continue reading

Don’t hang the DJ

THE BIRD AND THE BEEB BY LIZ KERSHAW

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The Bird and The Beeb is the story of Liz Kershaw’s thrilling career as a Radio DJ. I expected it to be full of name drops and celebrity anecdotes but happily it is much more than that. Kershaw is someone who has fought for her slice of the airwaves from her Rochdale youth dancing round her Dansette to saving the UK’s greatest music station, she has stood up and been counted. She’s been called “controversial,” “outspoken” and a feminist but none of these are bad things in my book – or this one!

As a reward for passing her O-levels early, her Dad allowed her to start buying pop records with her pocket money. As Liz says his timing couldn’t have been better as 1972 was “a belting year for music.” Only a matter of years later she was forming her own girl group Dawn Chorus & The BlueTits with Countdown smart-ass Carol Vorderman. Whilst they didn’t reach the dizzy heights of Bananarama, she did get to record a Peel session.

Her career at the BBC took off at Radio Leeds – a case of literally in the right place at the right time. From there she went on to huge success on Radio One’s Weekend Breakfast show with Bruno Brookes rubbing shoulders with pop megastars on the Radio One Roadshows and introducing the latest hits on Top Of The Pops. Kershaw describes the mass hysteria surrounding acts like Bros and Spandau Ballet when they visited the BBC all of which evoked huge memories for me. Growing up in the 80s I was obsessed with pop music, radio DJs and Top of The Pops and more than anything I can remember I wanted to be onstage as a presenter at a Roadshow. Liz Kershaw was doing all of that – lucky thing!

But of course where there are highs, there are often lows. Kershaw has been vilified for her northern accent, labelled as thick, rough and common in the snobby world of broadcasting. She has battled cervical cancer, lost friends to drink, drugs and depression and seen her own brother broadcaster Andy (“our Andrew”) jailed for violating a restraining order. Continue reading