A Guide On How To Be Funny [guest post]

Heat on the Street - Julian Wilkes

Today I have a guest post from author of Heat on the Street, Julian Wilkes! He’s giving us some great tips on ‘how to be funny’ – or not! It’s definitely worth a read! 🙂

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A GUIDE ON HOW TO BE FUNNY

Being funny isn’t easy. People laugh at you and sometimes with, the problem being, as human beings, we don’t always know which is which? Do you have any ideas? Maybe consulting a behavioural psychologist, or just simply laughing with, irrespective of whether they are laughing at you. ‘Ha haaaaa, you’re so funny!!’ I suppose if you take a look in the mirror, they may have a point. It just depends upon which digit they are using (and if the mirror’s being honest, a true reflection eh)……Mothers usually tell their children it’s rude to do that, so motion the notion with your eyes. Of course I’m talking about pointing, how rude are you…Please provide a small amount of etiquette and decorum. Thanks for that, you’re learning integrity comes in all shapes and sizes, but we’re not talking the female anatomy here or phallic symbols all around the World.

When I came into this World, or should I just say, was pushed out through a tight canal in the maternity ward back in 1974, I cried, oooh how I cried. Literally blood, sweat and tears were followed by smiles, happiness, laughter and joy, a big cause for celebration, thankyou Mum and Dad. Roll on several years. I had a fascination with metal, when I knocked my tooth back into my gum after falling off the garden climbing frame….OUCH, that hurt, a mouth reminiscent of a Monster Munch crisp or an enamel challenged O.A.P. not exactly a pretty sight. Over a decade later, the fate would materialise again in Austria on a watersports holiday, but not on a climbing frame. A drunken slovenly request for a kiss, being received with extra purchase. A school friend objected to the request by throwing a stinging right hook to my mouth. I suppose a fist kiss was better than nothing, resulting in me having a cracked tooth. The jewel in the crown, a sovereign ring on her finger. That wasn’t the only disaster….Flying over my bicycle handlebars, running into a brick wall and fracturing my knee, falling off my skateboard and landing headfirst with a bump, a prominent lump in the middle of my forehead, soothed by my nanas finest butter. I walked into a door, what else was I capable of? A successful life as a gymnast or acrobat? I’m not too sure I would be suited to a figure hugging leotard, maybe just hotpants! Playing football was as close as I would get to that experience, the shorts were high and tight in the 70’s and 80’s. Oops, slightly being economical with the truth, my sisters wardroble proved a fruitful cross dressing allure, lipstick on, guy liner and ruby red blusher. Where is that mirror again? Who is the fairest of them all. Maybe a little afro haired boy with dimples and a cheeky smile. Now that’s what I call funny.

Some people try so hard, for others it becomes natural, for others they stand up on stage. ‘Does anybody have a gag?’

‘Bondage isn’t my thing mister, but I am a masochist.’

‘I don’t wanna kiss you sir.’

‘Who mentioned anything about kissing?’

‘You said you Masseur kissed.’

‘I’ll show you later behind closed doors.’

‘There’ll be no need for that, I like things out in the open.’

Funny is something contagious, an infectious smile, a human or animal act or just a special non descript something that engages and brings people together. Maybe even ‘canned laughter’. Take a tin, open it up and let the infectious throat vibrations work wonders, that’s it, a spoon feeding of warm nutritious paletable goodness! In a nutshell, the most important ingredient is not trying to be funny as this can be a recipe for disaster.

ABOUT HEAT ON THE STREET

Jammin’ Boy is an exotic, vibrant, magnetic and carefree Language Teacher at Oatmill High School. Not a day goes by without elephant sized belly full of laughter, astonishment, excitement and adventure. A truly remarkable, exhilarating and white knuckle roller coaster ride from beginning to end, well worth the entrance fee!

Buy from Amazon in paperback and kindle format here.

Find out more about Julian Wilkes here.

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The Empathy Problem [review]

The Empathy Problem - Gavin Extence

[Synopsis]

Driven by money, power and success, Gabriel has worked ruthlessly to get to the very top of the banking game. He’s not going to let the inconvenience of a terminal brain tumour get in his way.

But the tumour has other ideas. As it grows, it appears to be doing strange things to Gabriel’s personality. Whether he likes it or not, he seems to be becoming less selfish, less mercenary, less unlikeable.

Once he could dismiss the rest of humanity as irrelevant. Now he’s not so sure. Women, in particular, are becoming worryingly three-dimensional. And none more so than Caitlin, the ‘unremarkable’ girl he sees busking on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. When she plays her violin, Gabriel could almost believe that he has a soul…

But as each day that passes brings him closer to his last, has time run out for second chances?

Bestselling author Gavin Extence pushes the envelope again with another thought-provoking and funny novel about the surprises, good and bad, that life can throw at us.

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[My Review]

This has swiftly jumped into one of my favourite books of the year. It’s heartfelt without being too emotional and so well written. I started reading and was completely hooked!

The story follows hedge fund manager Gabriel, who really lives the typical rich lifestyle – and doesn’t really seem to care about anyone apart from himself. He’s well aware of this, and to be fair he doesn’t pretend to be anything he’s not, but he really doesn’t give seem to give a damn about anything apart from his own comfort and happiness. The book starts with him just having been diagnosed with a brain tumour, which gives him only a few months to live – you’d think this would immediately change his outlook on life, but as we begin the story it really hasn’t changed him… or so it seems.

The characters are SO brilliant; though Gabriel is one of those people you know you should hate, he’s got a real charm about him. Perhaps this is because we see inside his head and see the way he thinks about everything; some of his thoughts really made me laugh and others made me feel really sad. However, the novel manages to avoid swaying into overly emotional territory, despite the nature of the story. Still, I felt pretty damn emotional by the end of the book. I really loved Caitlin’s dry sense of humour and the depictions of Gabriel’s greedy workmates; they rang quite true to life – or at least how I’d imagine people like that to be!

The Empathy Problem is beautifully written and manages to avoid being cheesy or clichéd, which I feel is a real achievement. Gavin Extence includes plenty of wit and manages to avoid the novel feeling like it’s preaching at you; it makes you think without forcing you, and I hugely enjoyed it.

To me, this novel was pretty much perfect – whatever genre you enjoy, I strongly advise you to read it now!

[Rating: 5/5]

* Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review *

WWW Wednesday [21 September 2016]

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words.

Visit her blog to take a look, and get involved too if you can, even if you don’t have a blog yourself – as she says, you can leave your answers in the post comments – and I’d love to see your answers too!

It’s been a little while since I’ve last posted a WWW post… that’s an understatement actually – I haven’t posted one since 13 July! I looked back at the last one and couldn’t believe it! So I’ll pick a selection of books I’ve finished reading instead of listing every single one!

The three W’s are:

  1. What have you finished reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

 

What have you finished reading?

The Night Stalker – Robert Bryndza

Dear AmyHelen Callaghan

The Fire Child – S.K. Tremayne

Black Water Lillies – Michel Bussi

A Modern Way to Cook – Anna Jones

Courage Resurrected – R Scott Mackay

The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware

The Last One – Alexandra Oliva

Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty

Local Girl Missing – Claire Douglas

Taste of Persia – Naomi Duguid

What are you currently reading?

The Empathy Problem - Gavin Extence

The Empathy Problem – Gavin Extence
Spoiler: I’m HUGELY enjoying this so far, so I’m almost certain it will be a good review unless the second half really lets me down – here’s hoping it doesn’t!

 

What will you read next?

My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood
I received a physical copy of this, which is always lovely (as much as I appreciate and enjoy ebooks, to me there’s nothing like holding an actual book in my hands). I’m really looking forward to starting this.

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan
This is a Netgalley approval which I’m so excited about! I’m slowly but surely getting through my Netgalley list (except I keep seeing amazing new books and requesting more so it never really goes down! I’m determined to get it down to just a few though)


What have you been reading recently? Any exciting books you’re looking forward to reading next?

If you do your own version of this tag please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your answers too!

Why not add me as a friend on Goodreads!

Taste of Persia [review]

Taste of Persia - Naomi Duguid

[Synopsis]

Though the countries in the Persian culinary region are home to diverse religions, cultures, languages, and politics, they are linked by beguiling food traditions and a love for the fresh and the tart. Color and spark come from ripe red pomegranates, golden saffron threads, and the fresh herbs served at every meal. Grilled kebabs, barbari breads, pilafs, and brightly colored condiments are everyday fare, as are rich soup-stews called ash and alluring sweets like rose water pudding and date-nut halvah.

Our ambassador to this tasty world is the incomparable Naomi Duguid, who for more than 20 years has been bringing us exceptional recipes and mesmerizing tales from regions seemingly beyond our reach. Nearly 125 recipes, framed with stories and photographs of people and places, introduce us to a culinary paradise where ancient legends and ruins rub shoulders with new beginnings—where a wealth of history and culinary traditions makes it a compelling place to read about for cooks and travelers and for anyone hankering to experience the food of a wider world.

[My Review]

As someone who’s half Iranian, one of my favourite parts of visiting Iran (apart from seeing family and the absolutely incredible landscapes, of course) is those delicious, to-die-for Iranian dishes. Well, some of them might not be strictly Iranian, but I know them as Persian/ Iranian dishes, so…

I’ve sadly never had time when in Iran to get someone to properly teach me how to make some of those dishes, so this book looked perfect. I was a little apprehensive, wondering if I’d effectively be able to recreate these dishes…Well, I needn’t have worried. I’m not the most highly skilled cook really, but still found the dishes that I’ve tried so far easy to follow and they tasted so good!

The recipes seem like really traditional recipes which is great as they’re bound to be tried-and-tested, and I found them both really full of flavour and just like the dishes I’d had out in Iran – so a definite tick for authenticity, too!

In addition to the amazing recipes I really like the added info about the various countries (including Azerbijan, Iran, Armenia and Georgia, plus others) and the beautiful photography too – so lovely to flick through.

Would make a great coffee table book as well as being an excellent cookbook – excellent!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Artisan Books for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review

Local Girl Missing [review]

Local Girl Missing - Claire Douglas

[Synopsis]

Twenty years ago
21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night.
She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier –
and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca.

Now
A body’s been found.
And Francesca’s drawn back to the seaside town she’s tried to forget.
Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out.
Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn’t returned.

Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past.
The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth.
But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now’s the time to find out – isn’t it?

Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear – your family, your sanity and even your life…

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[My Review]

This was a gripping novel that really had me intrigued from page 1 – and one that, to write a really comprehensive review, everyone needs to have already read, so as not to give anything crucial away! So I’ll try and write this review without doing so, so be warned – it might be a little vague!

I felt that the characters are really well developed, with some of them leaving you with conflicting emotions – some people you know you should feel a certain way about, but you don’t, and I really liked that Claire Douglas manages to avoid characters being too black and white.

The story itself is really fun to read and full of twists and turns. I did feel like as the novel went on there was more and more that wasn’t so believable; this is definitely one to suspend your disbelief when reading! I know this could be said about a lot of books in the same genre (it seems to be mainly categorised in the thriller / pyschological thriller genres) but I felt it was more so when I got to the last third of the book.

Saying that, I still really enjoyed reading Local Girl Missing and slowly piecing together what had happened.  I love a novel which leaves you confused about who’s good and who’s bad, and this novel had that and some! The ending was a surprise but I really liked it personally; throughout the story there were a few clichés along the way but I ended the book thinking “I’ve got to admit, that was a great read” – what more could you want?

[Rating: 4/5]

* Many thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review *

Truly Madly Guilty [review]

Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty

[Synopsis]

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

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[My Review]

I’m a huge fan of Liane Moriarty’s books, but a new novel for any author that’s so loved is always a risk to me – will it be a another great read or fall a little flat?

Well, I loved Truly Madly Guilty. It’s a brilliantly written story about everyday life. Though of course things happen in the narrative that aren’t strictly every day – and may never happen to some people, hopefully – the way this incident affects all these people’s lives are portrayed in a realistic, down to earth way which really makes you think about how one mistake / lack of  concentration could potentially have such dire results.

The characters are, as always, wonderfully crafted by Moriarty. There are 3 married couples who form the main cast of the book: Celementine and Sam, Erika and Oliver and Tiffany and Vid, all with their own very distinct personalities – with the kind of character traits you’d probably recognise in someone you know yourself – and they feel really well rounded and real. This is partly why I think the characters resonate so much, because by the end of the book you feel like you know them really well. Another reason for this is partly due to the fact that different parts of the book are told from different’s perspectives character, so you gain a glimpse into their minds and ways of thinking as the novel goes on.

The storyline has emotion, drama, humour and, as I mentioned before, a real element of this is what real life can be like. It really teases out what actually happened at that fateful BBQ, and I quite enjoyed slowly learning more – though I’m sure for some this could get frustrating. If you’re looking for ultra-fast paced story then this novel probably isn’t for you, as it reveals more, but if you’ve read any other books by Liane Moriarty you’d know this – she crafts stories that never feel rushed but move along at just the right pace, making the story feel more authentic and realistic.

I really enjoyed this novel. It may not beat some of her other amazing work but that’s really just because the standard is set so high and perhaps this wasn’t quite as absorbing as those. Definitely worth a read though and still easily worth 4 stars!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Penguin – Michael Joseph and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

The Last One [review]

The Last One - Alexandra Oliva

[Synopsis]

Survival is the name of the game as the line blurs between reality TV and reality itself in Alexandra Oliva’s fast-paced novel of suspense.

She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.

It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it human-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game.

Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes.

But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.

Sophisticated and provocative, The Last One is a novel that forces us to confront the role that media plays in our perception of what is real: how readily we cast our judgments, how easily we are manipulated.

[My Review]

I loved every minute of reading this book! I felt like it was a pretty original twist on the dystopian / ’28 days later’-themed story and was SO much fun to read, from start to finish!

The characters are all presented to the reader in the way that they’re shown on TV, in the survival show (you even read comments from viewers of the show in online forums), but you also see what actually happened behind the scenes and behind the cameras, which makes you really think about how producers and editors can manipulate the programme and viewer’s feelings on each character. I was quite aware of this anyway, but it really drove it home as I read The Last One.

Many 0f the book’s characters are presented to the reader only by vaguely descriptive names – eg. ‘Zoo’, ‘Tracker’, ‘Asian Chick’, Biology’ etc – as we learn about their progression through the show’s challenges from the beginning, and the reader doesn’t find out a huge amount about them really… apart from Zoo ,who we also see in a separate, ‘current’ narrative. It’s interesting to try and work out how it got from the controlled, very contrived environment of the show’s filming, when we know everything happened for a reason, to the current day’s terror and confusion after what seems to be the spread of a mass, deadly virus. The reader also knows – or at least suspects – far more than Zoo is aware of, and this adds extra tension and intrigue to the story.

Along with Zoo on her journey I felt shocked, confused, angry and emotional at times, and I did feel like some parts weren’t quite as gripping as the rest, but overall I hugely enjoyed this fantastic debut novel from Alexandra Oliva and would definitely, 100% read any future releases!

The storyline was interesting, well crafted, entertaining and, most of all (despite the quite serious subject matter) really fun to read!

[Rating: 4.5/5]

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review

The Girl in Cabin 10 - Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10 [review]

The Girl in Cabin 10 - Ruth Ware

[Synopsis]

In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

[My Review]

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this novel – I’ve read some brilliant thrillers recently but many of them kind of merge into one another. This, however, really stood out to me and had me hooked from pretty much the first page!

Ruth Ware’s writing is great – the main character, Lo, really made me care about her, something which doesn’t always happen in these kind of novels, and even the people who you’re not supposed to completely like are well developed and interesting – and that’s the main thing. They need to make you want to read about them, whether you actually like them or not!

The story managed to be really different whilst still retaining the classic tropes of the genre; someone pursuing someone else, them being made to feel like they’re perhaps the one going crazy, the reader sometimes isn’t sure themselves… I won’t give anything else away but despite all these usual elements, the story managed to stand out to me, an avid suspense/ mystery reader! I definitely agree with others who have said that this novel is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel – it’s a testament to the author that this is true, I feel!

The story has enough twists and turns to keep me interested without being too crazy or ridiculous – I never lost sight of what was going on and really enjoyed reading it!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Random House and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review

Black Water Lillies by Michel Bussi

Black Water Lilies [review]

Black Water Lillies by Michel Bussi

[Synopsis]

Giverny. During the day, the home of the famous artist Claude Monet and the gardens where he painted his waterlilies. But once the tourists have gone, there is a darker side to the peaceful French village.
This is the story of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another. Jérôme Morval, a man whose passion for art was matched only by his passion for women, has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens. In his pocket is a postcard of Monet’s Waterlilies with the words: Eleven years old. Happy Birthday.
Entangled in the mystery are three women: a young painting prodigy, the seductive village schoolteacher and an old widow who watches over the village from a mill by the stream. All three of them share a secret. But what do they know about the discovery of Jérôme Morval’s corpse? And what is the connection to the mysterious, rumoured painting of Black Waterlilies?

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[My Review]

I do love novels which, when you finish them, make you go back to particular parts or sometimes right back to the start to try and pick up on little things you might have missed the first time round. This is definitely one of those!

The story itself felt quite slow to me – though the first few pages really intrigued me (they definitely hooked me in), I then felt like it lost me a bit at some points. I felt it was really disjointed with the different people and sections and it didn’t feel like it really meshed together. I started to feel a bit distracted, though the writing (even in translation) is really wonderful.

The characters were both intriguing and a little dull, somehow – they were interesting to read about but didn’t really make me hugely care about them. However, as I kept reading, and certain things were revealed (I won’t say too much about anything so as not to ruin anyone’s enjoyment of this book) it all fell, satisfyingly, into place – and all my confusion became clear! For this and the great writing I give this book 4 stars – it is quite slow at times, but I think it’s worth it if you keep going, and is one of those books that leaves you thinking about it afterwards!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Orion for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review