New Read: My Autobiography (Guy Martin)

My Autobiography

I have rather a soft spot for Guy Martin, and knowing this a family friend lent me her copy of My Autobiography. After the disappointment of the last biography I read I didn’t wait long to start this, and timed it almost perfectly for the Isle of Man TT.

Guy Martin is a road racer, TV presenter and truck fitter; if you asked him though he would probably say truck fitter. Guy is a ‘grafter’ and it is his day job that has kept him sane, grounded, fit and initially paid for his motorcycle career. It was while racing at the Isle of Man TT that Guy took part in the filming of a documentary, Closer to the Edge, about the legendary event. Overnight he became a household name. Not only getting recognised at races but offers came in to do more television. I must admit I know him best from his television documentaries; including The Boat that Guy Built (2011), Speed with Guy Martin (2013), Guy Martin’s Spitfire (2014) and Our Guy in India (2015).

This biography starts with Guy’s childhood which he spent with his parents and three siblings in a small, rural community in North Lincolnshire. From an early age guy was mad on engines. Working hard he saved up his money for engines, bikes and cars. While Guy is best known for racing at the Isle of Man TT. He has had a successful career and raced at many other events; including Cock ‘o the North, Oliver’s Mount, North West 200 and the Ulster Grand Prix. Guy has also now diversified into endurance mountain biking and took on many challenges, for Speed with Guy Martin (2013), such as tobogganing, gravity racing, hydroplaning and even a human powered aircraft.

If you hadn’t guessed already this was a fascinating read. I love the humour, candour and down-to-earth nature that Guy brings to this biography. Plus the history and details he gives you about how everything works. Basically everything that makes him a great TV presenter, is brought to make this a great biography. Guy is also very candid about his relationship with his family, friends and girlfriends, the mistakes he has made, and after struggling with his fame his subsequent diagnosis with Asperger’s Syndrome. This biography has no airs and graces but in fact feels more like you’ve sat down with Guy for a chat over a cup of tea; and with it being Guy it would have to be a proper ‘builders brew’ (strong tea).

My Autobiography is a funny and honest read, packed with fascinating facts and interesting events. I highly recommend if you are a fan of Guy Martin, and/or love engines, machines and history. Great read.

Have you read this? Are you a fan of Guy Martin and his TV shows?

Meme: Tough Travels – Independence Battles

Tough Traveling

Nathan, over at the Fantasy Review Barn, runs the weekly meme Tough Travels, where readers are encouraged to tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s topic is INDEPENDENCE BATTLES

The good fight.  Casting off the chains of tyranny!  No one in fantasyland refuses the call of the good fight.  And what fight is more important in fantasyland than FREEDOM?

While last week’s topic of Fathers was quite tough, this week I had the opposite problem; too many examples! I had to reign myself in a little or we could have been here all day, because really who in fantasyland is not fighting for freedom? Here are my picks for this week’s topic:

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C S Lewis – Peter and Edmund Pevensie lead a large army of talking animals and magical creatures. Into an epic battle against the White Witch and her evil minions for the freedom of Narnia.

Prince Caspian by C S Lewis – 200 years later… the Pevensie children, with the help of Prince Caspian, unite all the talking animals and magical creatures. This time to fight King Miraz and the Telmarines.

Queen of Hearts: The Wonder by Colleen Oakes – In volume 2, of this Wonderland re-imagining, Dinah raises a large army of defected Cards and some unlikely allies to take on her tyrannical father, the King of Hearts. This reminds me; I really hope volume 3 comes out soon!

The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien – Elves, Men, Dwarves and Hobbits must fight together to stop Sauron and his dark army from taking over Middle-Earth.

A World Apart by David M Brown – Even though I might not of agreed with their methods. The infamous Black Iris pirate and their crew are, in their own way, fighting for freedom from the oppressive rule of the Order.

The Dark Tower by Stephen King – Roland, the last gunslinger, is on an epic quest. Along the way he stops to help many small communities fight against the tyranny and evil that is sprouting up; over many worlds.

The World Below by Mike Phillips – The magical inhabitants of a rubbish tip metropolis rise up against the nasty Baron Finkbeiner and his brutish minions.

Harry Potter by J K Rowling – At the very end Harry and his friends unite students and teachers to defend Hogwarts against Lord Voldermort and his Death Eaters.

Can you think of some fantasy, battles for independence? Please let me know if your taking part in Tough Travels this week too.

Goodbye June, Hello July 2015

June 2015

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? June is another month which has just flown by for me…no seriously it has flown by. There is now a mere two and half weeks till my school breaks up for the summer holiday.

During June I know I have done several puppet shows for various churches in the area. My own church had a wonderful Renewal Night and the local ladies choir came to do a performance; both of which I attended. I held a yummy barbecue to celebrate Father’s Day for my dad and granddad. Then near the end of the month I squeezed in a visit to Calke Abbey with a friend, on a glorious day (photo above and I hope to share more soon). When it comes to work and my general life though it has been a blur.

Both my reading and my adaptation watching have been slow. I spent most of June watching long TV series and the majority of my reading didn’t happen till the end of the month (I have a lot of reviews to catch up on). Here is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 3     Non-Fiction: 2     Poetry: 0

I spent a good chunk of the month completing the long, slow, and rather epic classic The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens; 31st read off my Classics Club list. A frivolous and lighter tale but it just didn’t grip me or have the drama of previous Dickens’ novels. Looking for a lighter and quicker read I picked up The Little Village School by Gervase Phinn, and it delivered everything I hoped for. Plus it my 1st read towards the 10 Books of Summer challenge. Then at the end of the month I finished children’s classic The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling; 32nd off my Classics Club list. My full thoughts still to be posted.

Alongside these fictions I also read 2 non-fictions. First I read My Autobiography by Guy Martin. A fascinating, funny and very candid account of the famous road racer, truck fitter and TV presenter. Then at the end of June I flew through Titanic another instalment from Mark Black’s A Very Brief History series. My full thoughts still to be posted for these.

Pick of the Month: My Autobiography by Guy Martin

That’s my consistent 5 books finished again; although 3 of them I finished right at the end of the month. Through out June I have continued to dip in and out of inspirational, Christian non-fiction The Praying Woman’s Devotional by Stormie Omartian. I have also made a good start to Victorian Fairy Tales edited by Michael Newton.

In July I am looking forward to more good reading, my friend’s hen do, and of course the start of the school summer holidays.

What did you do and read in June? Any plans for July?

Adaptations: June 2015

Adaptations

I absolutely love adaptations. I know this can sometimes be a controversial subject with book lovers but not for me. I think my real love of them came from my time studying performance at university. There I became fascinated with taking a story and telling it through a different medium; whether that be book, film, TV, or on the stage.

Here are the adaptations I watched during June:

Sleepy Hollow (2015)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
The concluding half of series 2 of supernatural drama, based on Washington Irving’s short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. An up-to-date retelling where the headless huntsman, demons, witches and ghosts meet the modern world. I still loved the camaraderie between Ichabod Crane and Lieutenant Abigail Mills, but there were some weak episodes. Okay watch.

Game of Thrones (2015)          Not Read      TV Series      Television
Lavish fifth series of this epic fantasy drama, based on George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Another gripping series of war, intrigue, family, politics, love, lust, lies and dragons! This would usually be a great watch for me but by the end of this series I was left with an overwhelming sense of sadness, and for that reason this time it is a … Good watch.

Looking at this it doesn’t look like I had a very good month of adaptations in June. At the time though it didn’t feel like that though. I’ve just been watching several long TV series. I also re-watched a couple of Harry Potter films, which ITV has been showing on Saturday afternoons/evenings. I didn’t do a write-up though because I re-watch them too often, and you’d be sick of the sight of them! I am still watching the epic, 4th series of Grimm and the BBC’s new drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Then I have the 2nd series of Penny Dreadful and the 3rd series of Hannibal to start. So hopefully plenty to share with you in July.

Have you watched any of these? What have you been watching recently?

Challenge: Once Upon a Time IX Wrap Up

Once Upon a Time 9

(Art by Kimberly Kincaid. Used with Permission)

Spring has ended and Summer has begun which is a positive for the weather but sadly means we have to say goodbye to The Once Upon a Time IX event, hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings. I had signed up for The Journey level which meant I was aiming to read at least one book for the event. Here’s what I actually managed to read:

1. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – I thought this was a detailed and well written paranormal romance with an interesting measure of history, magic and art. The first book in the All Souls trilogy, I look forward to reading more.

2. The Two Towers by J R R Tolkien – This was a comforting re-read of an intricate, epic, and enchanting tale. I look forward to re-reading The Return of the King next.

3. The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney – I thought this was a well written, witty and charming adventure by author and fellow blogger Cheryl.

4. Mort by Terry Pratchett – This was another darkly funny adventure. Pratchett is a well loved author of mine and I was very sad to hear of his passing. I hope to eventually work my way through the whole Discworld series.

5. Tolkien by Devin Brown – Although I was disappointed that this didn’t seem to be written for a British audience. I still thought this was an interesting and detailed biography of the life and what went on to inspire the author J R R Tolkien to create his wonderful, fantasy novels.

6. The Storyteller and Her Sisters by Cheryl Mahoney – I adored The Wanderers so couldn’t wait to move on to this. Another well written and charming adventure.

Woohoo! I think 6 is perhaps the most I have ever completed, in any year I have taken part, in this event, and I have really enjoyed my reading too. Here’s a few, quick meme questions to sum up my reading:

Best: The Two Towers by J R R Tolkien.

Most Recommended-to-Others: The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney.

Most Anticipated: The Storyteller and Her Sisters by Cheryl Mahoney.

Most Hilarious: Mort by Terry Pratchett.

Most Thrilling, Unputdownable: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

Most Beautifully Written: The Two Towers by J R R Tolkien.

Most Memorable Character: Samwise Gamgee from The Two Towers. I am rather in love with Sam. I also loved discovering Tom, the talking cat, in The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney.

New Series You Discovered: Just one new series; the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

New Authors Discovered: I am rather impressed that I discovered 3 new authors during this event; Deborah Harkness, Cheryl Mahoney and Devin Brown.

Favourite Cover: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

I now look forward eagerly to Carl V’s R.I.P event in the Autumn. Not that I am wishing Summer away!

Did you take part in Once Upon a Time IX? What was your favourite read?

Meme: Tough Travels – Fathers

Tough Traveling

Nathan, over at the Fantasy Review Barn, runs the weekly meme Tough Travels, where readers are encouraged to tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s topic is FATHERS

Comes in two types in fantasyland.  Either a semi-mystical figure proving impossible to live up to or the overbearing type who doesn’t understand why his daughter doesn’t accept the traditional princess role.  He may be tough to get along with but usually does think he has his kids interests in mind.

The topic of Orphans, two weeks ago, showed us that there are A LOT of orphans in fantasyland. With this in mind I am sure you can sympathise that this was a difficult topic. After much thought though here are my picks for the Fathers topic:

The Return of the King by J R R Tolkien – Lord Denethor, the steward of Gondor, is the overbearing, mad, bad, and dangerous to know type of father. His eldest son Boromir can do no wrong, but you have to feel for the younger son Faramir. Whose life is put in danger more than once trying to please his father.

Sabriel by Garth Nix – Terciel is a powerful Necromancer and semi-mystical figure for his daughter Sabriel. She grows up in a boarding school while Terciel travels the land. When her father is trapped in Death, Sabriel must take on his mantle.

The Storyteller and Her Sisters by Cheryl Mahoney – The twelve dancing princesses’ father is an overbearing bully who verges on evil. He is completely obsessed with getting his hands on the valuable, magical forest below the castle.

A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin – To say Tywin Lannister is overbearing would be an extreme understatement! Tywin is one of the most powerful and riches lords in Westeros. He manages his children and grandchildren with an iron grip; marrying them off to whoever will bring him more power and money.

Mort by Terry Pratchett – Could you get a more semi-mystical father than Death? Ysabell is saved and adopted as a baby by Death not because he felt sorry for her but because he thought he did.

Harry Potter by J K Rowling – Ok this choice is neither overbearing or semi-mystical but I couldn’t have a fantasy fathers topic and not mention Mr Weasley! He is loving, slightly bumbling, loyal, mad about Muggles, and brave in his own simple way.

Can you think of some fantasy fathers? They don’t have to be overbearing or mystical but great if they are.

New Read: The Little Village School

The Little Village School

At the beginning of June, hoping to get my 10 Books of Summer reading off to a good start, I picked up The Little Village School by Gervase Phinn; a Barton-in-the-Dale novel. I have fond memories of Miss Read’s Village School and hoped this would be a similarly comforting read.

Barton-in-the-Dale’s small village school is in trouble, big trouble. The school is old, tired, unloved and poorly managed. Her Majesty’s Inspector’s have given the school a damning report and parents are beginning to take their children elsewhere. In steps the new head teacher Mrs Devine, in her red high heel shoes, with new ideas and a fresh approach. As the tag line says: change is coming… But Mrs Devine won’t have an easy job though. With a sour former head teacher, nervous staff, a grumpy care taker, duplicitous governors, and village gossips to contend with.

Mrs Devine is a well dressed, smart, practical and kind woman. In stark contrast to her predecessor Miss Sowerbutts; a domineering and stubborn woman. Sower by name, sour by nature. Mrs Devine’s presence is not only to bring about positive changes in the school but also in the lives of many of the villagers too. I enjoyed finding out about the school as well as the lives of some of the villagers. Including Mrs Devine, deputy head Miss Brakespeare, Mr Stainthorpe and his grandson Danny, Dr Stirling and his son James, Reverend Atticus and his wife, and village gossip Mrs Sloughthwaite. I think the author has come up with a lovely, colourful collection of characters.

I found The Little Village School did have a similarly comforting feel to Miss Read’s Village School. With the small school and village setting, insights into the lives of the villagers, and some lovely touches of humour. The humour, for me, came mostly from the children. Working in a school myself I have heard many of the honest, touching and often hilarious things children can come out with. The difference would be that Phinn, the author, has brought a more contemporary and up-to-date setting, style and humour to The Little Village School. There wasn’t only humour though there are also some very touching and sad elements to the story. I must admit near the end I got a little teary.

The Little Village School is a touching and humorous book, and a comforting read. I recommend to those interested in small village life in England and perhaps those looking for a more modern Miss Read. Good read.

Have you read this? Or Miss Read’s village series? If you have any recommendations for other village books, please let me know.

10 Books of Summer – 1/10