Review: The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

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Picture credit: http://www.netgalley.com

The Toymakers sounds initially like such a good book. Magical realism! The world of the toy shop! Set in the first half of the twentieth century! Romance! Excitement! What’s not to like?

What a disappointment I was in for! My feelings about this book started off great, then descended gradually towards apathy and boredom as it dragged on…and on…and on…yawn. I started off thinking that the novel could be given a five star review but soon changed my mind. Such a shame.

The Toymakers is the story of Cathy, a pregnant teenager. She runs away from home to avoid having her child taken off her for adoption and ends up working at Papa Jack’s Emporium, a magical toy shop in London. She befriends the owner’s sons (Kaspar and Emil Godman) who give her a place to stay and raise her child. However, the First World War strikes and leaves Cathy literally holding the baby. The war changes the Godman family forever, and a rift between the brothers begins a slow decline of their lives together.

At first, The Toymakers is utterly enchanting. The world of the toy shop, the special magic that makes Emporium toys just a little bit more real, the ideas that the family have for creating the most fantastic playthings are all completely spellbinding. The world of the Emporium is beautifully crafted and the magical realism reminded me of The Night Circus or The Paper Magician. There’s a floating castle, paper trees that shoot out of boxes, wind up animals that behave like real pets…I loved the sense of excitement and inventiveness.

However, as time passes and the war begins I began to loose interest in the story. There’s a slow decline in the profits of the Emporium but there’s very little action except for a slow burning resentment between the two brothers. It’s almost as if the author himself began to get bored, as the years begin to turn faster and faster. The lack of interesting plot began to depress me, as none of the characters are happy and things start to fall apart.

I initially liked the gumption of Cathy – the desire to see the world, her resolve to keep her baby and her work ethic all made me warm to her. However, as the book progressed she seemed to get dragged down (along with the rest of the plot) and she became a bit wooden. I hated – HATED – the stupid half love triangle depicted between her and the two Godman brothers, especially when Emil effectively claims Cathy and she doesn’t protest. Neither of them appear to be particularly enamoured with her and Cathy seems to grow out of any feelings she had for either Kaspar or Emil (until the rubbish ending). It seems like a competition between the boys as to who can win Cathy and I thought the book would have been much better without the odd tension.

I really liked little Martha (Cathy’s daughter) and I thought a lot more could have been done with her character. It’s such a shame that she jumped from being a child to a 27 year old woman in the space of one sentence. I would have liked to know more about her life and it could have provided some light relief through the depressing middle section.

The ending to the book is beautifully depicted (although ridiculous and annoying) but I’m afraid that even the breathtaking scenes at the very end couldn’t salvage the storyline. I’ve never read a book that manages to be so good and so bad at the same time.

Overall, I loved certain parts of this book and thought that the inventiveness and creativity was great. I loved the world of the Emporium, the language used and the sense of wonder that was portrayed. Sadly, I felt that the book lost its way and it really dragged towards the end.

Overall rating: 3/5
Inventive, exciting and magical…for the first few chapters at least. All downhill from then on.

Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley!

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Review: The Confession by Jo Spain

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Picture courtesy of Netgalley.com

Sadly, my little run of five star reviews is over and its all thanks to one book – the hugely over-hyped “The Confession” by Jo Spain. Not only is this book not really about a confession (the police seem to have worked out what has happened before anyone confesses anything – unless this refers to the character who turns himself in initially, which isn’t a confession from reader’s perspective because we literally see him commit the crime) it’s also nowhere near as good as the blurb makes it out to be.

On first glance, the novel sounds incredibly intriguing. The premise states: “You find out who did it on the very first page. On the last page you’ll find out why”. Oooh, I thought. This will keep me in suspense! Except, this wasn’t a truthful description either. You find out exactly what happened towards the end of the novel (you can work it out for yourself before the characters confirm everything) but it’s definitely not a last page cliff hanger.

At first, you do see a crime being committed (at least this part lives up to the snappy premise) which is unusual but the novel quickly descend towards the formulaic police investigation with a timeslip back so the reader can see how events unfolded from the p.o.v of the victim’s wife and the perpetrator. Folded into this story are the events of the financial crash in Ireland (oooh, exciting) and one of my major bugbears was that the situation wasn’t explained in nearly enough detail. The whole event was discussed through the eyes of Julie, the victim’s wife, who “didn’t understand” banking – despite her husband owning a bloody bank and I felt like this was a bit of a cop out by the author. I was a business student during the early 2000’s so I could vaguely remember the “Celtic Tiger” but for younger readers or those who are non-UK/Irish then the whole boom and bust situation really needed more depth. I also felt that the term “Celtic Tiger” was waaaay overused by the author and by the end of the book had really started to grate on me.

As far as characters go, this book features some of the most unlikeable people ever. There’s Harry, the stereotypical super rich banker – all flash cars, prostitutes and drugs; J.P., the somewhat derranged poor-person-perpetrator and Julie, the totally wet “I’m so in love with my twat of a husband” wife. Of all of them, I found Julie the most frustrating. She was all “I think my husband is cheating! I can’t confront him though!” and “If I leave I’ll have no money and nowhere to go!” despite the fact her husband was so rich she could have easily squirrelled some cash away, she had a full time job and was from a big family who were all on her side. Even when certain allegations about Harry come to light -serious, criminal allegations that potentially put her in danger – she still goes back to him. The explanation given is that “she loves him” and she believes marriage is for life. There’s no suggestion that she’s abused or has any kind of mental health issues (at first) so, personally, I found this pretty hard to stomach.

I was surprised to learn that the author, Jo Spain, was a woman as she just doesn’t write realistic, relatable female characters. For instance, when Julie has a period (pertinent because, of course, Julie wants a baby despite all of the problems in her marriage) she refers to it as “a telltale splash of blood in the toilet each month”. Now, without getting graphic, that’s just not what happens. I genuinely found the way that she depicts women incredibly old fashioned and sexist – the book literally reads like something by Stephen King in the 80’s. All of the women were described by their personal attributes (i.e. size of their boobs), they all threw themselves at Harry and the only female character with any agency was one of the police officers, who was described as obese, with thin flat hair. I’m not saying that you can’t be super hot as an overweight woman with fine hair (because you can) but just to clarify that this woman is not the same as the others (who all have large breasts, pretty faces, skimpy dresses and are slender – because that’s what all men everywhere like) one of the other officers makes some kind of sexual innuendo towards her and she acknowledges that he’s clearly throwing her a bone.

So – pretty girls are sexual playthings of the big strong cocky men, clever girls are fat and ugly. Got it? Then I’ll continue…

I could have forgiven *some* of the above points if the story was actually shocking or exciting – but it kind of wasn’t. Once you work out how everyone relates to everyone else, you expect some kind of super salacious twist – but it just wasn’t there. The ending is actually pretty humdrum. Yawn.

Overall, I really didn’t enjoy this book. I’m not a fan of a crime thriller in general, so perhaps if you really enjoy this genre you may get more from this book than I did. It really wasn’t for me though.

Rating: 2/5
Great premise but annoying characters and a dull ending ruined it.

Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley!

Review: Everless by Sara Holland

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Photo credit:www.netgalley.com

Welcome to Everless, the most generically generic YA novel ever written!

Starring…

Generic protagonist girl! From a village! Super poor since the death of her mother! Thinks people won’t recognise her if she covers her hair!

Generic love interest boy! Playmate from childhood grown up all sexy! Lives in a generic castle!

Generic evil Queen! Straight out of Disney! Pale and cold! Rumoured to eat the generic hearts of other generic characters!

Generic insta-love! Between two generic characters not attracted to each other for 95% of the book!

Also featuring…

Generic peasants! Generic horse riding! Generic kitchen staff! Generic taverns! Generic guards!

With a special appearance by everyone’s favourite… generic honey pastries!

Critics have given it 3 stars, calling it “middle of the road” and “mildly enjoyable”.

Available now!

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A few months ago, I read this hilarious post by the lovely Orangutan Librarian entitled “Worst Fantasy Novel Plan Ever”! And we laughed, because satire, and then we commented with more satire, and laughed some more because surely no-one would include ALL of the generic fantasy tropes in one novel?

Cut to a couple of months later, when I started reading Everless and lo and behold – all of the tropes. In. One. Novel.

Wow.

Everless is the story of Jules (ok, so maybe the stupid fantasy name trope was avoided – although her surname is Ember, so I’m not sure – it depends if she goes on to set the world alight in books two and three) who lives with her father in a small village. Struggling to make ends meet, she volunteers to work at Everless, the castle and estate owned by the local nobility (the family are hiring extra staff for the wedding of their son to the adopted daughter of the Queen). Jules is already familiar with the castle, having lived there as a child, and quickly works her way up into a senior servants position. Her access to the royals gives her an insight into what really goes on, and as she starts to uncover some of their closely guarded secrets she begins to make sense of her own puzzling background.

Yes, the “my life has been a lie!” trope.

Despite the incredibly obvious plotline, the saving grace of this novel was the idea that time could be “bled” out of people (literally – by making them bleed) then bound into metal coins. These coins could then be used as currency or eaten to give the owner additional time. This meant that rich people could live for centuries, whereas poor people had to sell their own time to stay alive. Now, there are many, many flaws in this idea (how does someone’s youthful essence get bound into their blood? What happens if you just cut your finger? Do people who die of anything other than old age have their bodies bled? The very idea of cutting your life short to stay alive is counter productive? etc…) but if you don’t think about it too hard then the concept is interesting, and adds a new dimension to the story. (I’d like to add in here that I’ve not seen the movie “In Time” but I believe it’s broadly the same idea. So perhaps the concept is not as interesting/unique as I’d originally thought.)

Unfortunately, there were quite a few parts of the book that didn’t really make sense. Some are big gaping plot holes, like why Jules flagrantly disregards everything her father warns her about or why, considering she was banished from the castle as a child, everyone is fine with her return. On the other hand, there’s also quite a few small inconsistencies throughout the text that really, REALLY got on my nerves. For example, here is a direct quote from the text;

“We’re both startled by the deep, clear peel of a bell…As a child, I’d heard many of Everless’s bells – there are bells for weddings and deaths, New Year’s and royal proclamations. I’ve never before heard the bell of the Crown, reserved solely for the Queen.

Of all the bells I remember from my childhood at Everless, this song is the deepest and most beautiful. It means that we are to assemble for Her Majesty’s arrival.”

So, um, you’ve never heard this bell before but you instantly know what it means? Despite there being literally loads of other bells that must be hardly ever used, like royal proclamations? And you know that it means you should assemble somewhere? And you also know where that assembly point is?

Unless this bell sound is actually a public service announcement, you cannot possibly have obtained that information. Aargh!

Also – bells do not sing songs, they chime or toll.

There’s a similar inconsistency later on when Jules is asked to pick the incredibly rare, so-prized-we-built-an-entire-garden-around-it ice holly, which takes pride of place, um, growing underneath all the other flowers that have been planted on top of it. I hope there is some significance to the ice holly (as it was never mentioned again) otherwise I’ll have spent an entire chapter reading “ice lolly” and having to go back and correct myself.

I also had a problem with idea that the security protection on the family vault door consisted of a dye to stain your hands. If the dye was rare and permanent then fine – but it washed off after a couple of days and was commonly used in the castle for other purposes (so presumably lots of people had stained hands). And yeah, ok, the door could bleed time from you, but if you’re breaking into a vault stuffed with magical time money then you could just eat it all back again, no?

Apart from that, I got very, VERY annoyed at the ending. There’s a real opportunity for Jules to take charge of her own destiny and actually get a little bit of agency (something she completely lacks) but no – she just “develops” a total insta-
love crush over the space of two pages. I CALL BULLSHIT!

However….

The very, very weird thing about Everless is that despite it’s myriad flaws, generic storyline and annoying characters it isn’t actually a bad story. Yes, I kept getting annoyed, and yes, parts haven’t been fully thought through, but if you don’t analyse the storyline too hard then the novel is fast paced, there’s lots of action and Jules keeps discovering things which suggest a far better premise for books two and three. I think younger readers, or those who absolutely love YA will lap this book up (indeed, there’s a hell of a lot of hype surrounding it). It was just too much like a manufactured pop song for me – ticked all the boxes associated with the genre, squarely aimed at teenagers, easy and catchy – but ultimately lacking in depth and meaning. I’m afraid it’s been done before – and far better than this.

Overall rating: 3/5
Generic but fast paced literary fluff. An exciting novel as long as you don’t think too hard about it. Middle of the road rating with an extra half a point for not using stupid fantasy names. If the main character had been called Jyules it would have been a DNF.

Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley! I also read this book as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 #16 Read the first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series.

Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

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Picture courtesy of Goodreads.co.UK

I could rename this review “the one where Lucinda thinks she knows what her book of the year is, but then changes her mind in the middle of December” because this book…is PERFECT.

I just love it so much.

I absolutely adored the first installment of the Winternight trilogy (The Bear and the Nightingale – review here) and I was sooooooo excited to receive a pre pre pre release copy of the sequel (literally – I did a little scream). Therefore, it has taken a supreme effort to resist reading The Girl in the Tower as soon as I got it. Even though I’m frantically trying to finish off my reading challenges for the year and I’m about six months behind on my netgalley requests, I just can’t wait any longer. The weather is perfect (brass monkeys, snowing, dark, lit by twinkly Christmas lights) so I’m diving in.

And oh, how beautiful it is.

The Girl in the Tower picks up from where The Bear and the Nightingale left off, with Olga in Moscow, Sacha working as a monk and Vasya fleeing her village to avoid either being married off or sent to a convent. Unfortunately, Vasya stumbles upon trouble and has to pretend to be a boy in order to help. This leads to her experiencing the most thrilling adventures as she battles against the forces of evil to keep the local people safe.

That brief summary doesn’t even begin to do justice to this story – but I really REALLY don’t want to ruin it for anyone. You’ll just have to trust me when I say it’s really, REALLY good.

The Girl in the Tower is a full on emotional rollercoaster of a novel. Normally, my notes when I’m reading are pretty sparse, but just look at how much I wrote for this book:

0% – I’m so excited!
1% – What a great opening line. This is going to be good.
5% – stertorous – good word! *files under “potential           countdown conundrums”*
Still 5% – Surely that’s not…hmm, I’m intrigued.
8% – You bastard! It is!
9% – A serpent headed sword? As we all know, nothing good ever comes from serpents. Clearly, this is going to go tits up. 
Still 9% – Ooh, irony. Bashyna Kostei translates (I think) as Tower of Bones, which makes sense as the area was named after the third starving winter. Feeling smug after reading a Goodreads comment saying “I don’t get it!”. Ever heard of Google love?
12% – I wonder where Vasya is. She’s my favourite.
13% – Yay, there she is! Pleased to see people still mistake her for a boy.
15% – Yes! You don’t need no man/frost demon. Except some of that gold would be useful…
23% – Please don’t die!
24% – Ooh, romance! I know a lot of other bloggers have said they missed a love interest in the first book so maybe this will satisfy them.
25% – Just read the words “hungry eyed”. Now I can’t stop singing “HUNGRY EYES! One look at you and I can’t disguise, I’ve got…HUNGRY EYES!” Probably not what Katherine Arden wanted, especially as I’m now picturing Morozko as Patrick Swayzee.
28% – Clever use of male/female ambiguity in names. Gold star for Ms Arden!
Still 28% – What can kill, creates fire everywhere but leaves no tracks…is it dragons? I REALLY BLOODY WELL HOPE IT’S DRAGONS
36% –  A sennight? Like a week? Half of a fortnight? I thought Americans didn’t use these words?
41% – Wait, is her dad…not dead? Maybe?
47% – Yay but OH NO!
50% – CUT YOUR HAIR, VASYA!!!
53% – WHAT?!?
56% – Oh, I love Vasya and Marya together. Also love how hungry Vasya constantly is and how she seems to survive exclusively on bread and cake and pie.
65% – Oh no!!!!!! This is not good. I don’t trust that Prince. I have a theory about why Morozko thought he saw something (someone) at the feast too. 
67% – Ok so now I REALLY don’t trust that Prince. Also, I’m a little bit confused about who Olga is married to?
68% – The golden horse is fitting in with my theory…
70% – BASTARD!!!!
75% – I knew it!!!
74% – OH MY GOD! How do they know each other? 
81% – Kick him in the balls Vasya!
83% – I was right about my Tower of Bones translation!
84% – OH NO!!!!!
90% – is it…her grandmother?
99% – WOW. JUST…WOW.

As you can see, there’s a bit of everything in this story. Intrigue, romance, magic…dragons? I can neither confirm or deny that last one, you’ll have to read it to find out. You can also see how the excitement builds as my notes get shorter and my use of swear words/caps/exclamation marks increases. Sorry about that.

I think that one of the best things about the book is the usage of language. It is just so. beautifully. written. You could turn to any page and get at least one exquisite quote. I loved how descriptive the storytelling was, and because the novel is set in Russia the dark, snowy environment leant itself perfectly to such a magical, dark fairytale. It was incredibly atmospheric and evocative, and I loved how Katherine Arden wove Russian words into the narrative in such a way that you understood their meaning even though they bore no resemblance to their English counterparts. So clever.

I really noticed the development of the characters from book one and I loved how we got to find out more about each of them now that they had grown up a bit. I was initially worried that this novel would be the awkward middle bit, where everything is set up for a big finale but not much happens, but it isn’t at all like that. Instead, The Girl in the Tower could almost be read as a stand alone novel as it has a proper beginning, middle and end and a narrative arc all of it’s own.

In terms of character development, one of the most noticeable changes from The Bear and the Nightingale is the introduction of a bit of romance. I know other reviewers felt that this was missing from the first book (I didn’t, but each to their own) so I’m sure they’ll be pleased to see a relationship developing. As ever, I thought the way that it was written was absolutely perfect, it didn’t detract from the main action and I loved the fact that the male character was waaay more romantically invested than the female character, who basically had bigger things on her mind.

In keeping with that tone, I did detect a strong feminist ideal running through The Girl in the Tower. Vasya sees that as a girl her options are severely restricted – she can either be a princess locked in a tower producing babies for her husband, or a nun locked in a monastery…not having babies. I loved that she was a total rebel against this repressive society, so she just pretended to be a boy in order to do what she wanted (ride her horse, see the world, have fun etc.) I really liked how hardy and capable she was, and in particular I ABSOLUTELY loved that she wasn’t beautiful and didn’t care about what she looked like. I also adored the fact that she ate cake, pies and wine at every opportunity, was constantly hungry and hardly ever washed. That’s my kind of heroine.

There are so many other brilliant things about this story that I could go on for hours – the use of “real” Russian mythology, the family dynamics, the relationship between Vasya and her horse Solovey…but I would literally be here for days. Instead, I urge every single one of you to just go and read it for yourselves.

Rating: 5/5 obviously. Favourite book of 2017 by far.

Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley!

Review: Collected Poems by Primo Levi

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For once, I’m going to write a serious book review, because the work of Primo Levi really does deserve some respect. In case you don’t know anything about him, Levi was born in Italy in 1919 to a Jewish family. He trained as a chemist, but the Second World War drastically altered his fate. After fighting in the Italian Resistance Movement, he was captured and in 1944 was sent to Auschwitz. Of the 650 Italian Jews who went there with him, Levi was one of only twenty who left the camps alive. He managed this through a combination of luck and good judgement – his scientific knowledge led him to work within the camp’s laboratories attempting to make synthetic rubber, thus avoiding hard labour in freezing outdoor conditions and providing him with an opportunity to steal materials which could be traded for food with the other inmates. Shortly before the camp was liberated, Levi contracted Scarlet Fever and thus avoided the Auschwitz evacuation initiated by the SS which resulted in the death of the vast majority of the prisoners. After the war, he went on to become an author, and produced (amongst other things) some of the most haunting poetry that I’ve ever read.

This book is not to be read by the faint hearted. The earlier poems contained within the first third of the work are clearly an attempt by Levi to come to terms with the horrors of the war and although they often feature themes of anger and desolation, there’s also a sense of forgiveness. It’s quite amazing, considering what he must have gone through, but there’s never any judgement or blame – only reflection and bewilderment that the human race can treat each other so appallingly.

As Levi gets older, his poetry becomes more expansive and although many of the themes of warning, loss and regret are the same, the references become more veiled and allegorical. There’s also quite a lot of literary references (some are more obvious than others) but in the volume that I read all are referenced for easy explanation in the back of the book. I’ve seen some reviewers say that they think Levi’s later work isn’t as good as his war poetry, but I found the same narrative streak running through it all and thought that almost all of the poems had the same level of gravity and emotion.

The language used within Levi’s poetry is surprisingly gentle, and the meditative tone suggests a man trying to make sense of his experiences, rather than to shock or horrify. It’s an incredibly honest and emotive look at life, and Levi has a special way of using concise language to convey a myriad of thoughts and feelings. Although the book itself is quite slim, I would urge you to take your time in reading each poem individually, and really think about what message Levi was trying to get across.

I haven’t rated this book as it seems like an incredibly crass thing to do – but I do highly recommend it to you all.

Please note that I read this book as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2017 #23 Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.

Review: Our Man in Havanna by Graham Greene

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Why, what a jolly good jape this novel turned out to be. Most excellent. Plenty of action but all good clean fun – a couple of ladies of the night but no mention of any how’s-your-father. Good show, Mr Greene!

It would be really interesting to know how anyone not-British gets on with reading period novels by British writers. It never fails to amaze me how much language moves on. So, for anyone who didn’t understand a word of the above paragraph, I’ll translate…

What a great adventure this novel turned out to be. Plenty of action, a few mentions of prostitutes but no sex – well done Graham Greene!

If you do struggle with slightly obscure English phrases, Our Man in Havana is possibly not for you. Despite the story being set in Cuba, the overall feel of the book is very much English. Mr Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman, is eeking out a life in Havanna for himself and his daughter Milly when an encounter with a mysterious gentleman provides a way of earning some extra income. All that Wormold has to do is to submit a few reports about the goings on in Cuba. Unfortunately, there are two main issues;

1) Wormold doesn’t know what’s going on 
2) He possesses an active imagination and has a spendthrift young daughter, so is desperate for the cash.

What follows could be perceived as a farce, but it’s far more seriously written – think less Three Men in a Boat and more Catch 22. There’s definitely a satirical element to the novel that makes it very funny (I recognised the bureaucracy within the secret service as being very similar to all of the public sector jobs that I’ve had). The writing is quite economical – the book is a little on the short side – but it’s brilliantly done and really clips along at a good pace. Tally ho!

One of the downsides of this writing style is the lack of description, especially when it comes to the setting. Really, Our Man in Havana could have been called “Our Man Abroad Somewhere Warm” because it’s so scant on details of the scenery. I know that Greene defined the book as one of his “entertainments” (which I’m taking to mean beach read) so it isn’t meant to be too in depth, but a bit more descriptive prose would have been good.

I Ioved all of the characters in the book, including the piously Catholic but hugely manipulative Milly, the powerful but not that intelligent Captain Segura, the stiff upper lip, keep calm and carry on Beatrice and of course, the humdrum little Mr Wormold himself. It’s a slightly wacky cast but they all fit in to the story well. In particular, I loved the attitude of everyone involved in the secret service – give him an OBE!

Towards the end of the book I felt that the humour died off a bit and although it was replaced with action I didn’t engage with it as much. I got a little bit lost when the “fake” reports started coming true and again, the brevity of the prose didn’t help with my confusion. I hated the ending (Beatrice and Wormold, really?!?) although again, the response from the characters within the secret service was hilarious and brilliantly depicted.

Overall, I really enjoyed Our Man in Havana. It had good pace, some great characters and was genuinely amusing. It could have done with a bit more detail, but as a light hearted romp it was really enjoyable.

Rating: 4/5
Light hearted, satirical novel about the most rubbish spy you could ever imagine. Highly recommended.

Please note that I read this book as part of the Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 #9 Read an espionage thriller.

Review: The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy

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—————PUBLIC HEALTH WARNING—————

Do not attempt to read “The Tent, the Bucket and Me – My Family’s Disastrous Attempts to go Camping in the 70’s” by the ever lovely and oh-so talented Emma Kennedy in public. Doing so can and will resort in displays of mirth (including snorting, giggling helplessly and the occasional full laughing fit) the likes of which the British public will not take kindly to. Please be aware that other vocal outbursts such as gasps of “oh no!”, cries of disgust and shouts of “oooh, I remember that!” may also take place.

In particular, the following segments have been identified as dangerously hazardous to health:

– The part where the entire family nearly die in a hurricane
– The part where Emma steps down a “hole in the ground” toilet and finds herself thigh deep in other people’s excrement
– The part where Emma’s Dad has to eat raw seafood
– The part where Emma has a rectal thermometer inserted into her anus in front of a crowd of nosy holidaymakers
– All parts where Emma shits herself (frequent mentions, specifically in relation to holidays in France)

In controlled experiments, responses to these anecdotes have created violent outburst of hilarity from the reader, which may cause alarm, concern or severe shock to members of the general public. Persons of a nervous disposition or fitted with a pacemaker may wish to avoid this novel in it’s entirety to avoid the risk of serious injury to health.

Please do not eat or drink whilst reading this book. Many of the stories contained within it’s pages present a significant choking hazard. The wearing of eye make and restrictive clothing is similarly inadvisable. Items such as mascara and liquid eyeliner can cause pain and irritation when silent tears of laughter course down your face when reading, for example, how Emma becomes coated in another child’s vomit on a ferry. If this occurs, rinse with water and consult a doctor if symptoms persist for more than 24 hours.

Please be aware that “The Tent, the Bucket and Me – My Family’s Disastrous Attempts to go Camping in the 70’s” by Emma Kennedy is recommended to treat symptoms of mild to moderate depression, sadness and melancholy. Readers may experience a return of their symptoms when they learn of the family’s decision to scrap Bessie, the faithful Land Rover but these should desist by the end of the chapter.

The usage of photographs within this book has been prohibited by Public Health England (PHE) due to the significant risk of death by dangerous amusement. Complaints arising from their removal may be directed to PHE directly; however it should be noted that any letters stating “this book would have been so much better with a few photos” will be immediately recycled in accordance with current environmental legislation and green scheme targets. A response may therefore not be provided. 

Individuals who wish to re-read this novel must do so at their own risk. Dangerously elevated levels of amusement may occur as a result of remembering what happens next. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, dizziness and/or premature ejaculation of laughter. If you are concerned about these issues or any other side effects please consult your doctor or other healthcare professional immediately.

Please remember that the 1970’s were DIFFERENT TIMES and as such none of the stories told within this book should be recreated.

Do not under any circumstances try this at home.

PHE Rating: 4.5/5
Emma Kennedy is not liable for any injuries sustained from the perusal, purchase or consumption of The Tent, the Bucket and Me – My Family’s Disastrous Attempts to go Camping in the 70’s. Readers must proceed with caution and do so at their own risk. Usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is advised.

Please note that this book has been read in accordance with Book Riot Read Harder guideline #9 (Read a book you’ve read before) and Popsugar guideline #18 (Read a book you’ve read before that never fails to make you smile).