Considering the obsession with the royal family in last week’s newspapers, it seems appropriate that I’m reviewing this novella. I don’t know what the absolute fascination with the Queen and her offspring is. I’m don’t consider myself ardently anti-royal because I can see some of the benefits of their existence. However, I wouldn’t be sorry if we got rid of them altogether. It’s an outdated institution and they do waste a lot of taxpayers money each year. I know The Crown is trying to make the seem like ordinary human beings but you just need to look at the reaction to Harry and Meghan taking a step back from public life. Given the media response, I can see why they’d want to. The Queen and her family just seem so far removed from the rest of the world. It seems like such an odd dynamic. I realise that they’re meant to be part of our great traditions but do they have to be quite so archaic about it? But I’m digressing. The fact is, there is such a fascination about their lives that people have always used them as a basis for their stories. After all, nobody can really imagine what life as a royal is really like. There will always be a market for books like The Uncommon reader and there will always be writers willing to imagine life behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace.
I have to admit, I haven’t watched a ton of Billy Wilder films. I’ve watched a lot of the big ones but not enough. I have loved Some Like It Hot since I was a teenager. My sister had a copy of it on VHS and I used to steal it from her room all the time. Without asking obviously and I wouldn’t give it back if I could help it. I sort of hoped that the longer it was in my possession for the easier it would be for me to just claim it as my own. Of course, at that point, I didn’t know anything about the Austrian born director or his Moldovan co-writer Iz Diamond. I just knew that it was a funny film. I’ve since learnt a thing or two about the pair, so I was very excited when Jonathan Coe’s new book was announced. Not only was it an insight into the real-life figures but it was a blending of fact and fiction. I love books that mess with real-life events. I bought it a week or so ago and I started it as soon as I possibly could. I knew that I was going to like it but would it become my new favourite Coe novel?
It’s always going to be big new when a famous person turns their hand to writing a novel. There is always the question of how good it is going to be. Plus, you have to wonder if they’ve been handed a publishing deal that should have gone to someone else. I mean, Katie Price has published loads of books but did she deserve it? Yes, she gave a ghostwriter a job but those books are just empty of quality. Or at least the ones I’ve read. The publishing industry is unfair and it’s already incredibly difficult for new writers to get their start. So, the new that Richard Osman got a 7 figure deal, £1.1 million, does raise questions. Was his book going to be worth reading or was it just an obvious cash grab? It’s from how well it’s done, that the money won’t be an issue but what about the content? I had to find out.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been rewatching the whole of the Game of Thrones TV adaptation. Until season 7 and 8, it was a great reminder of how good a show it was. It’s weird to think now, that it was once one of the greatest shows ever created. It also got me wishing that George RR Martin was ready to release the next instalment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I can’t even remember how long ago it was that I read A Dance With Dragons. When the new book eventually comes out, I’m not going to be able to remember a damn thing that happened. Not that I’m complaining. I’d rather he take his time and do it right. If the last two seasons of the show taught us anything, it’s that it isn’t a series you can rush. I’ve often thought about going back and rereading the fifth book but it always seemed like a silly thing to do. My TBR is too big and The Winds of Winter won’t be out for ages anyway. This week I decided to get my George RR Martin fix elsewhere. I’ve tried and failed to read some of his non-ASOIAF books in the past but I just couldn’t get on board with them. So, this time I went for a related book. It’s not actually part of the same world but it’s in the right area.
As far as I’m aware, Mr Rogers was never a thing in the UK. I’ve heard of him but only thanks to references in American TV and movies. This lack of awareness would normally have caused me to miss a film like A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It is based solely on the proposition that Fred Rogers is one of the greatest things to ever happen to children. I’m sure he probably is but films like this tend to rely on a certain nostalgic sentimentality that I just don’t have. It wouldn’t hit on all of the levels that the filmmakers intended. But, thanks to Tom Hanks being Tom Hanks, it was an Oscar-nominated film that I had to try and watch before the ceremony.
As I said in my Friday Favourites, it would have been amazing having J.R.R. Tolkien as your father. Having a man with such a vivid imagination and a talent for creating new worlds telling you bedtime stories? Amazing. Then there’s his Christmas tradition. My father did the usual parent thing of pretending to send out letters off to the North Pole. This was done in a myriad of different ways: burning them, I’m sure there were fireworks one year, posting, and faxing. It was great at the time. But the one thing my dad never did was write back to us pretending to be Santa himself. Though he did dress up as him one year at the school fair. Being the killjoy that I am, I wasn’t having any of it so it’s probably for the best that he didn’t try and copy Tolkien’s yearly tradition.
I wasn’t sure that I was going to finish this book in time to write something tonight. It was super down to the wire. I men I only finished it an hour ago. Not because it wasn’t an enjoyable book but because I’ve been rubbish recently. Plus, my sister brought my niece round on Monday and it really cut down on my reading time. Plus, the usual laziness and binge-watching that prevents me from getting stuff done. But at least this brings up my total for books read this month. I needed to get one more in before August ended. It’s not been a great one in terms of page numbers. Can I blame the weather? Or the fact that I’ve been busy at work? Doubtful but that’s not going to stop me. Instead, let’s just rejoice in the fact that I’m managed to finish something and can actually get this review written.
It’s been a while since I read and reviewed Above the Star the first in Alexis Marie Chute’s Young Adult fantasy trilogy. In an ideal world, I would have reread it before reading the second but, unfortunately, I didn’t have it on me. I’ve been forcing everyone I know to read it because I absolutely loved it. I’m always a bit scared of recommending books that I love to people because, well, what do you do if they hate them? You either have to reevaluate your literary choices or your friend choices. And, let’s be honest, books are going to win every time. But I do make an exception when I think a book is good enough. And I definitely thought that Above the Star was good enough. It was one of my favourite reads of last year and I’ve been eagerly awaiting news of the second book’s release. Luckily for me, Alexis Marie Chute offered to send me an ARC copy so I didn’t even have to wait for the actual release date in October this year. I already had about 3 books on the go when this arrived but I knew I had to start it immediately. And I was hooked from the start. If it hadn’t been for my inconsiderate niece deciding to be born early, I would have finished and reviewed it weeks ago.
I have to admit that I normally roll my eyes at romantic-comedies. I just get pretty bored with them. It’s always the same thing. Boy meets girl who is way out of his league. Boy tries to win girl but doesn’t. Girl eventually realises that boy is perfect for her. Boy gets girl. Urgh just thinking about it is making my eyes roll. I haven’t always been like this. As a youngster I loved romantic-comedies. I definitely liked Richard Curtis films ways more than they deserved. Obviously, anything starring John Cusack was more than okay with me. And I definitely spent many a sleepover watching whatever 90s/00s chick flick was all the rage. But I’ve grown up a lot since then and I find the whole thing pretty dodgy these days. Some of them break through and do something different. Most of them are just guff. I mean just look at how many romantic-comedies Netflix are churning out these days. They’re essentially the same film but with characters of different ages, ethnicities, and genders. And, if I’m honest, I thought Long Shot was going to be another forgettable piece of nonsense.