Thursday, 31 July 2014

By the pricking of my thumbs...

Something wicked this way comes.

Don't panic, I'm not about to go all Shakespeare on you all, but I am quoting Macbeth because I'm talking about one of my favourite genres of fiction books - all things witchy.

If there's the word 'witch' in the title, or 'spell' or 'magic' then I'm usually sold - regardless of the cover or blurb!  Sometimes I'm so easily swayed by a book!!!!

The final instalment of the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness has just come my way - and you know what I'm like about completing trilogies, but I'm very excited about starting this and finding out what is going to happen to Diana and Matthew.

I've just got hold of another witch series by Suzanne Palmeri (who has agreed to do an in conversation with piece too).  The first is the Witch of Little Italy and the newest is the Witch of Belladonna Bay which arrived from America last week!

I also really like the Sarah Addison Allen stories.  Garden Spells is a fab magical book, and I'm looking forward to catching up with some of her others shortly as I found them at the library the other day!

One book I must finish is this one:

I've really enjoyed it so far, but because of it's length (over 1000 pages), I stopped to read something else, and haven't started it again.  I must do so - at some point!

So what genre of books go you instantly gravitate towards?

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Tuesday, 29 July 2014


How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Published by Ebury Press
2nd May 2013
Paperback Edition


Possibly the only drawback about the bestselling How To Be A Woman was that its author, Caitlin Moran, was limited to pretty much one subject: being a woman.

MORANTHOLOGY is proof that Caitlin can actually be 'quite chatty' about many other things, including cultural, social and political issues which are usually the province of learned professors, or hot-shot wonks - and not a woman who once, as an experiment, put a wasp in a jar, and got it stoned.

These other subjects include...

Caffeine | Ghostbusters | Being Poor | Twitter | Caravans | Obama | Wales | Paul McCartney | The Welfare State | Sherlock | David Cameron Looking Like Ham | Amy Winehouse | 'The Big Society' | Big Hair | Nutter-letters | Michael Jackson's funeral | Failed Nicknames | Wolverhampton | Squirrels' Testicles | Sexy Tax | Binge-drinking | Chivalry | Rihanna's Cardigan | Party Bags | Hot People| Transsexuals | The Gay Moon Landings | My Own, Untimely Death

I love Caitlin Moran's writing (and I probably love her a bit too), ever since her 'early' days of writing for Melody Maker which I used to read at a boyfriend's house back in the 90's.  She was always 'too cool for school' in my opinion and I savoured her direct opinion of bands and other such stuff.

Moranthology is her second book, following on from How to be a Woman.  Basically it is a collection of some of her articles from various sources, updated with a bit of info about each piece.  Obviously if you are of a stalkerish fashion, and have read everything she has ever written in a newspaper then you have probably already read of all these articles before, and therefore, I would argue, they are not going to surprise you in any way whatsoever.  However, if you haven't read these already, then this book is well worth a look at.  Surprisingly I now have a new-found respect for Keith Richards which I never, ever thought I would have before.  If references to drugs, sex and swearing aren't your thing though, steer clear, as Ms Moran doesn't mince her words, but isn't that her appeal?

Oh, and it's pronounced Cat-lin, not Cait-lin.  Who knew?!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Friday, 25 July 2014

In Conversation With Robert Williams

Today I am in conversation with author Robert Williams, author of Into The Trees. You can catch-up on my review of it here.

Your latest novel Into The Trees is an interesting read, in as much as that the forest that it is set in, is almost like a character itself.  Was this your intention?

I'm not sure I agree completely when people say setting is another character, but setting, and the handling of it, are important to a novel. Setting, like character, has to convince the reader, and if they find the setting as fascinating, as interesting, as a character, all the better.

And setting gives context, I suppose. We are all living out our lives somewhere, at some time, so whether your book is set in the trenches of World War 1, or in Aberfeldy in the 1980s, your setting has to convince.

Does Bleasdale forest exist, or only in your imagination?

Having spoken about convincing with setting... All of my settings are fictionalised versions of real towns and places shifted twenty degrees to the left or right, scuzzed up, scribbled over and manipulated. So Bleasdale Forest sort of does and doesn’t exist. There is a valley and in the valley is a forest, but not like quite like the forest in the book.

Have you always wanted to be an author?  How did your journey begin?

My band split up. I’d always written songs but didn’t have a band to play them anymore so I went solo, but I couldn't sing, so I started writing books.

Any advice to anyone dreaming of becoming an author?

Don't be in love with the idea of being a writer – just write. And don’t wait for anyone to proclaim you a writer – if you write you are a writer.  Very few are lucky to have days open to them when they can write all day. If you want to write you make time. And in my experience free days stretching out in front of you can lead to a lot of procrastination and the slowing down of the storytelling.

Work, work, work at it until you can't stand it anymore, then put it away and get drunk for three months, or go running, or go and see friends for three months. Then get back to it and work, work, work at it again. Don’t be in a rush to send work off but don't be afraid to send it into the world either. Don't be afraid to delete but don't delete the heart of the story.

Finally, I'm one for extremes – I tend to believe something is either a triumph or a disaster. I'm slowly learning that the truth is often hidden in one of the duller shades in-between. So, remember that at some point in the writing of your novel you might think it is the worst novel ever written. Every word, sentence, chapter, character, even every space between the words, will seem dead and dull. This is natural, you just can't see the book anymore. Don't panic, it's (probably) not true. If at some point in the writing of your novel you are lucky enough to believe your book is a towering work of storytelling genius don't demand to be carried aloft through the town, it's (probably) not true. But I hope it is.

Where do you get your writing inspiration from?

It quite often starts with a single line or image. With Into the Trees it was a screaming baby who couldn’t be soothed. Then I explore the image or line and find out if there is a story worth telling behind it. If you are lucky there is, if not you can spend six months writing around an image or setting without discovering a story behind it at all.

What are you working on next?

It came out of the blue and I’m very excited about it, but I made a promise to myself not to talk about it until it’s done. It seems to steal the story from the page if you talk about a book that isn’t finished, or even fully imagined and understood, yet.

If, heaven forbid, there was a fire, what possession would you grab first to save?

If there was a fire, I might behave differently, but for the sake of this answer let’s say, let it all burn.

What five people, living or dead, would you choose to invite to a dinner party?

Can we go to a bar instead? Marilynne Robinson, Lou Reed, Lyndsay Lohan, Gordon Brown, and Dave, who I used to work with at Waterstones.

Faber & Faber, and Robert, have very kindly given me a hardback copy of Into The Trees to giveaway to one lucky reader.  All you have to do is leave a comment on here, on my Facebook page or over on Twitter between now and midnight on Sunday 27th July to be in with a chance.  Good luck!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x





Thursday, 24 July 2014

My Secret Life in Hut Six

My Secret Life in Hut Six by Mair and Gethin Russell-Jones
Published by Lion Hudson
18th July 2014
Paperback Edition


Born and brought up in the sheltered environment of the Welsh valleys, Mair Thomas is amazed to discover her grasp of the German language and musical training make her an ideal code-breaker for Bletchley Park, and she finds herself working long shifts in Hut Six. Sworn to secrecy, she is so afraid of blurting out something she shouldn’t, she cannot sleep, especially not when her landlord tells her he will stand outside her room, listening. Ironically the man she loves is a pacifist, while her aunts think she should be at home, looking after her father.

As you may already know from this post here, as an historian, I love a book or two on Bletchley Park.  The whole history and secrecy of the place, and what happened there, totally fascinates me, so I was keen to read and review another book by someone who worked there during the Second World War.

You can't imagine it happening today but Mair Thomas, in March 1941 is approached by a man who tells her he is from the Foreign Office.  He clearly knows a lot about her, and asks if she would like to try out for a top secret project?  He then goes on to tell Mair that she won't be able to tell anyone about this project at all, not even her family, but if she is interested, to write to the Foreign Office and express her interest.  With that, he turns and leaves. 

Mair does nothing further until a conversation with her friend Dora reveals that she too works for the foreign office but she is forbidden to say anymore.  Igniting a flame inside Mair, she writes the letter, and a week later is invited to an interview in London.

The rest works itself out; Mair accepts the job and moves to Bletchley Park to become one of the many code-breakers stationed there.  The book is written both by herself, and by her son, who only found out that his mother had been at Bletchley when she was 82 years old.  Sworn to keep quiet by the Official Secrets Act, there are still many code-breakers who have kept the work they did during World War Two a secret, despite being allowed to speak out from 1978.

Published by Lion Books, the story does have a Christian element to it, as it also focuses on Mair's life both inside and outside of Bletchley Park, but if even if that side of the story doesn't interest you, this is another great account of the ordinary people who helped to shorten the war by two years.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Monday, 21 July 2014

Books, books, books, books...

Everywhere and anywhere.  My shelves are now all double-stacked and there are two boxes full under the bed.  I seriously don't have room for any more at all.  However, that hasn't stopped me from ordering some extras that I haven't got in my collection!

I'm hoping this might come today - as a former History teacher, I still love my delve into the past and I can't wait to read about the WI during WW2.

The Lace Reader is all about magic and witchcraft in Salem which is a subject I love very much.  Having a chat with a friend on facebook last week, I recommended this book to her.  Afterwards I thought, hmmm, I want to read it again, so ordered it from ebay.  Then something started ticking in my brain, a feeling of deja-vu, I went to one of the bookshelves, and took down the front books.  Hidden behind, out of sight, was another copy of the book.  Clearly, when I finished reading it from the library the first time around, I had had exactly the same thought then too.  I've since sent the second copy on to my friend in the hope she will enjoy it as much!

The same friend then recommended this book to me, so I went and ordered a copy of that too!  Again, it's a magical tale which I'm sure I'll love!

Continuing on the witchy/magical theme, I stumbled across this book on the internet, so another ebay order ensued!  The publisher is sending me the next book too, so I'm very keen to get started on this one!

At the library on Saturday, while registering the girlies for the summer reading challenge, I decided to peruse the 'books for sale' section - never a good idea.  Oh, 3 books for £1 you say?!  Go on then!

I love a crime novel, me, so this one, about the first female American President got me interested!

I really enjoyed Mr Rosenblum's List, also by Natasha Solomons, and this one keeps popping up on my radar, so I grabbed a copy - though the deja-vu feeling associated with this one isn't going away.  I might need to check the shelves again, just in case....!

And of course, my newly found love for all things Neil Gaiman continues in the form of this collection of short stories.  I can't wait to get stuck in....

Luckily, it's now the school summer holidays and I'm hoping to squeeze in lots of reading over the next six weeks - if the children let me that is!

What are you reading or buying right now?!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


How do you read them?

I sometimes think my reading habits are a bit peculiar.

 And my trilogy reading can reflect this.

I read the whole of the Twilight series in about a week, such was my desire to swallow up and partake of the series - though strictly speaking, it isn't a trilogy!

However, with the Stieg Larsson books, I read one and two avidly, but have not read the third yet because once I do then the series will be over; there will be no more.  So I am saving it for a special day....

I devoured the first Hunger Games book, and then went and bought numbers 2 and 3 straight away too.  I stopped myself from launching straight in, Twilight-style with reading them, and actually haven't opened them yet.

And then there's the wonderful All Souls trilogy of books... I adored the first one, but again, bought the second one and held off reading it until number 3 was available.  Number 3 came through the door today (squeal) so I've pulled book 2 off of the shelf where it has patiently sat for over a year waiting to be read!

Is it just me?!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Monday, 14 July 2014

Moth and Spark

Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard
Published by Headline
3rd July 2014
Paperback edition


A Tale of Magic, Adventure and True Love.

In the country of Caithen, Prince Corin is tasked with freeing the dragons from their bondage to the Emperor. To help him in his quest, the terrifying beasts have allowed Corin a little of their power.

But the history of the dragons' slavery is shrouded in mystery and no one can assist in his quest to free them ... until the arrival of Tam at court - a sensible doctor's daughter, who discovers a remarkable talent. She is a seer, gifted with visions.
Sparks fly when Corin and Tam meet ... but it's not all happily ever after. Not only is the prince forbidden to marry a commoner, but war is coming to Caithen. Torn between love and duty, Corin and Tam must work together to master their newfound powers and unleash the dragons at last.

This was a bit of a risky read for me, as I find that sometimes fantasy fiction either works for me and I enjoy it, or it leaves me with an unfinished book.  Thankfully, especially for the purpose of reviewing, I really enjoyed Moth and Spark.

Set in the mythical country of Caithen, trouble is brewing in the form of their neighbours, the Sarians.  Prince Corin is the only man who can save his country from war, and he needs to entrust the help of the dragons in order to do this.  But first, he has to allow the dragons to trust him, but one wrong move could mean risking his life.

Tam is a doctor's daughter who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and gets drawn into a deeper battle than she could ever have imagined.  The paths of commoner and royal should never cross, but the fates are shining on Corin and Tam and they fall in love.  Can they save both the realm and their relationship or will one have to be sacrificed?
It took me a while to get into the story but I think that is because I've been so tired lately that I've only managed to read a few pages at a time when actually if I had managed a couple of chapters at once, it would have swung into place much more quickly.  The fantasy side of the story wasn't so over the top that you had to suspend all disbelief and I enjoyed the relationship side of the story between all of the various characters.  As well as being an enjoyable book, I think Moth and Spark would make a tremendous film, and I hope that it gets to make it onto the silver screen.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Friday, 11 July 2014

Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret

Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Published by Macmillan's Childrens
20th August 2010
Paperback Edition


Life isn't easy for Margaret. She's moved away from her childhood home, she's starting a new school, finding new friends – and she's convinced she's not normal. For a start she hasn't got a clue whether she wants to be Jewish like her father or Christian like her mother. Everyone else seems really sure of who they are. And, worst of all, she's a 'late developer'. She just knows that all her friends are going to need a bra before she does. It's too embarrassing to talk to her parents about these things. So she talks to God instead - and waits for an answer . . .

Oh me, oh my, Judy Blume's classic book Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret is 45 years old!  I remember reading this when I was a teenager, along with the ever remembered Forever and having just re-read it, it's still as relevant as ever.  Though Margaret has been through some image changes since then!

Margaret is twelve, and has just moved house with her parents.  Making new friends in a new school is just the start of her problems, growing-up carries with it a whole host of issues, and well, in her case, religion is just one of them.  Oh, and then there's her Grandma - who Margaret just can't bear to be without.

Despite it's age, some things have never changed and growing up is one of them.  The characters in Are you there, God? could just as easily have been written today instead of in 1969.  I loved reading it the first time round, and now at 40, I loved reading it again.  Margaret will forever be twelve while the rest of us grow up around her but the memories are still as fresh as ever.  My girls will definitely be introduced to Margaret, and her friends, just as soon as they are old enough!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962

The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962
Edited by Karen V. Kukil
Published by Faber & Faber
2nd January 2014
Paperback Edition


An exact and complete transcription of the journals kept by Sylvia Plath during the last twelve years of her life.

Sylvia Plath kept a record of her life from the age of eleven until her death at thirty. The Journals are characterized by the vigorous immediacy with which she records her inner thoughts and feelings and the intricacies of her daily life.  Apart from being a key source for her early writing, they give us an intimate portrait of the writer who was to produce in the last seven months of  her life the extraordinary poems which have secured her reputation as one of the greatest of twentieth-century poets.

I first read Sylvia Plath, possibly like many others, while at university, when we had to study The Bell Jar.  As with anyone whose life ends too early; in tragic circumstances, this seems to enhance our desire to know more about them and why they could not continue with life for any longer.

 This book is an updated and revised edition of the Journals and now includes, for the first time, two of the journals sealed by Plath's former husband Ted Hughes in 1981 until 11th February 2013.  These were unsealed by him shortly before his death in 1998.  The only known journals that are not included are the two that Plath wrote in the last three years of her life.  One disappeared, according to Hughes and the other, which Plath continued to write in only three days before her suicide, Hughes destroyed.

 The journals, as you may expect, do not make for particularly easy reading.  From the onset, in 1950, she is troubled by many things.  As she follows in the path of a writing career, if anything, these doubts increase.  The journals continue through her graduation, relationship with, and marriage to Ted Hughes, and the birth of her children Frieda and Nicholas.

 This is a weighty tome, covering over 700 pages, and is complete with black and white photographs of Plath and her family.  I couldn't read the book in one sitting but broke it up by reading sections of it, alongside with her poems which I felt gave it a better feel as to it's author.  Can and do we learn any more about Sylvia Plath than we did before?  Without the incorporation of the final two journals, whose to say but ultimately it was a life lived too shortly by one with such a talent as hers.


Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
Published by Bloomsbury
3rd July 2014
Paperback Edition


5 January 1800

At the beginning of a new century, Alma Whittaker is born into a perfect Philadelphia winter.  Her father, Henry Whittaker, is a bold and charismatic botanical explorer whose vast fortune belies his lowly beginnings as a vagrant in Sir Joseph Banks's Kew Gardens and as a deck hand on Captain Cook's HMS Resolution.  Alma's mother, a strict woman from an esteemed Dutch family, has a knowledge of botany equal to any man's.
It is not long before Alma, an independent girl with a thirst for knowledge, comes into her own within the world of plants and science.  But as her careful studies of moss taker her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction - into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical.  She is a clear-minded scientist; he is a Utopian artist.  But the shared passion that unites this couple is a desperate desire to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all of life.

The Signature of All Things is a big novel, about a big century.  It soars across the globe from London, to Peru, to Philadelphia, to Tahiti, to Amsterdam.  Peopled with extraordinary characters - missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses and the quite mad - about all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker, a woman of the Enlightened Age who stands defiantly on the cusp of  the modern.


I must admit, I never, ever thought I would be so interested in a book about plants before.  Elizabeth Gilbert has made me love it, and the history of moss is too, too fascinating; I kid you not.

The Signature of All Things is a big book, almost 600 pages in length but it flows so well that reading it is nothing like a struggle.  I adored the history of the plants and species that Henry Whittaker brings to England in the 1800s and of the work that Alma eventually continues.  It is also a love story, and a tale of relationships, both good and bad, but the actual botany element of the book really drew me in, to the extent that I purchased this book only the other day!

Elizabeth Gilbert has written a beautiful, in-depth novel that deserves to be savoured and read slowly, to enjoy every sentence on the page.  I loved it, for it is so much more than 'just fiction'.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Friday, 4 July 2014

In conversation with Emily Barr

Today I'm in conversation with my wonderful friend, author Emily Barr.

Emily is the author of 12 novels, the latest of which is The Sleeper.  You can read my review of it here.

The Sleeper is all about affairs on the night train from Cornwall to London. Did you base your book on seeing this first hand whilst on the train yourself?

I didn’t actually see anything but I certainly did hear a few stories! The staff on those night trains have seen it all. It took me a while after I moved to Cornwall to discover that the sleeper train even existed, but when I did, and when I found out that it is actually a lovely, civilised way to cover the 300 miles to a work meeting in London, I started thinking about using it as a setting. When I found out, anecdotally, that it has certainly been the setting for a few commuter affairs, I knew that that was the starting point for my book!
Travel plays a central role in all of your novels.  How important is it to you in your life?
If I’m not travelling, I’m dreaming of it! And actually, with three children aged from seven to twelve, I am not very often to be found packing a backpack and digging out my passport, these days. However, when I do get away I absolutely love it. I love the freedom of having everything you need in one bag, slung onto a bus or train. I love writing while on the move. I love seeking out new settings. The heat when you step off a plane in India, the utter weirdness of the glittering landscape of the Arctic - all of it makes me want to get writing. I remember very clearly sitting on the sand at Palolem in Goa and writing the beginning of my first novel.

What's the best country you have travelled to, and is there anywhere you would still like to visit?
There are so many places I would love to visit! My current dream destination would be Kerala in India - I’ve always wanted to go there. I am also nurturing the idea of writing a thriller set in the South Pacific on the islands around the International Date Line: I’m sure it would be possible to use the fact that there are islands close together and 23 hours apart in time, living different days. It’s almost time travel, and I am sure there is potential there for skulduggery with alibis. Do something heinous one day, travel back across the dateline and live that day again.

As for which is the best country I’ve travelled to, it’s so hard to say. I love India and South East Asia. The trip I made to the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia, when I was writing Stranded, would be very hard to beat. And I would get on a train to Venice tomorrow very happily indeed.

Have you always wanted to be an author and how did your publishing deal come about?
Yes, I wanted to be an author from when I was about six years old. My dad is a professor of film studies, and author of many academic books on Hitchcock, Laurel and Hardy and much more. I remember lying in bed and listening to the clatter of his typewriter as he wrote his books, and so being an author felt like a real job.

However, I went into journalism before writing fiction, mainly because I loved it, and also because it seemed like a far more realistic career plan than writing novels. I worked at the Guardian for a few years and had a wonderful time. However, I knew I was not actually one of life’s journalists, and one day asked the travel editor, on a whim, whether I could travel for a year and write her a column as I went. To my amazement she said yes. I went away travelling and while I was on the road, starting writing what turned out to be my first novel, Backpack (sitting under that tree in Goa).

When I got home I went to see Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown, and was extremely lucky when he took me on as a client. He helped me get a chunk of the book edited and up to scratch, and got me a publishing deal with Headline. I’ve now written thirteen books with them as my publishers.

Any advice to anyone dreaming of becoming an author?
Keep writing! If you get the book right, the rest of it will follow.

Where do you get your writing inspiration from?
I love writing more than anything else - I love waking early in the morning and sitting in bed writing while my children are sleeping. So partly my inspiration is in the fact that I’d rather write than do anything else, particularly not a proper job. Another, more practical consideration is the fact that I write full time to support my children, so I always have a cold edge of underlying financial panic, which is quite motivating. As for the inspiration for the actual stories, it comes from everywhere. As I get older I realise that everyone has a story and that things happen in everyone’s life that would be too weird or implausible to put in a piece of fiction. It’s more a case of editing ideas down than staring at a blank page.

What are you working on next?
I’m writing a thriller set in Cornwall and Berlin, provisionally called Blind Date, about what happens when a blind date goes very wrong. I’m also branching out with a YA book set in the Arctic. I’m absolutely loving writing it.

What five people, living or dead, would you choose to invite to a dinner party?
It would have to be Jesus, out of curiosity. Who would turn up and what would he be like? Also Daphne Du Maurier, Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton because I would be intrigued to meet all of them, and finally Leonard Cohen because he soundtracks much of my life and I have loved him for many years. That would be quite the dinner party - I’m not sure what I’d cook. The pressure would be on (at least Jesus could step in and help if there wasn’t enough to go round).

Emily's latest book is a novella for the Quick Reads series, called Blackout. It only costs one single pound so everyone might as well buy it. It’s a very short thriller about a woman waking up in Paris with no idea how she got there, no money, no passport, and no idea where her baby is….  And if you are in Cornwall this summer, Emily will be at the Port Eliot festival between July 24th and 27th.  For more about Emily, visit her website.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Thursday, 3 July 2014

I laughed, I cried

I Laughed, I Cried: How one woman took on stand-up and (almost) ruined her life by Viv Groskop
Published by Orion Books
3rd July 2014
Paperback Edition


Everyone wished their life had turned out a certain way.  What if you can still make it happen?
Viv is fed up, recession-scarred and pushing forty.  She always wanted to be a comedian.  But surely that’s not advisable if you have a mortgage, three children and a husband who is, er, not exactly a fan of stand-up?

With no time to waste, Viv attempts the mother of all comedy marathons: 100 gigs in 100 nights.  Sometimes the audience laughs.  Often they don’t.  Along the way she is heckled, flattered, hated, hit on and told that she is ‘not as funny as Miranda.’

A brave new start or the last desperate roll of the dice?  This is a laugh-out-loud, inspirational memoir about having the guts to find out what you were really meant to do with your life.

How do you go about doing something that you have always wanted to do, but not yet found the courage to do it?  It’s what happens to Viv Groskop, wanna-be comedian.  As a journalist, broadcaster and book critic, with three small children (and a husband), it’s not as if Viv’s life isn’t full enough already.  Then she decides she wants to try stand-up.  Not just once, but insanely, for 100 nights.  That way she can finally find out if she is any good at it.  100 gigs in 100 nights.  Simple really.

Only it isn’t.  Viv’s gigs take her up and down the country, away from her family and the roles that she normally fulfils.  Simon, her husband, suddenly becomes full-time parent as Viv can usually be found sleeping in during the morning school run, due to an early morning finish at a gig the night before, or leaving to perform at a gig just when the children need their tea and putting to bed.  The cracks start to show; is this challenge really worth it?

Away from her family, and in trying to achieve the impossible, Viv sometimes has to perform at more than one gig in a day, driving from London to Sheffield to perform to a mother and baby gig in the morning, then back down South to a seedy club, with little, or no audience whatsoever.

This is a warts-and-all tale of the risk one woman will take to find out if she really can fulfil her dream.  Many of us have a vision of ‘what could have been’ but when push comes to shove, do we have the courage to go out and pursue it, or spend the rest of our lives thinking ‘if only?’ 

I really enjoyed Viv’s memoir of her 100 days of stand-up comedy.  I certainly couldn’t do it.  I admire her more for having done so.  And by the way, she recommends the best books ever, that's why over on twitter she's my #booktwin.  In fact, I think she's only recommended one book I didn't also love, so far, but I couldn't possibly say what it is!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x