Title: Let’s Do It – The Authorised Biography of Victoria Wood

Author: Jasper Rees

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Trapeze

The Blurb

‘I was born with a warped sense of humour and when I was carried home from being born it was Coronation Day and so I was called Victoria but you are not supposed to know who wrote this anyway it is about time I unleashed my pent-up emotions in a bitter comment on the state of our society but it’s not quite me so I think I shall write a heart-warming story with laughter behind the tears and tears behind the laughter which means hysterics to you Philistines…’

From ‘Pardon?’ by Vicky Wood, Aged 14. Bury Grammar School (Girls) Magazine, 1967

In her passport Victoria Wood listed her occupation as ‘entertainer’ – and in stand-up and sketches, songs and sitcom, musicals and dramas, she became the greatest entertainer of the age. Those things that might have held her back – her lonely childhood, her crippling shyness and above all the disadvantage of being a woman in a male-run industry – she turned to her advantage to make extraordinary comedy about ordinary people living ordinary lives in ordinary bodies. She wasn’t fond of the term, but Victoria Wood truly was a national treasure – and her loss is still keenly felt.

Victoria had plenty of stories still to tell when she died in 2016, and one of those was her own autobiography. 

‘I will do it one day,’ she told the author and journalist Jasper Rees. ‘It would be about my childhood, about my first few years in showbusiness, which were really interesting and would make a really nice story.’ 

That sadly never came to pass, so Victoria’s estate has asked Jasper Rees, who interviewed her more than anyone else, to tell her extraordinary story in full. He has been granted complete and exclusive access to Victoria’s rich archive of personal and professional material, and has conducted over 200 interviews with her family, friends and colleagues – among them Victoria’s children, her sisters, her ex-husband Geoffrey Durham, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Dawn French, Anne Reid, Imelda Staunton and many more. 

What emerges is a portrait of a true pioneer who spoke to her audience like no one before or since.

bVictoria Wood is one of Britain’s best loved comediennes. I say ‘is’ because whilst she passed away she is still lauded as one of the best by both her peers and her audience today. She gave us such gems as Acorn Antiques, Two Soups and of course Let’s Do It – The Ballad of Barry and Freda (still one of my all time favourite things ever) however behind the camera Victoria Wood was an intensely private person. Those who knew her well tell us all about the person behind the performer in this in depth and wonderfully written biography.

The Review

Victoria Wood is one of Britain’s best loved comediennes. I say ‘is’ because whilst she passed away she is still lauded as one of the best by both her peers and her audience today. She gave us such gems as Acorn Antiques, Two Soups and of course Let’s Do It – The Ballad of Barry and Freda (still one of my all time favourite things ever) however behind the camera Victoria Wood was an intensely private person. Those who knew her well tell us all about the person behind the performer in this in depth and wonderfully written biography by Jasper Rees.

I should start by saying that Victoria Wood is not glorified in this biography. In fact, some of the more unpleasant facets of her personality are highlighted – in particular her grueling work ethic that she expected others to adhere to and also making her friends the butt of her jokes. However, all of those who worked with her are quick to say how talented and how generous she was with her comedy, often relegating herself to the lesser role and giving the more memorable zingers to her fellow cast member. Jasper Rees paints a picture of a woman who knew she had the power to make people laugh and she knew what she wants from her work and her fellow colleagues. He has taken the life of a brilliant woman and brought her back into the public conscience.

Whatever you think of Victoria Wood it is inarguable that she pathed the way for women in comedy and that her humour had a firm finger on the pulse of contemporary Britain. It is no wonder she is still adored and sorely missed.

Let’s Do It: The Authorised Biography of Victoria Wood by Jasper Rees is available now.

For more information regarding Jasper Rees (@JasperRees) please visit www.facebook.com/fredaandbarry

For more information regarding Trapeze (@TrapezeBooks) please visit www.instagram.com/trapeze_books/

Title: Bunny Vs Monkey Book One

Author: Jamie Smart

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: David Fickling Books

The Blurb

This brand new remastered book collects together Bunny vs Monkey 1: Let the Mayhem Begin and Bunny vs Monkey 2: Journey to the Centre of the Eurg-th for the first time. Smaller easy-to-read format! 256 hilarious pages! FAST AND FURRY-OUS! 

Welcome to the woods. It’s chaos in there! Bunny and his friends Weenie the Squirrel, Pig (the pig), Action Beaver and Skunky the Inventor lived a peaceful life in the forest – until Monkey’s rocket crash-landed and he decided to take over! Now Monkey is causing mayhem, Bunny is determined to put a stop to it, and… what’s that? It’s an out of control shark tank, ruining a lovely picnic! 

Join bestselling comics sensation Jamie Smart for this hilarious collection of stories, available in a new chunky format!

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

Oh I haven’t chuckled this much in ages. Bunny Vs Monkey is a graphic novel about the acrimonious relationship between a bunny and a monkey. Monkey believes he has been sent to another planet to colonise the land. Little does he know is that the scientists who sent him away didn’t quite reach outer space and his is in fact still on earth in the woods. 

The relationship between Bunny and Monkey is brilliant. It is like Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote yet they both have more elements of Wiley Coyote than anyone. Along with a colourful cast of characters such as Pig, Weenie the Squirrel and Skunk and my personal favourite – Le Fox – this graphic novel is chock full of silliness and I, for one, salute the silliness.

A brilliant distraction from life, Bunny vs Monkey is a must read for anyone who loves a good laugh.

Bunny Vs Monkey Book One by Jamie Smart is available now,

For more information regarding David Fickling Books (@DFB_storyhouse) please visit www.davidficklingbooks.com.

Title: The Daily Struggles of Archie Adams (Aged 2 1/2)

Author: Katie Kirby

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Quercus

The Blurb

In this wickedly funny follow up to Hurrah for Gin, one opinionated toddler gives his no-holds-barred account of family life.

Life is hard for Archie. It often seems like the world is out to get him. People are always telling him what to do… “Eat your snack, Archie!, “Don’t lick the bus stop, Archie,” “Stop putting Mommy’s phone in the garbage, Archie!”

And then one day his heart is shattered when he learns his parents are to replace him with a younger sibling–the utter bastards!

The only comforts he finds are in his best friend Amelie, who teaches him all the good swear words, and the sweet relief he gets from sinking his teeth into other people’s limbs.

From naked protests to dealing with other people looking at YOUR THINGS!, this is a no-holds-barred account of life told through the eyes of Archie–a creatively stifled, modern day toddler.

Sunday Times bestseller Hurrah for Gin has delighted fans with its honest, emotional and laugh-out-loud accounts of parenting. Brilliantly illustrated with Katie Kirby’s unique stick-figure drawings and told in the same outrageously funny way, The Daily Struggles of Archie Adams, Aged 2 1/4 once again takes on the highs and lows of family life, this time with one opinionated toddler having his say. 

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

Katie Kirby is back with the laugh out loud tales of Archie Adams. Once again, Kirby explores the difficulties of adulthood by looking through the eyes of a toddler. 

Again, Kirby’s writing is funny because it is relatable. I don’t have a child but I saw many of the same qualities in Archie that my niece had – contrariness about plate colour being one of them.

With her really funny illustrations to accompany the story The Daily Struggles of Archie Adams is a tonic.

The Daily Struggles of Archie Adams (Aged 2 1/2) by Katie Kirby is available now.

For more information regarding Katie Kirby (@hurrahforgin) please visit www.hurrahforgin.com.

For more information regarding Quercus (@QuercusBooks) please visit the Twitter page.

Title: Reluctant Adult

Author: Katie Kirby

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Coronet

The Blurb

Perpetually overwhelmed? Welcome to the new book from Katie Kirby, creator of the bestselling Hurrah for Gin

Do you overthink everything?
Do you struggle to say no to people?
Are you paying membership for a gym you never go to?
Do group chat politics make you want to throw your phone under a bus?
Are you overjoyed when people cancel plans so that you can sit at home in your pyjama bottoms eating Coco pops for dinner?

If so then this book is for you!

We spend our childhoods wanting to a be adults and, when we get there, find ourselves lost under a pile of life admin, half completed to do lists and anti-ageing face creams that promise to make you look as good as Natalie Imbruglia.

In her new book, Hurrah for Gin pinpoints with painful precision just how overwhelming life can be when you’re all grown up. From the worry spiral that keeps you up at 3AM, to maintaining a professional aura when you can’t stand other people – this is for everyone struggling to stay afloat.

Honest, relatable, funny and containing no useful advice whatsoever, take comfort in the knowledge that it’s not just you, we’re all as f*cked as each other.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Do you ever wonder if you really have your sh*t together? I do. All the damn time. My ducks aren’t in a row. If anything my ducks are all on a bouncy castle and I can’t catch any of them so just join in the pandemonium of bouncing around. Well, it turns out I am not alone. In Katie Kirby’s book Reluctant Adult you see just how crap being a grown up can be.

Reluctant Adult is peppered with funny anecdotes and stick figure cartoons that are just so relatable that you genuinely feel that you could have written them yourself. The power of Reluctant Adult is that it normalises the overwhelming feeling of not being able to cope with being a grown up.

Reluctant Adult is seriously funny. It is a tonic for when things get to be a bit too much.

Reluctant Adult by Katie Kirby is available now.

For more information regarding Katie Kirby (@hurrahforgin) please visit www.hurrahforgin.com.

For more information regarding Coronet (@CoronetBooks) please visit www.hodder.co.uk.

Title: Holding

Author: Graham Norton

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother-of-two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad, Holding is a masterful debut. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

The Review

I’ve had Holding sitting on my Kindle for a while now. If I am honest with myself, I wanted to read it out of curiosity for what Graham Norton could produce rather than the story given on the blurb. There have been times when I have bought a book because of who the writer is and have been completely disappointed in the outcome. I wanted to read Holding but I didn’t want to lose my love for Graham Norton.

In this case, I really shouldn’t have worried. Holding is really funny.

It is set in a small podunk village in Ireland where nothing ever happens but when the remains of a body are found the whole town flails with uproar. While the whole town try to figure out ‘whodunnit’ more and more drama and mystery unravel among the residents.

Essentially, Holding is a murder mystery comedy. Norton perfectly encapsulates a gossipy town where everyone lives in the pockets of everyone else. It is a town in which no one can have any secrets. Indeed, Duneen becomes a character in its own right and even though it was the setting for a murder I found myself kind of wanting to go and visit.

Holding by Graham Norton is a very witty novel and I for one should have given him more credit for his writing ability.

Holding by Graham Norton is available now.

For more information regarding Graham Norton (@grahnort) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit their Twitter page.