Archive for » January, 2016 «

Book Review: So, Anyway…. by John Cleese

So, when you pick up an autobiography by John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, you might expect to read quite a bit about Python. Well, let me tell you now, that most definitely is not what you will find in this book. So, if that is the one and only thing you wanted to hear about, well, maybe this is the book for you. However, for those of you with a sense of adventure, I would encourage you to pick it up and give it a read anyway.

This would basically be the story of Pre-Python Cleese, which is still quite an interesting story. Just pretend you are reading about someone that wasn’t a part of the Monty Python cast and then maybe you will find the great bits and pieces.


Here is the book’s description:

John Cleese’s  huge comedic influence has stretched across generations; his sharp irreverent eye and the unique brand of physical comedy he perfected with Monty Python, on Fawlty Towers, and beyond now seem written into comedy’s DNA. In this rollicking memoir, So, Anyway…, Cleese takes readers on a Grand Tour of his ascent in the entertainment world, from his humble beginnings in a sleepy English town and his early comedic days at Cambridge University (with future Python partner Graham Chapman), to the founding of the landmark comedy troupe that would propel him to worldwide renown.

Cleese was just days away from graduating Cambridge and setting off on a law career when he was visited by two BBC executives, who offered him a job writing comedy for radio. That fateful moment—and a near-simultaneous offer to take his university humor revue to London’s famed West End—propelled him down a different path, cutting his teeth writing for stars like David Frost and Peter Sellers, and eventually joining the five other Pythons to pioneer a new kind of comedy that prized invention, silliness, and absurdity. Along the way, he found his first true love with the actress Connie Booth and transformed himself from a reluctant performer to a world class actor and back again.

Twisting and turning through surprising stories and hilarious digressions—with some brief pauses along the way that comprise a fascinating primer on what’s funny and why—this story of a young man’s journey to the pinnacle of comedy is a masterly performance by a master performer.


The book starts, well, at the beginning, with Cleese’s early life and schooling. There are lots of pictures, which I always enjoy in a biography. The story follows how Cleese got his start in comedy and writing and there are lots of great stories involved. You can definitely “hear” Cleese’s voice as you are reading the book. It was interesting to learn about all the British TV shows that Cleese was a part of and also his stint on Broadway. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of most of the shows he mentioned, but that is probably due to the fact that, a) I wasn’t alive and b) I’m from America. And while the book does not focus on the Python years, we do learn how some of the sketches got their start, and of Cleese’s writing partnership with Graham Chapman.

Since there was only slight mention of Python, A Fish Called Wanda, and Fawlty Towers, MAYBE we can expect a second book? It wasn’t hinted at, but one can hope, can’t one? Cleese’s first wife Connie was mentioned, and he does mention having other wives in the future, but there is no discussion of them, and it would be nice to hear more about that aspect of his life.

I didn’t realize when I started reading that there would be lack of Python info, and was surprised the further I got that we hadn’t gotten there yet. The very last chapter does have a little info, but is actually more about the recent reunion. So that aspect is a little disappointing, but, as I said, it’s still an interesting and humorous read.

For more information, check out Cleese’s Author Page  and the book page at Penguin Random House, which includes an excerpt and some interviews.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review- The Upside of Iris by Helen Rose

The Upside of Iris by Helen Rose and illustrated by Lisa Falzon has been on my list of books to review for awhile now. I got a little too book-happy and agreed to review several all at the same time. I never forgot about this one, but I’m sad that I didn’t take a look at it sooner!

iris cover


First, here is the book’s description:

What does love look like to you?

For young Iris,the whole world looks upside down, and the only person who truly understands and appreciates her perspective is her new friend Charlie, who has his own unique trait:he cannot speak. His silence, her precociousness, and their  acceptance of each other make the two a perfect match.

But happiness is fleeting,as Iris’s new stepsisters, skeptical and jealous (as conventional folks often are of those who dare to swim against the tide), manage to drive the two apart. Iris and Charlie are separated for the remainder of childhood.

Grown-up Iris never forgets about Charlie, though, and her love for him influences the charming art gallery she now owns. But despite the visually magical environment she inhabits, Iris finds herself doubting Charlie once again, thanks in no small part to those pesky stepsisters of hers.

Still, before she decides to give up hope altogether, she decides to do one small thing for the other lonely souls around her…with wonderful consequences.

The Upside of Iris is an illustrated love story for all ages, and for anyone who has ever felt misunderstood. It is a whimsical, touching reminder that perspective is truly everything, and that a change in perspective can make all the difference in the world.

The illustrations in this book are just amazing! And I believe the pictures themselves could probably tell the story, even without words. I think it would make a great animated short film. It is definitely a quick read, but one you could definitely read over and over.


Though it is illustrated, I would not say that this story is solely for children. In fact, the story might go over the heads of some younger children. Though I could see myself as a child enjoying it, but I was a bit of a strange kid. The love story is adorable, and the book also focuses on how children that are little different than others can feel out of place but eventually find their true self.

Just an FYI, due to the amazing illustrations, the file size on this book is a little large, but definitely worth the space.

I was provided an e-book copy of this by Kate Tilton Book Bloggers and author Helen Rose in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Find it on Amazon here.

DVD Review: Captive #CaptiveMovie #FlyBy

You may remember that back in September I reviewed the book Captive by Ashley Smith. If you don’t remember, you can certainly click the link to take a look.

Well, at the time, the movie was about to be released in the theaters and now it is available on DVD and I had the chance to check it out recently.



For a quick rundown:

Based on a miraculous story about the power of faith, Captive is an “amazing, inspiring” drama about the spiritual collision of two lost souls, Brian Nichols (Golden Globe Nominee David Oyelowo), on the run from police and desperate to make contact with his newborn son, takes recently widowed mother Ashley Smith (Kata Mara) hostage in her own apartment.  Fearing for her life and desperately hoping to see her daughter again, she turns to Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life for guidance.  Ashley and her captor face a crossroads where they discover hope and light in the midst of despair in the moving film that Dick Rolfe, CEO, Dove Foundation hailed as “powerful.”


DVD Release Date: January 5, 2016

Runtime: 96 minutes

Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic elements involving violence and substance abuse)

After I having read the book, I thought the movie was great and could also be a great movie even for those without a Christian background. I did think that the movie skipped over the story of what happened to Ashley’s husband. Of course, I’m sure this was for time, but I felt that it was an important element of her story that could have been elaborated on more. However, if you haven’t read the book, you wouldn’t notice that was missing.

The DVD also includes 30 minutes of bonus content, including Journey Through Darkness:Filming Captive, and Faith and The Purpose Driven Life. You also have access to a Digital HD copy that can be downloaded/streamed. Let me tell you, that comes in handy when your DVD player is not hooked up!

Find out more at the links below:




ALSO!!!!!!! If you comment on this post, you will be entered to win your own copy of the DVD, so drop me a line!

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

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Book Review- Sparked by Sheena Snow

I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in order for my honest review.I will admit that I received it a couple of months ago, but have had several other books on my plate and it took me awhile to get to to it.


Sparked is the first book of the Metal Bones Series by Sheena Snow. Here is the book’s description. No need for me to explain it all again when it’s already written!

They weren’t supposed to have feelings.

Metal will Clash

In a not-too-distance future, robots composed of metal for bones, electric cords for veins, and synthetics for skin are now available. For purchase. Eighteen-year-old Vienna Avery’s home is going to change forever, now that her mom purchased an Italian Chef Robot to cook and reside in their house.

Secrets will Unfold

The government claimed robots were indifferent, unthinking pieces of metal and elastic—assistance for the help of humans. Vienna never believed much of what the government said. The pieces didn’t always fit. And now Vienna knows why, because she’s uncovered the government’s secret: that robots have emotions, sucking Vienna into the underground world of feeling, thinking, and sovereign robots.

Sparks will Fly

Alec Cypher is everything a robot is not supposed to be: deep, dark, and dangerously human. And for some reason, he wants to save Vienna from the government’s prying, vindictive eyes. Going forward, Vienna will have to learn to trust robots and battle the growing feelings she never thought possible . . . feelings for the green-eyed, soul-searching robot named Alec.


About the Author



Sheena Snow, contrary to her name, lives in South Florida and has only seen snow once. But she would love for it to land on her eyelashes and sparkle in her hair. She loves painting, candle making, orchid shows, tattoo conventions, hockey games and library book sales! After college she landed a full time job but kept serving pizza on the weekends and writing stories about characters she wished really existed, characters who never gave up no matter the obstacles life threw at them. At the age of twenty-six, she sold her first book and bought her very first puppy, a wonderful Yorkie named Aladdin.


So I would say this book would be classified as a sci-fi, young adult, romance, action/adventure.  That might seem like a lot of categories, but not really, considering it is sci-fi. I liked the idea behind the book, that there is some shady government ops regarding robots and AI (artificial intelligence) and such.

There were a few things that didn’t really draw me in. Maybe that can be explained by the fact that I am not a young adult, and that is who the book is geared toward. I found the main character Vienna hard to relate to, and I like to feel that connection when reading a book. Although I see now that her age is mentioned in the book’s description, I personally thought she seemed much younger than eighteen until there was more depth to the romance scenes. She seemed a little immature for eighteen.

I also felt that it wasn’t really explained well why people were after Vienna in particular. Perhaps that is something to look for in the second book? I also personally found some of the “arguing with the voice in her head” scenes a little repetitive. We get it. She is distrustful of robots. And a slight mistake when Vienna reserves to one of the robots as “Bonnie” before she actually has given them their human names. Oh well.

Also, Green Eyes/Alec starts calling Vienna “Baby” way too often for my liking. Now, I’m not a terms of endearment hater, it just seems a little over the top.

There are some great action scenes and the description of Green Eyes/Alec does make him believable as a love interest. Yum! I also noticed similarities to the Twilight Saga in this book, especially in the fact that Alec has some sort of way of knowing that Vienna is the one for him, sort of like “imprinting” in Twilight. I don’t mind that though. I like Twilight, and there are enough differences that it doesn’t seem like a copycat job or anything like that.

Even with the things that irked me a little, I’m not against following up and reading the next installment, Enflamed, when it is available. I still want to like Vienna and there are some things I am still wondering and hope they will be answered in the next book. And, as I said, bear in mind that I am a bit older than the target demographic, so maybe I’ve gotten a little cynical in my “old age.”

So, yes I will say that this is a worthy read and I will keep you updated if I get the chance to read the rest of the story later on. Come on Vienna, make me love you in Enflamed!

Book Review- I’m Yours by Carolyn Menke

New Release….

I’m Yours is the prequel to Return To Me. This companion novella spins the tale of how Sadie’s mother, Audrey, becomes Audrey McCall, and the events leading up to one fateful decision that will affect generations to come.

The Roaring Twenties spell opportunity for Audrey McCall, a starlet who’s as irresistible as the illegal booze poured behind every shuttered speakeasy. Her big theater dreams include landing the impossible, a role on Broadway. But she’s fallen in love with handsome Edward Stark, who wants her to be his leading lady and his alone.

Edward’s confessed his love and is ready to embark on a future with Audrey. No more sneaking off to speakeasies and enduring cast parties, where the catcalls of men directed at his main squeeze get under his skin. Wouldn’t Audrey rather become the mother of his children than worry about the next paycheck?

Muddying the waters is the shifty Rex Wyatt, a new playwright in town, who promises to make Audrey a star. If Audrey gets the part of her dreams, she has to take it. There are no second chances in theater. Are there second chances in love?

Available to buy from….   Barnes and Noble   Kobo


Read an excerpt HERE


“A sweeping, romantic debut that brings the war-time forties to vivid life in this Titanic meets Philomena tale—fast-paced, tender, and real.” — on Return to Me by RITA Award-winning Author Gwyn Cready


“Menke’s writing is so lovely, you will want to wrap yourself in her words and savor each moment you spend in Sadie’s story. Return To Me will tug on your heart strings and take you on a journey back in time.” — on Return to Me by Dana Faletti, Author of the Whisper Trilogy


“A timeless tale of love, loss and sacrifice that will equally break and warm your heart, as you cheer for the beautifully complex characters until the very last page.” — on Return to Me by Lori M. Jones, Author of Renaissance of the Heart



Now, I have not read Return to Me, but now of course I want to! Being a prequel of course, it was easy to start here and get to the other one later.


This is a definitely a short, quick read, but it is so well written that somehow it still seems completely filled out. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it feels like you are reading a full length book because of the quality of the writing and descriptive language.


I also definitely appreciated the use of language directly from that time period. I always find that fun. Why don’t we still talk like that?


A romantic story that will also leave women feeling glad that they live in a time period where they can do whatever they wish and not have to give up on their dreams for love and marriage.


I will definitely have to grab a copy of Return to Me to see what happens later in life for this family.



Also Available

Return to Me
In 1942…

Eighteen-year-old Sadie Stark, raised by the governor of Pennsylvania, has the world on a string. She doesn’t need the mother who left her any more than she needs the fiance who promises to change. What she needs is to finish college, and keep her wits about her.

When war-bound James Pasko returns her stolen clutch, and shows her what’s missing in her life, she gains the courage to search for the truth about her past.

What Sadie uncovers rattles her to the core. But James’ steadfast love gives her hope for the future—for the first time—even as the war tears them apart.

When James disappears over enemy lines and Sadie makes a startling discovery, she must decide to follow in the footsteps of the mother who gave her away, or face a life of hardship like she’s never known.

Available to buy from….   Barnes and Noble   Kobo

About the Author
Carolyn Menke is the author of RETURN TO ME, published by The Wild Rose Press in September 2015 and I’M YOURS, the companion novella that released in December. RETURN TO ME, set during the 1940s, follows Sadie, as she uncovers pieces of her mother’s past. I’M YOURS, set during the Roaring Twenties, follows Audrey, Sadie’s mother, as a young starlet destined for Broadway, and the events leading up to one fateful decision.

Raised by a former kindergarten teacher and engineer, Carolyn grew up with a book in hand, a story in her ear, and was encouraged from a young age to pretend, create, read, and write. She’d often come down to the breakfast table with a new story or poem to share. Some of her fondest memories are of her mom reading to her from the front seat of their family station wagon during long road trips, her siblings fast asleep beside her. These read-alouds were the beginning of a lifelong love.

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Carolyn blogs for a digital marketing agency and enjoys horseback riding and geocaching with her family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a mom to three young daughters, it’s her turn to carry on the tradition of telling stories, reading aloud, and making the every day magical.

Find the author on the following sites…


Website   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Goodreads   Amazon Author Page

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Photobucket I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own. NOW FOR THE AUTHOR’S GIVEAWAY     Win a $20 GC / Paypal Cash (winners choice) Plus ebook to 3 runner ups Open Worldwide   Ending on Sunday 31st January at 11.59pm EST   Enter Below and Good Luck !! a Rafflecopter giveaway