2020 Reading Challenge

In 2019 I undertook a challenge to read 40 works of fiction over the course of the year, the actual number I got to was in the low 80’s. So this year I decided to do something very ambitious and read 104 works of fiction, yes that’s right 2 works of fiction for every week of the year. This is on top of a great deal of non fiction and all the paperwork and reports that I have to wade through every week too. So here is the list I’m going to be working from for the rest of the year.

Coraline- Neil Gaiman

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The Graveyard Book- Neil Gaiman

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Alloy of Law- Brandon Sanderson

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Shadow of Self- Brandon Sanderson

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The Bands of Mourning- Brandon Sanderson

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The Crystal Shard- R.A. Salvatore

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Streams of Silver- R.A. Salvatore

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The Halflings Gem- R.A. Salvatore 

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Shadow of A Dark Queen- Raymond E Feist

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Rise of A Merchant Prince- Raymond E Feist

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Rage of A Demon King-Raymond E Feist

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Shards of A Broken Crown- Raymond E Feist

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Tarkin- James Luceno

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Thrawn- Timothy Zahn

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The Priestess of the White- Trudi Canavan

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Last of the Wilds- Trudi Canavan

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Voice of the Gods- Trudi Canavan

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Otherland Volume 1- Tad Williams

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Otherland Volume 2- Tad Williams

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Otherland Volume 3- Tad Williams

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Otherland Volume 4- Tad Williams

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Starship Titanic- Douglas Adams

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The Salmon of Doubt- Douglas Adams

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The Long Earth- Terry Pratchett

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The Long War – Terry Pratchett

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The Long Mars- Terry Pratchett

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The Long Utopia – Terry Pratchett

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The Long Cosmos – Terry Pratchett

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Thief’s Magic- Trudi Canavan

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Angel of Storms- Trudi Canavan

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The Successor’s Promise- Trudi Canavan

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Dune- Frank Herbert

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Earthsea- Ursula La Guin 

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Doctor Who: At Childhoods End- Sophie Aldred

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Dwarves 1: Markus Heitz 

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Dwarves 2: Markus Heitz

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Dwarves 3: Markus Heitz

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Dwarves 4: Markus Heitz

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Dwarves 5: Markus Heitz

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War of the Worlds- H.G Wells

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The Island of Doctor Moreau- H.G Wells

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Around The World In 80 Days- Jules Verne

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20,000 Leagues Under The Sea- Jules Verne 

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The Inimitable Jeeves- P.G Wodehouse 

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Carry On Jeeves – P.G Wodehouse

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Very Good Jeeves – P.G Wodehouse

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Ankh Morpork Archives- Terry Pratchett

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The Carpet People- Terry Pratchett

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Casion Royale- Ian Fleming

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Dracula -Bram Stoker

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Frankenstein- Mary Shelly

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde- Robert Louis Stevenson 

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The Phoenix on the Sword- Robert E Howard

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Paradise Lost- John Milton

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Lair of the White Worm- Bram Stoker 

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The Call of Cthulhu- H.P Lovecraft

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Baldur’s Gate-  Philip Athans

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Canticle- R.A Salvatore  

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In Sylvan Shadows- R.A Salvatore  

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Night Masks – R.A Salvatore  

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The Fallen Fortress – R.A Salvatore  

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The Chaos Curse – R.A Salvatore  

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Dodgers Guide To London – Terry Pratchett

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The World of Poo – Terry Pratchett

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War of the Spider Queen 1 – R.A Salvatore  

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War of the Spider Queen 2 – R.A Salvatore

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War of the Spider Queen 3 – R.A Salvatore

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War of the Spider Queen 4 – R.A Salvatore

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War of the Spider Queen 5 – R.A Salvatore

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War of the Spider Queen 6 – R.A Salvatore

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Omerta- Mario Puzo

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Odin’s Child- Tim Severin

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Sworn Brother- Tim Severin

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Kings Man- Tim Severin

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The Picture of Dorian Grey- Oscar Wilde

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Legend of Alfar Book 1- Markus Heitz 

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Legend of Alfar Book 2- Markus Heitz

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Legend of Alfar Book 3- Markus Heitz

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Legend of Alfar Book 4- Markus Heitz

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The Last Wish- Andrzej Sapkowski 

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Sword of Destiny – Andrzej Sapkowski 

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Blood of Elves- Andrzej Sapkowski 

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Time of Contempt- Andrzej Sapkowski 

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Baptism of Fire – Andrzej Sapkowski 

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The Tower of the Swallow – Andrzej Sapkowski 

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The Lady of the Lake – Andrzej Sapkowski 

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Faerie Tale- Raymond E Feist

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Doctor Who: The Missy Chronicles 

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Daughter of the Drow- Elaine Cunningham

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Tangled Webs-Elaine Cunningham

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Windwalker-  Elaine Cunningham

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Pool of Radiance- James Ward

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Pool of Darkness- James Ward, Anne Brown

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Pool of Twilight-James Ward, Anne Brown

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The Tell Tale Heart- Edgar Allan Poe

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Doctor Who: The Wheel of Ice- Stephen Baxter 

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Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By- Dan Abnett

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Father Christmas’s Fake Beard- Terry Pratchett

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Kull- Exile of Atlantis- Robert E Howard

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Solomon Kane: Skulls in the Stars- Robert E Howard

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El Borak: Sword of the Hills Robert E Howard

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Smith of Wootton Major- J.R.R Tolkien 

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Young Zaphod Plays It Safe- Douglas Adams 

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A Study in Scarlet- Arthur Conan Doyle

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Wonder how many I’ll get through I know 2 a week doesn’t sound like all that much, but who knows what outside influences will be effecting my free time.

What Fiction I’m Reading in 2019

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I actually have a plan, in which I’m going to read a different fictional book every other week. So here are the finalists for what I’m going to read this year.

Fire and Blood: A History of Targaryen Kings- George R R Martin

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Neverwhere- Neil Gaiman

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The Adventures of Tom Bombidil- J.R.R Tolkien 

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The Day of the Triffids- John Wyndham 

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The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents- Terry Pratchett 

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Dirk Gently’s Hollistic Detective Agency- Douglas Adams

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Unfinished Tales- J.R.R Tolkien

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Starship Troopers- Robert A. Heinlein

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The Magician’s Apprentice- Trudi Canavan

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The Silmarillion- J.R.R Tolkien

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The Tales of Beedle the Bard- JK Rowling 

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Anansi Boys- Neil Gaiman 

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Mistborn Trilogy- Brandon Sanderson 

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The Black Magician Trilogy- Trudi Canavan

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Dodger- Terry Pratchett

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The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul- Douglas Adams

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Beren and Luthien- J.R.R Tolkien 

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The Chronicles of Narnia- C.S Lewis

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American Gods- Neil Gaiman 

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The Traitor Spy Trilogy- Trudi Canavan 

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Orcs: Tales of Maras Dantia- Stan Nicholls 

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Sideways 3: Chile- Rex Pickett 

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The Fall of Gondolin- J.R.R Tolkien 

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Doctor Who The Krikkitmen- Douglas Adams 

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The Riftwar Saga- Raymond E Fiest

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How The Marquis Got His Coat Back

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I wonder how many of them I’ll actually manage to make it through by the end of the year?

7 Book Covers Challenge

I’ve been nominated by to post the covers to seven books I love, no explanation or comments, that’s it.

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1. The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy By Douglas Adams
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2. Vertical: The Follow Up To Sideways- By Rex Pickett
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3. The Family By Mario Puzo
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4. M*A*S*H- A Novel About Three Army Doctors- By Richard Hooker
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5. Night Watch: A Discworld Novel- By Sir Terry Pratchett
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6. Orcs Omnibus- By Stan Nicholls
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7. Boomsday- By Christopher Buckley

The Greatest Satires

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I work in the world of politics and I love it. I really do, I’m actually one of those people that enjoy their work. But one of the things I love the most about it, is the absurdity of it all. And this is why I love things that poke fun of the absurdities of the political world so here are some of my favourite pieces of satire from literature, film and television.

The Thick Of It

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The BBC’s television show that focuses on the life of the Secretary of State for the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, and day to day trials and tribulations of senior government, from a hostile press to an even more hostile to director of communications, this series is full of swearing and having worked political press, its right on the money. Peter Capaldi as Malcom Tucker is manages to paint a comedic genius and a satiric masterpiece.

Boomsday

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Cassandra Devine, “a morally superior twenty-nine-year-old PR chick” and moonlit angry blogger, incites generational warfare when she proposes that the financially nonviable Baby Boomers be given incentives (free Botox, no estate tax) to kill themselves at 70. The proposal, meant only as a catalyst for debate on the issue, catches the approval of millions of citizens, chief among them an ambitious presidential candidate, Senator Randolph Jepperson.

With the aide of public relations guru Terry Tucker, Devine and Jepperson attempt to ride “Voluntary Transitioning” all the way to the White House, over the objections of the Religious Right and the Baby Boomers, deeply offended by the demonstrations taking place on the golf courses of their retirement resorts. A hilarious look at the mess that social security is in, and as the retirement age has recently gone up, maybe a blueprint for the future?

Yes Minister

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Set principally in the private office of a British Cabinet minister in the fictional Department of Administrative Affairs in Whitehall, Yes Minister follows the ministerial career of the Rt Hon Jim Hacker MP, played by Paul Eddington. His various struggles to formulate and enact legislation or effect departmental changes are opposed by the British Civil Service, in particular his Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, played by Sir Nigel Hawthorne. His Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley, played by Derek Fowlds, is usually caught between the two. The sequel, Yes, Prime Minister, continued with the same cast and followed the events of the premiership of Jim Hacker after his unexpected elevation to Number 10 upon the resignation of the previous Prime Minister.

Man Of The Year 

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A late night TV host runs for president and wins owing to a computer error, the film follows Robin Williams as president Tom Dobbs as an independent president not beholden to special interest groups, and until recently, the thought of something other than voters determining the outcome of an election seemed like satire, but now, who knows

Veep

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A look at Vice President of the United States Selina Meyer as the hapless and almost powerless vice president, trying to gain a toehold in the muddy cesspit on the Potomac.

Book Review: Who Censored Roger Rabbit?

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Imagine my surprise to find that the classic film of my childhood, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, was actually based on a book. Naturally my interest was piqued, so it was only right and proper that this book made it onto the list of 30 books that I wanted to read before reaching the age of 30, and this book now brings me to the half way point of that  list, having now read 15 out of 30 books on the list.

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The novel is set in the present day in a world where humans and toons co-exist, although to say they co-exist is pushing it, as the book shows a great deal of racial tension between toon’s and humans. The cartoons of the novel are primarily comic strip characters, as opposed to animated cartoon stars, with famous strip characters making cameos, such as Dick Tracy, Snoopy, Dagwood, Beetle Bailey, and Hägar the Horrible. The comic strips in question are produced by taking photo’s of the various cartoon characters. In this version, toon’s speak in word balloons which appear above their heads as they talk. Although some characters suppress this and speak vocally.

The story looks to solve the murder of one Roco Degreassy and also the murder of the eponymous Roger Rabbit himself, both cases being looked into by the hard nosed (slightly stereotypical) private eye Eddie Valiant, who is being aided by none other than Roger Rabbit.

Its a typical noirish detective story involving double murder, sex, pornography, blackmail, theft, booze and oddly a teakettle, but the Maltese Falcon it aint. The writing is quite good, Gary Woolfe actually manages to build a world in few words, the length of book isn’t off putting, but it is pretty silly in places, but sometimes you need that sort of thing, I should warn you though that if you are expecting a straight up novel of the film you will be disappointed the book bares very little resemblance to the film and is certainly its own beast. It was a nice distraction for a few hours and if you’re that way inclined and in need of something to do, you should give it a go.

Book Review: Adrian Mole The Prostrate Years.

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I’d read most of the Adrian Mole books already, so I knew I would get around to this one at some point, so when I made the list of books I wanted to read before I was 30 this one seemed like an ideal candidate for the list, as I had enjoyed its predecessors, and it was actually a book that I wanted to read.

If you’ve never read any of The Adrian Mole Diaries, I suggest you do, as they’re all brilliant, and this final volume of the series is no different. This book follows the deterioration of Adrian’s marriage, career, health, and family life, all as Adrian creeps ever closer to middle age, and the dreaded 40.

Sue Townsend has managed to paint an all too real look at life through the eyes, thoughts and ascribances of her protagonist. Just the way that Adrian goes through life is so real, and so tragic in its mundaneness that is just British and also massively terrifying. At the age of 39 and a quarter, Adrian is saddled with 3 children from 3 different women, a series of crippling debts, the wife who both resents and pities him simultaneously and a strong willed 5 year old with some bizarre fixations, all whilst dealing with the hell that must be living next door to his parents, not to mention a good whack of prostate cancer just for good measure. We see how Adrian deals with all this with the help of his friends.

One of the things I love about this series is that Sue Townsend sets the books in the real world. For example, Adrian’s financier half brother Brett, works in the City at the time of the 2008 financial crash, and lines that might under other circumstances be throw away text, are really cringe worthy, a good example being that Brett convinced Adrian to cash out his insurance policy and invest it in an Icelandic bank.

This is one of the high points of the whole series and for me highlights a great sadness at the fact that no more Mole will be forthcoming, owing to the writes untimely passing. But this was such a fun read, even if it did start to worry me, that I’m seeing one or two similarities  between myself and the erstwhile Mr Mole.

Book Review: Notes of A Dirty Old Man

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I hate Charles Buckowski. I don’t dislike his writing, quite the opposite. But after reading Notes of a Dirty Old Man, you really grow to hate the man on a deeply personal level, or at least I did. Here is this obviously brilliant and intelligent man engaging in the most… I would call it depraved, but its too low brow to be called that, behaviour. We’re talking everything from buggery, to theft, cheating creditors, to brawling over the last dregs in a bottle wine.

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The book is a mishmash of collected anecdotes from throughout the writers life and is witty, and forthright in many ways, but all the way through out I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, that this man was living a completely wasted life. It was good to cross this piece off the thirty books I want to read before I turn 30, if only because it made me feel that I had grown up considerably more than Mr Buckowski had by the time he was 35.

I think I may seek out some more of Charles Buckowski’s work, if only as he has now become a protagonist that I love to hate.