Archive for the ‘non-fiction’ Category

Review: Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Publication date: 23 April 2013
Publisher: Square Peg
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780224095372
Length: 369 pages
Genre: Humour
Age group: Adult
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 5 Stars

Hyperbole and A Half is a blog written by a 20-something American girl called Allie Brosh. She tells fantastically funny, wise stories about the mishaps of her everyday life, with titles like ‘Why Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving’ and ‘The God of Cake’. She accompanies these with naive drawings using Paint on her PC. Brosh’s website receives millions of visitors a month and hundreds of thousands of per day.

Now her full-colour debut book chronicles the many “learning experiences” Brosh has endured as a result of her own character flaws. It includes stories about her rambunctious childhood; the highs and mostly lows of owning a mentally challenged dog; and a moving and darkly comic account of her struggles with depression. Poignant and uproarious – think Cyanide and Happiness but with story-lines, cake and dogs.

Hyperbole and a Half has been on my wish list ever since I saw it on Ellie’s blog this time last year. Although I wasn’t familiar with the Hyperbole and a Half blog at the time, I love all types of humour, from books to TV comedies and everything in between, so I knew it would be right up my street. But for some reason, I never got around to buying a copy.

However, I went to Foyles a couple of weeks ago and saw the book near the counter. I picked it up and started reading the back cover. And I literally laughed out loud. Three sentences in, I knew I’d love it.

And I did.

It was just as funny as I expected it to be and it had me laughing all the way through the end. I don’t know what’s funnier, Brosh’s illustrations (drawn in Paint – which, for me, makes them even more hilarious) or her memoirs that accompany the images. The whole thing is just brilliant as it is.

Although I’m not a dog person (I’ve never been), her dog stories were definitely my favourite. This one in particular had me choking with laughter for days and it still makes me giggle if I look at it. It was a story about Helper Dog, a slightly neurotic German shepherd, who was nearly impossible to train. People suggested giving her a treat every time she does something they like or simply when she stops doing bad things. However, as Allie says, “the only thing they managed to accomplish was to teach the Helper Dog that if she starts doing something they hate, and then stops that thing very briefly, she can get a treat”. And then she went back to doing the thing again.

The Simple Dog - Hyperbole and a Half

Do you know that feeling when you’re literally crying with laughter and when, after ten minutes, you manage to stop and go ‘it’s not even that funny’ – and then it starts all over again? That’s pretty much what happened.

But Hyperbole and a Half is not just about dogs, cake and the author’s mischievous childhood. Her stories about depression and what she’s been through are just as brilliant as the funny bits, but in a completely different way. She describes the illness perfectly and without making it too depressing. She adds a bit of humour to the more serious topics as well, so they blend in with the rest of the book perfectly.

Whether you or your loved ones have been suffering from depression or you’re simply looking for an entertaining read, I simply cannot recommend this enough. Although it’s a relatively quick read due to all the drawings, I know it will stay with me for a long time and I will re-read it from time to time. It’s absolutely brilliant. 

Audiobook Review: Portrait of a Killer – Patricia Cornwell

Portrait of a Killer by Patricia Cornwell

Title: Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed
Author: Patricia Cornwell
Narrator: Lorelei King
Publication date: 1 May 2012
Publisher: AudioGO
ISBN: 9781445848297
Length: 12 hours 44 minutes
Genre: True Crime / Non-fiction
Age group: Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: AudioGO

Synopsis

Between August and November 1888 at least seven women were murdered in Whitechapel. The gruesome nature of their deaths caused panic and fear for months in the east end, and gave rise to the sobriquet which was to become shorthand for a serial killer – Jack the Ripper.

For over a hundred years the identity of the murders have remained among one of the world’s greatest unsolved crimes, and a wealth of theories have been posited which have pointed the finger at royalty, a barber, a doctor, a woman and an artist. Using her formidable range of forensic and technical skills, Patricia Cornwell has applied the rigorous discipline of twenty-first-century police investigation to the extant material, and here presents the hard evidence that the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders was the world-famous artist, Walter Sickert.

By using techniques unknown in the late Victorian era, Patricia Cornwell has exposed Sickert as the author of the infamous Ripper letters to the Metropolitan Police. Her detailed analysis of his paintings shows how his art continually depicted his horrific mutilation of his victims, and her examination of this man’s birth defects, the consequent genital surgical interventions and their effects on his upbringing present a casebook example of how a psychopathic killer is created.

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Review: Start Your Day With Katie – Katie Piper

Cover of Start Your Day With Katie by Katie Piper

Title: Start Your Day With Katie
Author: Katie Piper
Publication date: September 27, 2012
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781780876597
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Self Help / Motivational
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

‘Positive affirmations helped me in my darkest times to focus on my health and happiness, and to remember I was not alone. I know how well they worked for me in regaining my life, and now I want to share them with you.’ – Katie Piper.

Start Your Day with Katie is a page-a-day book of Katie Piper’s most powerful inspirational thoughts, plus quotes and mantras that helped give her courage and hope after her rape and acid attack. With Katie’s guiding messages, you can begin every day on the right track. Let these affirmations help you find happiness and inner strength. They are one of the tools that Katie Piper used to rebuild her life. Keep this book with you or by your bedside table to turn to any time you need a little help in finding peace or inspiration.

My thoughts

I love, love, love Katie. I’m pretty sure everyone’s aware of her story but just in case someone’s not, well… this is what happened in a nutshell. Back in 2008 Katie, who was working in the media at the time and was hoping to become a TV presenter, was attacked by her boyfriend. First she was raped and then a few days later the guy got another man to throw sulphuric acid in her face as she was leaving her home. Katie was blinded in her left eye, her face, nose, neck, eyelids and ears were burned and even though she was rushed into hospital immediately after the attack, her injuries were so severe she was expected to die. But she survived. After years and years of hospital treatment and several operations to rebuild her face, Katie decided to share her story on TV in the hope of helping other survivors of domestic violence. Katie became one of the UK’s most influential (and most inspiring, I have to add) people and the founder of the Katie Piper foundation.

I cannot even begin to imagine what she and her family must have gone through but I admire and respect her for her courage and her determination. I absolutely love what she’s doing with her foundation and I think she’s a huge inspiration to all of us.

As for Start Your Day With Katie, it’s one of those books that everyone needs to have. It’s basically a collection of inspirational quotes that helped her through these difficult times, quotes that inspired her and helped her go on. It’s an incredibly optimistic book which is guaranteed to lift your spirits and give you a boost. It would also make a lovely Christmas present for anyone who you think needs some cheering up. After all, we all need a little bit of inspiration and positive thinking sometimes. :)

Teaser

“Life is 10 per cent what happens to you and 90 per cent how you react to it.”


Rating:
5 star rating
*Many thanks to Quercus for sending me a copy of this book*