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review 2015-08-18 22:17
Funny Girl - Nick Hornby

Read full review at: http://thereadingarmchair.blogspot.gr/2015/08/review-funny-girl-by-nick-hornby.html

First of all, I loved the setting of this novel. The '60s for the British comedy fit perfectly the plot. Sophie Straw wanted only one thing: to make people laugh. But she was in a decade when they were all men. Tony, Ernie, Eric, Ernie... There was nobody called Lucy or Barbara in that lot. There were no funny girls. Even her manager wanted her to pursue a career as a model, not star in a comedy series. It felt like a miracle of some sort that she managed to do so well.

Although the title of the novel is Funny Girl, it's ultimately not only about Sophie. It's about five people getting together at the right time to create something innovative for television. Indeed Barbara (and Jim) was created when Tony and Bill met Sophie, their producer Dennis recognised the fresh idea and Clive saw his chance to become a tv star. Each one of them had their own lives and secrets, but they had found a point of communication that enabled them to reach success. As it usually happens in every relationship, this thing didn't last forever. Boredom, feelings of getting stuck, confusion of the fictional situations of the series with the reality were some of the things they all had to face.

The writing was the typical writing style of Nick Hornby. Quick-witted, funny, easy-to-read, but able to reach into the heart of the characters. Sophie wasn't as funny as I was expecting, but she was very likeable. The rest of the characters were also unique, each with their own history and choices they needed to make. But what impressed me the most is the fact that this could actually be the story of how a television series was created. Barbara (and Jim) was fictional, but I could imagine a pilot episode airing in Comedy Playhouse and then go on for several seasons.

Source: thereadingarmchair.blogspot.gr/2015/08/review-funny-girl-by-nick-hornby.html
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review 2015-08-18 22:16
Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture Correspondences - John Moe

Read full review at: http://thereadingarmchair.blogspot.gr/2015/08/review-dear-luke-we-need-to-talk-darth.html

I couldn't pick up Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth a better time of the year. It proved to be a really easy and quick read, with a lot of pop culture references. In collections like this, everyone can find something to like.

But an essential condition for this book to work is that you have to be familiar with each reference. In my case, I loved Vader's letters, Captain Kirk's log and the engineer's notes from the recording of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. The most hilarious part was The Exchange between Neal Hefti, creator of the Batman TV theme song, and the show's producer. Who hasn't heard Batman, Batman, Batman, Nananananananana Batman? It was really awesome to read how John Moe imagined how it came to be.

Moreover, I can't understand how the author acquired the Top secret British intelligence notes on the fates of Agents 001 through 006. It was enlightening about why Bond has this certain way of acting and why his face is constantly changing. Another shocking document in this book was the Note to Clark Kent from the maker of his new glasses. I mean, we all know that he looks like a certain superhero, but how can a pair of glasses distort his image so much that nobody recognises him?

It appears that the writer has acquaintances in the music industry as well. As I have already revealed we learn the whole story behind the making of the album Rumours through the eyes of the engineer. If you are a fan of Fleetwood Mac like me, then you'll love this part. But these are not the only documents concerning really popular musicians and songs. We read the Notes on "Sweet Child o' Mine" as delivered to Axl Rose by his editor. The lyrics were almost altered and the song would never be the same again. Finally, Leonard Cohen text messages Leonard Cohen whilst writing a new song gives us insight on how this songwriter created one of his most well-known songs. You can easily guess which one.

Throughout this book, there was a running gag of Rejected Superbowl Halftime Show Proposals. I have to admit that this was the worst part for me. Not all of them were uninspired, but most of them felt like it. But it was only a small part of the book, so it didn't really bother me. I can't really complain about anything.

Source: thereadingarmchair.blogspot.gr/2015/08/review-dear-luke-we-need-to-talk-darth.html
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review 2015-08-18 22:15
Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? - Neil Gaiman,Scott A. Williams,Mark Buckingham,Andy Kubert

Read full review at: http://thereadingarmchair.blogspot.gr/2015/08/review-whatever-happened-to-caped.html

Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? This is the question that this two-part comic is trying to answer. The very end of Batman. The title, as Neil Gaiman explains in the foreword, is a pun to Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, which is the conclusion to the mythology of Superman. It feels appropriate and suits perfectly the feel of the story.

The plot is quite simple. Batman is dead and all of the characters, Albert, Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, attend his funeral. Each of them offers a different version of Batman's story and death. This way, this comic can work as the final Batman story in any given occasion. But the last few pages left me in awe. Both the art and the conclusion of the story were excellent.

I know that it's a common thing in comics for the heroes to die and then return again with a way or another. This version though felt different. Batman kept trying to fight crime in Gotham and his own demons, but he always ended up getting killed. It was the natural ending we all expected, despite the futility. Batman fell while fighting and it felt right. Besides every mythology needs some closure and we are offered one here.

Source: thereadingarmchair.blogspot.gr/2015/08/review-whatever-happened-to-caped.html
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review 2015-08-18 22:13
Diary of a Provincial Lady - E.M. Delafield

Read full review at: http://thereadingarmchair.blogspot.gr/2015/07/review-diary-of-provincial-lady-by-e-m.html

There are many books that describe great adventures or have crazy and quirky characters. But then again there are novels, like this one, that focus on the everyday life, with completely ordinary characters. To be honest, it was refreshing to read The Diary of A Provincial Lady. The days passed and the entries of the diary described the life of this family around 1930. Moreover, the way of life that was described mustn't be far from the truth, as the whole novel felt partially autobiographical.

The need of the lady to maintain an excellent image for her social circle is something prominent on this diary. She tries to impress her husband's employer, Lady Boxe, which has everything that the lady doesn't (vacation on the South of France, first-class tickets for the train in London, important friends). This is also the reason why one of the things that always make her feel better is when she can gossip Lady B with the other ladies of the neighbourhood, like the Vicar's wife.

As you've probably guessed this isn't a rich family. In fact, their financial situation is grave. In many instances, the lady has to contact the bank and she even has to deposit valuable jewellery to a pawnbroker. A legacy from Robert's late godfather helps them a little, but the lady has a small tendency towards consumerism (there is always a new hat to be bought). The problem becomes more apparent when they have to search for a new maid. No-one is willing to go to the countryside with such a small wage they can afford. Nevertheless, they miraculously make ends meet.

The Diary of A Provincial Lady is a great read. The humour is dry and because of this the novel is a hit or miss. It worked for me and if you like this style of comedy then you're going to love it. Don't hesitate to give it a try!

Source: thereadingarmchair.blogspot.gr/2015/07/review-diary-of-provincial-lady-by-e-m.html
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review 2015-08-18 22:12
Go Set a Watchman - Harper Lee

Read full review at: http://thereadingarmchair.blogspot.gr/2015/07/review-go-set-watchman-by-harper-lee.html

Jean Louise returns to Maycomb, only to find it different from before. The faces of the people are the same, but she observes different attitudes. Even the town itself is changing, with new buildings. Go away the old buildings said. There is no place for you here. You are not wanted. We have secrets. Now this is a feeling a little familiar to me and everyone who happens to live away from their hometown. When you return you always observe the differences and you get lost in nostalgia and childhood memories.

But Go Set A Watchman isn't only about Scout's nostalgia. It's her journey towards the discovery of her own mind, her own conscience. And this is the reason why eventually I didn't mind the portrayal of Atticus in this novel. Yes, he is definitely racist, but he still believes that everybody should be treated by the law the same way, These views are the ones that passed down to Jean Louise and these views are what Jean Louise's generation will establish in the south at some point. I won't lie that he was the Atticus that I'd love to see, but he was definitely the Atticus the novel needed.

It would be unfair to compare Go Set A Watchman with To Kill A Mockingbird. Keep in mind that the first one is a manuscript, not a fully edited novel like the latter. But I found it more mature, maybe because we witnessed the story through the eyes of an adult protagonist and not a child. I like to think of both of those books as a part of a single work, which in fact, were created as one.

Source: thereadingarmchair.blogspot.gr/2015/07/review-go-set-watchman-by-harper-lee.html
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