The Simpsons Forever! by Matt Groening

Published: 3rd November 1999Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Harper Design
Pages: 96
Format: Paperback
Genre: Graphic Novel
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Picking up where The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to our Favorite Family left off, The Simpsons Forever! brings all the history, tidbits, and cold hard facts on every episode from the past two years, and much, much more. Fans will find the highlights of all the shows from seasons nine and ten, plus eyeball–busting two–page spreads for special episodes (like the annual Halloween show). Heavily packed into these pages are updated favourites like Best Homerisms, Famous Chalkboard Sayings, All–New Simpsons Singalong Lyrics, Couch Gags, and classic screen images. And, yes – it’s all cross-referenced!

This book is the second as part of a series released by Matt Groening that start at season one and work through the series aired at the time up until season 14. Each book is a continuation of the previous publication with multiple seasons covered within. This is important because anyone who reads this book, especially thinking they are getting a full series exploration, will no doubt be disappointed. While the first book covered seasons 1-8, this second one is very short, covering only seasons 9 and 10 but it still is filled with detail. Each episode overview for both seasons includes quotes, blink and you miss it things you may have missed, as well as fun information about background characters, songs, show highlights, character bios as well as the numerous and varied movie and pop culture references made by the writers and animators.

This is a great read if you like the attention to detail that The Simpsons have always had and the clever and creative signs, references and homage, or unique characters that have been created over the years. The trivia is enlightening and I was reminded of things I had long forgotten and even learnt a few things that made me even more in awe of the genius minds of the people who work on the show.

I went looking for these books when I learnt of them because I’m a long time fan of The Simpsons. This book is from early on in the shows run, when only 10 seasons had been aired, and nowhere near as comprehensive as the later publication featuring the first 20 seasons, which even now is old given the new 30th season. Having said that, it is still a great read. I think being closer to the airdates there were more things to include, and more focus could be put on each episode without worrying about making anything too long or cluttered. If you are a trivia nut like I am the little random facts are fun to learn and it’s great to read about just how much thought goes into background characters and crowd scenes. Hopefully I can track down the rest of these early books because I think they would be an enlightening read, especially ones that cover more seasons.

You can purchase The Simpsons Forever via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

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The Simpsons Family History by Matt Groening

Published: 23rd September 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harry N. Abrams
Pages: 304
Format: Hardback
Genre: Graphic Novel
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

So you think you know the Simpsons? Well, think again! The Simpsons Family History unravels 25 years of Simpsons facts and fun and presents them in a never-before-seen chronological format. Travel through time with Matt Groening as he pulls back the curtain and reveals the events that turned this average family into a pop-culture phenomenon. Discover the hopes and dreams of a young Homer and uncover the sensitive and driven girl Marge was before she married him. Marvel at the hidden moments you never knew you missed, as all the pieces of Simpsons history fall into place. Chock full of art taken directly from the source, this massive tome is a must for Simpsons fans and the perfect way to celebrate The Simpsons’ 25th anniversary.

This is not a substantial book despite its fancy appearance. It is not filled with facts and information about our favourite four fingered family with a comprehensive history and trivia guide, it is, however, still quite nice.

There is humour and heart as the journey from the beginning of time, (skipping 67 million years to speed things up a bit) all the way up until Grandpa Simpsons early life, Homer’s birth and beyond. I thought I would be disappointed in this book because it wasn’t what I expected i.e filled with facts and information, and yet I still enjoyed flicking through as the history of the family was traced.

In that sense it does do what the cover says, it is a family history of The Simpsons, a celebration of the family. In full colour there are images taken straight from episodes, with no updating or touch ups, which, to my nostalgic self, loves that you can see the animation evolution, and also realise that through fate or design the entire lives of each family member has been explored in one episode of another allowing a chronological journey through their story. We see Homer’s birth, his early and ongoing meetings with Marge, and their love blossom until the arrival of Bart, Lisa and Maggie.

I can see how some people might think it has no value, but it a celebration of the family, never claiming to be a guide or any kind of anthology about the show. It’s a pictorial history that was actually quite enjoyable. If you are looking for wordier, and more comprehensive histories of The Simpsons or fact guides, then there is no shortage out there from ex-staff or fans alike. But as a lovely guide to this long running show that focus on the family it was quite a nice trip down memory lane.

You can purchase The Simpsons Family History via the following

Booktopia | Dymocks | Book Depository

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Angus & RobertsonWordery

Nose to Tail by Louise Harding

Published: 30th November 2017
Goodreads badgePublisher: Ocean Reeve Publishing
Pages: 207
Format: Book
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

Do you dream of owning a loving, obedient, well-mannered dog? Do you find yourself overwhelmed by your dog’s bad behaviour? Do you want to train your dog and don’t know where to start? Now there is a book for you. Champion trainer Louise Harding will be your own personal expert, coaching you and your dog. 

Imagine if you could unlock the secrets of a master trainer and make training easier and fun for you and your dog. This book will show you how and help you communicate and nurture a strong life-long bond with your dog.

What I liked about this book was that it went beyond being a simple training guide for your dog. Harding also provides really helpful information about matching up the right kind of dog with the right owner. She includes some great information about different breeds of dogs and their bred capabilities and personalities and informs readers that there is more to buying a dog than just finding it cute when it’s a puppy.

The book starts before a dog is even bought as Harding asks the reader to think about why they want a dog, is it the right suit for their home or lifestyle. She then progresses through the stages of helping you find which dog would suit your needs and finding one with a compatible personality. There are personal stories and examples, and Harding includes an interesting history of the different breeding groups of dogs and what they have been bred to do through history.

This is the holistic approach to dog training Harding intended. She makes readers understand that any dog can be trained, but so much of their behaviour connects with their instincts, their breed, and the environment they live in just as much as how often you ask them to sit, stay, or heel. As she says, you can’t change the breed characteristics, but you can control what you want them to do.

This book reinforced and reassured me that I’d trained my dog correctly, which is always a comfort, but I was also interested in the histories and the personality checklists to understand the kind of dog I had (food fiend and a busybody, no real surprises there). This is a very helpful book whether you have a new puppy, or have brought home an older dog. Harding covers everything from first dogs, second dogs, or even how to manage a rescue dog that may be having trouble adjusting. There’re guides to sleeping arrangements and toilet training, plus step by step instructions on teaching the sit, stay, come etc commands, with advice on how to get your dog to pull them off successfully. Harding mimics what the trainer said when I took my own puppy to training class; you need to set your dog up for success. Put them in environments where they will succeed and don’t make things harder for them with distractions or confusing commands. If you do that you will be on the way to a well-trained dog.

There are also wonderful resources that can help with your research into the best breed for you, there are also questions to ask breeders or shelters about the dogs they’re selling, as well as guides to picking the best dog walking service or kennel if you should need to use them. Harding insists it’s never a bad thing to ask questions of a seller because it’s all about making sure you get the best for your dog and for you.

This book is not all about just buying the right breed and correct training procedures; Harding includes all the fun stuff as well like giving treats, playing with toys, and taking dogs out to explore the big wide world. If you’re looking at getting a dog or need help reining in one you already have, this is a great book to help guide you. It’s easy to understand, simple and with clear instructions but also covers a range of topics and scenarios you will encounter when you own a dog.

You can purchase Nose to Tail via the following

Nose to Tail website | A&R Bookworld

Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Published: 24th June 2014 (print)/3rd December, 2014 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Harper Perennial /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 388/1 Disc (14 hours)
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Sophie Honeywell always wondered if Thomas Gordon was the one she let get away. He was the perfect boyfriend, but on the day he was to propose, she broke his heart. A year later he married his travel agent, while Sophie has been mortifyingly single ever since. Now Thomas is back in her life because Sophie has unexpectedly inherited his aunt Connie’s house on Scribbly Gum Island — home of the famously unsolved Munro Baby mystery.

Sophie moves onto the island and begins a new life as part of an unconventional family where it seems everyone has a secret. Grace, a beautiful young mother, is feverishly planning a shocking escape from her perfect life. Margie, a frumpy housewife, has made a pact with a stranger, while dreamy Aunt Rose wonders if maybe it’s about time she started making her own decisions.

As Sophie’s life becomes increasingly complicated, she discovers that sometimes you have to stop waiting around — and come up with your own fairy-tale ending.

As I was listening to this I forgot that it was a Liane Moriarty book. Which is good…or bad. I don’t know. Weird? Not important? Either way it doesn’t have the Big Mystery feel of the other books, I thought maybe for a moment there was going to be one but that didn’t eventuate.

There is a mystery, don’t get me wrong, but it never felt like it was going to be solved, or needed to be revealed the way other Moriarty books have. All other books I’ve read of hers have had the Big Mystery; normally this is what the Event that is constantly being referenced to is. The books countdown and use flashbacks to what it is that’s happened until we’re finally told. This wasn’t the case with The Last Anniversary.

I didn’t like this any more or less because of that. I enjoyed it, it was well told, and I liked the little mystery it had. When the reveal comes it’s possible it was more obvious to some people, I didn’t figure it out and I’m not disappointed about that. I liked having it revealed to me, and I liked seeing it explained later as the pieces all fit together.

Honestly, even if it was never explained I wouldn’t have minded. It didn’t feel like it needed to be solved to make the story work, or to make it interesting, I enjoyed the story regardless. I liked Sophie’s part, the stories of each character, they were interesting and had intrigue and drama on their own. If I never found out what happened it didn’t affect the story whatsoever. Unlike other books where the veiled references about Something have built anticipation. This one was a nice story with a mystery, yes, but not one that needed or really revolved around the story as much as other Moriarty books have.

I loved all the characters in this. They were flawed and complicated, they had secrets and they had complicated lives. Everything in this story comes from, or circles back to the death of aunt Connie. Her death leaves people lost, confused, it stirs up the past and her actions have consequences long after she’s gone. It felt like a family story, there are jokes and warm feelings that sisters and family bring, and Moriarty brings to life this small island community where this family have basically reigned for decades.

Caroline Lee did a wonderful job narrating, she has done Moriarty’s previous audiobooks. There was even a bit of extra fun in there when she used the same accent for a background character that she’d used in a previous book and I had a second where I thought a character from an entirely different book had shown up. Was not the case.

It’s not all little mysteries; Moriarty also covers important topics like poverty, family commitment, and post-natal depression. These are the storylines that make the book interesting, not the mystery, though that is fun in itself. The new girl in a small community and fitting into a family that has such deep history is also a great story and one Moriarty pulls off successfully.

You can purchase The Last Anniversary via the following

Publisher | Booktopia

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Book Depository | A&R Bookworld

Fishpond | QBD

Still Me (#3) by JoJo Moyes

Published: 23rd January 2018 (print)/2nd February 2018 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Michael Joseph / W F Howes
Pages: 480/13 hours 38 minutes
Narrator: Anna Acton
Format: Audio
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life. 

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Funny, romantic, and poignant, Still Me follows Lou as she navigates how to stay true to herself, while pushing to live boldly in her brave new world. 

The adventures of Louisa Clark continue from the streets of Manhattan. She has crossed the pond and headed to America with a new job lined up as a companion/assistant to a wealthy woman. Familiar faces from the previous novels are there; Nathan and of course Lou’s family make appearances. There are also some nice surprise appearances as well. For those who loved Paramedic Sam he’s still there, Sam and Lou have decided to try a long distance relationship, despite the newness of their own relationship. And of course it wouldn’t be a long distance romance without jealousy and things that could have been solved if people didn’t see what they wanted to see and decided to sulk instead of just talking to one another.

For Lou her new job is a challenge but has some excitement of its own. The Gopniks are otherworldly in their wealthy bubble of parties, balls, and disconnect from the Every Day Person. Agnes is selfish and needy, clinging to Lou like a security blanket and believing her needs are the most important. She switches between a formidable presence to an insecure young girl and it’s hard to know which one will make you sympathise with her. Will she soften and be changed by the charming Lou from England? In an odd Mary Poppins moment I was half expecting this family to be changed and moved by Lou’s presence and her influence. It didn’t happen as much, she doesn’t come in to change anything, or alter people’s perceptions too much, she just comes and does her job and tries to be a friend and true to herself while embracing new things.

There’s the usual family drama that is the same whether you are rich or, poor, or middle class, disrespectful stepdaughter, oblivious husbands, throw in a moody housekeeper and more money than people know what to do with and you have a story filled with drama and conflict.

It’s not all New York though; we get to see the other side back in England as well. I liked that you got to see how Lou’s family have gone on without her, her mum, grandad, and sister all coping without her and moving on. They have their own lives and achievements which is a nice change of scene. After being absorbed into the high society of New York you get the abrupt switch to everyday life with other peoples’ lives.

I will admit I was apprehensive about this third book, but then again, I was the same with book two. But I was surprised early on and I liked that it didn’t take me where I thought it would. I loved the sudden changes and the twists that I didn’t see coming.  I liked that Moyes suddenly decides she is going in a different direction, no apologies. It is heartfelt but not sappy or too idealistic. There’s a delightful slowness with this story while also keeping a great pace. Moyes explores relationships and establishes her characters with style and with ease. Building up the story and taking us on a great journey through her characters and the New York high society.

The ending was wonderful, a suitable ending to the story that has been told. There’s satisfaction and hope, but also a few things left unsaid and unsolved. If this is the last we see of Louisa Clark, I think this is a fitting conclusion to her story.

You can purchase Still Me via the following

QBD | Booktopia

Book Depository | Dymocks

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Publisher | BookWorld

 

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