Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My First Year Blogging

My First Year Blogging
So, on the last day of 2014 I look back at my first year blogging and think to myself how proud I am that I started to do this. Now I know this may seem silly to most of you, but the thought of writing down your thoughts and sharing it with the world was and still is a scary thought for me.
Will someone read my blog? Who would want too? Will they laugh at me? Will people think its the worst written blog in the world? These are some of the questions I asked myself and still do sometimes.
The only way to get over a fear in my eyes is to just do it. So I did. I set up my blog and as a lover of reading books I decided to write my own book reviews. Now they may be unhelpful and not very good to most but if just one person enjoys it and does find it helpful then it is worth it to me.
Thank You
I would like to say a few thank yous for getting me started and for peoples help. Firstly To Miss Charley Watkins, Fashion & Beauty blogger ( for pointing me in the right direction and helping me set up my blog. My wife Dawn for proof reading all my reviews before posting them and her help with everything. To Waterstones ( for sending me 4  books (so far) to read and review for their website including my latest book Girl In The Dark by Anna Lyndsey which is not published till March 2015. To Melissa M Wolff for sending me her book Three Little Lies to read and write a review on Amazon US for her, and finally to the people who have read one of my blogs, I really appreciate this.
My Top 5 books of 2014
My top 5 books that I have read this year are listed below:
Book Author
Forgive me, Leonard Peacock Matthew Quick
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
The Wolf of Wall Street Jordan Belfort
Before I go to Sleep SJ Watson
The Silkworm Robert Galbraith
What is happening in 2015? well books, books & yes you guessed it books. I will be reading some new and some old. I'm sure like most people that read we have around 100 books on our shelves that are unread so I will be trying to read them as quickly as I can.
New for the Blog
I will be adding a new page to my blog in 2015 for guest bloggers to write their own book reviews. so if you have read a book recently and fancy writing a quick review then contact me and I will upload this for you. This is open for everyone whether you blog or not. 
Thanks again.
Speak Soon.


Book Review: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

The Silkworm
Robert Galbraith
The Silkworm is Robert Galbraith's second novel and see's the return of Private Detective Cormoran Strike and his trusted sidekick Robin Ellacott. Galbraith's debut novel 'The Cuckoo's Calling' was fantastic and both my wife and I were extremely excited when we found out this was being written.
Owen Quine is a novelist that has gone missing. Quine has just completed his latest book which shares the darkest secrets of all the people he knows. Strike has been brought in by Quine's wife to find the missing author but when he finds him brutally murdered it changes from a missing person case to a murder investigation. Mrs Quine is the Police's number 1 suspect. Did she do it? Strike does not think so. Who really did murder Owen Quine?
Just like 'The Cuckoo's Calling',  this book sucks you straight into the story and you are hooked. The words just fall off the page and you are wanting to know more. As the story begins, you are introduced to the majority of would be suspects and, like a good Agatha Christie novel you are given a little background as to their motive for killing the victim. You are already making notes in your mind as to "Who done it?" before the victim has even been found.
Galbraith has a way of writing characters that are so believable you build up a visual in your mind. Strike & Robin are brilliant together and are so much fun to read about and follow throughout the book. The relationship between them has grown a lot since the first book. Although strictly business they do act like an old married couple sometimes.
Half way through the book anyone of 9 characters could have killed Owen Quine. I'm sure at one point I thought they all had done it!  With each chapter, your main suspect changes, and and before you know it you only have around 50 pages left. Still non the wiser. I love that the twists and turns kept coming all the way to the end and you literally only find out "Who Done it" with about 10 pages left. Did I get it right? nah way off..........
I scored this book a 5 out of 5. Why? Because it is a good old fashioned Murder Mystery with loveable characters. This book is very dark in places but so much fun and enjoyable to read. I would recommend you read this book but if you get chance to read The Cuckoo's Calling first then please do so you will love that as well.
Please Robert Galbraith can we have more Cormoran Strike novels.
I would love to know what other people think about the book if you have read it. Do you agree with me or not?
Speak Soon

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson

Before I Go To Sleep
SJ Watson
As most of you know, Before I Go To Sleep has just been made into a movie staring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth & Mark Strong but I wanted to try the book first. I  read great reviews on this book. Plus, my friends Keely & Joanne raved about it so I went to pick up a copy. I was happy to find a copy with a non movie cover as well which I prefer.
This Crime thriller is SJ Watson's debut novel and is about a women called Christine who loses her memory every time she goes to sleep. Each morning she wakes and all is lost including her identity, her past and everyone she loves. There is only one person she can trust, but is that person telling her only half the story?
The book starts with a little background - who Christine is and how she got into this situation. Then a visit from a Doctor who is seeing her in secret to try and make her better is where the real story begins. He suggests that she write and keep a journal about everything she does that day so she can read the following day to try and help her remember things. The story is then written and told from Christine's journal and all the things she has learned that day and the following weeks.
Right from the off you know something is wrong but you can't put a finger on it. Each chapter you pick up a little bit extra, but not too much as you learn more and more about Christine's life. This was enough to keep your mind guessing and giving you the urge to read on. This was what I like most about the book how it teased you into carrying on even if you were too tired or had something else to do.
When I read books my mind wonders as to what will happen. This book I thought I had it right, then I changed it, and then I changed it again, and again. I'm convinced I had wrote at least 15-20 endings to this book -  surely one would be right?
The last quarter of this book flew by. The story built up and up as though it was a balloon being blown up ready to pop. When it did it was like wow...... twist after twist after twist. I admittedly did get one of them right (only with 70 pages left) but there were 2 or 3 more that even after all my endings were still not right.
The book only had a few characters. Christine, her husband Ben, Dr Nash & an old friend Claire being the main ones. This I loved as you were able to concentrate all your efforts on these people.
Was there anything I didn't like about this book? Nope, not really
I scored this book 5 out of 5. As debut novels go this is up there as one of the best. SJ Watson's 2nd novel is out in February 2015 and I can't wait to read it. I fully recommend you read this book if you are into crime/mystery books. I believe you will enjoy it.
I would love to know what other people think. Have you read the book? Have you seen the movie? Or done both? Please leave your comments below.
Speak Soon

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Book Review: If I Close my Eyes Now by Edney Silvestre

If I Close My Eyes Now
Edney Silvestre
This book was given to me by Waterstones to read and review on their website so a big thank you to them for letting me do this.
Brazil, April 1961. Two 12 year old boys are playing by a lake and discover a murdered women's body. It's the dentist's wife and the dentist has confessed to the murder. The two boys along with an man from an elderly home find this confession very odd and start to investigate by themselves. Along the way they come across lies, corruption and dark secrets. Who really did kill the dentist's wife?
This is Edney Silvestre debut novel and was originally written in Portuguese. I found this book fun to read. Once I got used to the fact that it was a murder mystery being solved by two 12 year old boys and an elderly man. Someone asked me what it was like after I had read a 1/4 of this book. I tried to think of a best way to describe it and came up with "it's a cross between Miss Marple & Jessica Fletcher but set in the sixties in Brazil" The look I got was very strange but I tried to convince them that this is a good thing.
The story had a slow beginning in my opinion but after a while it started to pick up. The way it was written was clever and after each chapter you stopped to have a think. Could it be him? Could it be her? What is he hiding? just a few questions I kept asking myself.
The characters were very believable and gave you a good insight to what life was like in Brazil 1961. Maybe some of Edney Silvestre real life experiences were written in the characters. Ubiratan (Miss Marple) the elderly man was one of my favourites. A man hiding a lot of dark secrets himself leads the boys on a hunt for the real killer, sometimes putting his own life on the line. Other characters included a factory owner, a Madame and of course a corrupt mayor.
As the story started to come to an end, the twists and turns became more frequent and kept you on the edge of your seat. It was one of those stories that you just had to finish. The ending was really cool in a mysterious kind of way.
I scored this book a 4 out of 5. I was really pleased that this book was chosen for me by Waterstones as I would probably have not read this otherwise. Would I read another Edney Silvestre novel? Yes I would. Like I said earlier this was a fun book to read and it was nice to read a book set in a different location to either the UK, mainstream Europe or the USA.
I would like to know what other people think about this book if you have read this? Do you agree with me or not? Let me know.
Speak Soon

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Book Review: Three Little Lies by Melissa Wolff

Three Little Lies
Melissa Wolff
This book was given to me direct from the author Melissa Wolff to read and review for her, which I am extremely grateful for. Big thanks to Melissa.
Three Little Lies is a book about a rebel teenager called Amber Swanson, who is sent to live with her half sister Rebecca in Virginia for the summer. Amber's best friend has gone missing and everyone thinks she has just ran away, even her own parents do not really care. Taking this news really badly, Amber starts to drink, smoke and misbehave, which is why her parents have sent her Virginia. Whilst there she meets Ethan, the mayor's son, a bit of a loner. They grow together in a strange relationship as Amber searches for clues to find out what really happened to her friend as well as a group of women that have also gone missing. 
This book started off a bit slow in my opinion but not in a bad way. It's a fast read,  but I was just a little confused with the story. This however did not last long.  As soon as the first 20 odd pages were finished the story became a lot clearer and intriguing. The book was kept at a quick pace all the way through and had you guessing after each chapter. 
The characters were believable and well written . I really liked Amber the main character a lot. She was moody, brave and just did what she wanted. I also liked Ethan in a way that you actually felt sorry for him. I also felt for Rebecca who runs her own diner with her bad boyfriend. 
As a huge fan of thriller/mystery novels this one had my mind racing as always. What has happened? Who did it? yet again I failed... but I did not mind failing because the ending to this book was just WOW like really WOW. It had me gasping out loud as the story unfolded.
This book is aimed at young adults but I am 34 and loved it.
I scored this book a 4.5 out of 5. It would have been a 5 if the start was a bit clearer for me but then this is just my opinion. Would I read another Melissa Wolff book? Yes I will. I have read that she is writing the sequel to Three Little Lies and can't wait to buy this book. If you are a fan like me of thriller/mystery books then I would recommend this to you.
I would love to know what other people think if they have read the book. Do you agree or not? Let me know.
Speak soon

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Book Review: The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

The Wolf of Wall Street
Jordan Belfort
To most of you The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie starting Leonardo DiCaprio. This film was based on the book written by the man himself Jordan Belfort. When it comes to films based on books I always prefer to read them first. Previous I have read The Davinci Code, The Silver Linings Playbook, The Blindside and The Hunger Games Trilogy amongst many books. When I picked up this book of the shelf in the shop I turned it over and the first thing you read is "The outrageous memoirs of the real Gordon Gekko". Well, as Wall Street is one of my favourite movies I did not need to read on. It was a simple choice to read this book.
If you are easily offended by foul and abusive language then this book is not for you. However if you do not mind the language along with corruption, drugs, sex, power and pure wildness then you must buy this book. Jordan Belfort writes what can only be described as a brutally honest account of his life in the early nineties and how he changed the way the stock market was run. The "get rich quick" of the eighties was over. Jordan changed things, he moved out of Wall Street and set up his own brokerage & securities firm out on Long Island. In this book you follow how he went from being one of the richest business men in town, who used his power and greed to basically do what he wanted. For it all  to come crashing down in one humongous drug filled rampage.
This book is fantastically written by Jordan. You could say it reads like an experienced author has written it. For a man who abused his body so much with drugs and alcohol, you are surprised he is still alive, never mind written a book as good as this. It is fast paced all the way through and has you gasping, wowing and laughing out loud on every page. He has kept the real identity of a number of people in the story, only changing a few names for private matters. What I liked most about this book was the honesty about the money, whether it was what he earned, spent or used to bribe people. The way he describes his experiences are just brilliant -  it actually makes you feel like you are there with him. After Jordan, a couple of my favourite people in the book were Mad Max and his outrageous business partner Danny Porush. Mad Max had me in stitches every time he appeared in the book. I sometimes had to put my book down due to having the giggle fits. Danny was just mental and like Jordan you are surprised that they are still alive after everything they put themselves through.
I scored this book a 5 out of 5. It was one of the most enjoyable books I have read and if you have not yet seen the film then you must read this book. In fact even if you have seen the film give it a go. You will not regret it.
I have only just realised that Jordan Belfort has written a follow up book to this called Catching The Wolf of Wall Street. This will be my next purchase come pay day.
I would love to know what other people think about the book if you have read this. Whether you agree or not with me. Let me know on this blog.
Speak Soon

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Do we want an NFL franchise in London?

Do we want an NFL franchise in London?
by CBailey31
So, the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has come out and said that there could be a London team in the next 5 to 10 years. Question is do we want an NFL franchise in London?
As a big NFL fan here in the UK, I for one am not a fan of the prospect. Don't get me wrong it would be a massive coup for the country if we were able to pull this off. I just think that it would be a huge disrespect to the American people and their fans. I believe that the only people that want a franchise is the people that will benefit financially.
We have had an NFL game at Wembley Stadium in London every year since 2007 when the New York Giants played the Miami Dolphins in the first International series. Last year for the first time we had 2 NFL games and this year we have 3. When the media speak to the teams and players of the NFL teams they all say how great it is when they come over here and the New England Patriots owner has even said he would play here every year if he could (Just not a home game though).
I along with my friends consider ourselves very lucky and have been to every game so far and also have tickets for all 3 games again this year. I personally have been fortunate to see my favourite team the San Francisco 49ers twice (winning both by the way). I know that without the International series that I would still have not seen them play in person. I know from talking to other NFL fans in the UK and Europe on Twitter that they feel the same when their team comes to Wembley to play. It's a dream come true to see your favourite team play and the memories will be with you forever. I know that a lot of UK/Europe fans make their annual holiday a trip to see their team play in the states. This is one of my dreams that one day I get to see the 49ers play at home. Unfortunately like most people money is the reason that stops us from doing this. Although I do keep asking my wife if we really NEED that new bathroom.
The big question that is on everyone's mind is, "Would you then start supporting the new Franchise if one came to London? Would I stop supporting the 49ers to support the London Royals? Would I spend my spare cash on a new London Bulldogs jersey with Tebow on the back??" No I bloody well won't, even as a second team to support I can't afford £70 to spend on a new jersey or any other merchandise for that matter. I know that there will be people out there that will buy the franchise and make them their team but for me and a lot of UK fans they will just not support anyone else than the team they support now.
The NFL is America's sport and I believe it should stay that way. Can you imagine if one of our football (Soccer) teams like Arsenal, Manchester United or even my beloved Leicester City up sticks and moved to America? Imagine not having your team there anymore and not being able to cheer them on unless you could afford the trip to America to watch them. Can you remember when Wimbledon Football club moved from south London and set up shop in Milton Keynes and became the MK Dons? That was 10 years ago now and the country is still outraged. Put yourself in other peoples shoes back in America and think how would they feel about the idea of their team not being there. Yes I know in America a franchise can move across the country and become a different team but it is still in America and part of their league.
I put on Twitter (@CBailey31) that we don't want to have a franchise and that 3 games a year is what we want. I am yet to receive a reply from someone who does want a franchise.
For me, having 3 games a year in London works great and I hope that over the next 5 years we get to see all teams that are yet to come over and play. I save all year to be able to afford to go to each game but anymore than that I would be struggling. Would 8 games a year work?? I believe that we could quite easily sell out for all 8 games but again it boils down to will it work in the long term. Fans would come to start with, but what happens in 5 years time and we have the number 1 draft pick again? Fans would only then pick the games when their favourite team are playing are not really care about the London Sherlocks.
What we have now is great! I love the fact that every year we get to see the NFL superstars in our own country. Lets not ruin this with a franchise. 
This is only my opinion and my own thoughts about the subject. I would like to hear what other people think on the matter? What do American fans think about it? Please leave your comments on this post.
Speak soon

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Book Review: & Sons by David Gilbert

& Sons
David Gilbert

I was given this book by Waterstones to read and review on their website so thank you very much for the opportunity to do this. This is my first David Gilbert book so I went into this with an open mind.
A.N.Dyer is a famous author and after going to the funeral of his life long friend Charles Topping he realises that the life he has lead has not been as good as it should have. He decides that he needs to get his 3 sons together and confess to all his wrong doings, and try to re-build the relationships that have been broken these past 19 years before it is too late.
The book is narrated by Philip Topping the son of the dead life long friend and how he see's the story. This was a different way of writing which I don't think I have come across before. I found it good in most parts but then weird in other as a lot of the scenes Philip was not there so how did he witness this??? I found the first 100 pages of this book a bit long winded if I am to be honest, and found that the introduction of the characters went on too much and was sometimes confusing. This is because Gilbert started a story which went into another and then into another and then back to the original story. It was a bit like seeing Billy Connolly doing stand up but not as funny.  However once this has been done the story started to get going and the pages turned a lot faster.
About half way through the book your mind was wondering as to where this story was going and you knew there was a huge secret to be told. I had a couple of ideas but then the first twist came along and it was like WOW...... where did that come from. Never in a million years would I have guessed that and I have such a warped mind. This gave the book another kick start and you had to read on. The story then started to take shape and became more interesting. Just as the book was coming to an end there was yet another twist. This one again I had no idea was coming (yes I know I've been rubbish but that's good in a book) although it was a very sad twist and got me a little upset(no tears). This book was a great insight into the relationships between fathers & sons and that they are not always perfect. The book also had a dark side to it which added to story a lot.
The Character numbers were kept short which as you know from previous reviews I like. My two favourites were Andy (youngest son) and Jamie (middle son) I found them both very funny and interesting to follow throughout the book. Andy at times made me laugh out loud with his antics.
I scored this book 3.5 out of 5. I just found that it was missing something and lost marks for how the book started. Would I read a David Gilbert book again?? Yes I would, there were bits in there that was great and I love how the twists came from nowhere. I do recommend that you give this book a try. If you do,  and like me you found the start a bit slow then please stick with it as it does get better.
I would like to know what other people think that have read this book. do you agree or disagree?? Please feel free to leave comments below.
Speak soon

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn

I have been wanting to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for a long time now after hearing so many good things about it. I just have not got round to buying it due to the 70 unread books on the shelf. Thankfully my friend Nadine got me this as a secret Santa present this past Christmas. Or.... not so secret Santa as we like to call it where I work.

The story is about a character called Nick Dunne and his wife Amy. Amy suddenly disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary under suspicious circumstances and Nick becomes everyone's number one suspect. The evidence is building up against him and even his own family are starting to wonder.

The books starts off really well and gets straight in the action, after the first chapter your mind starts wondering as to what is going to happen. It is written as though Nick is narrating and you read the book through his thoughts. Then every other chapter you read the thoughts of his wife Amy through her diary entries from the past 7 years. I really like this style of writing which made the book very interesting and enjoyable to read. Each chapter finished on a little cliff hanger and left you guessing what has happened. It also meant you had to read on to find out what happens next which kept the book at a very fast pace throughout. Around half way through the book I had around 3 or 4 scenarios as to how the book was going then boom!! major twist in the tale which made me sit up in bed and say woooaahhh out loud. This is not how I imagined the story going and I had to read on. It did not matter how tired I was this was great story telling and very clever writing. The remainder of the book was even more addictive than the first half and the story took twist after twist all the way to the end. The book was a very enjoyable read.

The characters were very well written and kept to a minimum which I liked. like most books I read the fewer the characters the more in touch with them you become. The two lead roles Nick and Amy were brilliant and were supported very well by Go (Nicks sister) Rand & Marybeth (Amy's parents) and Gilpin & Boney (Police detectives) the other 7 or 8 characters were also written very well and although not in the book as much as the others played major roles.

I scored this book 5 out of 5 and if I could maybe a 6. For me as stated earlier the story telling and writing was pure brilliance. This is my first Gillian Flynn novel I have read and it will not be the last. I fully recommend that you read this book if you have not done so as yet. It says on the back of the book "There are two sides to every story" which I try and live by anyway but after this I will be more so. I know they have just made a film of this book and am really interested as to how they will do this. Like most films I watch after reading the book first I bet I will be disappointed.

I would like to know who else has read this book and what your thoughts are. do you agree with me? Please leave comments if you like to let me know.

Speak soon


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Book Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Matthew Quick
Last October I read Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, after deciding I wanted to read the book first before watching the movie. I tend to do this quite often. This turned out to be an excellent choice as I could not put it down. It quickly became one of the best books I have ever read. This got me searching for other books by Matthew Quick. I noticed that one of his latest novels 'Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock' was coming out in paperback in early 2014. After paying a visit to my local Waterstones I came home and could not wait to start. Was Silver Linings Playbook a one hit wonder or is Matthew Quick a genius writer and story teller? 
The main character, you will be surprised to know, is an 18 year old called Leonard Peacock. A troubled teenager whose parents don't care for him and has very few friends. Leonard is planning a murder-suicide on his 18th birthday but has to say 'Goodbye' to 4 people he considers friends first. Yes, I know you are probably thinking this does not sound like a story you would like to read and sounds depressing, but from page 1 you become hooked. On the back of the book there is a quote from Graeme Simsion that says "I was with Leonard on every page" this is so true. Matthew has a great way of creating characters that you actually start to believe you are them. As the book goes on and you find out more and more about Leonard, you start to think that no one can help him and the book becomes so raw and real. The book is so fast paced that you have to keep reading, you go through so many emotions from being upset to laughing out loud. One line in particular gave me the giggle fits for ages that I had to put the book down,  "Maybe if we would just picture our enemies jerking off once in a while, the world would be a better place." Yes, I know it is quite immature but I could not stop laughing.
I liked how the book kept the characters to a minimum and, like Leonard,  they were so believable which made the story so real. Walt was one of my favourite characters; an elderly man that lived next door to Leonard and one of the few people he could call a friend. Maybe, it was because he reminded me of my Granddads a bit as they were super cool. Herr Silverman (Teacher), Baback (Iranian violin player) & Lauren (Pastor's daughter) made up the other friends that Leonard relies on more than he knows. I liked that you did not find out until 3/4 way through the book, what Asher(baddy) had done to Leonard for him to want to murder him.This kept you guessing all the way through,  and when you found out it was a harsh reality that this world can be a horrible place sometimes. On this occasion I guessed wrong as to what happened,  but this twist adds to what is already a great story.
This book touched on mental illness and the harsh realities that comes with this. So many people are na├»ve when it comes to this subject, but after reading this it makes you wonder if there are people out there crying out for help, whether they are a close family member, a friend or a work colleague. It actually made me want to write a letter to an 18 year old me about what the future holds. We all know from being teenagers that growing up is a very scary thought, whether people admit it or not.
I scored this book 5 out of 5 which answers my question from earlier. Matthew Quick is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and once payday comes along I will be purchasing the rest of his books. I fully recommend that you give this book a go and if you have still not seen the movie Silver Linings Playbook then please read that book also. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is one of those books you will never get rid of and keep going back to read. Thank you Matthew....
I would love to know what you think of my review and if you have read the book what your thought are as well?
Speak soon

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Watching US sports from the UK

Watching US sports from the UK
Last week the Baseball season started in The US which signalled for thousands of UK MLB fans 7 months of very little sleep. This I'm afraid is what we like to call time zone problems and the price we pay for our love of watching live US sports from 3400 miles away across the Atlantic ocean. If like me you also love the NFL then we have had our 2 months where we catch up on our sleep and are ready now for no sleep till after next years Superbowl. It's the fans that also love the NHL and the NBA that I feel sorry for as they never really have a break and suffer all year round. You read in the media all the time as to how much sleep humans can survive on. I know I can vouch for thousands of British fans that some days you only need 3-4 hours.
I'm sure like myself if you are a fan of any of the major US sports you have family, friends and work colleagues that think you are sad and we have all been told that they are boring, way too long, have adverts every 40 seconds, and I know that someone has asked you more than once "why do they say they are world champions when its only Americans that play". The one I get a lot especially living in Leicester which is a huge rugby city is that in football (NFL) they are not real men as they have to wear helmets and pads at which point I always point them in the direction of Martin Johnson, the former Leicester, England & British & Ireland Lions captain and huge San Francisco 49ers (good lad) fan who also used to play with the Leicester Panthers in the 80;s our former American football team where Sean Payton the current head coach of the New Orleans Saints was once quarter back. I also like being told by huge test cricket fans that football is way too long. so a game that last 3-3 1/2 hours is longer than a game that last 5 full days where they have lunch & tea breaks and the game can still could end in a draw. Don't get me wrong I am a massive fan of cricket especially test matches and I love rugby once having a season ticket for 10 years at the Leicester Tigers.  I just get frustrated that people always use the same reasons for not liking US sports and I'm sure other people do. I wish they would just say I don't like it.
I first got into US sports in the mid 80's when channel 4 used to show NFL games from America and my older brother Rich got me into this. I was only 6 and decided that I needed a team to cheer on. Who do you pick to support? it's not like picking a football team here in the UK where most pick their local team or a team where other family members have supported for years. Yes you may have family members in America or Canada that have favourite teams so you chose them but it is a big decision for us UK fans as this decision is a life contract when it comes to cheering on US sports. In the 80's we had very little choice when it came to buying merchandise I know that in the shops they had either the Miami Dolphins or the Chicago Bears,  this was mainly down to Dan Marino's rock star status as a player and William "Refrigerator" Perry. The only other teams that I can remember you could buy merchandise for but even less than the Phins & Bears was the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers. I remember thinking about this long and hard but decided on the 49ers as I loved the name and at the time one of the best teams in the NFL (Yes maybe I was a glory hunter). That was it my NFL team contract had been made. Why we choose a team to support is different for everyone, it could be as simple as you like the name, you like their badge, they could be named after your favourite animal or play at your favourite holiday destination. Then like in any sport you choose to cheer on the best team at the time you start to watch, this again like in most sports is always frowned upon but it will always happen and it always will. If that is why they choose to cheer on that team then that is their decision not yours.
As the 90's turned up and technology improved we started to get the NBA over here and I remember at school that everyone went basketball mad. You had the Michael Jordan effect for the Bulls, the Lakers because they were, well the Lakers and another team that was popular was the Orlando Magic. Kids everywhere where wearing basketball jerseys and baseball caps with the team they had chose to cheer on. Our local park even got a basketball court fitted and people stayed behind after school to play. In the late 90's Channel 5 started to show baseball for the 1st time and I always like the sound of this sport but never knew the rules so I started to watch it and researched the rules online. It did not take me long to love this sport. As a 49ers fan it only made sense that the San Francisco Giants were my team even though at the time it was mainly the New York Yankees that were shown on TV. Maybe because they were such a great baseball team and enjoyable to watch.
I'm sure like most UK fans of US sports they pick a city/state and decide to support all the local teams of the other sports. I know one of my best friends Ben started with the Dolphins which lead onto the Heat and as of that cheers on the Marlins. Most Patriot fans also cheer on the other Boston teams but then you get some fans that pick teams from all parts of America.
Like most fans here in the UK I had a small group of friends and family that loved US sports so there were not many people I could talk baseball or football with like the other popular sports in this country. Thanks to social media especially Twitter it has opened up a whole new world for fans like me to chat and discuss all things US sports. Most of my followers on twitter are from the US and it's great to chat to people who regular go to major sporting events of the teams you support. I also have a large amount of followers that live in the UK that love sports from across the pond as much as I do. I am currently in keeper leagues for fantasy baseball and football with people I only know on Twitter. You also see fans that do fantasy hockey & basketball. I know a group of UK fans that will do mock drafts and so many that will fill out their March Madness brackets. Thanks to Twitter I know I enjoy my US sports a lot more as I feel like we are in a large community that love the same thing.
Sadly I have not been to the US to see a football game live in person but this is one of my life dreams to achieve one day. I have however been to a couple of baseball games whilst my wife and I were on our Honeymoon back in 2006. We got tickets at AT & T park for a night game against the Marlins. We sat right behind home plate in the upper tier and had such an amazing view. I know I am being a bit biased but the Giants stadium is just brilliant and I believe one of the best. That day a certain Barry Bonds hit Home Run number 716 straight over the centre field wall. I remember my emotions getting the best of me and tears of joy started to pour out. The feeling was just out of this world. The Giants won 14 - 2. Whilst we moved onto New York we went to the Old Yankee Stadium to watch the Yankees V the A's which again was brilliant just being at a live baseball game at a different venue. You hear stories of UK fans making annual pilgrimages to America or Canada to watch their favourite teams play live every season. This will be their annual holiday which shows how much US sports means to some of us here in the UK. What I do like is hearing stories of people who do not normally watch US sports go to a game whilst they are on holiday. It's mainly basketball or hockey but their experience is always a good one that they talk about all the time.
Each year for the last 7 years the NFL has played a live league game at Wembley Stadium in London. Last year we were lucky enough to have 2 and this year we have 3. 87,000 UK and Europe NFL fans pile to the capital of England all wearing the colours of their favourite team to watch, enjoy and celebrate the NFL together. We have been very lucky as to the teams we have seen. In total we have seen 13 out of the 32 NFL teams play and add another 4 new teams this year. I have with my friends been to all 8 games and have tickets for the 3 games this year as well. There is talk of 4 games next season and there is always that talk of a NFL franchise moving to London. Me personally, I do not want a franchise, this is a US sport after all and should stay in America. I am very happy that we get live games in the UK but lets just keep it at 3 a season. We all have our favourite teams that we will support and I know that I will not stop supporting the 49ers to support the London Jesters. We are onto a winner here in the UK lets not push it too far and ruin the relationship we have with the NFL and it's fans. As well as the NFL the NBA are regular visitors to London who play at the O2 Arena and I know that like the NFL the NBA fans love it. I would also love for the MLB and NHL to come over as well one day in the future.
What does it mean to be a US sport fan living in the UK? it kind of takes over your life and sometimes you plan life around it. We have so much access to watching live sports now. Fans pay extra TV subscriptions like Sky Sports, Europe ESPN, Premier Sports. Most people I know spend the $150 a year for NFL Game Pass, I myself pay the $130 a year for MLBTV likewise fans pay for the NBA and NHL. We set our alarms for 1:30am to get up and watch our favourite team and go back to bed at 5am when we start work at 8am. We all play multiple Fantasy leagues. Most people take annual leave from work the day after the Superbowl. People take the week off for the World Series so they can stay up all week. We start eating snacks and US beers to make us feel like we are there. Are we crazy? yes we are. Are we dedicated? yes we are. Would we have it any other way? no we bloody well wouldn't.
I hope you like this blog. I would like to hear your thoughts or stories so let me know. Sorry if I bored you haha.
Speak soon

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Book Review: Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

Apple Tree Yard
Louise Doughty

This is my first book review, I hope it helps...

I first saw this book as January book of the month in Richard & Judy's book club in WH Smith and was intrigued and wanted to find out more. I searched online and liked the sound of the reviews people had posted. I was round my brother Tom and sister in-law Kathy's house one Sunday and found Kathy had a copy so I borrowed hers to read. This was my first novel by Louise Doughty I had read.

When you read the back of the book to see what the story is about it is very short and mysterious which I loved. It was a little teaser that had my mind racing already as to what could happen and I had not even read the 1st page. Was it a murder mystery, Government conspiracy, Drug/gang related or a good old fashioned Alien invasion (A bit far fetched I know but I loved the X-Files)

The lead character is Yvonne Carmichael a scientist from London and the style of the novel was her telling the story to the male lead which is another first for me reading wise and I really like how it was written. I found Louise set the scene brilliantly throughout the book. This put me on the streets of London with the characters which when I'm in my little reading zone my warped mind allows me to do. Like the back cover of the book the story telling was kept very mysterious and kept you wanting more, you knew that something else was going to happen and before you knew it another 50 pages had been read. About half way through the book there was a major twist in the story which I did not see coming which had me gasping out loud. This new twist just sped up the reading of this story in a very chilling addictive way.

Sadly I kind of guessed the next twist based on the how the story was going (maybe because of the TV shows I watch or books I read) but I can see a lot of people not working it out. This for me is when the book lost some of its mojo. Don't get me wrong it was still a good read and had me fascinated all the way to the end maybe because I loved the first 3/4 so much.

I loved that the number of characters in the book was kept short and that you did not find out the name of the male lead till 3/4 of the way through. This kept the story very personnel and you could try and put yourself in the shoes of each and everyone. I'm sure like most people who have read this book I have used an internet search engine maps section to see where Apple Tree Yard is in London and plan on paying it a visit next time I'm there. 

I scored this book 4 out of 5 because for me the last 1/4 lost it that final point. However it was a great read overall. I would recommend you all give it a go and see for yourself. Will I read another Louise Doughty book?? Yes I will and I look forward to doing so. I would like to know what everyone else thought about the book whether they agree or disagree with my opinion. Let me Know your wonderful thoughts?

Speak soon