Book reviews: The Bone Clocks; Funny Girl; The Narrow Road to the Deep North


So I stacked up the books since I last wrote and I’ve already forgotten them a bit so I’ll give some quick and snappy reviews as best as I can!

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Book review: The Good Girl by Fiona Neill

DSC05973I’m sure the publishers of The Good Girl wanted to be the new Gone Girl or Girl on the Train. Hey, books with girl in the title and a vague sense of mystery are the hot thing, right? However, this book is nowhere near in the same league as those two. I’m not necessarily saying either of them were the height of great literature, but I am saying that this book is truly, truly terrible. I’m gonna put a lot of spoilers below the cut to explain why it’s so bad, so you can look away if you don’t want to know-or you can just read the review and be glad you didn’t waste time on it.
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Book review: The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh

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I’m still not 100% sure what I think about The Sex lives of Siamese Twins, a day after finishing it. On the one hand, it’s a zippy novel, it keeps you entertained, it has a nice little setup and an okay denouement. On the other, the characters are pretty poorly fleshed out and one-dimensional, and much of the dialogue and inner monologue can come across as clichéd.

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30 bizarre things you learn from Smash Hits Yearbooks

My friend Sara put something on Facebook yesterday seeking Smash Hits questions for a new blog feature she’s about to star running called Smash Lits. I said I’d scour my old Smash Hits yearbooks for some. I have yearbooks from 1990-1996 (each released the year before, as that’s how annuals work). I read the mag between 1988 and 1998 and got the yearbook every Christmas but I don’t recall any yearbooks after 1996 and I always regretted not getting the 1989 one – and last night I remembered there is such a thing as eBay so I now have that on order. I also have the compilation book Smash Hits: The 80s, which was released a few years ago. It’s not *technically* a yearbook but I’ve included it here.

Anyway, the yearbooks are total gems (the 1992 one is actually cry-with-laughter funny) and I thought it might be fun to do a BuzzFeed style list of some of the bizarrest finds from them…

1. The secret behind Kylie’s perfect body and lovely teeth is not what you expect.

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2. Morrissey has an interesting approach to cat nutrition.

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3. Madonna is a socks’n’sandals kind of girl

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And a jumper that looks very Clock House at C&A. Werk it, Madge.

4. Sonia is a misunderstood genius.

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you may mock, but she knew Jonathan King was a rum’un.

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And can you see Andy Crane being booed at the paralympics? Exactly. Real politics 0 Sonia 1.

5. Liam Gallagher doesn’t like it hot.

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6. Nor do New Kids on the Block.

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7. Chris Lowe says it like he sees it when it comes to NKOTB.

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8. Jason Donovan is no Beyoncé.

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9. East 17 have no regard for high fashion.

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Global Hypercolor.  In the early 1990s this was the future.  I can’t help feeling cheated that we’re not now all fully decked out in clothes that show every sweat patch.  The future is not what we were led to believe.

10. Sean Maguire was totally the hottest property of the mid-90s.

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The cover star should represent someone who’s been a huge success that year and is likely to do big things in the year ahead. The 1995 yearbook came out in late 1994 and featured mega-selling acts such as Take That, Blur, East 17, Eternal and Oasis. So who gets the big splash? That footballer one from EastEnders. Classic.

11. Annie Lennox is not above a bit of product placement.

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Make your own little feature story and take it along to Channel 4!

12. This analysis of Vanilla Ice’s lyrics is a beautiful piece of semiotic deconstruction:

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13. Cathy Dennis’s concept of love is truly terrifying.

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Come on and get my love indeed.

14. Whilst Marky Mark’s shows that he was probably always destined to end up in terrible Michael Bay films.

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15. Robert Smith is a mystic:

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See, you might call him crazy, Smash Hits of the past, but what is it we’re all doing every few minutes, twenty years on from this, huh? Ahead of his time.

16. Carol Decker is a style icon:

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Nicole Who? Tori Whatsthat?

17. Phillip Schofield is a twelve year old girl

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He liked to emulate a Haven holiday camp for relaxation and smelled like a branch of the Body Shop.  Sadly, history does not recall if he used those little wooden fragrance ball things.

18.  Giant X was making its bid for world domination way before Simon Cowell signed it.

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19. Debbie Gibson regrets not take motoring advice from her psychic.

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20. Stefan Dennis used to be an ageless enigma.

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Sadly, in these post-Wikipedia days, it’s pretty easy to discover that his DOB is listed as 1958.

21. Nathan Moore from Brother Beyond doesn’t understand the power of Paul Robinson.

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To be fair, this was the pre-peg leg days.

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Of course karma then got the better of him. His horoscope for 1990 predicted trouble – and lo, he went down the dumper.

22. In the pre-YouTube days, Andy Bell from Erasure had to get his Kylie fix the premium way.

When asked if he phoned the perv lines in the Sunday Sport, this was his answer:

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Apologies for the blurring – it says… ‘No, they’re just silly.  I phoned up a Kylie Minogue phone line once to hear her ‘Hand on Your Heart’ single.  It was something unusual to do, I suppose’.

23. Presumably the reason no-one has seen Lindy Layton in a while is that she got sent to the tower for treason.

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24.  Dick Spastley’s frightwig was an interesting career move.

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Be grateful for my crap camera skills soft focus.

25. Dr Fox is a right grumpy get.

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26. Brett Michaels from Poison thought Margaret Thatcher was a physicist.

A common question pop stars were asked was what they would say to Maggie if they met her. The British ones were all, as you might expect, wanting to cause a bit of a ruck about one or other of her terrible policies. Brett Michaels, though, had other things on his mind:

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27. Pliers from Chaka Demus and Pliers has a brother called Spana Banner.

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One can only hope for siblings called Wrench and Bradawl. Presumably MC Hammer is also a relation.

28. In the pre-Isla Fisher/Chris Hemsworth days, the notion of Home and Away’s ‘biggest star ever’ was a bit less exciting.

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Last seen as a bit part in Neighbours as Sonya’s evil ex who moved into Ramsay Street and died within a few days.

29. The world of calendars and diaries is a sadder place since the demise of the Smash Hits Yearbook:

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30. What every teen needs is an arty poster of Peter Hooton from The Farm with some random bloke’s feet on his shoulders.

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The real reason for the demise of Athena. After all, what are those Anne Geddes baby pictures and the tennis girl compared to this pinnacle of posterage?