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Surrey, United Kingdom

Saturday, 28 November 2009


Went to see 2012 at the cinema earlier this week. Strangely, I quite like disaster movies, especially now that CGI can create such amazing images and realistic effects. Couple this with the fact that I have had a crush on John Cusack since back in the day, this film seemed like a safe bet. I had heard some rather conflicting reviews of it, however. The majority seemed to be saying that the budget had all gone on the special effects, leaving very little for plot or script. I think the fact that I went prepared for the film to be all action and no trousers (so to speak) probably stood me in good stead. Yes, the effects are AMAZING, but quite frankly the entire storyline (I don't think I can even call it a plot), the characterisation and the dialogue was downright abysmal. I'm not even sure I know where to begin in describing the sheer badness of it all, but perhaps best to limit myself to a few choice selections:
the American bias of the film (shouldn't really have expected anything less)
the sloppy morals (Russian oligarch dies=greed is bad)
the over-abundance of movie clich├ęs (small dog surviving, last minute resolutions)
the verging-on-racist stereotypes
unrealistic character actions and reactions

So, go and see it by all means, but just don't go expecting any moral or philosophical revelations. Just enjoy the massive tidal waves, the collapsing buildings and the general destruction of planet earth. Oh, and John Cusack, if possible, improves with age ;)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Mariana by Monica Dickens

I began reading Mariana by Monica Dickens this week. Unfortunately, not in the beautiful Persephone edition as pictured, but a rather bedraggled 1970s Penguin edition, which I picked up in a charity shop about a month ago. This was another book and indeed author that I had not heard of until I began exploring the wonderful world of book blogs. It sounded like exactly the sort of book I would love and was given rave reviews from many book bloggers whose tastes seem to be in line with mine. The opening chapter made me wonder if I had been misled, but it soon became the book I had imagined it being. The story is idyllic and makes me nostalgic for a lifestyle I was born two decades late to have ever enjoyed! I'll review more fully when I have finished it, but the first couple of days' reading have assured me that I am going to enjoy every minute of this story. I can't help thinking there may be tears before the end...

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin

Finally getting round to writing up my thoughts on Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin - and it's a bit of a mixed bag. The plot and the characterisation are wonderful (I don't remember such a memorable dog in any other book!) The only thing I didn't really enjoy about it was the rather prolonged exposition which took over the last chapter of the book. The plot was complex and had some quite interesting and complicated aspects to it, but I prefer my detective stories to make the clues and solution apparent in more subtle ways than by having the detective explain it all to another character in the final chapter. So, rather disappointing in the end. BUT, I will not let this colour my view of Edmund Crispin's books just yet. I am dying to read The Moving Toyshop, mainly because I find the title so fascinating!

The Jewel Box

I was lucky enough to win a free book from Transworld Publishers who I am friends with on Facebook. They give away a couple of books a month to the first twenty people to email them - this is the second time I've got lucky. Shamefully, this is the first time I have actually read the book...It's called The Jewel Box by Anna Davis. I'd not heard of book or author beforehand, but being set in 1920s London I thought it would be worth a shot. It's not a serious book - in fact it's probably best described as chick lit - but with the added bonus of being period chick lit! I wasn't sure of the main character for the first few chapters. She came across as actually quite arrogant and abrasive, but things seem to be settling down a little now. I've also struggled a little with the way that period facts are brought into the storyline - I always find this a little clunky and I don't know why. It's probably just a personal thing that I find fiction and fact can all too easily clash and aren't very easy to merge together. Anyway, it's a fun, fast read and I shall certainly be looking out for Anna Davis's other novels ... The Shoe Queen, Cheet, Melting and The Dinner.

An Education

Went to see An Education last night - absolutely loved it. A brilliant cast who all made the characters so memorable and real. I loved Rosamund Pike as the ditzy girlfriend and Alfred Molina as the unintentionally comic Father. The story really swept me along and I was completely caught up in the romance and excitement of it all. It made me rather nostalgic for those days when every experience was new and you were just beginning to see that the big, wide world had so much more to offer than the narrow path you were following. It made me laugh, cry, gasp and wince. Definitely a film worth seeing - and one that I keep thinking back to. Carey Mulligan is wonderful - and absolutely beautiful. Great soundtrack, beautiful cinematography.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Lady Elizabeth and Love Lies Bleeding

Last week I finished Circle of Sisters and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and so had the joyous task of picking not one, but two new books to read. At the library I found Alison Weir's The Lady Elizabeth in hardback. This will be my 'at home' book - as any commuter will appreciate, hardback books are not very convenient for lugging on trains! There is something quite comforting and exciting about reading a chunky hardback book though. Instantly makes me think of rainy, autumn afternoons curled up on a sofa with a steaming mug of hot chocolate - bliss! I'm only a couple of chapters in so far and all is going well, although as I think commented after reading An Innocent Traitor, Weir's style can be rather jarring when she is trying to weave in actual historical fact. I don't know if this is a sensitivity on my part, or because I am used to the smooth storytelling of Philippa Gregory.

My commuting book is one that I borrowed from my Dad a couple of months ago and hadn't yet got around to picking up. My Dad has piles of detective fiction by pretty much any author you care to mention. He'd recommended Peter Robinson and Josephine Tey to me and so I trust his judgement! When I was last on the hunt for some new reading material he suggested Edmund Crispin. I then promptly forgot that I had borrowed the book until I read about some other Edmun Crispin on one of the wonderful readers' blogs that I follow - Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover - and decided that the time was right. I'm reading Love Lies Bleeding, which was an excellent choice by my Dad to get me totally hooked. It's set in a boy's boarding school and already (five chapters in) I am completely absorbed. It's wonderfully witty and intriguing at the same time and thankfully there's a whole load more to read...!

I now need to concentrate on picking a suitable book for my book club. It's always a tough decision as we are quite a diverse group (even though there are currently only three of us!) and I know that I can be quite predictable and unadventurous in my choices. I need to steer clear of detective and historical fiction - something contemporary always seems to be popular.