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Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Next Book Club Book

The next book I am reading for my book club is Tomas by James Palumbo. As far as I can make out at the moment, it's a bit of a 'cult' book. Written by the founder of Ministry of Sound it couldn't really be anything else. All I know about it so far is that it has had a glowing review from none other than Stephen Fry and it has its own website: http://www.tomas-book.com/

I'm hoping it's not going to be a case of style over content - the book itself is beautifully compact and printed on good quality, bright white paper. And it has illustrations.


Of course, I had to do it didn't I? What with Season 5 of House just coming to an end I was feeling rather bereft and ready for a new tv series to get hooked on, and along comes FlashForward. The first episode, shown on Channel 5 on Monday night, really hit the ground running and has totally captured by imagination. Everyone in the world falls unconscious at exactly the same time, for two minutes and seventeen seconds (any significance in the length of time?) during which they have a 'flashforward' of the same time (around six months ahead). There was a cheeky nod to Lost with a billboard advertising Oceanic airlines and one of the main characters is the actress who plays Penelope Widmore in Lost. The cast is actually quite impressive - Joseph Fiennes and Jack Davenport in particular.

Definitely looking forward to seeing how this is going to unfold...

Latest reading

I decided to read A Necessary End last week - found it such an easy and compelling read. Peter Robinson fills his books with interesting characters, even those that only appear for a short time are so well described and recognisable. My only problem with detective fiction is that it's so disposable. They are the type of books that you can pick up and read quickly and love while you're immersed in the story, get totally caught up in the mystery...and then feel vaguely let down when you finish them. Does anyone else feel like that? Even with a series of detective fiction - like the Lydmouth series by Peter Robinson - the continuing story arc of the main character is never quite enough for me to feel I must rush straight into the next book. But, I am not complaining - sometimes you just want to pick up a book that guarantees a great read.

I have just started The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. Really enjoying the style of this book. I do feel that all the hype around this book has been quite misleading though. I got the impression that it was fiction, based on an actual murder case, but it is actually a straight forward case history. The great thing is that it still reads like a mystery and the clues unravel as I imagine they actually did at the time. I'm quite surprised by the reviews on Amazon - seems a lot of people felt duped in all the wrong ways, and disappointed at the 'dryness' of the book. For me, it's the background social commentary and placing of the case in it's historical context that is making it so interesting. Of course, the fact that it is based in one of my favourite periods of history. It's also giving me plenty of things to add to my list of things to find out more about!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

New books and new watching

Being on my own for the weekend always gives me the perfect excuse to spend my time reading without being disturbed and watching all those dvds that I hubby won't watch!

I finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and have already put Chamber of Secrets on my bedside table. The great thing about these books is that they are such easy reading. And I must admit that having watched the films probably also makes them quicker to get through. I'm actually looking forward to getting into the bigger story and moving on to the chunkier books!

I also finished Innocent Traitor, which I did not enjoy as much as the Philippa Gregory historical novels. I found the 'history' parts of the novel a bit clunky, but thankfully I found the story itself fascinating (there were even a few tears at the end). I'm always surprised/dismayed by how little I actually know about nearly every aspect of British history - and reading novels like this just makes me want to go and read every available book about the subject. Any recommendations on biographies on Lady Jane Grey are gratefully received!

I can't quite decide what to read for my commuting book... At the moment the choice is between:
A Necessary End by Peter Robinson
Picadilly Jim by P G Wodehouse
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale

I watched the second episode of the BBC Adaptation of The Crow Road. It's from 1996 but didn't feel dated at all (probably because I remember it so vividly from when it was on and because it feels more contemporary with the setting of the novel). Now I just have to wait for the next disc to be delivered by LoveFilm (and with the postal disruptions at the moment, who knows when that could be). Thank goodness I know how the story ends, or I would be really tearing my hair out.

The other thing I watched which I bought about three months ago, was Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky.

I knew nothing about this story when I bought the DVD, but it sounded like the sort of thing I would enjoy, and it was on sale! Anyway, it is absolutely brilliant. I watched it from beginning to end and got through three tissues mopping up the tears at the end. It's a trilogy following the same period of time through three different characters, who are all interwoven and is set in 1930s London. Great cast - all people you know you have seen in something else, but can't quite place. A quick trawl through www.imdb.com answered most of my questions though! It's an adaptation of a trilogy of novellas by Patrick Hamilton, an author (and dramatist) I am ashamed to say I had never heard of. It seems there has been a little revival of Hamilton's work in recent years and he sounds like he was a fascinating character. I have been working on my Amazon wish list accordingly...

Second part of the X-Factor double bill this evening, and the penultimate episode of House season 5. Busy, busy, busy!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Time Traveler's Wife

Went to see The Time Traveler's Wife on Friday at the Croydon Clocktower. Lovely cinema - so much nicer than the Vue at Grants, mainly because it's not packed full of teenagers who are more interested in their mobile phones than the film.

I hadn't read the book, so didn't really know what to expect. I'd heard various opinions from friends and colleagues - ranging from those who loved it and couldn't put it down to those who didn't get what the big deal was. I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would - the only down side was that I couldn't help my mind wandering and try to get my head around the whole time travel concept. I mean, how, why? Where does he live when he travels in time? How does he ever keep a job? How does he get money?! It did spoil it a bit for me, but I do think that the film was really well done and I was sorry it finished when and how it did.

After the film we walked down to South Croydon to Pizza Express. Three words: Dough Balls. Yum!

Baked pizza dough balls with garlic butter by j9.

Harry Potter

I have finally given in and decided that I really should read the Harry Potter novels. I read the first two years ago (when there were only two!) but never got any further. Having seen all of the films so far I thought it might be nice to try and read all the novels before the final two films come out (I hear that the last novel is being made into two films...)

I'm only a few chapters into the first book and am really enjoying it so far, although I don't feel hooked. Maybe I'll feel differently when I get to the first cliffhanger?

Sunday, 6 September 2009

New reading

Well, finished off A Dark Adapted Eye pretty darn quick. It was a really absorbing read and I feel quite bereft now I will not learn anymore about the strange lives of the Hillyards et al. Definitely the type of characters that will stay with me for a long time. Has made me want to read more Barbara Vine, but then there's always the worry that another novel just won't be as good. Any suggestions or recommendations very gratefully received!
Thought of another book it reminded me of, or rather a series of books - The Cazalet chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard, probably because of the similar period setting and the family saga elements.

So, for a change of scenery, my next book is Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir. I'm a big fan of Philippa Gregory's tudor court novels and am hoping that I will enjoy Alison Weir's historical fiction just as much!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Comment on Giles

Hmmm, in an idle moment I have just flicked back through all my posts. I have only ever received one comment, and that was when I mentioned my weird crush on Giles Coren. So maybe mentioning Giles Coren again will rouse people's interests? Worth a try!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

New reading

Have started reading A Dark Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine. It's one of those books I have had my eye on (excuse the pun!) for a while and keep meaning to read but have never quite got around to. Finally found it for 50p in a charity shop and decided now was the time. So far, it hasn't disappointed. In fact, it has un disappointed (if that's possible). I do love it when you find a book that totally draws you in and you find yourself sneaking another couple of pages/chapters in at any opportunity. It's dark and sinister, funny in parts with a lively and totally believable range of characters. It reminds me slightly of so many books, but in very good ways - The Crow Road by Iain Banks, The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey and The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. There's hints and references to all these mysterious happenings in a large and complex family. Just brilliant. Kind of wish I had suggested it for our next Book Club. Instead, I shall have to settle for telling everyone how thoroughly enjoyable it is. And I'm only on chapter 7...

Even more exciting, I have just found there was a tv adaptation back in 1994, starring Helena Bonham-Carter and Celia Imrie (oh, and Honeysuckle Weeks, whom I love just because of her name...) Bliss! I'm off to Love Film to stick it on my rental list!