Friday, 30 March 2012

Book review: Play Dead by Richard Montanari

Play DeadPlay Dead by Richard Montanari
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my second Richard Montanari novel, but the fourth in the series. The Rosary Girls I enjoyed, but I didn't particularly warm to Kevin Byrne, but after this one I have changed my opinion of him.
The story is an interesting one, about Ludo and his magician's tricks and the lives of seven teenage runaways.
It's a clever idea, one of the more original ones I've come across, but I still feel like they didn't use it to maximum effect. Montanari describes this fantastic house with rooms that move and secret hatches. It's a brilliant opportunity for the characters to get lost inside with the victim and the murderer but nothing like that happened, instead the house got burnt down!
At the start of the novel, I found it annoying that the author constantly mentioned how hot it was and what it was like in Philly, which although was interesting, got irritating pretty quickly.
Montanari never fails to provide a quick, exciting read, but doesn't retain in the memory very long.

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Thursday, 29 March 2012

London Baby!

Mum in the hotel room.

Me at the V& A

It's finally here, the long awaited weekend (I know it's Wednesday) to London. After a long trek from Euston Station to our Travelodge, it turns out there are more Travelodges than red buses in London, we managed to settle ourselves in and get ready to see the epic Rock of Ages, a show about classic rock and strippers. As we walk in we find out we've been upgraded to the Royal Circle, a level below our original tickets. Then we're given fake lighters to wave along with the slow songs, of which there are plenty, full of funny (Lonny and Dennis singing 'I Can't Fight This Feeling') and touching (the whole cast singing 'Every Rose Has Its Thorn') moments. Rock of Ages is a very audience involved show, they encourage you to stand up, sing and the cast are fully aware they're in a musical, which as you can imagine has amusing consequences. But there was also a down side to that, as the theatre was half empty. Good for us, as we were upgraded but I'm sure the cast aren't particularly thrilled when they're looking at a hundred or so spare seats.
On day number two we went to the V&A. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I mostly thought it would be fashion and design, my brain didn't connect that to sculptures. It's an incredible museum with some of the most amazing pieces, but it doesn't really fall under one category. We saw amazing archways (check me out in the pic on the right!), beautifully jeweled boxes, books from the 12th century and jewelery from across the ages. There was a whole section dedicated to theatre and performance and that held some fantastic costumes. My particular favourite was the outfit Adam, of Adam and the Ants wore for the Prince Charming video.
After we left the V&A we headed to the number one shopping place in London, Harrods. To start with, I was amazed by the carpet. I know that's a weird think to say, but my shoes must have sunk an inch into it, it was so thick! And the place is huge! There is a whole room just for handbags, the same goes for make up and food! I was in heaven! The only way to describe it is a museum of modern, lovely things. Even the rooms have themes as well. Parts of the building had Egyptian decoration. Needless to say me and Mum came out there with one or two bags, thirty pounds down.
In the evening of the second day, me and Mum went to the O2 arena to see the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Tavares and the Crystals. Mum's been to see the Four Tops and the Temptations before but this was my first time. It was my first time to see an indoor concert full stop so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. The arena itself is pretty magnificent and me and Mum had awesome seats on the floor. The Crystals were the first up and they were good, definitely getting the party started. There was a bloke that kept getting up to dance in the aisles. The second group to perform were the Tavares and they were the best. They boogied and blasted their way through their hit songs, like 'More Than A Woman' and 'Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel'. What's more, four of the five original members were there. Both of the Four Tops and the Temptations were good, but they wanted to sing new music, or covers, which although there good, the atmosphere kind of depleted at that time. The Temptations were also on for too long, like they were milking their moment. Overall, they were excellent, but I wish I had the chance to edit the order of the night, and the songs they chose.
London is always an incredible place to be, but those three days were exhausting and next time, we need to pick a hotel closer to a tube station!
Me and Mum

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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Book review: Dissolution by C.J. Sansom

Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake, #1)Dissolution by C.J. Sansom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Mum has been a massive fan of CJ Sansom for a while now, but this was my first foray into medieval murder mystery.
Admittedly, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I don't normally read historic fiction, although Pillars of the Earth is one of my favourite books. However, I do absolutely love murder mysteries, so it should go well. Luckily, it did!
I generally like the character of Matthew Shardlake, although he's a very negative person, this isn't always against him and quite appropriate for the time considering his condition.
What I love most about Dissolution is the fact that it's set in the medieval era. You don't get bogged down in forensics or modern technology. It really is an old (very old) fashioned murder mystery.
All the characters are interesting and you can't help but emotionally involved in their lives and the story, getting a history lesson along the way.

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Monday, 12 March 2012

Book review: Looking Good Dead by Peter James

Looking Good Dead (Roy Grace, #2)Looking Good Dead by Peter James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm always a fan of Peter James and the Roy Grace novels which are set in my home county, Sussex.
That's my first point for why I love this book. Knowing exactly where the police, the victims and the suspects are is brilliant, although a little unnerving.
This story starts with a man finding a CD on a train and in his attempts to return it to the owner, gets caught up with a dubious snuff film production company.
For Tom Bryce and his family, things get steadily worse, while Roy Grace has to figure out what is happening, and who's behind it.
There's only a few issues with this book. The first is the psychic element. Peter James has assured me himself that real police officers would go down this route, but I find it hard to believe.
I can always rely on Peter James for a quick read, with an exciting storyline and interesting, believable characters.

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Friday, 2 March 2012

Book review: The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

The Mermaids Singing (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #1)The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've seen a few episodes of Wire In The Blood, featuring Robson Green and therefore went into this book with preconceived notions. In this case, I actually think they helped.
The Mermaids Singing is about a serial killer in the fictional town of Bradfield. Bradfield police force enlists profiler Dr Tony Hill to help them catch him.
The initial idea is quite a good one and the police's speculations are interesting as bit by bit they get closer to the killer. It's also quite a fast paced book, with chapters from the police's point of view and the killers.
However, I had some issues with the book. First of all, I really don't need to know so much about Tony Hill's sexual inadequacies. Too much information! And the dialogue that Carol used I found to be unrealistic in some places.
Overall, I would read more Val McDermid, but I'd probably stick to the stand alone novels, which I find much better.

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