Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Book review: The Malice Box by Martin Langfield

The Malice BoxThe Malice Box by Martin Langfield
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I went into this book with high hopes, ready for adventure, full of history, mystery and intrigue. The Malice Box had quite a few of these elements, but there was one other massive element, the supernatural.
Maybe I've been a bit harsh on this book simply because it's not was I was expecting but in the end it didn't keep me very interested. I didn't like the characters of Adam Hale, or Katherine and I was pretty much indifferent to the main character Robert Reckliss (which is such an utterly stupid name). I loved Terri and Horace and would have been quite happy if it was just the two of them running around New York.
Here's the point where I will give credit where credit's due. The author describes New York like a person, the buildings, parks, monuments. It made we want to go and see it, taking the book as a guide.
However, for the main part of the books, I was disappointed. I wanted Robert to follow clues to historical places and have to push letters in a certain order for a drawer to pop out and give him a piece of the puzzle. Really I wanted The Crystal Maze in a book. Instead, to pass one trial he had to sleep with someone and by the end I really didn't care if he saved the world or not.

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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Book review: Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander #1)

Cross StitchCross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Mum (and various other female members of my family) have been banging on about these series of books for ages. Time travel, Scotland and romance, what more could a girl want?
Well, it was brilliant, but I'll get to those points in a minute, because there were some things that niggled at me a bit.
For a start, once Claire is back in the 18th Century that's it, there's no other time travel of any description, so forget the time travel part of this book, because really there isn't any. In my eyes that was a bit of shame. I would have liked to see her go back and forth a bit, I wanted to know how time progressed back in the 1940s and if Frank was worried about her at all. We also meet one character to appears to be from another time, and I wish we'd learnt more about them as well. The biggest mistake to make is going into this, thinking it's a time travel story, because it's not, it's a historical romance. Once I'd got over that, I could enjoy myself.
The second niggling thing is that Jamie came to save the day, every time. I know he loves her and all that, but it was getting to the stage where it was becoming ridiculous. He would be miles away, unreachable, and he would still come and save her.
Right, rant out of the way, let's get back to the good stuff. The characters are absolutely exceptional. Claire is ahead of her time even in the 1940s and is a strong female character, a rarity. I've never loved a character as much as I've loved Jamie. He is a wonderful person, and someone you follow, despite his flaws. The supporting characters are all brilliant, unique and well thought out. Diana Gabaldon is brilliant at writing characters, and stories. I held my breath several times throughout the book, waiting to see what would happen next, even if sometimes, the amount of things that happened to them was a bit unrealistic for the short space of time.
Overall a fantastic sprawling read, that you can get your teeth sunk into and is unputdownable. I look forward to the next in the series.

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Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Osmonds: Up Close and Personal

For my Dad's most recent birthday I took him to see The Osmonds at the Brighton Centre. Seeing as it was his first birthday where I was getting regularly paid I splashed out on meet and greet tickets. The concert was the first time my Dad had been out without a member of staff since his stroke in November.
I must admit, I was expecting pushing his wheelchair to be easy seeing as I do it fairly regularly at work but pushing it along the roads of Brighton sea front was a different challenge all together.
Once we arrived, we were taken to meet Merill, Jay and Jimmy, alongside the other people who had paid for the meet and greet experience. All three were absolutely lovely, making my Dad and me feel so comfortable, like we'd known them for years. It didn't strike me until afterwards that the first American I've ever met was Jimmy Osmond.
After they'd met and spoken to everyone they treated us to a Q&A session and some Acapella singing.I know that everyone remembers the Osmonds for Crazy Horses and Love Me For A Reason but their singing and harmonising is beautiful. Maybe it takes blood relations to get that kind of chemistry and perfection that only people like the BeeGees, the Osmonds and the Jacksons can get.
The actual concert was also superb. They opened with Crazy Horses and a guitar that fired sparks from the end, moving into a combination of old and new tracks. I'm not overly familiar with their songs, this concert being more for Dad than me, but sung along to Love Me For A Reason, Let Me In and Crazy Horses. It was lovely to see the home pictures of the large Osmond family and they shared some memories with us in between their performances. On top of that they performed some songs from their new album Can't Get There Without You. The songs were catchy and more often than not poignant. One particular track Remember Me which had special guest vocals from Alan, Wayne and Donny Osmond was beautiful. Film of them singing their parts was projected on to the screen behind them. The crowd went absolutely wild.
Even though I didn't know all the songs, The Osmonds definitely know how to throw a party. People were crammed in front of the stage dancing and everyone was enjoying themselves. It was a wonderful, emotional experience and something I will remember forever.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Book review: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next #2)

Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next, #2)Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the second Thursday Next book I've read, and the second in the series. Somehow I've managed to read them in order.
I love Jasper Fforde's style of writing, especially the Nursery Crime books, and although I am a massive literary fan, I don't love the Thursday Next series as much. Fforde is a genius author. He creates whole worlds for his book, and reading the little sections at the beginning of each chapter are brilliant and fascinating. Reading how he imagines certain characters to be, such as Miss Haversham, when their not in their own books is very clever and I enjoy his wild imagination.
However, there are certain things that disappointed me. For a start, I like the story to be resolved in one book. If the author is planning a series, there should at least be a story per book, because I left this book wishing there was more to read. That there was some sense of closure. Secondly, I wish there was a new adversary for Thursday. It seems like I'm rereading old stuff, and I want something new, something fresh, even if it leading up eventually to the bigger picture.
I'll keep reading these books, as they're always a joy, and always make me smile, but I want more!

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