Books, Books, Books!

Quote-Book-is-a-gift

At the start of the year I decided to do a 12 month reading journey. I have a lot of books that I haven’t read that are just sitting in my room. (I will link previous blog about this below).

12 months of reading blog

Now I started the year off well, reading 3 books in a month and blogging about each one but then came the readers block. I just couldn’t read, no matter how hard I tried I could not get my mind to focus on a book. Obviously this made me frustrated which in turn made me not want to read even more.

Its a vicious cycle.

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Go Go Go see Joseph……

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I have never seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (wow that’s a mouthful), so I didn’t really know what to expect. I mean of course I know the famous song “Any Dream Will Do”  and that Philip Schofield very famously played the roll of Joseph and of course its Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice but I never actually got round to seeing it, so here I am at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley about to experience it for the first time.

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The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan

My first book in my 12 months of reading journey was The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan.

What is the book about?

It is set just after the end WWII, we have Gus returning home to England, his two sisters Julia and Tilly waiting for him but it’s not just him that comes home, with him, he brings home a wife.

Krista is German and to say his sisters are shocked is an understatement but no one is more shocked than his fiancée Nella and Gus’s best friend Teddy.

All are carrying secrets and hate but they all have to try to get along, easier said than done. So we follow these character’s as they try to adjust to life after the war and also to each other.

Can it be done?

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Tough to start but brilliant ending.

 

My thoughts

I don’t normally read books that are set during or around the end of the war. I’m not sure why, I think, maybe it could be that it wasn’t really that long ago, especially WWII. I mean my grandparents were around at that time, so I find it quite tough to read. Also if there is too much army talk and technical terms used then I get lost.

But recently I have read a couple of books that were set around this time period that I really enjoyed which is why I decided to give The New Mrs Clifton a go.

To be honest I struggled with this book to start, I really struggled. I just couldn’t get into the story or follow the characters, I put it down I few times.
But with all books I like to get half way before I even consider giving up and even then I rarely do because once I have started a book I like to finish it, even if it takes a few months (like when I read The Hobbit).

So I kept going and lo and behold I got halfway and I started to like it, I started to enjoy the characters, I wanted to see the outcome for all of them.

As I say the beginning is a bit slow, it took a while for me to care about the characters, I don’t know if that’s because it was all about setting the scene, the author wanted you to know who was who and what was what and where. Which I know is what’s suppose to happen at the beginning of a book but I feel it may have gone on for too long.

If you persevere like me you are rewarded, the characters come to life, they all have their own stories to tell and they are told well. I especially loved how Krista was portrayed. Here we have a German woman who has married an English man coming to live in England, imagine that happening and how hard it would have been to start a new life here, especially when the war with Germany had just ended.

The author addresses this well, I felt sorry for Krista, I wanted her to do well and I wanted everyone to just leave her alone and just accept her, it wasn’t her fault that the war broke out, she had been to hell and back herself but she was a German living in England.

Elizbeth Buchan got the balance just right between Krista settling and people adjusting to her. It didn’t feel forced or unbelievable.

I also particularly liked the sisters and their relationship with Krista and each other. Both the opposite of each other with a different view on life but each with a secret that the other didn’t know. They both had their own personal reasons not to like Krista but they struggled, not wanting to upset their brother.

All three women have secrets that all come to ahead towards the end of the book, resulting in one very good cliff hanger, I just had to do a lot of reading to get there.

Was it worth it? I think so. I thoroughly enjoyed this book in the end. It’s a romance of sorts with family drama thrown in. It’s about trying to survive the war and staying together no matter how hard it gets but sometimes it’s not possible.

It’s about relationships between all, husband/wife, brother/sister, sisters/sister in-laws, ex fiancée’s to ex best friends, its got it all.

Elizabeth Buchan does write well, she brings the characters to life and is good at portraying the relationships between them all, as well as building tension but I just can’t put my finger on why I struggled so much at the beginning.

This is just my personal opinion of the book, I found the beginning hard work, you might read it and think What was she talking about?

But if like me you do struggle to get into it, keep going, it does get better.

Am I glad I read it? Yes. Will I read it again? probably not, so this book I will pass on for someone else to enjoy.

Please do tell me if you have read this book and what your opinions are of it, I would love to know.

Thanks for reading.

xXx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where have I been???

“Sometimes you need to get lost to find your way.”

Where have I been?

The answer is, I don’t know.

I have been neglecting my blog for a while now and its not because I’m lazy or just cant be bothered or even that I have nothing to say (trust me I have a lot in this brain).  The simple answer is I let my (negative) brain win, I let the little voices in my head take over and they got me good.

I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the perfect blogger (what even is that?) not just the perfect blogger but just perfect in general (ridiculous I know).

I was so busy comparing myself to other writers that it made me feel that I wasn’t doing good enough, I actually made my thoughts and fears a reality, I stopped writing as much and when I did write I had changed my writing style. I started to try and adapt my writing and reviews to how I thought it should sound instead of how I wanted it to sound, I wasn’t being myself and writing how I wanted. I was rushing out my reviews because I was doubting my writing and my ability to review, was I good enough to have an opinion on what I was seeing/reading? who was I to say if this was good or bad?

I kept thinking I had to do more, be more, see more but what I really needed to do was stop.

The last few months have been hard, knowing that you want to write but you just cant. Knowing that you have probably messed up any chance of being a “successful” blogger because you couldn’t physically reply to the emails, or post a blog, feeling mentally drained but at the same time wanting to carry on, wanting to write that blog but getting nothing out.

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The Bridesmaids Dilemma by Karen King

The bridesmaids dilemma, a rom com, a will they won’t they and a oh my god will you just talk to each other rollercoaster read.

Jess doesn’t want to be maid of honour but has no choice, she doesn’t want to fall for the gorgeous Eddie but doesn’t look like she has a choice there either.

Eddie just wants to make sure his best mate behaves at his stag do but that’s easier said than done, he especially didn’t want to meet anyone, especially anyone like Jess.

With Majorca as the backdrop we have the perfect setting for a great holiday read.

I liked Karen’s writing of the characters in this book, she made them seem relatable. Their stories and emotions became real.

The passion and the frustration, the misunderstandings, I just wanted to bang the characters heads together and that’s what makes a good romance/will they won’t they.

That’s is also the sign of a good writer.

The bridesmaids dilemma is perfect holiday reading, sitting next to the pool with a cocktail in hand but if you can’t have that holiday you will feel your on one with these characters. Most of the story is set in Majorca following holiday rep Jess who has vowed never to fall in love……..

Its a good easy read with enough to keep the page turning to see if that happy ending plays out.

I don’t know about the bridesmaids dilemma actually being a dilemma maybe more of just a hiccup but once that was out the way and we got into the romance of the main characters Jess and Eddie the story really gets going.

If you like your romance, sun, sea and cocktails then pick yourself up a copy of The Bridesmaids Dilemma by Karen King.

If you would like to know more about the author and where to find her books, please click the link below.

www.karenking.net

Thanks to Accent press for asking me to review The Bridesmaids Dilemma.

xXx

Strictly Ballroom The Musical at The Piccadilly Theatre, London

MEET SCOTT HASTINGS. BALLROOM DANCER. FUTURE CHAMPION. REBEL.

When Scott’s radical dance moves raise eyebrows with the Australian Federation, he finds himself dancing with Fran, a beginner who has no moves at all. Inspiring each other, the couple find the courage to defy both convention and their families – and discover that to be a winner, your steps don’t need to be strictly ballroom…

I can’t make up my mind whether you need to see the film or not before seeing this.

Either go in prepared for the amazing madness of sequins, fake tan, crazy over the top Australian accents and amazing ballroom or you can go in and be slapped in the face by all at once?

Either way to be honest I think you will love it so I suppose it doesn’t really matter.

It’s Strictly ballroom.

From the costumes to the Dancing it’s everything I could have hoped for in the stage version of one of my favourite films.

I had high expectations for this show and wow did it deliver, I had a smile on my face the whole way through.

From the moment the curtain goes up to the moment it falls, you are blinded by the glitz and glamour of the ballroom world, from the comedy and over the top acting, to the dancing, the amazing dancing. It creates this amazing world that I didn’t want to leave.

It’s a love story that I want to follow.

Jonny Labey plays Scott Hastings, a pro dancer but who just wants to dance his own steps, he wants to break the mould.

Jonny plays this character perfectly from his amazing dancing to his acting, he makes you fall in love with Scott, you feel the frustration, the want, the need to dance, to dance his way.

I have to admit that I only knew Jonny from Eastenders so I was unaware of his theatre and dance background, I went in blind and came out amazed, his talent speaks for itself, I could watch him dance all day.

The same can be said for Zizi Strallen, she is the perfect fit for the character of Fran (just Fran). She brings passion and vulnerability to the character, she doesn’t steer to far away from the original that everyone knows but somehow she still manages to make the performance her own so that people who don’t know the film can love her too.

With her perfect dance moves and great chemistry with Jonny it is beautiful to watch.

I have to say though I think my favourite character, they were all amazing but it has to be Shirley Hastings played by Anna Francolini, she is brilliant, she has the humour and the dramatics and the costumes. Anna plays the perfect Shirley Hastings, from start to finish she commanded the stage.

She plays the perfect over bearing mother who just wants what’s best for her, I mean her son.

I also can’t write this review without mentioning Fernando Mira who plays Rico (Frans father). The Paso Doble in this show is mesmerising, he is amazing and I think I will say it’s my favourite part of the musical.

You see him trying to teach Scott (with a little help from Abuela, also played wonderfully by Eve Polycarpou) to dance with his heart and with passion.

It’s a wonderfully choreographed scene which Fernando does beautifully.

Drew McOnie (choreographer) really knows how to create a scene and make full use of the stage with his routines and the dancers really show that off. There is a whole lot of talent in this show.

Unfortunately Will Young was unable to perform in the performance I saw, so instead we had Ivan De Freitas in the role of Wally Strand.

This is a new character to the show and is brought in to help narrate the story and keeps us on the right path of this wonderful, crazy story.

Ivan did a superb job, with vocals that amazed, singing all the 80’s classics (with some new) he really got the audience going.

This show really is fun, it’s a light-hearted feel good show that I would definitely recommend. Whether you have watched the original film or not, it’s worth going to see.

It’s old and new mixed together and it’s perfect.

With a hugely talented cast it’s not one to be missed.

Just be prepared to have you mind blown with the craziness and wonder-fullness that is Strictly Ballroom!

xXx

Big thank you to London Box Office for giving me the wonderful opportunity to see Strictly Ballroom.

If you would like to purchase tickets for Strictly Ballroom visit: www.londonboxoffice.co.uk

It’s currently playing at The Piccadilly Theatre.

Worth a flutter by Micheal Head

In life love doesn’t always run to the form guide…

4/1 Matt, the gambler with a dysfunctional brain, heart and penis. Might need more experience.

7/2 Sam, suffering from a broken marriage and loss but might have enough to take the spoils, safe hands.

The women…

9/5 F. Paige, the bookies favourite who is as shallow as she is devious, an obvious choice.

20/1 Helen, the outsider, a few skeletons in the closet but has experience if past doesn’t haunt her.

Worth a flutter is definitely worth a watch.

All the cast hold there own in this comedy about love, life and relationships.

When’s the play starts you first think that it’s just a comedy with stereotypical characters the ditsy female, the love rat, etc but it’s much more than that, its about how things we have learnt in the past, how events in ours lives shape us into who we are today.

Brilliantly and hilariously narrated by the main character Matt played by Micheal Head, we are introduced one by one to our cast Lucy Pinder as Paige/Emma, Paul Danan as Paul, Jack Harding as Sam and Clare McNamara as Helen.

We have a talking penis, horse racing, boxing and even a little dancing, it’s funny and entertaining as well as being emotional and heartbreaking as we follow these characters and find out about their past and what made them who they are.

Clare McNamara as Helen is brilliant, she really brings her character to life, you believe her, you feel the emotion. When Helen is revealing her past to Sam, you truly believe the pain behind it, I really enjoyed her performance.

Micheal Head as Matt is hilarious but it’s not all about the comedy, he narrates the story keeping us on track, making sure we are following along, but through the narration we learn things about his past and how it has affected him now, in the present and his battle with it and his battle over his emotions and how he deals with them and Micheal Head plays it perfectly.

Paul Danan is great as Paul, the best friend with the bad advice, his comic timing and chemistry with Micheal shows and they work well together playing the unlikely friends, it was a good casting choice and he brings fun to the play.

Lucy Pinder makes her stage debut in Worth a Flutter and she is brilliant, her stage presence and comic timing is spot on, even pulling off being a Scottish talking penis, yes that’s right a Scottish talking penis!

I look forward to seeing what she will do next.

And then there is Jack Harding, his portrayal of Sam who is stuck in a failing marriage and taking bad advice off of a equally bad friend, is played with a vulnerability that you believe, he delivers his lines with the right amount of emotion, especially at the end when his character is opening up to Helen about his past he pulls you in.

Clare and Jack share a great chemistry which helps with the story telling, especially when the characters are opening about their painful pasts.

All the characters have something about them that you can relate too. They are all believable, yes they have been exaggerated in parts for comic effect (Paige,Paul) but beneath it all there is a deeper meaning to this play.

Micheal Head has drawn from his own real life stories and poured them into the play which has resulted in a great comedic yet touching piece.

The intimate setting of The Hope Theatre is perfect and helps tell the story because it doesn’t get lost in the space.

The casting along with the great writing of this play all goes together perfectly and makes it a really enjoyable evening.

I think if you get the chance you should get down to The Hope theatre and catch it while you can. The odds are, you will love it.

You can purchase tickets for Worth a Flutter here:

www.ticketsource.co.uk

It will be playing until the 19th May.

xXx