Tag Archives: Review

#60Books Review 15/2016: Hard Red Spring by Kelly Kerney

Read as part of my 60 Books Challenge: A book published in 2016

Kelly Kerney’s Hard Red Spring brings one hundred years of Guatemalan history to life.

Told through the eyes of four American women who witness four different periods of the twentieth century in Guatemala, this novel beautifully combines historical facts with memorable fiction.

Hard Red Spring also takes a look at the cultural divide, not only between the Guatemalans and the four American women, but also the different cultural groups in Guatemala, notably the Mayans.

The 1902 disappearance of a young girl is the red thread linking the four women, but the real protagonist of this novel is the country it is set in. Multi-dimensional and dynamic, the story remains as intriguing as it is heart-breaking to the very last page.

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Title: Hard Red Spring
Author: Kelly Kerney
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Pages: 448
ISBN: 978-0525429012

 

Hard Red Spring by Kelly Kerney was provided to me as an
Advance Review Copy in eBook format by
Penguin Random House’s FirstToRead

#60Books Review 14/2016: Daredevils by Shawn Vestal

Read as part of my 60 Books Challenge: One-word title

Daredevils by Shawn Vestal is a coming of age story with a twist.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s not so much a coming of age tale, but more a loss of innocence.

It follows Mormon life from the 1950’s Short Creek, Arizona to 1970’s Gooding, Idaho, and takes not only the characters, but also the readers, on a vivid roadtrip across the United States.

Central to the story is 15-year-old Loretta, whose life changes after she is caught sneaking out of her house one night. As punishment for wanting a normal life, her parents marry her off as a sister-wife to a Mormon Elder.

What follows is the urge to escape, the yearning for freedom from the confines of the family faith, not only for Lori who lives in a polygamist community, but also Jason who is also a Mormon but monogamist. He idolises Evel Knievel, and longs for a life of adventure. Together, they embark on a trip in search of gold and freedom.

The story is a page-turner from cover to cover, and not only provides an insight into Mormon religion and communities, but also into what teenage life is like governed by those restraints. Throw in the 70’s and a joyride across the States, and you’re left with a novel that shows the deeply human desire to break free.

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Title: Daredevils
Author: Shawn Vestal
Publisher: Penguin Press
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-1101979891

 

Daredevils by Shawn Vestal was provided to me as an
Advance Review Copy in eBook format by
Penguin Random House’s FirstToRead

 

#60Books Review 3/2016: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Read as part of my 60 Books Challenge: A mystery.

And Then There Were None is arguably the very best story the Grande Dame of Mystery Fiction, Agatha Christie, has ever written.

Originally published under the title Ten Little Niggers (or Ten Little Indians – back then these terms were not yet considered offensive), the story is about ten seemingly unrelated people who are lured to a remote island under false pretenses. It soon becomes apparent that there has to be a murderer among the group as one after the other is killed.

This story is THE whodunnit classic. Full of plot twists and red herrings, And Then There Were None stays gripping to the very last page, just as the protagonists stay classy and reserved in true British fashion. Even as the number of suspects decreases, readers are left wondering who the killer is and what their motives are.

Agatha Christie truly is a legend.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

#60Books Review 2/2016: Doctor Who – The Angel’s Kiss by Justin Richards & “Melody Malone”

Read as part of my 60 Books Challenge: A sci-fi novel.

Doctor Who – The Angel’s Kiss was written by Justin Richards, but – to tie in with the show – Melody Malone was named as author.

Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT the same book as the one River Song reads from in the episode The Angels Take Manhattan.

The story follows Melody Malone, private detective. She gets a visit from a film star called Rock Railton, who believes he is to be killed. Melody gets on the case after he mentions “the kiss of an angel,” and puts herself in danger during her investigations.

Even though this is a Doctor Who tie-in story, the Doctor does not feature in this story. This is one of Melody’s cases, told from Melody’s point of view.

It’s a nice enough story, and the audiobook version read by Alex Kingston – who plays River Song aka Melody Malone on the show – is very intriguing. Alex Kingston uses her sultry River Song voice with a bit of an American twang – the story is set in the US after all – and it fits very well with that old-time Hollywood period and charm the story is based in. That being said, this is NOT a story featuring River Song – this story is all about Melody Malone, the female no-nonsense private detective with killer heels and drop-dead gorgeous red lipstick.

It’s a cool detective story as a standalone. It’s got girl power, 1930’s charm, and a supernatural mystery (the only thing that really ties it in to the show). Unfortunately though, the supposedly bad-ass protagonist is limited by 1930’s gender roles and perceptions. It’s a good story, but could have been better.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Charming Restoration piece – The Beaux’ Stratagem at National Theatre, London

Simon Godwin’s production of The Beaux’ Stratagem brings new life into the town of Lichfield in the year 1707.

One night, Aimwell (Samuel Barnett) and Archer (Geoffrey Streatfeild), brothers and “gentlemen of broken fortune” appear at the doors of the inn in Lichfield. In the guise of master and servant, they claim that Aimwell is an aristocrat looking for a wife worthy of his status. Their plan to get rich quickly is to find wealthy heiresses, steal the money and get out of town before anyone sees them.

Dorinda (Pippa Bennett-Warner) and Mrs. Sullen (Susannah Fielding) ©Manuel Harlan
Dorinda (Pippa Bennett-Warner) and Mrs. Sullen (Susannah Fielding) ©Manuel Harlan

In Lichfield, they’ve set their sights on charming Dorinda (Pippa Bennett-Warner), who seems to fall for their spiel falls in love with Aimwell. Her unhappy-in-love sister-in-law Mrs. Sullen (Susannah Fielding) is smitten by Archer’s charms.

The beaux: Geoffrey Streatfeild as Archer and Samuel Barnett as Aimwell. ©Manuel Harlan
The beaux: Geoffrey Streatfeild as Archer and Samuel Barnett as Aimwell. ©Manuel Harlan

Fielding gives a frank but heartfelt performance, advocating divorce during a time when this was still a social stigma. Written by George Farquhar in 1707, The Beaux’ Stratagem touches on social aspects that are still relevant today. The play is broken up with songs and dances, ranging from merry to silly, all accompanied by live musicians on stage.

The Beaux’ Stratagem makes for a merry night, and proves to be a charming and funny Restoration romp.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

 

Drama, Romance and a Comedy Genius: Three Days In The Country at the National Theatre, London

The tag-line for Patrick Marber’s Three Days In The Country looks so simple: Summer Love.  But the play, which is a shorter version of Ivan SergeyevitchTurgenev’s A Month In the Country and currently playing at the National Theatre (Lyttelton Theatre), is so much more than a simple romance.

Set on a Russian country estate, in the mid-nineteenth century, this play explores love and lust in all its forms from unrequited to forbidden, and finds comedy in everyday life.

Continue reading Drama, Romance and a Comedy Genius: Three Days In The Country at the National Theatre, London

Hilarious, deep-reaching & charming: Constellations at Trafalgar Studios, London

What if all the things you’ve ever done, and all the things you’ve never done, existed side by side? What would your relationship be like?

That’s the premise of Constellations, a play by Nick Payne, which ended its run at Trafalgar Studios in London on August 1.

Starring Louise Brealey (Sherlock, Delicious) as Marianne, and Joe Armstrong (Happy Valley, The Village) as Roland, Constellations explores the various ways their relationship could have gone.

Continue reading Hilarious, deep-reaching & charming: Constellations at Trafalgar Studios, London