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Archive for February, 2018

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Made for TV rom-com, which is entirely predictable yet thoroughly enjoyable. Autumn Reeser plays Jaclyn Palmer, who is getting married to Peter (Antonio Cupo), but it’s clear that she has doubts about it, and his overbearing mother certainly doesn’t help. A few days before the wedding she meets a handsome stranger who turns out to be none other than Peter’s brother Max (Shawn Roberts).

The wedding day dawns…and then dawns again…and again…and again…this is basically Jaclyn’s Groundhog Day as every time she wakes up it’s the morning of her wedding day again. As she tries to work out what is happening she learns a little more about herself every day, and figures out what she is actually looking for in life.

If you don’t like romantic comedies, or you DO like to be surprised by your films, then this is not the movie for you! But if you occasionally just want something light, fluffy and to make you smile, then give it a whirl, you might love it.

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Year of release: 2015

Director: Ron Oliver

Writer: Nancy Silvers

Main cast: Autumn Reeser, Antonio Cupo, Shawn Roberts, Ali Liebert

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The fifth book in the Phryne Fisher Mystery series starts with Phryne at a jazz club, witnessing a man murdered right in front of her. He appears to have been stabbed in the chest, but there was nobody near enough to him to have done it. Phryne is right on the case, but as well as trying to solve this murder, she also has an adventure in the Australian Alps while searching for a missing young man – and of course she always manages to find time for a romantic dalliance or two!

I remember the TV episode based on this book, and while the episode left a lot of the story out, I actually prefer it. I do enjoy the Phryne Fisher books when I’m after something undemanding, but they do have something of a disjointed feel about them at times, and I think this was my least favourite so far. Without giving too much away, I think my favourite part of the story was when she went into the Alps – perhaps the change of scene worked to the book’s advantage. I would also like to see a bit of of Inspector Jack Robinson – he is a major character in the TV show, and while I realise that the books came first and it’s actually the onscreen version which changed the character, I think he warrants more attention than he receives in the books.

With all that said however, I am still quite early on the series, and I will continue to read more to see if and how the characters develop.

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Carys, Andrea and Zoe are invited by their friend Joanne to spend her 40th birthday with her in a remote and – to the other three – unknown location. As soon as they start out on the journey there, it becomes clear that nothing is what it seems. There have been tensions between Joanne and the others for some time and it seems that this is the weekend she wants to have it out with them. Nevertheless the group try to make the most of things until things take a shocking turn and it seems that there is danger lurking, and friendship turns to suspicion as everyone starts to suspect each other. From there, things only get worse and the story builds to a shocking climax.

I listened to this as an audiobook, which are my preferred method of keeping me distracted during long runs. Inasfar as this goes, this book did keep me occupied but overall I cannot say I was terrifically impressed. The narration was fine, although I always feel sorry for narrators who have loads of characters’ voices to deal with, and some of these were a tad annoying. Overall though, I have no issues with the narration, but the storyline itself dragged on and as it became more and more implausible I grew irritated with it. It’s fiction and of course you expect some dramatic licence, but some of the characters behaved so oddly for supposedly intelligent women, and many of the events were so crazy that it lost all sense of possibility for me. Also, I guessed the ending pretty early on.

So generally I would say…not terrible, but not particularly mind blowing either. If you’re looking for something just to pass time, you could do worse, but if you’re looking for a genuinely thrilling read, I cannot recommend this one.

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This show opens with a voiceover warning people of a nervous disposition that platforms and white lycra are worn during this production. This somewhat sets the tone for the whole show – humour, colour, energy and of course some terrifically ABBA-esque costumes.

The storyline is simple enough – Sophie Sheridan and her mother Donna live in Greece. Sophie is getting married and wants to meet her father…the only problem is that she doesn’t know who her father is out of three potential candidates, so she invites all three without her mother’s knowledge. Naturally, chaos ensues as past memories are raked up. And when you throw together Donna’s best and oldest friends Rosie and Tanya, three men who have no idea why they have been invited to the wedding, and a host of young men and women, there is bound to be action, raunch and a little romance…

Accompanied by some of ABBA’s best known and loved songs – including Super Trouper, Take a Chance on Me, Lay All Your Love On Me, Money Money Money, Does Your Mother Know? and of course the title track – this is such a fantastically feel-good show that it did not surprise me one bit when there was a standing ovation at the end, with audience members dancing in the aisles.

Helen Hobson was great as Donna, and Gillian Hardie and Emma Clifford were wonderful as Rosie and Tanya respectively. In the performance I saw, Sophie was played by first understudy Blaise Colangelo, who was ideal for the part – so loveable and sweet. The three possible fathers were Sam played by Jon Boyden, Bill played by Christopher Hollis, and Harry played by Jamie Hogarth. Their three distinct characters were portrayed excellently.

I don’t see how anyone could fail to enjoy this show, and the beaming faces on the audience as they left the theatre were testament to what a wonderful time everyone had. If you get chance to see this production, do yourselves a favour and buy some tickets!

 

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Rachel and Jack met just a few months ago, but fell head over heels in love almost immediately, and are now expecting a baby. Then Rachel spots an email on Jack’s iPad, which causes her to question their relationship and slams home the fact that there is so much that they don’t know about each other and their past lives. She suspects that there is something bad in his history and goes on a hunt for the truth

As Rachel’s interest in the secret in Jack’s past turns to obsession, it becomes clear that she has a secret of her own, and both secrets could cause their fledgling relationship to crumble.

I really enjoyed this book. There is a dual storyline – the present day, and a year ago. In actual fact, not a lot actually happens in the present day storyline, which is largely concerned with Rachel’s search for the truth about Jack, and the toll it takes on their lives, while she also tries to come to terms with her own guilt about her history. For the reader, both Rachel’s history and Jack’s history are drip-fed throughout the book. If I’m honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought about the ending (no spoilers here), but I think it was probably the most realistic ending for the storyline that preceded it.

Overall, I think this was a well written book – it certainly kept me hooked throughout – and I would definitely be interested in reading more by this author.

 

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This book revolves around Greg and Zoe Milton, a once-gorgeous couple who are upset with the way they have let their weight creep up through the years, to the point where they are both severely overweight. (Bear with me here, this is NOT a fat-shaming book, and if it were, I wouldn’t be giving it the time of day!) When they enter a radio competition to lose weight – named Fat Chance – they embark on all manner of diets and fitness regimes in their attempts to shift the pounds. This book is their diaries, with each chapter a new diary entry, and the narration alternates between Zoe and Greg.

There’s no doubt that there was a lot of humour in this story, and also a lot of poignancy – both diaries touch upon the fact that even though they are heavier than they used to be, they are still the same people, but yes – society does treat big people differently. Cruelly sometimes, thoughtlessly often, and sometimes downright patronisingly. Overall though, this is a comedy, and the descriptions of Nick’s unfortunate exercise attempts (wait until you get to the treadmill scene!!) and Zoe’s increasingly bizarre diets (I’d never attempt the cabbage soup diet in the first place, but if I had ever been contemplating it, this book would have put me right off!) are indeed funny.

Where I felt let down, was in the one area that wouldn’t have mattered if I had actually read the physical book of this, rather than listened to an audiobook version. The narration didn’t quite click for me. Napoleon Ryan was fine as Nick, but Heather Wilds as Zoe seemed to constantly place emphasis on odd words, and would randomly pause in the middle of a sentence. I did unfortunately find this somewhat off-putting and I think that some of the humour got lost in narration.

Overall though, it’s an enjoyable book and I would probably listen to more by Nick Spalding (or physically pick up one of his books).

 

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This film is loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, who served as a butler in the White House, working for seven Presidents. In this film, Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) serves eight Presidents, against a backdrop of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War, among other famous American events. Quite simply, it is an amazing and moving film, in part due to the uniformly brilliant cast. Forest Whitaker never disappoints, and Oprah Winfrey is superb as his wife Gloria. There are some odd casting choices – I couldn’t imagine John Cusack playing Nixon I heard that he was in that role – but it worked. The film combines one man’s personal journey, walking a fine line between supporting his oldest son, who is determined to fight for equal rights, no matter what the cost; and working at the White House, where such subversiveness is frowned upon. Amongst the Presidents he works for are JFK, the aforementioned Nixon, and Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman). The film shows how the job takes it’s toll on Gaines’s family and causes conflicting ideals in his mind.

I loved it – go watch it, I don’t think you will be disappointed!

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Year of release: 2013

Director: Lee Daniels

Writers: Danny Strong, Wil Haygood

Main cast: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Lenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding Jr, Clarence Williams III, David Oyelowo, Colman Domingo, Robin Williams, John Cusack, Alan Rickman, James Marsden

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