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Archive for August, 2018

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Year of release: 2008

Director: Kevin Smith

Writer: Kevin Smith

Main cast: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Gerry Bednob, Traci Lords, Jason Mewes, Katie Morgan

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Genre: Comedy

Highlights: So many laughs, but somehow also incredibly sweet

Lowlights: None! It was great

Overall: Definitely not one to watch with parents, but lots and lots of laughs, lots of raunchiness, and a sweet story too

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Year of release: 2018

Director: Ol Parker

Writers: Richard Curtis, Catherine Johnson, Ol Parker

Main cast: Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Julie Walters, Amanda Seyfried, Cher, Lily James, Dominic Cooper, Andy Garcia, Alexa Davies, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Christine Baranski, Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan, Jeremy Irvine

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Genre: Comedy, musical

Highlights: Julie Walters steals the show, Colin Firth is getting more handsome by the day, the music

Lowlights: Fewer laughs, more poignancy, a lot of lesser well known Abba songs

Overall: An enjoyable sequel once you have got over the shock of the main character from the first film being dead (not a spoiler – this is revealed at the beginning)

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Listened to as an audiobook narrated by Napoleon Ryan.

Andrew Sumner is having a run of bad luck, but he believes that it is at an end when he meets the beautiful and captivating Charlie. The two of them begin a very intense relationship and are smitten with each other, but Charlie’s irrational jealousy causes problems between them. When things start going missing from Andrew’s flat, and his friends start being attacked – or worse – he starts to wonder if Charlie could be behind it…could the woman he loves really be a murderer….?

I am really in two minds about this book. There was a LOT that annoyed me, and that was before I even got to the ridiculous ending. First of all, there were continuity errors (I guess that is what you would call them; certainly if this was a film that is what they would be). For example near the beginning of the story, two characters go into a cafe in a railway station to have a chat, but halfway through it becomes a pub. In another part, two characters decide to get drunk on two bottles of gin which somehow turn into vodka. Okay, these things don’t impact on the story, but they annoy me and I feel that if I noticed them without looking, any half decent editor should have done as well.

Additionally, Andrew as a protagonist was just…blah. I couldn’t understand why any woman would become obsessed with him, although there’s no accounting for taste. More than anything he just seemed unbelievably stupid for putting up with so much of Charlie’s irrational behaviour, and largely (it seemed) because she was adventurous in bed. The ending was the biggest let-down. I don’t mind a good twist, but this was so mad as to be just plain stupid, and asked the reader to discount everything that had gone beforehand.

As a narrator Napoleon Ryan was fine when he was being Andrew – and as the book is narrated by Andrew, that was most of the time. But female voices are NOT his forte. In particular, Charlie’s voice just made her sound like a caricature out of a bad sitcom.

Yet – despite all this, I did find that the story rattled along at a good pace, and at one point I even found myself wanting to extend a long run so I could see how one particular subplot played out. So I do believe that Mark Edwards is capable of creating solid tension and mystery, even if his way of resolving things seemed to have come completely out of left field.

Would I listen to or read another book by this author? Well yes, I probably would. But I liken this one to eating junk food. It’s pretty enjoyable at the time but even while you’re consuming it, you know it’s not really that great, so it’s not something I would probably recommend to a friend.

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Year of release: 2017

Director: Mark Cullen

Writers: Mark Cullen, Rob Cullen

Main cast: Bruce Willis, John Goodman, Jason Momoa, Thomas Middleditch, Famke Janssen

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Genre: Comedy action

Highlights: The dog, John Goodman

Lowlights: Bruce is just churning these kinds of movies out now, and they can get a bit samey.

Overall: Enjoyable enough action romp for when you don’t want to think too much

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This is the fourth book in the Miss Marple series – although I think it is a bit of a stretch to call it a Miss Marple mystery, as Marple herself only appears towards the end of the story and utters a few words of wisdom. However, the book itself is still an interesting and intriguing read.

Jerry and his sister Joanna arrive in the village of Lymstock for a visit while Jerry recovers from an undisclosed accident. Fairly soon they, along with several other villagers, receive an unpleasant anonymous letter. When Mrs Symmington, the recipient of another such letter, commits suicide, the whole village starts to suspect one another…

As always with Agatha Christie, I enjoyed the book and was pleasantly surprised by the ending – I won’t give away any spoilers, but I thought I had sussed the mystery only to be surprised when the truth was revealed. This is what I love about Agatha Christie books – she is always able to surprise me, but she is fair in the way she does it. Not for her is there a sudden antagonist who has not appeared before in the book. Not for her is there a unforeseeable twist – the reader is given ample opportunity to work it out if they only look hard enough, but she is such a clever writer that she usually ends up outwitting her audience.

In any event, and as mentioned before, this is almost a stand-alone mystery – the appearance of Miss Marple is so brief that she is in fact an unnecessary addition to the plot (this is probably why I prefer Poirot, who is such a central character in the novels), but it is no less enjoyable for all that. There are some entirely unbelievable parts – for example, the police officer investigating the crime is more than happy to share his findings with Jerry, despite Jerry being nothing more than a visitor to the village – but for the sake of moving the story along, I am happy to ignore such things.

If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, this one will not disappoint.

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Don Tillman is a highly intelligent but socially inept professor of genetics. He is able to count his friends on one hand, is painfully literal and brutally honest – not through any cruelty, but just through lack of social skills. When he decides that he needs a wife, he acts in typical fashion and devises a questionnaire to select the perfect candidate and weed out anyone who is not suitable.

So when Rosie walks into his life, Don immediately dismisses her as entirely unsuitable – she smokes, drinks, is led by emotion rather than logic and is habitually late. She is also on a mission to find out the identity of her real father – and Don, as a geneticist, is ideally placed to help her. As they become friends and go through a number of adventures to obtain the DNA of the various candidates, Don finds that sometimes emotions do trump logic, and what should make two people incompatible can sometimes be exactly what makes them click with each other.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. It is narrated from Don’s point of view, which gives plenty of opportunity for humour, and also means that the reader empathises with him in a way that wouldn’t have been so easy if it were told in the third person. I also really liked Rosie – she is feisty, intelligent and witty, and the two of them made a great main couple of characters as they navigated the highs and lows of friendship.

The ending really made me smile as well – it covers more than just the outcome of the friendship between Don and Rosie – and manages to be both surprising and heartwarming.

I highly recommend this book and am already looking forward to reading the sequel, The Rosie Effect.

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This was my most recent ‘listening while running’ audiobook, and the first book by Lucy Diamond I had read/listened to in any format.

There are four main characters – best friends India, Eve, Jo and Laura. They are all at a leisurely lunch to celebrate India’s birthday when they witness a horrific crash. The emotions it stirs up in each of them causes them all to take stock of their life. India is devastated to hear about one of the young victims of the crash, which strikes a chord with her due to her own personal history; Eve, always calm and in control, finds herself unsure of how to deal with the worrying lump she has found in her breast; Jo uncharacteristically jumps headlong into a new relationship which moves at lightning speed; and Laura, who has wanted a baby for years, feels the maternal pull more deeply than ever. As life changes for each of them, the one constant is their friendship and support for each other.

I liked this book more than I probably expected to. I think I was expecting a fluffy chick-lit novel, and while this is definitely aimed at a female readership, it actually wasn’t fluffy, and it addressed real life problems – health issues, past sorrows, changing relationships and new families – in a respectful way. I find it hard to choose a favourite character as happily all four women were very likeable.

The audiobook is narrated by Clare Wille, who did a good job of bringing all the characters to life and making them all distinctive. I don’t think the ending brought too many surprises, but it was satisfying and appropriate to the story which had gone before. Overall, this was a pleasant surprise and I would definitely read or listen to more books by Lucy Diamond.

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