Feeds:
Posts
Comments

1849532362-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

In this enjoyable memoir, journalist Phil Hewitt tells how he took on the challenge of running a marathon for charity, and ended up falling in love with marathon running – at the time of writing the book in 2012, he had run 25 marathons, and this book charts his progress (or lack of) in some of his more memorable ones.

Each chapter concentrates mainly on one marathon, and just as in actual life, some days are better than others. Phil Hewitt has run marathons in some amazing cities – London (several times, including his first ever marathon), Dublin, Berlin, Paris, New York, Amsterdam and Rome, to name just a few. In an engaging and chatty style, he discusses the highs and lows of each of these, and also talks about friendships he crafted along the way, as well as lessons he learned about himself and life in general.

As a runner myself, I found his obsession with finishing times entirely understandable – I also totally identified with the way he used little mind games to get himself round the course when the going got tough. I laughed along with him, and felt his pain, and also completely understood why someone would want to put themselves through such a gruelling challenge when, lets face it, there is absolutely no real reason to do so!

I definitely recommend this book, but especially to running enthusiasts.

Advertisements

murder_on_blackpool_express

Comical murder mystery featuring a whole host of famous names including Johnny Vegas, Griff Rhys Jones, Nigel Haves, Ursula Stubbs, Mark Heap, Nina Wadia and more. A failing coach tour company take a group of customers on a tour of locations which feature in a famous author’s books – along with the supremely arrogant author himself. Along the way, various members of the team start getting bumped off, and it becomes clear that there is a murderer in their midst…

I really liked this – it was good demanding fun, with lots of laughs and – somewhat surprisingly – some genuine twists and turns which left me in the dark as to who the actual culprit was. Nigel Havers probably stole the show, but Johnny Vegas was also excellent.

If you like British humour, I would definitely recommend this TV movie.

*************************************************************************************

Year of release: 2017

Director: Simon Delaney

Writer: Jason Cook

Main cast: Kevin Eldon, Nigel Havers, Johnny Vegas, Sian Gibson, Mark Heap, Kimberley Nixon, Sheila Reid, Griff Rhys Jones, Una Stubbs, Nina Wadia, Peter Singh

*************************************************************************************

Hidden Figures (2016)

59dd139766efd

Based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterley, which tells the true story of three black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race. Katherine Johnson is played by Taraji P Henson, Dorothy Vaughan is played by Octavia Spencer and Mary Jackson is play ed by Janelle Monae. The supporting cast includes Jim Parsons and Kevin Costner.

The film shows a still segregated community where these three inspirational ladies have to withstand sexism and racism in what was very much a white man’s environment. The story of the space race itself is prominent obviously, but more interesting for me at least were the individual stories of these three remarkable women. Lots of moments of humour, and plenty of pathos. I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it.

*************************************************************************************

Year of release: 2016

Director: Theodore Melfi

Writers: Margot Lee Shetterly (book), Alison Schroeder (screenplay)< Theodore Melfi (screenplay)

Main cast: Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst

*************************************************************************************

1844080560-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Margaret Atwood specialises in what she calls speculative fiction (and what most of us call dystopian fiction). In this book, – the first in a trilogy – she introduces us to Snowman, a man who has survived the apocalypse and is now living in a tree with a few meagre possessions. He is somehow responsible for the children of Crake (I don’t want to explain too much about this as it will give away vital plot points), who in turn do their best to look after him. Stripped down to it’s bare bones, there is not much to the plot – Snowman decides to walk to somewhere where he knows there should be food and weaponry available to him, and then comes back again. However, in between the chapters telling the (future) present, are chapters where the story of what exactly happened to Earth is explained.

Atwood explains the role of Snowman’s childhood friend Crake, and Oryx, the woman they both loved. Their teenage pre-apocalyptic world is one of strange animal hybrids, violence and child porn as everyday entertainment, and communities divided into gated compounds, separate from the dangerous ‘pleeblands’ where everyone else lives.

I think Margaret Atwood is a genius, I really do and I have thoroughly enjoyed other books by her. But somehow this one took me a long time to get into. The story is fine – yes, not much happens, but it still has enough to keep it interesting. But I couldn’t help a small sense of relief when I reached the end, and I think it may be because I couldn’t really identify with – or even much like – any of the characters. Snowman is about the most sympathetic, as you would expect given that the story largely focuses on his point of view. Crake was a hugely intelligent, but revolting example of a human being, and Oryx was cold, cruel in her own way and too far removed from the reader for me to care much about her.

I do have the other two books in the series and will probably read them at some point, but for now I am looking forward to taking a bit of a break from Snowman’s story.

 

Murder Ahoy! (1964)

murder_ahoy

One of four films featuring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple – this was actually the last of the films, and was not based on one of Agatha Christie’s stories. As Miss Marple portrayals go, I think Rutherford’s was the least like the Miss Marple in the novels. But it is also the most amusing and entertaining. A member of a Trust for the rehab of young criminals is murdered, and the investigation takes Miss Marple onto the HMS Battledore in the search for the killer. That’s really all you need to know going in, and what ensues is an hour and a half of slightly daft but witty fun.

Margaret Rutherford is loveable, Bud Tingwell as Chief Inspector Craddock is surprisingly dishy and Stringer Davis as Miss Marple’s dear friend Mr Stringer, is highly entertaining. Watch and enjoy!

*************************************************************************************

Year of release: 1964

Director: George Pollock

Writers: David Pursall. Jack Seddon, Agatha Christie (Miss Marple character)

Main cast: Margaret Rutherford, Stringer Davis, Bud Tingwell, Lionel Jeffries, William Mervyn, Joan Benham, Nicholas Parsons, Miles Malleson, Henry Oscar, Derek Nimmo, Gerald Cross, Norma Foster

*************************************************************************************

81mi4-qt4wl-_sy445_

With a cast including Colin Firth, Michael Caine and Samuel L Jackson, and a script that doesn’t take itself too seriously (or even slightly seriously) this was always going to be a good film, with lots of laughs – not to mention lots of violence and lots of swearing (something to maybe consider if this puts you off).

The Kingsman are a secret spy organisation and Colin Firth is Harry Hart (code name Galahad). The service is looking for a new recruit and Galahad’s nominee is Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a streetwise kid, often in trouble with the police. Eggsy has to pass a series of tests, in a group which consists of upperclass, rich kids, who mostly resent his presence and his success at the tests.

Meanwhile, megalomaniac film producer Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) has a plan to cull the human race in order to save the planet. Accompanied by his sidekick and bodyguard Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) their plan starts to take hold and only the Kingsman can stop it.

I laughed all the way through this film – it’s absolute ridiculousness works somehow because it acknowledges the outrageousness of the plot throughout. The cast are excellent and seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves in the roles. If swearing and violence are not off-putting to you and you want to kick back and watch something really funny and action packed, I recommend this film highly.

*************************************************************************************

Year of release: 2014

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Mark Millar (comic book ‘The Secret Service’), Dave Gibbons (comic book ‘The Secret Service’)

Main cast: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L Jackson, Sofia Boutella, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, Samantha Womack, Sophie Cookson

*************************************************************************************

0007141343-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

This is the fourth book in the Poirot series, and definitely my favourite so far. It has been heralded as one of Agatha Christie’s finest and anyone who reads it will surely be able to see why. A man is murdered and there are several suspects – Poirot is called in to help the police investigation and naturally uncovers the truth. Unlike the previous books which were narrated by his good friend Colonel Hastings, this one is narrated by Doctor Shepherd, who finds Poirot is his new neighbour.

I’m not going to reveal any spoilers whatsoever, but the ending is ingenious and I was completely fooled. I adore Poirot, exasperating though he is! I also loved Dr Shepherd’s nosy sister Caroline, who was a most comedic character. Apart from the final revelation, one of my favourite chapters was where four of the characters have a game of Man-Jongg – here Agatha Christie’s sharp wit and observation of human behaviour really came through!

I thoroughly recommend this book, especially to fans of a good murder mystery!