Seattle – what is in the water?!

City in Embers Stacey Marie Brown

What is it with Seattle?  I’ve never figured out the whole Bill Gates thing going on there and then there’s Christian Grey.  Personally, other than knowing there’s quite a few tech billionaires and some helipads for Mr Grey I have no working knowledge of Seattle.

Which is a bit of a shame as its the setting for Stacey Marie Brown’s new book (kick-starting a new series).  The city and its atmosphere are like another character – I just love cities and books like that!

Thanks to the ubiquitous nature of TV and film some cities you know even if you’ve never been there – LA, New York, London, Paris etc.  But Seattle – nope, I’ve got nothin’.  I don’t even know if there’s some kind of famous building – google tells me its on the coast!  (yay for that!)  I mention this as I’m sure a better knowledge of Seattle and I would have loved this more.

Geography lesson aside, the world created by Ms Brown is first-class as is the storyline.  Its intricate, rich, believable and exciting.  All that bodes well for the future of the series.  Human vs Fae – what a change from those vampires.

My bug bear was the slow and bit tedious nature of the opening chapters – urgh what a drag.  I get you need to share the back story and set the scene, but it totally lacked pace.

Once it got going – there’s a key point with her partner that kicks it into gear – I was well invested.  As for Zoey and Ryker – they sizzled and sparked and the promise of more is definitely there.  As for Amara – what’s the point of her?

Anyway, I’m off to Seattle zoo to grab me a monkey.  Or maybe I’ll wait til Valentine’s Day see 50 Shades and make do with a stuffed dog?!

Netgalley and Mark my words publicity gave me an ARC for an honest review – publication date is 4th Feb 2015.  thankyou

Throw it at the wall

The Wronged Sons by John Marrs

Reading this book on the kindle simply won’t allow you to properly give in to the frustration.

You will be hamstrung by the absolute need to throw it at the wall and to do so frequently. Given how much I love my kindle the fact that I was even tempted to throw it shows how gripping this book is.

Unlike most authors, it’s pretty clear that John Marrs intends for his reader to be frustrated and increasingly maddened.  His lead character Simon has to be one of the most disgusting characters in modern literature. Page by damn page he gets worse. And what can you do?

Time after time I put the book down swearing I was done.  But The Wronged Sons was not done with me, it was inside my head. Quite simply I had to know why he’d done it. So, I was a glutton for punishment over and again.

Reflecting back on it, I’m intrigued about the title.  Its true the story is that of a series of men wronged by their parents.  But what about the daughters?  Or indeed the Wronged Wife?

The title for me also reflects also on the culpability of Simon – he hides behind his own life as a wronged son, and what point was he responsible for himself?  And maybe also Catherine’s own decisions.  When do you move from being the child with a traumatic background excused for so much to being a responsible adult held to account?

The ending has been much discussed.  I would have preferred a neatly packaged solution but given the nature of the book, that wasn’t an option.  Thank god really – what on earth would I know?!  A month after reading it, I’m still gripped.

something for everyone even sitting with the gods!

Kooza Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall

Its January – time for London’s annual Cirque love in.

In many ways Kooza defines the Cirque conundrum – is it a variety style traditional circus or a well crafted story shedding some light on the modern world?

The programme says this is about “the innocent” – I guess that was the guy in the pjs with the kite and so this then is his journey to enlightenment.  Possibly…

Noel Gallagher might say “Whats the story morning glory?”.

I actually think that misses the point of Cirque and why Kooza in particular is so well loved.  You go knowing you’re going to be amazed, surprised and moved sometimes all at once.  You’re not there for the story.

And that’s what Kooza unlike the over indulgent “O” gets right – this is about the acts not the transformation of some innocent.

What sets every Cirque show apart from anything else is the one jaw dropping act.  In this case its screaming as some gorgeous man theatrically loses his footing on the wheel of death – or rather twin wheels of death.    Yes, I screamed – really I did.  And its the third time I’ve seen this show – maybe next time?!

Yet, screaming aside what I remember 24 hours later is the music, the clowns and the set. When it comes to sets Totem outclasses them all for sheer wonder and inventiveness (the swimming scenes are pretty much beyond words).  But this simple set, perfect for the Royal Albert Hall, showcases the music probably better than any other Cirque show.  And what music it is – sublime.  Mostly it steals the show.

Cirque’s clowns give the show personality as you’d expect from a company created from street theatre.  We were lucky enough to have the lost American tourist sit behind us, we ended up covered in both popcorn and confetti but thankfully the peeing dog missed us!  This brings us to the dilemma of a Cirque show – where you sit fundamentally affects your experience of the show.  The wrong seat and actually as I found last year with “O” and the experience is severely affected.

For Kooza seats up in the gods give an amazing view of the acrobatics – very strong with this show.  Seats close to the stage and you’re part of the madness.  I guess those in the boxes had the best view of the Chinese contortionists.   Something for everyone – bang on for Kooza.  Something for the Cirque fans who love the journey the story takes you on and something for those who just don’t get it but want to be amazed.

 

Churchill wore the first onesie

Churchill’s Scientists   The Science Museum South Kensington til 1st March

Sir Winston Churchill was clearly never going to be a dedicated follower of fashion. In fact, I imagine he abhorred the idea of fashion.  Yet, it now seems he was a trend setter.  One of the highlights that visitors to this exhibition can see is Churchill’s velvet green onesie.  Apparently he had it made as it was useful in an air raid.  Seriously!

Dominated by a textual and photographic telling of the story.  The exhibition isn’t tactile enough to inspire or interest the primary schooler despite the age range of 8+.  But older students with an appreciation of science will find it interesting – but probably not enough for that to be the sole reason you head to the Science Museum.

One thing that should inspire those thinking on a career in science is the impact their choice could have – this exhibition clearly plays well to that.

The Big Little Sister is always interested in the achievements and progress of women.  The most powerful message here is that there were women involved – sure a small number.   But if we created a list of the top scientists interacting with David Cameron and co today, would there be 50 years worth of more?  Sadly, I think not.

So, if you have a daughter perhaps the best thing you can do in the Science Museum is skip Winston’s onesie and head up to the Launch pad on the 3rd floor.  Inspire her with stuff she can see and do, not a story from 50 years ago.

I also wonder who at the Science Museum defined Science – Alan Turing and the Enigma gang were for me noticeable by their absence.

 

Something about Mary

The Dangerous love of a Rogue Jane Lark

Drew Framlington tells the object of his love that she has the power to make their two halves a whole.  He doesn’t yet realise the challenge she faces in overcoming the objections of her family.  Mary has plenty of steel in her spine but is it enough?

This is a romance that is less about the chase and more about what happens once caught.

The challenges Mary and Drew face would be just as home in today’s world as the Regency ton.  She has a huge boisterous fiercely loyal family – they don’t think he’s good enough, how does he deal with his inlaws?  How does he feel loved when her family are the centre of her world?  Can they create something together?  Who should have your loyalty – your family? your spouse? your friends?

How does a young man who dreams of more make his way with no one to advise and look out for him?  If you don’t have money and someone else does – is it love or gold digging?

Although this is a very romantic story, it takes quite some time to fall for Drew – he’s very hard to like.  You have to stick with him.

The writing does drag being 50+ pages too long.  But as Hollywood said there’s something about Mary – you can’t help hoping for a good outcome.

One of the challenges in this book is that there are many characters all with titles and related to each other – had I know this was part of the Marlow Intrigues I probably wouldn’t have started with this story but the first in the series.

Netgalley gave me a copy in return for an honest review.

Not sure about quiche but real men eat nuts

All Souls Trilogy – Deborah Harkness

The whole point of vampire novels, films, TV shows etc is to show how much more desirable they are than us average folk.  Whether it’s Nalini Singh’s Dimitri or Twilight’s Edward or JR Ward’s many many gorgeous vampires they are all seriously yummy.

And then there is Matthew…

Where to begin?  Forget Downton Abbey this man worked for Elizabeth I, heard Shakespeare by the man himself and called Kit Marlowe a friend.  That’s proper history.  Naturally he’s smart being a fellow at Oxford and a scientist to boot.  And I mustn’t forget the yoga – how many men do yoga? Smart, sexy, serious pillow talk and of course super flexible!  Swoon.

But its his interest in the kitchen (rather than other rooms) that really endear him to me.  His staple cuisine seems to be raw food primarily nuts – so he wouldn’t notice my ineptitude with a frying pan. Not forgetting his love of wine – good expensive wine!  Oooh! He just gets better and better.

As you’d expect from an immortal vampire he’s impossibly rich and good looking – just a couple of added extras that give that extra shine.

As for the books – well Ms Harkness clearly knows how to create a vampire but what about the rest?  Its a fabulous story, rich in detail, history and characterisation.  Her heroine is someone you can really relate to – she’s smart, flawed, sexy, emotional, brave, loving, passionate and no doubt gorgeous.  Its okay she’s a fictional book character I have no desire to claw her eyes out.  Well not today anyway!

So, I now go in search of another vampire to compare.  Come to think of it Edward is a little too pale, perhaps he’s not quite so yummy after all.  The field narrows.

http://deborahharkness.com/all-souls-trilogy/

Short & sweet – throw in a ghost

The Next Always Nora Roberts

The Next Always….  clearly I didn’t quite get this book as I have no idea why the book is called the next always.  And I’ve spent a day thinking on it.

It was a kindle freebee for the start of the year.  Mostly it was a nice read, a cute and sweet romance.  The main characters are all likeable and the addition of a spooky ghost and a bit of a villain were very welcome – even if the ending was telegraphed very early on.

I would like to find out what happens to the other two brothers and Lizzy, but…

The book’s setting is a supposedly an amazing historical inn that’s being refurbished and refurbished and refurbished.  The endless discussion of the tiles, light fittings, ceiling colour, desk types and kitchen cupboards started to grate (ha! ha!).  But the endless chat about the baths and shower fittings completely did me in….  Enough already – he’s an architect and his family has a building company – I got it the first time.

I’m going to put it down as a mystery read giving me 10 of my 2015 book challenge 52 reads.

I’m a winner!

Author Eleanor Prescott chose my response as the winner of her online competition asking “who’s your favourite romantic hero?”

Its kind of an easy one for me – Matthew in the All Souls trilogy.  Here’s what I told Eleanor:
1. he’s not just smart but super super smart – and I love intelligent men.
2. he knew Shakespeare & Queen Elizabeth just as starters – can you imagine the pillow talk?
3. he just likes to eat nuts and raw meat – as I can’t cook, seriously perfect!
4. he was madly in love with his first wife – you gotta love a man that knows how to love
5. he loves his mother but he doesn’t let her run the show
6. he’s super protective.
7. he has lovely manners.
8. he drinks expensive wine and lots of it (again perfect for me)
9. he builds buildings and I love architecture and old buildings (did I mention perfect?)
10. he does yoga (seriously perfect!)
And best of all he’s a gorgeous vampire and I love a vampire!

I now have two of Eleanor’s fab books – Alice Brown’s Lessons in the Curious Art of Dating and Could it be I’m Falling in Love?  And paperbacks – haven’t read a “proper” book in ages!

did the best book win?!

Congrats to Lindsay J Pryor – not only is her Blackthorn series absolutely amazing but finally she’s getting the recognition she deserves.   Best paranormal romance at Moonrise blog’s readers choice award!  Its incredible to think this is her first win for any of the (so far) four Blackthorn books – odd, very very odd.

However, despite being a dedicated and absolute fan – I disagree with the verdict.

Blood Torn was the winner against the fourth Blackthorn book – Blood Deep.  No competition Blood Deep is the better book and Eden the best of the heroes.  Caleb is just darn fine!  Jask and Kane – well you wouldn’t kick them out of bed for pretty much anything?!  But Eden is the best.

Clearly, Blood Deep being released late in the year must have swung it.  And it just goes to show what a cracker of a series this is that two of Lindsay’s books were in the final and one was the winner.  Amazing stuff!

Well done Lindsay – bring on the next book….

http://www.lindsayjpryor.com/2015/01/15/won/

 

Cruel, very very cruel

The Night Circus Erin Morgentstern

The night circus arrives and then vanishes – there is no announcement and only at night is there life in the circus.

I doubt I will live to be 100 but if I do I will always regret that the night circus is a work of fiction – how dare anyone create such a gorgeous magical world with no hope of it being real.  Cruel very cruel.

Not only do I wish I’d written this but I wish I had the skill and vision to imagine it.

The joy of this book is the lack of expectation and the sheer magic and mystery of the story. For that reason I won’t say anything about the story. Suffice to say that if you need to categorise it by genre before you read it – then its not really going to be for you.  In fact you won’t know what this book is about for some time. What a wonderful experience – sparking prose couple with an unexpected story.

If the circus was real I doubt I would ever leave.  And it would breathe life into the rather jaded cliché of running away to join the circus – this one would have a queue.

Please someone make the circus real for me.  I guess the next best is that someone will make a film – and therein lies a huge conundrum.  Done well this would be a film that amazed and dazzled one that you could and would see over and over.

But the fear is that Hollywood will do it.  This book is a work of art – far too precious for some Hollywood numpty to get anywhere near it.