Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 RoundUp

Woah. It's the end of a year. That went stupidly fast.

First off...how did my resolution keeping go?

1.  Read at least 25 books on my kindle. Achieved!
2. Read at least 30 books from my physical pile. Achieved!
3. Write reviews quicker.  Achieved through some parts of the year.
4. Read review copies on time.  Achieved a couple of times, mainly failed.
5. Read 200 books as part of the Goodreads Challenge. Review at least half of them. Failed.
6. Read at least one British book a month as part of Feeling Fictional's British Books challenge. No idea-stopped keeping track.
7. Housekeeping round here! Achieved!
8. Change the desktop theme! Achieved! I don't like it though...might have another go.  Edit: said that, then spent the next thirty minutes changing it. Do you like it? I still need to sort out the colours and sidebars and everything, but I think it's a much cleaner look now. Also, let me know if the fonts work or not for you.
9. Comment on blogs more regularly. Completely failed. Sorry.
10. Write at least a first draft of a book.  Failed, kind of. Started two first drafts of completely different things, gave up halfway through both.  However, I'm very nearly finished the first draft of a Les Mis fic, which turned out really well, compared to my other fanfic writing attempts (as in it has a plot and uses characters properly and the actual writing isn't awful either). I'll be polishing that up pretty soon, and hopefully putting it on the web one day!

My resolutions for 2014 will be with you...when I've thought of them!

So, how did I do in terms of reading? Well, I challenged myself to 200 books this year. That was...overly ambitious. I got to 168, which is still pretty good.  I also managed to read lots of giant books (Pillars of the Earth, Fall of Giants, World Without End, Under the Dome and Les Miserables, which I think evens out to two or three books each. I don't know. What I did read, quite a lot of it I enjoyed, so yes. This was a good year for reading!

Blogging...well, my commenting was absolutely awful. My blogging also tailed off sometime in October, probably because Rainbow Reads was only meant to take 3 weeks and the fact that everybody did so much for it meant I had to share it all but that took out all my energy because long projects and me don't mix at all.
I am pleased with some things I did around here. I got a lot of people involved in Rainbow Reads, which was awesome to run.  I wrote a few discussion posts, like the one on beauty in YA, and the one on sex and violence and censorship and age appropriateness.

I met some awesome people, both on the internet and in real life. Bloggers I love include

  • Megan-The Book Addicted Girl
  • Georgia -Books and Writers Junior
  • Lucy-Queen of Contemporary
  • Stacey-Pretty Books
  • Andrew-The Pewter Wolf
  • Liz-Planet Print
  • Bella-Cheezyfeet Books
  • Ryan-Empire of Books
  • Cait-The Cait Files
  • Beverly-A Reading Daydreamer
  • Charlie-To Another World
  • Sophie-A Daydreamer's World

and there's more of you, but my memory is terrible and I can't think of you right now. I love you all!

I went to some great places. Thank you very much to everyone who invited me to events, especially Hot Key Books who publish great things and also supply excellent food. Also, thanks to Megan for the invite to the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize Awards ceremony-it was an excellent night.

Thank you, publishers, who sent me books for review. I'm sorry I take so long with all of them *buries self* These will be dealt with soon, promise!
So, thank you  Random House, Chicken House, Angry Robot, Harper Collins, Hot Key Books, Picadilly Press, Templar Books, and Quercus!

On a more personal note, I think I did ok this year. I made it through the year, I've made a lot more friends in real life, I got 3 GCSEs,  took up a few new things, got more forceful with myself in keeping to writing habits, and went some amazing places.

Goodbye 2013, which was a pretty awesome year, all things considered. Here's hoping next year will be just as good.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas-time Roundup

Did everyone have good time this week, if they celebrated a holiday? I certainly did. Christmas was mainly food filled, because my family will, if given an excuse (like Christmas) start eating at 11am and not stop for twelve hours.

I got so many books. Actually, it's not as bad as some weeks, but it seems like a lot. I took down my tree today and sorted it into piles of what I got for review and what I got for other things and it looks like I now have reading material sorted for the rest of the year but anyway.

From my UKYABB Secret Santa, who is the fantastic Kerrie from Read and Repeat, I got
--Soulless vol 3 - My collection is complete! This manga is good.
--The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - heard lots of things about it, all good, knew I needed to get it some day, and now I do :)
--The Fifth Wave - ages ago, I read another Yancy book, and really didn't like it. But now I have it, and I'll try it out some day.
--Steampunk Softies- it's a little howto craft thing of how to make all these steampunk figures and they're all so adorable and I'll try one of those when I have more time XD
--Shortcake! Food is always good.
Thank you, Kerrie, for being so generous, and thank you Lynsey for organising the UKYABB Secret Santa!

Also I got over the past week...
--The Princess Bride- gifted-loved the film, need to read the book sometime soon.
--Enders -review- Starters was so good and have been waiting AGES for this to be available in English. And now it is! :)
-- The Queen of Dreams -review- Gorgeous cover. Looks really good.
--Junk Miles and Slow Twitch-  review-  got to be honest here, I'm not going to read these. Anybody want some Brenna Blixen novels? New Adult Romance lovers, anyone?
--The Falconer - review-  Megan told me it's going to be good. I trust her.

I hope everyone else had a good time that was filled with fun and books!

Other things that happened this Christmas.... URGH DOCTOR WHO WHY? I am so upset at the way it's been going for the past few seasons because there's some wonderful actors in it but the writing doesn't support them. Whoever thought that the whole "nudity" thing would be appropriate, or, once again, non-consensual kissing, should be replaced.  Quite a bit of that episode made me uncomfortable.

However, there were some good bits. Matt's goodbye. And  Twelve's entrance. Which has led to one of my favourite things of the night, courtesy of 404-sanitynotfound.  Image not mine and will be removed on request.
Last roundup post of the year is over now! I hope you guys don't mind all my rambling. There'll be more of it in the coming year. 

Friday, 27 December 2013

End of Year Book Survey 2013

Hi guys! I hope your holidays have been as good as you hoped, whatever you were celebrating!
We're now in the last few days of 2013, which is scary to me when I think of how little I've done over this year.  Actually, I might have done a lot. I'm doing a roundup on Tuesday of the year. We'll see.

For now, because I can't think of many different topics to do top ten lists of, and don't feel like regurgitating last year's, I'm going to do The Perpetual Page Turner's End of Year Book Survey.  I'm going to skip the book blogging section, cos I haven't done that much this year (I will try harder to change that next year!), but everything else should work out ok here. I found this via Georgia.

Best Books in 2013
1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)
Plays- Equus by Peter Shaffner. Beautifully messed up. I'd love to see it one day.
Historical- Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Kept me interested, all 1100 odd pages of it.  Moved along wonderfully.
Mystery- Cruel  Summer by James Dawson. Unpredictable, great characters, biggest climax ever.
Fantasy- I CANNOT CHOOSE ONE  Either Pantomime by Laura Lam, Blood and Feathers by Lou Morgan, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman or Skulk by Rosie Best. The plots and characters are great, and the worlds and or concepts are totally unique and pulled off reallywell.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
John Green's stuff. I'd read The Fault in Our Stars in 2012 and I thought I'd love the rest of his things just as much, but I didn't. He's still a great person, even if I don't like his writing.
 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 
Ken Follett's stuff, all that I read. I don't normally read pure historical, but I read this becasue of a friend, and I am very glad that I did.
 4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
Pantomime by Laura Lam, definitely.
 5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
Did I really discover a series this year? I don't think so... the only series I read two or more of this year were Lou Morgan's Blood and Feathers and Joseph Delaney's Spooks series, which isn't that great. So I suppose Blood and Feathers.
 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
Does Laura Lam count if I knew she existed in 2012? No? Er, Ken Follett or Rosie Best.
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Ken Follett keeps coming up, doesn't he? Also, The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher- gritty contemporary looking at lots of teenage issues.
 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
Cruel Summer by James Dawson. Read in one sitting, something I don't normally do.
 9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I don't tend to reread that often, but if I were going to, I'd say The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang. Whoever designed that is too clever to exist.
11. Most memorable character in 2013? 
Argh! Er, I don't know. There's lot. Alan Strang (Equus). Micah and Aenea and Drystan(Pantomime).  Alice and Mallory and Vin(Blood and Feathers). Mal and Coby(Anne Lyle's Alchemist of Souls). If I had to choose, Luna (titular character of Julie Anne Peter's book). She goes through quite a lot, and the way she says goodbye to her sister at the end is stunningly beautiful.
 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
Most of my favourite fantasies are beautifully written, but for something new, The Oathbreakers' Shadow by Amy McCulloch has wonderful description.
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 
The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher  made me think a lot.
 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. Action is so good. I need to read more of her stuff soon.
 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
"It is nothing to die. It is terrible to not live"--Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest- Cinema Pantopticum by Thomas Ott-104 pages, but it's a graphic novel thing with four panels a page and four or five gothic and slightly disturbing but very awesome stories.
Longest- World Without End by Ken Follett-1248 pages. Close second ia Les Miserables (which I read on a kindle but my friend's edition is 1232 pages so let's go with that).
 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
The final scene of Cruel Summer. The magical duel scene of Shadowplay (by Laura Lam). The bit with Adriel and Vin in Rebellion (by Lou Morgan).
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Eva and Addie from What's Left of Me. All the Hybrids, really. The idea of sharing a body and not always having control of it and having to rely on the other is really interesting and very unique. I loved it.
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Excluding books I've already mentioned in this post, Prince of the Icemark by Stuart Hill.
20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Aenea from Pantomime.
23. Best 2013 debut you read?
The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke.
24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
There were many, Cassandra Rose Clarke's and Amy McCulloch's books had them especially, but then there was also Tom Pollock's The Glass Republic which has a great new mirror London.
25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
The Savages by Matt Whyman.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
Luna by Julie Anne Peters. The ending.
27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
I never saw much love for Skulk by Rosie Best, but then again, I wasn't around much so I'm not sure how well that counts.

Looking Ahead
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
The Night Circus!
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?
James Dawson's Bloody Mary.
3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Liz de Jager's Banished. Beautiful cover. Hoping the writing's just as good!
 4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?
Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock. Also, Delete by Kim Curran.
5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?
Er, I'd quite like to be able to carry on with it, because lots of things have started happening and time to blog has gone down a lot. Other plans for 2014 will be decided later.

Thanks Jamie  for doing this! Hope you liked it :) 

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Guest Review-Teardrop by Lauren Kate, reviewed by Cara

Hi guys. I have an amazing friend. She’s called Cara and she agreed to review Teardrop for me after I a)had too many books to get through and b)fell out of love with Lauren Kate after Passion.
Title: Teardrop
 Author: Lauren Kate
Series:   Teardrop #1
Published:  22 October 2013 by Random House
Length: 441 pages
Source: publisher
Summary : Never, ever cry... Seventeen-year-old Eureka won't let anyone close enough to feel her pain. After her mother was killed in a freak accident, the things she used to love hold no meaning. She wants to escape, but one thing holds her back: Ander, the boy who is everywhere she goes, whose turquoise eyes are like the ocean. And then Eureka uncovers an ancient tale of romance and heartbreak, about a girl who cried an entire continent into the sea. Suddenly her mother's death and Ander's appearance seem connected, and her life takes on dark undercurrents that don't make sense. Can everything you love be washed away?
Review: ‘Teardrop’ is set in New Iberia, Louisiana. The protagonist, a 17 year old girl named Eureka, is trying to cope with the recent death of her mother, who died in a freak wave created by a group of people called the seedbearers. They wanted to kill eureka but she doesn’t remember a thing. Cue attractive male hero; who must fight against his upbringing to save the girl he loves.
 Lauren Kate is a fantastic author, however I have found most of her books quite sluggish to begin with and often it is difficult to identify with the characters until at least a quarter of the way into the book. In teardrop however she jumps straight in with the description of a boy, who is waiting in a boat only a little way away from the Seven Mile Bridge, whose poetic view of the murder that is about to take place helps to define the tone of the book. Ander explains that he has been stalking the girl in the car for most of her life; he also explains the seedbearers’ plot to kill her. I really enjoyed his narration of events and it was a shame to lose his insight but in the second chapter and for the duration of the book we get to see the story unfold through Eureka’s eyes. I thought the plot was pretty typical of Lauren Kate; however it was narrated beautifully with lots of intricate details allowing the setting to appear before me. I thought that Eureka was really well written if a little repetitive at times. [BIG SPOILER HIGHLIGHT TO REVEAL] The best friend turned love interest follows almost every possible stereo type until our dear friend Ander reappears to explain the latest plot twists, involving an ancient storybook, a murder and a couple of car crashes. Not forgetting the all important best friend being possessed by an ancient king. [/END SPOILER] Altogether a rather well paced book which, though at times was gripping, was prone to slow, prolonged scenes concerning blooming romances between Eureka and male characters. I loved the plot twists and thought the touches of magic were incorporated nicely into the plot, making it a very enjoyable read!

Overall:  4/5

Links: | Goodreads | Author website

Monday, 16 December 2013

Book Review-Shadowplay by Laura Lam

Title: Shadowplay
 Author:  Laura Lam

Series:   Pantomime #2
Published:  7 January 2014 by Strange Chemistry
Length: 400 pages
Source: netgalley
Other info:  I really liked Pantomime
Summary : The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.
He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates. People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus—the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he's perfecting...

Review probably includes spoilers for book 1, Pantomime.
Review: Following the events at the circus, Micah and Drystan are on the run, wanted for murder. They end up at the Kymri Theatre, and learn magic tricks under Jaspar Maske, a  magician who lost his licence to perform after the break up of his magic act with Taliesin. While here, lots of things happen-Micah learns new things about himself, others, and what other people want with him too.
Micah is still quite angsty over the ending of Pantomime, but luckily it doesn't intrude too much on the action. He's a bit more sure of himself, and he's just as awesome as in Pantomime. Drystan's deadpan sarker comes through a lot, for comic relief-see fight with Taliesin's grandsons and .  I like him.
Shadowplay, plotwise, is very different to  Pantomime. We learn a few things about Micah that you -really- don't expect. Then there's everything about the Chimaera, which I thought would be a minor thing but are definitely aren't now.  Anisa, the Damselfly that wee didn't know much about before, is back, and I understand her a lot more now. I'd like the Penglass to be elaborated on a bit more, but I think that will happen at some point.
I'm still not entirely sure about the whole trees thing. I get there's a party  called The  Foresters who want the typical “down with the aristocracy who forget the workers thing” thing  but something makes me think there's more to them and whether or not there is is something i'd like to know or have explained.
The romance in this is nice. My OTP will --forever-- be  Micah/Aenea, but Shadowplay has made me like Micah/Drystan a lot more, because you can tell they grew closer after the last  night at the circus, putting across their romantic relationship more than in Pantomime when they were more of the best best friend type.
There’s a few infodumps at the start for backstories, but I don’t see how else you can get them in first person. Until we got to the middle where Anisa and Micah go through the  backstory of the Chimaera, which is just an amazing way of putting it through.
The thing that swayed this from a 4 to 5 was the chapter with the duel. Everything about that. The magic tricks are so beautifully described, and other things happen, and they  ending to that chapter was really nice because it showed character development and the magic tricks and...yeah. kudos for chapter
The ending was very sudden. I'm not sure where -that- came from, but I hope it gets resolved or furthered soon.

 Overall:  Strength 4.5 tea, just more a 5, to a great sequel to a magical series.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Book Review-The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch

Title:  The Oathbreaker's Shadow
 Author: Amy McCulloch
Series:  The Knots Sequence #1
Published:  6 June 2013 by Random House
Length: 413 pages
Source: Publisher
Summary: Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.
Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.
Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.

Review:  In Dahran, promises are big things. When you make one, you make a knot, and the promise is sealed with magic. Breaking the promise means enduring scarring, becoming an outcast, and being haunted  by a shadow of the person they broke the promise to. Our main character Raim is best friend of the future  Khan, and has just passed his final test to become a Yun, esteemed warrior and protector of the Kahn, and has taken his vows. But this breaks a promise that Raim has worn all his life, despite his not knowing what  it was for nor if was an actual promise.  Thrown out of society, Raim tracells across the desert to find out what his promise was for and how to clear his name, which hleads to him fining out even more.
I found out about this by lots of people talking about it. the premise of promises being binding like this intrigued me, and I was very excited to receive this for review.
I was instantly transported to the desert lands of Darhan. The setting is fully vivid, easily imaginable, and rich. The other settings, ie the cities, were just was well described, and I could really see this setting existing. The action comes to life with the same ease.
I really like Raim. He’s really loyal to everyone he can be, such as Khareh his friend, Darma his sister, Wadi the girl in the desert, and so on. He tries hard to do what  he thinks is right, and is a strong character in many senses of the word. The rest of the characters are also fully developed, really interesting, and generally awesome, especially Wadi and Old-maa.
The plot is a little predictable at times, but the twists and turns and the fact that you just don’t want to stop reading makes up for it.

Overall:  Strength 4.5 tea, more a 5, to a fantasy adventure with one of the best, richly imagined settings I’ve seen in a long time.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

December Update

IT'S DECEMBER WHERE HAS THIS YEAR GONE??? Ok, it's been December for over a week now. But I didn't have a talky post last week, so here's one now.
Seeing as it is December, and therefore nearly Christmas, I made a book tree. Because reasons.
That's as Christmassy as my room is going probably to get. But, in my mind, it's a good Christmassy. So there. 
With this and my nearly-6-foot-tower, I think I should totally go in to book stacking. This is a thing. In Japan.  

November is over! And here's my efforts of Nanowrimo. 15 sheets double sided handwritten.  Probably about 15000 words-I gave up counting halfway through. Considering this was done in the middle of 5 pieces of coursework, I think I did good. 

If I can finish and clean it up some day, it'll make its way on to the internet. Maybe.

Other things that have happened.... 
I read a bit. Not much. But what I have on the go now, I plan to finish before the end of the year. I have a big to review pile, so I'll get on that in the next week or so.
I've nearly finished season 1 of Lost Girl. It's awesome. 
My library has More Than This!! I'll start that soon too hopefully.
I'm rereading Pride and Prejudice so I can write a broadway style duet for Lizzy and Darcy. 
I'll try and be around the bloggy world more after next week.

Have a great week!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Mini Reviews-Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer and Hellbent by Anthony McGowan

Title: Zombies Don’t Cry
 Author:  Rusty Fischer
Series:  Living Dead Love Story #1
Published:  1 October 2012 by Electric Monkey
Source: won from US publisher
Review:  Maddy Swift is Normal. Trying to pass food class, sneaking in and out, and going out to dances. This stops when she is struck by lightning. Which makes her a zombie. Under the wing of some fellow zombies, Chloe and Dane, Maddy starts to adjust to life as a one of the undead. Even when you take into the fact that Zerkers, crazy ones past civilised zombie-ism, are running round her high school.
I’d heard of Rusty and his books ages ago and so was happy to see he got a deal in the UK.
These zombies are very original. I like the fact that there’s more to them than eating brains, but that is a big part of them. I also like the use of the lightning-not the bolt on the creators table, more a bolt while out doing normal things, and the subversion of the trope is good.
The main characters, Maddy, Chloe and Dane, are all very likable and make a great friendship group. Love interest Stamp is cute, but he doesn’t really do much. I like the fact that Maddie was quite active and did lots of things despite just being throne into this new world with its bureaucracy and rules. Chloe is my favourite  character because she just wins in terms of coolness.
The writing is chatty, open and fun. I love the chapter titles. All the things that happen to Maddy after she becomes undead are unpredictable and crazy. The climax at the school was well done. I liked the circular structure-the way it comes back to the guy in the blue suit…

Overall:   Strength 3 tea to a fun zombie romance.

Title:  Hellbent
 Author:  Anthony McGowan
Series:  N/A
Published:  2005
Source: library
Review:  Conor ONeil dies and goes to hell. There he finds that hell is a mix of hells for different people. His hell, with him being a teenage boy into all the stereotypical teenage boy things, is to be surrounded in a room with classical music and heavy books. Hacking into a computer then leads Conor to find there’s someone whose hell is his heaven. with his pet dog who comes along as part of a new initiative, and Clarence, the demon who was assigned to oversee his eternal punishment, he sets out to find that someone.
I picked this up in a shop and started reading it. It wasn’t a great start, but the concept was very interesting.
It’s definitely for people who find humour in stereotypical teenage boys’ views of sex, excrement and such.  A lot of Conor’s narration revolves around it, which is fair enough, considering where they are, but sometimes it gets in the way a bit.
It’s a very chatty book. Conor is talking directly to you, telling you all about his life, and his death.
The characters were all exaggerated for comic effect. I particularly liked the CafĂ© Valhalla, where Vikings are put in as waiters and forced to form a string quartet. Conor isn’t the most engaging character for me, but some may like him more than me.  
Overall:  Strength 3 to a very different interpretation of Hell that may be enjoyed more by people with different senses of humour.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Theatre Review- Macbeth (in Pitch Black) by Shakespeare

I said I was going to branch out... It's time for tea-tre; thank you Georgia for the name :) 
I hope you don't mind the fact I'm doing something new with the blog. I'll be showcasing awesome things, so maybe you'll like it.

Title: Macbeth (in Pitch Black) 
Writer: William Shakespeare
Performed by: London Contemporary Theatre
Major cast: Noel Andrew Harron, Louise Bereford, Samuel Clifford,  James Burgess, Andrew Chase,
Director: Kevin Williams
Seen at: Windsor Firestation
Other Info: toured in November. Shakespeare has written many things.

Review: I really like Shakespeare (as you might be able to tell from my fangirling over the internet), so when I saw this advertised at the Firestation, one of my favourite places,  I was intrigued because they say they’re doing it in the dark. Then I got told one of my major pieces of coursework would be on Macbeth, and I knew I had to see it.
When we got there, the lights were down low in the foyer of the theatre as well, because The Dark Room was playing too, and the bar and everything was lit with UV and glowsticks. Then we were shown down to the basement, which was scary, because somebody thought it was a good idea to get about 100 people down some stairs, lighting it only with two tiny lanterns where the stairs turn corners. We got there though.
Despite the title, it’s not all in pitch black. Certain scenes used lights of various kinds, such as “candles” for Lady Macbeth, lights in balloons for the feast, lights in trashcans for the witches, and torches for the end. The sudden lights were used effectively, only for major scenes; more plotty, wordy, less actiony scenes were left in the dark. Doing it all in the dark was a really interesting way of staging it. I think it really made you listen more to what was happening, and is a very different way of performing a play.
The cast are amazingly talented. There’s five people doing the whole thing. Ok, some roles were cut down and some were merged, but everyone bar Macbeth took on more than one role, using voice to differentiate. Also, how on earth did they manage to move around and get everywhere they needed to be without repeatedly falling over things? Witchcraft, I tell you.
It’s cut down a lot. They kept the major bits in, and cut down the wordier bits, and most of the angsty bit with Macduff. They updated it a bit, using phones in place of messengers and some other touches that put it firmly in the modern world.
I loved the staging of it. The Basement in the Firestation has a small stage at the front and the rest of the room is flat. The chairs were set out on the flat, and the stage was on the flat too, with chairs making an aisle down the stage and some more to the side. This set up was really good, especially as I was sitting on the side of the stage

Overall: Strength 5 tea to a unique performance of a much-done play.

Links: Company | Theatre

Monday, 2 December 2013

Mini Reviews-Wool by Hugh Howey and Never the Bride by Paul Magrs

Title: Wool

 Author: Hugh Howey
Series:   Wool #1-5, Silo #1
Published:  March 2013 by Simon and Schuster
Source: library
Review:  Everyone lives  underground, every birth requires someone to die (so resources aren’t in over-demand), orders are given and followed, and those who think ideas about going outside get them, though maybe not as they wanted them. Dissenters are sent to Cleaning-the task of cleaning, with wool cloth, the cameras which give a view of the world outside of the Silo, which is a punishment because the poisonous gases in the atmosphere break down protective suits and kill the wearer. Jules is one such idea-thinker.
I loved the world of this. You’re transported instantly with the beginning following ex-sheriff Holston going out to Cleaning and starting off the events of the book. You quickly get the gist of the tightness of control, and over the first half you really get the idea of the society and the way it runs together.  
Characters-there’s a lot of them. Or at least I think there were. I got really lost in places in terms of who was who and their relationships. Jules is a really good character-strong, inquisitive, and brave.
Book 2 was quite political, which held my interest a lot less than the rest of it. The second half seemed to set up a revolution, and it was interesting to watch, especially when we get parts outside of the Silo.

Overall:  Strength 2.5 tea, more a 3, to an adult dystopian that I liked in parts but got lost in others. Excellent world building.

Title:  Never the Bride
 Author:   Paul Magrs
Series:  Brenda and Effie Mystery #1
Published:   May 2005 by Gardener Books
Source: Library 
Review: Brendan is an older lady who runs a B&B in Whitby. There’s some weird things going on, such as tv psychics, aliens, time defying beauty parlours and a hotel with people in meat lockers,  Brenda and best friend Effie have a lot to keep investigating. And then there’s Brenda and her own mysteries- all the things about her that make you wonder exactly who, or what, she is.
I got recommended this on the fact that it is a very gothy comedy thing that sounded right up my street.
It’s odd reading a book with an older person (who doesn’t have the gift of eternal youth and related perks). It makes it hard for me to connect,  but I like the fact that the main character’s age, plus the whole variety of characters, isn’t your typical horror/supernatural/mystery story.
Brenda is a very intriguing character. Who she is is really awesome, and I liked learning her story (see if you can guess who she is from the title.  I couldn’t but at the reveal, it made perfect sense). The supporting cast are very varied, but lack depth.
The plot is quite disjointed, but there are some callbacks in places I quite liked.
Writing lacks the laughoutloudness that I was promised by someone, but I liked the style.
Overall:  Strength 2.5 tea, more a 2, to a book with a nice idea that I  couldn’t get into really.