Month: January 2011

Little hands clapping by Dan Rhodes

I waited and waited for this book to be available in a local bookshop.  I was patient, I excercised tolerance and perseverence but all to no avail.  Yes, they could order it in but that just meant more waiting.  I could have got it from the library.  Not my library, not the main library in this town but by requesting it from a branch library and waiting for delivery.  I wanted instant gratification in the end and so …. I chose Little hands clapping as my first ever download to my Kobo.  I’m going to talk about the joy and delight of my Kobo on another posting but I have to say at this point that Dan Rhodes is a great choice as a test of the little machine.

Dan Rhodes was my best discovery of last year.  He writes these bizzare little books which seem so simple but which are deep and layered and complex and lovely.  This is the story of a weird and disturbing museum in a quiet suburb in a German city.  Above the museum lives an old man who takes care of it, enjoying the cakes that the museum owner brings to their regular meetings but living in austerity and occasionally getting a message from the spiders who share his room as they turn up to be crunched by his teeth while he is asleep. This is a signal to call the Doctor who ‘takes care of the victims’.  The Doctor and his dog Hans are integral in the story and they along with the doomed lovers of many varieties, the stories of those who visit the museum are engrossing and gorgeous and will make you smile and the next minute will make you cry.

Dan Rhodes plays with his readers, he takes a meandering journey through the minds and emotional lives of his lovely characters and twists and turns their paths to the end of the book, expect the dark and creepy, the sweet and quirky, expect to feel loved as a reader.

Totally worth the wait and now I want more – and I have it in the form of Timolean Vita come home which is on the Kobo waiting for my attentions.

Here are the other Dan Rhodes books I have loved.  Gold and The little white car.


The King’s Speech – a truly great movie

It isn’t very often that I see the award winning movies before they win their awards but this one, and quite a few of the winners of Golden Globes this year, I did.  We went to it the other night and had a truly good movie experience.  The acting is just superb.  All the actors are perfectly cast, and they give performances which are out of the box.  Colin Firth as the poor Bertie, terrified of being King and supported by his loving wife Elizabeth, crippled with a debilitating speech impediment which leaves him terrified of speaking publicly.  This movie is moving and gripping. The relationship between the speech therapist and his unusual ways and his wonderful attitude to the royals and particularly Bertie is just grand.  This movie is really a parade of fabulous actors doing wonderful things.  Everything about the movie is right.

The story of Wallace Simpson and Edward has always interested me and this is explored a little bit during the movie – I’d really like a new movie about this relationship. I love stories about human frailties and imperfections especially when they are about royals who are somewhat mysterious to us and about whose lives we are only allowed snippets of information.

This is a movie to own.  Don’t wait for the DVD, head out to the movies, enjoy the atmosphere, the costumes and the sheer power of fabulous acting.

Loved it to bits.

Website for the film is here.

Burlesque – the movie

Last night a group of lovely women headed off for a big night on the town to see this movie.  We were most excitable, not so much for the movie but more for the Burlesque show that preceded it.  Drinkies at Pequeno – love that bar!  Then we headed to the show.  A bunch of beauties strutted their stuff, waggled their wobbly bits and tittivated us with their – well you know what bits.  It was fun, it was classy and they were really good.  We watched the movie then headed back to Pequeno for more laughter and chats.  An excellent evening.

Now on to the movie, well luckily the first scene was by far the worst.  It couldn’t get any worse than that opening scene to be sure, horrible very bad acting.  I thought I might have to harm myself if the whole movie was going to be that bad, why on earth didn’t they re-do that scene?   The costumes are amazing, Christina Aguelera certainly has a grand old voice on her but I think she should probably sing for her living rather than act.  Cher is – well she is Cher, exactly the same as she always is in every movie, but likeable as always too.  Stanley Tucci is just lovely and he alone is worth the price of the ticket.  Some of the songs in this are downright ordinary and very long, but for a girls night out it was a ‘just fine’ movie.

If you love campy costumey musicals this will be a must, do not expect great drama, but it is a bit of fluff which is fairly fun.  You will see every single cliche rolled out and you will have the story figured out in about the first 10 minutes, but what the hey, it is a frothy frilly thing!

Trick of the dark by Val McDermid

Val McDermid is one of the most reliable crime writers around.  She always manages to keep me guessing till the end and she holds on tight to your attention, disrupts your sleep, disrupts sunny afternoons when you should be out doing other things.  I probably should confess to owning a copy of every book Val McDermid has ever written.

This one took a little while for me to get totally hooked but once I was there I was constantly reading it.  There is a very strong lesbian theme which she doesn’t explore in too many of her other books so it was quite unexpected for me. It is great to read a book with lesbian characters which treats them as real people and which doesn’t turn them into some guys fantasy.  This is gritty and real.   I really liked the main character Charlie Flint, and she is the sort of character who could easily appear in a series, nicely flawed and not dissimilar to someone you might actually meet in real life.

This is a story about a series of murders which are all linked to one person but the twists and turns lead you on a wild goose chase of multiple suspects and good guys who may not be so good. It is set in Oxford and London far from the grim North of England and Scotland where most of the books Val writes are set, and I enjoyed the change of scenery.  I liked the relationship between Charlie and her partner, I liked their conversations which seemed very ‘real’ and although I could pick a few holes in the story in a couple of places I found it a good satisfying read and I’m ready for a new book now please Val, I think you are great.