Tag Archives: London

A non-book postaweek post (because I haven't finished reading any books!)

Last night we watched Glorious 39, which I had recorded on the 14th of August, but we’d never actually watched. I remember seeing a BBC interview about the movie with David Tennant & thought it sounded like a brilliant movie, so I set it to record on V+. Roll forward a few days, then weeks, then months & it just didn’t seem like a movie we would really watch (in fairness, the Virgin description does the movie no favours) & I almost deleted it a couple times.

Boy, I am glad we didn’t! If you haven’t seen it – try to! If you don’t know what it’s about, well, here’s a bit of the storyline:

Anne Keyes is the eldest (adopted) daughter of Sir Alexander Keyes, MP (played by Bill Nighy), and influential member of the British Parliament. It’s 1939 & Britain is under the rule of Neville Chamberlain, who has embarked on a plan of appeasement with Germany in an attempt to stop the war happening before it started. Anne stumbles across recordings of meetings of the pro-appeasement movement & soon after her life begins to fall apart. While trying to discover the meaning of these recordings, dark secrets are revealed, which lead to the death of a great friend. Eventually,  Anne discovers the truth and flees to London to try confirming her suspicions, but she is caught and imprisoned, and only then does she finally begin to discover how badly (and by whom) she has been betrayed.

I have to say – this was such a fantastic movie! Full of suspense (my OH kept exclaiming about what a creepy, tense, scary movie it was!). It was all of that & more. It was creepy, full of tension & scary that any of this is true (which while it was a fictionalization, there really was an appeasement movement & some allege that things like this (and worse) really did happen all in the name of keeping Britain out of the war.

The acting was brilliant, the scenery stunning – all in all a fantastic movie!

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The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

The Whole Truth is the 1st book in a new (or at least new to me) series by David Baldacci & I seem to have developed a love for the main character in this book! I’ve (after the fact) seen a lot of pretty bad reviews about this book, but I loved it!

The basic premise is that “wealthy arms dealer Nicholas Creel is facing his own personal credit crunch, and needs to find a way to kickstart his business. Would starting a war help? Creel would hardly be averse to that. Anna Fischer is enjoying her professorial activities, but is growing dismayed at world events. Her life is transformed when her new lover proposes marriage — but there is a side to her boyfriend’s life that may threaten all she holds dear. Journalist Katie James is casting around for a way to salvage her stalled career, when something falls into her lap — a story with very dangerous elements. And the mysterious Shaw, operative for a clandestine intelligence organisation, wants to give it all up — but finds that an employer wants him to tackle one final all-important job. ” – (from Amazon)

This book is just full of things that you (scarily) could see happening in today’s world. Initially we are introduced to A. Shaw, who is essentially a government employed mercenary (only he’s the good kind, lol), who travels the world doing the bidding (unofficially) of the US government, doing their dirty work.

Then, you’ve got a bigger-than-it-should-be arms dealer who doesn’t like the way the world is & thinks things should return to the cold war era, when the enemies were known & the world was a far safer place (at least in his estimation). The sudden appearance of a video on the internet sparks a new hatred for the old enemy, Russia & suddenly things are getting out of control. Videos of dead bodies, supposedly people murdered by the Russian government, start turning up and people start demanding that action be taken against Russia. Only, is reality what it seems to be, or are they all too willing to believe what they see – simply because it seems to be true? Anna Fischer, a German genius who works for a think-tank in London becomes intrigued & begins to investigate the videos – at which point, all hell breaks loose.

I really would love to talk about exactly what happens in this book because it is so scarily possible, but I wouldn’t want to ruin it for anyone. I loved the character Shaw & I definitely will be reading the further installments to see what he gets up to. In a way he reminds me a lot of Jack Reacher – who I also love!

About the only thing that drove me crazy about this book was one slight inaccuracy. In the book Shaw travels to Edinburgh & checks into The Balmoral Hotel. Baldacci describes the hotel, or more importantly the room that Shaw checks into. He says that his room faces Princes Street, but that Shaw looks out his bedroom window (to his right) at Edinburgh Castle. That’s not physically possible! If Shaw’s room faces Princes Street, then Edinburgh Castle is to the LEFT, not the right! The only way that Edinburgh Castle could be to Shaw’s right would be if Shaw’s room in the Balmoral faces Market Street, not Princes Street! That one bugged me a lot, can you tell?

All in all, though I thought this was a very good book, full of scary ideas that hopefully won’t ever come true!

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Pain of Death by Adam Creed

When I received Pain of Death I briefly toyed with the idea of getting the other books in the series first as I really don’t like reading books out of order. Boy, am I ever glad I didn’t! It isn’t often that I make myself finish a book & this was one of those rare occasions where I did, only finishing because I felt I had to, with it being a LibraryThing Early Reviewer’s copy…

From the back of the book: “Kerry Degg, burlesque singer, is discovered beneath the London streets, barely alive. DC Josie Chancellor finds an abandoned newborn baby by Leadengate station. Staffe puts Kerry and baby together. His investigation draws a picture of a bad wife and mother with rotten friends, a dangerous husband and no idea about family life. But it is only when another woman like Kerry is discovered, seemingly dragged to bear her child in captivity, that Staffe realises he has stumbled across something terrible beneath the streets of London. Staffe must venture from Whitehall’s clubland to Soho’s fleshpots, trying to make his way through a labyrinth of trails on a desperate mission to rescue mother and child in time…”

All through reading this book I wanted to chuck it in the bin, it was that horrible. I hated the author’s style of writing (present tense is awful) & his choice of phraseology just grated on my nerves. One of the more memorable ones was: “Trousered” in reference to his mobile phone – so what, he went to Carphone Warehouse, bought an itty-bitty pair of trousers & put them on his phone? No, the author meant that DI Staffe put his phone in his trousers pocket. Creed used that one a few times & I just wanted to scream every single time I was forced to read it!

The sentence structure was dire, with the average sentence being about 6-8 words in length & the dialogue was wooden, forced & simplistic, with little to no flow. For example: “They’re driving in. My team is holding back. There’s no track beyond the tower. There’s no way out of there.” – that could easily have been 1 or 2 sentences that would have flowed much better & would have read like a real conversation that real people have.

There were also quite a few instances where I would have to re-read several passages a couple of times, just to figure out what had really happened, what was I missing. I think in part this was because (or at least I really hope it was because of) it being an uncorrected proof. For example, at one point I was reading about DI Staffe interviewing one of the early suspects, Lesley Crawford, in her home, with her lawyer. Staffe’s mobile rings & he sees that it is Josie (one of the other police officers), who is calling to tell him that the victim of the crime has been taken into surgery 20 minutes ago. Staffe is clearly still at Crawford’s house, but then as if by magic, without a break in the book, he is standing outside the theatre watching the surgeons operate. I mean by that, that this happened all in the space of a sentence, and there was not the usual gap that appears on the page when there is going to be a change of scene, so that the reader doesn’t get confused. This happened a lot. All of a sudden in the span of a sentence the characters were in different locations, or were no longer even there (as in we had moved onto another situation with another character) & there was no break to differentiate the 2 different situations/scenarios, which made it all the harder to read.

All-in-all, I thought that this was a very bad example of what the crime genre has to offer & I struggle to understand how this piece of unbelievably bad writing has been published.

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Tuesday's Child by Louise Bagshawe

A couple of days ago I read on one of my blog buddy’s blog a post about a post she had read on a friend of her’s blog, basically about book snobbery (phew, did I lose you yet? Read her post, maybe then you’ll understand)… Anyway, the gist is that people wouldn’t blog about or post lists about trashy novels they read/have read. Well, I don’t read trashy books…..although I am positive that a certain Welshman I know would scream & shout & say that yes I do, but he is wrong. I think that there is nothing better than a bit of Chick lit every once in a while – sometimes I just really need a break from all that murder, mayhem & mystery in my normal reading. I blog about all the books I read (even some I haven’t finished reading), and I definitely do not consider myself a book snob.

Yesterday I had to get up at the crack of dawn (ie: 4:30am) to travel to London for CONFEX, for work. I had the dubious pleasure of sitting on an over crowded Nottingham-London train for 2 hours, fighting exhaustion in my pursuit of being a great employee (seriously!) & one of the last things I did, before fleeing my warm house for the cold taxi, was grab a book off the shelf. The one I grabbed was Tuesday’s Child by Louise Bagshawe. I started reading as soon as I got on the train & didn’t stop until I arrived at St. Pancras, then read again once I got on the Piccadilly line to Earls Court.

After 6 & 1/2 hours on my feet I crawled back to the tube, then train, for the return journey home. On the train – you guessed it! – more reading. By the time I arrived back home I was more than 3/4 of the way through the book & I was loving it! I continued to read over my chicken fried rice with sweet & sour sauce & managed to finish it before bed (more importantly, I managed to stay awake!!)

I had never read a book written by Bagshawe before & I really loved this one. Not really sure why, though. The writing was ok, the characters were….well, completely unbelievable & so 1-dimensional & not very likable. The plot was predictable, there were points where I just couldn’t see how Lucy didn’t see what was happening, it was so in-your-face obvious.

I have read some of the reviews on Amazon & the ones that gave it a 1 or 2 star rating weren’t wrong, it was a terrible book, but I LOVED IT!!!

Why?

Not sure, but I’m going to try & not analyze it too much – might detract from my love of this book, lol!


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Canada Day 2009

canadaday09

Happy Canada Day!

Well, I suppose that there are a lot of people out there who didn’t know that today was Canada Day (well it was today when I was writing this). You are forgiven! Just mark it in your Calendar for next year. July 1st.

Growing up in Canada, for us, it was a family day. We would all get together – aunts & uncles & their partners & all my cousins (there are about 30 of us – my Mom is from a very large family) & we would have a bbq, play games, go swimming, have cake & beer (for the adults) & they would gather on the lawn & play horseshoes & gossip, or watch hockey in the basement. In short – it was a great day!

Since moving over here Canada Day has had to out of necessity become very different. The only family I have over here is my OH & we don’t have a back yard, so the bbq is out! In the past (before there was an OH) I would make sure I had the day off work & would head into London, to Covent Garden – Maiden Lane, to be exact. There, every year, they would cordon off the street & thousands of Canucks would gather on the street, in the bars & pubs & have a big party. We’d stand on the street singing Canadian songs, drinking Canadian beer, wearing our Canadian hearts on our sleeves (and tattoo’d all over our bodies with temporary tattoos that had been bought at the Canada Shop, or sent over from home).

After a few hours those brave enough to risk not getting back onto Maiden Lane would amble down the Strand to Canada House for a rousing rendition of O Canada at noon, followed by Canadian entertainers performing for us, more Canadian beer (free this time), Canadian Wine & a couple slices of Canada Day birthday cake. Slowly we would make our way back to Maiden Lane & shimmy into spot (hopefully a prime spot!), where we would remain for the rest of the evening. Those were great nights – I remember one year reading an article in the national press the next day an article about the party, commenting that there were 5000+ people crammed into one tiny street & the worst thing that happened was that someone was arrested for climbing a street light. I made many great “friends” those nights – none of whom I have ever seen again, but they were my best friends at the time.

I guess you could say it was kinda like my Glastonbury, only the people doing the singing were 100% amature. Sadly the last football world cup brought an end to the Canada Day celebrations on Maiden Lane. The Government/police got involved & wouldn’t allow us to have the party because England were playing that day & they were afraid that if England lost the celebrations could turn ugly if they were infiltrated by football fans looking for a fight. There were no Canada Day celebrations that year.

Luckily, the celebrations are back, but now there are very different. It’s now become a bit of a business, & a lot less like a family party. It all takes place in Trafalger Square where you can have bison burgers, drink Canadian Beer & Tim Hortons coffee & eat timbits. You can listen to Canadian entertainers & sign up for the street hockey tournament, chat up a couple Mounties in full dress uniform or visit the Tourism pavillion to plan your next trip to Canada………………………I miss the old Canada Day!

Oh well, I guess something is better than nothing – gotta make sure I am able to get back there next year!

Happy Canada Day everyone!

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