Sunday, February 17, 2013

Killing the Shadows review

I have to be honest and say I tend to be a bit wary of modern British crime-writers. I love a good mystery, but for some reason I have the impression that there’s a lot of … what I call “Oi, Guv,” in my head in them.

You know – rebelling Against the System and Working too Hard and Having Troubles at Home because of it, and so, usually, I  don’t read them, because I’m not a big fan of personal lives in crime stories. (I’m aware of how that sounds. Hush.)

However, I picked up Killing the Shadows at the library and decided to give it a shot last weekend, and I was pleased I did. I got an intelligent thriller with a solid plotline and characters that I could invest in on a personal and professional level because they had their shit together.

Which just shows, for me, that  you don’t have to produce 500 pages of miseryguts lit to make a decent thriller.

Anyway, that’s enough of that mini-rant. On to the book itself.

Psychologist Fiona Cameron is just coming off the back of working a case with the Met, that ended up going badly and led to Fiona severing her relationship with the System.

However, she gets drawn back in when a killer begins targeting mystery writers, and her partner happens to be bestselling crime writer Kit Martin …

I’m not big on feelings in crime stories, like I say, but I liked Kit and Fiona – they’re a happy, successful couple and goshdarn, I like that.

Killing the Shadows taps along at a pretty good pace, with plenty of gruesomeness – actually, a bit more gruesomeness than I’m comfortable with, and it doesn’t normally doesn’t make me squeamish.

But it’s a good thriller with well-rounded characters and a who-dun-it that really does keep you guessing. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Celebrating favourite things.

Favourite things.

If you ask most people what their favourite book/movie/TV show/etc… is, they often say ‘oh, I can’t pick, there are too many’.

I can pick. Yes, yes I can. I have favourite books, movies, TV shows, chocolate … you get the picture. And for no good reason, other than I haven’t finished my book yet and so can’t write a review, I decided to do a post of my top five favourite favourite things.

Let’s start with movies because … I can.

1)     All About Eve – this is my all-time favourite movie ever. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it, but Bette Davis is perfection always, and basically my queen. Trailer:

2)     And okay, yes, this is probably cheating but I’m counting The Lord of the Rings as one movie. Because … I can. I’ve loved the books for years, and as Emma Thompson says in Love, Actually, true love lasts a lifetime.

3)     The Avengers. I cannot express how much I love this movie. It basically has everything I love, and nothing I hate, even after repeated viewings.

4)     Some Like it Hot. Marilyn Monroe! Dudes in dresses! Singing! Shenanigans! One of the best movie endings ever!.

5)     The Matrix. Yes, I know, by now it’s been often imitated in style and suchlike, and the sequels were, quite frankly, pants but  let’s take a moment to appreciate its innovation.

Honorable mentions:
The Women.  Unusal in that the entire cast is women – not a man in sight. It’s deeply catty, but also deeply witty and I’ve always harboured a secret desire to shop in one of those department stores even though they went out with the dinosaur. *sigh*
Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Arnie! Cyborgs! Morphing! Linda  Hamilton kicking ass and not even bothering to take names! I love it. Trailer:
Pan’s Labyrinth. Trailer presented without comment, because
Pitch Perfect. Forget Bridesmaids (which for the record I thought was kind of terrible) – this is the lady-centric movie that you should be watching. Also, Anna Kendrick is flawless. Trailer:
Rise of the Guardians. It’s a shame that this movie didn’t seem to make any noise anywhere, because it is as near to perfect a kid’s movie as I’ve seen in a very long time. Trailer:


My top five favourite books are:

1)     The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien. Yes. Second-favourite movie but all-time favourite book(s). I inhaled the whole thing when I was about 14-15 and it was my gateway book for epic fantasy which I also inhaled for a while, and I will love it forever.

2)     One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’ve read this three times, the last time being when I was home with Patrick just after I had him – heh. :D It follows the fortunes of one family in the fictional South American town of Macondo. Be warned, though, you need to pay close attention to the family tree, because some of the names are repeated.

3)     The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. I’m cheating again, really, because this is five books, but hey, semantics. I read this a lot as a youngster, when I was about 11 or so. The library had an omnibus of all five books and I remember borrowing it, and borrowing it, and … well, now I have my own copies. I re-read them last year, and they hold up brilliantly. Arthurian legend mixed with a kind of Famous Five feeling, The Dark is Rising makes for great reading at nearly any age.

4)     The Stand by Stephen King. It’s a doorstopper for sure, but it doesn’t even matter because King has such a way with words that you fall into the story of a world gone horribly, badly wrong after  a catastrophic virus is released. There are good guys, bad guys and lots of Big Thoughts.

5)     Persuasion by Jane Austen. My absolute favourite Jane Austen. It’s followed pretty closely by Pride and Prejudice but Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth – for me – trump Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Anne is so quietly competent, even though she’s been taken for granted for years, and I love the fact that, at 27, she’s older than your average Austen heroine. I love it. I do.

Honourable mentions:
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. This is the only novel I’ve read by Gavriel Kay so far, but I love it so much. This is totally cheating but here’s a review I prepared earlier:
Every Day by David Levithan. ‘A’ wakes up every single day in a different body, inhabiting a different life. When ‘A’ meets Rhiannon, however, ‘A’ starts to want more … ugh, this book broke my heart. It’s so good and so very shattering.
Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness: I recommend this series to everyone. Everyone. The premise is clever and Viola is forever one of my favourite YA heroines.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Oh, God, how I love this book. how I love this book I cannot count the ways.
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Honestly, I tracked this down because I was curious to read it after seeing The Hours and I’m very glad I did. I’ve read some of Virginia Woolf’s published diaries, and they’re fascinating reading of a clever woman who battled her inner demons as hard as she could. And hey, look, a review I prepared earlier:


1)     More Than One Way Home by Keb Mo’ – I love the lyrics and the message of the song. It’s uplifting no matter what my mood is.


2)     I Think I Love You Too Much by Jeff Healey ft Mark Knopfler. I can’t even tell you why I love this so much. It speaks to me somehow, on all kinds of levels.


3)     Shady, by Adam Lambert, ft Nile Rodgers and Sam Sparro. I’m putting two videos of this song here – the album track, and the only version of it live with all three of them performing at the We are Family Foundation celebration thing.  I love the vibe of this song. It’s fun and a little bit filthy and pretty much demands to be turned up up up.


4)     Down the Rabbit Hole, Live acoustic version, by Adam Lambert. Two Adam Lambert songs? Yes, hush, this is my list, go make your own ;p. This song is ridiculous. Like. Actually ridiculous, the lyrics make no sense, but it’s so much fun, it’s impossible not to like. Have a listen, judge for yourself:


5)     Girl in a Catsuit by Dave Stewart, ft Orianthi. I wasn’t sure if I liked this song on first listen, because it’s a little bit unusual, but on  a second listen, it really started to grow on me and now it’s a never-go-past when I’m shuffling my ipod (high praise). It’s kind of sly and kind of joyful and it totally has the feel of a song that’s just got away with something.


Honorable mentions:
God’s Gonna Cut You Down by Johnny Cash:
Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men:
Talk Show Host by Radiohead:
Highway Unicorn by Lady Gaga:
Similar Features by Melissa Etheridge: