Posted in murder mystery, Reviews, Theatre, Thriller

Theatre Review: Witness For The Prosecution

For my sister’s birthday, I got us both tickets to see a production of Agatha Christie’s Witness For The Prosecution. Having just become massive fans ourselves, we thought it would be a good night out and plus, who doesn’t love a good murder/mystery?

First of all, the venue itself is amazing. I was excited when I heard it was going to be at the County Hall and in the room where Parliament used to meet in the 20s. The entrance is on Belvedere Road which is just across St. Thomas Hospital and at the back of the London Eye.

We were really chuffed when we got inside the actual theatre. Its set up so you can pretend you’re at the Old Bailey, which I think is the old criminal court near Newgate Prison. It had jury boxes and everything, and if you’ve got money to spend you might want to get a seat in the jury box for a more immersive experience. You may or may not get to participate in the actual play so get your best thespian voice ready.

It was worth splurging for stall seats because you’re really close to where the action is. Also, they were really roomy and comfortable so you don’t ever feel like you’re practically sitting on top of your neighbour for the duration of the show.

The play tells the story of Leonard Vogel, who’s been accused of murdering a rich woman that he’s befriended and goes to visit once or twice a week. His arrest is based on the testimony of the housekeeper who swore she heard him talking to the victim around 5 minutes before the time of death.

The play unfolds like a courtroom drama, and I had initial misgivings about that because I thought it would be very dry and boring. I could not have been more wrong. The actors were so good and the story itself is so riveting that you won’t even notice you’re halfway through the first act already.

There were also some unexpected lighthearted and even comedic moments, usually aimed at the Britishness of the British. Because this play was oh-so-British, from insulting each other politely (no one does this as well as the British) to offering tea during times of crises and even the British attitude towards foreigners…it was all very well done.

I have to say I guessed the plot twist about 3/4 of the way into the play but I was still shocked when THE BIG REVEAL was unveiled. I love how, just like in other Agatha Christie works, she manages to convey so much without having to bombard the audience or the readers with unnecessary details. You are instead led through a series of truths, half-truths and out and out lies and its up to you to make heads or tails of it to come to your own conclusion.

Overall, I had a really great time and I’d highly recommend this play to both theatre lovers and fans of the crime and murder genre because I can guarantee you’ll have a great time.

Click on the link here to go to the website, wherein there’s a tab for you to buy tickets. The shows are incredibly popular so the weekends might be fully booked but there’s plenty of seats during the weekdays and it doesn’t really last that long. Its finished by 10 and there are good transport links around the area (Waterloo, Embankment and Westminster stations and a lot of buses).

Cheers and Happy Birthday to my sister Arlene (shown on the photos with me)!! xx

Posted in Books, Paranormal, romance

Book Review: The Irin Chronicles – Elizabeth Hunter

In anticipation of the upcoming release of the fifth book in this series, I thought I’d post a review of three of my favourite novels of all time. I accidentally discovered Elizabeth Hunter because Amazon was giving away one of her books for free, and I ended up reading everything that she’s ever written. I like paranormal romance but I find that recently a lot of them are all parodies of Twilight, and all these teenage love triangles where the main female character is just so fantastic, where everyone is so in love with her but she somehow remains insecure about herself, where everyone wants to protect her at the cost of their lives but she insists on putting herself in danger – I just find it all so ridiculous.

Elizabeth Hunter writes about sensible, empowered women. They’re beautiful sure, but she makes it clear that what makes them beautiful is their character. They’re empowered not just for empowerment’s sake, nor is it just to prove a point to their male counterparts, but because they actually have a goal to get to. In short, she writes about the kind of female that’s relatable and liable. She’s been one of my go-to authors for the past year now. I think she’s really underrated.

Now. The Irin Chronicles.

First of all, this story is set in Istanbul, a place that I’ve always wanted to visit but have never gotten around to yet.  In the first book, called The Scribe, (buy now, its free on Amazon Kindle store!!!) we meet Ava Matheson – a professional photographer who hears voices in a language that she doesn’t recognise as well as read emotions when she’s around other people. She’s tried every therapy known to man, and her continuous search for a cure has led her to Istanbul. Here she meets Malachi, a warrior with a past: he belongs to an ancient group of scribes called the Irin who are descended from archangels.

An Irin warrior is strongest when mated to an Irina.

irin-irina
photo credits to thebreakfastblogdotnet.wordpress.com
The Irina are the female descendants; they’re called “singers” because their voices hold magic – such as the power to heal or see the future among others. Millions of years ago, the Grigori – the Irins’ ancient enemy – started a “purge” where they lured all the Irin warriors to a false war so that they can secretly kill all the Irina who have been left vulnerable. A few escaped, but since then there have been very little Irina presence in their world. And the younger warriors have never even seen one. This is a shame because the Irin’s touch is fatal to a mortal woman. We’re talking centuries of celibacy here. Needless to say, these Irin warriors are all a broody, moody bunch of pent-up sexual frustration.

Anyway, Malachi meets and becomes fascinated by Ava and as time went on, he begins to suspect that there’s more to her than meets the eye, but he’s afraid to dream that she might be the one girl he’s allowed to touch, that she could be a potential soulmate or reshon. Added to that, the Grigori have taken to following her around as well. The search for the truth about Ava’s past leads them to various parts of the country, and their romance blossoms in the process. However dangers lurk everywhere, and the Grigori are only waiting for the opportunity to strike and finish off the Irin race once and for all. I have to say, I really really love this series. I’m almost afraid of sharing it to the world because I would be crushed if others didn’t like it because I loved it so much. The first book ends in a cliffhanger that had me starting the 2nd book almost immediately. I was 1-clicking the Kindle store on Amazon like nobody’s business.

 

The second book, The Singer, was even better than the first. Ava and Malachi are separated by seemingly insurmountable forces, and there is a sense of urgency in the book where you’re not sure if they’ll ever be together or if they do, if things will be the same. And then when they are reunited, its not the kind of reunion that you would expect and its even more heartbreaking than the separation.

the-singer1
photo credits to thebreakfastblogdotnet.wordpress.com
On top of that, the story started in The Scribe gets equal airtime with the romance and we begin to sense that this story is bigger than Ava and Malachi, and that this has been planned (or fated) since before they met. We are introduced to other surviving Irina, and you can just feel the feels when they talk about their past before The Purge, and you can really sense the reverence with which this women are treated among The Irin.  We also learn a little bit more of Ava’s past, which is important because even among other Irina, she is…different.

 

 

The last book in the series is The Secret, where we finally learn the truth about Ava’s past and the Irina fight to reclaim their rightful place in the Irin world. We also learn more about The Grigori, who are actually sons of The Fallen – archangels who never went back to heaven because they became ensnared by the temptations of the human world, as well as the kind of power they hold over mortals. The Grigori become real to us readers and Elizabeth does a great job of showing their side of the story but not excusing everything they’ve done. We learn a secret that the Fallen and The Grigori have been hiding, and it all finally comes to a head in an epic battle in Vienna. I reread the climax of the story twice because I was’t so sure I fully grasped it the first time around because I read it so fast, I was THAT excited. It was a very satisfying end to the series, I loved every minute of it.

There is a beauty in Elizabeth Hunter’s writing that I can’t put into words. Her writing just flows, its so easy to read. Their is also a sense of the spiritual in her writing. I remember asking once if she’s Catholic because I can just feel a sense of appreciation for a being higher than ourselves in her writing. Whether that’s the Christian’s God or something else, you can really feel that respect she has for the spiritual. Also, Elizabeth is my friend on Goodreads and she’s replied to me when I emailed her about how much I love her writing AND she liked my review of her books. I love that she’s that connected to her readers.

There is a fourth book but it features a different couple. I don’t recommend reading it as a standalone, but I will probably review that book together with the upcoming 5th book.

Happy reading, bookworms!

Posted in Books, Reviews, Young Adult

Book Review: When Its Real – Erin Watt

Sometimes certain books just land on your lap at the precise moment in your life when you need that book’s story the most, and this is one of those books for me.

There is nothing earth-shatteringly original about this book. Its very premise has already been done thousands and thousands of times in the YA genre. Ordinary girl meets famous boy and somehow, she alone is immune to his charms; she alone can treat him like a normal human being and make him feel like there is more to him than fame, fortune and good looks (because of course he is always good looking). Thus love story ensues. Cue meet-cutes, kissing and chases on the ocean shore.

The above paragraph may make it seem like I am mocking this book. I AM MOST DEFINITELY NOT. I think that only snobbish people will knock a book down because its not “literature” or because its not original or because it adds nothing new to the genre. Well, I happen to think we read books, fiction in particular, so that we can be transported to another life or another world where we can forget about our own sets of woes and problems and read about somebody else’s for a while. Unlike our own lives (and unless we’re reading, say, a bloody trilogy), we know that some kind of resolution will always come in the final pages.

For me, there are two kinds of “good” books: the kind that make you think and change your perspective of things and the kind that just make you feel good. When It’s Real falls into the latter category. Its well-written, just the right amount of sappy, not so much angst that it makes you want to throw the book across the room, and its so damn cute. There’s also a little bit of a message there about the hazards of social media. My friend told me when I started this blog that I have to relinquish all my rights to privacy once I put myself out there. And that’s just me with a handful of followers and with complete control about what I do and do not share with the wider world. Think about those popstars who dont have that option, that choice. I wonder if they really know what they sign up for when they chased fame and glory. 

Jimmy Kimmel does a portion on his show called Mean Tweets which always crack me up because celebrities get to read what people say about them on Twitter. Its funny but at the same time I can see where some of those tweets can really hurt, and they’re really really personal. So this book made me think about that. 

If I have one (or two) complaint, its that I feel like the “conflict” was a bit sudden and extremely contrived, and the ending may have been a bit rushed. But other than that, great book!