Another Book, Another Review

After reviewing the last book I read, I dug out a selection of four books I’ve had for a while and not yet got round to reading. I am now throwing the decision out to my lovely audience and am asking for your opinion on which book I should read and review next.

The options are in the photo below. Please leave your responses in the comments.

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Death of a Nurse by M.C Beaton

Set in Northern Scotland, Death of a Nurse is one book in the Hamish Macbeth Murder Mysteries and the first one that I have read. It’s being one in the middle of a series proves to be no real issue, I managed to pick up the general gist of the setting and characters pretty quickly, in fact, it’s not a hugely dissimilar setup from the BBC One drama Shetland, which I also very much enjoyed.

The main character, Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth is a seemingly-ordinary, hard-working Scot who is often not afraid to voice his opinions. Although content, Macbeth is a rather lonely soul with only his two pets, Sonsie, the cat and Lugs, the dog for company. His sidekick, Police Constable Charlie Carter is what can only be described as ‘nice-but-dim’ and extremely clumsy, as he always seems to be falling over or breaking something but despite this, he bumbles along quite nicely in the crime-busting business and provides a few comedic moments in the book.

The story itself begins with the victim, Gloria Dainty, a private nurse meeting Macbeth, who grows quite fond of her. Soon after, she is found dead and left on the beach. The investigation into her death leads us down a number of unexpected twists, turns and shocks – including one rather gruesome detail involving the case’s final victim (yes, there’s more than one!) – before the pieces finally fall into place and the killer is revealed. Although the outcome is not predictable, I had an idea of who the killer was before the reveal and as it turned out, I was partially right and thoroughly enjoyed trying to crack the case along the way.

As a reader and a fan of crime drama on television, I always find the juxtaposition of a quaint, isolated setting and gritty drama the best fit. Something about the two elements just makes the story gripping, interesting and hard-hitting – though the number of crimes in such a setting may not be terribly accurate –  therefore I really enjoyed this book – I love a good mystery!

The only slight initial issue I had was getting to grips with the Scottish dialect used by the majority of the characters, however, I soon got round it and that is no fault of the author or the book itself!

Would I read another book in the Hamish Macbeth Murder Mystery series? Of course! There is something so cosy and welcoming about them, a combination of the beautiful Scottish setting, the characters and the entertainment it provides alongside the serious drama. Do I recommend this book? To anyone who enjoys a mystery – definitely! Grab a copy of this book and a cup of tea and I would love to know what you think.


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View and buy Death of a Nurse by M.C Beaton on Amazon

 

A Christmas Miracle

On Friday, I visited the Christmas Market in Birmingham and had the best time. I love how traditional all the markets are, all the gifts and food are handmade and the atmosphere is pure magic. This inspired me to write a little festive story which you can read below. Your thoughts on this are always greatly received and appreciated.

Merry Christmas everyone!


The city was engulfed in every colour light you could possibly imagine as evening drew in fast. The Christmas market was at its most magical at this time and no-one could walk past without so much as cracking even the smallest smile at the festivities.

Jolly the elf was skipping along the sparkling streets merrily, breathing in deeply to inhale the scents of Christmas spices, hot mulled wine and roast meats when he suddenly leapt into the air with joy and ended up face-first into a rather hard rubber-soled shoe. “Oh!” He exclaimed in surprise. Looking up, he saw a man, no older than thirty, he decided. “I am ever so sorry.” He apologised. The man simply shook his head, stood up and began to walk away. “Hey!” Jolly called. “Merry Christmas, sir!”

“Hmph.” The man grunted, without stopping or looking over his shoulder. Jolly blinked twice and followed the man. He ran and ran as fast as his elf-sized legs would carry him, took one leap and clung for dear life onto the man’s leg, just above the knee, causing him to stumble and finally stop. “What do you think you’re doing, you crazy…you crazy…” He burst out in exasperation.

“Elf?” Jolly suggested.

“Yes!” The man yelled.

“You mean you’re not bothered that there’s an abnormally small, magical creature talking to you right now?” He asked, rather taken aback.

“Don’t be ridiculous, this is all just some stupid Christmas joke somebody’s trying to pull off. Elf? As if!” He laughed bitterly.

“No it’s true!” Jolly began to explain. “Every year, Father Christmas sends some of his elves all around the world to spread the Christmas spirit and patrol the festivities and I can see that you, my friend, have a severe case of the Christmas blues.” He concluded.

“Christmas is for families.”

“What about your family?” Jolly asked sensitively.

“Mum died when my sister and I were small and we lost Dad in the New Year. Penny wanted a fresh start and moved to Canada in October. Christmas means nothing to me any more.” He told the elf downheartedly.

“Don’t you believe in Christmas miracles?”

Continue reading

A few weeks ago, I went into work like I would on any other weekday and was shocked by how cold the classroom was. Has someone left the windows open all weekend? I thought to myself. It will be warmer in the staffroom, I decided. How wrong was I? It turned out that the heating was broken. Great. Anyway, us staff spent the day sorting out our classrooms whilst the children enjoyed a day at home in the warm and in the afternoon, all staff in the school got together and did our own version of Band Aid and it was brilliant fun and a great end to the day. The video was then edited to promote how fantastic our school is and to raise money, so, I now present to you…Booker Park Does Band Aid!

I know this blog is supposed to be primarily about musical theatre, however, as some of you may know, I work in a Special Needs school. The video below is of a lovely little girl I worked with last year, Esme. She has a genetic condition called Rett Syndrome and a short feature was filmed about her on BBC News. I sincerely hope that features such as this help to promote awareness of rare conditions such as Rett’s.

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Guess the show from the props table!

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Did you get it?

All this week I have been at Pendley Court Theatre in Tring working backstage for Vale Musical Society’s production of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes and have spent the majority of my time at this particular table.

Get-in took place on Sunday where I spend three hours solid stripping wallpaper from set boards. Thank goodness for the rather large supply of hot chocolate, doughnuts and biscuits waiting for us in the foyer afterwards! Once the set was pretty much built and painted, the remainder of the cast turned up for a rehearsal which entailed all the staging of where everything and everyone would be positioned in each scene.

Monday was tech rehearsal day so very much stopping and starting constantly to ensure that lights, microphones and sound were all working properly and Tuesday was a full dress rehearsal with the entire band and all the props. I was a bit concerned that there seemed to be an awful lot of props to think about but actually as far as it goes, it was a pretty easy show.

Wednesday was opening night and so the five performances continued until Saturday. All went so well and there were no major mishaps (a couple of minor ones but even the professional shows don’t quite go to plan every night!) and everyone had such a brilliant time. From working with this group for the last six months, I had always been hugely impressed by how much talent everyone had, but they all stepped it up hugely during show week and I understand that there was some great audience feedback going round after each show.

Vale’s next production in May 2017 will be something very different – Aspects of Love which I am of course very keen to be involved in! For the next few weeks, I will enjoy having most of my evening back, however I know I will really miss the show and everyone involved.

Oh, and finally, there may be something very exciting coming up on the blog at some point before Christmas, so keep an eye out!

Olivier Awards 2016 Rundown

Last night, the annual Olivier Awards ceremony took place at the Royal Opera House in London and they celebrated an incredible 40th anniversary. The ceremony is available to watch in full on ITV3 tonight starting around now (but I’ve got in on record so I can watch it at a more reasonable hour) and will presumably be on the ITV Hub soon after, along with the highlights which were shown last night, but for now, this is literally a run-down of all the winners.

Best Actor
Kenneth Cranham (The Father)

Best Actress
Denise Gough (People, Places and Things)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Mark Gatiss (Three Days in the Country)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Judi Dench (The Winter’s Tale)

Best Actor in a Musical
Matt Henry (Kinky Boots)

Best Actress in a Musical
Imelda Staunton (Gypsy)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical
David Bedella (In the Heights)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical
Lara Pulver (Gypsy)

Best Revival
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (National Theatre, Lyttelton)

Best Musical Revival
Gypsy (Savoy Theatre)

Best New Play
Hangmen (Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court and Wyndham’s Theatre)

Best New Comedy
Nell Gwynn (Apollo Theatre)

Best New Musical
Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre)

Best New Opera Production
Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci (Royal Opera House)

Best New Dance Production
Woolf Works (Royal Opera House)

Best Entertainment and Family
Showstopper! the Improvised Musical (Apollo Theatre)

Best Director
Robert Icke (Oresteia, Almeida Theatre)

Best Theatre Choreographer
Drew McOnie (In the Heights, King’s Cross Theatre)

Best Lighting Design
Mark Henderson (Gypsy, Savoy Theatre)

Best Costume Design
Gregg Barnes (Kinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre)

Best Set Design
Anna Fleischle (Hangmen, Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court and Wyndham’s Theatre)

Outstanding Achievement in Music
Lin-Manuel Miranda for In the Heights (King’s Cross Theatre)

Outstanding Achievement in Opera
English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra for The Force of Destiny, Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk and The Queen of Spades (London Coliseum)

Outstanding Achievement in Dance
Alessandra Ferri in Cheri and Woolf Works (Royal Opera House)

Magic Radio Audience Award
Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre)