The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind is the first novel in the Kingkiller chronicles, and it is the beginning of the story of a character called Kvothe.

I have very mixed feelings about this book. When I first started reading I was hooked, and I enjoyed the writing, Kvothe’s life running a tavern and his mysterious past and the strange spider-like creatures. When Kvothe begins to tell the story of his life to the chronicler who comes to his tavern, I also enjoyed the first part of his backstory, his childhood, his introduction to magic and especially the history and myths regarding the Chandrian. However, gradually the pace slowed down hugely and it dragged. Things did pick up a little towards the end but not enough.

I also found Kvothe highly annoying as a character. He was good at everything and came across as arrogant. Other characterisations were frustrating too, like Dana. She is only ever really described for her looks, and every man seems to find her irresistible and it isn’t clear at all why. She seems to lead so many men on.

Elements of the writing are very good, especially considering that this is Rothfuss’ debut novel. Some descriptions are fantastic but sometimes there were too many, and too much detail. The narrative was also repetitive at times – we are reminded constantly that Kvothe lacks money.

I think I felt cheated while reading this novel, as the story that is hinted at near the beginning isn’t what’s included. It felt like an incredibly long introduction to what will eventually be the main story. I may continue with the series but I definitely need a break! Also from what I’ve read the next novel in the series is more backstory, so maybe I’ll wait until the narrative finally reaches Kvothe’s present day.

Beauty and the Beast

I had been so excited about this film since it was announced, and grew even more so every time another cast member was announced as they all seemed such perfect choices. As the release date grew nearer I did start to feel a little apprehensive that it might not live up to my expectations or not be as good as the original, which I love so much. I’m so pleased that it did not disappoint in the slightest!

The film is full of nods to the original, including some exact shots, but there are also some wonderful additions. I loved the background stories to Belle and the Beast’s childhoods. The casting is indeed perfect, particularly Luke Evans as Gaston, who is hilarious! It is a beautifully shot film and is so magical.

If I had to be very picky and criticise something, I would say that Ewan McGregor’s French accent as Lumière was patchy at times, but I loved the characterisation in general. I also think it was a shame that some of the songs from the West End/Broadway production weren’t used fully, but I liked that some of them were used as a background soundtrack, such as ‘Home’.

I adored this film, I laughed and I cried and I wanted to watch it again immediately as soon as it finished!

 

The Red Shoes – Wales Millennium Centre

The Red Shoes by New Adventures, Sir Matthew Bourne’s dance company, is based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale and the 1948 Academy Award winning film by Powell and Pressburger. It’s the story of a successful dancer, Victoria Page, and how she is torn between her love of dance and her love for her partner, a composer called Julian Craster.

I am not familiar with the film so I cannot make any comparisons, but this was an absolutely beautiful production. As always Matthew Bourne’s choreography is innovative and clever, reflecting the time period, locations and personalities of the characters. I particularly loved the choreography for the composer when he was working on a new score, and between him and Victoria during the second half showing the tension between them.

I also thought the staging and set design was very effective. Almost throughout there was a frame on stage with a red curtain, which would turn showing us the performers both onstage and backstage. It was also used effectively in the second half to flip between scenes with Victoria and Craster and Boris Lermantov, the head of the dance company who is seemingly obsessed with her. I loved the design when the dance company perform The Red Shoes ballet, based on the fairytale but clearly a premonition for what will happen to the performers offstage. The lighting changed to black and white and the dancers were all in black, white or grey, which made the red shoes themselves and Victoria’s red dress stand out.

My one very small criticism is that I wonder whether someone who had no idea of the story would have been able to follow everything. I had read a synopsis so I had some idea, but I suspect some parts may have been a little confusing if I had not.

I am not a dance aficionado but I always enjoy Matthew Bourne’s productions. I am always impressed by how much emotion the performers can express without words, and the ending of this show was moving. I think this will be one of my favourite New Adventures productions.

 

Holding – Graham Norton

When human remains are discovered by a construction company that is preparing farmland for housing, several secrets in Duneen in rural County Cork begin to be revealed. What happened to Tommy Burke? Was he really seen getting on a bus leaving town 20 years ago? Or is he the body?

This is a fair debut novel by Graham Norton, and it’s a fun and relaxing read. I particularly enjoyed his characterisation, especially Sergeant PJ Collins. I did however guess a few of the twists, which doesn’t usually happen when I read a mystery!

Logan

Logan is the latest and it would seem last Wolverine film from the X Men franchise. It’s generally a much more ‘adult’ film than others in the franchise, being far more bloody and a very sombre tone throughout.

It is a good film but it has some sad moments and I found that I missed the usual comedy of other X Men films. There were also some events mentioned, particularly by Professor X, which weren’t explained or elaborated on, which was a little frustrating. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are wonderful, as expected, and I thought Stephen Merchant was good in an unusually serious role for him.

Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders is in many ways an homage to the classic whodunits. It contains two mysteries – the first being in the manuscript of a novel written by Alan Conway, starring his detective Atticus Pund. When Conway dies suddenly, his editor at Cloverleaf Books, Susan Ryeland, realises that the final chapters of the manuscript are missing, and believing that this is somehow linked to Conway’s death, she decides to play detective herself.

There are plenty of red herrings and twists and turns in both stories. The Atticus Pund story is very much a parody of an Agatha Christie novel, and it is very intelligently written by a very skilful author. This is the first novel I have read by Anthony Horowitz and I definitely want to read more.

The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett

The Colour of Magic is the first novel in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and it describes the adventures of the wizard Rincewind, the tourist Twoflower and his case, ‘The Luggage’.

I’ve only read one other book in the Discworld series so far (Going Postal), and when I was researching where to start with the series I read several reviews mentioned that The Colour of Magic isn’t the best place to start, as it isn’t the easiest plot to follow and not Pratchett’s best writing. I would have to agree that it is a little confusing at times, but it was nice to have a little background to the world having read another story in the series. There were some humorous moments but I feel some of the satire went over my head with regards to references to other fantasy novels.

Overall it was nice to have some background information about Ankh-Morpork and the Discworld but I’m glad that I had read another book in the series previously.