Derren Brown ~ Infamous

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to go and see Derren Brown’s show, Infamous, at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend. I’m fairly new to the whole Derren Brown thing, having only really cottoned on to how totally fabulous he is at some point last year, when I binge watched Trick or Treat with Anna, and then went through all of his live shows on DVD. When Anna found out that he was going on tour and that tour was coming to Southend, where she lives, we decided we had to go, so she booked seven tickets and then we waited. And waited, and waited. Seriously, it took so long for the day to come around, but it finally did at the end of May!

Writing about the details of the show is strictly forbidden. Or, at least, Derren Brown asks specifically that you do not reveal anything about the show, because it spoils it for anyone that is yet to see it. I know that I would have been devastated if someone had told me anything about it before I went, so I wouldn’t dream of doing that to anyone. All I will say is that if you are lucky enough to have tickets for the remainder of the tour, you’re sure to have a really, really good time, and if you’re a fan of Derren Brown, you won’t be disappointed. I found myself sat watching the show with my mouth agape on more than one occasion, and I gasped and whooped and cheered and applauded all the way through. It’s a fantastic show!


Before we went in, we tried a selfie. Seven people in a selfie is not easy, but we just about managed it. Of course, we had to be a bit silly too. These are amongst my favourite people in all the world, and I loved spending the weekend with them. Derren Brown was obviously a huge amount of fun, and then we got home and stayed up half the night talking about it (and everything else under the sun). Then we went for breakfast, and then to see X-Men: Days of Future Past the next day. Pretty perfect couple of days, all told.

As Infamous took place in a theatre, I’m totally claiming it as a win for one of my 2014 goals – go to the theatre!

May 2014 Books

Disappointingly, I only managed five books in May. I really wanted to try and get to six, but it wasn’t to be, and I ended up on five. But I was really pleased with the fact that I managed to review all but one (and that review will be coming soon), because I would love to be at a point where I review everything I read! Reading five books means that I am running slightly behind with my goal to read 75 books in 2014, but I’m not worrying yet. I know I’ll get there!

Itch Rocks by Simon Mayo

The most exciting thing about Itch Rocks was that when I had reviewed it, I tagged Simon Mayo in a tweet about it, and he not only replied to the tweet, he made it clear that he had read the review. Coming hot on the heels of Mark Kermode reading my review of Hatchet Job and tweeting me about it, this was a pretty exciting turn of events for me. Itch Rocks is such good fun, it picks up the plot from the first novel and runs with it, and I actually think it’s the better of the two. I’m now waiting eagerly for Itchcraft to come out in September; partly so I can read it and partly so I can find Simon Mayo doing a book signing.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl became my first five-star book of the year, and was one that I read voraciously. My friend V lent it to me on a Sunday afternoon, and by the Sunday evening, I had read over half of it, and I’d finished it by the following lunchtime. It’s the third Rowell book that I’ve read, and I think it’s probably my favourite, though I did love Eleanor and Park. It’s full of great, identifiable characters, and I liked that it was a new adult novel, rather than a young adult. It’s about a young woman who is becoming an adult, and dealing with everything that entails.

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

The Memory Book took me by surprise slightly; it took me a while to actually read the whole thing, having started it and then put it down to read something else. When I actually got into it, it swept me up and took me along, and I really enjoyed it. It made me cry more than I initially expected it to, as well. It tackled a subject that I haven’t read an awful lot about, and the characters were well written. You can read my review here.


Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

I’ve waxed lyrical about Rooftoppers all over the place, because it’s a truly beautiful book. It’s not often that I describe books as beautiful, but this has beauty in spades. The covers (of all the editions) are lovely, each new chapter has a sketch of the Paris skyline, and most importantly, the story is wonderful. It’s about a little girl called Sophie whose is orphaned as a baby when a ship is sunk in the English Channel. She is brought up by a fine man, but never believes that her mother is dead, and goes off to Paris to search for her. I implore you to read it! My review is here.


A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

This is the only book of the month that I haven’t managed to review yet. I will be writing about it, because it’s a 1982 book, but I have to warn you that I didn’t enjoy it that much, and I won’t have much in the way of glowing words about it! I know that it spawned a successful series starring the protagonist, Kinsey Millhone, but I can’t say that I’ll be continuing the series! The story was uninventive and unsurprising, and the writing wasn’t great. I have no problem with by the number crime novels; they can be entertaining, but this wasn’t, in any way! Look out for my review in the next few days.


30 books down, 45 to go in my aim to read 75 books by the end of 2014. Follow me on Goodreads to keep up with my progress.

The Classical Spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall

Ages and ages ago (in March), I went with my dad and two of his friends to the Classical Spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall. My dad has been going for a few years now, he took my mum a couple of times, and he loves it, so when he said that he had a spare ticket and did I want to go, I thought I would. I don’t know an awful lot about classical music; while I would never claim not to like it, I am not particularly familiar with it, and I just like what I like. But I love hearing music played live, and I have never been to the Royal Albert Hall, so I knew that I would probably have a good time.

It’s taken me a while to write a post about it, but as ‘Go to a music concert/gig’ is one of my 2014 goals, I thought it deserved its own post. You’ll just have to forgive the quality of the photos, as they are merely phone images.


As you can see, we had seats quite high up in the theatre, but I have no fear of heights (unlike my sister), so I was fine. The stage was down to our left, and the view was fine. It’s all about the sound, anyway, and I don’t think there’s anywhere inside the Albert Hall that the music wouldn’t sound amazing.

The orchestra playing was the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and though I have no real frame of reference, they were very good. They played one of my favourite pieces of music ever, Rhapsody in Blue, with a solo by Jonathan Scott. It was amazing; I had no idea that they were going to play it as I don’t really think of it as a piece of classical music, because it’s so modern (comparatively – it was written in 1924). I also really enjoyed Land of Hope and Glory and the Hornpipe, because I love watching them on the Last Night of the Proms on the television!


I know it doesn’t look as though my dad is having a good time, but he was. He just probably wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the selfie nature of the photo. And at the end, hundreds of balloons came down, and I grabbed my phone but was just slightly too late to catch them actually falling.

As you can tell from the photos, it’s a very nationalistic and patriotic affair, with union flags to wave and red, white and blue balloons. They played Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia, but other than that, the rest of the music came from all over the world. It’s fun to wave a flag, but I felt slightly ridiculous doing it!

At the end, during the 1812 Overture, two cannons on either side of the hall go off, one of which was right above our heads! It made me jump each and every time it happened! And then there is an indoor firework display, which was very impressive.

I had a lovely day, and I made a Spotify playlist of all the music when I got home. One of the main problems I have with classical music is that I know I like certain pieces, but I don’t know what they are called, so listening to my playlist means I know their names!

Go to a music concert/gig

April 2014 Books

Here we are again at the end of another month (technically the start of another, but I’m never very good at getting these posts up on time), and I managed seven books in April! This keeps me squarely on track as far as my target of 75 goes, but it does play havoc with my little graphic that I make each month. They are already pretty unprofessional, and now this month I had an uneven number of covers to play with.

Hatchet Job by Mark Kermode

When I was updating my books page earlier, I suddenly realised that I had never written a post about Hatchet Job, and as it’s one of the ten non-fiction books I am trying to read as part of my 32 Before 32 list, I really should have done. So I put together a hasty post that is not very good, and you should see that later on today! The fact that I finished it three weeks ago and forgot to write about it means that I can’t think of an awful lot to say, apart from the fact that it marks the end of my journey with Mark Kermode’s writings, because I have run out of books to read now. I can’t imagine that if you aren’t a fan of his, you will find anything particularly interesting here, but if you are a fellow Wittertainee, you’ve probably already read it.

The Summer I Gave Up Boys by Kassandra Kush

I think I ended up reading this book because it was a free Kindle download. In fact it must have been, because there’s no way I would have paid for it. I read Young Adult books from time to time, because I enjoy them, and even if they are bad, they tend to be short, and so it’s not a waste of too much time. The Summer I Gave Up Boys was one such book: bad, but very short. It was so bad; there was no dramatic tension whatsoever, because I knew from the first page what was going to happen. It was totally unrealistic; even as a thirty year old, I know a little bit about what the younger generation are up to, and it seems to me that the author had very little idea. It was just awful, but it took me no more than an hour or so to read, so I can just give it up as a bad choice and remember never to read anything by this particular author again.

 All The Things You Are by Clemency Burton-Hill

I received All The Things You Are as a review copy from Headline through Bookbridgr, and I really enjoyed it. It was a really intelligent look at a romance between two people from the same city but with completely different family histories, and this conflict comes to the fore when they take a trip to Jerusalem together. I wrote a review on it here, and I gave it four stars on Goodreads. I feel as though most of the books that I have read lately have been distinctly average, so it was a pleasure to read something that made me think, and that presented a love story with a bit of a difference.

 This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This is What Happy Looks Like is another Young Adult book that didn’t take me very long to read, but luckily it was a lot more enjoyable than The Summer I Gave Up Boys. There’s a formula to these type of Young Adult books – it’s always summer, the heroine always lives in town on the beach, a boy usually arrives from elsewhere, there’s a reason why they shouldn’t be together, they end up together. It’s not great literature, but sometimes it’s entertaining and it appeals to me on a level that says something about me, I think. This book tells the story of a young movie star who accidentally emails a teenager in the aforementioned beach town, getting the email address of his friend wrong. They start up a relationship through these emails, without her realising who he is. When they finally meet, it all seems as though it won’t work out, because she has certain family issues, but in the tradition of Young Adult stories, all turns out well. Perfectly enjoyable, but nothing special.

 Six Years by Harlen Coben

I had never read any Harlen Coben before, because I’m not a huge fan of American crime novels. They just aren’t my sort of thing. But when I read about the premise of this novel online, I thought it sounded promising. Jake and Natalie are a young couple very much in love, when Natalie breaks Jake’s heart by marrying another man in front of him. Years later, having promised to have no contact with the couple, Jake sees an obituary for the man Natalie married, and decides to go to the funeral to pay his respects. Whilst there, he finds that the widow is not Natalie, and nobody has any knowledge of her. This leads Jake to begin to investigate what is going on, and the plot takes many twists and turns. Sadly, whilst the premise was promising, the execution and writing wasn’t great, and I found myself sighing over clichés and plot contrivances. I think I’ll be steering clear of Harlen Coben in the future.

 Precious Thing by Colette McBeth

I was lucky enough to receive Precious Thing as a review copy, again from Bookbridgr, and I finished it a couple of days ago. I still need to write a proper review on it, which should be up in the next couple of days, so I don’t want to pre-empt that too much! Talking around it, rather than about it, I enjoyed it up to a certain point, but I was unfortunate enough to read a small spoiler before I had really got into it, and I think that probably affected my enjoyment of it. It tells the story of Rachel, a television news correspondent who finds herself as part of the story when it emerges that her childhood best friend, Clara, has gone missing, and police suspect she has been abducted. It has many twists and turns, and nothing is quite as it seems, but I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I expected to. Stay tuned for a full review, coming soon!

 Conditional Love by Cathy Bramley

I rushed to finish Conditional Love, because I thought that I was only on five books for the month, and then by the time I had almost finished, I realised that I was actually on six. It was one that was a free Kindle download that I spied on Twitter, and while I knew it wasn’t going to blow me away, sometimes it’s nice to just read a book that is enjoyable. Conditional Love was enjoyable, but it was really hard to get on board with the heroine, Sophie, because she was so clueless when it came to her boyfriend. Her sexist, arrogant, money-chasing boyfriend, who demeans her and dumps her, and yet she comes back for more. It’s obvious who she is meant to be with, but she doesn’t get there quickly enough because she’s too busy apologising for and defending this idiot. It’s not essential to like the heroine of a book, but it’s important for me to understand where they are coming from and respect them, and I couldn’t connect with Sophie because I just didn’t believe she would be that stupid.


25 books down, 50 to go in my aim to read 75 books by the end of 2014. Follow me on Goodreads to keep up with my progress.