Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is known by many as the author of ‘My Sister’s Keeper’. That is, of course, not her only title, but she is known for tackling difficult subjects in her fiction and this novel is no exception.

Book five of A Year In Books 2017 is ‘Small Great Things’. This was a book that was difficult to put down. It tackles the difficult issue of race and how it can define people, and often not in the ways that the characters expect. It is a very well-written tale and Picoult has taken time (as always) to really research her topic and her characters, ensuring that it all comes to life from page one. It is a brilliant courtroom drama and it keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. There is a happy ending for some and possibly not in ways that the reader may be expecting. Overall, it is an emotional rollercoaster of a read and it does not disappoint.

If you want a book that makes you think, not just as you read but even after you have finished the final page, then this is the book for you.

Theatre Club 1: What a Triumph!

It can finally be revealed that the first ‘Theatre Club’ trip of 2017 was to see…‘Half A Sixpence’ at the Noel Coward Theatre.

The choice was made simply on the suggestion of my mum. We were on one of our jaunts to the big smoke and she spotted it and made it very clear that I would be a fan. To be honest when she told me that the film was Tommy Steele with a banjo, I was intrigued and the decision was made there and then that this would have to be the first adventure of 2017.

So, on a rather cold, grey London day, my friend and I met for our traditional catch up and theatre date. We started with a stroll around Covent Garden and lunch at one of our favourites, ‘The Palm Court Brasserie’. We discovered this lovely little restaurant on one of our other ‘Theatre Club’ dates and it offers a great pre-theatre set menu. The service is always excellent and the staff are very friendly. We passed a good couple of hours enjoying good food and good company, before leaving fully prepared for our afternoon in the theatre.

It is a simple stroll to the Noel Coward Theatre, which is beautifully showing off that it is home to ‘Half A Sixpence’. Even the atmosphere as you enter the theatre is electric. We had balcony seats (with a warning of a restricted view) and they were some of the most comfortable seats with leg room that we have ever had. The safety rail does not obstruct the view too much as the whole stage is used and it certainly did not impact on our enjoyment of the show.

From the moment ‘Half A Sixpence’began, the audience were hooked, and it appeared that the cast were having a lot of fun too. Their energy is infectious and you are swept away with the story. You can not help but like Arthur Kipps (played in the matinee on February 11th by Sam O’Rourke) as he goes from rags to riches to rags to riches on a journey of self-discovery. The songs are catchy throughout and when ‘Flash Bang Wallop’ is performed, it’s like a party on the stage and in the aisles. (The ladies next to me had clearly been waiting for that very moment). The appreciation from the audience was amazing and the cheers were non-stop, especially for Arthur and Ann (Sam O’Rourke and Devon-Elsie Johnson).

We both really enjoyed the production and will no doubt have the tunes in our heads for days to come, especially…‘Flash Bang Wallop’!

http://www.halfasixpence.co.uk/

Theatre Club – A little tradition for making memories

This is one of the two weeks in the year where excitement levels are crazily high. It is one of the two weeks of the year which is the build up to ‘Theatre Club’. This is a little tradition to ensure that a friend and I will always catch up at least twice a year (as it is so easy for busy lives and distance to throw up obstacles).

The only rules to ‘Theatre Club’ are it needs to take place as close to our birthdays as possible (sometimes easier said than done), a good pre-theatre lunch is a must and a show is booked as a surprise. The final rule is always my favourite as it is such a joy to see the excitement at the big reveal or to be the one who can not wait to find out what the delight of the afternoon is going to be. There have never really been any rules about the shows that have to be booked but it seems that musicals are the winners. After all, they are a perfect girly treat!

Although, it can not yet be revealed what the show will be this weekend, here are 5 of the shows that have made it into ‘Theatre Club’:

  1. Guys and Dolls – The rendition of ‘Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat‘ blew the audience out of the water.
  2. Funny Girl – Sheridan Smith really did shine as the star of the show.
  3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – A dream for any Roald Dahl fan and chocolate lover.
  4. Once – Such a charming story of struggling musicians set in Dublin.
  5. Singin’ in the Rain – Nothing more to say other than a timeless classic.

So, how are you going to get out there and make more memories?

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern

Book 4 of a #ayearinbooks2017

The best thing about picking up a book by Cecelia Ahern is that it is like stepping into a fairy tale for adults. There is always a collection of colourful characters and a few subplots that intertwine seamlessly into the main story.

Laura ‘Lyrebird’ is a lovely character to follow on her journey of self-discovery. The story takes her from her the quiet Irish countryside to the lively city lifestyle of Dublin, and her talent for mimicry throws her into the difficult celebrity spotlight. It is quite a roller coaster, but along the way she influences the lives of the many that she meets and they too end up on a road of self-discovery…

It is a heartwarming tale and a perfect piece of escapism on these winter evenings of early 2017.

Now, what to read next?

The Play That Goes Wrong – Tour

Over Christmas, you may have caught ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ on BBC One – and, if you did, you probably had an attack of the giggles. Well, ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ also causes uncontrollable laughter. The ‘play’ starts even before the curtain goes up as the ‘cast’ have various situations to deal with that are probably a nightmare for anyone trying to put on a slick, professional production. The inspiration for the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s ‘Murder at Haversham Manor’ is clearly Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’. It represents all the romantic imagery of those classic stories but the ‘cast’ encounter such a collection of mishaps along the way that the audience are rolling in the aisles with laughter. The farce is thick and fast but never disappoints. A little like ‘The Mousetrap’, the ‘story’ and ‘mishaps’ really should not be shared and only experienced at the theatre. So, if you are up for a wonderfully ‘acted’ play, catch ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ on its national tour – it will not disappoint.

http://www.theplaythatgoeswrong.com/uk-tour

100 Hugs (A book to warm the hearts of those in need of a hug) by Chris Riddell

There is not a more wonderful name for a book as January blues may be taking hold. This is a charming little book, published earlier this month, which perfectly showcases the work of Chris Riddell. An incredibly talented artist and illustrator, he has brought together 100 hugs that will bring a smile to your face. These little beauties are interspersed with some lovely quotes from literature and its great figures (could there be anything better for a Bookworm?) A favourite: ‘Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary’ – Oscar Wilde, opposite a wonderful little drawing of hugging pirates. Although, picking an ultimate favourite is difficult as everything about this book will bring a smile to your face.

So…if you’re ever in need of a little cheering up, this is the book for you!

Happy Hugging!

Bookworm’s Top 5 Books of 2016

Bookworm really struggles with reaching decisions – just loves books far too much!

  1. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell
  2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  3. The Illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay
  4. The Return of the Young Prince by A G Roemmers
  5. After You by Jojo Moyes

There were so many though the list could have gone on…

Theatre Mouse’s Top 5 Shows of 2016

In no particular order here are Theatre Mouse‘s favourite shows of 2016:

  1. Kinky Boots – The Musical at The Adelphi Theatre, London.
  2. Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon.
  3. The Merry Wives of Windsor at Bard on the Beach, Vancouver, BC.
  4. Sleeping Beauty at The Birmingham Hippodrome.
  5. Showboat at New London Theatre, London.

What adventures will Theatre Mouse have in the coming year?