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Chris (UK)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mainstream...and fabulous, 21 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Strangeland (Audio CD)
It's neither challenging nor ground-breaking, just solid mainstream rock/pop, well-produced, with strong melodies.

There are hints of the Beatles, U2, Abba, ELO and even some of the more prog groups in here, but you won't find yourself skipping any tracks.

Whether you are new to Keane or not, this is an excellent pop album and comes highly recommended.

That Old Cape Magic
That Old Cape Magic
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cape crisis, 6 Jun. 2012
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The book's title is a twist on the old song `That Old Black Magic'. Whether the fact that Sinatra also performed it as `That Old Jack Magic' at JFK's inauguration, and the novel narrates the mid-life crisis of Jack Griffin, maybe only Russo can answer.

Cape Cod is the leitmotif in this story. It's where Griff's story starts and finishes 12 months later. Where he spent happy childhood holidays, honeymooned, sees his daughter married, experiences his mid-life crisis, and eventually scatters his parent's ashes.

Griff considers his past and what got him to where he is now. But also what changes he thinks he needs to make to enable him to recapture the excitement and optimism of his early career as a newly married screenwriter on the west coast.

Along the way he reflects on his life and explores how the relationship with parents influences much of our life and those of our families.

There are lots of comic moments in his year and much pathos here too. The characters are also are well-developed.

And whilst I found this a thought provoking, humouress and well-written book, I couldn't help feeling that it might have worked better as a short story.

Once There Was a War (Penguin Modern Classics)
Once There Was a War (Penguin Modern Classics)
by John Steinbeck
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real find, 26 May 2012
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I discovered this book by accident, but what a find.

Unlike so many retrospectives on WW2 Steinbeck talks from the front line.

There's nothing about strategy or the big picture in the European theatre here.

It's about what it was like to be on the ground. The fears, hopes and reality of war for so many.

Steinbeck once again demonstrates he has a gift for capturing the everyday and mundane, and communicating it simply and eloquently to the reader.

This book was a real find- can't recommend highly enough.

Moneyball [DVD] [2011]
Moneyball [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Brad Pitt
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Price: £2.98

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 19 May 2012
This review is from: Moneyball [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
This film is a sleeper in the UK because most people will write it off as a 'stock' US baseball movie.

That it ain't.

If you want fine acting ( Pitt and Hill), a great script ( Sorkin) and a true story about how one individual challenged the status-quo/flat-earthers and in so doing took his team from under-dogs to game-changers, then you will find it here.

An outstanding find and quality film.

Mad Women
Mad Women
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What life was really like for Peggy, 9 April 2012
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This review is from: Mad Women (Kindle Edition)
Jane Maas was a leading creative force on Madison Avenue in the sixties, a copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather, a workaholic and career woman. Her book Mad Women is a pedestrian rather than sensational exposition of the life of a working mother on Madison Avenue circa 1964.

So was it really like Mad Men?

Maas says she is `the real Peggy Olsen', but unlike Peggy she juggles more- husband, kids, school, nanny and work. She says that David Ogilvy was as charming and persuasive as Roger Sterling when it came to wooing clients. The offices of the creative staff were more wildly decorated than those on the set. And yes, there were lots of office affairs, liquor (but never before lunchtime) and memorable parties. She says everyone had fun -something she notes Peggy never mentions. They worked hard, played hard, and created great advertising. And she recounts some of the great stories and anecdotes of how they did so- discovering F. Murray Abraham along the way, creating the 'I love NY' campaign, dealing with Patricia Neal and Roald Dahl's increasing demands on Maxim, and having Philip Roth call her up to check his dialogue was up to snuff.

At a time when women wearing gloves to work was de rigueur, Maas was the first to wear trousers to the office. It fascinating to read how the sexist remarks of male bosses, removal men and even the guy serving in the coffee shop were all part of the mans world of Madison Ave.

However it's interesting to note that Maas's most miserable 7 months in advertising were working for a woman. No ordinary woman it has to be said, but the tyrannical and much despised Leona Helmsley.

If you're a fan of Mad Men, you want to know how it was to be a woman working in advertising in the sixties, or want to know more about Madison Avenue when Ogilvy, Bernbach and the other big names were hell-bent on coming up with `big ideas', then pick up a copy.

Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2
Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2
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Price: £31.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best, 21 Feb. 2012
Of all the recordings available of the gorgeous Rach 2, this remains the finest IMHO.

Recorded way back in '73 and re-mastered, it still stands head and shoulders above the rest- even the much heralded Pappano recording released last year.

At this price it's a steal, and no classical collection should be without it.

Snowflakes are dancing
Snowflakes are dancing
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debussy like you've never heard him before, 21 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Snowflakes are dancing (Audio CD)
The startling sound of Debussy performed on synths is still as sensational as when I first heard this LP in the 70's.

Debussy's impressionistic music is effectively reworked electronically here.

It could be so cheesy and MOR, but it's not. Snowflakes are Dancing leaves Switched on Bach far behind.

This is a first class interpretation of Debussy piano music that is a feast for your ears.

'Gardens in the rain' with it's pointillist raindrops swirling across them will bring shivers to your spine.

A Bullet For Cinderella
A Bullet For Cinderella

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic 50's noir, but not as good as a McGee, 16 Feb. 2012
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At the time of writing this review, this is the only JDM book on kindle.

Feeling nostalgic for noir, I can say that this short story is a quick and enjoyably easy read that is very much a book of the 50's.

However, JDM excelled with the McGee series, and whilst the plot of this novel is every bit as good as a McGee, the characters aren't as well drawn.

So, it's good, but no great.

The Old Magic
The Old Magic
Price: £12.88

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic, 12 Sept. 2011
This review is from: The Old Magic (Audio CD)
He's written some fine songs ( Cruel to be kind / I love the sound of breaking glass...) and produced some notable albums (Elvis Costello for one) of recent years, and his latest `The Old Magic', is no different.

Whilst many aging rockers are desperately trying to recapture their youth and dress like The Foo Fighters (good band mind) in an attempt to extend their vintage appeal, Lowe is growing older with dignity, penning outstanding songs about life as he finds it as an elder.

But before you jump to any conclusions, this isn't some pipe and slippers or `lets just issue one more release to top up the pension' set. It's a collection of well-observed short story-like songs by a mature and seasoned songwriter.

I'd even go as far to say the album offers some of the best songs he's written.

Stoplight Roses, House for Sale, and I Read A Lot are my top three.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2012 7:02 PM GMT

In The Garden of Beasts: Love and terror in Hitler's Berlin
In The Garden of Beasts: Love and terror in Hitler's Berlin
by Erik Larson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars 'This isn't America and you can't say all the things you think'..., 11 Sept. 2011
...the words spoken to Martha Dodd as she was driven past the burnt out ruin of the Reichstag on arrival in Berlin, after she asked if the suspicious circumstances of the fire had anything to do with arson.

Although a work of non-fiction this book reads like a novel. It paints a vivid picture of Berlin in 1933/4 as the Nazis starts to choke German democracy.

The narrative centres on William E Dodd and his twenty something daughter, Martha.

He's the lame and tame American academic surprisingly appointed U. S Ambassador to Berlin in 1933. He's the central character in the book and the dullest. His personal position on anti Semitism means he doesn't' `wake up and smell the coffee' about what is going on in Berlin for at least a year, and spends most his time focussing on his primary brief - recovering US debts.

However, his twenty something daughter Martha is a social animal and star struck. She quickly jumps on the Berlin society circuit and very becomes involved in a sequence of romances and affairs with high-ranking officials, including the Head of the Gestapo and an NKVD agent.

As the political climate changes, tensions escalate; resulting in the `Night of the long knives', and the reality of what is happening comes into sharp focus. Dodd and his daughter realise the full horror of what is going on.

It's an easy read and provides an excellent insight into Berlin during the period, the larger than life characters,and the rise of the Nazis.

My only niggle is that I'd like to have seen more photographs included. There are very few, hence 4 stars.

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