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Amazon Customer "Danny" (UK Nottingham)

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Shelter
Shelter
Price: 13.10

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bold-ish step in a 'new' direction, 7 Feb 2014
This review is from: Shelter (Audio CD)
The opening moments of Shelter are tremendous. A spacious, reverberating thud of bass drum, the simple vocal melody, soaring into the fully blown ‘Opale’, a glorious breath of fresh air. It’s a positive and joyful experience every time. What makes it even more special, aside from the soulful instrumentation, is the other-language effect: making the voice an instrument that moulds with the music and allows the sound as a whole to be the focal point.

From ‘Opale’, the album continues with a consistent musical approach, a more polished and bright recording than previous releases, leaning heavily toward a ‘wall-of-sound’ production, and herein lies my disappointment with the album. Alcest were always interesting because they created a metal-infused style of shoegaze, with many traits of the black-metal genre supplementing their sound. Black metal is not for everyone, not for the majority of people even, but Alcest played major-quality shoegaze and by incorporating a much heavier style, yet still postitive in tone, they had managed to carve something completely different out of the genre. The ability to reflect light and dark to the extremes within one song was always captivating.

With ‘Shelter’, Alcest have embraced a ‘fully-shoegaze’ direction; the album is made up of beautiful, positive music. Whilst this will be a step-forward in mainstream ability, it feels like a step-back in terms of the identity Alcest were still in the process of creating. I understand the move; it’s a good time for Alcest to do this. They’ve been going long enough to have garnered something of a cult following, and a cult-following will always be open minded to changes. There is an aspect of trust in the artist; the genius. There will be those, like myself however, that get a little lost on the way.

My disappointment, which I put forward purely as my own single opinion, is in the lack of engagement this music now offers. Alcest’s previous albums were wonders to me, so unique and well realised, a style of music that was relaxing and yet kept you on your toes. It feels unlikely that Alcest will step back into that territory now, because what they’ve done with Shelter, they’ve done really well. This album is a great piece of background music, to study to, to think to; it’s perfect. What it lacks is the egagement and excitement that made Alcest truly stand out in a growing genre.


Nothing To Envy: Real Lives In North Korea
Nothing To Envy: Real Lives In North Korea
Price: 4.63

5.0 out of 5 stars A fine example of compassionate journalism, 7 Feb 2014
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This is a harrowing, and very human piece of journalism, focusing on the stories of several North Korean defectors. Written by Barbara Demick, the book offers a relentless attack on the Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-un years, and whilst not exactly enjoyable it is certainly a powerful and worthwhile read.

The tone of the book is cemented early on, where Demick paints the picture of a forbidden love between the classes, that can only take place in the pitch-black of the powerless North Korean nights. She writes, '...in the middle of this black hole, in this bleak, dark country where millions have died of starvation, there is also love'. This is not a book that relies on detached, non-fiction writing, but instead is built on interviews with individual people and the things they've been through.

One of the major achievements of Nothing to Envy is the way the author pulls as much from the stories she has collected, without submitting these North Korean's accounts to tabloidism. The use of pacing is effective in introducing each character, set-up their predicaments, and slowly reveal the horrors of the North Korean regime through the little things; the portraits of the leading son and father that must be polished daily; the passing comment that leads to three days of interrogation: the book builds to the real shock, the starvation and prison camps, children dropping out of school to steal food and die of malnutrition. The revelations are natural in sequence, and represent the slow dawning of horror that passed through all of the people interviewed by Demick.

In terms of politics, the author is completely unsympathetic to the antics of the North Korean government, with not so much an anti-communist agenda but rather a doctrine shouting 'this is why communism does not work'. There were moments were I felt sad for the country in the sense that it was clearly trying every thing possible to hold the country together, a country that was falling apart economically and geographically at a monumental pace. However these thoughts of sympathy are swiftly stamped out, upon learning the government were selling food supplied by the UN as humanitarian aid, and sending devout Christian's to prison camps to make way for the deity-Kims version of events.

This book is a worthy read. Whilst it's perhaps tainted by opinion, and relies solely on interviews with defectors (so may not be completely accurate in all aspects), it is an example of impeccable journalism, and the amazing things that people have to go through in order to survive.


Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind
Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind
Price: 4.73

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A short review of Runing with the Mind of Meditation., 23 Sep 2013
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A very enjoyable read; the style is easy to understand and certainly motivates the reader to want to acheive the benefits of running and meditation. It is also a book unarguably about both running and meditation: it wants you to be just as interested in both exercises.
One critisicm I could level at this short book is that, in terms of meditation, it by no means offers depth of instruction. Aside from some simple exercises described at the beginning of the book there is not much here in the sense of guidance, more of what can be achieved should you follow through and seek guidance. However, the book works wonderfully as a motivational tool in the simplest of its ideas; since reading this book I have began to try and enjoy running for the sake of running, and to read more about the benefits and practice of meditation.

I'm not sure how a zen master or ultra-marathon runner would recieve this book, but if you are in a slump and need some motivation, this book will give you all the tools you need.


How to be a Productivity Ninja. Forget Time Management: How to Get Things Done in the Age of Information Overload
How to be a Productivity Ninja. Forget Time Management: How to Get Things Done in the Age of Information Overload
by Graham Allcott
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Productivity Ninja, 1 May 2013
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This is a handy book, if not a little overlong. There are some general good tips throughout it's 400 pages, that appeal more to common sense than 'super life-changing secrets', but they are definitely points worth making. It works, as I'm certain many other productivity books do, in getting you to 'want' to be productive, but this affect will always wear off after a week or so.

The real core of the book however is the CORD productivity model. This is the simple 4-steps of Collecting, Organising, Reviewing and Doing the things on your to-do list. The book contains easy to follow exercises and the system does work very well. Now that I have it set up I don't see myself straying from it anytime soon. My only issue is with the fact that it's put forward in a rather corporate style (or corporate trying not to be), which at first makes the whole thing seem like it's not going to work. Yet once you've understood the system, it's extremely easy to tailor it to suit your own needs. This is what makes the book worth it, as the other material within the book are probably things you can pick up from any modern productivity guide.

Well worth a purchase if you're finding it hard to organise yourself; helpful quick tips, and the sections relating to the CORD productivty system are certainly worth the price of the book.


Karrimor Tight Running Shorts Mens Black Medium
Karrimor Tight Running Shorts Mens Black Medium

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great running shorts, 27 April 2013
Great pair of running shorts and for a good price. Can't really fault the shorts, although perhaps they're a little more... revealing, than I'd have liked. Still, very comfortable and stay that way for long-distances.


The Ghost Pirates
The Ghost Pirates

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good little ghost story, 29 May 2012
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This review is from: The Ghost Pirates (Kindle Edition)
This is a good little ghost story; not the most well put together, but entertaining enough. It's strength lies in some great dialogue, with a wide range of dialects and fun-to-follow conversations. Also, the ship offers a well-described atmosphere, and that sense of being lost out in the sea is conveyed clearly and effectively, though it can be difficult to follow certain passages if you aren't well versed in the different parts of a ship.

My main issue with the story comes in the final chapters. It seemed to me that the final events were almost random - there was not much flow from the subtle haunting build-up to the full on set-piece closing off the story.

The Ghost Pirates is a fun read, and with it being free I would recommend it undoubtedly, but it's more of a throwaway ghost story than a literary classic.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2013 11:37 AM BST


A Dramatic Turn Of Events
A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Price: 8.71

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Album, 13 Sep 2011
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Concentrating solely on the music of the latest Dream Theater album, it's very easy to say that this is the best thing the band has put out in a long, long time. The hard and heavy edge that they've been perfecting since the 'Train of Thought' album is really strong here, but interjected are moments of true proggy awesomeness. The album does take a few listens before you start to really appreciate the song-writing and become familiar with songs, but on an initial listen, and many listens afterwards, the album simply blows you away with the sheer ridiculousness of the musicianship and ambition of the instrumental sections. Whether it be a slow, emotional guitar solo, a massive unexpected keyboard sound or a particularly fiddly drum fill, there is so much here. 5 minutes of a song contains more thought than the average rock/metal bands entire album.

This has always been the case with Dream Theater; this album is just the quality you expect, however there are improvements. For one, the drums are not so up front and loud on this album,as they have been on the last couple, and I think this improves the bands sound. It sounds more balanced and slightly more comfortable. I also found that the chorus' of this album are some of the most huge that Dream Theater have put together. 'Build me up, Break me down' gives me goosebumps every time, and James La'brie's almost 'Hetfield-esque' vocals in the chorus of 'Bridges in the Sky' is mighty as is humanly possible. Maybe even more so. And I have to say he sounds great through this whole album, especially in some of the more tender moments. Despite what some say, I really think he has a voice that makes its stand against the mesmerizing instrumentals and creates truly memorable songs.

And finally, I just have to mention the instrumental bridge of 'Breaking all Illusions'. It's something to close your eyes and drift away to.

I discovered Dream Theater through the Metropolis Pt 2 album, and I think that's the greatest record I've ever heard. This album gets me just as excited. I implore you to listen to this album and love it.


STRANGE COUSINS FROM
STRANGE COUSINS FROM
Price: 9.69

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rock 'n Roll, 12 July 2009
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This review is from: STRANGE COUSINS FROM (Audio CD)
I recently read an interview with Clutch's front man, Neil Fallon, in which he talked about how their sound harkens back to the 60's/70's blues infused rock. He mentioned that it's not that they're being retro, but that this genre of music is timeless.

Timeless is probably the best word to describe Clutch. They don't fit with the trends, they don't change their music to appeal to others, they just get their heads down and rock.

This release, along with all other Clutch releases, is a collection of fine songs without fault. Some songs are better than others, but this album is consistently good. On first listen, every song will have you tapping your toes and nodding your head, but on repeated listens this definitely grows on you (which is the case with most Clutch records), and just gets better and better.

If Clutch can just continue as they always have done, they can do no wrong.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 4, 2012 9:03 PM GMT


Earthsblood
Earthsblood
Offered by Media Vortex
Price: 10.20

5.0 out of 5 stars A Modren Masterpeice, 24 Jun 2009
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This review is from: Earthsblood (Audio CD)
I've never been a huge fan of God Forbid, though after hearing 'Walk Alone' on a compilation CD, I thought I would check this album out.

I've had it for about a month now, and have to say it still feels fresh and amazing when I listen to it now. It seems like God Forbid have taken the time to put 100% into this record and make the best thing they could. They've steered clear of typical song structures and used compositions that make sense for the songs and allow for you to discover new things about songs after repeated listens. You will have a new favourite part each time you listen to the album.

Stand out tracks for me would have to be war of attrition, empire of the gun, and bat the angels of the sky, though there is no filler on this album.

Hopefully, after all the hard work that has obviously been put into this record, God Forbid will get the recognition they deserve.


Son of Rosemary: The Sequel to "Rosemary's Baby"
Son of Rosemary: The Sequel to "Rosemary's Baby"
by Ira Levin
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh Dear, 24 Jun 2009
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I agree whole-heartedly with the other reviews here - this book is an uneccessary sequel to what was a great little book. I took both Rosemary's baby and Son of Rosemary on holiday, and the dip in quality between the books is quite obvious, with Son of Rosemary feeling overly simple and pointless.

And the end, of course, is the most stupid thing ever. I laughed out loud after closing the book it was that ridiculous. This isn't really worth reading.


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