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M. A. Ratcliffe

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The Ramayana
The Ramayana
by Vālmīki
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.40

4.0 out of 5 stars A surprising page-turner for those interested in Buddhism, Hinduism, Yoga...or just a really exciting story!, 3 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Ramayana (Paperback)
I have been interested in Indian Spirituality and Philosophy for a few years now, and after having studied Buddhism, have branched out to include Hinduism and Yoga philosophy only to discover many common threads. I wanted to know more about Indian culture; I wanted to know who Rama, Sita and Hanuman the monkey-god are. I wanted to understand what the big deal was about this Ramayana , the popularity of which has spread around most of south asia, and the world beyond.

I was a little daunted by the size of the book when I received it in the post, especially as I don't usually bother with works of fiction.

I will cut to the chase and simply say that this book is amazing.The book portrays very clearly what a righteous life is, and contrast this with lives that are dicted by the whims of personal vanity or greed. I thought it does really well at illustrating that actions have consequences, and that action rooted in truth leads to more favourable results than action that arises from greed, hatred or delusion. I found this book a pleasure to read. I was hooked, and wanted to keep reading to see how the characters would navigate their way through personal and spiritual dilemmas.

I had just a couple of slight problems with the story. Firstly, the battlescene at the end went on for well over 100 pages, which made for tedious reading in my opinion. The section was full of 'he picked up a rock, smashed it over someones head, another person got involved, he killed lots of people; then he got picked up in the air and thrown down...'. I kept checking how many pages of this I had left to go through. I was a little disappointed in the ending, also; I didn't like how Rama betrayed Sita in the Epilogue: it seemed to me cowardly how he could treat his loyal wife this way just because some of his subjects were gossiping about them.

I hope this review helped a little.

Perfect War Forever
Perfect War Forever
Price: 2.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Expected a little more, but it still makes my pants ride up., 29 Nov 2013
This review is from: Perfect War Forever (MP3 Download)
A very heavy album. Although it still stands head and shoulders above most other extreme heavy metal bands, it did disappoint me a bit. There is a lot of monotony to this album. Unlike the previous release 'The Royal Thousand', there is a lack of vocal melody, which makes the album sound a bit monotonous. This situation is compounded by the fact that the guitars also stray very little from a chugging open low string; as awesome as this can sound, it did leave me wondering what happened to Joshua Travis awesome guitar work.

I have grown to associate Travis with so much boundary-pushing craziness - so many guitar techniques, time changes and polyrhythms that it assaults the listener on many levels, while padding out the sound with some interesting ambient guitar tracks, which help to create a hypnotic three-dimensional backdrop to the carnage. This effect is used at the start of this e.p, which is an epic introduction, by the way. Travis is not of this world.

It's cool that they are just doing what pleases them and to experiment with different approaches - in this case a very stripped down one. The album is very raw, and very brutal, but it lacks the intensity of Danza IIII or 'The Royal Thousand'.

The album is like having a lazy, drunken quickie with a particularly high profile pornstar - So much wasted potential, but there are no real complaints and this is still a solid five star release.

Tomorrow's Harvest
Tomorrow's Harvest
Price: 9.97

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars oops., 15 Jun 2013
This review is from: Tomorrow's Harvest (Audio CD)
Loved every BoC release to date. What I loved most about BoC, apart from them being seemingly incapable of putting a foot wrong, is that every single piece seems to paint a particularly vivid nightmare or dream picture that interacts with some long-forgotten parts of your psyche. By comparison this album just seems to be drawn out and uninspired. Every song I have heard has classic 'filler' quality to it. I was looking forward to this release very much; it was sitting in my wish list for months prior to its release. I have deleted it.

Having said all this, it is hard not to listen to this album through the lens of the 'halo' effect, or positive bias, that BoC have earned with their previous albums. This is not a terrible recording - there are a couple of reasonable tracks - but it is clearly the weakest release to date.

Buy it if you need to get rid of your money on something...ok.

Otherwise save your money.

If you want a BoC fix, buy Tycho - Dive, WALLS - coracle, Ulrich Schnauss - In A Strangely Isolated Place, or Clark - Iradelphic instead. These albums build on classic BoC and create something more worthy of your time and your money than the latest BoC release.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 17, 2013 1:00 PM BST

Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies That Save You Time and Money
Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies That Save You Time and Money
by Robin Robertson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.39

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book will help beginners on the way to becoming a creative vegan shopper and cook., 10 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A handy book. I have been Vegan for about a month now, and I have found this book to be very useful. It provides tips on shopping and stocking your cupboards cheaply. I have spent the last few weeks trying to internalise the 'cooking basics' at the beginning of the book, after which I will go on to tackle some of the meals.

The cooking basics, by themselves, have totally revolutionised my shopping styles. I am no longer spending big on meat substitutes; just two bakes seitan loaves diced can keep in the freezer and provide enough for a whole months supply; I am also amazed at how great the 'cheezee sauce' tastes, and find it as versatile at the seitan. The Peanut Sauce is a perfect marinade for my tofu, and I can use the excess in a stirfy. I have also learned to make my own vegetable stock, by collecting my vegetable trimmings in a tub in the fridge throughout the week. The chocolate brownies were simple and definitely do the trick. You can make expensive vegan treats such as chocolate and fudge go a lot further, should you decide to add these.

I don't have many complaints for this book. The first, and most obvious is that it is American and therefore features product names that we don't use in the UK. Secondly, some of the ingredients, such as nutritional yeast and wheat gluten, I could not find in the shops and had to order online. However, these ingredients feature pro;lifically in vegan cooking, so this is something I guess I will have to get used to. The final complain I would like to make, is that the book is 'vegan', but not necessarily healthy or environmentally minded. I have gone through a lot of olive oil and soya sauce following these recipes, and the authors suggest using supermarkets, tinned foods and overlooking organic products and the potential dangers of pesticides. Having said that, it IS after all about living Vegan on a budget, and I suppose that a vegan on a low income needs to make certain compromises on the journey of veganism.

I would definitely recommend to clueless cooks, new vegans and/or people on low incomes. This book will help you on the way to becoming a creative vegan shopper and cook!

Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 8.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Helmet teams up with Janes Addiction, 8 Jun 2013
This review is from: Harmonicraft (Audio CD)
Most rock albums of the present seem to fall into some tired genre or other: we have the endless cycle of 'djent' bands, for example; even the Deftones seem to be sticking to some comfortable formula. So where to turn for some good, foot stomping rock and roll these days? Well you could do much worse than turning to Torche's Harmonicraft album for inspiration.

If I were to summarize this sound in just a few words, I would say that they sound like Helmet teams up with Janes Addiction. So, on the one hand, you have the same heavy, groovy, slightly angular riffing and gruff intonations of Helmet (See Reverse Inverted), but Torche stray into the more colourful, unrestrained psychedelic territory of Janes Addiction with their sound (especially on 'Letting go', which sounds even more like Jane's Addiction with the heavy use of delay on the vocals). I would be very surprised if Torche were not fans of either of these bands: The comparisons seem unavoidable. However, Torche manage to come out with a sound that is altogether their own.

Just the right balance of aggression and melody. The result, is an interesting style of music that is very heavy without being angry, bleak or pessimistic.

That cover is excellent, too.

Yoga and Kriya: A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques
Yoga and Kriya: A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques
by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 67.49

5.0 out of 5 stars The Alpha and Omega of Yoga?, 15 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I developed an interest in Yoga after atending free yoga classes at the gym, which were well taught, i thought, by a woman who was deeply interested in the ancient practices of yoga. I explained to my teacher that I was interested in Yoga and wanted to learn more about the philosophy behind the asanas; I told the teacher I was looking for a book that would help me greatly in developing my yoga practice at home. This was the book that was recommended to me.

The book was being sold at over 50 pounds, but I managed to buy it for a little over 20 from an independent seller.

The book gives the reader an understanding of all the aspects of yoga, such as purifying your karma in day to day living; working with your breath; devoitional practice; hand gestures; yoga postures; meditational practices and detoxification and purification practices. The subjects combine in monthly lessons, so that your practice develops from begginner to master in a comprehensive way.

I have been studying from the book for about three months now, and this is what I have found...

I experiences some degree of aversion to some of the practices, such as Jala Neti - which involved pouring salt water in one nostril and letting it trickle out of the other; or Kunjal Krya, which involves drinking sal water to bursting point before vomiting it out. I have had a nosy at later lessons, that seem to suggest swallowing a rag to clean the slomach and gullet. I personally think that some of these practices are a little dated, and perhaps unnecessary for the average aspirant - especially in a world where less invasive alternatives have been made available by modern science - and can be dropped from one's practice without any real loss. Haiving said that, I have incorporated Jala Neti into my daily routines; not only do I find it straight forward and easy, but I have noticed that my sense of smell greatly improves and I feel much clearer headed and at one with my body and it's surroundings: there is a lot to learn from these ancients!

Another aspect that has developed my understanding and practice of yoga is the practice of Pranayama - which is controlling the energy of the body through breath control.My breathing is deeper, more relaxed and I feel I am really taking more pleasure and nutrition from the air. Not only this, but my posture is improving to accomodate the increased lung capacity. I am also sleeping much beter at night.

The only downside to this book, in my opinion, is the crudeness of some of the drawings. The descriptions usually suffice, but there have been a couple of poses that I have been unsure about. I have found clips on YOUTUBE that have helped me to see others do these poses, however. I must emphasis that, on the whole, the book is very well written; modern science and ancient philosophy is brought together to make for a fascinating read.

I look forward to reading the later lessons on diet, vegetarianism and the chakras. This book is simply a goldmine of information!

A brilliant and attractive book, on offer at reasonable prices!


World Music
World Music
Price: 12.41

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars shake those maracas! yeah!, 29 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: World Music (Audio CD)
This is a brilliant album from start to finish, and is guaranteed to have you throwing out shapes that you never even realised you owned. This album has everything that was truly awesome about sxities and seventies psychedelia and then some! For example, you get all the inventive drumming that might have been heard on some of Santanas work; the waling, bombastic guitar solos that you might have expected from Jimi Hendrix and some of the wild keys that might have been at home om the Doors or a Terry Riley album. The vocals are really straight forward incantations that just add to the hypnotic effect of the music, and the occasional vocal sample in between songs sends a message of peace, love and mind expanstion.


This is far from a re-hashing of the past, however, and the overall product is truly original and exciting.

I can't wait to see more of GOAT.

Offered by roundMediaUK
Price: 6.87

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rewards after a few listens., 21 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Exoplanet (Audio CD)
This album is excellent. I didn't know what to think of it on first listen, but after about 4 listens I was hooked. The highlight of the album for me are The Tracks Flourish and Vessel.

I can't be bothered giving a detailed review at this juncture; I just wanted to see some stars next to this release - I n this case a resounding 5.

Well done, guys. Have a biscuit

Manual of The Warrior of Light
Manual of The Warrior of Light
by Paulo Coelho
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pop Spirituality - airport reading for the easily distracted, 24 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book has apparently had a 'life-enchanicing impact on millions of people' (THE TIMES). If this is truly so, then that's great.

I considered giving up on this book half way through. I am quite surprised at the success of such a book. Having read The Prophet by Kahil Gibran, and been moved by his beautiful verses on family, friendship, work etc, I just found this book to be totally inferior and superfluous exercise in catchphrasing. Paulo Coelho obviously likes this metaphor of a 'Warrior of light', with his 'sword', his 'tent' and his 'opponents', sitting around the fire boasting of his adventures,but there seems very little to inspire behind this exhausting metaphor. For example, scratch below the surface, and you might be suddenly left a bit confused by the jarring contradictions in Coelhos's 'thinking'. On page 213, Our Warrior of light 'shares wtih others what he knows of the path', which simply means that he 'needs to teach what he learnt...sits by the fire and recounts his day in the battlefield'. However, this same 'warrior' 'knows that the fool who gives advice about someone else's garden is not tending his own plants' (p. 259). So what we have is an image of a fool sitting around the fire thrusting his 'wisdom' onto people who are warriors of light in thier own right, and have their own 'gardens' to tend to (p.41, for instance, where he says that 'no one is stupid and that life teaches everyone') Paulo - what are you TALKING about, mate?

I much preferred Chogyam Trugpa Rinpoches admirable 'Sacred Path of the Warrior' to Coelho's soulless 'Warrior of Light'.

Trust me - there are philosophical/spritual books out there that make this one look like airport reading for the easily distracted.

I realy wanted to like this book, but it just seemed so banal and pointless.

Gentle Spirit [Audio CD]
Gentle Spirit [Audio CD]

5.0 out of 5 stars A totally spellbinding Debut, 24 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a true five star piece of timelessness. The production and sogwriting are brilliant. Johnathan wilson has a really good ear for music and i cant remember ever hearing a voice that is so beautifully in tune with the music for a long time. This guy really feels his music.

I can probably liken the music to Harvest-ear Neil Young and Meddle Era Pink Floyd that have been partying it up with Jimi Hendrix. Radiohead have also entered the atmosphere, to tweak the production and emotional imput.

The art work deserves 5 stars by itself, and is admittedly what attracted me to the album in the first place (so, maybe you can sometimes judge a book by the proverbial cover).

The album is of such high quality, that I doubt that JW can top it. Or maybe he can - This guy is definitely an artist you might want to keep your ears on.

flippin tremendous.

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