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Tim Crowhurst "tavdy79"

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Unhinge the Universe
Unhinge the Universe
Price: £4.43

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please sir, can I have some more?, 26 July 2013
Over the last year I've read perhaps twenty five or thirty LGBT romances, about half of them written by Aleks &/or Lori - so it's probably no great surprise that my favourite of those two dozen or so was Aleks's "Dark Soul", which show-cases so well his characteristically twisted, sexy and viciously eloquent writing style. At least, that's the book I'd have chosen two days ago, before I read UTU.

Hagen Friedrich is an untersturmfuhrer (sub-lieutenant) in the Waffen-SS, parachuted into Allied-occupied France to find his brother and return him (and the top-secret documents he was carrying) safely back to the fatherland. However the rescue mission ends in disaster, with Hagen's brother and the rest of his team dead, and Hagen himself captured by the Americans. When Hagen discovers that his interrogator is gay, he realises that seducing the American might be a means to escape - a risky strategy, since the American soon learns that Hagen is himself gay. On a mission that's already FUBAR, and with the American GIs baying for SS blood after the massacre of several dozen American POWs, things don't quite go to plan.

One of the things Aleks and Lori managed to capture perfectly is the dehumanising effect that war has on a person, especially after five or six years of fighting. The characterisation in the first few chapters never really leaves you, in particular Hagen's brutally efficient dispatching of Michael, and John's incandescence at the GI's fatal mistreatment of his source of information - Sieg's humanity being unacknowledged. Both men have become hardened by fighting, neither having any real concern or empathy for the enemy other than as a means to an end or obstacle to be removed, and this affects their portrayal - they start out almost as archetypes, appearing shallow even though you know there's so much more to them. Much of the depth to their characters is unavoidably eviscerated by their situation: the war, the captor-captive dynamic, their personal reasons for hating one-another, and later their need to protect each-other by hiding their true feelings. It all makes the scene where Hagen gives John his Iron Cross medal that much more powerful - and scary, because you can feel what's going on inside them, unspoken, even as they're fighting to hide it.

I'm not normally a fan of historicals, but this one of the best-written M/M historicals I've read so far: extremely well researched, well plotted, with two characters you can't help but feel for, and leaving just enough unanswered questions at the end to give you hope there'll be a sequel. I for one have not had my fill of Hagen and John.

The Prayer Seeker
The Prayer Seeker
Price: £0.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please, Take Off The Blinkers, 21 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Prayer Seeker (Kindle Edition)
decided to read this book after hearing elsewhere online that it got slated in a review on Amazon by someone suffering from an apparent prejudice against homosexuals. I found the review and, being an innately curious person (as well as one with a sharp dislike for homophobia) I wondered what Anne had written that could earn such a curt description. I've read a few of her books and none of them are exactly simplistic. Her ability to capture the nuances of an individual or situation in an economy of words is one of the things I enjoy about her writing. I was therefore not entirely surprised when the book I read this afternoon and this evening turned out to be so different from the one described in the review that it seems almost absurd to claim the latter describes the former.

When I decided to review the book myself after reading it, I initially intended to describe how the reviewer had reduced the book down to such a few short sentences that all the spiritual value and insight was exorcised. And indeed that is the case. For example, the emphasis on the need for individual experience of God, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, was entirely ignored.

However when re-reading the somewhat perfunctory review, it struck me that the reviewer had even got her central claim wrong: the central character does not "realise that he is homosexual" at all. He is very much aware of the nature of his sexuality right from the beginning, as is the reader, when his own understanding of his sexuality is described as "fluid" near the end of the first chapter. And since he had a ten year marriage to a woman he both loved and lusted for, and at least one other heterosexual relationship (again with a healthy dose of lust) after that, there is no doubt he has a genuine interest in women. So if he could be described as bisexual, he is almost certainly no higher than a 1 on the Kinsey scale.

It's worth noting that Anne Brooke has a reasonably extensive back-list of eBooks on Amazon which can be accessed with a few clicks of the mouse, and it would not have taken more than a few seconds to realise that, in addition to writing Christian fiction, she also writes gay romance - and occasionally both in the same story. So either the reviewer read the book intending to leave a bad review, or she didn't bother to check out Anne's other titles. Either way, that reflects rather poorly on the reviewer.

So that gives me two reasons for recommending the book. Firstly, because it's a damned good read (and I hope you'll take not just my word for it, but also the word of others who've given the book 5-star ratings) and secondly because re-reading that review after reading the book is a sterling education in the negative consequences of allowing prejudice to blinker your vision. It is evident that the reviewer got absolutely nothing of value out of the book, and that is both her fault and her loss. I hope and pray that in time she will read the book again and benefit fully from it.

The Hot Floor
The Hot Floor
Price: £2.47

4.0 out of 5 stars Hot by name, hot by nature, 30 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Hot Floor (Kindle Edition)
I loved all three main characters in the book, and how they complimented one-another, and the supporting characters were also great. I know soooo many little old ladies who are just like Stella, right down to the lounge overstuffed with furniture and the battleship personality when aggrieved, and Denise had me in mind of a cross-dresser from my town - both personality and physique were an absolute match. I would have liked to see more of them and of Dylan.

I only had two quibbles, which together ware why the books got four stars rather than five. Firstly, I really wanted a vignette involving Kenny learning about Josh's new lovers. Secondly (and more importantly) there was enough sex for a book half as long again. The sex was great, but there was far too little between the sex. I wanted to see more of all three, especially Evan, who tended to get lost in the brilliant glare of Rai.

I do have one request if there's to be a sequel: I want to see Denise finally find a man who can stand up to her, both literally and metaphorically.

The Witch's Boy
The Witch's Boy
Price: £4.05

4.0 out of 5 stars A Richly Immersive World, 17 May 2011
This review is from: The Witch's Boy (Kindle Edition)
This book displays the fullness of Alex Beecroft's skill at creating a richly immersive world - one which, as another reviewer has commented, I'm a little glad I don't live in, all despite its wonders.

Others have already said much that I would say of the plot and characters, so all I will say is that I liked it a lot - even if parts of the ending were expected (which is why it gets only four stars). It is the world she created that most fascinates me, however.

Her depiction of elves initially appears closer to the malevolent charmers of Discworld or ancient myth than to the benevolent beauties of Middle Earth, and these are certainly her inspiration as ight from the beginning, it is clear these creatures are utterly nonhuman. However as their identity develops they are revealed to be something quite different from either.

Beecroft also draws heavily upon elements from northern-European myth, Christian beliefs, Islamic teachings and European history in often unexpected ways, and deals deftly with the issues raised, such as racial servitude or use of the Burqa.

The skilled touch in her description of the various monsters that appear along the way is equally note-worthy: detailed enough to set the imagination running, but light enough not to restrict it.

False Colors: An M/M Romance
False Colors: An M/M Romance
by Alex Beecroft
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total Immersion, 30 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I do not consider myself to be easily pleased as a reader. The best books for me are those which have both compelling and believable characters and a richly described world, and far too many writers emphasise one above the other. Not so with Alex Beecroft. I'll admit I had high expectations of "False Colors", based both on the opinions of others and on "Shining in the Sun", the first book that I read by her; I was far from disappointed.

The world she created is not sparing or reserved in its description, with numerous little details I never expected but which, after a little investigation, turned out to be entirely accurate for the period. The setting is the high point of the Enlightenment, and the very human fallibility, arrogance and hypocrisy of the time is on full display. Captain Smith is a prime example, in both his contrast of the "civilised" French and their pirate allies, and also of his own sense of superiority over pirates despite his acknowledgement of piracy's causes; I do not think it by chance that he is introduced while standing under a pirate's rotting corpse, nor that it is a pirate who later tortures him to death.

However Ms. Beecroft's signature skill seems to be writing characters for whom empathy comes at the price of chronic frustration. Cavendish and Farrant both had me (metaphorically) banging my head against the wall at various points, but they pale in comparison to Alfie, who's in desperate need of a sharp slap upside the head for his idiocy during the latter part of the book.

Between Darkness And Wonder
Between Darkness And Wonder

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LAMB continue...., 5 Nov 2003
Anyone who has been awaiting the release of this album as eagerly as I have, or who was lucky enough to see them in their may tour or at one of the numerous festivals they played at, will know at least a few of the songs on the new album. Even before it was released in Australia it was christened their 'spirit' album (the debut being 'Stomach', FEAR OF 4'S being 'Head', and WHAT SOUND? being 'Heart' - copies of the Promo CD were ripped within days of their emergence, and distributed amongst a small group of hard-core fans on the understanding that we'd all buy the album; I got the 'Special Edition' version, with both the MJCole Remix and Nellee Hooper mix of GABRIEL and a version of WHAT SOUND that masquerades on the cover at the Funkstorung mix of HEAVEN).
It is arguably the most down-to-earth of the albums they've yet produced so far; Maria Ines Cordeiro Duarte's (aka AnGeL-Pt) question to Louise Robinson (yes, she's married Crispin since WHAT SOUND? - He did much of the photography) ('listening to your lyrics, it seems that before this album, with some exceptions of course, you only wrote about perfect love. But analyzing the lyrics of the new album, we find songs such as Please, Clouds Clear & Hearts and Flowers, this one being what I consider the opposite of Gorecki. BD&W seems so honest, it seems like you finally got down to earth, do you think this was a logical step? ') during a small private Portuguese gig being a perfect example - LAMB's lyrics have less of the 'perfectionist' edge found in their earlier pieces (Gorecki, Softly etc). A very definitely worthy addition to the LAMB collection, and possibly the one that will finally get LAMB the recognition in the UK they have long deserved, and in some countries have had for many years.
And if anyone is wondering, those are Lou's hands and torso on the cover.

Fear Of Fours
Fear Of Fours
Offered by The Music Warehouse
Price: £7.93

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy successor to the debut, 26 Oct 2003
This review is from: Fear Of Fours (Audio CD)
There is a saying among the more die-hard of lambfans, one perpetuated by Andy Barlow and Lou Rhodes (the central two members of the band, and at the time "Fear of Fours" was released, its only members), that each album relates to a part of the body. Their debut, "lamb", was 'stomach'. Their third, "What Sound", was 'Heart'. Their Fourth (released in the EU in early Nov 2003, Oct 20 in Australia) "Between Darkness & Wonder", had already been dubbed 'spirit' by those select online fans (including myself) who were lucky enough to have heard it before its official EU release date.
Fear Of Fours, their second album, is very definite in deserving the moniker 'head'. Some say this is the least spiritual of the three albums (primarily people who fell in love with LAMB as a result of their third album, "What Sound"), however for me it is LAMB at their most critically creative, with most of their efforts poured into the music and less towards their tpically prominent spiritual elements. "B-Line" bursts onto the brain with sudden, alien ferocity during the chorus, while receding into relative placidity for the verses. The deliciously romantic, floating "in your hands" and "softly" have an effect upon my internal organs akin to hang-gliding, and resisting the urge to sway, dance or even tap a foot in time to them is a little like resisting a tornado hell-bent on sending you stratospheric.
An album that should definitely not be ignored by any fan of progressive music, and an essential for anyone who has ever enjoyed LAMB.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2008 3:28 PM BST

What Sound
What Sound
Price: £7.02

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LAMB continues - and gets better, 29 Sep 2003
This review is from: What Sound (Audio CD)
Following a tour in Portugal, LAMB decided to call it a day. Citing the very definite personal differences between them, Andy and Lou chose to split up - and promptly got back together again to produce "What Sound", described by Lou as a 'heart album' as opposed to the 'head album' that is it's predecessor, "Fear of Fours". Now with a permanent band behind them (Oddur, Jon and Nikolaj), LAMB have produced an almost painfully poignant, emotions-driven and organic album, with the trademark vast, often unpredictable range of vocal and instrumental styles. Lou's Zen spitituality can be seen most powerfully in 'Small', while Andy dons his Hipoptimist cap for the instrumental 'Scratch Bass'. With the third album typically very difficult for most artists, "What Sound" breaks the mould: it is not merely a successor in Lamb's previous works; it continues their quest to constantly modify themselves and explore new musical possibilities.

Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £7.90

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Impeccable Debut, 29 Sep 2003
This review is from: Lamb (Audio CD)
If you've never heard of the UK-based band LAMB before, you've missed out on what is possibly one of the most unusual and most contradictory band formats in recent history: Louise Rhodes, a zen-influenced vocalist with a jazz/folk background, opposite Andy Barlow, a Drum'n'bass-influenced DJ also known as 'The Hipoptimist'. Their wildly conflicting personal preferences in style are nowhere more apparent than here in their first album. Inluding influences from Henryk Gorecki's "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs", and from personal experience (Zero describes Lou's reaction to miscarriage), their style is sufficiently distinctive for many die-hard fans to be hard-pressed to give them a succinct description - although the moniker Trip-Hop, linking them to Kosheen and Portishead etc., is the one most most often used; other parallels might include Sugizo and Iona. Undoubtedly the best track on the album is "Gorecki", an intensely passionate ballad whose lyrics were used as part of Nicole Kidman's 'If I Should Die' poem towards the end of "Moulin Rouge". An essential for any fan of music that expands boundaries.

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