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Sarah Horne

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The Jeremiad Boy: and other stories
The Jeremiad Boy: and other stories
Price: £1.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heartbreakingly beautiful little collection, 3 Aug 2014
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This collection of stories is a short read - and likely you will want to devour it all in one sitting - but the ideas and images will stay with you long after that. They are stories to keep and revisit, written with a powerful punch that will tear your world asunder.

The author deftly chooses each word with surgical precision to unravel your heart. Some leading authors, including the screenwriter Robert McKee's advice to aspiring authors' is to "put your characters through hell". Jay Aibee does just that, confidently launching his characters into hell and then serving up more doses of hell just when you think things can't get any worse. Yet, there is much beauty in this darkness, too. Together these stories explore the fragility of human nature in a very poignant way. Aibee is not going to give the reader a happy ending. Yet for all the pain, the endurance of hope continues, even when the odds are ridiculously stacked against the protagonists. These stories, for all their darkness, are actually a triumph of the human spirit to still believe in hope. Aibee will put you through hell too, but it'll be worth it.

The last tale of all, The Tragic Muses of Bête Noire, is a much lighter touch amidst the darkness, and a fun and inventive way to end the collection. There were a couple of moments during reading where I broke out in goosebumps - a direct reaction to the powerful storytelling.

Fans of Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker will be more than happy to find this collection. I hope to see more from this author.

Ida B
Ida B
by Katherine Hannigan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.35

5.0 out of 5 stars simple, charming, magical, 18 Nov 2011
This review is from: Ida B (Paperback)
"Katherine Hannigan's first novel, Ida B . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World was a New York Times bestseller, a Book Sense bestseller, and a Parents' Choice Gold Award winner."

I can't believe there aren't any reviews of this yet! It's a wonderful book for kids. Ida B is a determined and creative young woman who struggles when dealing with some pretty hard life lessons, but ultimately wins through. It's a story of the power of forgiveness and love without being in any way preachy. katherine Hannigan has a deft touch and weaves this story with great magic and charm, and a great affection for nature. I hope she keeps writing! (It's also an utterly charming book for slightly older kids, too!)

Days with My Father
Days with My Father
by Phillip Toledano
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving photographic portrait of memory loss, 11 Nov 2011
This review is from: Days with My Father (Hardcover)
I came across this from Phillip Toledano's website some time ago now, and I feel blessed and grateful to have been shown Phillip's extraordinary photographs and insights into his Father's life. You get such a sense of love from this. It gives remarkable depth of insight into the difficult experience of memory loss, and it does so with warmth, and deep respect.

For anyone who knows a relative or perhaps a friend dealing with issues surrounding memory loss, dementia, or alzheimers, this may offer some comfort, but this book is written for everyone -- anyone who appreciates going beyond the surface of life will appreciate this. It's beautiful and sad, it's honest, and it's also just a little bit magical. The way this lovingly portrays an older person is refreshing in our youth-obsessed culture. (So many people make the mistake of assuming that because people are older, because their bodies or minds may be gently fading, that they haven't ever lived. Perhaps because we don't like to be reminded we will all get older! This is a gem, and reminds us that, however old, our dreams don't fade, neither does our inner essence.)

It's a book that deserves many accolades, and a wide audience! A warm thank-you to Phillip!

Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words
Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words
by Peace Pilgrim
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply beautiful, 1 Oct 2011
Finding this book has been an absolute breath of fresh air; if there is only one spiritual book you want to read, I'd say, this is the one. As one reviewer already noted, Peace Pilgrim was not affiliated with any particular religion, yet had developed a profound relationship with God. To her, religion was not necessarily a bad thing, but she notes that so many people miss the original teachings in their religion and focus on unimportant details that serve to divide them from their fellow man, rather than unite.

One thing I love about this is the very evident joy and love that sprang from every page. I think reading this is a welcome relief. Having just read a book about the 'law of attraction', which there has been so much written about, you can't help but think many spiritual people are slightly missing the point. Some books about the law of attraction focus very much on the self; eagerly stating that all you have to do is focus on what you want, and voilà, it appears! They don't always mention that using the law of attraction is but one part of life. But Peace brings us back to the idea that focusing on self is ultimately not what the journey is all about, that we are all interconnected, and whilst we have to find work that brings us joy and meaning, so too do we have to find a way to be of joyful and loving service to others. There are so many 'self-help' or spiritual titles out there but only a few titles that will strike a chord with you as being so utterly real, so beautiful and so right. And this is one of them.

Peace isn't trying to get people to follow in her footsteps with regards to the pilgrimage. She found her calling after many years of practising and refining her spiritual path -- and the path is unique to all of us. After reading this you may well find an inner light of inspiration gets switched on, especially if you are still unsure about your place in this world. This is an extraordinary book about an extraordinary woman, and I feel privileged to have been able to read about her journey.

Faery Tale: One Woman's Search for Enchantment in a Modern World
Faery Tale: One Woman's Search for Enchantment in a Modern World
by Signe Pike
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.32

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A heartwarming and inspirational read!, 13 July 2011
I loved Faery Tale!

I loved it because it is autobiographical; it describes the author's journey to find the magic that modern-day culture has pretty much all but eradicated from everyday life. She feels something is missing and has the courage to go on a journey to find it; along the way facing some criticism (and incredulity) for going on said journey. It can't be an easy decision to give up a good job in search of something so elusive, but it seems it was a vital undertaking to allow the author to learn to trust in both the magic of life and also her own intuition.

As one reviewer has noted, Scotland does get short-shrift here which is a shame (I believe the author does say Edinburgh is one of her favourite cities, and it is mine also, but she doesn't elaborate further). And (either the same or) another reviewer criticises this because of the 'fluffy' nature -- but I don't see this as being fluffy, just exploration. Given the huge surge in New Age interests, to dismiss an entire subject without direct research would not be of benefit to the author or the reader.

Buy this book if you believe there is more 'out there'. Buy it if you secretly feel you want to undertake a quest of your own! I feel that modern life in the Western world often tries to wrap us in cotton wool, we reach first for jobs that give us security and pensions and the like, to try to cushion ourselves from actually living life to the point we've forgotten the beauty hiding beneath the mundane, and we've forgotten to take risks. Faery Tale allows the possibility to believe you can take a leap of faith; that sometimes it's OK to suspend Reason or Logic or criticism from others, and just follow the heart.

Kafka On The Shore (Vintage Magic)
Kafka On The Shore (Vintage Magic)
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magical and intriguing, 12 Jan 2007
Two things that first struck me about Kafka on the Shore; firstly the rhythmic quality of the writing (and indeed I think the beat poets may have been an influence), and also the beauty of the language, the prose is simple yet powerful.

The book has a dreamlike quality, and yet the characters are believable and interesting; from the moment I picked it up I was utterly charmed and intrigued. The title suggests more than a passing interest in Kafka, and the writing is rich in metaphorical language, seamlessly weaving a narrative of strange surrealism into the life of a teenage runaway. The main protagonist, the young boy, Kafka Tamura, has to deal with alienation much like in Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis", as he is running away but also undertaking a journey to find himself on an inner level. Indeed alienation is a theme that is central to the book. Old Nakata knows he is different from everybody else, due to a childhood incident which leaves him with the strange ability to be able to converse with cats, and also Miss Saeki is also alienated, but from herself; a part of her remains locked away, hidden from both herself and the outside world.

I like the unfolding of the characters, the gentle way in which we get to know them. The magic of the book draws you in, in the most delightful way. You can scrutinise it as you read and attempt to draw meaning from the symbolism and extensive use of metaphor, or you can simply let it wash over you, like waves lapping at a shore. The magical realism here reminded me very much of The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov; and I would also recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Murakami's Kafka on the Shore.

Pan's Labyrinth (2 Disc Set) [2006] [DVD]
Pan's Labyrinth (2 Disc Set) [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Doug Jones
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £8.13

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful and dark, 12 Jan 2007
Guillermo del Toro has created something rather wonderful here. It isn't often that you come across a film that doesn't just reach out and touch you, but also serves to remind you of the power of love and imagination, and the power of the image. It seems odd that we have so much technical wizardry at our fingertips and yet most films just wash over us, a bombardment of the most fantastical images that leave you feeling empty. Pan's Labyrinth manages to reintroduce a feeling of awe to the medium of film, and also introduces characters of real depth. Other fantasy films pale in comparison.

Firstly, a quick note on the violence. A friend commented that it should be rated an 18, and I can understand why. There are many disturbing moments to be found here, and I wonder if I could have handled this level of brutality at 15. And for squeamish adults, be warned! I found a couple of scenes in particular very hard to watch, and although overall I loved the experience of this film, the brutality does make for difficult viewing. I actually felt emotionally drained after watching this.

The film is set in 1944 at the end of the Spanish Civil War, and we are introduced to the central protagonist, the 12 year old Orfelia (Ivana Baquero), her heavily pregnant Mother (Ariadna Gil) and the cruel Step-Father, Captain Vidal (Sergi López). His desire to be in control has rendered him too entrenched in his ways to be anything other than a brutal leader - his lost innocence the very opposite of Orfelia's wide-eyed openness.

As the film opens, Orfelia immediately plunges herself into an incredible fantasy world. It is perhaps this juxtaposition of childhood dreams set against the brutal reality of war that makes this such an emotional journey. To be so closely aligned with the main protagonist Orfelia is to see the entire film as she sees sees it, which is emotionally tiring! The element of fantasy serves to remind us how desensitised we normally are to violence in films.

Although the world Orfelia conjures is also laced with menace, it is still one she goes to gladly to escape her own life. As such it is perhaps more true to original fairy tales, as they traditionally have much darker elements.

I love the strong female characters in this, the acting by Orfelia, and Mercedes (Maribel Verdú) is superb. And both the faun and the Pale Man are brilliant, but all the actors are very strong. I am also pleased that it is not dubbed and in the original Spanish.

This is a superlative fairy-tale for adults, but, as mentioned before, it is also a war film, the action splits pretty evenly between Orfelia's world and reality, and the dual narrative works with gut-wrenching effectiveness. It will make you think, it may well make you cry, it will certainly make you feel the same element of wonder and anticipation you felt as a child when reading a fairy story. Could there really be another world? Del Toro would certainly make you believe there is.

The Weather Man [DVD]
The Weather Man [DVD]
Dvd ~ Nicolas Cage
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.73

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars quirky and excellent, 24 Oct 2006
This review is from: The Weather Man [DVD] (DVD)
As another reviewer pointed out, this film does not fit in any one particular genre, so those expecting the usual brand of comedy will probably be disappointed. Where is the low-brow or no-brow usual brand of big box-office hit humour? Well if you want that, maybe you had better look elsewhere. This does have funny moments in it, but this is more a study of when things fall apart, and it's very well done, the melancholy and desperation in the film somehow do not leave you depressed, only impressed by the acting and the quiet beauty of the film.

Henry David Thoreau said that most men led lives of "quiet desperation", and this can't be better portrayed than here. David Spritz, aka Nicholas Cage, tries to keep himself from falling apart, but his anguish is palpable. He knows at best his weather reports are rough estimates, "it's just wind." His life mirrors his work, as his loss of absolute control over the weather reports is mirrored by his loss of control over events in his life, his father's illness, his children's teenage angst and his estranged wife whom he tries to win back but fails.

As things worsen in his life, he seeks solace in archery, and watching him concentrate on this you get the impression it has a meditative quality to it, the control he has over this sport is in complete contrast to the rest of his life. Somehow the archery scene manages to capture an essence of him re-adjusting to his new life, how he is finding new strength within when things are falling apart without.

It is difficult to write the feelings and impressions you are left with after watching this film. It's something that might make you think about your own life and how you are living it. It will probably make you acknowledge the fleeting nature of the world we live in, and if you have ever had to juggle work with difficult life issues, then you will probably find some solace here. It's simply superb. The acting is excellent, and the under-emotional performances work very well here. It all adds to the futility Spritz feels, the loss of control the cold, grey, life he lives and the constant ticking of time, also not on his side.

In summary, I found this film beautiful in it's sparse nature, it captures the struggle life can be and the façade we all have to put on whilst dealing with difficult elements in our lives. It does so with humour, pathos, and excellent character portrayals. It's well worth a look.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2012 5:22 PM BST

Sideways [DVD]
Sideways [DVD]
Dvd ~ Paul Giamatti
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.73

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb acting, 11 Sep 2006
This review is from: Sideways [DVD] (DVD)
I agree with another reviewer, you do have to have lived a little to fully appreciate this film. If you have ever experienced rocky highs and lows, then you may well find something here for you. You don't have to be male to appreciate the struggles and poignancy contained herein.

All the characters are simply superb. Anyone who has felt on an emotional rollercoaster for whatever reason, will be able to feel for, as well as laugh with, the character Miles, who is played so superbly here. There is plenty of pathos and laughter to be found here, and the ridiculousness of the human condition is laid bare without the usual Hollywood gloss. Virginia Madsen is also simply wonderful in this. I finished watching this with a real regret that I would see no more of these wonderfully flawed and rich characters.

There are many moments in this film that are funny. The humour is in a recognition of our own humanity at best and worst. To see Miles (Giamatti) act as a man on the edge is a joy to behold. His loss and rejection reflects the difficulties we all face, and I like that the film deals with this in a very `un-Hollywood' way. How one moment we can lose it and feel utter despair, but, how we can be coaxed out of this a few minutes later by a good friend to feel something encroaching on normality again. This is a film that I will gladly watch again and again.

The Shining [DVD] [1980]
The Shining [DVD] [1980]
Dvd ~ Jack Nicholson
Price: £3.30

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb horror...kubrick at his best., 19 Sep 2003
This review is from: The Shining [DVD] [1980] (DVD)
The Shining is simply a masterful horror film. This is an intelligent film, and the unsettling moments are built up to a crescendo that you won’t forget in a hurry. The opening sequence with the menacing piece of music from Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique effectively instils a sense of unease that will stay with you long after the film is over.
If you like your horror films gory, and every moment action-packed, then this film will probably not be for you. If however, you enjoy suspense, and find that to be a much more effective tool in a horror film than copious amounts of gore, this is well worth a look. There are a couple of particularly chilling scenes that do involve a certain amount of gore, yet, they are so effective that you will be on the edge of your seat, without questioning whether they were gratuitous or not. They simply work very, very well!
All the actors in this film are superb. I first watched this film over ten years ago, and it is every bit as disturbing to watch now as it was then. Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the caretaker Jack Torrance is brilliant. Who will forget his macabre grin as he slowly loses his grip to the demons within. The sense of space in the Overlook Hotel also serves to heighten the feeling of horror and entrapment. When Danny first sees the twins in the massive leisure-room, you feel as though you are there with him, a strong feeling of unease growing within you.
I haven’t read the Stephen King novel, which this is loosely based on. But, being that this is a different project than Stephen King appeared to have in mind, that doesn’t matter. If you want to buy a chilling horror that will stand the test of time, this fits the bill. And if you enjoy looking at deeper meanings within films, you will find this intriguing. Either way, this is one of the best horror films I have ever seen, and I highly recommend it.

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