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Foggy Tewsday

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No More Tiptoes
No More Tiptoes
Price: £14.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Things Bleak and Beautiful, 11 Oct. 2007
This review is from: No More Tiptoes (Audio CD)
Intimate and intense are two adjectives that, while apt, probably don't do justice to the songs contained on this album. Intimate because all fourteen tracks consist of Paula Rae Gibson's vocal and Tom Pilling's keyboard. Intense because of the raw subject matter upon which the songs are based. After the death of her husband, Paula Rae Gibson did not want to risk the possible heartbreak that a new love affair could bring, but, as her website has it, "Wishing to satisfy her physical needs, she embarked on a series of volatile sexual encounters with all the wrong men." `No More Tiptoes' is not an easy album to get into. It's not full of radio-friendly pop songs and its melancholic backdrop may give the impression of being a one-trick album. It would be a mistake to dismiss it on those terms because it does repay repeated listening.

Paula Rae Gibson's voice, stylistically, lies somewhere between Tori Amos and Fiona Apple with dark undertones of Nico and the idiosyncrasy of Mary Margaret O'Hara. The comparison with Tori Amos is probably the most striking because of the piano accompaniment throughout the album.

Tom Pilling's playing has a blues tinge on `The Wrong Man' as Paula sings of a man who "loves to make you feel small." At other times his sound is akin to a Harold Budd composition, notably on `Busy Fairies'. On `White Bird', the delicacy of Pilling's playing counterpoints the lyrical intensity and mournfulness of Paula's voice to exquisite effect. Paula's most Nico-like performance comes on the album's closing track, `I'll Always Walk Away' and here, Pilling's playing is dark and full of foreboding. Throughout the album, Paula's voice takes on various cadences. At times it barely rises above a whisper as her lyrics are wrung out of her. At others, it cracks, quavers and slows almost to a speaking voice.

Paula Rae Gibson has a book of photography called `Diary of a Love Addict' available. `No More Tiptoes' could perhaps be described as the songs of a love addict. On `Come Tomorrow', she plaintively asks: "Come tomorrow, will we be feeling this still?" and she asserts that, "Love is the only drug." Feelings and love are constant refrains on this stunning album. Poetry and photography seem to have been Paula Rae Gibson's main creative outlets until this album. I wonder if she can come up with another, more thematically varied album, or will this be her only foray into music? I really hope we hear more from her, but, either way, at the moment, `No More Tiptoes' is my favourite album of 2007. Don't miss it.

Left Field: A Footballer Apart
Left Field: A Footballer Apart
by Graeme Le Saux
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Your Usual 'Lad' Footballer, 6 Oct. 2007
Graeme Le Saux was not your stereotypical footballer. Turning up for training at his first professional club, Chelsea, with his "student look" and a copy of `The Guardian', heightened his awkwardness in a dressing room of laddish cliques. Le Saux was something of a square peg: his book's subtitle is `A Footballer Apart' and it's a great read.

One of the most memorable and controversial incidents in Graeme Le Saux's career came during his second spell at Chelsea. In a match against Liverpool, that club's striker, Robbie Fowler, had fouled Le Saux and continued baiting him by proffering his backside. Le Saux's sexuality had been questioned for sometime, beginning as dressing room banter, but then spilling over into terrace chanting and culminating in that ugly incident at Stamford Bridge in 1999. Le Saux writes about the spiteful (and untrue) jibes that dogged much of his career in the book's opening chapter.

The first two chapters contain the most powerful writing. `A Secret', is the title of the book's second chapter, and here, Le Saux writes movingly about the death of his mother, the profound effect that this had on him, and his anxiety about talking of this part of his life.

Much of the rest of the book is devoted to Le Saux's playing career. He won the Premiership with Blackburn Rovers (still the only club to win that competition outside of the so-called big four) and thirty-six England caps. He is pleasingly candid about certain other players and managers. There's a lot on Glenn Hoddle's tenure as England manager: "A manager for whom I had a lot of respect," but you wouldn't necessarily think that on reading the book. In fact, I had to go back to make sure I hadn't misread that quote. That is not to say that there's anything nasty said against Hoddle, but there's certainly some criticism of his methods.

There's plenty on Blackburn under Kenny Dalglish, Chelsea under Gianlucca Vialli and Ruud Gullit, and England under Terry Venables, Glenn Hoddle and Kevin Keegan. Le Saux doesn't hide his dislike of Sven-Goran Eriksson for whom he never played.

Journalist, Oliver Holt, is listed as a contributor on the book, but his name does not appear on the title pages, so I assume that there was little if any ghost writing involved here. `Left Field' is a well written, fascinating read from a man who did not conform to the usual footballer stereotype.

The Road to Depravity (Nexus)
The Road to Depravity (Nexus)
by Ray Gordon
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £8.99

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rooms With a View, 4 Oct. 2007
For Helen, the road to depravity is not a very long one. In fact, it only stretches as far as the house next door and the garden, which has plenty of conveniently situated foliage to hide the naughty goings on. It also affords Helen's soon-to-be ex-husband plenty of hiding places for his voyeuristic pleasures. Yes, there are debauched couplings aplenty here: this is, after all, a Ray Gordon novel. However, I had to keep reminding myself of that because much of the novel's first half is, by his standards, quite tame. It's never less than good filthy fun, though.

Helen decides that a career in prostitution may be the way forward for her. Now that her dull marriage is coming to an end, she has discovered the delights of unhygienic sex with the couple next door, her husband's friend and a couple of strapping young gardeners. And then, things get really interesting.

Fans of Ray Gordon will not be disappointed with this novel. Once again, he displays his incredible imagination as far as sexual situations go. However, the novel rehashes some well used Ray Gordon plot lines and I have to say that the blackmail storyline is poorly realised here and its resolution is weak. If you've never read Ray Gordon before, his brand of erotica is crude, coarse and dirty. If you like this novel, I'd also recommend `Sex Crazed', `Sex Thief' and `The Uninhibited'.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 30, 2008 5:55 PM BST

Second Take
Second Take
Price: £14.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Second Take' is First Rate, 23 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Second Take (Audio CD)
Albums full of cover versions are not the sort of thing I'd usually choose to listen to. However, the tracks tackled on `Second Take' by pianist, Chris Lee, and vocalist, Jenny Howe, are rarely covered by jazz players. Percussionist, Tristan Malliot, and bass player, Dave Chamberlain, complete the foursome. The album consists of famous pop and rock songs from the 1960s and 70s, eleven in all, and these are given some radical reworkings. There's also one original track included on the album for good measure.

The stand-out track here is a thoroughly beguiling rendition of `Young Turks'. This version is far more restrained, only gathering momentum towards the song's climax. I think Rod Stewart's original is lacking in that the whole song is performed at a furious pace. It therefore misses the edginess that Lee's arrangement captures so poignantly, notably in the song's opening section.

`Summer Holiday' opens the album and, again, this is a song that is performed in a far more dreamy, wistful manner than the original. Not, I hasten to add, better than the original, but an innovative interpretation. Abba's `Fernando' is treated in a more brooding and slightly menacing fashion on this album. Lee's piano and Chamberlain's bass give this track an eerie, barren feel, while Malliot's restrained drumming has a militaristic air. The arrangement on `Second Take' has a starkness to it that makes this version hauntingly unique.

Pop songs from the era covered on this album, have, inevitably, I suppose, to include tracks from the Lennon and McCartney canon. It's fairly commonplace nowadays for jazz artists to cover songs from The Beatles, but I've never heard anyone from the jazz world take on `From Me to You' before, and here, it's given a fairly straight-ahead treatment but Chris Lee clearly has a lot of fun in his swinging improvisation. `Imagine' is given an intimate, sweet rendering with Chris Lee's arrangement progressing to a Latin theme towards the song's conclusion while Jenny Howe's vocal has a soulful tinge.

There's a sublime version of Bob Dylan's classic `Like a Rolling Stone', upbeat with a catchy tagline that'll ricochet around your head for hours after hearing it. Perhaps one of the most curious tracks here is `Ghost Riders in the Sky'. When I first heard the opening bass-line, I expected this song to be a version of R. Dean Taylor's `Gotta See Jane'. However, this is an effective jazzy version of the great country classic. There's also an upbeat and quite straight-ahead rendition of Joni Mitchell's `Big Yellow Taxi' that Jenny Howe tears through with gusto.

`Second Take' is a highly recommended album. It's so refreshing to hear songs that are rarely taken on by jazz performers and given an innovative tweak. I hope this group will reassemble for a second volume.

Lust in the Mummy's Tomb
Lust in the Mummy's Tomb
Offered by M and N Media US
Price: £89.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is That a Mummy In Your Study Or Are You Just Pleased to See Me?, 16 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Lust in the Mummy's Tomb (DVD)
If you've seen `Misty Mundae: Erotic Raider' (aka `Misty Mundae: Mummy Raider'), you may be struck with a sense of deja vu when you begin watching `Lust in the Mummy's Tomb'. In order to boost the running time of `Erotic Raider', it was decided that for that film's DVD release in the UK, an edited version of `Lust in the Mummy's Tomb' should be tacked onto the opening section. So, armed with that information, is it still worth getting `Lust in the Mummy's Tomb'? Well, if you're a Misty Mundae fan, then yes: there's still about 15 minutes of delicious Misty footage that was not used in `Erotic Raider'. If you're not, you can happily pass on this DVD as it won't interest you in the slightest.

The action takes place in Misty's (unseen) father's house; there is no tomb to be seen anywhere! She discovers a note left by her absent father. He asks her not to go into the study as he's working on a secret experiment. "Must be a present for me," Misty reasons, effecting an English accent for this film. She enters the study to look for her gift. On the floor is a mummy, supposedly thousands of years old. However, his bandages are in pristine white condition and he has a specially bandaged area that leads Misty to exclaim, "he must have a million year-old boner!" You won't hear her say that on this version, though. For some reason, Misty's comments on finding the mummy have been removed from the soundtrack here, but they remain intact in the `Erotic Raider' version. Confused?

Hiding behind the bookcase is none other than Cleopatra (Patty Perturbed) who is somewhat miffed at finding Misty handling the mummy's protuberance. "That's no ordinary mummy, that's my eternal lover," she protests, emphasising each word in the manner of John Link. Not surprisingly, Misty's ministrations bring the mummy back to life. When it has her trapped, Misty decides her best defence is to take all her clothes off. Can't argue with that.

Misty is a joy to look at and she delivers her lines with a playfulness that acknowledges what we all know: this is rubbish. But it's good, harmless rubbish and I love it. The sex scenes are very soft-core, so anyone looking for harder material will be disappointed.

The DVD's bonus material consists of another short film, `The Vibrating Maid', which sees Misty playing essentially the same character as in `Lust in the Mummy's Tomb'. Here, she discovers a maid (the delightful Lilly Tiger) hiding in a wardrobe with a vibrator. Lilly has an ooh-la-la French accent to complement Misty's English one. Again, this is very cheap entertainment, but enjoyable for Mistyites. By the way, `The Vibrating Maid' can also be found as a bonus feature on `The Inn of 1000 Sins'.

There's a blooper reel from `Lust in the Mummy's Tomb' and `The Vibrating Maid', clips from Misty's early appearances in `I Was a Teenage Strangler', `Titanic 2000' and `Poetic Seduction' along with trailers for `Erotic Survivor' and `Gladiator Eroticus'. Cheap and cheerful entertainment for those of us who like this sort of thing.

The Witch Is Dead: An Ophelia and Abby Mystery (Abby and Ophelia Series)
The Witch Is Dead: An Ophelia and Abby Mystery (Abby and Ophelia Series)
by Shirley Damsgaard
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairy Entertaining, 10 Sept. 2007
The Ophelia and Abby series was possibly in need of some light relief after the sinister happenings in 'Witch Hunt', and light relief is what we get here. Well apart from the mutilated corpses. Not too many laughs to be had there.

The delightfully dotty Aunt Dot, an elderly relative of our heroines, joins the regulars for this colourful yarn. I particularly enjoyed Shirley Damsgaard's description of the rotund nonagenarian, seen through the eyes of Ophelia, Head Librarian and resident witch in the sleepy town of Summerset: "[Aunt Dot] proceeded across the room like a steamroller, her head whipping from side to side as she took in the library." Well, it made me laugh. And she communes with fairies!

Although there are hints of what is to come in the story, much of the first half of `The Witch is Dead' is devoted to character development. We learn a little of the Appalachian-based members of Abby and Ophelia's witchy clan and, as ever, we join Ophelia in her day-to-day life. These novels are written in the first person from Ophelia's point of view.

As this series has grown, continual references are made to events in preceding stories. While this novel can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story, I would recommend that newcomers to the series take in the third instalment, 'The Trouble With Witches' and the fourth, the aforementioned `Witch Hunt' before reading this fifth book.

Since its rather stuttering first instalment, 'Witch Way to Murder', this series has blossomed into an enthralling saga with each new tale eagerly awaited. Shirley Damsgaard has created a regular cast of likeable and eccentric characters. I feel that Abby should be more prominently featured sometimes, though. She often seems a little sidelined and I sometimes wonder if the author wouldn't be more advised to label the series as `Ophelia Jensen Mysteries'.

Little Town Lies
Little Town Lies
by Anne Strieber
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Cosy or not cosy?, 5 Aug. 2007
Sometimes, a book will fail to grab my attention and have me wondering whether or not it's worth continuing to read it. If I don't like a book, I abandon it and go on to something else. `Little Town Lies' is a book that, on balance, I decided to persevere with. It just about warrants three stars in my opinion, but I did not find it an absorbing or compelling story. However, I did want to find out what how things would end, so I suppose it must have had something going for it.

The story follows social worker, Sally Hopkins. She is at a turning point in her life: about to hit forty and bored with her career and lack of social life in Houston, she decides to return to her hometown of Maryvale in Texas. Her uncle is Maryvale's sheriff and he offers Sally a job. The town is bedevilled with acts of animal mutilation, murder and child abuse and suddenly, Sally is advising the police on the likely profiles of the culprits. Now, this strikes me as a little unbelievable. Admittedly, I'm no expert in social work or police profiling, but is it really likely that someone of Sally's background would be qualified to perform such a job?

It's also difficult to tell what readership this novel is aimed at. It seems to be a straight-ahead thriller one minute before veering off into cosy mystery territory with its romantic angle and relationship issues. Not that I've got anything against cosy mysteries or romances: I read plenty of both types of fiction myself. However, the content of `Little Town Lies' is quite nasty and does not fit into the cosy realm very comfortably.

The novel's author, Anne Strieber, is a fine writer. In my opinion, she could be successful as a thriller writer (with better material), or a cosy mystery writer, but not both in the same book.

Softcore Divas: Behind the G-Strings [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Softcore Divas: Behind the G-Strings [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Divastaingly Dull, 5 Aug. 2007
Jackie Stevens, Jess Wakefield, Darian Caine, AJ Khan, Lora Renee and Jen Ewen are all very attractive ladies, but I must admit, I got this DVD because of AJ and Darian's appearances. I've seen Lora Renee in a few DVDs, notably the wonderful `Erotic Survivor 2' (aka 'Naked Survivor'), and Jackie Stevens in the comedy, `Sex Hex', but I'm not familiar with the other performers' work.

`Softcore Divas' has each performer talking directly to the camera about such subjects as how they got into the adult entertainment business, what their fantasies are, what they look for in a man, what they like and dislike about themselves - the sort of thing you'd ordinarily see in a behind-the-scenes bonus feature. In between these interviews, the girls are paired up for some very tame, very ordinary sex scenes.

Darian, AJ and Lora seemed to exude more confidence about their performances in these scenes (Lora is so carefree that she looks like she's chewing gum in her scene with AJ). Their experience seemed to shine through whereas the others tended to look more hesitant about their work. The opening pairing, Jess Wakefield and Jen Ewen, was rather static and there didn't seem to be much chemistry between them. Once they are both naked, there are some pleasant posed positions, but the scene evolves much too slowly. They are both very attractive: Jess is quite tall with long, crinkly blonde hair. In the interview segments, she displays an engaging personality, all smiles and charming giggles; Jen is a petite brunette, and she talks a good game: "I've done it in a car going 90mph," she says. Moments later she reveals, "I had a boyfriend who was in the hospital and we did it in the hospital bed. He was recovering from a car accident." She didn't say whether or not the two events were related.

In Jackie and Lora's scene, one picture dissolve follows another with such frequency that the scene stutters along and ends up just being irritating to look at. However, Jackie sports an engaging look here. Her eyes are heavily made up and her hair is styled so that she looks as though she might have stepped off the set of one of Nick Phillips' grindhouse classics. Call me old-fashioned, but I like that look! Darian has two scenes: one with Jess and one with Jen. She takes control in both, removing her clothes very quickly with Jess, while divesting Jen of hers in a flash. Darian usually puts on a good show and, given the lack of imagination that hinders this production throughout, she manages to up the passion factor here. She really should have been given a scene with AJ, but perhaps the thinking was that we've already seen these two ladies together in other films.

AJ looks stunning just in the interview segments wearing (I think) a low-cut pink number with her long hair covering her breasts. I kept thinking she was topless with such a vast expanse of cleavage displayed, but it was just my imagination. In the interviews, Jen Ewen probably comes out with the most interesting comments. She tells of her passion for visiting swinger clubs and talks of organising some parties of her own. You'd never think it to look at her; she looks like such a nice girl.

The extras feature seven interminable minutes in the company of a naked Jackie Stevens who has raspberries and raspberry juice dropped on to her. This is intercut with Jackie biting and licking a raspberry. It's all filmed from side-on and doesn't elicit any emotion from the viewer except boredom. There's also a collection of short black and white loops featuring women in striptease situations. The only one of interest was "Nude Frolics" with four women playing nakedly in a swimming pool.

Overall, `Softcore Divas' is an opportunity missed. There is no imagination in either the sex scenes or the interviews. These ladies must be so bored with answering the same old questions about their fantasies and sex lives. It's to their credit that they answer so eloquently and with such good humour. As for the sex scenes, could there not have been a threesome thrown in? Could none of the scenes be filmed outdoors? Or in a location different to a room in a house each time? As I mentioned earlier, Darian and AJ should have had a scene together. I also think that some other, more experienced performers, such as Katie Jordon, Allanah Rhodes, Syn Devil, Andrea Davis or Julian Wells should have been drafted in - assuming they are still in the business. My biggest gripe, however, would be for the way the sex scenes were mangled by such poor camera work, editing and direction.

This is a DVD that you should only buy if you're a fan of any of the participants. I certainly would not recommend getting it on a whim.

Wish Come True (Harlequin Next)
Wish Come True (Harlequin Next)
by Patricia Kay
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars It Could Be You, 8 July 2007
Do you dream of winning big on the lottery? If you do, Patricia Kay's engaging novel may make you think again.

Kate Bishop is a divorced single mother with four teenage children. Her finances are usually stretched, but now, her car is just about ready to die and, to add insult to injury, her roof is in desperate need of repair. Making her way home one evening, Kate stops off at the filling station. At the checkout, the clerk asks if she'd like a lottery ticket. She doesn't usually waste her money on them, but, having seen how big the jackpot was, Kate makes the purchase. A couple of days later, she is twenty-eight million dollars better off.

The story is so well told that you really don't want to put the book down. Patricia Kay gets straight down to business as Kate wins the lottery very early on in the novel. Although the novel mostly follows Kate's life, there are brief interludes where the action concentrates on her siblings and children. Her extended family are particularly fascinating. As I imagined myself in Kate's situation, I spluttered my astonishment on a couple of occasions as her siblings' greed got the better of them: "You've got twenty-eight million dollars and you're only giving me how much?"

`Wish Come True' does not send out the message that winning the lottery is necessarily a bad thing, but it is a cautionary tale. The downside is highlighted to great effect as Kate's life and that of her family changes. The romantic element is not over-emphasised in this novel, but it has an added level of intrigue because of the nature of the story.

Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants
Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants
by Lee Goldberg
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ms Teeger Meets Ms Fleming, 1 July 2007
Before Natalie, there was Sharona. Sharona left Monk's employ to move to New Jersey and remarry Trevor, a man previously known to be somewhat unreliable. Now, Sharona is back and Natalie is both worried that she's about to lose her job, and jealous of the high regard that Monk has for his former assistant. The reason for Sharona's return to San Francisco? Trevor is in jail for murder. He claims he is innocent of this crime. Natalie decides that in order to keep her job and thereby sending Sharona back to her husband, Monk must prove Trevor's innocence.

Lee Goldberg's fourth `Monk' novel is another wonderfully entertaining read. The spirit of the television show is, for the most part, nicely preserved. I did think on one or two occasions, however, that Monk's eccentricities were taken to extremes. For example, there's a scene where Monk visits an orthodontist. While waiting, he is impressed by a poster showing a picture of a perfect set of teeth. Monk likes this picture so much that he wants one for himself to hang in his living room. Would he really have done this? I would have thought he'd be more likely to recoil at the sight of another person's open mouth.

I was also a little disappointed at Sharona's lack of characterisation. Anyone who has not seen the television series would not have had much idea about what Sharona looks like, her manner of speech or her back-story aside from the fact that she nursed Monk through the trauma caused by his wife's violent death. On the other hand, this flaw could be explained by the fact that Natalie is the one telling the story. It's also probable, of course, that the vast majority of those reading this novel would be familiar with the television show anyway.

These niggles don't detract from the novel as a whole, though. The plotting is inventive and there's plenty of humour. Monk's trip to Los Angeles is particularly funny. If you've enjoyed the previous novels in this series, you'll enjoy this one. The novels don't have to be read in sequence although references are made to events in the first three, along with events in the television show.

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