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R. Chidley (England)
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Courageous
Courageous
by Randy C. Alcorn
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 12.52

2.0 out of 5 stars Vehicle for ideology, 4 Jun 2014
This review is from: Courageous (Audio CD)
This is not an audiobook of a novel of a film; it is an audio version of a particular set of Right Wing Conservative American Christian cultural values packaged as a novel, and does not translate well to the UK, even to the Christian corner of the market.
The main characters and their families are actually quite interesting (if predictable) and there are two or three really good subplots, but nearly everything else put there to allow our heroes the opportunity of delivering ideological talking points from conservative America. And they really hammer their points home...
For instance: men are the head of the household and women should submit; daughters should wear purity/abstinence rings; marijuana use always leads to crack addiction, dealing drugs and crime; misogyny and police brutality are sources of comedy if the policeman is fat; community-based health clinics which deliver a range of services are simply 'abortion clinics' where stupid people go to kill babies... I could go on, but I am sure you get the idea.
There are also a few unintentional euphemisms which gave me a few laughs as well...
I think this will sell well to the ultra-conservative audience but I doubt it will win converts to the cause.


Finishing School (The MacKay series Book 1)
Finishing School (The MacKay series Book 1)
Price: 1.87

4.0 out of 5 stars Immersive experience, 30 Jan 2014
David Bruce has written a novel which reads like he was actually there. Every sight, sound and terror experienced by the bomber crews is here in vivid detail, along with the camaraderie, quiet courage and wry humour of the RAF. Of course, I say this as someone who has never served or even been close to a Lancaster, but that is the point - I feel like I have, having read this novel! I imagine it would give Bomber veterans flashbacks if they were to read it.
By the final pages, the reader feels like any of the crew could 'buy it' at any moment, because the unflinching realism of the author almost dictates it. I shan't ruin the ending but it is as heart-pounding as the fiery Prelude which shows just how perilous the lives of these air crew really was.
My only two criticisms are that 1) the sometimes overwhelming technical detail is going to appeal more to pilots, historians and special-interest enthusiasts than the general public - a reader without a particular technical interest in flying instruments could be forgiven for skipping a few pages - and 2) the character development of the main character isn't particularly an important part of the story; he is pretty much the same decent chap throughout. This isn't at all a big problem; it would have been nice if more had been made of his personal demons so that he could overcome them.
For these reasons, I give it four stars. It is not perfect; 'merely' excellent.


Arrogance Ignorance and Greed
Arrogance Ignorance and Greed
Price: 13.19

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lost their way on this one, 31 Jan 2011
I am a SoH devotee and have seen them live more than any other band. Their pursuit of excellence and natural authenticity is what sets them apart from every other act. However... this album is a relatively poor effort. The two five-star tracks are 'AIG' and 'The Keys of Canterbury' which, together, represent SoH's sound: the first is an anthemic and socially-prophetic attack on the banks' greed culture; the second is a tremendous 'trad' track full of atmosphere, poetry and storytelling underpinned by Miranda's silky tones. 'Napoli' probably comes in third, blending these two themes.

Some of the other tracks like 'Senor' are OK but 'Rain Rain Go Away' is just out-and-out rubbish. Finally, tracks like 'Evolution' and 'IED Science and Nature' sound a little like an angry undergraduate poetry student going through his first spiritual disillusionment. And that is the defining feeling I took from this album. A shame.

Now watch all the SoH fans click 'No' to the 'Did you find this helpful?' question because I've attacked the boys.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 14, 2012 10:17 PM BST


Sherlock Holmes [DVD] [2009]
Sherlock Holmes [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Robert Downey Jr
Offered by FUNTIME MEDIA
Price: 2.75

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A renewed Sherlock, 27 May 2010
This review is from: Sherlock Holmes [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes is closer to the real Holmes than many realise. Over a century of misunderstanding has grown up around the original character of Holmes and turned him into an inert, robotic brain under a deerstalker cap. Ritchie cuts all this back to reveal much of the Holmes Conan Doyle created: a genuine contradiction of a man, part bohemian junkie adventurer; part genius of analytical and investigative man of science. He's a brawler and a cocaine user; he shoots VR into the walls of Baker Street with a pistol to honour the monarchy; he conducts vile and bizarre experiments; he meditates with his violin and tobacco from the Persian slipper. He takes bold and daring actions to make key observations which feed his deductions. These in turn bring him to unique and startling conclusions, which are always right.

Ritchie has established the real Holmes. But he's done some new things too. He has created a new dynamic the Watson/Holmes relationship. They flirt, fight and bicker. Downey and Law do it very well indeed. It is a 21st Century invention played back into the 19th Century characters and situations. On the whole, it works. There are a couple of anachronisms for the sharp-eyed film watcher to spot, but they detract nothing by their presence. I also thought the development of 'that woman' Irene Adler from one-adventure nobody to semi-nemesis was a great touch.

I was absolutely delighted with this bold reworking of a much-loved character in a new and exciting story which, like the best, is not fully explained until the final moments. I thoroughly recommend it with five stars.


Jesus Wants to Save Christians
Jesus Wants to Save Christians
by Rob Bell
Edition: Paperback

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good message, but not really enough for a book., 27 Nov 2009
As some of the other reviewers have hinted, this is excellent material but very short. The word count per page is low to the point that if the words were ordinarily spaced, it would be a pamphlet rather than a book. The designer really had his work cut out making it book-length. It is a very good message, but I felt a bit cheated that there wasn't more to enjoy. If Rob Bell wants to stay on top of his game, he may have to consider doing fewer projects but each better.


Barenaked for the Holidays
Barenaked for the Holidays
Offered by disks4u
Price: 10.25

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Would I play it in front of other humans? Answer: No!, 27 Nov 2009
This is a one star CD, most certainly. Only two or three of the songs are any good. The best song (track 10) stops before they've finished singing, mid-lyric: "God rest ye merry gentlemen, let" CLANG... production values, guys?! Too many of the other songs are actually awful and worth minus-stars. Some sound barely rehearsed, others are tinny keyboard solos which are probably sight-read, and others sound like the guys pressed the 'demo-track' button on the keyboard and let that stand as a BNL contribution to the world of music!

The killer question for me is: would I play it in front of other humans? Answer: No! too many songs are too embarrassingly bad. Very sad. I love the pre-Steve-leaving-BNL, but not this! If you still want this album, preview the tracks and buy the individual MP3's you like.

Sorry guys...


Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting (Methuen Film)
Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting (Methuen Film)
by Robert McKee
Edition: Paperback

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive authority, 20 Feb 2009
This book is a profoundly challenging textbook for anyone who thinks they have what it takes to write, for the screen or otherwise. It will stretch you, question you and make you work very hard to be the best you can be. If you're looking for something to reassure you that anyone can be a writer, this isn't the book for you. It sets unashamedly-high standards and McKee makes no apology for tearing down lazy, flaccid writers.

It is a book about the pursuit of a high art, and McKee expects you to keep up with him. This is arguably the best book out there and, if you're brave enough, it'll make you a better writer.

For myself, I now feel like my efforts before reading McKee's book was time spent in the dark. Required reading, I'd say.


Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
by Anne Fadiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joie de vivre on paper, 19 Feb 2009
In each of these delightful and life-enhancing familiar essays, Anne Fadiman takes hold of a minutia of life as a starting point for unpacking the Universe. She exposes the wonder and brilliance of our world around us, simply by loving and enthusing about whatever quirky or unusual item she begins with. She introduces to the reader a remarkable company of brilliant and eccentric figures from history - all as if she knew them intimately. She does with ease what many writers aspire to do: to uncover truth and beauty and the raw energy of life in its most exciting forms... and she does it over and over in each of her charming essays.

By turns hilarious, fascinating, joyful, and touching, she makes you glad to be alive. (Who knew that I'd ever think of the word 'essay' in those terms?) And what is even better is that she does it again in 'At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist'... I think I'm in love.


Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
by Donald Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.73

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle, clever, funny., 19 Feb 2009
Don Miller is an excellent storyteller who entertains with kind-hearted, self-effacing humour whilst cleverly pricking the conscience of the reader. He writes as a everyman; as a fool; as a dude. He seems to stagger from gig to gig, unsure of who he is or what is happening, but a careful reader may consciously tap into the radical, daring and orthodox Christianity which the less-careful reader will absorb by osmosis. But there's nothing sinister about it - Don's not interested in pushing a dogma, more pointing people to the originator of meaning in his life: Jesus.


Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A world-changer, 19 Feb 2009
I read quite soon after it was released in 2004 and, some years later, it still fills my imagination. The complexity and wonderful unity of Clarke's world stimulates the mind and all the senses, and her characters are full and intriguing. They are so real that one could easily imagine them living independently of the book... as if Jonathan Strange might step down from a painting into your living room at any moment.

It is an awesome achievement; a true masterpiece so rare these days.

At 1024 pages, this book may daunt all but the hardiest of Tolstoy-devotees. It would be sad if the sheer length of it put anyone off. For myself (not usually a marathon reader), as I neared the end of the book I wished for more because it was all superb.

I hope the next full-length novel does not take ten years to write. I can't help but notice that we are four and a half years down the line already...


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