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Rory (Scotland)

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The Aduramis Chronicles: Underworld
The Aduramis Chronicles: Underworld
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Davies is skilled at crafting scenes with a wonderful descriptive flair, 2 Jun. 2015
Underworld is the second novel in the Aduramis Chronicles series, following on directly from Destiny of the Wulf. Harrison Davies is a skilled writer whose work certainly deserves wider recognition, and I can imagine that in time it will receive it. Davies is skilled at crafting scenes with a wonderful descriptive flair, creating a range of different vistas and set pieces. While the second instalment in a series often suffers by lacking a clear beginning and end, Underworld has a solid narrative focus in the form of Coinin Wulf's quest to find his missing brother. The personal nature of the quest lends it emotional resonance, and the sacrifices Coinin and company must make along the way are well conveyed. Davies adeptly juggles multiple plot strands including a quest to find missing mystical swords to appease the gods and a nefarious plot involving Death himself, but these are very much in the background and the focus remains on Coinin's quest to find brother Marrok.

Underworld is a highly action-oriented book. The pace is generally swift and the action is well-written and nicely set up with some neat twists and imaginative flourishes. If anything I found it was in danger of being almost too action-packed at times, and there were a number of sequences in which the protagonists were captured, imprisoned and escaped which maybe veered toward repetition, but before that could become a problem, Davies pulls out some new twists, concluding the main quest surprisingly early (I hadn't anticipated that pay-off until the end of the book somehow) and then setting things in a new direction. The book sets up a new storyline in the last couple of chapters, initiating up a dangerous new quest for the heroes. Thankfully, by resolving the main narrative thrust of the story (Coinin's quest), there's more than sufficient pay off.

The characters are well-drawn and engaging. Coinin is a sympathetic and three-dimensional hero with enough flaws to make him human and relatable. The bond with his brother Marrok is very well realised, as is his self doubt and somewhat repressed adolescent urges. I enjoyed the interplay of Aniol, Axl and the introduction of a very civilised orc named Len'i. At times there were possibly a few too many characters in the mix for my taste, but the eventual losses demonstrated that sacrifices had to be made and gave the story added weight. I'm not quite feeling Lordich Secracar as a villain yet, (I love his name though), he hasn't quite jumped out at me, but clearly there are many developments in store. The entire series feels meticulously plotted, which is very encouraging. I really look forward to seeing where is Davies taking this series and how he will pull things together. Already there's a lot of scope for all kinds of amazing possibilities. The Aduramis Chronicles is shaping up to be an excellent fantasy series, and one that will be enjoyed for many years to come.

Feeling Happy Punk? Well Are Ya?!
Feeling Happy Punk? Well Are Ya?!
Price: £2.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time to be inspired!, 1 May 2013
Based upon Rohan Healy's excellent '7 Things' blog, there's something in this book for everyone: inspiration, advice, tips, tools and techniques for overcoming stress, finding balance and harmony in relationships, living a healthier lifestyle, overcoming fears, changing bad habits and living a more prosperous and abundant life. Happiness is something that, in an ideal world should be as natural to us as breathing, but life in the 21st century is increasingly stressful, complex and fraught with anxiety -- and very often we need a gentle nudge in the right direction.

No matter where you are in life and what's going on for you, I'm willing to bet you'll find a number of insightful and practical ways to improve your life here. I've been a fan of Rohan's blog for some time, and 'Feeling Happy Punk?' encapsulates the best of Rohan's wisdom. He shares ideas and inspiration in a highly readable way that's engaging and uplifting, without ever talking down to the reader. The tone is fresh and compelling and the topics range from 'how to get everything you want in your life, today!' (a must-read for everyone) to the way of the Samurai, the amazingness of lemons and why your deoderant may in fact be destroying your love life! Great fun to read, and filled with so many practical tips and insights. This is definitely a book to check out.

To Make a Difference: The Book That Changes Everything
To Make a Difference: The Book That Changes Everything
by Colin Turner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Deja vu, 24 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is just a bare-bones rewrite of Colin Turner's previous book 'Born to Succeed' which is a great book and well worth checking out. This one is very short and while the content is good, Born to Succeed was much better. Also there are formatting issues with the kindle edition: charts have not been formatted correctly, resulting in an unreadable mess in bits.

The 7 Things That Made Me Genuinely & Irreversibly Happy: And How They Can Do The Same For You
The 7 Things That Made Me Genuinely & Irreversibly Happy: And How They Can Do The Same For You
Price: £4.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 Things, 22 Jan. 2013
For anyone struggling to find a sense of happiness and peace in life, Rohan Healy's book `The 7 Things That Made Me Genuinely and Irreversibly Happy' will likely be a big help. First of all it's good to have a clear definition of `happy'. Rohan doesn't mean an artificial smiley-smiley/smiling-through-the-pain/stifling-our-anger kind of happiness. I've seen people try that and it usually doesn't work out too well for them because it's forced and manufactured.

Instead Rohan defines happiness as "not so much a high, like exhilaration or bliss, but more like contentment, an overriding feeling of peace and `okay-ness'". I like that. Rohan shares elements of his own journey which led him to eventually achieve a baseline state of peace, contentment and freedom -- and one in which he rediscovered the innate happiness, freedom and authenticity that we all had as young children. "The 7 Things" is a written in an accessible and engaging manner; Rohan's style is friendly and conversational and he writes with honesty, openness and enthusiasm. He does a great job of sharing his own experiences and presenting his breakthroughs in a manner that is clear, concise and easy to grasp. And these aren't just tools, tips and discoveries that worked for Rohan: they'll surely work for anyone who adopts them in a clear and consistent manner.

This is the kind of stuff we should really be taught in school, but aren't: how to deal with our thoughts, emotions and desires, how to overcome pain, trauma and stress, how to develop boundaries and be the best and most authentic version of ourselves we can be. Some of the information here was familiar to me, but a lot of it was new and I've found a number of things I'm going to put into practise myself. "The 7 Things" should have widespread appeal and I have no hesitation in recommending it because there really is something to help everyone. It's full of useful techniques for healing trauma and stress, overcoming unhelpful beliefs and mindsets, dealing with bullying and physical health issues and improving the quality of your relationships. There are also sections on understanding money (eye-opening stuff!) and dealing with debt and finally, coming at life from a state of abundance, overcoming our mindsets of lack and allowing more of the things we love to flow into our life.

As with any book of this type, some things will be of more interest and relevance to you than others, but I'm willing to bet you'll find a great deal of food for thought and clear-cut ways of improving your approach to life, dealing with problems and reaching that much sought after baseline of happiness.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the year?, 5 Nov. 2012
This album didn't hit me as immediately as Two Suns did, but after several careful listens, something magical started to happen - I became absolutely enchanted with it. Each song is its own journey - immersive soundscapes again demonstrating Natasha's penchant for telling stories in her music, her lyrics maybe not quite as striking as her last album, but still with a poetic, fairytale-esque flourish. Every single track has grown on me immensely. There are some amazing songs here, including the heartbreaking lead single Laura, Lilies, Marilyn, A Wall, the Haunted Man, A Wall, Oh Yeah, All Your fact the only track I find a little forgettable is Horses of the Sun, and it's still rather good.

Buy it, immerse yourself in it, exercise a little patience and allow it to unfold like a dream taking shape in your unconscious. Bat For Lashes is one of the most talented, unique and consistently brilliant artists out there. Enjoy :)

How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non-Duality (Spirituality Religious Experie)
How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non-Duality (Spirituality Religious Experie)
by James Bender Swartz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.50

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, incisive and truly enlightening, 28 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An incredible book, and an amazing gift. I've been waiting 20 years for something like this! Truly, if I'd had access to the teaching before it would have avoided so much floundering and enticing side-paths that led nowhere.

This book will not appeal to everyone, as evidenced by the mixed reviews here, but if you are ready and are open to questioning literally everything you've ever learned in the spiritual marketplace of the west (and probably now the east too, seeing as 'west' is everywhere), this may be the last spiritual book you'll need. It begins by outlining the necessary 'qualifications' you need to embark on this path...that might not strike the right chord with some, but clearly a certain foundation is needed to understand and assimilate the knowledge here. To the average person on the street, and even to many spiritual seekers, it will be meaningless and perplexing. I came to realise that in large part the obstructions that prevent us 'attaining enlightenment' are are misconceptions about what enlightenment actually is.

Swartz is not a cuddly 'love and light' guru. I have absolutely no doubt that he is a fully realised being, but he is unafraid to tell it like it is and is quick to point out the flaws of lesser teachings. Frankly, this is needed. The notion that all paths are equal is a fallacy, for clearly many are more harmful than helpful. But this isn't Swartz's teaching - he draws upon the ancient system of Vedanta which is as close to a science of enlightenment as there is. There's a LOT of information here and it's important to take your time to deeply reflect on it and allow it to permeate your consciousness and overwrite all the dodgy software and coding we've acquired over lifetimes.

Especially helpful and revelatory to me were the teachings of the causal and subtle bodies, the functioning of vasanas and gunas (so helpful - this should absolutely be worked into mainstream psychological understanding) and how to create the necessarily sattvic states of mind that allow us to reflect the pure, still, expansive awarness of Self/awareness/being.

This teaching - which was, until recently, not even available to English speakers - is a gift to humanity. This is only the tip of the iceberg as well -- there are hundreds of hours of free audio and an immeasurable amount of written material on James Swartz's website that will enable you to fully assimilate the teaching. I am blessed to have found this.

The Aduramis Chronicles: Destiny of the Wulf
The Aduramis Chronicles: Destiny of the Wulf
Price: £1.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent new fantasy, 23 May 2012
"Destiny of the Wulf", the first part of a multi-volume series titled The Aduramis Chronicles, is an exceptionally self-assured debut novel by Harrison Davies. The tale revolves around two young brothers, Coinin and Marrok, and the path their unfolding destiny leads them, as protectors of an ancient Order in a time of darkness for the planet Er'ath. The story kicks off nicely, doing a good job setting the scene and introducing the characters, who are likeable and suitably engaging (except, of course, for the characters who are deliberately meant to be unlikeable, such as the boys' nefarious, up-to-no-good uncle, Draken). My favourite character is definitely Menin, the wise yet no-nonsense Curator of an ancient temple. If there's ever to be a film adaptation of this novel, I can't imagine anyone other than Helen Mirren playing her. She's so cool I actually think she deserves her own series of novels.

There are some grand and well-executed action scenes as the Order comes under attack, resulting in a number of fast-paced and compelling passages, including an altercation with a giant involving mind control. Fantasy fans will be pleased to find the tried-and-trusted staples of magic, orcs, elves, dwarves and dragons as well as some less familiar elements, such as sky pirates. The author also lets his imagination soar with some novel and highly original touches. I especially liked the notion of the temple infirmary accidentally detaching and floating about the planet, along with its wayward matron. This is one of a number of quirky touches I greatly enjoyed, and hope to see more of in future books.

The narrative is quite multi-layered, and features a number of interweaving strands and no less than three big villains lurking in the periphery. It's a testament to the writing that I never found this overburdened or confusing, for everything flows nicely. As with any first book in a series, it's hard to fully evaluate the story as there are so many threads being set up and chess pieces being moved around the board -- and there's a cliffhanger that will leave you anxious to find out what happens.

The pacing is generally good, although most of the big action scenes occurring during the first third of the book, and then events take a more introspective, contemplative turn as Coinin comes to learn of his destiny and undergo the necessary rites to assume his rightful role. These scenes work well, although the shift in tone took a little while to get used to. One surprising shift in the narrative was when the story begins focussing on the experiences of Dareth Jericho, who I'd assumed was a minor character until that point. I hadn't initially bonded with the character so was surprised when it shifted to his perspective, but that quickly balanced out and integrated with the rest of the story.

All in all, "Destiny of the Wulf" is a first class book and an excellent debut. Like the best novels, I looked forward to reading it each night and I missed it when it was finished. You can't really give much higher praise than that! I eagerly await the next book in the series.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2013 9:38 PM GMT

Hurry Up We're Dreaming
Hurry Up We're Dreaming
Price: £8.37

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best album of 2011 and M83's finest hour, 9 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hurry Up We're Dreaming (Audio CD)
Just about everyone I've shared this with ADORES this album. After the brilliant 'Saturdays=Youth' M83 had a lot to live up to, but with this incredible double-disc odyssey he actually surpassed it. This was my favourite release of 2011 without a shadow of a doubt. Nothing came remotely close.

This is M83, so it goes without saying it's EPIC, but it's also fresh, inventive, fun, quirky, rich, textured and absolutely filled with JOY. It may not be to the taste of those preferring the slightly darker, comparatively more 'restrained' style of earlier works such as 'Before the Dawn Heals Us' or 'Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts', but when approached with an open mind and an open heart and free of expectation, you'll be transported into another world entirely. The sound is quite unique and is hard to neatly categorise. It's kind of a mixture of the best of 80s synthpop, the electronic ambience of Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis, with the ethereal splendour of Cocteau Twins and the epic grandeur of Sigur Ros. There's a fluidic, dream-like feel to the album; images, atmospheres and emotions morph into each other like the content of a dream.

What I love most about this album is its exuberance and sheer joie de vivre -- it came along at just the right time for me and actually helped me fall in love with life a little bit more. It's that good. It perfectly evokes all kinds of dreams, hopes, loves and losses and never fails to invigorate me every time I listen to it. In our cynical age of conveyor-belt manufactured, image-is-everything 'music', there's something touchingly genuine, innocent and heartfelt about this foray into the world of Anthony Gonzalez's dreams, and it's utterly refreshing.

This album is a sheer joy. Unmissable.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2012 11:59 AM GMT

50 Words for Snow
50 Words for Snow
Price: £5.99

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical - a true work of art, 28 Nov. 2011
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
I find it interesting that this album is dividing even Kate's most ardent fans. I wasn't even what I'd call a Kate Bush fan - until now! I had 'Hounds of Love' and "The Whole Story', which I really liked, although I hadn't gotten around to exploring the rest of her catalogue. I approached '50 Words For Snow' cautiously, I initially liked the sound of it, and felt compelled to explore it further. But it wasn't until after a few listens that the true depth and beauty of it really clicked for me (and after I paid particular attention to the lyrics, even looking them up online. When I saw what 'Lake Tahoe' was actually about, I actually started crying, something about it really touched me).

'50 Words for Snow' is beautiful, dark, emotional, atmospheric, touching, quirky and truly truly lovely. I love the minimalism of the music, it perfectly evokes wintry snow-filled landscapes and there's genuine emotion in the stories she crafts. The lack of melody didn't bother me one bit - pop music doesn't interest me that much these days, and I loved the organic feel to these songs, the very natural way the lyrics are sung actually brings me closer to the emotion and feel of what she's singing than if they were crafted into catchy pop melodies. It feels just right to me, just perfect. The more I listen to this album, the more depth I find, the more I find myself immersed in a wintery dreamworld, like stepping through a cupboard and finding myself in a land like Narnia. Every song has something special.

( )
( )
Offered by Side Two
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite albums of all time, 26 Mar. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: ( ) (Audio CD)
This album is not perhaps the most accessible for the Sigur Ros albums, I would recommend newbies first check out 'Agaetus Byrjun', 'Meo Suo I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust' or 'Takk'. The untitled '( )' is a more demanding listen, but is worth the investment - it's a work of art. Sigur Ros famously said in an early interview that they don't intend to become superstars, but they were going to change the way people think about music, and I'd say they certainly have. They are, in my view, the only band that have matched, and possibly eclipsed Pink Floyd when it comes to vast, expansive soundscapes, innovation and experimentation.

As with Agaetis Byrjun, their breakthough album, ( ) is a product of the band's origin. Roughly split into two parts, each with four tracks, it conjures images of snow-covered mountains and vast icy wildernesses. It is sung in 'Hopelandic', an invented language and apparently features only twelve syllables sung throughout the album in different ways. The first four songs (each track is untitled, although there are names out there) are comparatively serene and majestic - achingly sad and delicate, deep, lush and evocative. Soundscape music at its best. An almost otherworldly quality pervades the music, like alien lullabies, and yet earthy at the same time.

The last four songs are perhaps more intense and demanding. The latter tracks evoke a post-apocalyptic wilderness...everything has been destroyed. Jonsi, whose voice is a remarkable instrument in itself, sings with haunting beauty and power, as if expressing all of humanity's pain, fragility, tenderness, hope and love...echoes in an icy wilderness. In turns ethereal and earthy, he sings with a power and passion that might almost make Lisa Gerrard blush. The last two songs, in particular the remarkable final piece, gradually evolve from flowing, placid and peaceful into rousing, raging and dramatic finales filled with almost unbearable emotion. (Check out the live performance of this,'Untitled 8' or 'Popplagio' as it is also known, on the Heima DVD or youtube it! Breath-taking and shattering)

This album is deeply beautiful and sad, powerful and intense. It crafts incredible soundscapes and is immensely evocative and moving. It may be too raw or alternative for some, but for those with an open mind, it is an incredible experience in sound. I love it just as much as the other Sigur Ros albums, but for some reason I'm hooked on this one in particular at the moment.

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