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Reviews Written by
Jaybird (London, UK)

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by Sally Mann
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult and beautiful, 20 Aug. 2010
This review is from: WHAT REMAINS (Hardcover)
What Remains faces the process of death with clarity and calmness.

Some of the photos are shocking, but Mann handles the subject without sentimentality or sensationalism. Her use of an antique camera emphasis the organic nature of her subjects and emphasises the textures. So there is a photograph of corpse, barely more than a skeleton, with a skeleton's shocking grin, but a loveliness and delicacy to the skin across the chest which references the fallen leaves around and there are intense close-ups of her three adult children, which reduces their features to a surface, reminiscent of a death mask and devoid of the animation and personality which characterised her photos of them when they were young.

Heartbreaker (L'arnacoeur) [DVD] (2010)
Heartbreaker (L'arnacoeur) [DVD] (2010)
Dvd ~ Romain Duris
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £9.97

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet, frothy rom-com, 7 July 2010
Romain Duris plays Alex, a man who is employed by fathers, friends and brothers, to romance women who are about to throw their lives away on men who are beneath them and make them believe they are worth more.

Vanessa Paradis plays the brilliant, soignee young woman with the slightly unsavoury father and high morals, who is scheduled to be his latest contract.

The story is well-travelled, but delivered deftly with a nice line in slapstick, great chemistry between the leads, and beautiful scenery.

Nicely escapist entertainment.

Fool's Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe: How a Tribe of Bankers Rewrote the Rules of Finance and Unleashed an Innovation Storm
Fool's Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe: How a Tribe of Bankers Rewrote the Rules of Finance and Unleashed an Innovation Storm
by Gillian Tett
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting perspective, 2 April 2010
A little slow to get going, but using the story of a group of JP Morgan bankers as a way of structuring the book makes it more accessible, human and balanced. It also shows that what happened was entirely predictable and foreseeable under the circumstances.

A good story that makes the crisis easier to understand. Recommended

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2010) [DVD]
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2010) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Noomi Rapace
Price: £2.49

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Visceral and authentic portrayal of the book, 2 April 2010
The first thing to say about this film is thank heavens it is Swedish film rather than an American interpretation.

It is brilliantly played and even more brilliantly cast. Noomi Rapace makes the central character of Lisbeth Salander much more believable than she is the Stieg Larsson books and the other key female parts are all played by suitably sexy, earthy women who all look the age they are playing.

The sexual violence is genuinely stomach-churning, as it should be.

I have to say that I don't really feel engaged by the polarised feminist diatribe or gratuitous exploitation and violence.

If you liked the books then don't be put off by the subtitles, because this is a great realisation.

God's Own Country
God's Own Country
by Ross Raisin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great sense of place and character, 10 Feb. 2010
This review is from: God's Own Country (Paperback)
Sam Marsdyke is a 19 year old farmer's son who lives an isolated life, and who becomes interested in the daughter of the middle class family that move into the next farm.

Sam is awkward and unattractive, painfully shy and deeply unlikeable. His character, as an unreliable narrator, is well drawn and wholly believable.

In fact this is a cracking book, well written, with an amazing sense of place and good tension. My one criticism is the ending, which slightly petered out. But it is a small quibble.


My Father's Tears and Other Stories
My Father's Tears and Other Stories
by John Updike
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, 4 Jan. 2010
A fabulous collection of short stories that read like a masterclass in writing short stories. Updike immediately grabs you, sketching characters and scenes with deftness and assurance. Within a few lines you are absolutely there.

Highly recommended

The Chatham School Affair
The Chatham School Affair
by Thomas H. Cook
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psychological drama, 4 Jan. 2010
Cook is a really good writer, who describes his books as character driven psychological dramas, where bad things happen, rather than crime novels

This book shares some devices with Masters of the Delta - the relationship between a schoolboy and teacher is central, the story is narrated by an old man looking back on his youth and the teacher in question tells violent stories from history to their pupils.

Set in 1927, it follows the transforming effect that his relationship with a beautiful, unorthodox teacher has on a boy from a staid, constricted background. His father is a headmaster in a small town in Maine. He is seduced by her freedom and liberalism and is swept away with the romanticism of her life, with devastating effect.

It is a slow book, with a wonderful sense of place, which really makes it. The ending was not entirely convincing to me and some of the twists were well signposted.

Even so, it is a pretty good book and recommended. I actually think this would make a great film.

The Earth Hums in B Flat
The Earth Hums in B Flat
by Mari Strachan
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Trite, confused characterisation and lacking tension, 14 Dec. 2009
I have no idea why so many people have raved about this book. It is not the worst thing I have ever read, but I would never recommend it or buy it as a gift.

The story is about a young girl, Gwen Morgan, growing up in a dysfunctional family in a small village, ruled by the gossips at the Chapel, in Wales in the 50s.

When the father of the children she babysits for goes missing, Gwen decides to play detective and look for him. Oh, and she also believes she can fly in her sleep.

I have a number of problems with this book. Some of the writing is far too overwrought and just plain twee, although sometimes it works OK.

Gwen, as narrator, has an inconsistent voice, which makes her wholly unbelievable. She is supposed to be very bright and imaginative, but also very naive - think the Curious Incident of the Dog that Barked in the Night-time, of Marion and Geoff, where the narrator reports things that s/he does not understand, but you, the reader do. I don't have a problem with that if worked effectively, as in the other two examples. It makes you feel smug and clever, and creates a dramatic tension. But Gwen is capable of some very charp analytical thinking, on occasion, so this innocence does not ring true.

For a child that is supposed to be going through puberty, however ill-informed, she shows a remarkable lack of interest in her body or development.

And for a child who is supposed to be able to fly over the landscape, there is little sense of place, as compared to say Resistance, by Owen Sheers.
The ending feels pat and too cosy for words. The actions of the wife of the missing man do not feel coherently plotted.

On the plus side, the sense of claustrophobia in a small community is well done. Mental health issues are well explored, but perhaps sometimes with too modern an eye.

Its OK, for a first novel. I have a feeling that Strachan might develop as a writer, but it never quite makes it above OK.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 4, 2015 8:04 PM GMT

Misfits: Series 1 [DVD]
Misfits: Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert Sheehan
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.63

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, original and clever series, 12 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Misfits: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Definitely the series that fills the gap of Skins - a group of teenagers doing community service bond as a group after two things happen. Firstly, they are caught in a freak storm which leaves them all with different superpowers, and secondly they end up killing their probation officer.

Brilliantly played by the ensemble cast and following the Skins format of focussing on one member of the group in each episode, this is a really funny, dark comedy.

The reviewer above has it right - Skins with ASBOs and a bit of X-men thrown in.

Lazy Lion (African Animal Tales)
Lazy Lion (African Animal Tales)
by Mwenye Hadithi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite book that adults and children will adore, 2 Dec. 2009
A lovely, straightforward fable, engagingly told and accompanied by absolutely fabulous illustrations.

This is a book your children will ask for over and over again, and you will never get bored of reading it to them.

My only, slight, criticism is that the earlier print of this book was on nicer paper which improved the illustrations even more.

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