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Paracelsus1966 (Somerset, England)

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Aquilonis
Aquilonis
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the year, 31 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Aquilonis (Audio CD)
I can't add too much to the other reviews, except to say that this is superb - my album of the year. Somewhat reminiscent of their 2007 album Folk Songs (due to the minimal musical accompaniments perhaps). With the recent retirement of the Hilliard Ensemble, and the upcoming retirement of Anonymous 4, this will leave Trio Mediaeval as one of the world's great small vocal groups. Long may they continue.


Abbot's Keep: A Ghost Story
Abbot's Keep: A Ghost Story
Price: £1.15

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very poor, 4 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this because it was in the Kindle 99p promotion, and had read some good reviews of it on other sites. However, I found this an extremely unconvincing and poorly written story. The characterisation is non-existent, meaning that the story's various narrators all sound like the same person. This makes nothing they say or do terribly believable.

I found the epistolary format to be equally unconvincing. Apart from the issue with voice (everyone sounding like the same person), I also found it hard to believe that the protagonist would be writing a long letter by moonlight in what sounds like a World War II pillbox, with the supernatural figures closing in on him.

It also reads like the author has done little or no research, not even getting as far as Wikipedia. The pillbox is a case in point - it's referred to as a 'bomb shelter' but I don't know of any bomb shelters built in the middle of fields. Also, the Reformation was apparently directed 'mainly against Catholic communities'. Strange that - I thought, prior to the Reformation, everyone was Catholic... A Tudor manor house is described as being 'wattle and daub'. The ones I've visited have all been brick built. Likewise, 'Father Angus Milroy' didn't strike me as a convincing C16 name. (C19 or C20, maybe...) And the back story about the Stanford Building - what exactly is a 'Parisian structure'? The Eiffel Tower? The Pompidou Centre? Again, it's too vague to be believable.

There are also problems with description. The scene involving the dog falling into what appears to be a tunnel is very badly handled. I had to read it twice to try and make sense of what the author was intending. One scene is described as taking place 'south of Dover' - but the only thing south of Dover is the English Channel. A lighthouse presumably near Dover is described as being 'on the Eastern coast'. Last time I was in Dover, I seem to remember it being on the south coast.

The plot is OK up to a point, but due to the main character not being a terribly believable architect with a drink problem, his actions once he's left on his own at Abbot's Keep are questionable. On several occasions ghostly figures are seen outside the house, but our hero does nothing to investigate. Once the school friend and estranged wife reappear, things get very silly indeed. And the 'gelding'... no reference is made to how his wounds heal, enabling him to go on the run. Most normal characters would probably bleed to death somewhere nearby, but no, our hero manages to traverse a great deal of southern England with various body parts missing.

If the author had taken time to develop the characters and do some research, this could have been so much better. As it is, it's a bit of a car crash. As much as I dislike leaving negative reviews, two stars is being generous, I'm afraid to say.


In Memoria - Medieval Songs Of Remembrance
In Memoria - Medieval Songs Of Remembrance
Price: £13.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Great album, misleading subtitle, 18 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Superb, but the subtitle is misleading. It's largely renaissance repertoire, not mediaeval. But still, it's Edward Wickham and the Clerk's Group, so not much to complain about.


Unlocked Huawei Ascend Mate 6.1" HD Screen 1.5GHz quad-core 2GB Smartphone phone
Unlocked Huawei Ascend Mate 6.1" HD Screen 1.5GHz quad-core 2GB Smartphone phone

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Download firmware update from Huawei before using, 18 July 2014
Great phone. I was frustrated by the fact that Google Calendar wouldn't sync at first, and various other apps reliant on Google Play Services likewise were a no-go (Google Now, Plus, My Business, for starters).

However, all the phone needs is a simple firmware update from the Support section of Huawei's site http://consumer.huawei.com/en/mobile-phones/support/downloads/mt1-u06-en.htm. Download 'Ascend Mate Firmware' and the phone will work fine, syncs perfectly, and no need to root it.

UPDATE: 6 MONTHS LATER

This phone is very slow. I am sick of it. I've tried everything I can think of it speed it up, but nothing seems to work.

Auto-sync slows things down so much that I usually have to leave the phone alone for 5 or 10 minutes while it runs through all that. Very annoyingly, it tends to run auto-sync when I pick the phone up, so therefore am not able to use it for minutes at a time (not all the time, but frequently - at least once a day).

The touchscreen is very unresponsive, and the camera can take ages to get going. Apps can be very slow.

I've also read other reviews saying the same thing, so I'm going to ditch this and get something else. I will probably never buy another Huawei. Yes, the size is great, but waiting for 10, 20, 30 seconds for webpages and apps to load is ridiculous. I can no longer recommend this phone. It's not so great.


The Secret Dead: A Novella (Kindle Single)
The Secret Dead: A Novella (Kindle Single)
Price: £2.00

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A case for the young Bruno, 22 Jun. 2014
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This is a short story featuring SJ Parris's C16 heretical philosopher-detective-spy, Giordano Bruno. It takes place in 1566, when Bruno is a novice of 18, and is party to an illegal dissection of the body of a young woman, whose mysterious and violent death form the basis for subsequent events... Its well-written, as are the novels, and is a good introduction to the character. I hope we see more of the younger Bruno.


Panikhida/Christmas Ikos (Kastalsky Chamber Choir)
Panikhida/Christmas Ikos (Kastalsky Chamber Choir)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Panikhida: Orthodox Office for the Dead, 10 Sept. 2013
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This sadly rather obscure release is a gem. The main piece is John Tavener's Panikhida - The Orthodox Office for the Dead, a liturgical work that is very beautiful and calming, sung, like the rest of the CD, a cappella. Supporting it are a rousing performance of Ikon of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne and Funeral Ikos. The album is rounded out by another rare (i.e. seldom recorded, like Panikhida) Tavener, Apolytikion for St Nicholas, and two superb pieces by Ivan Moody, who also conducts, with the exception of Funeral Ikos, which is conducted by John Tavener.

This was originally released in 1988 in a rather hissy (cassette only?) recording. This CD reissue has vastly improved sound, I'm relieved to report. Can Ikon Records please re-release this?

While on the subject of Ikon records, they also did (again, cassette only, I think) releases of Tavener's Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and The Othodox Vigil Service. The Liturgy was released on CD in 2000, but so far no CD of the Vigil Service. Out of the 3 Ikon Tavener releases, I've always thought Panikhida was the best - it's certainly the least liturgical and therefore perhaps most appealing to listeners who aren't Orthodox.
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Taverner to Tavener
Taverner to Tavener
Price: £16.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Album, 8 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Taverner to Tavener (Audio CD)
I bought this for the John Tavener piece, Hymn to the Holy Spirit (which is not available elsewhere). The whole CD is a wonderful listen from start to finish. If you like Tavener or his C16th ancestor, you won't be disappointed.


Something Like Happy
Something Like Happy
by John Burnside
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something Like Masterly, 2 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Something Like Happy (Hardcover)
An almost flawless collection of stories from John Burnside. His previous story collection, Burning Elvis, is arguably the best of his early fiction - the novels don't really start doing anything for me until Living Nowhere - and this new book is a worthy successor to Elvis. Several of the stories are not too far removed from some of the novels, with their concerns for dead-end lives marked by violence in dead-end towns - the title story, Godwit, and A Winter's Tale, for example - while others are insightful character studies of people who are lost, in limbo, passing through.

What strikes me about this collection is the subtlety of John Burnside's concerns as a writer; what matters here are the slightest nuances of emotion and thought which, although transient and deeply private, are life-changing for their characters. This is not a book in which stuff happens. (Apart from a few murders, a beating or two, and some strange, darkly erotic games.) But having said that, a good short story could be defined as one in which not much seems to happen, yet everything does, if only in implication. And that defines the pieces in Something Like Happy perfectly.

Hard to choose a favourite - Perfect and Private Things, The Bell-Ringer and Roccolo are stand-outs; perhaps the best of all is The Cold Outside, an extraordinary story about a man dying of cancer picking up - in the sense of giving a lift home to - a transvestite who has been beaten up. This wonderful story is typical of the risks John Burnside takes in this book: small moments that are at once totally ordinary, and at the same time, totally unique, like those rare dreams that, once experienced, you know have somehow added something to your life; you're not quite sure what, but things afterwards are richer, stranger.


Lenovo Ideapad S206 11.6 inch laptop - Grey (AMD Dual Core E2-1800 1.7GHz, 4Gb RAM, 500Gb HDD, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit)
Lenovo Ideapad S206 11.6 inch laptop - Grey (AMD Dual Core E2-1800 1.7GHz, 4Gb RAM, 500Gb HDD, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit)

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Machine, 2 Feb. 2013
I had read some not too good reviews of this computer, but now having been using one for a month, I can say it's been pretty good. I use it for writing, music and watching films, as for those uses, it meets my needs. I like the size of this machine - small, light and the keyboard is great. Huge hard drive (advertised as 500GB, you actually get 445 usable GB) is also a plus.

The battery life isn't brilliant - about 2 hours on average - but so far that's not been a problem. I suppose my other gripes are that it's perhaps a little expensive... Maybe around £250 would be better. And the facial recognition thing doesn't seem to work, and the quick start feature isn't worth bothering with, but as I can live without those, I'm not too bothered.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 2, 2013 1:10 AM BST


Tavener: Towards Silence [World Premiere Recording]
Tavener: Towards Silence [World Premiere Recording]
Offered by cheapcdsdvds
Price: £4.05

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Towards Eternity, 24 Mar. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an extraordinarily haunting work - droning strings, Tibetan temple bowl, the usual lack of development that we come to associate with Sir John. But most of it is very still - only the first 5 minutes have much business in them - the rest of it slowly fades away; programme music, if you like, for Eastern (especially Hindu) death beliefs.

It's not quite a string quartet in the conventional sense, being scored for 4 quartets (as it were), and therfore feels markedly different - far more tranquil and unearthly (especially towards the end, which sounds like it was recorded by NASA) - from his earlier string quartets (Last Sleep of the Virgin, Hidden Treasure, The World etc), but if you do like those works, you'll love this.

My only gripes are that the CD is banded as one track (the piece is in 4 movements) and there are no accompanying works; the CD is only 33 minutes long. Mind you, it's good for the price, and also maybe with something like this, you really don't need any other pieces on the CD. As Tavener notes in the booklet, this is a CD for meditation, so put it on repeat and listen to that amazing temple bowl, the sound of eternity...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 7, 2011 6:50 PM BST


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