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Julie Bozza (Reading, UK)
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Island
Island
by Jane Rogers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book - can't wait for the film!, 3 Jun 2009
This review is from: Island (Paperback)
I know I'm not the only fan of the wonderful Colin Morgan (Merlin in the BBC 'Merlin') to read this book out of curiosity - for Colin will be starring as Calum in the film based on this book, The Sea Change. This might seem an odd or obscure motivation for reading a book, but I'm very glad I did, as I loved the book in its own right.

I found both the main character Nikki and her brother Calum absolutely fascinating. And while shocking things happen to them and are done by them, I never once lost my underlying sympathy for the pair. Jane Rogers charts some dangerous territory, and does it with aplomb.

This is a tale of redemption, and both characters earn theirs. By the end, I loved them both. This is also a tale of stories - story telling is integral to the novel itself, and to the characters and how they make sense of their world. As with all the best stories, this is utterly compelling.

I highly recommend the book! (And now I am even more desperate to see the film... Colin is just going to be brilliant...)


Being Shelley: The Poet's Search for Himself
Being Shelley: The Poet's Search for Himself
by Ann Wroe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.34

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into a complex person, 13 Nov 2008
This is a fascinating book about Shelley - a life of the poet rather than a biography of the man - getting inside his mind, using his poems and his notebooks as well as his life. Wroe mentions a few biographical details I would quibble with, as another reviewer points out - but I don't think that detracts from the whole.

The book is organised into four 'elemental' sections (Earth; Water; Air; Fire) and explores who Shelley was and what he thought using those as themes, jumping back and forth from school to Italy to England, etc. Fascinating! An excellent companion to Richard Holmes' biography. And so well written that my interest never once flagged through a relatively long tale, even when the novelty of the approach became familiar.

Now I very much wish someone would do the same for John Keats, and indeed each of my other favourite writers, along with all the writers with whom I should be better acquainted... I suppose it will only work if there is material to draw on beyond the literary outpourings and the life itself - i.e. the notebooks and journals for Shelley, and the letters for Keats (hint hint). I hope this will become a model for a new form of biography / literary analysis!


Lost in Austen [DVD] (2008)
Lost in Austen [DVD] (2008)
Dvd ~ Jemima Rooper
Price: £6.79

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings, but some strong positives!, 27 Sep 2008
This review is from: Lost in Austen [DVD] (2008) (DVD)
Having watched the final episode on Wednesday, I am still mulling over the whole series a few days later. I had mixed reactions, and am still not sure at all whether I approve of or agree with the final resolution. I may warm to it after watching again! (NB: Here I am talking about watching it again, so I guess my intrigued response outweighs my disapproval.)

There are many positives in this series though. The characterisations of Mr and Mrs Bennet are my favourite of all the adaptations: her father worthy of Elizabeth's devotion, and her mother a real and attractive character rather than a caricature. Lots of very clever moments, as others have pointed out: 'Badly done, Bingley!' was the best; it's refreshing for a series not to underestimate the cleverness or knowledge of the audience. I enjoyed the rather intriguing take on who Wickham is.

I didn't feel this Darcy quite looked the part, but he certainly had the acting credentials to bring the character to full and proper life. As for the Amanda Price character, well, I didn't find her as wonderful or deserving as Elizabeth Bennet (one of my favourite characters in all of fiction) for whom she was effectively standing in. But then what can I expect? There aren't many such characters around.

I don't know if it says something about me or about current expectations in the viewing public, but I happily sailed right past the whole premise of a modern day person finding themselves in a real fictional world. I guess that is the sort of thing you will either just accept, or find preposterous and give up on the rest.

So, all up, I'm giving this show four stars. Whether I'll want to change that to five after a second viewing, I don't yet know!

Breaking news: OK, I bought the DVD, and very much enjoyed watching this series again. I was a lot happier with the ending than I was the first time round. Overall, I would definitely suggest giving this show a try.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 18, 2008 3:34 PM GMT


Summer At Eureka (11 Tracks) Aust Excl
Summer At Eureka (11 Tracks) Aust Excl
Price: £23.27

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant as ever!, 2 Aug 2008
The key to Pete Murray, I think, is that he's a WYSIWIG singer-songwriter: what you see is definitely what you get. He's an honest, upfront, unassuming kind of guy, who writes and sings from his heart. Maybe he hasn't literally lived the subject matter of each song, but he can genuinely feel it and then convey it. This album is no different in that regard. It is flavoured with his happiness with his family and his home, and it is homemade in both emotional and literal senses - recorded in his home studio, and self-produced - without any loss in quality. If any of that sounds like he's easy or tame or quiet, then I must also add that Pete rocks. He really ROCKS, and that is something I love about him.

To me the stand-out songs on this album are 'Chance to Say Goodbye', a rocking ballad which perhaps laments his father's sudden death. A positive spin is put on this, as Pete remembers all the good things he received from the relationship, with his only regret being that he didn't get the chance to say farewell in person. Another stand-out is 'Silver Cloud' which is the most relentlessly, hauntingly seductive song ever. I also love 'Miss Cold', a rocked-up promise (threat?) to warm up Miss Cold's frozen ground. This song proves that Pete's lemons are indeed ready for squeezing!

So, another solid album from a man who could, I suspect, spend his whole life doing this. (And I hope he does!) 'Summer at Eureka' is perhaps a bit happier and a bit raunchier than his first two albums, but it's just as darned wonderful.


Distant Relatives
Distant Relatives
by F Grace Seymour
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.47

4.0 out of 5 stars A darn good yarn!, 2 Aug 2008
This review is from: Distant Relatives (Paperback)
Seymour's first novel soon had me hooked - I had to know how it would end! Claire is a flawed and very likeable main character, who the reader quickly learns to care for, while Lily makes a horribly plausible villain - horrible because so realistic! Seymour keeps up the pace while developing a range of characters, and deftly handling the back story. Local detail colours the main settings in England, Singapore and New Zealand. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to read the tale of a young woman trying to take charge of her life. And I'm looking forward to Seymour's next effort!


See the Sun
See the Sun
Price: £22.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pete Murray still brilliant!, 20 Feb 2006
This review is from: See the Sun (Audio CD)
An earlier reviewer expressed disappointment with Pete Murray's second album 'See the Sun', but I have to say that I love it now as much as the first. Both took a while to grow on me. Murray has a distinctive and consistent style which initially makes the tracks seem a bit similar to each other, but once the details become more familiar then beautiful distinctions come clear. And here we have a true range from the quiet ballad 'Lost Soul' to the joyously danceable 'Remedy'.
As for lyrics, how can one go past the full-on declaration of love in 'Remedy' - 'You will be the sun, When you rise you start my day' - or the heartfelt challenge to 'Come on, be what you mean' in 'Class A'. I admit the chorus of 'Fly With You' seems a bit banal, but perhaps only because the verses and overall story are so wise. Wiser still is 'Securities', which to me is about being trapped in too ordinary a life by the need to feel safe - 'I've been passing hours of my days, Selling books and things, I've been spending years of my life, Having securities.'
But so much of the meaning of this album is in Murray's amazing voice and the beautiful music - it seems pointless to excerpt bare scraps of lyrics here. And alas I'm not musician enough to really describe what Murray does or how he does it. But I do find it all just as heartfelt and edgy and beautiful as 'Feeler'.
If you liked or loved 'Feeler', my suggestion is to give 'See the Sun' a try, and another try or two just in case. I'm sure you'll be rewarded.


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