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J. A. Turnbull "Jamie x" (uk)
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Memoirs Of A Geisha
Memoirs Of A Geisha
by Arthur Golden
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but lacks real heart, 29 July 2006
This review is from: Memoirs Of A Geisha (Paperback)
'Memoirs of a Geisha' is an engaging read; however there is a tendency for Golden's descriptive prose to lapse into the unimaginative and hackeneyed due to its over-reliance on Japanese imagery,which is understandable but, ultimately, felt quite hollow.

It is also not particularly well-paced and does feel as if it's losing momentum towards the end of the novel and there's a sense that all loose ends need to be tied up and a 'happy ending' must be ensured.

The novel's real sticking point, however, is it's hard to really empathise with the protagonist Sayuri as it does seem as if she is incapable of really sharing with us how she feels on any kind of deeper level; this also causes the peripheral characters to become these sharply-drawn archetypes without much sense of who they are or what they've experienced.

That said, the book does offer an exciting and fascinating glimpse into the hidden world of Geisha around the time of WWII and the plot is almost Dickensian in its use of coincidence and chance encounters, which is part of what makes it very readable.


Running with Scissors: A Memoir
Running with Scissors: A Memoir
by Augusten Burroughs
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A darkly, comic gem, 5 May 2006
I read this book after reading an extract from it in a magazine and nothing could have prepared me for what I found. The book is a dark and disturbing memoir of a boy who is "raised" by the crazy family of his mother's psychiatrist. But don't be fooled, this is no navel-gazing, weighty tear-jerker; Burroughs writes candidly and with a dark humour and never encourages the reader to feel sorry for him or judge the bizarre parade of characters that pass through.

I'm sure this book won't appeal to everyone and if you're looking for a probing, 'hankies at the ready' story of a scarred childhood, then this isn't for you; however, if you want a fascinating, darkly comic book that explores the seedier side of growing up, then this is an excellent choice.


A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
by Marina Lewycka
Edition: Paperback

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, if not spectacular, 5 May 2006
The gimmicky title and the good reviews were the reasons that I decided to read this book, and I was surprised by what I found. At its heart, this book is about: the struggle to find your place within your family; how much our family history affects and influences us in the present and how you can begin to doubt your political opinions when they become issues in your own life. I wouldn't have said that this book was 'laugh out loud funny', although it did raise a wry smile every now and then. And it did make me reflect on my own family history and the issues of immigration raised within the book. Overall, this is no literary masterpiece, but it's a pleasant commuter read.


Voice - The Best Of Beverley Knight
Voice - The Best Of Beverley Knight
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 3.65

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Standing up and singing out for the Brits, 15 April 2006
For so long now, Beverly Knight has been hanging around just outside the big time, seemingly waiting for a break that has never quite happened. One listening to this album will leave you wondering 'why'.

Knight is proof positive that there are Brits that can compete with the US R'n'B divas of Mary J Blige and Destiny's Child's ilk, providing not only multi-octave vocals but also delivering strong and diverse songwriting; and it is her songwriting that so impresses on this 'best of' album, moving, as it does, from the old school club vibe of "Flava of the Old School" through more mainstream offerings such as "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" to the guitar-laden rock feel of "Come As You Are".

Then, of course, there is the voice.

And what a voice it is. You can really hear it develop and grow in maturity over the 10-year span of this album, moving from being an excellent R'n'B voice to one of the best contemporary British soul voices; it seems there's very little that it's not capable of.

The only downside of this album is that, while it offers a good overview of the most commercial offerings of Knight's career, I don't feel that it really offers the best of her work. This should not, however, allow anyone to be put off, as there is the addition of 2 blistering live recordings and the Joplin cover. Highly recommended.


Those Were The Days
Those Were The Days
Offered by actionrecords
Price: 8.75

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good album, but beware the schmalz, 15 April 2006
This review is from: Those Were The Days (Audio CD)
Now, there is no doubt that at times this album lapses into hopeless schmalz ("Imagine" is a case in point) and, depending on your view of Dolly Parton, this will either be completely damning or completely redemptive. However, there is no doubting that underneath all the layered harmonies, backing choirs and bluegrass frills, Parton is still a fine singer and, when she hits her stride, as in "Me & Bobby McGee", she's incredible. Elsewhere on the album, there are tracks that seem, at first listening, like potential car crashes (such as "Where Do The Children Play?" and the almost disco speed "Both Sides Now") but actually, after repeated listening, do start to grow on you, and that, I think, is true of the whole album: it is a grower, and, actually, a testimony to Parton as an interpreter of other writers' material, but if you don't have a strong stomach for bluegrass-lite sentimentality, I'd be wary.


Amadeus (Penguin Plays)
Amadeus (Penguin Plays)
by Peter Shaffer
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Musical Tale, 29 Aug 2002
Almost undoubtedly Schaeffer's best play, an engrossing subject richly written with intelligent humour and a wonderful blend of modern and almost stylised language. However the second act feels slightly repetitive in structure and slightly overlong, plus, I feel, the ending of the piece feels a little disappointing and unforgettable - it lacks slightly in finesse given the calibre of the play up to that point. Otherwise a very strong play.


Blasted: AND Phaedra's Love (Modern Plays)
Blasted: AND Phaedra's Love (Modern Plays)
by Sarah Kane
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Hit and Miss, 29 Aug 2002
"Phaedra's Love" is a stunning play: tightly scripted, wonderfully dark and with superb dialogue. The plot of the original Greek story gives Kane a perfect structure in which to demonstrate her abilities, unfortunately this really only serves to highlight the weakness of "Blasted", which feels badly paced and to lack the real drive of writing which "Phaedra's Love" possesses in abundance, the gore seems unjustified in "Blasted" and doesn't serve any real dramatic or thematic purpose - mere shock value.


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