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Infinite Voice
Infinite Voice
Offered by HLRecordsEU
Price: £15.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful voice, 23 April 2007
This review is from: Infinite Voice (Audio CD)
A classically trained vocalist with a Master's Degree in music from the Chicago Conservatory College, the golden voiced Darlene Koldenhoven has appeared in a number of high profile pop culture products. In the 1980's she appeared on jazz composer Clare Fisher's Brazilian jazz vocal project, Freefall, which was awarded a Grammy in 1986 for Best Jazz Vocal Performance by a Group. In the 90's she appeared in and served as choir director for both Sister Act films, and in 1994 sung with Yanni Live at the Acropolis, a concert film reportedly seen by nearly 500 million people worldwide. She has also sung on recordings with Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart, David Byrne, and Ramsey Lewis, among others, and has authored a set of musical instruction books and CDs entitled Train Your Voice.

In the late 90's Koldenhoven began writing and producing her own solo recordings, including the adult contemporary Keys to the World, a gospel album called Free to Serve, and the Christmas album Heavenly Peace. This year she's back with an all new recording, entitled Infinite Voice, a collection of classically inspired compositions and new age arrangements of classics. Ms Koldenhoven's 5-ocatve voice is the only one featured on this recording, in some places layered to give a choral effect. Most of the instrumentation is synthetic, though several songs include acoustic instrumental performances from guitar, English Horn, oboe, flue, didgeridoo, and percussion.

Infinite Voice is a delicate and beautiful recording that will appeal to fans of light classical vocals from the voices of equally talented singers such as Filippa Giordano, Hayley Westerna, or Sissel.


The Best Buddhist Writing
The Best Buddhist Writing
by Melvin McLeod
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small lights shine brightly in another choice collection, 23 April 2007
This third volume in The Best Buddhist Writing series is a wonderful book for dipping into and out of, perfect for carrying on your travels and when finished for passing on to the curious of mind.

While this collection of 33 articles from the publishers at Shambhala features writing by some big names in Buddhism - the Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Thich Nhat Hanh, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Jon Kabat-Zinn - it's the pieces from the lesser knowns that seem most touching and insightful.

George Crane relates the story of Ani Jinpa, a Western Buddhist nun taking care of street children in Mongolia, a pitifully thankless job miraculously infused with warmth and compassion. Psychologist John Welwood reminds us that in the search for perfect love, we begin and end with ourselves: "Bringing absolute love into human form involves learning to hold the impossibility of ourselves and others in the way the sky holds clouds - with gentle spaciousness and equanimity."

In a beautiful remembrance of her mother's painful process of dying, Mariana Caplan relates how both she and her mother learned to let go. In much the same way, Judith Toy finds the courage to live through her pain and to forgive the man who murdered her sister-in-law and two nephews.

Closer to the hearth, Nancy Hathaway describes the Four Noble Truths of Parenthood, while Norma Fisher shows how the practical, such as cutting vegetables and washing dishes, embodies the spiritual.

Order one of these for yourself, and order another for a friend who's interested in Buddhism.


Star Wars: Last Stand on Jabiim v. 3: Clone Wars (Star Wars: Clone Wars (Dark Horse Comics Paperback))
Star Wars: Last Stand on Jabiim v. 3: Clone Wars (Star Wars: Clone Wars (Dark Horse Comics Paperback))
by John Ostrander
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jabba-sized hole in an otherwise excellent book, 18 April 2007
This would have been a very good book if not for one very large blunder on the part of the editors at Dark Horse, who should have sent the script back to writer Haden Blackman with the following written on the cover page in red ink: Why doesn't Anakin feel Obi-Wan die in the Force?

There's a scene here where Obi-Wan is caught in a missile barrage and in the ensuing confusion of battle is never heard from again. He is presumed dead, a quite obvious conclusion under most circumstances. But as we are dealing with beings capable of "feeling" the presence of others in the Force; as we are dealing with Anakin Skywalker, the most powerful Force user in the living memory of the Jedi (which is quite long, as Yoda has lived for nearly a millennia); when we are dealing with two individuals tightly bonded as master and apprentice, and when these two are located only a short physical distance from each other, then the idea that Anakin accepts Obi-Wan's death so quickly and so easily is quite frankly ridiculous. At first I thought perhaps the pair had concocted a ruse enabling Obi-Wan to go underground on some secret mission. That seemed much more likely as we are never shown Anakin mourning the loss of Obi-Wan, even when we get plenty of scenes with other Padawan mourning the death of their masters and pondering on the meaning of life and sacrifice as they prepare to face the next battle in this long-running war.

Obi-Wan's supposed death turns out to be a lazy solution to a plotting problem - how to get rid of the master so that the student can take the lead. On the rain-soaked planet of Jabiim, the inhabitants have divided into factions supporting Republic and Separatist forces, and as the battle drags on the only Jedi left standing are the Padawan. Trained to accept orders from the Jedi, the Republic clone army must follow these apprentices into a last battle against a numerically superior enemy. But rather than waste their forces on Jabiim, Chancellor Palpatine orders a last minute retreat, leaving Anakin in the position of choosing to stay and support the Jabiimi loyal to the Republic, or leave them to be slaughtered by an army of droids.

How much more poignant the decision would have been if Anakin knew Obi-wan was alive in the Force, but missing in action, that when giving the order to evacuate the troops he would be abandoning not only the Jabiimi but his master as well.

As it stands, we're left with a huge whole in the plot that is never adequately explained, in this book or any of the Clone Wars stories that follow. Fortunately, the tale is not an entire waste. Brian Ching is on hand to provide some of the best artwork of the entire Clone Wars series, illustration that is realistic, fluid and cinematic. Where Haden stumbles, Ching soars and the book is almost worth getting for the artwork alone.

For those interested in a follow-up, there is a Second Battle of Jabiim, published as "In The Footsteps Of Their Fathers," which sees Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance visiting the planet many years later to support the Jabiimi resistance against the Empire. See my review of that book on the "In the Shadows of Their Fathers" page.


Star Wars: The Clone Wars-Last Stand on Jabiim
Star Wars: The Clone Wars-Last Stand on Jabiim
by Voronica Whitney-Robinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jabba-sized hole in an otherwise excellent book, 18 April 2007
This would have been a very good book if not for one very large blunder on the part of the editors at Dark Horse, who should have sent the script back to writer Haden Blackman with the following written on the cover page in red ink: Why doesn't Anakin feel Obi-Wan die in the Force?

There's a scene here where Obi-Wan is caught in a missile barrage and in the ensuing confusion of battle is never heard from again. He is presumed dead, a quite obvious conclusion under most circumstances. But as we are dealing with beings capable of "feeling" the presence of others in the Force; as we are dealing with Anakin Skywalker, the most powerful Force user in the living memory of the Jedi (which is quite long, as Yoda has lived for nearly a millennia); when we are dealing with two individuals tightly bonded as master and apprentice, and when these two are located only a short physical distance from each other, then the idea that Anakin accepts Obi-Wan's death so quickly and so easily is quite frankly ridiculous. At first I thought perhaps the pair had concocted a ruse enabling Obi-Wan to go underground on some secret mission. That seemed much more likely as we are never shown Anakin mourning the loss of Obi-Wan, even when we get plenty of scenes with other Padawan mourning the death of their masters and pondering on the meaning of life and sacrifice as they prepare to face the next battle in this long-running war.

Obi-Wan's supposed death turns out to be a lazy solution to a plotting problem - how to get rid of the master so that the student can take the lead. On the rain-soaked planet of Jabiim, the inhabitants have divided into factions supporting Republic and Separatist forces, and as the battle drags on the only Jedi left standing are the Padawan. Trained to accept orders from the Jedi, the Republic clone army must follow these apprentices into a last battle against a numerically superior enemy. But rather than waste their forces on Jabiim, Chancellor Palpatine orders a last minute retreat, leaving Anakin in the position of choosing to stay and support the Jabiimi loyal to the Republic, or leave them to be slaughtered by an army of droids.

How much more poignant the decision would have been if Anakin knew Obi-wan was alive in the Force, but missing in action, that when giving the order to evacuate the troops he would be abandoning not only the Jabiimi but his master as well.

As it stands, we're left with a huge whole in the plot that is never adequately explained, in this book or any of the Clone Wars stories that follow. Fortunately, the tale is not an entire waste. Brian Ching is on hand to provide some of the best artwork of the entire Clone Wars series, illustration that is realistic, fluid and cinematic. Where Haden stumbles, Ching soars and the book is almost worth getting for the artwork alone.

For those interested in a follow-up, there is a Second Battle of Jabiim, published as "In The Footsteps Of Their Fathers," which sees Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance visiting the planet many years later to support the Jabiimi resistance against the Empire. See my review of that book on the "In the Shadows of Their Fathers" page.


Star Wars: General Grievous (Star Wars (Dark Horse))
Star Wars: General Grievous (Star Wars (Dark Horse))
by Chuck Dixon
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars About General Grievous this book is not, 18 April 2007
This is not a horrible book, but you might be disappointed if you think you'll be getting a story about General Grievous. As with a lot of Star Wars EU, the focus here is on characters you've never heard of and will probably never hear of again, a group of teenaged Padawan who have lost their masters to General Grievous and who strike out on their own, against the wishes of the Jedi council, to hunt down and assassinate the multi-limbed cyborg. As this story takes place before "Revenge of the Sith," you already know their mission will be a failure, so there's not a lot here to create suspense. And since we know that Grievous can wield as many as six lightsabers at a time, you know too how the Padawan are likely to meet their end.

With over a dozen characters in a such a short book, it's a fairly impossible task to make even a handful unique. Having boxed himself in on the plot, writer Chuck Dixon is left with little to do and the story is carried mostly by the very fine illustrations of Rick Leonardi and Mark Pennington.

If you'd like to read more about Grievous, as of this writing the only sources that contain background on the General himself is the novel "Labyrinth of Evil," and the graphic novel "Star Wars Visionaries," which contains one Grievous story. Both of these books come highly recommended.


Star Wars: General Grievous
Star Wars: General Grievous
by Chuck Dixon
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars About General Grievous this book is not, 18 April 2007
This is not a horrible book, but you might be disappointed if you think you'll be getting a story about General Grievous. As with a lot of Star Wars EU, the focus here is on characters you've never heard of and will probably never hear of again, a group of teenaged Padawan who have lost their masters to General Grievous and who strike out on their own, against the wishes of the Jedi council, to hunt down and assassinate the multi-limbed cyborg. As this story takes place before "Revenge of the Sith," you already know their mission will be a failure, so there's not a lot here to create suspense. And since we know that Grievous can wield as many as six lightsabers at a time, you know too how the Padawan are likely to meet their end.

With over a dozen characters in a such a short book, it's a fairly impossible task to make even a handful unique. Having boxed himself in on the plot, writer Chuck Dixon is left with little to do and the story is carried mostly by the very fine illustrations of Rick Leonardi and Mark Pennington.

If you'd like to read more about Grievous, as of this writing the only sources that contain background on the General himself is the novel "Labyrinth of Evil," and the graphic novel "Star Wars Visionaries," which contains one Grievous story. Both of these books come highly recommended.


Star Wars: Rebellion: My Brother, My Enemy v. 1 (Star Wars Rebellion Graphic Novels)
Star Wars: Rebellion: My Brother, My Enemy v. 1 (Star Wars Rebellion Graphic Novels)
by Rob Williams
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The rebellion relaunched, 17 April 2007
Last seen questioning the motives of the Empire and taking a beating from his childhood friend Luke Skywalker, Imperial Lieutenant Janek Sunber has grown out of his naiveté, thrown of his doubt, and is dedicated now to nothing more than hurting his old chum from Tatooine.

My Brother, My Enemy is a collection of the first five issues of Rebellion (plus the promotional issue #0), one of four new series from Dark Horse Comics launched in 2006 following the completion of the film franchise. This particular series is a retooled version of the rebellion in the days following the destruction of the first Death Star, and this volume picks up where The Wrong Side of the War (Star Wars: Empire, Vol. 7) left off, with the rebels' mathematician Jorin Sol recovering from Imperial torture. What the Rebels don't yet know is that Sol has been programmed by the Empire to betray the location of the Alliance fleet. Lt Sunber, aka "Tank," meanwhile reveals to Darth Vader his relationship to Luke Skywalker, a confession that puts Sunber on the hook as bait for the farmboy hero of the Alliance.

Following their work together on Nomad, one of the better and longer stories of the now defunct anthology series, Star Wars Tales, British author Rob Williams and American artist Brandon Badeaux prove here that they are more than one-hit wonders. Badeaux presents some exceptionally fine work, particularly in a two-page space battle, a depiction reminiscent of the opening sequence from Revenge of the Sith, as well as the uniform design for Rebel Alliance special ops, tight-fitting black coveralls with matching black helmet and insignia. Badeaux's style is so distinct that it is sorely missed in the middle chapter, penciled by Michael Lacombe (who has since taken over regular artwork on this ongoing series). The change in style is noticeable, but the switchover happens at the start of a dream sequence and by the time you're out of the dream, you've not noticed that it's the artist, and not the style, that's changed.

For reasons that are not evident from the story, Williams has written in the first person for three different characters, switching to third person for bridging scenes and for the finale. Besides having no obvious reason for this authorial conceit, especially for one of the minor characters, there seems in one case a clear reason not to use it - the reader is prematurely tipped to a character's motivation.

Where the scripter excels is in recapturing Luke's youth, who in this period is often written as an experienced pilot, fighter, motivator, strategist, and jack-of-all-military trades. In fact he should be more as portrayed here, a wide-eyed farm boy wanting to help and do well but with still much to learn and prone to misjudgment and mistakes. Williams also does a good job capturing Luke's old friend and current nemesis, Lt Janek Sunber, a boy from Tatooine who once showed some regret at having joined the Imperials but whose doubt has been consumed by a fiery rage at himself, rage he redirects at his childhood chum. A few new characters slated to reappear in future stories are so far largely unremarkable.

While not an exceptional addition to the Star Wars EU library, this first volume of Rebellion is a solid effort that holds promise for a grittier and darker version of the rebellion than we've seen previously. I'm personally looking forward to future volumes, though disappointed that Badeaux seems to have left the series for the time being.

Set in the days immediately following A New Hope, Rebellion is one of Dark Horse Comics' four new Star Wars series. Chronologically, Knights of the Old Republic takes place several thousand years before the film series, Dark Times in the immediate aftermath of the Clone Wars, Rebellion in the period following A New Hope, and Legacy some 100 years after Return of the Jedi.


Endgame: 9 (Star Wars: Clone Wars (Dark Horse Comics Paperback))
Endgame: 9 (Star Wars: Clone Wars (Dark Horse Comics Paperback))
by John Ostrander
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The end . . . and new beginnings, 17 April 2007
Endgame is a denouement, a figurative and literal cleaning up and sorting out, the final chapter in Dark Horse's Clone Wars series. That doesn't mean there's nothing but talking heads and exposition. On the contrary, there's plenty of action in three stories about choice and consequence.

Chronologically, the volume begins with the 3-part "The Hidden Enemy," in which former Jedi double agent Quinlan Vos is on assignment to Kashyyk, fighting alongside Yoda and the Wookies against Trandoshan Slavers and the Separatist Droid Army. With the issuance of Order 66, Vos finds himself an enemy of the state, hunted, alone in a Kashyyk forest crawling with clones. The closing pages of the story have created some contention among regular readers of the Vos comics, but even so you'd be hard pressed to find more than a handful that don't believe John Ostrander and Jan Duursema are the best writer/artist team ever to work on a Star Wars comic. This is yet another excellent example of their witty writing, keen plotting, and creative composition - and for me at least the closing pages were a very pleasant surprise.

Endgame continues with the two-part " Into the Unknown," the tale of two Jedi on the run days after Order 66, the tale of two choices, of two Jedi trying to make sense of a world turned upside down.. For Master Kai Hudorra, the priority is survival, to live to fight another day, even if this means forsaking not only the Jedi but - for her own good - a young Padawan as well. For Jedi Dass Jennir, the motivation is duty and obligation to right what the Order helped create, to aid those now fearing reprisal from the Empire. Author Welles Hartley is to be commended. There is no recrimination here, from the characters nor from the author, only the sympathetic portrayal of events, which in the end point to the reader and ask - how would you choose? The message is only enhanced by the art, beautifully detailed work from Doug Wheatley, whose only fault here is in making Dass Jennir look far too much like Orlando Bloom's Legolas.

The final choice in this volume is left to the newly minted Darth Vader, who must obey his new master and forget his old one, or indulge his desire for revenge. Between Vader and his anger are a half-dozen Jedi spreading the word that Kenobi is among them, bait to lure Vader into their Sith trap. Impressively, writer John Ostrander presents in a just a few pages of his one-issue "Purge" a more interesting portrait of Anakin in the days following his reanimation than James Luceno did in 336 pages in his wreck of a novel, Dark Lord. Credit goes here, as well, to artist Doug Wheatley for bringing the action scenes to life. The only cringe-inducing moment was Vader yet again having his hand cut off.

This final chapter in Dark Horse's long running prequel era series (beginning back in 1998 as simply Star Wars) will be remembered most as the home of John Ostrandrer and Jan Duursema's stories about Jedi Quinlan Vos and his Padawan Ayala Secura. While those two will be missed, there is much to look forward to as Ostrander and Duursema launch the new post-Luke-Skywalker series, Legacy, and in the new post-Revenge-of-the-Sith series, Dark Times, featuring the continuing tales of Jedi Dass Jennir.


Taking Wing (Star Trek: Titan)
Taking Wing (Star Trek: Titan)
by Andy Mangels
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Clumsily written and not the Trek I used to know, 17 April 2007
Taking Wing has a couple of things going for it, including a story that weaves together several strands of Trek history (from the TOS and TNG to Voyager and the latest movie Nemesis), as well as a clever plot twist.

Unfortunately, the bad - and the ugly - is an awfully heavy counterweight. The writing is turgid and cliché-ridden, and at times the authors' conceptions of the characters seem a bit off, such as Troi realizing (after more than a decade aboard starships) that counseling and diplomacy involve similar skills. The story is a bit schizophrenic, with the first third of the book being an introduction to the ship and its crew, and the longer second part involving a visit to the Romulan home world to mediate the formation of a new government.

There are far too many characters for a series opener, so many that you are left wanting a glossary of names and alien races. Of the new characters, Titan's doctor is particularly ridiculous and seems to have been clumsily crafted to make a point about intolerance. Dr Ree is a sentient tyrannosaurus rex that rips and gnaws plates of raw meat in the ship's cafeteria. Crew members are scolded or shamed for feeling a sense of disgust or fear at the flesh-eating dinosaur.

The biggest problem with this novel, one that others have noted, is the ham-handed moralizing on the subject of bigotry. The pretense is that the Titan has the most species-diverse crew roster of any previous Federation ship (which brings up the question of why the two highest ranking officers on the ship are human). The Trek universe was one of the places I used to be able to go where respect and tolerance were taken for granted.

This was my first Star Trek book in more than 10 years. If Taking Wing is typical of contemporary Trek lit, then perhaps I won't be reading much more.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2009 4:51 PM BST


Star Wars - The Clone Wars: Endgame
Star Wars - The Clone Wars: Endgame
by John Ostrander
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The end . . . and new beginnings, 17 April 2007
Endgame is a denouement, a figurative and literal cleaning up and sorting out, the final chapter in Dark Horse's Clone Wars series. That doesn't mean there's nothing but talking heads and exposition. On the contrary, there's plenty of action in three stories about choice and consequence.

Chronologically, the volume begins with the 3-part "The Hidden Enemy," in which former Jedi double agent Quinlan Vos is on assignment to Kashyyk, fighting alongside Yoda and the Wookies against Trandoshan Slavers and the Separatist Droid Army. With the issuance of Order 66, Vos finds himself an enemy of the state, hunted, alone in a Kashyyk forest crawling with clones. The closing pages of the story have created some contention among regular readers of the Vos comics, but even so you'd be hard pressed to find more than a handful that don't believe John Ostrander and Jan Duursema are the best writer/artist team ever to work on a Star Wars comic. This is yet another excellent example of their witty writing, keen plotting, and creative composition - and for me at least the closing pages were a very pleasant surprise.

Endgame continues with the two-part " Into the Unknown," the tale of two Jedi on the run days after Order 66, the tale of two choices, of two Jedi trying to make sense of a world turned upside down.. For Master Kai Hudorra, the priority is survival, to live to fight another day, even if this means forsaking not only the Jedi but - for her own good - a young Padawan as well. For Jedi Dass Jennir, the motivation is duty and obligation to right what the Order helped create, to aid those now fearing reprisal from the Empire. Author Welles Hartley is to be commended. There is no recrimination here, from the characters nor from the author, only the sympathetic portrayal of events, which in the end point to the reader and ask - how would you choose? The message is only enhanced by the art, beautifully detailed work from Doug Wheatley, whose only fault here is in making Dass Jennir look far too much like Orlando Bloom's Legolas.

The final choice in this volume is left to the newly minted Darth Vader, who must obey his new master and forget his old one, or indulge his desire for revenge. Between Vader and his anger are a half-dozen Jedi spreading the word that Kenobi is among them, bait to lure Vader into their Sith trap. Impressively, writer John Ostrander presents in a just a few pages of his one-issue "Purge" a more interesting portrait of Anakin in the days following his reanimation than James Luceno did in 336 pages in his wreck of a novel, Dark Lord. Credit goes here, as well, to artist Doug Wheatley for bringing the action scenes to life. The only cringe-inducing moment was Vader yet again having his hand cut off.

This final chapter in Dark Horse's long running prequel era series (beginning back in 1998 as simply Star Wars) will be remembered most as the home of John Ostrandrer and Jan Duursema's stories about Jedi Quinlan Vos and his Padawan Ayala Secura. While those two will be missed, there is much to look forward to as Ostrander and Duursema launch the new post-Luke-Skywalker series, Legacy, and in the new post-Revenge-of-the-Sith series, Dark Times, featuring the continuing tales of Jedi Dass Jennir.


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