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Reviews Written by
M. Duncan "duncanmatty" (UK)
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Flow Yoga: Elements of Yoga: Air & Water with Tara Lee
Flow Yoga: Elements of Yoga: Air & Water with Tara Lee
Dvd ~ Tara Lee
Offered by New Shoot Pictures Ltd
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but not great, 11 Aug. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As an instructor, this lady is not as thorough as, say, Rodney Yee in terms of instructions. There are three workouts on this video, each between 20-25 minutes, and can be watched as a whole, or as parts, although as parts they don't work quite so well, because you would be jumping into the middle of a routine with no warmup.


Gaiam - A.M. Yoga For Your Week [DVD]
Gaiam - A.M. Yoga For Your Week [DVD]
Offered by Popcorn and Candy
Price: £21.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good instructor. Annoying ads., 11 Aug. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good video, the instructions that Rodney gives are very clear and thorough. There are 5 x 20 minute workouts on this video, each focussing on a different thing, like stretching, front body etc. Bit pricey for what you get, but other DVDs are no different.

One criticism: every time you put the video in you have to watch the Gaiam video advert, then you have to watch Rodney's introductory talk. This is really annoying after a while.


Bitch Planet Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine (Bitch Planet Tp)
Bitch Planet Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine (Bitch Planet Tp)
by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2.0 out of 5 stars confusing and cliched, 7 May 2016
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I bought this comic because several Best of 2015 lists had named it. I was sorely disappointed. Poor art and a rubbish story, and dull characters. As for the feminist message - it was kind of confusing. The book ironises itself as an object of exploitation, with fake ads demeaning women, and depicts women in states of undress, lesbian shower scenes etc. Even the premise of women in prison is a classic female exploitation trope. At the same time, however, the story has all men depicted as evil, sadistic, sexist etc. Well, which one is it - an ironic post- feminist exploitation book, as the title would suggest, or a crassly on-the-nose anti male polemic, as it mostly reads? One thing is for sure, you can't have both at the same time without undermining both attitudes. Above all, though, Bitch Planet is such a tired idea: oppressed section of future populace are forced to play dangerous games for entertainment of corrupt elite. Only seen that a million times, and done a lot better. Give it a wide berth...


Pompeii
Pompeii
by Frank Santoro
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Flat White, 24 Jan. 2016
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This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
I read an interview with the artist which led me to buy this book. He was saying that he gets bored of the same old art style in comics. Okay, but this book is just full of rough drawings that don't convey atmosphere or emotion, because they haven't been resolved properly. Shame, because the layouts are actually pretty good. The story is a bit boring too, with two or three good pages towards the end. The whole book is begging to be accepted as a high art object, with it's rough cover paper stock and sepia tone. Good luck with that. I think comics work better as a low art form that communicates myself than as hipster objects to sit beside your flat white, but that's a personal thing.


The Radetzky March ( Penguin classic )
The Radetzky March ( Penguin classic )

5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, 21 Jan. 2016
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A slow moving, but absolutely fascinating novel about the Trotta family against the backdrop of the decline of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Comparisons with Tolstoy and Turgenev are not amiss here - it's easily on the same level. The writing is luminous and precise. The characters are so well defined that you feel like you have known them forever, after just a page or two, and when they die, you mourn for them as friends. It is an intensely sad book: sadness pervades it like some kind of mist which you can't escape from. One of the best novels I have read.


Wilson
Wilson
by Dan Clowes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Seen it all Before, 21 Jan. 2016
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This review is from: Wilson (Hardcover)
Clowes is an accomplished cartoonist, and I like the variety of cartooning styles that he brings to this book, which made me think about the effect that drawing style has on a strip. I have to say that I found too much of the book to have a tired and cynical humour which wasn't to my taste. Ultimately most of the scenes in the book could have easily slipped into a Todd Solondz movie - the shock of characters who aren't prepared to mask their negativity for the benefit of others. It provokes a wry smirk now and again, but nothing more. Haven't we been here before, and quite a few times? I was waiting for Clowes to bring something new to the table other than another depressed outsider, but nope, he just brings his usual, highly competent cartooning. Other Clowes books are better: Ice Haven, for example.


The Best American Comics
The Best American Comics
by Jonathan Lethem
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.03

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 13 Jan. 2016
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Not quite sure who this is pitched at. The clued up comic fan will already be aware of the work of the better artists here, and so doesn't need a sampler. The rest of it is of extremely questionable quality: outsider art pieces which seem to exist merely to illustrate the visual diversity of the medium, rather than show any mastery of it, so it is unlikely to bring any new fans to the fold. If this collection really were representative of the best American comics of the year (I'm fairly positive it isn't) then American comics would be in big trouble. My other issue is that several of the strips in the collection aren't actually comics at all. Joe Sacco's frieze on the first world war is a nice drawing, but it isn't a comic. It's just a picture. Likewise with R.Sikoryak's 'Sadistic Comics'. This is a series of fake classic comic covers with a Wonder Woman-like character depicted in various sexually humiliating circumstances. There is no sequence to the pictures, which could be placed in any order without making any difference. This isn't comics either: it's pop art, and not particularly original pop art either. Why does this matter? Because comics is in the early stages of being taken seriously as an artform and gaining wider public acceptance. Pushing avant garde experiments as part of the mainstream alienates potential readers who would otherwise be encouraged to delve deeper. It's counterproductive. Incidentally, the last best of collection I read was 2011's, which Alison Bechdale (a working practitioner) chose, which was a lot higher standard. Skip this year.


The Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman's Britain
The Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman's Britain

3.0 out of 5 stars not the best one., 9 Nov. 2015
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Not as good as Late Flowering Love or Banana Blush, which are masterpieces, I reckon. Here all the poems are about England and are not as much fun as the human interest poems. The music is less experimental as well.


Darker Than You Think (Fantasy Masterworks): And Other Novels
Darker Than You Think (Fantasy Masterworks): And Other Novels
by David G. Klein
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Duller Than You Think, 9 Nov. 2015
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If this really is, as the blurb in my copy claimed, 'the greatest American lycanthropy story' (admittedly a niche category) then it doesn't say much for the rest. Without giving too much away, the story isn't particularly frightening, or interesting. The first chapter is the best, because there is a good sense of atmosphere and expectation. But after that, the hero takes far too long to catch on to what is going on, and noone in the book is really an effective foil for the bad guys. This means that the story is fatally lacking in conflict, and so not that interesting, really. I don't understand why this is a classic, really. Give it a miss.


Rogue Male
Rogue Male
by Geoffrey Household
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Old (top) Hat, 22 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Rogue Male (Paperback)
Reading some of the hype for this 1930s book, you might think it was on a par with The Thirty-Nine Steps. It isn't, and the man-on-the-run format, has been done much, much better both before and since (Buchan's famous novel was published in 1915.) The main problem is that the book, and the attitudes contained within, are incredibly dated, and probably were at the date of publication.
The result is that the hero comes across as an overprivileged aristocratic psychopath, who seems to think that the world exists for his benefit alone. Of course that was arguably the prevailing attitude of white educated males at the time, so it isn't surprising. I found it amusing for a while, but the smug, casual snobbery of the hero begins to grate, until you wish someone would just give him a good kicking to teach him a lesson.
Here he is on hikers:
"A hideous word - hiker...by God, it fits those bawling English women whose tight shorts and loose voices are turning every beauty spot in Europe into a Skegness holiday camp." Yes, it's a shame those proles are starting to afford foreign holidays, isn't it. Europe was so much better when it was the preserve of the aristocracy...
Getting up some sympathy for the hero is difficult enough when he's such an insufferable prig. But he has brought all his hardship on himself, after trying to assassinate a political leader (probably Hitler) apparently during peacetime, and he could end his hardship by a single phone call to the police at any point in the novel (the only reason he doesn't is because his schoolboy code of honour, common decency, etc., won't let him implicate the authorities) This, of course, undermines the tension of the story, which there isn't much of anyway: even when he's on the run, he has full access to a fawning army of underlings, lawyers, loyal tradesmen etc. who are happy to do anything for him on account of the fact that he is a rich and famous aristocrat.
The fact is, every aspect of the story is badly dated, and even in the 1930s this sort of stuff was rather old hat. By the time of publication, the boy's own worlds of Hannay (Buchan) and Ashenden (Maugham) were already giving way to the more ambiguous fiction of Greene and Ambler, the precursors to Le Carre's morally murky cold war thrillers.


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