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M Porter (Chattanooga, TN)

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Absolute Greatest
Absolute Greatest

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What can you really say?, 2 May 2010
This review is from: Absolute Greatest (MP3 Download)
It's difficult to reveiw this disc for there is an insufficient supply of superlatives. Probably only eclipsed by 'It's Magic' as a complete CD, this contains all of Queen's best music - and what music it is. In my view, a group of musicians, composers, and performers who eclipse anything else produced in the pop world of the UK - even the Beatles!

All re-mastered, the sound is superb and the excitement of their music comes over so well.

I suspect that most Queen fans will have all these tracks - and probably the re-mastered ones. To the casual listeners who wish to sameple their music this is ideal.

Worth every penny!

Kris Longknife: Intrepid (Kris Longknife)
Kris Longknife: Intrepid (Kris Longknife)
by Mike Shepherd
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.19

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine entry to a fine, enjoyable, series, 6 Dec. 2008
Kris Longknife series review.

For Intrepid,

I have just finished this, the sixth book in this series about an almost royal navy lieutenant. A fighting princess!

I suppose it is inevitable that this series will be compared to several others, primarily the `Honor Harrington' books by David Weber. This may be true and more on that later. I think they are closer to the `Vatta's War' series by Elizabeth Moon and the first three books of the `Heris Serrano' series by the same author. There is also something of one or two of the Linnea Sinclair novels as well. Of course, all feature female leads so, I suppose, it is a surprise that I, as a male reader, enjoyed them all. Interesting as well that two are by female authors and two by male.

So, having got the comparisons out of the way, to the review. I think it is true to say that I enjoyed this series almost as much as the early (and I do stress this point) HH books. Shepherd writes in a much looser style than Weber and, in some ways, a much more approachable way. There is more humour in the Longknife books and, in some ways, a greater sense of camaraderie. That may be because of the way in which the author knits together the smaller and much tighter group of central characters.

Shepherd doesn't change perspective that much either. Hardly at all in the earlier books of the series (again much like Weber) but more so in the later stories, particularly the last, `Intrepid'. I will say however, that he does it much more smoothly than Weber and to a much lesser degree. For there is the problem with the later HH books. One often forgets the main story line when one is sent, for loads of pages, to somewhere else in the current scenario. For me anyway, I just want to follow the hero. It is sometimes necessary for the author to leave the main story line but, in my opinion, Shepherd does it well. Just enough to move the story along.

Reading all six books `on the trot' provided a great insight into the development of the characters in the `Longknife' posse. That, I think, made the books even more enjoyable. I suppose that, as a romantic, I find it sad that no solid romantic connection has unfolded. It seems that the author doesn't want to develop this facet of her personality - well not yet anyway. That's sad I think. She is 24 after all and, whilst I don't want to sound like a male chauvinist, I would have thought that her thoughts might have turned in that direction to a greater extent than portrayed in the books! In this the books are unlike all of the others I have mentioned above for all have romantic interests.

Of all the books mentioned above I would say that the Longknife series deals the least with space battles. There is none of the countless statistical data one gets in the later HH books. Encounters are short and sharp and don't really suffer for it. There is also much politicking and the involvement of Kris's family members.

I know some reviewers talk about inconsistencies, typos, etc., but I didn't really notice them.

I would recommend this series to any reader of Science Fiction of the more old fashioned kind. You won't find much putting the human race to rights in these books just good old fashioned adventure with an engaging heroine and a cadre of fairly interesting characters. The development of the characters and their interaction adds to the pleasure of discovery as one reads book after book. If you like Honor Harrington, or Kylara Vatta, then I am sure you will enjoy these books.

The Church Mouse
The Church Mouse
by Graham Oakley
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good, well presented children's book, 27 Nov. 2008
This review is from: The Church Mouse (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Church Mouse.

Not truly qualified to properly review this book I gave it to my 11 year old grandson to peruse. He liked it but felt the story was `a bit too young for him'. He thought the illustrations were good. He said he found the reading level a bit difficult but he got through everything on his own - no doubt helped by the illustrations.

Now an adult's perspective. I agree with him, the illustrations are good, though complicated. There is a lot to see in them and I wonder whether most children would pass much by. They do, however complement the text very well. I thought that the text might be just a bit difficult for 10/11 year olds, especially the moral lessons at the end. Mind you, that only applies if the young one is left to his or her own devices. Read out loud, with appropriate explanations using the illustrations, I think it would be fine for any child from about 7ish onwards.

It is well presented. Nicely bound with an interesting dust cover that should make it's young owner want to look after it. The illustrations are colourful and eye-catching. It is printed on good quality paper.

I have taken my grandson's comments into consideration and my own view that the illustrations are just a little complicated and thus have given the book 4. I think the problem is, I am not really sure at what age the book is aimed and any mark would really depend on the ability of the reader but I do think I would be happy to read it to my grandchildren.

Much Ado About Nothing [DVD] [1993]
Much Ado About Nothing [DVD] [1993]
Dvd ~ Kenneth Branagh
Price: £3.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great play, great film, terrible DVD, 8 Aug. 2008
Flicking through my recommendations on Amazon today I came across this. Well I bought it when it first came out on DVD so thought I would add my voice to those other reviews about the quality. I won't say to much about the film. For me it was very, very enjoyable. Well acted (a pleasure to see so many British stars mixed with those from across the pond), well directed (the scene where Beatrice and Benedict are 'captured' by the trap is superb), with good music and wonderful scenery.

Such a shame then that the DVD is so sloppily put together. In Mono only! No scene selection. No 'making of'. No directors' comments. Surely the time has come for a new edition?

I have most of Kenneth Branagh's work and enjoyed immensely his comments on 'Loves Labours Lost' and would really like to hear him speak about 'Much Ado . .' I suppose it might be rather difficult for him to go back to then - for many reasons - but I think it would make the whole film that much more enjoyable.

So please - can we have a new edition with bells and whistles. I would buy it with pleasure. Perhaps, if enough of Mr Branagh's fans ask, he will arrange it?

Passage: Sharing Knife 3
Passage: Sharing Knife 3
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A NICE story about NICE people, 27 July 2008
I enjoyed this book (and the previous two) immensely. It somehow made a change to read about a hero and heroine who were married, finding themselves in each other, and struggling to achieve an end that satisfied them both. The whole book, designed around a river journey with only one really tense event, seems to drift along rather like a quiet stream, but a pleasantly calm stream that left me feeling - well just tiny bit better than when I started it.

Most fantasy nowadays deals with families massacred, heroes left with nothing facing death and disaster, heroines blind or maimed, societies ruined, villages burnt. Traitors abound, truth is scarce, and betrayal the nature of almost every character. OK so it's like that in the real world (well a bit anyway). Not in the Sharing Knife books - and it is a pleasant change. Surely we read fantasy to escape - well I do anyway. Enough despair in Eastenders if that's what you want! There is some unpleasantness but that's only to be expected however, in general, the characters are, on the whole nice people at meeting or turn into nice people later.

I suppose one word describes this book, and the others, NICE. And that isn't a bad thing in today's world (in fact and fantasy). Dag and Fawn take centre stage but are surrounded by a well drawn cast of supporters in this third book.

True, it doesn't go very far or take them forward (in the development of their marriage, or that of Fawn or Dag), but one gets a good idea of where they are going.

I wonder, is this the last book. If it is there are a number of unanswered questions about the fantasy world in which Dag and Fawn live. Many clues appear in the text and seem to need either development or explanation. It also seems that Dag has not reached a final conclusion at the end not has Fawn found a place for them to live. So I for one would certainly like to read more of these two NICE people and will go back to the books now and again.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 17, 2008 8:14 PM BST

Danielle de Niese ~ Handel Arias
Danielle de Niese ~ Handel Arias
Price: £17.31

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handel as he should be sung, 22 July 2008
Hey, can this lady sing!!!
Pumped through expensive speakers on my old steam driven amplifier and CD player, her voice rocked the room. It was like being visited by half a dozen different women. Cleopatra popped in a couple of times to tell me her woes. Alminera sang of her despair (far, far better than most I have heard). Medea appeared to tell me of her love and her jealousy. I thought that Armida's anger was going to bring the walls down - boy that girl is ANGRY. Semele, falling under Zeus' spell captivated me and was captivated. One, of course, shouldn't be sexist but to be treated to the sight of such a beautiful woman appearing as all these beautiful women would, indeed, be a pleasure. I, unfortunately, can't afford Glyndebourne but will get the DVD and enjoy! If you can't afford either Glyndebourne or the DVD get this!

Sissel: De beste
Sissel: De beste
Price: £33.93

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for Sissel lovers, 22 July 2008
This review is from: Sissel: De beste (Audio CD)
As a devoted Sissel fan (see my other reviews) this was a good opportunity for me to listen to some of her earlier Norwegian work that, as a late comer to her fan club, I had not heard. I was not disappointed and, despite the high cost of the double CD set, feel that I have learnt something new about this fantastic artist. Even now, typing this and listening to the CD again, another song, previously heard many times, is given a wholly individual treatment (the song is `If'). In her early work one can hear the development of her crystal clear voice that, for me anyway, seems to bring a personal touch to each track. I think the thing that most impresses me about Sissel is her ability to make me listen again to a song that I previously didn't like (e.g. `Amazing Grace' on this collection and, even more so, `Over the Rainbow' on her concert DVD). As an opera buff I am used to hearing songs in a different language and Norwegian certainly is! I didn't find it off-putting, indeed, it was interesting to hear `Climb Every Mountain' (`Se Over Fjellet') sung in her native language and `Fire in your Heart' in it's original language.
Overall a superb collection of Sissel's work. Some duplication of course it you have the later CD's but worth it anyway.
Perhaps only one disappointment and that was expected but a disappointment anyway. The booklet that accompanies the set displays copious notes - in Norwegian. Not surprising as this is an import but please, please could Universal Norge or some other compassionate soul provide a translation for us poor English lovers of Sissel's superb talent.
Two requests (have to stop typing for a moment - she has got to `You Don't Bring Me Flowers' - eat your heart out Babs!). OK - onward. Please, please someone get her to come to England (OK - the UK). There must be an audience for a lady who can sing like this. If Kate and Natasha can fill theatres here surely Sissel can!!!!! And, if no one can persuade her to come and tour the UK can we have another DVD of her American tour - PLEASE!!!

Natasha Marsh
Natasha Marsh
Price: £8.17

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four stars only because of repeat tracks, 28 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Natasha Marsh (Audio CD)
OK, bad bit out of the way. We get 5 tracks from 'Amour' so, in fact, only 8 new tracks. (I wonder how they chose the 5 tracks to replicate?).
I found this disc both more satisfying and less so than Amour (I'm only talking about the new tracks here).
I would have bought this solely for the first track, `Der Holle Nacht', probably one of the (if not the) greatest dramatic soprano arias ever writen. I think Ms Marsh sings it well but the orchestra!!! I know the arrangement was for Euro 2008 but it really does not do either the music or her voice justice. For all that doesn't she sing well? Please, please, the second aria of the Queen on the next disc - PLEASE! - with Mozart's arrangement of course.
I was curiously unmoved by `O mio babbino caro' sung, I thought as by Kate Jenkins, by a more mature young woman. It didn't seem to have the necessary feeling that appeared in all the tracks on Amour. I have renditions of this aria by many sopranos (and mezzos) but none, IMHO, achieves the feeling and joy of that by Sissel. After all Lauretta is a scheming young girl trying to wheedle her father into agreeing to a liaison with a young man not altogether appropriate.
I thought `The Prayer' absolutely fantastic. So much feeling by both singers. Worth every penny of the price!
What is there to say about `Ombra mai fu'? The first note is PURE - a pleasure to hear.
I suspect Ms Marsh will be a Violetta to queue to see. She sings the `Brindisi' with just the right amount of haughty presence. She is, after all, a famous courtesan deigning to sing with a fairly unimpressive young man. Alfie Boe is good as well.
I also suspect that, singing `Quendo m'en vo' would cause considerable male attention. Would queue to see her as Musetta as well!
First heard `Bachianas Brasilieras' on Sissel's album `Into Paradise' and liked it there. Ms Marsh's training shines through this piece and, although it is not a favourite, it is well sung and enjoyable.
In the last track her voice is crystal clear - superb.
So, overall I didn't feel in the slightest bit cheated. I got 8 new tracks, all good, some superb. If you like Natasha Marsh buy it. You might also try Sissel's `Into Paradise' if you like this kind of `crossover' album. Her voice is `thinner' than Ms Marsh but superb all the same and she sings with much feeling.

We Few
We Few
by John Ringo
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good romp, 29 April 2008
This review is from: We Few (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the last, unfortunately, in the Prince Roger series. Let's get one thing straight immediately. It isnt great literature. It's a well written adventure story where the good guys overcome the bad guys using any means that they can. Just like in the real world eh?

But this is FANTASY so we can allow some departure from reality. Isnt that why we read books like this? Well I do and I enjoyed every page. I have read other reviews where the characters are called cliches. So what: it's nice to know how the characters will react sometimes.

I am saddened by one thing. It is the last book in the series. Surely Mr Weber and Mr Ringo, don't you have to finish off the baddies? Settle the other star nations. Sort our Roger and his family - not to mention all the others?

I know you are both busy and (I hope anyway) writing sequals to other series' (HH, Fury, etc) this series could do with just one more book to tie up some loose ends.

4 stars only because there was some chaff amongst the wheat but overall this is an enjoyable read.

Empire from the Ashes
Empire from the Ashes
by David Weber
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, could have been great, 22 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Empire from the Ashes (Paperback)
I just finished this and, although I enjoyed it very much, it left me feeling somewhat cheated. Like the reviewer below I suddenly realised that the third book had ended! What happened on Pardal? Who lived, who died? How did they get everything going? What about Harry and Stomald? Crown Princess Consort Sandra? Etc, etc, etc. I could go on and on. It almost appears as if the author either got fed up with the story or, perhaps more likely, had to make a deadline. It seems to me that there ought to be another book in this series. Firstly to clear up all the unfinished business of the youngsters on Pardal and what happens when they get back to Birhat. Secondly to deal with the threat of the major baddies which completely disappears into the background.
Come on Mr Weber, don't leave the book spoiled for a ha'pence of words-you certainly don't in your other works.
In all I agree with the reviewer below. This trilogy is a good read in the same vein as the old 'Doc' Smith type SF but it will, unfortunately, probably leave the reader feeling unsatisfied.

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