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Mordred's Victory & Other Martial Mutterings: The Collected Martial Arts Articles of Jamie Clubb
Mordred's Victory & Other Martial Mutterings: The Collected Martial Arts Articles of Jamie Clubb
Price: £2.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very thought provoking read, 3 Nov. 2015
This non-fiction title is a collection of blog posts by Jamie Clubb, the founder of Club Chimera Martial Arts. I’ve never read the author’s blog but the chapters of this book are plenty long enough (not always the case with books formed from a collection of blog posts) and they group very nicely into the four sections of the book. Also worth a mention is the writing style which makes for easy reading while delivering enough detail to satisfy. The author manages to get his knowledge and experience across without preaching or condescension. Extensive use of reference material provides further credibility and the seven page list of those references provides a great starting point for those who might wish to delve further into martial arts reading.

The first section is titled Martial Mutterings and provides some very interesting background to the various combat sports that are known as the martial arts. If the reader is a martial artist (such as myself, I’m a karate practitioner) then these chapters help to place your sport in the martial universe. Jamie Clubb’s leaning is obviously towards self-defence and he begins to hint that many martial arts are not really practical in that sense, but he deals fairly with the validity of the different disciplines and clearly has a great breadth of experience.

Self-Protection is the second section and here the author begins to deal with his own special area of focus – how to be emotionally prepared and physically secure in the increasingly physically threatening modern environment. The four tenets of Club Chimera – Respect, Awareness, Courage and Discipline – are delved into with unassailable logic. The section concludes with some very interesting suggestions on pre-emptive strikes, proactive training and pressure testing. Having myself trained with four very different karate clubs over thirty years, I can appreciate the acid testing that is needed for effective self-defence. All too often martial artists can become deluded about the effectiveness of their carefully perfected, artistic techniques.

Reality Training for Children deals with the thorny issue of exposing children to the threats of twenty-first century life and finding ways for them to handle such situations. The first step is to train the teachers, as genuine self-defence for children is a rare commodity. Then the author deals with the why, what and how of his approach to reality training for children. He doesn’t give away his trade secrets but just enough to tantalise.

The fourth and final section is Training: Fit for Purpose – a very interesting set of perspectives on attitudes towards and types of training and fitness, including the pitfalls of being led astray by fitness training as an end in itself.

In conclusion, I found Mordred’s Victory and other Martial Mutterings by Jamie Clubb to be a very thought provoking read. Each chapter deserves careful reading and contemplation. Whether you pursue martial arts for fitness, sport, competition, art or self-defence, this book will assist in self-realisation and help any martial artist find their own path. The extensive reference section deserves another mention. Overall, highly recommended.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review. I have no prior connection with the author (although I am a martial arts fan and practitioner).


ARCTIC Alpine 11 Pro Rev.2 - 95 Watts Low Noise CPU Cooler for Intel Sockets 1150, 1155, 1156, 775 with Patented Fan Holder - Anti-Vibration
ARCTIC Alpine 11 Pro Rev.2 - 95 Watts Low Noise CPU Cooler for Intel Sockets 1150, 1155, 1156, 775 with Patented Fan Holder - Anti-Vibration
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars easy fitting. Used this as a replacement for a ..., 5 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Really well-made, smooth and silent, easy fitting. Used this as a replacement for a lower quality fan than came with the gaming PC.


Outsourced
Outsourced
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced thriller, 5 May 2015
This review is from: Outsourced (Kindle Edition)
A fast-paced action thriller, Outsourced had me turning the electronic pages on my Kindle every time I had a few minutes spare. An interesting premise based upon a mysterious “Object” capable of interacting with destiny and prone to misuse by the unscrupulous. I would have liked to have heard more about the events caused by the various possessors of the “Object” but perhaps that was a deliberate decision by the author not to go in that direction. As a result, the mysterious “Object” is really something of a MacGuffin as the plot twists and turns, based upon the conflict between the four protagonists – Polanski, Stiles, Mason and Beasley.
The author is capable of carrying the reader along in the character viewpoint to the extent that all four protagonists (even Polanski) feel like the hero when the story is being related from their viewpoint. They are all, by turn, both virtuous and ultimately treacherous, which some might say is human nature.
I would recommend Outsourced – it’s highly entertaining.
Disclosure - a free copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for a review. I don't usually do review requests but found the sample to be gripping.


The Ground Will Catch You
The Ground Will Catch You
by David Powning
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to rediscover your dojo mojo, 14 Mar. 2015
A thought-provoking, character-driven novel. The main character and narrator, Steve Hollis, is an anti-hero who has difficulty fitting into the world around him. He’s successful at his advertising sales job but feels no pride from it and dislikes his work colleagues. His former interest in Judo was put aside when he abused the martial art for purposes of revenge, and guilt denies him a return to the sport. A passion for life is something that he keeps locked away, like a miser saving up money with no foreseeable hope of ever spending it. Life picks Steve up and slams him down on the mat. He lets the ground catch him and bounces back for more punishment. Rinse and repeat. Steve haphazardly wanders through existence without making any real life-choice decisions. Until he meets two new, very different people: Jack and Emily.

Steve discovers life. He regains his dojo mojo, getting involved with Jack’s judo club and feeling the lure of the Orient. Irresistible Emily brings a missing, different spice to Steve’s existence with the promise of a privileged Occidental life, mixing in cultural circles, and escaping to pastoral marital bliss. The perfect private life balance, a confluence of relationship and sport, providing an ideal environment for work and family. Is life going to give Steve a break? Does an anti-hero deserve a break?

Steve, Jack and Emily are real people with typical human failings. Anyone who has ever dedicated themselves to sport will know the challenges of maintaining an equilibrium across the demands of modern life. But more sinister forces are at play here. The threat of a disastrous outcome for Steve hovers above the pages of this book from the start. The surprise is the direction it comes from and the motivation of the protagonists. The Ground Will Catch You is not all happiness and light, but then neither is life. Strangely gripping, at times frustrating when the characters exhibited their all too realistic flaws, I was left thinking yes, Steve Hollis has benefited from this tough experience. He has grown stronger and his life will be long and full.

You’ll enjoy this if you: like and appreciate metaphor, if you can sympathise with the underdog and if you want some quiet reassurance that the lives of others can be so much worse than yours. There’s a strong message in The Ground Will Catch You and, if you’re the right type of reader for this book, that message will stay with you for a long time.


The Age of Miracles
The Age of Miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Then you and I will simply fly away, 8 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Age of Miracles (Hardcover)
I picked up this hardback after Mrs R had left it lying around. Her book club has been going through a Misery Lit phase (like forever) and she had chosen The Age of Miracles as a little light relief. I noticed that she fairly flew through the book and thought it must be lightweight, but something piqued my interest – probably the cover. I read the blurb and gave it a go.

Well, several exhausted days later I’m glad that I’ve finished reading this book. Reviewers on Amazon variously describe it as a coming of age novel or YA. Genre schmenre, this book freaked me out. The premise of uncontrollable changes to planet Earth is not unique, but the way it was handled captivated me. The narrator is a young girl who is a bit of an ugly duckling. She describes the slowing of the Earth’s rotation and the multitude of impacts it has on everyday life. Through it all she remains fixated on a boy around whom her world revolves. The changes to the Earth are gradual, not apocalyptic, although there are disastrous consequences for the other animals with which we share the planet. More central to the story are the social divisions and the impact of extended daylight and darkness hours upon characters and relationships.

It was only on day three of reading this book (my free reading time is at breakfast and lunch) that I realised what it was doing to me. I was watching the early morning sky as dawn broke in winter Ireland and wondering if it was a few minutes later than the previous day, although we’re heading into spring and the day should be gaining on the night. Then, as I let the dog out before bed, it seemed that the day had lengthened. In the mornings I thought my sleep had been extended, my circadian rhythms challenged. I was living through the slowing of the Earth’s revolution. If by Bread kept playing in my head. If the world should stop revolving, spinning slowly down to die, then I did want to spend it with my wife and family. I wouldn’t desert them: as all the stars went out we would simply fly away.

When the book was done I breathed a sigh of escape and could reflect upon the distorted behaviour of those characters in The Age of Miracles as they dealt with the inevitable. More music, this time Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden, flooded my head. Faced with “The Slowing” would we be able to keep our act together? People sometimes ask what you would do if you had three minutes to live. Or one last day? What if you knew the end was coming but you didn’t know when? It would be gradual and creeping.

I highly recommend The Age of Miracles. If you’re looking for planet-splitting, cataclysmic apocalyptic disaster then this isn’t the book for you. If you’re interested in an honest and guileless perspective on what people really value and how to decide the important things in life for however long we have left on this Earth, then this is a thought-provoking read.


Frog Music
Frog Music
by Professor Emma Donoghue
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars “Woman’s Mania for Wearing Male Attire Ends in Death.”, 20 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Frog Music (Hardcover)
A couple of years ago when I read Room by this author I was traumatised. It wasn’t a feel good book – claustrophobic but gripping. Misery lit fiction. So I was apprehensive when a colleague suggested Frog Music as my next read.

I needn’t have worried. The author’s own pre-release description of Frog Music was historical fiction based on the true story of a murdered 19th century cross-dressing frog catcher. Sufficiently far away from misery lit and weird enough to tickle my fancy, but Frog Music is much more than that teaser suggests.

1876 San Francisco is the setting – a society so different to the modern world that it completely transports the reader. The overwhelming impression is raw cosmopolitan, people flooding into a thriving city from the rest of the globe. The California gold rush is history but has left a legacy of wealth, instant gratification, disappointment and beggars. San Francisco swarms with new Americans, most notably French, Prussians and Chinese. Law and order’s grip on daily life is as tenuous as the stability of the wooden city buildings that shudder with each movement of the Earth’s crust and burn to the ground through accident or riot. Rampant smallpox adds a large dose of carpe diem to the behaviour of the residents. Donoghue paints all this perfectly.

Blanche Beunon is our narrator, a young French circus performer who has found a talent for entertainment of a more adult nature. She lives in comfort thanks to her earnings but shares a bohemian lifestyle with two male former acrobats that sinks frequently into depravity. Looking over Blanche’s shoulder, the reader is in a safer place than Room, but the plot has a train wreck trajectory from the first chapter.

This tragic story is delivered in third person, present tense but the timeline alternates either side of the blood-soaked first few pages in order to explain how things came to that fateful event and to lead to the eventual resolution of whodunnit. Once or twice I had to recap in order to be sure whereabouts the story had got to, but the delivery worked well overall.

There are very few wise people in Frog Music. With the exception of old Maria with her destroyed face, all the characters display different facets of naivety. Blanche is very worldly in her work environment and doesn’t lack confidence but she is naive in the belief that her acrobatic ménage of a lifestyle can continue once the complications of adult responsibilities ensue. The other characters are similarly in denial of their mortality and cavort with abandon in the face of disease, dishonesty and debauchery.

The catalyst to this crucible of San Francisco is Jenny Bonnet the cross-dressing frog catcher. A fascinating character, Jenny has a massive impact upon everyone in the book but (and no real spoiler here) she is killed off in the first four pages. She understands the rules of life and death better than anyone, but is no more able to avoid her own demise. Had she stayed alive throughout the book and then died towards the end it may have been unbearable. As it stands, the author breathes life into Jenny’s character and Frog Music is as much a eulogy to Jenny Bonnet as it is a journey of self-discovery for Blanche Beunon.

Witty, fast-paced and intricate, Frog Music leads the reader a merry dance. Sometimes I wanted to laugh, to cry and other times to take a long hot shower to cleanse the depraved filth of the Californian heat wave from my pores. Donoghue’s cast act in ways that delight, titillate and infuriate but their behaviour and attitudes are logical in the final scheme of things. The many skeletons in the cupboard eventually manifest themselves, the highest impact being caused by the smallest of them, P’tit. As different as this is to Room in so many ways, the hub of Donoghue’s Frog Music is again a small child.


Go Away Home
Go Away Home

5.0 out of 5 stars Like a carefully crafted quilt, this book will give you memories to treasure, 10 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Go Away Home (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this book and it was my steady Kindle companion for an enjoyable week. The sense of time and place feels totally authentic. Characters are delicately layered, individual and credible. No one is an ogre, no one is a saint. Issues of the time (well, I guess these societal issues are perennial) - poverty, the call to war, women's suffrage, misogyny, prejudice, bigotry and racism - are handled perfectly. Characters make good and bad decisions, common sense generally prevails but not always. Bodensteiner has created the perfect quilt, her sparkling threads taking the reader through bittersweet times, tragedies and triumphs. This is a book I will read again.


Lifeform Three
Lifeform Three
Price: £3.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are we human, or are we dancer?, 17 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Lifeform Three (Kindle Edition)
It's been a long, long time since I read a science fiction novel. Maybe thirty years. The closest I've come to doing so was the futuristic part of My Memories of a Future Life by the same author. I knew from MMOAFL that Roz Morris was a lyrical writer and I trusted her when I requested and received an advance review copy of Lifeform Three. My consternation in realising I had picked up a dystopian novel, and that the MC Paftoo was a synthetic lifeform, only stayed with me until the end of the first page, and then I realised the magic had begun.

Lifeform Three is a totally believable, some might say inevitable, scenario. Global warming, lands lost to rising sea levels, increased urbanisation and total reliance upon interactive technology. Synthetic bods manage theme parks based upon historical artefacts. When the sun goes down, the power goes off. Except something is different about Paftoo. To paraphrase the blonde who asked "Do dogs have brains?" the reader is soon thinking "Do synthetic lifeforms have souls?"

Then things start to get creepy. Paftoo has been here before, we've all been here before. Groundhog Day. But there's learning to be had, precious learning that can be tragically erased by a group "Sharing". After a few chapters you'll be begging the story not to put Paftoo through a Sharing.

Morris does a fantastic job attributing characters to these near identical androids. Although Paftoo is the one who breaks the rules, my favourite character is the enigmatic Tickets. Part ballerina, part nightclub bouncer, he holds the key to the story. He knows where that missing door on the cover of this book is.

Lifeform Three doesn't give us all the answers. It leaves plenty of room for the imagination. I really didn't want this book to end, it's that good. The emotional involvement reminded me of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, but Lifeform Three is much more joyous and less tragic.

It wasn't until the end of the book that I realised there's no sex in it. None at all. If you're looking for rampant robot sex then you've come to the wrong place. If you're looking for a gripping read, at times tender, uplifting and hopeful, then Lifeform Three is the one.


THE GYPSY WAY - PART ONE: RUNNING IN CORRIDORS
THE GYPSY WAY - PART ONE: RUNNING IN CORRIDORS
Price: £1.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes the guys in the suits are the bad lads, 8 Oct. 2013
This was a great read and something quite out of the standard adventure mould. Plenty of authentic detail from the period and fascinating insights of gypsy lifestyle, traditions and attitudes. I had expected something like the film Snatch but it was much gentler, romantic and intriguing - more like Lovejoy or Boon.
Highly recommended.


The Prisoner of Brenda (Mystery Man Book 4)
The Prisoner of Brenda (Mystery Man Book 4)
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When you're down and weary, and you need a hand to hold ..., 9 May 2013
... just reach out for a Bateman book. The prisoner of Brenda will make your (face) cheeks ache from smiling and your ribs hurt from the belly laughs. Best read alone to avoid the 'just listen to this bit, just listen to this other bit' phenomena. What I took from this story is that electro-convulsive therapy is an effective, albeit temporary, treatment for hypochondria. I'm not sure if I preferred our Mystery Man with or without his hang-ups but Bateman has given me lots of new ideas for general misbehaviour. I particulalry enjoyed the breaking of all the forks in Purdysburn because I agree that plastic cutlery is an abomination. Looking forward to the next Bateman.


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