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Holly Ford

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The Killing Jar
The Killing Jar
by Nicola Monaghan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly brilliant, 12 Jan. 2011
This review is from: The Killing Jar (Paperback)
From the cover image and blurb, you'd be forgiven for assuming this is just another depressing hard-done-by-teenager novel, aimed at 14 year olds. I'm not sure what made me read it, but I'm so glad I did.
The Nottingham dialect made it a bit difficult to get into at first, being from Essex. I like to be able to 'hear' the words in my head, and I couldn't get my head round words like "me-sen" instead of myself. But once I got past this, I genuinely did have trouble putting it down! The story is gritty and very depressing at times, but the narrative is written in such a way that it never comes across as that. Kerri-Ann is an extremely likeable character, and the matter-of-fact way in which she tells her story, never self-indulgent and brutally honest, makes it very readable. I have to admit to a lump in my throat reading the final few pages - something that hasn't happened with a book since The Lovely Bones.

Afterlife: Series One & Two [DVD]
Afterlife: Series One & Two [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lesley Sharp
Price: £9.00

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You don't choose the spirits, they choose you", 4 Nov. 2010
First of all, this is like no medium/ghost story you've seen before - this one is genuinely fantastic. From the moment I watched the first episode of series 1, on recommendation of a friend last year, I was hooked. I then watched the entire of the first series, and 2 episodes of series 2, in one sitting, only turning it off because I couldn't physically stare at the TV anymore. I finished off the series the next day. Then watched it all back to back again.

I'm usually a complete cynic of mediums, ghosts, spirits and the like. Whilst I'm fully aware this is fiction, there was something about this show that made me seriously think again. Lesley Sharp's perfect portrayl of Alison, combined with the stunning writing, direction and music, make it impossible not to be drawn in by it, and for it to make you question your entire judgements. Here is a woman, so perfectly crafted that she is 100% believable, haunted by her so-called gift. A woman driven mad by spirits she would do anything to be rid of - a far cry from the usual mediums we see in shows like this.

Then enter Robert Bridge who, by all accounts, should be Alison's arch enemy. A close-minded psychologist convinced that none of this is true. He immediately regards Alison as delusional, but sees potential in her for the perfect case study for a book. It's through following her life for material for said book however, that slowly but surely convinced Robert that all is perhaps not what it seems. The way in which Robert is slowly forced to question his judgement is not the least bit corny, or unrealistic. The seance which finally brings everything to a head in 1.6 is, quite simply, one of the finest pieces of television I think I've ever seen.

What I love most about this show however, is the chemistry between the two lead characters. In the commentary on the series 1 dvd, Lesley puts it perfectly by saying that their relationship goes far deeper than anything sexual. These are two damaged people, who bounce off eachother perfectly and despite their differences, potentially have the power to heal the other. I applaud the writing for never once hinting at the usual cliched sexual tension, and for keeping these characters at exactly what they are - soul mates. Leaving the whole spiritual theme of the show aside, what we're left with is a compelling, beautiful relationship. One particular line in the final episode, delivered by Alison to Robert's ex-wife, had me in tears.

Basically, the 5 star rating here can't do the show enough justice. This is just perfection, and an absolute must-see, regardless of your beliefs.

Price: £5.99

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The demos were better, 1 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Lights (MP3 Download)
Ellie, Ellie, Ellie. Whatever happened to your original, beautiful, acoustic sounding songs? Why feel the need to replace them with poor electro versions, which not only disguise your genuinly wonderful voice, but also pretty much destroy the mood of the song? People loved you for your original, quirky style, not this.
Wish I'd Stayed is an example in point. What happened to the original version, which I couldn't stop playing for weeks? Why has it been turned into a poor floor filler?
There are some good songs on this album, yes, but I guess I was expecting something entirely different from Lights. It's like she's focussed so much on living up to her 'next big thing' hype and getting as high in the charts as possible that she's forgotten about the 'real' fans. Shame, because Ellie genuinely have a lot of talent which isn't being fairly represented with this album.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2010 10:39 PM GMT

Candy [2006] [DVD]
Candy [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Heath Ledger
Offered by vivaverve
Price: £4.12

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why is this film not better known?, 7 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Candy [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
Candy has to rate as one of my favourite films of all times. I fell in love with it the first time I saw it, after discovering it by complete chance after joining an Abbie Cornish group on Facebook last year, and every time I've seen it since, I've loved it more and more. There's always something new to notice, another scene which for whatever reason will have a different effect on you than it did the last time you saw it.
The title sequence alone, with a tear-jerking version of Song to the Siren, is enough to move the audience in a way that most films never achieve.
An outstanding cast, brilliant script, very well directed and just all round amazing. Be warned though, this film is not for the faint-hearted. Several scenes are quite graphic and upsetting, and even I, who never cries at films, ever, had tears in my eyes twice during this. Seeing this film only after Heath Ledger had died made it all the more moving, and I actually felt incredibly guilty for not recognising him as the amazing talent he was while he was alive. Equally Abbie Cornish shows herself to be incredibly talented, and makes me wonder how the hell she's gone relatively unnoticed, media-wise.
My only question regarding this film is why, when Heath Ledger's film credits are mentioned, does this film never appear in the lists? This stunning film really does deserve a lot more attention than it got.

NB: I've read the book as well, which was equally fantastic, if not slightly disturbing and just plain graphic, both in terms of drug usage and sex. Still, I highly reccommend them both!

Dexter Season 2 [DVD]
Dexter Season 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael C. Hall
Price: £9.94

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive, 29 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Dexter Season 2 [DVD] (DVD)
I hadn't seen Dexter up until recently, when I rented series 1 from Blockbuster. I watched the entire series in the space of 4 days, and immediately rented series 2 the day I took s1 one back. I have to agree with a lot of other reviews that series 2 is slightly better, if for no other reason than Lila, played by the perfectly suited and utterly beautiful Jaime Murray. 3 days after returning the DVD, I bought both series as I genuinely missed it.

Lately Dexter has even overtaken my Ashes to Ashes obsession, and trust me that takes some doing! This is a brilliantly produced drama, and actually lives up to it's hype - a rarity I find with American dramas. After reading the books I also think it's perfectly cast: reading the books you can easily visualise Jennifer Carpenter, Julie Benz and Michael C Hall.

Far (Special Edition)
Far (Special Edition)
Price: £12.11

5.0 out of 5 stars What's not to love?, 2 July 2009
This review is from: Far (Special Edition) (Audio CD)
Ahh, Regina. I adore her, I really do. She's just tiny, cute little ball of fluff, but with a sharp wit and immense musical talent to go with it. I was lucky enough to see her live on 29th June, and she was just beyond incredible. I wanted to go and see her again the minute the concert ended, and couldn't stop thinking about it for days.
Anyway, back to Far. What can I say, this is one hell of an album. Not to everyone's taste, but if you like your music original, intelligent and fun, then you're bound to love this. When I first heard it I was slightly disappointed though, I have to admit. I just thought it sounded a bit too glossy and over-produced. However, whilst I still do slightly prefer her Soviet Kitsch days, this album is a perfect chance for Regina to show the world that behind all the chair banging and silly lyrics, she has one of the most amazing voices I've ever heard, which was entirely reflected when I saw her live.
Standout tracks for me, although there's honestly not one song I dislike, are Human Of The Year, Genuis Next Door, Eet, Machine and Blue Lips. Each are classic examples of how Regina's music can be enjoyed on different levels: as background music, as a pretty melody, a catchy song, or read deeper into, understanding the deeper meanings in all her songs. For this exact reason it's hard to ever imagine getting bored of this, and I haven't stopped playing it since I bought it.
Just incredible. I can't write anything that would do this album justice, it's just incredible. If you ever get the chance to see Regina live, for Pete's sake do, you won't regret it!

Bloodletting: A True Story of Secrets, Self-harm and Survival
Bloodletting: A True Story of Secrets, Self-harm and Survival
by Victoria Leatham
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Bloodletting, 24 Jun. 2009
This book has been compared to Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation in terms of breaking the silence on a social stigma - this time self harm. Whilst I found both books utterly compelling and fantastic, I have to say Prozac Nation has the edge. In most reviews I've read, it's said that Victoria Leatham gives an insight into self harm. Now yes, she does describe some of the feelings and motivations attached to it, as well as the day-to-day coping mechanisms. Talking about the images of blood and knives in her head, for example. However, I'd say it doesn't go into anywhere near the detail that Prozac Nation did.
Now I accept that maybe it wasn't Leatham's intention to be another Elizabeth Wurtzel, and on its own, this IS a great boook - I read it nearly constantly over 2 days. The only problem I had with it was that it felt to me like a list of events, incidents etc of someone who self-harms, rather than an insightful, educational memoir as the synopsis would suggest.
I do however of course have a huge amount of respect for Leatham, as writing and publishing this must've taken a lot of bravery. This is still a fantastic book that I'd reccommend to anyone, it just lacks some of the detail that you might expect. It's a bit brief, really.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 15, 2011 5:33 PM GMT

Soviet Kitsch
Soviet Kitsch
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just amazing, 11 April 2009
This review is from: Soviet Kitsch (Audio CD)
Whilst her quirky, observational lyrics and generally fun attitude to her songs already set her apart from 99% of chart music today, the icing on the cake as far as Regina Spektor is concerned is that, underneath all this, the girl has talent by the bucketload! Consequently, Soviet Kitsch, itself an incredibly funky title for an album, can be enjoyed on so many levels.
As she has shown before on 11:11, and more recently Begin To Hope, Regina can sing at almost operatic levels before dropping right down the scale seemingly effortlessly. This might sound a bit too much like a classical or jazz singer, but because of the individualism and style clearly portrayed here, it makes the album far more accessible than that.
I think however that this is my favourite of Regina's albums simply because it has that individual, low-budget feel (there is barely any music at all on some tracks), meaning her voice and meaning behind the lyrics are clear, but doesn't sound too commericialised, as in my opinion Begin To Hope is in danger of doing.

The Virgin Suicides
The Virgin Suicides
by Jeffrey Eugenides
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book., 16 Jan. 2009
This review is from: The Virgin Suicides (Paperback)
You'd think, reading the synopsis, that a book about 5 girls who kill themselves would be depressing, if not slightly dull. But the wonderful thing about this book is that it's simply not. The imagery of dying elm trees, and the dead bugs that Celia writes her name in, for example, are nothing short of beatiful, and a fantastic representation of the pain and loneliness of the lisbon girls.
I do think this should be added to the A-level English syllabus, simply because the level of imagery, metaphor, the collective narrator... it would be a fantastic, eye-opening book to study, similar to Margaret Atwood's Surfacing. The way in which the book is written almost like a report, with supposed quotations from interviews, and references to photographs which I wish I could see, you would think would be annoying, but in fact isn't. You barely notice it among the beatiful descriptions. I had to remind myself several times that this is only fiction, that's how well written this is.
I read 1/3 of this book in one sitting, on new years eve, simply because I couldn't pull myself away from it. It's funny how, even though you know from the very first line what will happen in the end, you still end up shocked, and very, very moved when the end finally does come. Although no conclusion is ever reached as to what motivated them to end their lives, it's not hard to imagine the stuffy, claustrophobic atmosphere that, combined with the suicide of the their sister, Cecila, I think would drive anyone to suicide. Their pact has something so beautiful and touching to it that literally takes your breath away.

Before I Die
Before I Die
by Jenny Downham
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I cried. And cried and cried., 7 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Before I Die (Paperback)
By the end of this book I was sat there with tears in my eyes, hardly able to talk.
If there's anything that's going to convince you to give as much as you can afford to cancer charities, this is it.
Well worth a read, just make sure you have tissues at the ready.

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