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Miss C. Ford "Cressida Ford" (UK)

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Maid of Oaklands Manor (The Oaklands Manor Trilogy Series Book 1)
Maid of Oaklands Manor (The Oaklands Manor Trilogy Series Book 1)
Price: £1.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling debut well worth getting hold of, 22 July 2013
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With a strong sense of place and a compelling plotline, this is very promising debut. In a deliberately gentle start, Nixon takes the time to establish the setting and considerable cast with skill, before gathering pace and confidence to twist from classic romance to tense thriller.

Parallels can - and will - be drawn with Downton Abbey, but "Oaklands" feels more nuanced, less likely to be taken as spoof. On a few occasions, Nixon doesn't quite strike the balance in character description; she has the dexterity to paint the full picture in a few strokes, and could have more confidence in that ability with regard to implicit detail. There's no doubting her aptness for original and evocative turns of phrase, however, and the attention to detail in the setting tells of an extraordinary depth in her period research without ever giving way to smugness or showy indulgence.

Romantic, humorous and totally gripping, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read, a compelling debut well worth getting hold of. Expect to see more from this talented writer.

The Gig Delusion
The Gig Delusion
Price: £1.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmistakably Kind, 22 April 2013
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This review is from: The Gig Delusion (Kindle Edition)
In most media, after a soaring debut success comes the oft-bandied "difficult second". However, if Andy Kind encountered difficulty in penning this superb witbarrel, none of that comes across in the reading. That's not to say that effort has not clearly been made - the structure is too intelligent to suggest that the writing was done in a slapdash manner - but it never feels laborious or overly self-conscious. Like the laughs, the prose flows freely.

Kind's ability to pull off self-deprecating humour without sounding needy or strained is first-class, and his skills as a raconteur are unmatched. But here, it is his offbeat powers of observation for character and the quotidien that really shine, backed up quick-witted asides and pop culture references that sidle quietly in, winking.

The change in form from autobiography to novel of course means that this work has a different tone to his much-praised first book, but it is still unmistakably Andy Kind, and still unmistakably enjoyable from start to finish.

Paranormality: Why we see what isn't there
Paranormality: Why we see what isn't there
Price: £5.22

20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but flawed, 3 April 2011
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The one-star reviews I have read for this book are in many ways correct but rather overly negative. I suspect many are written by those who object to having their beliefs (and possibly hopes) subject to such thorough exposition.

Much of Wiseman's work in these areas has been covered by his other books but here it is gathered together in a coherent order to present a strong and convincing case against the paranormal. The interactivity of the book is thoroughly engaging, presenting ways to trick your friends and exploit the known tricks of the trade employed by "psychics" and "mediums" while at the same time offering a great number of logical and practical explanations for many of the phenomena encountered by those who claim to have experienced the paranormal.

The work's flaw is, as other reviewers have pointed out, Wiseman's dogmatic denial of any paranormality. His arguments and explanations (incidentally, all of which I agree with, being a sceptic through and through) are made less convincing by his apparent immovability. Some scenarios presented require him to summon a host of explanations posited throughout the book which must have coincided simultaneously to create the phenomenon. I don't doubt that this is the case, but his theories would be stronger if he were to accept at any point that the coincidence may seem far-fetched and that it is impossible to know for certain, given the uniqueness of the event. The key to good science is that everything should be able to be tested by experiment, consistently and infinitely, as he so rightly emphasises throughout, but appears to lose hold of in places where all that is left to say is "probably it was this and this and this".

Nonetheless, it is thoroughly enjoyable - which is its main purpose. It is a high-selling, well-publicised paperback aimed at the public, not a journal paper aimed at academics (although he gives plenty of citations for those - both sides of the argument - in his bibliography and if you are so inclined you can go and read them for yourself). The book's imbalance may be its greatest flaw, and perhaps Wiseman too frequently combines criticism of conmen and charlatans with accusations of simple (or rather, highly complex) gullibility on the part of others, but, read critically, it achieves what it sets out to do extremely well: entertain and enlighten.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 6, 2014 8:52 PM BST

Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Complete Series 1 And 2 [DVD]
Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Complete Series 1 And 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Clive Anderson

30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Charm is in the Choking, 17 Jan. 2008
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I rarely trust 5-star reviews. They tend to be children in their early teens who fancy the lead singer or actor or have studied the book at school and got an A. The enthusiasm of their endorsements is outdone only by their frequency... and amplitude. They claim that their chosen product is flawless, or to use the rather more accurate vernacular, AMAZING!

This is so untrue of "Whose Line..?" and anyone thinking of suggesting that the improvisation in the early series is in any way flawless should stop writing Amazon reviews and get back to revising for their SATs. The comedians corpse, lose inspiration, scrabble desperately for ideas and generally proceed to fail spectacularly. Unlike in the conveniently polished and amiably predictable US series, mistakes are commonplace. Instead of slick routines and joke-a-minute confidence which can prompt an audience to say "I could do that", "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" shows how difficult it really is to craft a really superb and witty improvisation. What you're given at times is in fact the original and ultimate reality television - people doing what they do well, badly. The failure is funny... and yet, unlike real "reality television", the programme is not a finger-pointing glee in others' failure; rather, it's a celebration of when it DOES work - funny when it doesn't, but utterly glorious when it does. The wonder of a winning sketch isn't simply that the audience thinks, "That was funny; I laughed," but also "What an achievement!"

How thoroughly marvellous - and yes, I admit: AMAZING!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2008 9:37 AM GMT

Where's My Cow? (Discworld)
Where's My Cow? (Discworld)
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cow Can You Criticise?, 31 July 2006
I'm not Terry Pratchett's biggest fan. I'm not the kind to buy something just because his name's on the front. Trust me.

This short book has humour and is targeted at an older audience than it pretends to be. If you want a "proper" kids' book, look elsewhere. If you want a "proper" adult's book (a concept which frustrates me and highlights the kind of person to read the adult-cover Harry Potter books because they're terrified of seeming immature) the same applies. But if you want a pleasing and amusing spoof of kids' books, then come here. I loved every page, and the illustrations are superb.

Black Books Series 1-3 Box Set [DVD] [2000]
Black Books Series 1-3 Box Set [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Dylan Moran
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £16.52

51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Could Be Worse - You Could Work Here..., 2 Sept. 2005
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The next time you're having a bad day, sit down and watch Black Books. Within minutes you'll not only feel better from laughing, you will feel comforted by the fact that nobody you are ever going to meet is as cruelly sadistic and utterly bitter as Bernard Black, proprietor of the world's worst bookshop.
Of late, "quirky" has become a buzzword of comedy, almost a fashionable word to insert into a rave review, and one of which I am intensely wary, as it ordinarily implies it is of the same brand of "fun" as, for example, a businessman who thinks mouth-shaped cufflinks are "fun". However, there are few other words to adequately describe the occasional surrealness of these half-hour jaunts into the grime of Bernard, Manny and Fran's dusty world. Refreshingly avoiding the cheap laugh bought by so many comedies simply by adding in the occasional profanity, Bernard expresses his utter disdain for everyone and everything in ways which can only be described as pure creativity. If you haven't been introduced to actor and writer Dylan Moran's unique brand of anger, you're in for a treat. Meanwhile, Bill Bailey as Manny provides a delightfully childlike and endearingly terrified pincushion for Bernard's razor-sharp remarks and Tamsin Greig puts forth a superb performance as Fran, their oldest friend and faithful bringer of wine.
Full of conversations you'll be re-enacting with your friends and with a whole pile of extras such as the bizarre "Black Dolls" puppet show, this intelligent and yet simultaneously brainless comedy is exactly what you need to remind you that however bad life gets, at least you don't work at Black Books.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 17, 2009 6:10 PM GMT

Shaun of the Dead [DVD] [2004]
Shaun of the Dead [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Simon Pegg
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.75

3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't hate it; just its guts, 2 Sept. 2005
Side-splitting, considering the anatomical disassembly of some of the characters featured in "Shaun of the Dead", could possibly be a rather tasteless description of the film. Fortunately it isn't applicable.
Moments were present that caused me to chuckle, and the occasional guffaw, I confess, did escape my diaphragm at the less predictable jokes and particularly at the brilliant "Plot Holes" extra. However, this wasn't the "instant classic" I was promised and was spoiled by the gratuitously explicit death scene towards the end. The all-star cast comprising huge names from the current youthful and incestuous comedy scene is left with little to do, besides either screaming or looking mournfully at each other for a wealth of plot reasons. Simon Pegg's masterful and moving acting, it must be admitted, is superb throughout, and Dylan Moran and Jessica Stevenson are both highly competent with what counted for their characters.
However, alas, the script is pumped full of mediocrely "emotional" exchanges that slows the progress of what could have been a fast-paced and witty film. In genre it disappointingly lives up to the indecisiveness of the tagline, "a romantic comedy with zombies", and the intelligence evident in the directing fails to shine through sufficiently in the script.
All this could have been a little more tolerable without the unnecessary swearing and - worst of all - gory entrails.
In summary, while this is, in fairness, not a bad film, and is even quite re-watchable, it's hardly the comedy classic it ought to have been.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2008 9:53 PM GMT

The Repulsion Box
The Repulsion Box
Offered by westworld-
Price: £5.74

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Next Next Next Next Big Thing, 2 Sept. 2005
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This review is from: The Repulsion Box (Audio CD)
The next big thing is by no means how one could describe Sons and Daughters. They will not be next. No doubt before they make it big, there will be a myriad of flavour-of-the-month, instant-hit bands like Razorlight, or Sons and Daughters' label-mates, Franz Ferdinand. But they will be big, and deservedly so.
Due to their recent stint supporting indie gods Idlewild, it's only fair to draw comparisons between the two Scottish bands. Sons and Daughters are certainly heading places, as is shown with this album.
Possibly their equivalent to Idlewild's first LP, "Hope is Important", in that it shows potential without complete polishing, "The Repulsion Box" is by no means a flawless album but does however demonstrate a great talent for creating atmospheric music to enhance the anger, fear and lust expressed eloquently in the superb lyrics. Clearly and suitably unashamed of their Scottish roots, the vocalists sing powerfully with strong Glaswegian accents and this is underlined with music that draws heavily on Scottish folk influences before piling on the rock-punk guitar, particularly in songs like "Choked" and "Monsters" which feature catchy hooks and singalong choruses.
Whilst not being to any extent an exposition of their dazzling live act, this is an album definitely worth hearing, if only to be able to say, in a couple of years when they've discovered more subtlety and people start to realise that this is a very, very good band, that you were there when "The Repulsion Box" came out. Because they will be big.

Price: £2.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As If I Hadn't Slept, 21 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Warnings/Promises (Audio CD)
Perhaps I've been too long awake, but I'd started to grow weary and bored of music until Idlewild reignited my flame.
It had been a while since The Remote Part, the album which for all its flaws introduced me to possibly the best Scottish band in existence, but when Idlewild reappeared with Warnings/Promises, my adoration for the scene kindled once again. Something in the folky roots slides into your heart, pointing with a big acoustic guitar and saying "Look... this is what you're feeling. Feel it."
I'm not going to waste time saying about how far Idlewild have come since Captain, or go on forever about how yes, the album is clearly going somewhere and hasn't quite got there yet, because it's all been said. What I will say is that this is an album you should hear. It's a unique blend of rock and folk from a unique band, and I can't help being excited about where Idlewild are going with this developing sound.

The Actors [DVD] [2003]
The Actors [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Michael Caine
Offered by Disc-uk
Price: £12.54

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How do you want me?, 9 Aug. 2005
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This review is from: The Actors [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
It all depends how you like your comedy.
If idiotic identity mistakes and hammy acting are what you like, then this is the film for you. Dylan Moran as young actor Tom Quirk far outshines his A-list co-star Michael Caine in his ability to adopt any number of comedy characters and make them all different. His more subtle acting is also excellent; understated and innocent is his way - though it' unusual to see Moran in a romantic lead, he turns what is actually a fairly emotionless script concerned with its linear plot into something quite beautiful.
Chaos and farce are limited devices, and this film does its best with them, giving a few giggles and even the occasional guffaw, but if they're not your bag don't come here!

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