Tomorrow’s reviews today

The Sunday Times ‘Best of 2008′ list is online - a good day in advance. The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster and Andy Stanton and David Tazzyman’s Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear.

Malorie Blackman’s Double Cross is reviewed by Diane Samuels in the Guardian:

Double Cross certainly stands up on its own. For a newcomer to the series it does take a bit of effort to piece the people and past events together, but it’s all worth it. Blackman “gets” people, especially young adults, in all their tentativeness, determination and energy. She “gets” humanity as a whole, too. Most of all, she writes a stonking good story. And this is what takes the book beyond the moment, giving it a timeless value. The combination packs a punch yet keeps a tender heart.

Happy reading.

Written by david. in: Review, childrens books | Tags: ,

Conor Kostick | Move

Conor Kostick’s new book arrived on Friday too. But it came with a big warning on the front so I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to give away. All I’m saying is that Conor is back with a bigger, better and even more thrilling book called Move.

Liam O’Dwyer discovers he can move between parallel universes – when he wants something to go his way, he moves to the universe where it happens. (Remember Sliders?) But there are consequences to each move and they are starting to catch up with Liam and his friends.

As with his two previous books, Epic and Saga, Conor has created a world that is hard not be sucked into… (But not until September according to O’Brien Press)


Patrick Ness | Knife of Never Letting Go

I just let go of Patrick Ness‘ new book and have been struggling to find a name for it. Bookwitch helped me with her post on ‘journey books’ last week - books that go from A to B. Knife of Never Letting Go is a journey book. It is a mammoth, emotive, thrill of a journey book. Ness’ own description of the book is that ‘it is like reading Philip Pullman while simultaneously falling off a cliff.’

Todd Hewitt was born on New World. He can hear the thoughts of everyone in his village. And they can hear his. But not everything is right in his town. Twenty years before he was born settlers journeyed to New World, leaving their lives of technology and violence to rebuild a simpler world. Life on New World is full of secrets and Todd is about to start discovering the truth.

The most interesting part about Knife of Never Letting Go is the narrating voice. Todd can’t read so he creates his own spelling, and his own words at times. Mixed with the cross over thoughts of the things and people around him, including Manchee his dog, Todd’s story is pieced together and his racing voice keeps you hooked throughout.

If I had to find one criticism with the book it would be the ending. Knife of Never Letting Go is the first of a planned trilogy but it doesn’t sit as a stand alone book. The cliffhanger at the end left me eager for more, but annoyed for not getting any real closure to the first part of the story. But that’s only a half-criticism because it is too good to complain!!

Perfect for a strong 11+ reader.

Things you didn’t know about Patrick Ness: He has a tattoo of a rhinoceros.

Written by david. in: Reading, Review, childrens books |

music 101 | the ravonettes

With the best name in music The Ravonettes, a duo of Danish early-rock revivalists, have released their third album, Lust, Lust, Lust. Listening to all three in succession may not be the best way to hear any band but it does The Ravonette’s no harm.

There is a darker substance to the new album that was lacking in the first two. Focusing on the sex of sex, drugs and rock and roll, along with the trademark tracks played fast and loud. The first few songs are more lucid than the rest of the album but there is something in each one to catch you all the way to the end. A worthy alternative to REM’s Accelerate (on the playlist for next week).

Songs of the album - Aly Walk with Me, Dead Sound.

Written by david. in: 101, Listening, Review, music | Tags: , ,

music 101 | Colm Ó Snodaigh

A copy of Colm Ó Snodaigh’s album Giving fell into my lap on Friday. I’ve only managed to listen to it once (and a half) so this might not be the fairest judgement delivered on the album. First impressions are worth something though.

Giving is an eclectic mix - it was hard to find a definite thread that runs through all of the tracks apart from Ó Snodaigh’s own vocals which sometimes exude confidence, while at others shy away. The confidence on the album overall is a mixed bag - the songs jump from weakly written, Adieu, to impressive, subtle and haunting tracks like Lechaileach Arís and Is tú mo Ghrá.

The album is far removed from the usual sounds that Kila deliver - which is an interesting move for Ó Snodaigh. It does focus heavily his voice, which comes into it’s own in some of the tracks. Good for a Monday night in with a book and a glass of whatever you’re having yourself.

Written by david. in: 101, Review, music | Tags: , , , ,

turning japanese | animation week

Not only is this week Library Ireland Week or this Thursday World Book Day - it is also Japanese Animation week. To mark the week that’s in it the Japanese embassy is running a series of movies throughout Dublin.

Disappointingly, I missed tonight’s showing of Voices of a Distant Star and Princess Mononoke in St Pat’s. (The dubbed version of Princess Mononoke stars Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thornton, Gillian Anderson and Minnie Driver.) On Thursday, Voices of a Distant Star and The Place Promised in Our Early Days (both from Makoto Shinkai) will be showing in Trinity College and there will be three more movies shown in the Chester Beatty Library on Saturday, including The Castle of Cagliostro.

For more visit the Embassy’s website. Might even see you there.

Also: Gary Gygax has died. The man behind Dungeons and Dragons.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
If that’s not your kind of thing - why not try one of these:
> Jim Carroll’s post on Mongrel and Foggy Notions passing. 100+ comments - including some from the mongrel team.

> Will a self-published book ever win a major book award?
> The Kenyon Review - On writing Badly
> Slinky Pics (wowsie website) is nominated for a British Animation Award.
> Alan Moore and Todd Klien’s Alphabet of Desire is back for a second limited print-run.

> Mr Linehan has a suggested reading list. Go buy.
> The University of Minnesota has bought $100,000 worth of comics. Here.
> Strange children’s picture book nature scene.
> Steven Spielberg is launching a paranormal/UFO social network site. (Suggested names anyone?)


monday music 101

Everything is running a bit slow after the blog awards. Here’s todays 101 - just a little later than usual.

I’ve had the Delorento’s living in my ear all this week - discovering them nearly three years since they were the ‘next-big-thing in the making’ (according to Mr Sheridan). There is something very calmative in the songs on their album in love with detail. The confident vocals supported by the lyrics, repetitive without becoming irritating, are what stand out for me. The percussion and bass create a great, and subtle enough, atmosphere for each song that makes listening to the whole thing a real pleasure.

The band sound familiar, even on first hearing, which really can’t be a bad thing for a first album. Overall the Delorento’s have mightily impressed me - so much so that I have just booked myself two tickets to see them in the Olympia in April.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

For those that don’t know (I didn’t until yesterday) Adrian Crowley has become a resident of Whelans. Well, he is every Wednesday throughout March at least. Wednesday night will see him alongside Mumblin’ Deaf Ro and Boa Morte. Aoife has an interview with Ro (as the Mammy calls him).

Written by david. in: 101, Listening, Review, music | Tags: , , , ,

monday music 101

Thanks to everyone for their comments and suggestions - Goon Moon and Guggenheim Grotto are on the playlist in the next few weeks.

Right-so, all this week I’ve been listening to Joanna Newsom. (Newsom was a complete discovery for me. I picked up two of her albums last week and she has been plucking away in my ears ever since.)

At first her voice is a bit startling - especially mixed with the lightening speed and amazing sound that comes from her harp. But after a week of jumping between her albums (Milk Eyed Mender and Ys) I have come under her spell completely. The story like songs are vividly written and have a completely unexpected use of language. Brilliant!

Of the two - Ys is fast becoming my favourite. Anyway, no point harping on about her here - go and have a listen.

Written by david. in: Listening, Review, linkage, music | Tags: ,

Miss Julie | Project Theatre

I’m not sure what it is about stage performances that I have never been able to adjust to - everything seems forced (staged?). Someone crying on stage is just short of rubbing clenched fists under their eyes or a new character entering a room will nearly stomp for attention. The current Frank McGuinness adaptation of Miss Julie, Strindberg’s play about class, is no different.

The set built for the run was impressive - the kitchen is reproduced brilliantly with almost neurotic detail - but is it a good sign if all I can really praise is the stage and lighting? The actors - Catherine Walker, Declan Conlon and Mary Murray - deliver powerful performances at times but not until much later in the play.

I was dissappointed by McGuinness’s adaptation - the BBC Drama version was almost identical - except for the Irish-isms that have been injected. It was good, but not “an extraordinarily fluent and very earthy adaptation” as one review reports.

Dermod has a different take on things over at bonhomie.

Written by david. in: Reading, Review, Theatre | Tags: , , , ,

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