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neilmac "Neil" RSS Feed (Sydney, Australia)

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Hidden Order
Hidden Order

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but the characters are stereotypes, August 3, 2013
This review is from: Hidden Order (Kindle Edition)
Well crafted, but the characters are two-dimensional cardboard figures.

The lead characters are all best-of-the-best: They've been to the best universities, were the best ever on their training courses, selected for the most exclusive, secret groups within their organizations etc etc. The heroines are drop-dead gorgeous, super intelligent, and the heroes are good looking, uber-fit and ripped. Good story line and plotting but the main players just don't seem realistic.

That said, the back-ground research is excellent. We knew the Federal Reserve was a private organization, but the author reveals a history of banking and market manipulation most would be unaware of. Fascinating.

A good (and educational) read, but some characters lack credibility. You need to suspend belief...


The Father of Judo: A Biography of Jigoro Kano (Bushido--The Way of the Warrior)
The Father of Judo: A Biography of Jigoro Kano (Bushido--The Way of the Warrior)
by Brian N. Watson
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from $49.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but not rigorous, July 15, 2013
An enjoyable read, which covers not only Kano's judo but his teaching career and involvement with the early Olympic committee.

But how accurate is it? The book jacket says the author is a university lecturer, but there is no evidence of academic rigor here. There are no footnotes and no detailed references anywhere to support the writing.

The bibliography is very short with only six entries as secondary sources. There are no primary sources given whatsoever. This casts doubt on the conversations related and the credibility of the book as a whole...


Cold Hands
Cold Hands
by John Niven
Edition: Hardcover
26 used & new from $0.77

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uber Violent, November 11, 2012
This review is from: Cold Hands (Hardcover)
The violence is over-the-top. Guttings, slicings and the torture of a boy in front of his father are unnecessary in an otherwise well-written yarn. I don't get it - Niven knows how to write and does not need this excessive level of gore...


Passenger
Passenger
by Christopher Petit
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from $1.59

4.0 out of 5 stars A Fictional Lockerbie Conspiracy, April 28, 2010
This review is from: Passenger (Hardcover)
More than a thriller - a novel, based on the Lockerbie disaster. Meticulously researched and well written by a clever and literate author. A great read right up to near the end. Then a surprise ending invalidates just about everything that has gone before. A shame...


Hymns: A Place of Worship
Hymns: A Place of Worship
11 used & new from $3.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vocals need work..., August 4, 2009
The arrangements and instrumentals are excellent but the vocals need work.

'Be Thou My Vision' is a good example: The orchestration is superb, the arranger knows he (or she) is dealing with one of the great melodies, and treats it with real respect. The introductory tin whistle solo is magical - the orchestra sets a high standard which the vocal group just cannot match. You're floating away on the superb whistle solo, then the vocals begin - and you come crashing down to earth. The vocalists chop off notes, breathe in the middle of phrases - and the list goes on.

If you've had some musical training you would enjoy the orchestrations, but are likely find the vocal work disappointing...


I'll Fly Away Theme
I'll Fly Away Theme

2.0 out of 5 stars Not all are original, May 5, 2009
This review is from: I'll Fly Away Theme (MP3 Music)
Be careful with this one - not all tracks are the original recordings e.g. the original theme for "I'll Fly Away" is a piano piece. The sample provided here is an arrangement for guitar and pan flute - ouch.


These Are The Blues
These Are The Blues
Price: $11.98
33 used & new from $1.61

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most expressive instrument..., October 17, 2007
This review is from: These Are The Blues (Audio CD)
A singing teacher once asked me, "What is the most expressive musical instrument of all?" That's right - the human voice. If you ever doubted it, then listen to this album. Ella's voice has got it all: Every shade of expression, every emotional innuendo.

A good place to start is "St Louis Blues". You've probably heard it a thousand times - maybe even played as a march by a Sousa band. Ella slows it right down and delivers it as a real blues - sung from the heart. Don't know where she got her lyrics from, but she extends the song by many verses and adds a wry humour to it. Other high-lights include "In The Evening When The Sun Goes Down" with Davis belting out an extended full-fisted chordal solo on organ, and "Trouble In Mind" which Ella introduces with a kind of jazz vocal cadenza, slithering and sliding thru the minor thirds.

Sometimes in music it all comes together: The producer, the vocalist, the arrangements, the backup musicians, mesh to form a coherent whole. This is such an album. The players are all masters of their instruments, Davis, Eldridge, Brown, Ellis and Johnson - and of course Ella, mistress of the human voice. Here is real rapport - they fit together musically like a group of old friends.

Six superb musicians in a New York studio, talking to each other thru their instruments. This is Jazz. These are The Blues. It does not get any better than this...


Key to the Suite
Key to the Suite
by John D. MacDonald
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been much more..., May 20, 2005
Good, intense writing that draws you in with typical MacDonald style - quite an accomplishment when you consider the book was published in 1962. Terrific tale of a sales convention and a sexual liaison and attempted blackmail. MacDonald has managed to make the story almost timeless by careful avoidance of too much detail of cars, locations etc.

The book is something of a cop out though - it is too short. MacDonald kills off one of the central characters and brings the story to an end too quickly. I would like to have seen the illicit relationship extended until after the main character returns home and the further complications that would certainly have added. Would have made a more realistic and satisfying story and extended what was a good read...


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