Archive for December, 2011

Robopocalypse, by Daniel Wilson

December 22, 2011

[Lesley] Great sci-fi. Amazing descriptions of the technology but still essentially about humanity.  If you think it might be like the Terminator movies — it definitely isn’t.

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The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

December 22, 2011

[Tricia]  I thought this was a wonderful novel. Very rich and satisfying, and really not much about baseball at all (which in my case was a plus).

Music CD, Lioness: Hidden Treasures by Amy Winehouse

December 21, 2011

[Bill]

CD music review: Amy Winehouse; Lioness, hidden treasures

Release date: 2 December, 2011 Australia & Ireland, 5 December, 2011 UK, 6 December, 2011 US

Some have said that the posthumous music CD “Lioness: Hidden treasures” offered by the estate of Amy Winehouse is in questionable taste, whilst others have questioned its timing. It is unquestionably released just before the annual Christmas shopping extravaganza. Those people may be correct. The timing does seem to be too clever by half. It is also possible, just possible, that it is an act of love.

Certainly Ms. Winehouse’s father and mother were and are distraught over Amy’s death for she was their child, and we who knew her only through her music and videos are also distraught, although obviously in a different way. A recent interview which Mich Winehouse [Amy’s father] gave was well, heartfelt and heartrending. Watching his incredibly talented daughter go off the rails time and time again and being completely unable to do anything about it must have been mind-numbingly frustrating.

The good news in this all is that all of the profits from the sales of music since Amy’s death has gone and will continue to go to the foundation set up by Mich Winehouse for young people struggling in substance abuse crisis. This should be proof positive that this is not a fast buck op., and it is most gratifying to hear.

I have been listening to “Lioness” since its release and even though I am a self-proclaimed “Amy” fan, I truly believe that the twelve tracks to be excellent to extraordinary.  Producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi have done what I believe to be an incredible job in preparing these songs. “Valerie”, is as has been said before, probably the only love song in recent memory from one straight woman to another. Not that this ought to be a problem for anyone. “Our day will come” is another treat, as is Carol King’s hauntingly plaintive “Will you still love me tomorrow” with its perhaps obsessively retro orchestration.  Yet, given the circumstances, one is prepared to be forgiving.  Amy’s final recording session with Tony Bennett produces the remarkable “Body and soul”. Rumour on the net is that there are many more unreleased songs by Amy Winehouse. Some at least for now, are by her own instructions, never to be released. Others have not been mixed and may in future offered.

I know of some people who will not listen to Amy Winehouse’s music because of her problems with drugs and booze. And while I can understand their reaction, I find the logic to be specious. If a person will not listen to this posthumous album, then one also ought not to listen to Elvis, The Beatles, The Doors or the many other artists who could not cope with the pressures of the sudden fame and the sudden wealth and sought escape in booze and drugs. It is not for me to chastise anyone but, perhaps some people might want to try to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes…

I believe that “Lioness” is a triumph, a sad triumph, but a triumph nonetheless. I hope that the fates will see fit to allow more of Amy’s utterly remarkable songs to be released, whenever that can be. And by the way, I really do believe that this album is an act of love.

bill littlefield, the winter solstice, 2011

Music CD: Deliverance, by Amethyste

December 21, 2011

[Bill]

CD music review: Amethyste   Album: Deliverance    Release date: 8 November, 2011

If you are like me you will be thrilled by an unexpected surprise. Deliverance by the singer Amethyste is such an unexpected surprise. This serendipitous work is not for Metalica or Garth Brooks fans. As nice as such folk, are they will most likely be unimpressed with the gossamer and ethereal quality of Amethyste.

This is likely all for the good. There is as President Kennedy once famously said “a time and a place for everything” and this is certainly the time and the place for a smooth as silk performances. It is altogether fitting that the “Queen of musical instruments” the “piano forte” is now regularly featured in musical genres of all kinds. Never let it be said that George Winston has a monopoly on hauntingly layered piano scoring and playing. And it is used brilliantly and sweetly in this album.

The WML have been fortunate to have had a copy of “Deliverance” donated two weeks ago. Obviously, it is a crowd pleaser, for it was snatched up with 10 minutes of it being displayed. This is as it should be, we hope that our materials of all kinds will circulate and bring joy and pleasure to our patrons.

We are not [obviously] a research library, we do not get “points” for so many hundred linear feet of subject X or author Y whether they ever circulate or not and in such a case it matters not if the books ever see the light of day. We very much want our materials to circulate, the more the better.

If you are a person who loves the Irish singer Enya you will almost certainly enjoy Amethyste and Deliverance as well, it is contemplative, introspective and even restful. I certainly did enjoy it and I hope that you will too. A most welcome surprise.

bill littlefield,

19 December, 2011

The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman

December 13, 2011

[Lesley]  Classic Hoffman: the women characters are strong, intriguing and have access to the magic in the world. I was fascinated by the history as well. Captivating story.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

December 6, 2011

[Tricia] This book won the Man Booker Prize this year, and I can definitely see why.  It is an intellectually fascinating book, and actually an interesting juxtaposition with Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson which I recently read. Both deal with memory in very different ways. It’s both very involving and hard to warm up to, which is an odd combination, but certainly worth reading. It would be a great book group choice – there’s a lot to discuss.

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

December 6, 2011

[Tricia] This isn’t the kind of book I usually read, but it was riveting. It’s a very suspenseful story of a woman who wakes up every morning with no memory of who she is, and who starts to realize that those around her may not be telling her the truth about her life.  Even if you’re not a fan of suspense novels it’s really worth a read.