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Weirdly Credible - The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures

 

 

Reviewed by swirleybitz

The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures sounds like something to have handy by your bedside in case of ghosts, ghouls or other unexplained phenomena and maybe it is, but it is so much more. This work showcases exciting new research into intriguing everyday aspects of parapsychology, critiqued through different filters and from different viewpoints.  This work offers interest, and entertaining insight for casual readers curious about the paranormal although part of a series from the same publisher, targeted at scholars and graduate students through presenting cutting-edge scholarly research.

 

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Pursuing Love & Death

 

Reviewed by Leigh Coyle

 It is less than a week until Luna’s wedding, and the prospect of an imminent reunion has the members of the Smith family panicking as they are forced to question and confront the unique, and frequently, obsessive delusions (and realities) impacting on their connections with others.  Adelaide poet, Heather Taylor Johnson’s debut novel, Pursuing Love & Death, explores the delicate balances between love and duty, self-sacrifice and self-indulgence through five central characters––Graham, Velma, Ginsberg, Luna and Darren––and asks whether there can ever be such a thing as an ideal family.

 

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Cinema: Selma

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

One of the biggest disgraces when the Best Actor nominee list for the Academy Awards was revealed a month ago was the jarring absence of David Oyelowo for his performance as Martin Luther King in Ava DuVernay’s powerful biopic Selma. Complex, understated, and charismatic, of all the historical characters bought to life for us in the last year, and there were so many, this was the most effective, and the most memorable. There’s such power in it, and such grace. After a string of fine performances in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Paperboy, and Lincoln, the British-Nigerian Oyelowo surely knew this was his moment. He never pushes. With immense dignity, he stands his ground, and the scenes when he faces off against President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) feature some of the finest acting of the year. Yes this is an historical film about racial intolerance and yes it contains disturbing, teeth-grinding scenes that make you want to jump into the film and beat down the oppressors but even then, Selma feels like a stand-alone film. The biggest mystery is why it took so long for this story to be told.

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Cinema: Jupiter Ascending

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Watching Jupiter Ascending is like watching a galactic beauty pageant with plenty of bitchy backstage action. Set in a multicultural galaxy far, far away, the lean and lovely residents all swan about in glamorous gowns and fabulous hats. You never see anyone relaxing, watching movies, or shopping. They all just walk the catwalks or sit and stare at the vast cosmos, waiting to see their true queen crowned. That moment will be some kind of Armageddon where we see half of Chicago destroyed by mean little aliens and overgrown lizards in stunning leather jackets who work for an evil bitch called Balem, played by Eddie Redmayne, who delivers his lethal instructions in a soft, throaty timbre, wears capes, and keeps his locks immaculate. The appearance of this queen, actually a genetic reincarnation of his dead mother, is a moment he’s been dreading, as has his pretty brother Titus (Douglas Booth). Their world will be torn asunder.

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After I'm Gone

 

 

Reviewed by Gemma Collett

Laura Lippman’s After I’m Gone begins with the words of American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the

world, which I find myself constantly walking

around in the daytime, and falling in at night.

 

These words very clearly signal what is to come. 

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The Swan Book

 

 

Reviewed by morgi 

The saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. But when I picked up my copy of The Swan Book, the look and feel of the cover thrilled me. Dark & foreboding, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this book. The opening chapter was intriguing - following the path of the “virus” I could not imagine what was going to happen next.


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Savage harvest

 

 

Reviewed by Jill 

West New Guinea’s Asmat territory is a 10,000 square kilometre tract of low-lying land, bordering the shallow Arafura Sea.   Into this mud, mangrove and tidally inundated region came Michael Rockefeller – young, ambitious and eager to acquire artefacts for his father’s Museum of Primitive Art.  He remains there to this day.  Some believe he drowned.  Others believe he was ritually killed.  Journalist Carl Hoffman visited Asmat, The Netherlands and Spain to garner what information he could and determine Michael's likely fate.   He gives political and ethnological  background to the region, and a reconstruction of Rockefeller’s last days.  Savage harvest  is a totally absorbing and sometimes awful account.

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Orgasmology

 

 

Reviewed by Jay Daniel Thompson

A perk of being a reviewer is receiving books with titles such as Orgasmology. In her latest text, Annamarie Jagose provides a cultural history of the orgasm—that most fascinating and cryptic of phenomena. 

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The Tea Chest

 

Reviewed by Gemma Collett

To say I love tea is a bit of an understatement. I spend a decent amount of money on it, drink a wide variety of it, and take a degree of pleasure in the ritual of drinking it. So, it is perhaps not surprising that a novel with the title The Tea Chest caught my eye. Knowing it was set partly in Brisbane, and partly in London, was also appealing, as I’m a resident of Brisbane, and did once holiday in London long enough to know it well. Did I set my expectations too high because of all of this? Maybe. However, there is definitely talent on show. 

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Cinema: The Gambler

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Cold and hard, Mark Wahlberg’s new film The Gambler, a remake of the 1974 drama that starred James Caan, is an object of fascination. It works brilliantly half the time, when we’re inside the dim casinos and private gaming establishments where the stakes are always climbing, but the other half is an odd mix of developing relationships that director Rupert Wyatt fails to explore for the texture his story needs. Films about addiction should be sleazy, sad, and frustrating. Permanent Midnight, the 1998 drama that starred Ben Stiller, captured the darkness addicts live in and Darren Aronofsky’s knockout punch Requiem For A Dream remains the last word on the extremes the devoted will go to for another hit. Here in The Gambler we feel it again and those extremities will leave you wide-eyed. How, when he has the money for brutal loan sharks, can he just go back into the fray and throw it all on the black?

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