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5 May 2007

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  • Tom Knapp
    Hello!! Here s what s new at Rambles.NET, your best source on the Internet for roots and traditional music, fiction, folklore and movie reviews! Go to
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2007

      Here's what's new at Rambles.NET, your best source on the Internet for
      roots and traditional music, fiction, folklore and movie reviews!

      Go to http://www.rambles.net to access the new edition and much, much
      more! (Our archives contain more than 10,000 reviews, interviews and
      other bits of excitement.) See you there!

      Rory Campbell makes an Intrepid foray into music this year. "The pipes
      are rapidly becoming the instrument of choice with record producers,
      and in Rory Campbell we find a true maestro," Nicky Rossiter says.
      "This 14-track album gives us a broad picture of the artist as composer
      as well as expert instrumentalist, and we also get some vocal pieces."

      Anne Roos celebrates Mermaids & Mariners with the quiet, old-world
      sounds of a Celtic harp, fiddle, guitar, viola and concertina ensemble.
      " Mermaids & Mariners does not arrest the attention so much as it
      beguiles it. Unpretentious, invitingly warm and thoroughly pleasant to
      listen to, this is a perfect CD to unwind to," says Jennifer Mo. "The
      packaging makes it ideal for gift giving, but you may well end up
      keeping it for your own collection."

      Margaret McClure sheds her Tears for Jack . "Overall, Tears for Jack is
      a good album, a fine vehicle for the flexible talents of McClure as a
      writer and a performer," Sean Walsh says.

      Michele Dominguez Greene celebrates her bicultural and bilingual
      background on Luna Roja . "It will appeal to lovers of more
      traditional-sounding Latin music," says Wil Owen.

      Pete Alderton "plays the blues on an acoustic guitar and harmonica --
      which is not unusual, certainly, but add in the fact he's from rural
      England and that throws a hammer into the machine," says Michael Scott
      Cain. Unfortunately, on Living on Love , "the arrangements have a
      predictability to them. After the first few bars, you've got it, and
      since there is no variation from it, you find yourself anticipating
      what comes next."

      Nickel Creek sorts out the strongest tracks from three preceding albums
      on Reasons Why (The Very Best) . "What this collection shows quite
      clearly is the development of the band's sound from charming
      bluegrass-influenced, mellow pop to a full-blown fresh and modern indie
      sound that still retains those wonderful bluegrass leanings -- and all
      this in the space of just three albums!" Mike Wilson says. "In
      addition, there are two tracks recorded live and a seven-track DVD of
      videos to their more popular songs."

      The Dixie Bee-Liners "have fashioned a sound so distinctive that you
      couldn't possibly mistake them for anybody else, certainly not another
      standard-issue acoustic-roots outfit," on this self-titled CD , Jerome
      Clark says. "A lot of contemporary bluegrass is little more than empty
      hot licks, bland vocals and country-pop songwriting. The Bee-Liners,
      who are anything but the just-cited, give contemporary bluegrass not
      just a good name but a lesson in how modern and traditional sounds,
      lovingly wed, can infuse old musical styles with fresh life in a new

      Steve Cole takes us out for a Spin with this guitar-jazz album from
      Narada. "This may not be the perfect CD for snuggling up with that
      special someone, but it is a great CD for listening to some good music
      -- one that will often find its way to the CD player," Sherrill Fulghum

      Ramona Borthwick is turning over A New Leaf in jazz. "Steeped in music
      from childhood and drawing together influences from three continents,
      Ramona Borthwick brings us a distillation of the best in
      easy-on-the-ear jazz," Nicky Rossiter says. "This cross-fertilization
      of Asia, Europe and America makes for an eclectic mix in instrumental
      and vocal performances."

      Mark Holdaway takes a global view on Two Thumbs Up: Adventures on the
      African Thumb Piano . "There's something about the kalimba, at least in
      Holdaway's hands, that creates the feel of a sacred moment without
      disturbing the everyday," Sarah Meador says. "It's a flexible
      meditation perfect for a family dinner or a nightmare commute. Two
      Thumbs Up is soothing on a bad day, uplifting on a good day, and just
      plain beautiful to hear."

      Danny Elfman goes symphonic with Serenada Schizophrana . "Elfman is one
      of Hollywood's most talented score writers, with more than 100 movie
      soundtracks under his belt," Tom Knapp says. "Commissioned by the
      American Composers Orchestra, this symphonic piece gave the former
      Oingo Boingo frontman a new challenge -- working without the visual
      cues of a movie to inspire him. But, while the resulting tracks are
      entertaining on an aural level, they still sound like a soundtrack to

      The soundtrack to Because of Winn-Dixie "works equally well whether
      you've seen the movie or not," William Kates says. "It's almost hard to
      believe with the multitude of people listed on the soundtrack
      production credits that any coherent collection could result, but such
      good taste was exercised in the song selection that Because of
      Winn-Dixie stands as one of the best movie soundtracks I've heard in a
      very long time."

      Michael Moynihan explores the roots of a movement in Lords of Chaos:
      The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground . "Moynihan has
      created an exhaustively-researched treatment of music, politics and
      crime, says Jessica Lux-Baumann. "The book avoids sensationalism at all
      costs and presents multiple points of view, especially in the dozens of
      interview subjects."

      Sylvia Louise Engdahl takes her youthful protagonist on a Journey
      Between Worlds in this novel republished nearly four decades since it
      first saw print. "Engdahl's unusual SF novels are idea- and
      character-driven, and Journey Between Worlds is no exception," says
      Jennifer Mo. "There may not be much action, but Engdahl's well-realized
      vision of Mars is a compelling reason to read the book. ... Because
      technology is never emphasized, more than three decades after its
      original publication, Engdahl's many-domed Mars still seems relevant
      and plausible."

      Jenna Solitaire concludes (for now?) her adventures in Keeper of the
      Earth , the fourth piece of her Daughter of Destiny series.
      "Unfortunately, this is not the shattering news I -- and Jenna -- could
      wish it were," says Laurie Thayer. "While Keeper of the Earth is an
      entertaining story for an hour or so, with moments of true pathos, it
      is ultimately nothing more than cotton candy, sweet while it lasts, but
      hardly filling."

      Rachel Caine signs a Devil's Bargain to launch a new series of
      paranormal mysteries. "The story is fast-paced, the characters are
      likable and the mystery is fun," says Gloria Oliver. "Guns, lawyers and
      attitude! Who could ask for more in a paranormal mystery?"

      Rick Buda invites you to buy a home in WolfPointe -- but don't expect a
      quiet, peaceful life there. "Throw the possibility of a recidivistic
      creature stalking the woods into the mix, and you have quite a tale of
      mystery, greed, corruption and murder going on here -- and author Rick
      Buda ties everything together quite satisfactorily in the end, making
      Wolfpointe a pretty solid, suspenseful, action-packed novel," Daniel
      Jolley reports.

      Steven Manchester delves into the psyche of a dying man in his novel At
      Best, Twelve Months . "The language is simple and easy to read, the
      dialogue spontaneous and vivid," Liana Metal says. "The scenes have
      action and are moving and full of emotions. They invoke feelings of
      despair, then compassion, love and finally courage to face life as it

      Marvel's New Mangaverse explodes with The Rings of Fate . "This
      Mangaverse will never replace the main and Ultimate Marvel universes in
      popularity, I think, but it's fun, refreshing and, dare I say it, cute.
      It's a nice change, a treat to read and I certainly wouldn't mind
      coming back for another visit," Tom Knapp says. "Of course, being
      manga, the women are all small-bodied, big-breasted and possibly
      underage, but hey, if you don't like that sort of thing don't pick up a
      book with the word 'manga' on the cover."

      Not everyone sees superheroes as a boon to society, as shown in Anarchy
      , the fifth volume of Powers . "Before it's all sorted out, there are
      more messy deaths -- par for the course with this title -- and a bit of
      police brutality," Tom says. "There are tears, laughter and some
      well-earned applause. And, by the end, you'll have a better
      understanding of the mentality found in a world where the mighty walk
      -- or fly -- among us."

      John Constantine is Haunted by the ghost of an ex-girlfriend in this
      story of magical abuse and revenge. "I'm not a big fan of artist John
      Higgins' work -- his lines are stiff, and he seems to have some kind of
      GQ ideal of Constantine's appearance -- but his style suits this tale
      better than it did Son of Man , the final Hellblazer arc by Garth
      Ennis," Tom says. " Haunted , written by Warren Ellis, is dark,
      disturbing and a little grotesque, and it just may haunt readers even
      as it sets poor Isabel's spirit to rest."

      The guard at the heart of Honor & Duty stands largely in the background
      as great events take place in the Star Wars universe around him. "
      Honor & Duty is not about great events that shatter the Republic or
      threaten the Empire," Tom says. "It's a stand-alone book that looks at
      an average guy in service to the government, a man who believes in what
      he's doing to the bitter end."

      Michael Vance settles in for a slize of Pizzeria Kamikaze . A quest
      through purgatory is the "darn interesting premise" of this book,
      Michael says. "To sweeten the deal, the art is intriguing, the dialogue
      (loaded with profanity) rings true and (thank God, thank God) this is
      NOT a graphic novel about the battle between good and evil!"

      Vicki Leon reveals the Uppity Women of Ancient Times in a fascinating
      -- and also frustrating -- book. " Uppity Women of Ancient Times has
      missed its calling as a coffeetable book," says Jennifer Mo. "Dazzled
      by glossy colour photos of friezes, vases, coins and sculptures of
      ancient women, what reader would be perturbed by the lack of
      documentation or the laboriously hip prose of the text inside?"

      The late Caroline Knapp ruminated on a great many things, and some of
      her thoughts are collected in The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays .
      "The columns are presented thematically rather than chronologically, in
      sections about family relationships, grief/recovery/sobriety, the state
      of the world and personal reflections," says Jessica. "The true gems
      are the essays that expound on the topics of her earlier works Drinking
      and Appetites ."

      John Scalzi de-Internets his blog with You're Not Fooling Anyone When
      You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop . Read it, Sarah Meador says,
      "and you'll uncover the most judgmental, opinionated and outright
      entertaining book about writing in years. ... Scalzi's writing is
      tight, to the point and funny without being forced. It's also
      recognizably true, sometimes to the point of discomfort."

      Cynthia Highsmith-Hooks reveals great depth of feeling in The Soul of a
      Black Woman: From a Whisper to a Shout . "After reading the poetry in
      her book, one can't help but cheer for her," Renee Harmon says. "Her
      poems were written to help her cope with a part of her life that had to
      be very confusing. You'll find yourself wishing you could remember each
      and every poem word for word."

      Roger Ebert tells it like he sees it in Your Movie Sucks . "Love him or
      hate him, he knows his stuff. And he doesn't pull punches; when Ebert
      likes a movie, he is unstinting with his praise, but when he's not
      impressed, you might want to check your ego at the door," Tom Knapp
      says. "Suffice it to say, if Mr. Ebert ever wants to write a movie
      review for Rambles.NET , we'll do our best to find him room."

      Jen Kopf twirls and dips in a Mad Hot Ballroom . "The boy stands in an
      elementary school gymnasium, shakes his hand, shivers his shoulders and
      grimaces. You can almost read his mind: Cootieees! " Jen says. "He's
      just been directed to hold a girl's hand as part of his ballroom dance
      lessons and, in that brief moment, he encapsulates everything that's
      great about Mad Hot Ballroom ."

      More's on the way!

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