Archive for February, 2009

Stephen Daldry’s “The Reader”

Posted in Film, The Reader with tags , , , , , , , , on 8 February, 2009 by Nicola

I am very self-conscious when it comes to writing film reviews, as I have not a clue what I am talking about, but I can hardly help myself here.  I have a sincere compulsion to gush about the film that I watched yesterday evening and is still on the forefront of my mind when I woke up this morning.  In truth, I wanted to spill out my gushiness as soon as I got home from the cinema, but sleep beckoned.

So.  The Reader is adapted from a novel of the same name by Bernhard Schlink (a novel I have not read, and one I must add to my ever growing reading list), whether it is a faithful adaptation, I cannot say.  Regardless, the film has powerful messages and raises important moral questions which are incredibly difficult to answer.  Continue reading

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Hayley Westenra’s Debut Self-Titled Album

Posted in Hayley Westenra, Music with tags , , , , , , , on 6 February, 2009 by Nicola

When I put this album on again after so many years just to write this review, I found myself pleasantly surprised.  After spending so many years insisting that this album was quite poor and was not worthy of any attention I must have lowered my expectations for it considerably, for I now feel quite differently and think that I was wrong to dismiss it so easily.

This album was recorded by Westenra at the tender age of thirteen, though you probably would not have been able to guess that was the case.  It was released only in her native New Zealand, and then Australia in 2001.  It charted extremely well, a kind of success that mirrored that of Charlotte Church over here in the UK.  Of course, at such a young age, and being so unknown, there would have been an issue of what to record.  Her company decided to play it safe, as you only can do with such young singers, and compiled some musical and traditional standards.  Continue reading

Hayley Westenra Marathon: Introduction

Posted in Hayley Westenra, Music with tags , , , , , , on 5 February, 2009 by Nicola

Well, here we are.  As promised, a ‘Hayley Westenra Marathon’, if you like.  Over the next week or so I will be reviewing all of her studio albums, a live concert (I will be seeing her on the 15th February with Jonathan Ansell) and other tidbits such as her biography, best websites, etc.

My relationship with Hayley has always been rocky, and I have actually been more disappointed by her albums rather than satisfied.  In truth, I have only really ever liked just one of her albums.  Others verge on average for me, whilst the others are just dull.  So why am I fan?  Can I even be referred to as a fan? Continue reading

Carolly Erickson’s “The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette: A Novel”

Posted in Books, Carolly Erickson with tags , , , , , , on 4 February, 2009 by Nicola

This book could have been superb.  Carolly Erickson knows her stuff not only on Marie-Antoinette, but on the whole historical period in general.  This is quite evident but not fully taken advantage of.  Erickson perhaps had a good plan and layout of her story, keeping to certain accuracies and adding in fiction where appropriate.  Unfortunately, Erickson’s problem is at the very core of novel writing.

Erickson basically seems unable to write a novel.  She writes in the form of a diary – such a form is restrictive in the first place and Erickson may have felt that writing in Marie-Antoinette’s voice instead of her own could give her a justified excuse to write in a bland, amatuerish way throughout the whole novel (as if Marie-Antoinette was unintelligent!)  It doesn’t work.  I wouldn’t believe in a million years that the French queen would have written in her diary in such a mind-numbing, boring way.  Surely she had more command of language than Erickson makes out.  I could not believe how childish it all was.  This fictional diary starts when she is twelve years of age, right until her death, but the difference in voice between that time is minimal.  Continue reading

Louann Brizendine’s “The Female Brain”

Posted in Books, Non-Fiction, The Female Brain with tags , , , , , , on 3 February, 2009 by Nicola

This book is quite fun to read and highly accessible even to people that have no background in science or biology.  Although the research and the findings are serious, Louann Brizendine uses examples of her prior patients to explain her meanings and she is very good at this.  I am absolutely useless at science, but I was not baffled by anything she had to say.

This work has a hundred pages of references, which, on the surface, seems to reinforce its scientific findings, but the references are not easy to follow.  The book sometimes takes a tone of suggestion or theory rather than exact science, since no signifiers of a reference or footnotes are made within the main body of the work itself.  You therefore have to keep flipping to the back to see which of her statements are backed up by research and which statements are simply her own.  Without the distinction, which statements do we take as facts, and which do we take as her own theory?  Do we want to keep flipping to the back to find out?  Not really. Continue reading

A New Month, A New Effort

Posted in Diary, Hayley Westenra, Jonathan Ansell, Music, Personal Musings with tags , , , , on 1 February, 2009 by Nicola

As you know, last month was rubbish.  But I’m fully geared for February.  I have several ideas for articles along with the usual reviews so they’ll be new posts popping up.  It is very likely that I’m going to write a Hayley Westenra marathon.  I have written a review on Amazon for every single album she has realeased, but the majority of them were written when I was younger and quite illiterate, actually.  If you ever check out my Amazon profile, be careful not to go any further back than 2006, otherwise you’ll be met with a young Nicola spelling opera as ‘oprah’ and playing pot luck with “its” and “it’s”; something that now makes me want to cringe and smash my head against things.

But yes, Hayley Westenra.  Been following her career since 2002, it’s time I dedicate some blog space to her.  And I’m going to try to be really nice, because Hayley’s a nice girl, you see.  And you may get a concert review too, as I am seeing her live on the 15th of this month, and I won’t need to try to be nice then because I always love seeing her live.  Jonathan Ansell will be there, too.  Going back to Amazon, I used to write reviews about G4 and continiously say that the guy should go solo – what were the others there for?  I didn’t know.  I still don’t know.  Where are they now?  Nobody knows. Continue reading