Archive for the Lists Category

Reading List for February and March

Posted in Books, Diary, Lists, Personal Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 9 February, 2009 by Nicola

I swear I think of a new book to read with every passing day.  In an attempt to keep track, I am going to write them down here.  Once they are under the watchful eye of my readers (because it seems that I have some, apparently) I will be sure to get through them.  Maybe.

I will try to read in this order, then:

The Gunslinger by Stephen King
I have never tried Stephen King.  Well, he is American, so it is not like I am going to pick him out on my own.  No, a colleague at work, who’s judgement I happen to trust, recommended The Dark Tower series to me.  Since I see her everyday, I better deal with her recommendation first.  I have taken out books two and three from the series, anticipating that I will want to continue (as the first book is yet to arrive), so here’s hoping.

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
This book was recommended by somebody who reads my blog (that is a nice thing to do in the first place).  Sometimes I will take recommendations seriously, others I will not.  I decided to take this one seriously because I am ignorant of all things China.  I do not like ignorance.  I must remedy it where I can.  Not that this one book will make me an expert, but I would like to know at least something about the country, even if it just the lives or three women that lived there.

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
I watched the film yesterday evening and I loved every frame.  I am very curious about its source material and it is with a heavy heart that it is shoved to third place on my list. Continue reading

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Ten Best Classical Pieces Of All Time

Posted in Classical, Erik Satie, Henryk Gorecki, Johann Pachelbel, Johann Sebastian Bach, Katherine Jenkins, Lists, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Music, Personal Musings, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with tags , , , , , , , , on 3 January, 2009 by Nicola

As I compiled this list in my head, I found that I couldn’t possibly put them in order.  It was difficult enough picking just ten of my favourites.  I have ignored opera and choral pieces for this list; I’ll do them another time.  Heaven forbid including them all – you would probably be reading ‘Fifty Best Classical Pieces Of All Time.’  Don’t expect expert or professional commentaries.  I just listen to some classical, I am clueless about musical composition.

So here are ten of my favourite pieces, in no possible order:

Symphony #7 – 2nd Movement – Allegretto by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Beethoven probably has the most famous Symphonies under his belt, (I’m thinking of his fifth and ninth here, of which I want to bash the fifth to death with a cricket bat) but this is my favourite, and the 2nd Movement from his 7th is dark, broody, mysterious and melancholic but with dashes of light and hope seeping through.  I might be using the adjective ‘beautiful’ a few too many time during this list, but I’m going to first use it here.  Me love. 
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Nicola’s Top Ten Christmas Songs

Posted in Christmas, Holidays, Lists, Personal Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18 December, 2008 by Nicola

10. Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas
We speak of the original of course.  I don’t know which is worse, the second or the third, but regardless, this one is brilliant.  For me, it’s not even that it’s for a worthy cause, it’s that it’s actually quite good!  The “FEED THE WORLD” chorus has a kind of sing-a-long-in-the-car element to it.  Sadly it’s a bit preachy, but the song is laced with so much nostalgia and Christmassy feeling that I can actually ignore the message in the song.  Happy days.

9. Kate Bush – December Will Be Magic Again
It’s just different, isn’t it?  I love her bizarreness and this track sounds like something Danny Elfman composed.  The atmosphere is great and the chorus has that eerie sense of magic to it (no pun intended).  It’s not like you can dance or jump to it, but you can watch Kate Bush being a bit of a freak, and that’s why we love her.  Or I love her, at least.

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X-Factor Finalists That Got Record Deals

Posted in Lists, Personal Musings, Television, X-Factor with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15 December, 2008 by Nicola

Oh, I don’t know.  I do not feel like thinking today.  Had another long boring day at work (don’t we all) and I have a massive home made shepherds pie in my belly that has made me sluggish.  So.  I basically feel like giving my verdict on every X-Factor finalist that got a record deal.  I am starting this without knowing how many artists this actually entails and will probably end up writing this article for over two hours like I always do.  But here it goes, in reverse date order.

SERIES 5

ALEXANDRA BURKE *****
She definitely has one of the strongest voices that the show has produced, and the deserving winner of 2008, but she does not have much originality.  There are already so many artists like her.  But she does have what it takes.  She has shown that she can take the pressure, shown that she can take set backs, shown that she can dance and shown that she dance.  Obviously.  Best of luck to her, but she will not be as big as Leona Lewis.

DIANA VICKERS  *****
Yes, I know she hasn’t officially got a deal, but let’s not be dense.  She’ll get one.  Vickers was my favourite of series five.  She has not the strongest voice, nor does she sing in a such a way that will maintain what she does have for long.  She was, however, quite original; for an X-Factor contestant, anyway.  I adored her version of U2‘s ‘With Or Without You’.  I was only sorry that the red tops picked on her, and that people were getting hung up on her hand movements. Continue reading

Shockingly Terrible Books

Posted in Books, Dan Brown, G. P. Taylor, Lists, Personal Musings, Samuel Richardson, Stephenie Meyer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 8 December, 2008 by Nicola

Needless to say, I read a lot, and I have a few rules to reading.  One is to always finish a book you have started.  If it is bad, at least give yourself knowledge of the whole thing to write a better negative review of it.  People deserve to know the truth; I’ll take on the pain, so others do not have to!  Another rule is to read every hyped up book.  Why?  If it is popular, I consider that there must be a reason.  And I’m nosey.  I must investigate.  A more infrequent rule is to pick up a book simply on the strength of its cover every now and again.  Armed with these rules, you just know that the only natural course, is the course to some very bad books.   I list some of my worst experiences here.

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer (2006-2008)

If you read my book reviews, you’ll know that I reviewed the first book of this series, Twilight, and that I gave it quite a fair review.  It’s enjoyable, I said, but very poor writing with a structure that resembles what China would be like if it were an anarchist establishment.  I smiled at it, gave Meyer a patronising pat on the head, and let the bad literature go.  I just let it go.  As I got further and further into the series, however, my good nature was pushed to its limits and I lost my patience with possibly the worst writer to ever be published.  I thought that, perhaps, she has the mental age of a twelve year old and was called “the fat kid” one too many times during gym class.  There are so many things wrong with this series that I don’t even know how to start.  If you can imagine every bad thing a writer can do to their novel you will pretty much have summed up Stephenie Meyer.  I’m just going to take a deep breath, and list things until I get bored: Continue reading

The Best Films of All Time

Posted in A Little Princess, Aliens, Atonement, Beauty and the Beast, Film, Howl's Moving Castle, Lists, Lost In Translation, Love Actually, Personal Musings, Pride & Prejudice, Schindler's List, Spirited Away, The Fifth Element with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 4 December, 2008 by Nicola

I will say this. I do not like films. I am serious. I do not like romantic comedies, horror, science fiction, thrillers or any other genre for that matter as a general rule. For me to like a film, it either has nostalgia value, or it has to be artfully brilliant. The scores or soundtracks to films are a huge factor in my liking a film. Sometimes, a film can be downright silly, but extremely entertaining. This is why I think it may be worthy to mention the rare times a film has captured me and the ones I actually enjoyed.

Pride & Prejudice – Joe Wright
My favourite film of all time by a mile. First of all, it helps that I am a period drama fan, love Literature and most of all, adore Jane Austen. Even considering this there are plenty of versions of this classic and even more period dramas out there, but this one comes out on top. I must have seen it over a dozen times by now. I first went to see it at the cinema and I found myself grinning goofily at the screen as I willed the protagonists on with all of my heart and soul. Now, I hate RomComs, and I am no soppy female that swoons over handsome men on the screen, but I think my heart stopped when Mr. Darcy came out of the fog. Not only was it beautifully shot but Dario Marianelli‘s score at that point was just magical. Speaking of which, the score of this film is probably the element that sets this film apart from the others. The Pride and Prejudice score is by far my favourite album which I play from beginning to end over and over again. Joe Wright proves himself to be one of the most promising new directors with this film. Sadly, he was robbed of his Oscar.

Aliens – James Cameron
I think this is largely nostalgia, though it scared me when I was young. Strictly speaking, I do not really enjoy any of the films in this franchise. I find the second film, Aliens, to be the most tolerable. What I am in love with is the creature itself. I think it is a fantastic creation and it is the model of the Aliens xenomorph which I favour. The new CGI aliens in the latest AVP films do not cut it for me. I mean, the creature itself is so mind blowingly awesome. Every part of its body is sharp and deadly, it has, like, three mouths, it bleeds pure acid, so if you shoot it, you get gunked and you still lose, it is really fast, it swims, and it is born inside living hosts. That is an alarmingly lethal foe. And Ripley is awesome. Continue reading

Nicola’s Top Ten Writers “Hall of Fame”

Posted in Anne McCaffrey, Bill Bryson, Books, Charlotte Bronte, J. K. Rowling, James Clemens, Jane Austen, Lists, Margaret Atwood, Personal Musings, Sarah Waters, Trudi Canavan, Wilkie Collins with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1 December, 2008 by Nicola

I am an English Literature Graduate, I work in a library, and I am always reading a book.  There would obviously come a time when I realised that I loved some writers more than others.  Not that my opinion counts for anything, but I am going to throw it out there anyway.  Perhaps someone agrees with me, perhaps my opinion will englighten someone.  You never know, it might happen.  So here are my top ten writers, counting down from number 10.

10. Sarah Waters
Sarah Waters. Let’s see.  Ah, yes.  She is British.  Wilkie Collins is her favourite writer.  She is a feminist.  She sets her novels in the Victorian era.  I think she’s also a lesbian, but that’s neither here or there.  What’s not to like?  Waters tends to write Historical novels set in the Victorian era (notably a time of extreme sexual oppression) with a feminist slant but without sounding preachy.  She creates genuine atmosphere and really knows how to build suspense.  Her work is well researched, and she writes convincingly within the context’s style whilst not alienating her audience.  Her most well known novels are Fingersmith (2002) and Tipping the Velvet (1998), but my personal favourite is Affinity (1999).

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