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liz (Hampshire)

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The Milk-Eyed Mender
The Milk-Eyed Mender
Price: £11.29

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real treat - but not for everyone, 22 Feb 2007
This review is from: The Milk-Eyed Mender (Audio CD)
I confess that I discovered this album after hearing some of 'This Side of the Blue' on a TV advert! After humming the same few bars irritatingly for a few days it might have ended there. But then my brother made me listen to a dubious recording of 'Book of Right On' on the internet and I was hooked. These two songs alone are a good enough reason to buy this album.

For those people who like comparisons, Joanna Newsom's voice could be (very loosely) likened to Bjork, Melanie or even Janis Joplin. She has an unusual voice which can be sweet and vulnerable as a child or harsh and nasal like a hedonistic 30-a-day jazz singer.

However, the comparisons pretty much end there. How many other musicians combine quirky, vivid lyrics, with an eccentric range of musical influences and make the result even stranger by using the harp as the predominant instrument?

Joanna Newsom defies convention and convenient musical labelling.

This album is unique. There are hauntingly lovely melodies and intriguing lyrics. The harp playing is at times beautiful enough to bring tears to your eyes. Her voice changes remarkably according to the particular piece of music.

'Song' does not do justice to the result.

While I defy anyone to criticise the harp playing, not everyone will enjoy this album due to Joanna Newsom's unconventional voice, and unusual style. However, for those with an open mind this is a real treat

Quentin Tarantino Presents: Hero [DVD] [2004]
Quentin Tarantino Presents: Hero [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Jet Li
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.75

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visually stunning, Brilliant story, 16 Feb 2007
In summary:

Most beautiful cinematography of any film ever

Cleverest use of colour in any film ever

Amazing, spine-chillingly-moving Tan Dun musical score

Intelligent, engaging, touching story

Fantastic acting and action scenes

You will forget about the subtitles within about 3 seconds and be open-mouthed with awe during the entire film.

If you didn't like it: What's WRONG with you??

Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature
Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature
by Richard P. Bentall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

153 of 158 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psychiatrists - Do not be afraid!, 16 Feb 2007
Confession 1:I am a Psychiatrist.

Confession 2: Before I started this book I was expecting a deeply negative perception of modern psychiatry and little in the way of concrete evidence to support any alternative hypothesis. I anticipated this book to he read mainly by other psychologists, anti-psychiatrists and disgruntled patients.

However, I rapidly discovered that this is not the start of a new anti-psychiatry movement but in fact a fascinating, open-minded review of the current thinking about madness.

The first third of this book should be read by everyone involved in or interested in psychiatry, psychology, or just madness. It is a brilliant and genuinely gripping synthesis of the journey from dark age beliefs about madness to the current concepts. The author makes this potentially dreary history lesson vibrant, relevant and insightful and brings alive many of the key players whose legacies have outlived them, whether deservedly or not.

After this the author then goes on to explore in quite significant detail, the psychological and biological research into psychosis and related conditions. This is predictably heavier going but worth persevering with for the exciting and occasionally startling revelations.

As a result, he fairly comprehensively dismantles the traditional model of psychiatric classification but manages to bring even the most sceptical reader with him through this process.I did not find this as controversial as I expected, as most practising psychiatrists are already aware of the significant overlap in diagnoses and symptoms of these disorders. Richard Bentall then formulates draft models for approaching particular psychiatric symptoms.

There is much less controversial material in this book than I expected. The research discussed is reasonably balanced and the conclusions are tentative and never fundamentalist.

However, although interesting, evidence-based and realistic, the practical applications of the symptom-directed approach are not at all clear. Abandoning traditional psychiatric diagnoses altogether would at present leave patients, carers and health professionals with even less framework for approaching treatment, suggesting aetiology or predicting prognosis. This book may encourage us to be more flexible and patient-centred but I cannot yet see it changing frontline mental health care.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2009 12:50 PM GMT

The Historian
The Historian
by Elizabeth Kostova
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious, 28 Dec 2006
This review is from: The Historian (Paperback)
By now everyone knows what this book is about. And lets face it, Dracula was always going to be a hard act to follow. Still, the idea of breathing life back into the old vampire legends by setting this story amongst swathes of historical pseudo-evidence was an appealing one for fans of the original.

However, I found this book read more like an academic exercise than a novel. The characters were wooden and two-dimensional, never coming alive enough for me to really care about them. The history lessons were at best mildly interesting although rather dominating and at worst totally overwhelming and tedious in the extreme.

The real passion and excitement of vampires was utterly lacking and actual vampire face-time was severely limited, almost as though it were an inconvenience to the main historical object of the book. This was also in evidence at the end where the mighty Dracula was dispatched with little more than a slight trip.

Some parts of the book were moderately engaging but pages of dry, unnecessary pseudo-historical waffle forced me to skim-read most of the last third which didn't seem to make any difference to my understanding anyway.

To sum up: Long. Fairly tedious. Hardly any vampires.

The Crossing: Conquering the Atlantic in the World's Toughest Rowing Race
The Crossing: Conquering the Atlantic in the World's Toughest Rowing Race
by Ben Fogle
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping story - shame about the writing, 28 Dec 2006
This is a truly great story of human endurance and is worth reading simply for that. The book is not long and is in large print so I read it in about 6 hours.

However, while nothing can detract from the incredible feat these guys undertook or the enormity of what they achieved, I don't think anyone would say either of them have a talent for writing.

The story does largely tell itself but the book was formatted in a rather clunky way using alternate reflections from the two rowers which often repeated each other. More editorial input might have allowed the book to do justice to the actual adventure.

White Teeth
White Teeth
by Zadie Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't put this off as long as I did!, 27 Dec 2006
This review is from: White Teeth (Paperback)
I never liked the front cover. And I had a vague suspicion that this was just more over-hyped and under-talented chick lit. So I avoided this book deliberately until I had nothing else on the shelf I hadn't read and was about to go on holiday...

Cut to Day 1 of holiday where husband is becoming more and more irritable about my utter absorption into this book and people keep staring at me when I burst out laughing.

Fortunately for them, White Teeth was so totally meserising that I finished it that same day! My expectations were low but this turned out to be a real gem. The characters were so real I was sad when the end came and I was faced with never hearing more about them.

Without a doubt the best book I read all year.

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