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since 16/07/2005


Made Of Bricks - Kate Nash 09/01/2008

Singing and Storytelling

Made Of Bricks - Kate Nash Kate Nash burst onto the scene in 2007 in every way imaginable. She was signed to a Polydor offshoot in March, had first single 'Foundations' released in June, had her album release hurriedly pushed forward to August after the unprecedented success of the single, performed non-stop through the Summer, and announced in December that she has already started writing songs for her second album. However, in all this rush, could her first album 'Made of Bricks' actually be any good? Did the speedy release of the album mean that the tracks on it were hastily pulled together without any real substance? And does the fact that she's already onto writing her second album with only a couple of songs off the first one released mean that there's not enough releasable material on here at all? 'Foundations' was an instantly popular song - it was added to both Radio 1 and Radio 2's playlists in its first week of release and reached number 2 in the singles chart. It was released at a good time, just before Summer, so Nash was perfect for festival touring a couple of months later. Because the song became so well-known, it was strong enough to have the album released on the selling-point of it alone and, for many, it would have been the only recognisable track on the CD. Would the rest of the album become as popular as the infamous first single? When the album was released it reached number 1, despite receiving mixed reviews. Whilst Time Out awarded it 4 stars out of 6, The Independent ...

The Kingdom (DVD) 01/11/2007

Take Note

The Kingdom (DVD) You know how in programs like Law and Order and CSI everything seems to come together and you're left wondering why crimes ever go unsolved in the real world? Well I got a similar feeling whilst watching 'The Kingdom'. Although the subject matter is very complex with a very detailed history, the film is very fast-paced and gets straight to the point. Although this might not mean that the film sends out as accurate a message as it could have done, it does mean that it does work well as a piece of entertainment, which really, is all it is. The film opens with a fast moving timeline of Saudi Arabia's history. Again, this is very simplified, but it certainly gave me enough background knowledge to be able to enjoy the film. After this we are thrown straight into the action. The first scene opens in an American community in Saudi Arabia - the people here are American men, with their families, who work for the oil companies. In the same scene we see Saudis patrolling. Then, shots break out as two men drive a Saudi patrol vehicle through the streets, shooting at houses and people as they go. As chaos ensues another Saudi man walks through the streets telling people to stay calm and to follow his directions. He puts his arms into the air and detonates a bomb that he is carrying. The four American characters who go over to Saudi Arabia are played by Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman. Although they are all well-rounded characters, they do each carry ...

The Nanny Diaries (DVD) 26/10/2007

Indifferent Diaries

The Nanny Diaries (DVD) Whilst I was on holiday in Sydney, my boyfriend and I decided one evening to go to the cinema. There wasn't a lot on that we hadn't already seen, so I chose 'The Nanny Diaries'. I had heard of the book but had never read it, and thought that as it was probably in the same vein as 'The Devil Wears Prada' it would probably suit me fine. (I neglected to tell my boyfriend that it would probably be similar to that until we were already seated - as a boy, he hates that film.) 'The Nanny Diaries' is the story of Annie Braddock. She has recently graduated after studying finance and anthropology. She heads off for an interview in New York City with a financial company to be faced with the question 'Who is Annie Braddock?' In a rather clichéd way she finds she has no idea, starts to stutter, and leaves the interview. We next see Annie wandering Central Park, where she (literally) runs into a young boy; Grayer. He latches on to her (this behaviour completely contradicts with the behaviour we later see of the young boy, and so we can only gather that this is a simple plot device to get the story moving) and his mother, Mrs X, immediately offers her a job as his nanny. Annie decides that the pros of taking the job outweigh the cons - she can move to the city, live in Mr and Mrs X's posh town house and also figure out her life plan. However, once she gets there she realises that this job isn't going to be as simple as she thought - Mrs X is a nightmare who Annie cannot please and is ...

Garfunkel's Leicester Square, London 31/08/2007

Average Funkel's

Garfunkel's Leicester Square, London Last Friday my boyfriend and I decided to go out for dinner. We decided to go to Garfunkel's, in Leicester square, because we walk past it everyday after work (whilst starving) yet had never eaten in there. The restaurant is situated down Dean Street, which is one of the roads that leads into Leicester Square. It can be seen from the centre of Leicester Square, and is very easily accessible from Leicester Square tube station. It is also in walking distance from Charing Cross National Rail station, and about 5 minutes walk from Trafalgar Square. WAITING TIMES As we had decided to visit this branch in central London on a Friday evening, we decided to book in advance. So, my boyfriend rang up the restaurant that morning and reserved a table. When we got to the restaurant we entered and queued for a couple of minutes before everyone else. You got seated when you got to the front of the queue, a system that didn't seem representative of us booking a table earlier in the day. When we got to the front of the queue my boyfriend told the waitress that we had booked a table. "You've booked a table?" "Yes" "Really?" "Er, yeah" "You've booked a table? For tonight?" "Yeah, for 2" "Well I've got a spare table for 2 anyway" Apparently they don't normally take bookings on a Friday night, fair enough, but there's no need to look at us like we made it up! Anyway, it was only about 5 minutes between when we entered the restaurant and when we sat down, so that wasn't too bad. ...

Tussuads Thorpe Park, Surrey 08/08/2007

Queue Park

Tussuads Thorpe Park, Surrey I have been to Thorpe Park on a number of occasions over the last few years. The university I went to was about a 15 minute drive away from the park, so it was one of the places we went to at least once a year. I’ve always had a good overall time there, though when I visited last weekend there were a few downsides to the park that somewhat let down our visit. Although some of these factors are things that are not necessarily in the park management’s control, I personally felt that there should be more measures in place to combat this type of thing. Anyway, let me explain. Last weekend, me and three friends of mine decided to head over to Thorpe Park. We had decided a couple of weeks in advance to go, as I had received some 2-for-1 ticket vouchers in the post recently, so we picked a Sunday and crossed our fingers for sun. As we woke in the morning we realised that we were in luck, as it was a bright sunny day and so we drove over to the park. Thorpe Park is pretty easy to get to, with a sign on the M25 telling you which junction to come off at, and then signs pointing you all the way to the front gate. As we drove in we could instantly see the swarms of other people who had had the same idea as us, but parking was not a problem. There was still masses of space left, and with the attendants directing us into spaces it was easy to park. We then headed over to buy our tickets, and were greeted with a massive queue. This was just after 9.30, so the park has already opened but ...

House Rules - Heather Lewis 07/08/2007

Uncomfortable Reading

House Rules - Heather Lewis Heather Lewis’ novel ‘House Rules’ was first published in 1995, and then republished in 2005, with a new afterword, which is the copy that I read. Although it can’t be known for sure, I would say that this was only published again in this way because of the author’s personal life. She killed herself in 2002. ‘House Rules’ tells the story of 15-year old Lee, who at the start of the novel has just been expelled from boarding school. The way that Lee tells us this makes it sound as though she was not really to blame for the incident that resulted in her having to leave, however in the following pages we witness her let a complete stranger on a plane that she finds almost repulsive perform a sexual act upon her. These two contradictory accounts of her personality almost set the tone for the rest of the book; Lee is a very confused young girl, one who has obviously been scarred by events in her past, and is just trying to find a place where she can fit in. We learn that Lee’s father was abusive to her, and so to escape from this she decides to join the horse-show circuit rather than going home. Although she has met some of the characters in this environment before, it is now that she becomes truly embroiled in their lifestyles, entering into a world of “violent sex and heroin” as the blurb of the novel so brashly tells us. As Lee sinks deeper and deeper into this world we see her become less and less in control of herself, and finds it harder and harder to even know what it is ...

Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller 06/07/2007

Society's Flaw

Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller ‘Death of a Salesman’ was written by the playwright Arthur Miller in 1949. Although it is considered an American Classic, I had never really heard of it myself until I bought it. I only even bought it because the last time I was in New York I was trying to spend my change, and this caught my eye. It has been critically acclaimed many times over both as a written play and as a stage production, and won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1949. It made both Arthur Miller and his main character, Willy Loman, famous. The plot of the play focuses on Willy Loman and his family; his wife and two sons. Once enjoying a successful career as a salesman, he now experiences life as a 60-year old, with a somewhat less profitable profession. He begins to live his life through his past; placing massive emphasis on how successful he used to be, and telling over the top stories about the places he visited and the people he saw. It is obvious that Loman has worked hard to provide for his family his whole life, yet instead of being able to settle down as the years go by, he is forced to keep trying to find work to be able to pay to keep his household running. He is faced with the humiliation of having to go begging to people he used to consider colleagues and friends, and son this starts to take a toll on his sanity. Loman’s two sons, Biff and Happy, both have problems of their own. Happy’s life is mixed up in the lies he tells his father so to portray the idea that he is the perfect son, ...

Paphos (Cyprus) 14/06/2007

Perfect Paphos

Paphos (Cyprus) I have never written a travel review before, and to be honest, haven’t really read that many either. Therefore, I’m not really sure of the customary layout, so I’m going to do mine in the form of a holiday diary. Last week, my boyfriend and I went on holiday to Cyprus. We had been planning to go away at this time for a couple of months, and looked at a number of places. We had wanted to stay in a villa or apartment rather than a hotel, so our search for where to go was limited really to people we knew who owned and rented out apartments. My boyfriend’s dad then told us about a guy who worked with him who owned a villa in Cyprus and that was that. The benefits for us for staying in an apartment rather than a hotel meant that we were more able to come and go as we please, and with our own kitchen could stay in and cook for ourselves of an evening if we wished. We were able to find out anything we needed about the apartment or the surrounding area in just a quick phone call, and the owner also arranged for some food to be in the apartment ready for our arrival. Last Wednesday my boyfriend and I set off from Gatwick on a GB Airways (subsidiary of BA) flight to Paphos. We had flown with GB Airways before and to be honest, they weren’t our first choice of airline. (On a flight to Austria we had to turn around half way there because the plane hadn’t been de-iced properly and then had to sit in Gatwick for 6 hours waiting for another plane to be ready! For a 4-day holiday we ...

The Girl In Times Square - Paullina Simons 30/05/2007

The Girl in my Handbag

The Girl In Times Square - Paullina Simons I added ‘The Girl in Times Square’ by Paullina Simons to my Amazon wishlist after reading a review of it here on Ciao. Despite my English Degree I am, and probably always will be, still a fan of trashy chick-lit, so I always have at least one eye out for novels that sound easy-to-read, but still maybe have that little something that makes them stand out from what we could very easily describe as a genre that is mainly full of very similar tales of little substance. ‘The Girl in Times Square’ sounded like it took a different approach to the genre. Simons’ novel centres around Lily Quinn, a normal college student who has just been broken up with. The start of the novel makes you wonder whether it will take any course other than the regular chick-lit style one of boy meets girl, boy and girl find problems, boy and girl overcome problems; but what Simons has done is to through some unusual situations into the mix that not only tug at your heartstrings and make you feel for Lily, it means that the budding romance isn’t necessarily the most important aspect of the story, and this is what, for me, really made the novel shine. Relatively early on in the novel when a few major things happen to Lily that affect her story for the rest of the duration of our time with her. Her roommate, Amy, goes missing, Lily comes into some money and then she becomes ill. This first event means that a whole new plot level of crime, mystery and drama begins to unfold (which, naturally with this ... 03/05/2007

No Music, No Film I originally joined this site when it went under the name, and I found it after following a link from one of those ipod referral sites that I joined ages ago. I’m not sure exactly when changed its name to, and I don’t really know why. I guess it’s a more obvious name and is easier to search for. When I got to the site I was offered four deals to entice me to join. These offers are pretty good, things like 2 DVDs for £8+£2 p+p; 4 DVDs for £20 with free p+p or 5 CDs for £10+£2 p+p. This, combined with the prospect of a free ipod was definitely enough for me, so I joined up straightaway, opting for the 2 DVDs for £8+£2 p+p. Once I had joined and given all my details it didn't take long for my DVDs to arrive, and I have had no problems with them, they were both obviously brand new and work fine on my DVD player. differs from other sites such as Amazon because it works on a loyalty scheme, i.e. you have to buy a certain amount of items over a certain period of time. At first I was fine with this, I got sent a catalogue about once every three months, which I would flick through, find something I wanted and send it off. Of course, there are more items on the website that aren’t listed in the magazine. The DVDs would usually arrive promptly, and in perfect working order. You can return an item if you change your mind as long as it's within 30 days and is unopened, and they will refund your money as well as ...

The Prince & Me DVD 02/04/2007

The Prince and Disbelief

The Prince & Me DVD The American teen romance genre is one that is notoriously popular, and notoriously filled with below-par films. I'm afraid that, for me, The Prince and Me is no exception. The film stars Julia Stiles as Paige Morgan and Luke Mably as Eddie, the Prince of Denmark. As with all of these teenage romance 'comedies', there are a number of obstacles that from the very start you know will hinder the couple during their blossoming romance. In this case, it is that he is a Prince, moved to Wisconsin to firstly meet topless college girls, and secondly because he wants to escape the harassment of the Danish Press. For she, it is that she has her ambitions to become a doctor and 'help' in third-world countries, what a good soul. Having watched a number of her friends get married and give up their dreams to simply become housewives (does that actually happen in this day and age??) she has decided that she will never let a man come in the way of her ambitions. As soon as the pair meet you just know that somewhere along the lines she will BAM! discover that he is a Prince, and then as soon as she overcomes this BAM! will decide that her need to be a doctor is greater than her need for him. It's very formulaic, but then, I always feel that that is half of the point of the whole film; you don't watch them expecting to be shocked at the end. With this genre being so saturated now, films such as this one need something extra to make it stand out from the crowd. In this case, I think what ...

Nandos 07/03/2007


Nandos Nando's is a Portuguese themed restaurant chain that specialises in good-quality, well-cooked chicken, and is well known for it's famous Peri-Peri sauce. There are branches all over the UK, and new ones are regularly being opened. Right now there are restaurants due to open in 2 months in Fife, Colliers Wood and Walton-on-Thames, with other branches scheduled to open in 4 months and then 6 months. The one nearest to me is in Maidstone, and is the branch I have visited most often, but I have also eaten in the outlet in Staines and near Elephant and Castle. I have found that in all the different branches, the layout and format is pretty much the same, but then as this is a chain you cannot really expect anything more. On entering the restaurant a sign tells you to wait to be seated. There are usually many tables available, and these are usually quite well spaced out. I have never had to wait for a table, even when one time about eight of us went. I am unsure of whether you are able to book, I never have. After arriving, a server takes you to your table. Currently, Nando's has both a smoking and non-smoking section, although this will have to change soon. Once seated you are presented with menus, though these are usually already on your table. Nando's is a cross between a restaurant with waiter-service, and a fast-food outlet. This cross mainly becomes apparent when it comes to ordering your food. Once you have decided what it is you want, you go up to the counter and ...

BeneFit Eye Bright 01/03/2007

wake up bright eyes

BeneFit Eye Bright I'm one of those girls that always stands in awe looking at make-up counters, buying products on a whim. Usually this results in disappointment, as most make-up is never as good as you expect it to be. However, I am a bonafide Benefit fanatic, I have to try every new product, and, truth be told, I own far too much of the stuff, always willing to try out anything they stick their name to. I love Benefit make-up. I always find it works well, and the packaging is always so pretty it seems to count for extra. Eye Bright itself is a pencil, that looks a lot like a fat eyeliner. The stuff itself is a pink colour, which looks a bit daunting, but isn't as bright as it seems once applied, and blends into your skin easily. The pencil itelf is black, with pink writing. Very cute and pretty. The pencil comes in a box, also black with pink writing. All the Benefit pencil make-up products, such as Mr Frosty and BadGal eyeliner, come in boxes the same size, so all your products can be nicely stored together. It comes with detailed instructions which detail all the ingredients as well as telling you how to apply the product. This is more of a base for make-up rather than a product in its own right. It claims that it can open up your eyes and make you look more awake, and for the most part this is true. Obviously, this isn't a magic formula, and some days the only solution to tired eyes is to get new ones, but Eye Bright is an enormous help. You apply the pencil to the corners of your ... 21/02/2007

Global Test Money Yesteray I received my second cheque in the post from, so I thought now was the perfect oppurtunity to write a review on them. I'm pretty sure that I first heard about the website after reading a glowing review of it on ciao, and, seeing as I was already a member of a couple of paid survey websites, I thought that joing up to another one wouldn't hurt. The website is very simple to use. When you join you are given an account number to log in with and you choose a password. My account number is 7 numbers long, so I'd recommend writing this down otherwise you'll be trawling through emails trying to find your registration one! After joining, you have a number of profile surveys to fill in, so they can learn information about you and know what kind of surveys to send you. I'm not sure that there is a huge amount of point to these, as I still regularly get sent surveys that I do not qualify for, and ones that ask me questions like whether or not I have children. Surely, they would already know this from my profile surveys, but so be it. Once these are all completed you receive 500 points, so it's worth filling tham all in.Like I said, the website is very simple, and there isn't a lot to do on it. When you go to the page that shows your account details, it shows you firstly whether you've completed all your profile settings, and then under that it shows you your recent survey activity. There is also a page that shows you your marketpoints, and there is an ...

Three To See The King - Magnus Mills 05/01/2007

A fantastical reality

Three To See The King - Magnus Mills I bought this book about two years ago, placed it on my bookshelf with the countless others, and promptly forgot about it. While I was studying for my degree I had a habit of buying books that I would never have time to read, and just placing them on top of the ever-increasing pile. Sicne graduating last year I decided to actually have a look over what I had spent my money on for the past three years, and came across 'Three To See The King'. I have to admit, when I bought the book it was a mixture between the simple yet interesting cover (different to the one in the picture for this review) and the blurb on the back that attracted me. The blurb was very brief, giving jsut a few lines from the story itself. I was hooked. Magnus Mills' book is a realistic story that is embedded in fantasy. While the literal actions of the characters is a little devoid of reality (building houses made of tin, no home comforts etc etc), the motives, thoughts, behaviours and morals of the characters are so spot-on. The way Mills has his characters behave towards the end of the novel is similar to the way Orwell and other distopian novelists did. It's the kind of reality that we try to shy away from, but we all know is really there. The story revolves around our protagonist who, quite happily, lives a simple life alone in his house made of tin. He prides himself on having the most perfect house of tin, and for being the one who lives the furthest out in the middle of nowhere. Then, one day, a ...
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