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Stuart Moses (Epsom, United Kingdom)
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Brabantia 10 Litre Binny Wall-Mounted Waste and Storage Organiser - Lipstick red
Brabantia 10 Litre Binny Wall-Mounted Waste and Storage Organiser - Lipstick red
Price: £25.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Bin in eye-catching colour does the job..., 27 Jun 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This bin is well designed, strong and sturdy. The 'lipstick red' colour is as eye-catching as the name suggests it will be. It isn't huge, but is large enough for what I want to use it for i.e. storing bits and pieces the children have left around the house which I need to store safely out of the way.


The Golem and the Djinni
The Golem and the Djinni
by Helene Wecker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical tale set in end-of-the-19th Century New York..., 27 Jun 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I loved this book. The idea of bringing a Golem and a Djinni to New York in 1899 is inspired. This book introduces you to a wide range of characters, each has their own intriguing story. I wanted to hear them all. I wanted to know how the titular characters would make their way in the New World. The book skips around in time a little, but is written so clearly you'll never lose your way. The sense of place is strong, I loved the descriptions of the elevated trains and the arch in Washington Square Park. I'd recommend this to anyone who likes to mix the magical with the everyday.


Black Arts
Black Arts
by Andrew Prentice
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting historical and supernatural romp set in Elizabethan London..., 9 Jun 2013
This review is from: Black Arts (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an exciting Young Adult novel, set in Elizabethan London. It tells the story of Jack, a young nipper (or cut-purse), in a city of devils. Jack is good company, he is quick-witted, resourceful and brave. Yet he is also fallible, which makes him more attractive.

The portrayal of London, 1592, feels authentic, but never alienates the 21st Century reader. In fact, this book stealthily teaches you about the world, without ever feeling as if it is delivering a lecture. The dialogue feels authentic and you can always understand what is being said, even if there are terms or individual words you might not recognise.

Black Arts deals with 'Satanist atrocities' and is not suitable for squeamish or younger readers. On the other hand, the horror is never gratuitous and it adds a great deal to the suspense. There is humour too - and a great cameo by Dr Dee. I'd recommend this for older YA readers and adults who like historical fiction with a strong supernatural flavour.


Seraphina
Seraphina
by Rachel Hartman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb fantasy novel with dragons old and new..., 3 Jun 2013
This review is from: Seraphina (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Seraphina is an excellent fantasy novel that will appeal to teenagers and adults. Its portrayal of dragons is refreshingly cliche free, while still finding time and space to give the reader traditional wyrm-filled thrills too. I particularly liked the way the dragons are described when in their human form. They favour logic over emotion, yet in their human forms they find emotions gain control. The debate between emotion and logic may be an old one, but it has yet to be satisfactorily resolved and it adds intellectual depth to this novel.

The world of Seraphina is easy to relate to. It's based on the later Medieval period, but the presence of the dragons gives the novel enough magic to satisfy the fantasy fan. Occasionally there was an odd word I wanted to look up, but this was no bad thing. I didn't know what a houppelande was, for example, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of this book. There is a glossary and a cast list at the back of the book, but for the most part I didn't need to refer to it. The characters are easy to tell apart and keep track of.

Seraphina as a character is engaging and real. She is proactive, which I enjoy in my protagonists. She doesn't always get things right, which makes her easy for the reader to associate with. I loved the 'people' that live in her consciousness. These sections have a darkly Gothic flavour - at least in my mind - that made me think of Neil Gaiman. It was fascinating to see how her imaginings interacted with her external world.

I didn't realise this book was part of a series when I started it, but I'm delighted there will be more stories in this world. While the story is resolved satisfactorily I enjoyed the characters and the world so much I'm desperate to spend more time there. If Robin Hobb wrote Young Adult fiction, she might write something like this. Thankfully, while there is angst in this novel, it's not as unremittingly bleak as I find Hobb's novels to be. Fans of the TV series Merlin will also enjoy this book.


Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
by John Yorke
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and pleasingly concise book on story structure..., 2 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
While sometimes I didn't follow every intricacy of what the author was trying to get across, I did find my understanding of story structure grew greatly. Without conscious effort I am now analysing stories I consume to see whether they fit the three or five act structure. While much of this book is theoretical, it is easy to apply it in a practical way to your own storytelling. What this book has done is help prevent me from getting stuck. By understanding how a story is formed, I know what sort of act, scene or beat should go next.

I found the prose style of Into The Woods was much less irritating than that of Save the Cat!: The Only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need. It is also more concise than The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, which was so long I gave up before the end. It understands its place in the world of storytelling manuals and isn't afraid to criticise others where the author believes they are mistaken. Examples are drawn from film and British TV. Some of the references are up-to-date, which gives the book a crisp, contemporary feel. I found the section on 'why' we tell stories particularly interesting.


Sci-Fi Sound Effects (Vintage Beeb)
Sci-Fi Sound Effects (Vintage Beeb)
by BBC
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £9.25

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic BBC Sci-Fi Sound Effects lacks expected Proustian rush..., 30 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I suspect that the audience for this CD is small, but dedicated. This is a classic album of 70s and 80s BBC sci-fi sound effects, remastered for the 21st Century with original notes and artwork. The CD itself is primed for maximum nostalgia, with a print that mimics the look of the vinyl on one side. The notes and artwork are replicated from the original, but due to the shift in size from vinyl to CD they are squashed and hard to read in the original format. Thankfully the text is printed in a larger and more readable font inside the booklet.

The quality of the remastering is high. I can't imagine sitting and listening to this CD all the way though. Despite being a big fan of Doctor Who (in 1980) and Blake's 7 (in general), I didn't enjoy the Proustian rush that I'd hoped for. On the other hand, I have added the 'Cloister bell in the TARDIS' sound effect to my phone, which will give me years of pleasure when someone texts me. I'd describe this CD as for fans of the series featured, or sound effects of the late80s/early 80s. It's a high quality product with a specialised market, but there's nothing wrong with that.


Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, but ultimately frustrating..., 14 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I don't feel qualified to review this book, being far from the author's intellectual equal. Some bits I followed, I was lost during other bits. I love the idea of the antifragile, things that grow from disorder, but I wouldn't feel confident trying to explain further than that.

The author's style is simultaneously engaging and irritating. Some authors come across as pleased with themselves, such as Alain de Botton, but are still engaging and inspiring. Nassim Nicholas Taleb gives the impression that he doesn't care what other people think of him, which is admirable in some ways, but can spill over into contempt for the reader.

I suspect this is the sort of book that rewards investment in time, study and thought. On the other hand, sometimes I just wish the author would get to the point. And maybe hold my hand a little bit more. The depth and breadth of this book is great. We don't all have time to become experts in the range of subjects explored to enable us to get the most out of the marvels on offer.

I can't see myself tackling any more Nassim Nicholas Taleb books, I think I'll be sticking with authors such as Tim Harford, Malcolm Gladwell and Richard Wiseman, who help explain the world but don't make me feel like an idiot when they do so. I mean, he might be right, but no-one likes to hear that sort of thing.


Stargazing For Dummies
Stargazing For Dummies
by Steve Owens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Smaller format Dummies book is great introduction to the subject..., 14 April 2013
This review is from: Stargazing For Dummies (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am a complete beginner when it comes to stargazing and this book seems a good place to start. It is in a smaller format than the usual 'Dummies' books, so while it still won't fit in your pocket it is more manageable than some.

Inside the format follows the usual 'Dummies' style. The black and white cartoons add variety, but I've yet to find one particularly amusing. It's good the way the text is broken up into accessible chunks, which is less intimidating to the less confident reader. I also like the way the book gives you a summary of what each section and chapter contains. While there are no photographs, perhaps a surprising omission given there is a chapter about astrophotography, the line diagrams do an adequate job.

This book will show you how to identify constellations, find planets and hunt down elusive galaxies. Unsure about using binoculars or telescopes? This book can help. There's also detailed descriptions of the 88 constellations visible from Earth.

It's not an exaggeration to say this book will usher you into a new world. Until reading Stargazing for Dummies I had never considered joining my local astronomy society or campaigning for better (not brighter) light at night.

After reading this book, I can't promise all the secrets of the cosmos will be revealed, but you'll never look at the night sky the same way again. That's got to be worth the price of admission alone.


Dealing with People You Can't Stand, Revised and Expanded Third Edition: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst
Dealing with People You Can't Stand, Revised and Expanded Third Edition: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst
by Dr. Rick Brinkman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, but hardly revelatory, book about better communication..., 13 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book starts by identifying 10 specific behaviour patterns that people adopt, followed by three patterns most likely to be problematic in families. If you can recognise the difficult person in your life in one of these descriptions then that alone would provide some solace, sadly I don't think life is always that simple.

This book explains that when dealing with difficult people you have four broad approaches you can: stay and do nothing; vote with your feet; change your attitude or change your behaviour. None of the advice offered is revelatory, but sometimes the obvious isn't obvious until you've had it pointed out to you.

Once difficult people have been categorised, the book explores how to improve communication. I liked the idea of blending, when one reduces the difference between yourself and another person. The book also recommends things like backtracking, clarifying and summarising what you've heard. As long as you can still sound natural it can be helpful to have an emotional roadmap like this to follow.

The writing style is chatty and anecdotal. The light-hearted approach might be seen as irritating to some. I would have preferred a more concise style, while there are insights on offer sometimes I felt as if I was wading through waffle to get to the nuggets. The authors are American, something that is clear from the writing style and the case studies. There are diagrams and plenty of black and white 'humourous' illustrations. I particularly liked the quick summary at the end of each chapter.


HTML5 Foundations (Treehouse Book Series)
HTML5 Foundations (Treehouse Book Series)
by Matt West
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, detailed and authoritative guide to HTML5..., 13 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I teach web design and I've been aware for a while that I need to introduce my students to HTML5. This is the textbook I'm going to use. If you are a complete beginner, you might be better off with something like Build Your Own Website the Right Way Using HTML and CSS 3rd Edition which will hold your hand a little more. While HTML5 Foundations goes deeper, I think for the beginner it might be less accessible. If you've already got experience with HTML there is just about the right amount of revision here. While the conciseness of the text, for example when introducing the id and class attributes, is to be admired I think if I were a beginner I'd be lost.

As the name of this book suggests it covers HTML, but it also uses CSS, which for the beginner might mean you feel as if you are missing part of the puzzle. You can download the example files and take a look, but they are complex and tricky to work out unless you've studied CSS. The book does suggest where you can learn more about CSS: HTML & CSS: Design and Build Web Sites by Jon Duckett or CSS3 Foundations (Treehouse Book Series) by Ian Lunn.

The scope of this book is broad. In part one it introduces HTML5 and teaches you how to structure a page, creating page templates and the pages themselves. Part two is called Dealing with Data and includes working with forms, enhancing those forms with HTML5, validation, using microdata and ensuring Accessibility. In part three, called Enhancing Web Pages with HTML5 and Javascript, you will learn how to to add video and audio and everything you need to know about storing data. Finally, things get advanced for part four, which covers geolocation and using Canvas to create online ads. There are two appendices with additional HTML markup for text and a HTML elements index.

The book ends with a list of books, websites and blogs to investigate when you've exhausted the possibilities on offer here. Due to the comprehensive, detailed, yet engaging style I can't see myself needing any additional resources for a long time, but it is good to where they are there for when I get to that stage.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2013 10:23 PM BST


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