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Chris Pearson
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The Last Days of Detroit: Motor Cars, Motown and the Collapse of an Industrial Giant
The Last Days of Detroit: Motor Cars, Motown and the Collapse of an Industrial Giant
Price: 4.68

4.0 out of 5 stars The new countenance of a post-industrial city, 3 July 2014
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I’m tired of the images of decaying Detroit that have spawned a rush of coffee-table books, press stories and online photo-galleries of the city, once the fourth largest one in the USA with the claim to fame of being the heartbeat of industrial USA.

This book, in contrast to many, is written by a native of the city who accepts its past without an explanation of its woes, and is focused on the next stage.

Binelli has a refreshing and vigorous commitment to the future- whether urban farming projects, crime solutions or managing the industrial legacy- giving excellent examples of the green shoots of many projects across the city.

It makes for a refreshing and heartening read, providing inspiration to any post-industrial city suffering from the same symptoms as Detroit.


Happy Valley [DVD]
Happy Valley [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sarah Lancashire
Price: 13.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Best thing on the box for a while, 29 Jun 2014
This review is from: Happy Valley [DVD] (DVD)
I’m not a big fan of TV crime dramas, but this series crept up on me.

It’s totally addictive.

The plot, characters and pace of the series keep you on the edge of your seat right from the first episode. The acting is absolutely first –class, and Sarah Lancashire is outstanding. And the violence, which has been commented on, is in no sense gratuitous, but central to the plot.

With so many US TV series being lauded as Box-Set ‘must-sees’, I challenge anyone not to put this UK series up there with them.

I’m sure the series will do well in the TV awards – it deserves to sweep the board.


South From Granada (Penguin Modern Classics)
South From Granada (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price: 4.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive view of life in the Alpujarras in the twenties, 28 Jun 2014
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Brenan's book provides a comprehensive and rich account of living in the remote Alpujarra region of Andalusia in the twenties.

Written in a direct, lucid and personable style (even to the extent that when he is about to set out a description of the country he suggests to the reader that `those who do not like geography can skip a few pages'), the book covers the history, geology, society, sartorial etiquette - in fact every aspect of living there after WW1. It's a travelogue, autobiography and guidebook all rolled into one.

It's the perfect counterpoint to Chris Stewart's series of books documenting his life there today.

As you read about the remoteness, conditions and welfare of the people in the villages back in the twenties, it's hard to imagine the speed at which the area must have subsequently changed as a result of the impact of the road and transport infrastructure, tourism, the EU, and even the internet that Chris Stewart now enjoys on his isolated farm.

Take a trip back with Brenan, and immerse yourself in Andalusia of old.


David Lean: A Biography
David Lean: A Biography
by Kevin Brownlow
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Epic and comprehensive biography, 16 Jun 2014
This tome is as epic as any of Lean's films, and equally well produced. I can imagine that Lean would even approve of the typeface and design elements in this hard back copy.

It started life as an autobiography but Browlow was drafted in to complete it when Lean fell ill, and ultimately completed these 50 chapters based on interviews with the aged Lean, his family, friends and acquaintances. In fact everyone except Peter O'Toole.

The book is no hagiography though.

It tells the story of David Lean's life simply, with fantastic reference to his films and creative process.

It portrays him as a determined man from the start. His mother told him at seven years of age that his teacher said he would never be able to read or write as a result of what we now know is dyslexia. He recognized this and focused on photography - hiring the best scriptwriters in the business for his films.

You get a real sense of the intensity and love Lean had from an early age of for the cinema. There are fantastically detailed chapters on each of his films, with kaleidoscopic facts and stories on the making of each.

His determination, obsession and total dedication to film comes through in every aspect of this book. Lean was a demanding perfectionist, and ruthless too, but despite this left a legacy of peerless films.

If you only read one book about Lean, this is the one to read.


Last Days of the Bus Club
Last Days of the Bus Club
Price: 2.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining collection of stories. Recommended., 14 Jun 2014
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Of all Stewart’s books this is my favourite.

A collection of stories and memories covering everything from Christmas flooding at El Valero, labouring as a teenage student, how Hardy's Gabriel Oak influenced his decision to become a shepherd, and Laurie Lee his ultimate move to Spain.

It’s fifteen years since his first book about the trials, tribulations and uncertainties of building a farm in the Alpujarra Mountains of Andalusia, but his enthusiasm for nature and living a frugal and sustainable lifestyle remains undiminished.

And he tells a good story, bringing everything about Spain to life. You feel you are there with him. The smells, the colour, the heat, the people and the food, whether he’s writing about family, pets, neighbours, sheep, celebrities (Rick Stein’s visit), 4B pencils or flooding.

His passion for food recurs throughout the book too. Growing fruit and vegetables- enjoying sweet Washingtonia oranges, tips on cooking wild boar, lamb, and making nettle soup etc.

Maybe a cookbook next?


Coming Up Trumps: A Memoir
Coming Up Trumps: A Memoir
Price: 6.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Win all, no trumps, 4 Jun 2014
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Trumpers is a good storyteller, with a good story to tell in this light and quick-read memoir.

Her energy for life shines through on every page, and her larger-than-life character is evident throughout.

Her style is matter-of-fact for the most part, although she speaks emotionally about her husband and family at times.

Coming from a well-connected family she rattles off her views and anecdotes about many- from Lloyd George to Enoch Powell, Robert Mugabe to Harold Macmillan, Jackie O to Mrs Thatcher and Rab Butler to Sam Cam and Jack Whitehall.

She tells of her family losing everything in the '29 crash, moving to the country and eventually returning to London. Trumpers starts work at Bletchley Park and moves to New York before marrying her husband, Barker. They settle in Cambridge and after her full-time role as an Headmaster's wife and local councillor in Cambridge, she is London-bound, admitted to The House of Lords, and subsequently working for a number of government departments in the Thatcher era.

It's a good read but more of her personal insights into many she met would have been nice. A really small point is her use of the word `deplaned' near the end of the book- I can't believe for a minute it's a word she would use!

So, if you're looking for depth and analysis of her life and times, don't start here.

But if you do want a candid memoir that is emphatically told, in an authentic voice, by a good raconteur, then look no further.


Galveston
Galveston
by Nic Pizzolatto
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Galveston, oh Galveston,, 21 May 2014
This review is from: Galveston (Hardcover)
Set mainly in 1987 this award-winning first novel by the creator of HBO's True Detective (not seen it) is a terrific read.

In the first few chapters the action moves quickly before changing pace, allowing the characters backstories, personalities and the plot to develop.

It's a story about Roy Cody. A hit-man with cancer and a drink problem. His girlfriend leaves him for his mobster boss, and Roy subsequently finds himself taking on a job for him that goes wrong, and he has to run- taking a teenage prostitute with him.

They head out of Louisiana for Texas, and ultimately, Galveston.

What follows is the story of people brought together by loss, tragedy and rejection. Cody remains on the run, haunted by his past, living his life out amongst out-casts and mis-fits, trying to second guess how long he can hold out against his condition and circumstances.

The description of the South is as cinematic as you'd expect from a screenwriter. You feel the intensity of the southern heat, the vastness of the plains, the trashiness of the port towns along the coast and the bleached weariness of the Emerald Shores Motel.

Things don't end well, but the thing that keeps you turning the page and caring for these characters are the glimpses of humanity they all exhibit.

These aren't cardboard noir cut-outs, but well-drawn characters wrapped up in a cracking read.


Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder (Penguin Classics)
Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder (Penguin Classics)
Price: 4.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waugh's classic, 19 May 2014
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I hadn't read this novel for 30 years but it's still beautiful, sentimental, lyrical, and nostalgic for a time usurped by Hooper, and all the change he brought to post-war Britain and english society.

Superbly written, with exceptional dialogue, and beautifully narrated by Charles Ryder. If you have seen Jeremy Irons play the role in the world-class ITV series of 1981 you'll hear his voice echo throughout these pages.

The critics never regarded this as Waugh's best novel, but I disagree. It's his most enduring novel and a classic you can't ignore.


Mary Berry Cooks
Mary Berry Cooks
by Mary Berry
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No kitchen should be without this book, 19 May 2014
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This review is from: Mary Berry Cooks (Hardcover)
Watched the TV series and thought how plain, simple and tasty the recipes looked.

The book did not disappoint.

I thought she was just about cakes, but I was wrong. Everyone of the starters, mains and deserts we've made from the recipes in this book has been absolutely delicious.

My first Mary Berry book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.


The Cat's Table
The Cat's Table
by Michael Ondaatje
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.65

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A writers book in which the plot runs out of steam, 19 May 2014
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This review is from: The Cat's Table (Paperback)
Not tried anything by this author since The English Patient.

I really enjoyed the first half of this book. A well-told story, without much dialogue, that was especially nostalgic for me having travelled on a similar ship in the 60s at the same age.

Then half way through the novel becomes much more episodic.

The second half of the book is a quite fragmented. It time shifts between the narrator’s story after the voyage and the stories of those he shared the journey with. Switching to episodic rather than linear storytelling it becomes quite disjointed- the plot seems to peter out.

If you like Ondaatje’s writing (and the writing is beautiful) you’ll probably love it, but if you are looking for more than just good award-winning writing, I’d skip it.


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