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Stephen Candy

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Seventh Doctor Umbrella - Sylvester McCoy (7th Doctor) Official BBC Doctor Who Umbrella
Seventh Doctor Umbrella - Sylvester McCoy (7th Doctor) Official BBC Doctor Who Umbrella
Offered by Motherlove
Price: £65.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I've wanted since 1988!, 1 Jan. 2015
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I have been wanting an umbrella like this ever since seeing Sylvester McCoy's Doctor with one in the 1980s series! There was a replica in the early 1990s that was outside my price range, and I have seen fan-made replicas on internet auction sites that were also expensive and not quite accurate enough for my liking. This item is perfect and is just what I wanted - and less than half the price of any of the items I mention above.
The handle itself is, in reality, slightly darker than I had expected, but then when I photographed it, the colour came up in the red I am used to, so perhaps it's just the case that the item really is darker!

The only thing I didn't like was the needless question marks on the umbrella cover. These were not a feature of the original prop (which was never used on screen in a cover anyway) so it is something I have removed and will not use. Would have preferred a plain black cover - but only a minor issue.

Will I use it as an actual umbrella? Possibly not. I am THAT sort of fan who wants to keep it pristine, but if you're looking for an affordable and recognisable conversation piece that is certainly usable for a practical real-world purpose then this beats a toy sonic screwdriver every time!

The Temp
The Temp
Price: £2.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun, funny and moving., 9 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Temp (Kindle Edition)
The Temp (originally published online as "Spray Painted Bananas" - a title that is perhaps less traditional and maybe even a borderline spoiler) is a lovely romantic comedy in similar vein to "Bridget Jones' Diary." Told by the titular Temp, we hear of her struggles in progressing from tedious temporary jobs to her (newly inspired) dream job. There's the wrong man, the right man, friends - old, new and surprising - and all the other ingredients of a classic "rom com."
As the story developed I could see how it might end - or was I just HOPING that it would end the way I saw? Either way I very pleased with the conclusion as my hopes were realised. As events spiralled everything felt just the right, believable, side of fantastic and we're treated to a whirlwind tour of the borders of would-be celebrity life!
Having enjoyed Emily Benet's previous writings (make sure you check out Shop Girl Diaries) I am looking forward to whatever she publishes next.

The Temp Episode One: Chapters 1-4
The Temp Episode One: Chapters 1-4
Price: £0.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a temp-orary investment!, 29 Sept. 2014
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I've followed Emily's writing ever since Shop Girl Diaries and she never disappoints. This sample introduces a fun core set of characters and sets up some believable yet witty circumstances. I'm already keen to find out what happens next, so have pre-ordered the whole book. There's fun and romance, or dare I say romances, aplenty.

This is totally worth investing forty-nine of your pences in.

Littlest Lovecraft: The Call of Cthulhu
Littlest Lovecraft: The Call of Cthulhu
Price: £3.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Daring to rhyme with Cthulhu. Great fun!, 1 Jan. 2014
After supporting the successful Kickstarter campaign for the creation of this book, having liked the original concept, I was delighted that the finished item lived up to that promise.
The artwork is skillfully created in a unique cartoon style that manages to remain simple but yet still detailed enough to encompass the Lovecraftian imagery of the original source material. Sharp edges and angles in the art help to evoke an otherworldly feel entirely appropriate when you remember this isn't something fun and cute but is in fact an adaptation of the most famous work of the man seen by many as the Godfather of modern horror writing.

The conceit of the retelling of H.P.Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu as a children's book is an amusing one - and as other reviewers have noted the content is not entirely appropriate for small children. That matters little to adults who will enjoy the clever way the authors have included the entire concept of the story, revised it for the different format AND, most impressively, told the whole tale in rhyme just like a children's story. Very impressive.

There has been a recent trend for "reimagining" classic tales as children's stories, or at least in the style of children's stories and this is one of the best examples that I have seen, as it still tells the story, doesn't depend on the reader already knowing the story AND is well produced and illustrated in good quality, full colour hardback.

I am looking forward to future works from the Esoteric Order of Publishing.

Flamenco Baby
Flamenco Baby
by Cherry Radford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drawn into the flamenco world!, 26 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Flamenco Baby (Paperback)
I bought this having enjoyed Cherry Radford's first novel, Men Dancing. As I said in my review of that book, it's not my usual sort of thing as I tend towards crime fiction and sci-fi/fantasy. Also as with the previous book, this was a breath of fresh air and a welcome contrast to my usual reading.
The story is a gentle, if slightly out-of-the-ordinary, romance set against the backdrop of a lady with a wealthy gay friend who treats her to dance and theatre-based treats as "consolation prizes" whenever her other relationships flounder. I was easily drawn into her wishes and fantasies and empathised with her desire to succeed at her first flamenco dancing lesson. (Even though I've never danced a successful step myself!)
The action moves abroad and the romance develops apace in several directions. The story is not a simple matter of wish fulfilment though and has its share of sudden shocks, told in a simple and believable manner that feels true to life. It shows that even the most exciting of experiences or simplest of pleasures can change in an instant. There are several moments that made me think "would that actually happen?" but the storytelling was entirely convincing in each case.
I think I'll conclude by repeating what I tried to convey in my previous review, as it certainly applies here too. Although marketed as a dance-based romance, with promotion heavy on the flamenco imagery, this is a romantic story that all readers will enjoy. I look forward to the next tale.

Doctor Who: Who-ology (Dr Who)
Doctor Who: Who-ology (Dr Who)
by Cavan Scott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for every Who fan to enjoy on many levels., 15 May 2013
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I have been anticipating the release of this book for almost a year - before I even knew what it was, in fact, due to teasing Twitter mentions by its illustrator Ben Morris. (Whose unique stylised work many Doctor Who fans will know from the pages of Doctor Who Magazine/Doctor Who Adventures and last year's charity Doctor Who book Behind the Sofa: Celebrity Memories of Doctor Who.)
I'm pleased to say the finished product does not disappoint. It never pretends to be more than it is - a fun, witty collection of assorted Doctor Who minutiae. It is very well presented; a nice, solid hardback volume in similar size to hardback novels, with a striking yet simple full colour cover (by Lee Binding) and then in black-and-white throughout. The illustrations (as previously mentioned, from Ben Morris) are in a simple, striking and effective black and white caricature style that sits well with the sometimes-less-than-serious (but certainly never comedic) content. Ben has a unique graphic style that remains both faithful to its sometimes complex subject matter and yet clear and dynamic to look at.

The authors, Cavan Scott and Mark Wright, have worked hard to compile a huge amount of information from both sides of Doctor Who. The fictional adventures of our favourite Time Lord are represented just as well as the behind-the-scenes production info. Expect timelines, actor biographies, character summaries, episode listings, fact compilations and quotations.
It's possible that the style of the book may not be to everyone's taste. There's a lot of detail for the casual fan to absorb, yet not as much real in-depth knowledge that the hard-core fan would expect. (The thanks section duly acknowledges the book's debt to painstaking Doctor Who researcher Andrew Pixley. His work, and that of others like David Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen Walker, sets the standard in detailed television production research.) I believe, however, that this is a book that can be enjoyed as a fun collection of information. At this price (currently under £8 on Amazon) it costs no more than a couple of issues of Doctor Who magazine - and indeed LESS than the SFX Magazine Doctor Who special published in 2011. This should be bourne in mind when judging it. As always, I refer anyone seeking really in-depth Doctor Who production knowledge to the works of both Telos Publishing and Miwk Publishing. This is more of a digest, a gathering of numbers and facts to celebrate the huge achievement that is the show's Fiftieth anniversary. Fun to flick through and enjoy - there's bound to be something you didn't already know - plus there's all those pretty pictures too.
Don't let these words about in-depth content make you think the book is style-over-substance though. A reader who had never seen Doctor Who, given only this book, would come away knowing all the key dates, cast, events, stories, characters, production times, monsters and much more. Plus 40 different ways to destroy a Dalek, which can't be bad.

With the relatively high ratio of small-font text to pictures, maybe this isn't a book for the youngest of fans, but certainly anyone who loves the show and is aged (about) 10 years or older is likely to find much enjoyment within its pages.

To summarise, I think this is a book that all Doctor Who fans will enjoy. If you're seeking a gift for someone who likes the show, you'll be hard pressed to find anything that matches this in this price bracket.

Annotated Sandman Volume 2 HC (Sandman Annotated)
Annotated Sandman Volume 2 HC (Sandman Annotated)
by Kelley Jones
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £24.69

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than Absolute, this is Complete!, 9 Mar. 2013
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To start with, it is worth noting that this is not a book for the casual fan, nor is it the ideal format to read the Sandman stories in. However, it is vital to realise that neither of these things are the point of a work such as this. This book is a detailed, scholarly analysis of the influences behind the characters and stories contained within Neil Gaiman's now-legendary Sandman series of comics. The annotator, Leslie Klinger, has a great track record in this field, renowned for his works annotating the original Bram Stoker Dracula novel, (in The New Annotated Dracula) and the Conan-Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories (in The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes - Vols. 1 & 2 The Short Stories and The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: Novels v. 3.)
Here, he turns this academic attention to the Sandman series, and as someone with expertise in annotation and someone who is a friend of Neil Gaiman, he is the ideal man for the job. (Indeed the whole project apparently stems from a dinner-table conversation between the two men.)
Every frame of the original comics is intended to be reproduced in the Annotated series (in black and white - more on this in a moment) and where appropriate commented upon in a spacious margin. This second volume covers comic issues 21-39. It is a big, heavy book - 12 inches square and weighing at least a couple of kilograms. This means there is room for the annotations to sit alongside the pages. Each annotation makes it clear which frame it refers to, and then gives information about the content that covers sources, influences, ideas and themes. Where appropriate also cross-referencing other issues of The Sandman. (Helpfully also referring to future Annotated editions so when they have all been published the set will be definitive.)
It may sound odd to say that there is a "correct" way to enjoy reading a book, and I am sure everyone has different approaches, but my recommendation is that this is a book to be read as a companion volume to a set of Sandman trade paperbacks. (Each volume available separately or in a box set as Sandman Slipcase Set.) If you have never read the stories before, this is not the book to read them in for the first time. If you just want to read the stories again - and who wouldn't - this is not the book for that either. (A key reason for this being that apart from the physical bulk of the book the stories are reproduced in black and white. This is not an issue if you're referring to the book to learn more, and means of course that the cost of the book is affordable especially compared to the lavish Absolute editions. Missing the colour would rather spoil enjoyment of the stories alone though, so when just enjoying the stories I recommend reading the trade paperbacks, or whichever colour edition you have available.)
Really, this book is about learning more about the way the Sandman stories all join up, about the myths, legends and history that they draw upon. Klinger, using resources such as Gaiman's original scripts and conversations with the man himself, pulls together and carefully cross references each reference to allow fans to gain new insights. It's very exciting finding out about all the threads that are a part of the Sandman series and discovering just how many hugely varied storytelling themes - some as old as humanity, some used in comics for the first time by Gaiman - were a part of the creative process. It gives the reader a chance to know more than anyone could possibly derive, even from multiple readings of the stories, and so allows you to truly get as close as possible to a complete Sandman experience.
This is a book to accompany a book, a book for fans who know the stories well and still want more and a book that will truly enrich and reward the dedicated reader who joins Leslie Klinger on his journey into The Dreaming.

Sandman Slipcase Set
Sandman Slipcase Set
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £97.50

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value way to own a modern classic., 13 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Sandman Slipcase Set (Paperback)
Neil Gaiman's Sandman series is now acknowledged as a leading piece of "comic book" writing and helped changed the perception of the medium in a way few others have managed. The author himself has now gone on to achieve international bestselling fame as a novelist, television scriptwriter and influential Tweeter. I shan't attempt to review the writing itself as there is already huge amounts of information and reviews available both online and in print. (I particularly recommend Sandman Companion and Leslie Klinger's scholarly Sandman - Annotated (Vol. 1) & Annotated Sandman Volume 2 HC (Sandman Annotated))
If you're looking at buying this product then it's almost a given that you are interested and will enjoy it, or you wouldn't be considering the "deep end" of buying the entire run in one go!
So, all ten trade paperback Sandman stories in one slipcase box. Perfect? Almost. Even at the Amazon list price you would be hard pushed to obtain the whole set of ten on their own for less than the price of this boxed set - and I recommend checking the Marketplace for further savings on brand new copies that can bring the cost down to under £9 per book! This is a saving not to be overlooked. The slipcase is lovely, strong and of good overall quality and the set is VERY heavy - which gives a real feel of quality when you handle it.
Why only 4 stars then?
While these books use the remastered colourings from the high-end "Absolute" editions and do look gorgeous as a result, the paper used seems very thin and the covers especially seem to curl back disappointingly even after one read. I am notoriously fussy in how I handle my books, taking great care in how I grip the spines and hold them. (My brother mockingly asks if I use white cotton gloves when handling my most precious titles!) Despite this, each of these trade paperbacks has a cover that curls back when left flat after being read. A shame in my opinion when everything else about the set is so perfect - and enough to rob the set of its fifth star. Hopefully being pressed together in the slipcase box will press the pages flat again!

Behind The Sofa: Celebrity Memories of Doctor Who
Behind The Sofa: Celebrity Memories of Doctor Who
by Steve Berry
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Share the excitement!, 30 Oct. 2012
I was lucky enough to hear about Steve Berry's ambitious "Behind the Sofa" project via Twitter earlier in the year. It sounded like a great idea, so I became one of the pre-orders that helped to fund the book's creation. The journey to completion was fascinating to watch and it was great to feel involved, albeit vicariously, through Steve's Twitter updates (as well as those of the brilliant illustrator Ben Morris.) Along the way, obstacles such as PayPal blocking the funding were overcome and today the finished book is in my hands at last. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely!

The simple premise - gather memories of Doctor Who from celebrities from the world of its production as well as the wider public eye - allows it to be accessible to more than just the hardcore fan. That said, as an undeniable "Whovian" myself I still found lots in the book that felt fresh and not just a collection of oft-repeated anecdotes. In fact the contribution of (former Executive Producer) Mal Young alone has had more impact on me than any of the many books & articles written about the "wilderness years" of the series between the Sylvester McCoy era and the new Christopher Eccleston show in 2005. (You'll have to buy the book, I'll just quote three words here: "from 1997 onwards".)

There is input here from people close to the show, including past companions and production team members and people from the public eye such as Al Murray, Jonathan Ross and MP Louise Mensch. Everyone has their own anecdote about what the series means to them and it all feels very genuine and the complete opposite of a clichéd TV "talking heads" programme.

Mention must also go to the illustrations from Ben Morris, known to Who fans for his regular illustrations in the "Production Notes" column of Doctor Who Magazine and thus an inspired choice to illustrate this book in his unique style. He gives the whole volume a sense of uniformity and of fun. The amount of work and detail that has gone into matching the illustrations to the contributors is breathtaking and several of the full page illustrations capture the anecdote they accompany perfectly. There was an option for customers pre-ordering the book to order a limited edition print of Ben's artwork and I really regret now not taking up this chance. In fact, I think that is the best recommendation I can give for the book - having bought it my only wish is that I could have bought more of it!

Thank you Steve and Ben for this exciting and fulfilling journey.

(PS And I didn't even mention it's for charidee. Which it is. Buy it because it is a great book, the great cause is simply a bonus en-route!)

Operation Herod (The Rupert Hood Spy Thrillers Book 1)
Operation Herod (The Rupert Hood Spy Thrillers Book 1)
Price: £2.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever and subversive, but doesn't forget to be fun!, 7 Aug. 2012
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This book takes the well known concepts of many of its spy-novel predecessors and turns them on their heads, to amusing and engaging effect. While playing with your preconceptions about typical spy-hero characters, Andrew Cartmel doesn't forget to make his characters engaging and credible - and also human and fallible, something sometimes missing from the genre.
The story moves quickly and develops well, with some original and clever ideas from the villains and a good "false dawn" before the end. The concept of "secret identity" is touched upon as well, I enjoyed seeing the hero's frustration at having to be subordinate to his foolish childhood rival whilst undercover.
All in all this was a fun and enjoyable book which hopefully heralds the start of a series of adventures for Rupert Hood and his team from the Estate Agents.

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