Profile for PenFriend > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by PenFriend
Top Reviewer Ranking: 11,060
Helpful Votes: 139

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
PenFriend (UK)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
Textile Surface Manipulation (Textiles Handbooks)
Textile Surface Manipulation (Textiles Handbooks)
by Nigel Cheney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.54

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A little basic, 25 Jan. 2014
I think this might be good for someone starting out on a textile course, but I found it a bit basic as well as appearing rather ill-thought out.
I also was not impressed by the use of Photoshopped( ?) repetitive illustrations showing rather ordinary progressions of an idea or sketch. Seemed like padding out, to me. I was also very bemusedby the the repeated use of cable ties to decorate and embellish, if it can be called decoration and embellishment! Various spiky cable tied clogs and chairs and wastepaper baskets and all sorts of items have pages devoted to them- this nearly drove me potty with dislike, and I am one who loves modern art in all its forms. Making a functional item completely unusable in neither a decorative or useful way is very disappointing if the finished article is also utterly meaningless.
Some articles are useful such as the one on the Embellisher, but overall I found the book a bit of an unwanted Xmas present.
For information and ideas you are better off buying Alice Kettle's book on Machine Stitched textiles.
I was quite surprised at the sketchiness and lack of purpose to this book as Nigel Cheney is a brilliant designer and I love his work.

Price: £6.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delicate touch, 18 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Runaway (Kindle Edition)
If Munro was a film-maker, she would make the sort of films I like; those which focus on character development, subtle detail and the small tragedies of everyday life.
Some short story writers I can think of are William Trevor( whom I find acidic, clever,cold and somewhat cruel) and Colette who is nearer in terms of both her innate feminism and delicate and observant style.
Neither are the same as Munro. She is neare Edith Pearlman, but less magnanimous and comforting than her. This is no criticism, it is a different style, shot through with strange observations, the difficulties of being female and feminine and still wanting it all.

She is not an overtly humorous writer, although there is humour in some of her situations; an elderly 'girl' mother being bathed with her baby granddaughter by the baby's rather hypercritical and over-educated mother.
The routing of a pastor's entrenched religious beliefs by a fiercely intelligent atheist who in her youthful argumenation, does not realise that a pathetic belief is all the man has to support him against his fear of death.
The sudden menstruation of a young girl after a suicide; the evacuation of blood somehow horribly linked in her mind with the casual way she had treated the man's loneliness.
He fear of having caused his death rendered ridiculous by a fellow traveller who falls in love with her.
You will notice that the humour is astringently delicate and rests on misunderstanding and human arrogance.
I felt the stories veracious, as though they were entirely true little insights into love, ageing, loss and the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to.
Lives fill and empty like the ebb and flow of some metaphysical tide.
A woman loses her adored daughter for no really good reason other than her mind is apparently slightly messed up by a slightly unimpressive retreat group who have convinced her that her mother is lacking in charitable and worthy intentions.
He life continues parallel to her mother's but the two are separated by a gulf of unresolved misunderstanding. He mother's pain matures to resignation and even a reluctance to admit her daughter's existence to partners.
Wheels turn but their is no comfortable tying up, we are forced to live with the losses and sadnesses of the characters, as indeed we have to live with our own.
If this sounds heavyweight, it isn't. The prose is delicate, disarmingly so. Conversation is to the point and characters speak as you feel they really would. Details are added to add poignancy, a man's vulnerability is transmuted into a stomach described as a 'white pancake'. We do not disdain the characters, we feel for them as we would in a Chekhov story. There is humanitas here and also seamlessness. Any abrupt ending is intended.
One of the most unlikeable characters is the horribly louche and sinister riding school owner to whom his often melancholic wife has a terrible physical addiction unquenched even by an implied brutality. Her emotional delicacy is belied by her physical abilities and herein lies the key, the flesh is very weak. This reminds of Tennessee Williams' characters with their hidden quirks and sexual peculiarities.
Another unlikeable character, is the subtly dreadful and monosyllabic Irene whose hairy primal qualities have entranced a girl's father, invading her dreams with Freudian symbolism of which she is all too much aware.
In Munro the mundane becomes a clear iconography of character, few stereotypes here, and if they are, they know they are!
The word which was never said, the thing which was unwittingly left undone, the question as to the mystery of human relationships, attraction and repulsion- these issues are Munro's subject. The letter which skims over the truth, and the lives lived as if we actually knew what we were doing, which basically none of us do. This is truthful and profound.

The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The goldfinch's egg- only good in parts., 9 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Hardcover)
I really wanted to like this book which starts out so well with delicately drawn likeable characters and a random act of kindness which shows how even the young can be altruistic and generous. Theo is a lovely young chap, or so it seems. His Mother is a rather unconvincingly glamorous do-gooder in a white satin trenchcoat(yuck- does such a garment exist?), but never mind, she is awfully nice. Although she does ramble on making very cliched cringey observations which attract attention in art galleries.
The prose is very beautifully crafted with some wonderful descriptions and observations which I found quite enjoyable.
A delightful romanticism is coupled with incisiveness and great narrative.
Young Theo's kindnesses gives him the key to live with his genius nerd best friend's starchy family after his Mother's rather shocking and sudden death. Their innocent and rather sweet relationship once again outlines Theo's apparent strength of character.
We still like him. All bodes well. He meets only good people like the Middle Earth Hobie with his rather boring joinery business. A nice man, but obsessed with wood. Theo, with his nerdy aspirations is soon mixing up polish and choosing a lovely bit of mahogany. All perfectly enjoyable.

By the middle of the book though, the glamour deteriorates as our rather heroic boy sudddenly and quite quickly degenerates into a sexually experimental, weed toking chancer. This all seems so terribly unlikely, that it feels like you have fallen from watching a delightful french movie into slightly Tarantino-ish zone. Language is coarse,gritty and funny as are the spasmodic forays into drugs and drink and a bleary homosexual affair.
One minute we admire our hero's sharp mind and kindnesses, next he is a foul mouthed slob living with his boorish father and his sharp faced piece of totty with a verminous stoner called Boris as a best mate. Boris is painted as rather nice deep down but actually he seemed violent and erratic to me, and quite unlikeable, especially after he smashes his girlfriend Kottke in the mouth.

Soon after yet another death( boy, is Theo unlucky?) , he runs away with his 'stepmother's' lapdog,and he does return to being delightful and kind, if understandably neurotic. Romantic, refined thoughts of his beloved Pippa are still unsullied. He simply lies in her bathtub smelling her strawberry shampoo. I thought he might be likely to be exercised quite differently after all his lustful conversations and actions in Vegas.
I cannot believe he can even look his old friend's like Hobie and Pippa in the eye!
The boy should be in Rehab! But no, he goes back to mixing glue for mortice and tenon joins- admiring its syrupy aroma without even using a paper bag.
We have a continuity problem here.
This really lost me. Either a book is a gritty piece of teen-reality writing or it is something quite different.
The book comes across as an adult oriented, rather arty book with a slice of dirty young adult fiction shoved right in the middle. I have no idea why.Editorial interference?

The other problems were with Theo seeming to have the touch of death about him, people seem to drop down dead in bizarre accidents.

I found his bad luck rather surreal.

The book suffers from Plot-itis, a simple story embroidered and magnified into a massive biopic and herein lies the problem.

If Tartt had stuck to her initial inspiration, the simplicity and clarity of Flemish painting it would have led to a simpler and more veracious book. The constant padding, however interesting or well written belies the start of the book, when all was clear and radiant and then suddenly destroyed.

Tartt is trying to write about hope, about courage, but she keeps sinking into the prosaic, the anecdotal, so the initial sharp focus is finally lost in a sea of Creative Writing.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2014 5:04 PM GMT

The Snow Child
The Snow Child
Price: £3.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Fairytale Reality, 15 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Snow Child (Kindle Edition)
Fantastic and yet gritty story about life in the wilds of Alaska.
An elderly couple struggle for survival in a harsh pioneer ootpost surrounded by the fierce beauty of the forests and mountains. It is not just survival of the fittest but the reviving of the imaginative forces which actually sustains the inner life.
As Mable and Jack slog it out, Mable remembers her lost child who died at birth. Unable to forgive Jack for his stolidity and lack of true support, Mabel finds she must learn to love again.
It is interesting that the book depicts an elderly couple with an active love life which affirms their identity as a couple in such harsh and freezing surroundings.
This comes in the form a beauteous waif who appears from nowhere and is as unreal as the melting snows, and yet seems to exhibit a fierce worldliness in her control of the inhospitable landscape she inhabits.
A fairy story weaves in and out of hunting and trapping and dirt framing.
Jack and Mabel are reborn from their suffering again and again as they learn to master the farm and Mabel learns to incorporate her delicacy and intellectual force into daily life.
A very unusual book which strays away from sentiment despite its deep pathos and humanity.
Much recommended.

Kipling Women's Defea Shoulder Handbag Celo Grey Size: 33x25x19 cm (B x H x T)
Kipling Women's Defea Shoulder Handbag Celo Grey Size: 33x25x19 cm (B x H x T)

5.0 out of 5 stars Fab Bag!, 11 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I ordered this because I have a shoulder injury and wanted a light bag with a wide strap. Oddly, a larger bag distributes the contents and makes it easier to carry.
You can carry the bag in many ways and even remove the shoulder, cross body strap and have the two handles over your shoulder or as a grab bag.
The bag is beautifully made- now I know why the Kipling bags are so expensive. It is rainproof and has a compartment or a small umbrella. It has some pockets inside for your pen, phone and a zipped compartment. Outside it has 4 other pockets or baglets, inlcuding the umbrella one aforementioned.
It is quite a deep bag so be aware it does not lie flat to the body. If you can imagine a small work or tool bag - this is it.
It is very light without whatever you want to stuff in it.
You could even use it as a small overnight case.
The monkey- which I thought would be vile, is actually really sweet and you can arrange its limbs so it sucks its thumb or looks like it is hanging from a tree.
It has really helped me get organised and be comfortable having this bag. It is not exactly beautiful but who cares?

Palladian (VMC Book 693)
Palladian (VMC Book 693)
Price: £4.31

3.0 out of 5 stars Alright for some, 10 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not the finest of Taylor's books. The conceit is extremely formulaic and rather humourless. Drawing on gothic literature and Austen scenarios, the classically named Cassandra Eason arrives at her employer's stately home with a view to definitely falling in love with him Even the name Marion does not deter her from being enamoured of the foppish bibliophile with the sex appeal of a caterpillar and a tendency to neuralgia. There is a Heathcliff like Tom, a large Seth Starkadder who never quite does anything worse than shag the local camel like barlady albeit somewhat uncaringly.
There is a nasty Nanny who simply an utter bitch rather than an evil Mrs Danvers,and a greedy over prosaic pregnant sister who seems to have wandered in from another genre.
There is nothing nasty in the woodshed except for a pointless death. I say pointless, because it adds nothing at all to the storyline.No one even seems remotely sad which is odd, to say the least.
The death is simply skimmed over and bloodied debris thrown into the bushes. Seemed like no one cared except Tom who gives up drinking and shagging.
We are left on a note that Cassandra will be happy with her bookish mate and the attentions of the reformed Lothario, Tom.
She seems to be too uptight for any threesomes as does her husband who would be almost bound to get a headache, so I found that idea rather doubtful.
This could have been one of Taylor's wittiest novels but instead seems to cower in a fusty dusty dated world of girl's schools, and posh people.

Cast On, Bind Off
Cast On, Bind Off
by Ann, Leslie Bestor
Edition: Spiral-bound
Price: £11.38

5.0 out of 5 stars More exciting than Youtube, 1 July 2013
This review is from: Cast On, Bind Off (Spiral-bound)
Really lovely little book. I get so confused about which cast on or bind off to use and end on searching, Ravelry and Google and watching Youtube instructional videos. As soon as I master the technique, one garment later I have forgotten. I have huge knitting directory but I cannot carry it around with me. This is a sweet, neat and expert book which covers all the techniques you will need. I recommend.

Bundle Monster Nail Art Nailart Polish Stamp Stamping Manicure Image Plates Accessories Set Kit 21pc
Bundle Monster Nail Art Nailart Polish Stamp Stamping Manicure Image Plates Accessories Set Kit 21pc
Offered by Bundle Monster

5.0 out of 5 stars Bundle of Fun, 15 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are absolutely great! Slightly tricky to use and you definitely need a Konad scraper and stamper set. I actually think you can use them for stuff other than nails. I just upcycled a purse which I hated by re-dyeing it and stamping it in gold nail varnish with images from this set.
The images are lovely and dainty; cats, owls, stars, kissing lips and all sorts of foliate, geometric and flowered designs for nail tips, full nails and so on.
They arrived really fast, unlike the plates from Cheeky which I had previously ordered.They take MONTHS to arrive.
These BM plates are a great starter set and well worth the money. I used Barry M foil paint in gold and it works really well over a lilac and blue degrade sponged background on my nails.
Highly recommended.

NEW 2012 Cheeky Set of 10 Nail Art Nailart Polish Stamp Stamping Manicure Image Plates Accessories Set + Stampr and Scraper Kit.
NEW 2012 Cheeky Set of 10 Nail Art Nailart Polish Stamp Stamping Manicure Image Plates Accessories Set + Stampr and Scraper Kit.
Offered by VAGA SHOP UK
Price: £4.81

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cheeky With it., 9 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I would have liked to give a 4 star as the larger plate designs are really good and better etched than Bundle Monster.
However:1. The smaller designs are a bit pathetic and uninteresting.

2.I found the delivery incredibly tardy. It is not clear that the product is shipped from China- DO BE AWARE. These were meant to be a pressie but I ended up having to keep them.

3.The edges of the plates and scraper are very sharp too- too dangerous for youngsters or children.

So be careful.

Lesley Riley's Tap Transfer Artist Paper 18-Sheet Pack: 18 Iron-On Image Transfer Sheets 8.5 X 11
Lesley Riley's Tap Transfer Artist Paper 18-Sheet Pack: 18 Iron-On Image Transfer Sheets 8.5 X 11

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nearly perfect, 21 May 2013
I am always struggling to find good ways of transferring imagery. Having spent a few years poisoning myself with car spray paint/ photocopy transfers, I am happy to report that life is a little simpler now I am not an art student and technology has moved on.
Nowadays we have printers next to our pc's and we can use TAP paper. Simply print or draw your design on the tap paper. I suggest print as the surface is too delicate for anything else. I completely distress any image I transfer to silk using bleaches and hot water plus dyes. This is prior to stitch.
I have a very old HP printer, nothing special.
TAP transfers will break up quite well, which is not so good if you want a photofast image. Good for me, though.
The image you get off a TAP print is super duper and very clear. Much better than a T shirt transfer paper. They are quite stunning. This is prior to me killing them.
The paper is easy to use, you just need a hot iron. I cannot understand people saying they could not get a good print. It's easy! You must peel off the backing while still hot.
The fabric will stiffen which is a shame but there you go, you can't have everything.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5