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Graeme Wright "book worm" (salford)
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Brabantia Ironing Board Large Size D - Fields with Silicon Heat Pad Rock
Brabantia Ironing Board Large Size D - Fields with Silicon Heat Pad Rock
Price: £93.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ideal Height Adjustment Makes This A Winner, 24 Nov. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Very few of us actively enjoy ironing. It is one of those weekly chores which seems to be put off time and time again until the pile of clothes requiring a pressing is reaching critical height. One reason for this reluctance has to be the monotony of the job but a more concealed reason must lie with the equipment used. Narrow ironing boards which tall people like myself have to stoop over are not great things to use for long periods at a time.
Brabantia's latest solution extends to a very satisfactory height of 1 metre which coupled with the wider and longer ironing surface makes ironing shirts, trousers, bedding and tablecloths a breeze rather than a bore. It is also impressive, although I have not tried this, that the board can be lowered sufficiently to be used seated. Luxury, indeed.


Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2014
Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2014
by Hugh Johnson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Evergreen Back To Its Vintage Best, 19 Nov. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Hugh Johnson has been writing his annual wine guide for thirty seven years, a period of constant change and turbulence within the global wine trade. The format has barely changed within this time - a country by country A to Z of everything worth sipping, spitting and glugging made from the fruit of the vine. New markets have sprung up and, in most cases, gone from strength to strength - Australia, New Zealand, South America and Eastern Europe are among those entries which have increased from pages in single figures to, in Australia's case a regional vintage guide.
One thing that enhances and freshens the 2014 guide is the inclusion of information boxes throughout the national chapters; these include advice on the best producers of certain wines and news about trends within the wine industry to the curiously bizarre - an organization of US winemakers dedicated to promoting Iberian grape varieties is certainly one of the most esoteric.
It is a few years sice I leafed through Mr Johnson's Pocket Wine Book but one thing that hasn't changed is his enthusiasm and passion for his subject. Nobody else writing about wine combines such insight and detail with this degree of joie de vivre and, as a result, no other wine writer has become such a household name. The toast is, for the thirty seventh time, Mr Hugh Johnson MW. Sante.


Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Novels Book 1)
Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne Novels Book 1)
Price: £4.31

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, 13 Oct. 2013
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Mark Billingham's Tom Thorne novels have become a byword for suspense, crime fighting, calculation and country music. Unlike many of his contemporaries Billingham hasn't lavished opulent cars, Oxbridge degrees or intricate pasts on his Detective Inspector; Thorne is a down to earth, supermarket own brand lager sort of cop and that makes him all the more real.
One thing Billingham has, in abundance, is a wonderful way with words. Whether it is describing a London rain shower, a work induced hangover or the intricacies of surgical procedure this author narrates with certainty and fluency. Sleepyhead unravels the workings of a sick yet methodical mind, a killer who doesn't want to kill but rather to leave his victims in a state of locked in syndrome. His one "success" is flawed by many more failures and it is the rising body count which alerts Thorne to the culprit's true purpose and, via a labyrinth of hunches, red herrings and pure human error, to the culprit himself. By using two first person narratives - the locked in victim and the culprit - around the standard narrative allows the reader to view the proceedings from different angles, try to second guess the police work and come up with a prime suspect long before Thorne embarrasses himself. It is to Mark Billingham's story telling credit that this reader tripped up long before the Detective Inspector and was still as blinkered right up until the final few pages.
Having read most of the later Thorne books prior to reading this one I found it quite refreshing to go back to Thorne's roots so to speak and to examine the evolution of Mr Billingham's irrepressible style of writing. Sleepyhead is truly one of modern crime fiction's great debuts.


Countrymans Cooking
Countrymans Cooking
by W. Ryan Fowler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.66

5.0 out of 5 stars How to Pauch A Rabbit And Other Heroic Stories, 7 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Countrymans Cooking (Hardcover)
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Every now and then a book comes along that challenges the standards and stretches the boundaries of accepted taste: Lady Chatterley, The Story of O, A Clockwork Orange. All these and more have broken the rules and rewritten them, paving the way for other authors to follow. In his own quiet way WMW Fowler, ex Bomber Pilot and mink farmer, did a similar job of refashioning cookery writing in the sixties. Countryman's Cooking, the fruits of his labour, was first published in 1965 when Britain itself, fully recovered from the ordeals of World War II and finally prospering, was experimenting with new and exotic foods. But while Fanny Craddock and Elizabeth David were introducing television viewers and book readers to the weird and wonderful of global cuisine Mr Fowler took his readers back to a pre war idyll of shooting parties and self-carved smoked salmon. With a language laced with suitable adjectives, an absolute treasure chest brimming with experiences and instructions and a glorious non existence of political correctness Mr Fowler guides us stealthily through the intricacies of hunting, shooting and fishing with masculine glee.
Countryman's Cooking, it is fair to say, is not for the squeamish. Skinning, gutting, beheading and many other sub processes of food preparation are dealt with uncompromisingly by the author as well as some very handy tips which have all but vanished from modern life - examining the liver of a rabbit, when lamb's fry is best eaten and how to safely pick up a live lobster are among Mr Fowler's tales of daring do. Recipes, in the most acceptable form of the word, are dotted throughout the book but quantities are approximate and measured by cups, pounds and ounces and, quaintly, port glasses. All manner of game, fish, traditional farm meats and even less macho ingredients like eggs, scallops and Brussels sprouts are covered in varying detail. While Mr Fowler's style of writing will not appeal to all this is nevertheless an entertaining, educating and heartening book from one of England's unsung heroes of the kitchen.


Pocket Beer Book 2014
Pocket Beer Book 2014
by Tim Webb
Edition: Flexibound
Price: £13.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A Potent Brew, 3 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Pocket Beer Book 2014 (Flexibound)
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In a world dominated by brewing on a truly industrial scale, where the ogres of global beer manufacture are buying up independent by independent this book shines like a small but bright beacon. Authors Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb have taken up the challenge to uncover and bring to as wide an audience as possible the very best of beers produced on a small yet marketable scale. They have done this in style with notes on over 3,000 brews over 300 pages presented in an easy to reference, no nonsense way. From Achel in Limburg, Belgium to Zakkoku Kobo in Saitama, Japan breweries large and small are put through their paces and their products awarded up to five stars. Exhaustive research has certainly revealed some surprising drinks: Japan gets the top award for invention with everything from sake rice to coffee, coriander and citrus peel added to the ferment but USA comes a close second as home of craft beers. As expected both Belgium and Germany, region by region, have many substantial pages devoted to their beers while UK is thoughtfully divided into individual countries. A handy feature among the entries is the 'destination' boxes giving recommended drinking places in many towns and cities - arguably, in the case of Brussels, Munich, Amsterdam and many others, the recommendations could have been more numerous but this is a small quibble. Add a section on beer styles and another matching beers with foods - Flemish red ale with granola for breakfast - and this book is one of the most comprehensive and entertaining works on the world of beer on the bookshelf. It is certainly as essential an accessory to the beer buff as a decent bottle opener. But a word of caution - the authors have decided not to include alcoholic strengths with the entries. From previous experience some of these are pure, liquid dynamite!


Yesterdays
Yesterdays
Price: £7.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Tiny Acorns Etc., 6 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Yesterdays (Audio CD)
Many reviews of this album point to the inclusion of the cover version of Simon and Garfunkel's America as the only high point. Well good as this track is - I first heard it on Radio 1 and had to get it on vinyl years ago - Yesterday's also acts as a fine introduction for fans from the Fragile era onwards (such as myself) to the early music of Yes.
What I find refreshing listening to some of the songs collected from the first two albums on Yesterdays is the simplicity of the arrangements combined with a honed musical friendship between Peter Banks on guitar and the late Tony Kaye on organ. No massed synthesisers, mellotrons etc as would be experienced on future albums, no obscure Portuguese stringed instruments to play a segue between bursts of filling threat electric guitar. Everything was so simple and easy going then...well it was the sixties. Hearing the likes of Time and A Word, Sweet Dreams, Survival and Dear Father in their raw, studio form is like seeing a favourite actor in an early film and helps to plot the progress of this most progressive band.


Zyliss Herb Tool Cutter
Zyliss Herb Tool Cutter
Price: £12.90

3.0 out of 5 stars Easy to Use, Tricky to Clean, 6 Sept. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Firstly the Zyliss Herb Cutter is a very comfortable and useable gadget. Its four sharp wheels glde through piles of parsley, mint or sage with ease and with little risk of cuts to fingers. Admittedly a little more effort is needed to finely chop the herbs but it does the job without too much effort. Secondly it is a pain to clean. Wash it without taking the handle off to uncover the "hidden parts of the wheels and it makes a tricky job even trickier. The problem is that pieces of parsley, mint, sage etc tend to stick to the wheels and a thorough dousing with hot water is reall the only way to remove them. Do not even think about trying to untangle the herby knots - those blades are sharp and those fingers are precious.
For small chopping jobs I still use a sharp kitchen knife but for handfuls of herbs I'll let the Zyliss do the work and use the saved calories up later cleaning it.


Symphonic Music of Yes
Symphonic Music of Yes
Price: £24.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky But Quintessential, 6 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Symphonic Music of Yes (Audio CD)
One of the many side projects that internal bickering, contractual obligations and a downright sense of adventure have produced in the long history of Yes, Symphonic Music of Yes (SMOY) is certainly a curate's egg among curates' eggs. A blending of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, the London Community Gospel Choir, two fifths of the then - 1993 - manifestation of Yes, an ex Yes man, Bill Bruford plus Tim Harries on bass and David Palmer on keys this could quite easily have resulted in a pompous, inflated and grandiose cacophony of sound. Instead it is actually very good, most of the tracks have benefitted from an artistic rethink and the various orchestral/ group combos seem to work.
Opener, Roundabout, has the full orchestral treatment (produced and engineered by Alan Parsons) with Jon Anderson's vocals adding power and maturity that Fragile's original version lacked. Likewise, Close To The Edge also benefits from the string and brass treatment with Bruford's drumming reawakening the old debate about whether or not Alan White was the better drummer. The lack of vocals, surprisingly, is hardly missed. Again there are no vocals on Wonderous Stories, Heart of The Sunrise or Starship Trooper and yet Steve Howe's battery of guitars, mandolins etc coupled with strong orchestral arrangements and very competent fills from Messrs. Bruford, Harries and Palmer add joy, life and energy in good measures. Another vocal less track, Owner Of A Lonely Heart, on the other hand lacks direction and ambition. Possibly the original was just too good to better. Stand out mentions go to a delightful version of I've Seen All Good People with Anderson and the Gospel Choir gelling like a strong, vocal cocktail and a serenely beautiful Soon complete with spoken lyrics by none other than Steve Howe.
As mentioned earlier SMOY could have been a total disaster, many Yes aficionados dismissed it as yet another money spinner and many more snubbed it as not being a true Yes album. Having followed the band since 1972 (and still proud to call myself a prog rocker 40 years later) SMOY is one of those albums I will play when the mood for something novel is needed. It ticks all the right boxes in that area.


Mad Hatters
Mad Hatters
Price: £3.16

4.0 out of 5 stars The Acceptable Face of Prog?, 6 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Mad Hatters (MP3 Download)
Much derided by numerous critics over the past thirty or forty years prog rock is like one of those tenacious weeds in the garden that can survive anything. Granted, the excesses of the pre punk heyday (King Arthur on ice, synthesisers being set alight on stage etc) have, thankfully, been confined to the Dark Ages and the New Age of Prog is a less pompous, more musically adept beast. One of the newer pretenders to the throne is Touchstone whose first CD release, Mad Hatters, first saw the light of day in 2006 before current vocalist Kim Seviour had joined. Early Touchstones music is a light, delicate concoction, not too serious or too heavy with clever lyrics and catchy snippets of music - similar in many ways to early Genesis. There is certainly a good, driving rhythm on Hear Me and The Mad Hatter's Song with plenty of noodling keyboards to lift the music out of mundane AOR. With personnel changes on bass and drums and Ms Seviour sharing vocal duties with Rob Cottingham the sound became harder and more punchy on the following year's debut album, Discordant Dreams but Mad Hatters remains a very listenable EP and is a great value introduction to a great band.


D. H. Lawrence : The Life of an Outsider
D. H. Lawrence : The Life of an Outsider
by Paul Poplawski
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Researched But Lacks Edginess, 6 Sept. 2013
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Of the many, many books written about Lawrence few seem to have successfully caught the adventurous, liberal spirit of the man but have trodden the familiar path of Lawrence as social rebel. Thus I approached John Worthen's sizeable biography with just a little scepticism, hoping that this would be unfounded and that here at last was the life of Lawrence I have been searching for.
Unfortunately, Mr Worthen fills his pages with the minutiae of Lawrence without really probing beneath the skin. The health problems, financial problems and moments of self doubt are mentioned but rarely explored; the nomadic search for a suitably tranquil place to write - Italy, Germany, Australia, Mexico - is likewise underplayed and described rather matter of factly. The Life Of An Outsider is not a badly written book but an evergreen subject such as DHL still requires a novel viewpoint. My search continues.


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