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S Riaz "S Riaz" (England)
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The Way to the Zoo
The Way to the Zoo
by John Burningham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way to the Zoo, 3 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Way to the Zoo (Hardcover)
To be honest, John Burningham has always been a bit of a mystery to me. His books are almost sparse, the storylines simple, but children always respond with such enthusiasm to his understated text and simple drawings and he really captures the make believe world children conjure up.

In this latest offering, a little girl called Sylvie thinks she glimpses a door in her bedroom that she had never noticed before. She finds it leads to the zoo and she begins to bring the animals back to her bedroom. Some of her visitors are naughty, others a little bit smelly and some simply too big; but she has to make sure the door is safely shut before she leaves for school in the morning. Until, one day, she forgets...

This is a lovely story to read aloud to children of nursery/reception age and would encourage writing/drawing activities and pretend play. Small children will love the idea of the familiar and the unusual, plus the illustrations will certainly make them laugh aloud. A lovely addition to any child's bookshelf.


Soho in the Fifties and Sixties
Soho in the Fifties and Sixties
Price: 3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Soho in the Fifties and Sixties, 3 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Soho is a part of London which is still thought of as slightly bohemian, possibly also slightly seedy, and has always seemed to appeal more to people who live in the city than to tourists. This short book shows us that it was the same in the 1950’s and 1960’s, when Soho was full of clubs, bars, after hours drinking, artists, writers and musicians.

This book gives us brief portraits of the various people linked to Soho during this time and includes artists and writers from Dylan Thomas to Jeffrey Bernard and takes in George Melly, Ronnie Scott and Lucian Freud, amongst others, along the way. There are many key post war Soho figures, mostly connected to the art world, some writers, musicians and others who were simply just characters – artists models or club owners. I was a little disappointed that the author did not turn his eye to those involved in music outside jazz; after all, the British rock and roll scene was first recognised in Soho and could even be argued to be important to Merseybeat (Allan Williams, an early supporter of Liverpool bands, meeting the man who would lead him to send bands to Hamburg in the 2i’s coffee bar of all places – a location which also saw a desperate George Martin scurrying to look for talent to sign and that elusive chart success which would all but elude him until he signed the Beatles).

Some of those discussed saw their greatest links to Soho in earlier times than those in this book; Dylan Thomas for example, is one person discussed who left Soho for New York shortly before his death. So, often, you feel that those chosen are, obviously, linked to the place but not necessarily in the time frame chosen. Still, this is a nice introduction to the arty side of Soho and to the bohemian aspect of a part of London which is constantly reinventing itself.


Simon Swipe
Simon Swipe
Offered by Shop4World
Price: 21.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simon Swipe, 2 Sep 2014
This review is from: Simon Swipe (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Like many other people reviewing this game, I vividly remember the original Simon memory game and so was intrigued to try out this new version. It is much lighter than the original version, which was quite heavy if I recall correctly. It does come with demo batteries though, which means you can play it immediately and is obviously much better if you intend to buy this as a present .

There are four different modes of play and one is the Classic original version. There are also sixteen levels for single player and the new Extreme version, which includes the ‘swiping’ action (you tap for one colour and swipe for two and this mode is much faster and difficult than the original game). Lastly, there is Party mode, for two or more players to take turns. I found this game took a little time to get used to. As well as tapping the colours, you also swipe(rather like turning pages on an ipad or phone) and use a U-turn movement (swiping and then reversing, without lifting your finger from the colour). The colour segments are very sensitive, so you need to tap the side which lights up, or it will record as an incorrect choice. However, after a bit of practice, I began to get the hang of it. My children, obviously, found it much easier than I did and have been playing with it a lot.
My ten year old son seems to like it the most and has been happily playing with it, mostly using the Levels game.

My advice is to read the instruction booklet before you begin, especially if you are familiar with the original version. This is great fun, but much more difficult than the old version. However, it’s good that the original game – without the swipes, u-turns, etc – can still be played for nostalgia reasons and for those of us less familiar with touch screens.


Conversations with Beethoven (NYRB Classics)
Conversations with Beethoven (NYRB Classics)
Price: 9.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conversations with Beethoven, 2 Sep 2014
Published after his death, this was the last novel by American novelist and playwright Sanford Friedman (1928 – 2010) and is an unusual and moving read. Set during the last year of Beethoven’s life, this is not a work which deals with an untouchable genius, but with a real man, with all the niggling problems, human emotions, flaws and colourful cast of characters that surround the composer as he nears the end of his life. Due to his deafness, Beethoven spoke aloud (and often loudly!) but required others to write their responses and questions. This leads to your reading, in essence, half a conversation throughout the book – a rapid, often half scribbled, very often emotive – conversation, where Beethoven’s responses are implied and understood. The unusual sense of reading this is almost like sitting on a train and being unable to cut out half heard conversations, but it works wonderfully well.

Much of the book concerns Beethoven’s concerns about his ward, and nephew, Karl, who attempts suicide at the beginning of the story in July, 1826. Despite the flow of accusations, threats, brow beating and insults between them, you do feel that Beethoven is very worried about Karl and takes his responsibility seriously. At one point, staying with his money grabbing brother, he even tries to convince him to cut his wife out of his will and leave his house to Karl – a suggestion which does not go down well... Although much of Beethoven’s character seems unattractive; most especially his extreme suspicion and, seemingly intense dislike, for every woman within the pages of this book, you also often feel sorry for him. Surrounded by greedy and selfish relatives, beleaguered by problems, struggling to work and create music, he often shows a very vulnerable side – for example, his fondness for a young servant, Michael, at his brother’s estate and mention of the beatings he suffered as a young boy, reveal his own sadness and longing for kindness.

This book takes us from 1826 to 1827; through family feuds, illness, financial worries and introduce us to Beethoven’s relations, friends, hangers-on and servants. Some are caring, others less so, but the novel is so immediate it is almost like viewing these people’s lives and eavesdropping on their conversations. This is a fascinating personal read and would make an ideal choice for book clubs, with so much to discuss. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.


History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs
History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs
Price: 12.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs, 2 Sep 2014
I have read many books about the history of rock and roll, but this looks at music from a slightly different angle. The author takes ten songs – not necessarily the songs you would obviously choose as representing the greatest, or best known – and uses them as springboards to make connections and links between different genres, bands and events. The chapter headings/songs are Shake Some Action, Transmission, In the Still of the Nite, All I Could Do Was Cry, Crying, Waiting, Hoping, Instrumental Break, Money (That’s What I Want),Money Changes Everything, This Magic Moment, Guitar Drag and To Know Him Is To Love Him.

This is not a conventional book, as it is not written in any particular chronological order. The chapter on Transmission, for example, may begin with Joy Division, before explaining how the genesis of the band began at a Sex Pistols concert in Manchester and then veering off to a story about the Brian Epstein and the Krays. Crying, Waiting, Hoping examines the career of Buddy Holly and his ‘ordinary’ appeal and then looks at different incarnations of the song, including that of the Beatles – from the Decca audition tapes to the Get Back sessions- and then somehow ends up examining A Day in the Life.

Just about every musical genre is covered in this entertaining and informative book. From Chess Records, Robert Johnson, Motown, Dylan, Phil Spector, just about everyone who is important in popular music is included. However, there are also the less well known links and relationships, from the Blues to early Rock and Roll, through politics and film. If you have any interest in music and in how it has developed, then you will certainly enjoy this book.

Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.


Make Your Own Lip Balm
Make Your Own Lip Balm
Price: 7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Make Your Own Lip Balm, 1 Sep 2014
This review is from: Make Your Own Lip Balm (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This fun set comes with a pot of strawberry lip balm base, three colourings(red, yellow and blue – which can be mixed into further combinations), three lolly-shaped containers, a packet of pearlescent pigment, a measuring cup, a spatula/spoon, stickers and an instruction guide. The lip balm is very easy to make; you simply put some balm into the measuring cup, add some powder from the packet, plus the colouring and mix. The balm is then spread into the small containers and refrigerated to become firmer.

On the plus side, this is simple to make and not too messy. The colouring has to be squeezed gently out of dropper type bottles, so doesn’t spill easily, but could stain if the bottle is shaken. On the minus side, the kit can only really be used once – my daughter had used up all the lip balm base, or nearly all of it, by filling the three small containers. Also, it would probably be best if an adult supervised. The measuring cup/spatula has to be washed and dried thoroughly for each different colour mixed and the balm base is quite sticky and hard to remove for a child. My daughter is seven and, apart from me washing out the things, she could do this unaided. The age guide on the box suggests 7+ and I think that is sensible. It will certainly appeal to girls of approx 7-10 and provides a fun arts and crafts activity which can be used afterwards. My daughter says that she really enjoyed making the lip balm and that it tasted nice, so overall a success which made a rainy afternoon fun.


Busy B Bunting Design To Do Notes - Blue
Busy B Bunting Design To Do Notes - Blue
Price: 7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Busy B To Do Notes, 1 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This handy little booklet contains three pads inside - one larger pad with lined sheets which fills the right side of the cover and two, smaller pads on the other side; one lined and one plain. The inside cover has a pen loop (no pen is contained, but at least it means you won't be fumbling around for a biro if you need one) and the booklet can be closed with an elastic loop which keeps the covers together.

The 'to do' notes are useful for scribbling down shopping lists or the spelling words which my children need to learn every week. It would have been nice had the pads been 'sticky' or replaceable and I think the smaller, thinner pads, are used more than the bigger one, but overall they are a handy addition to my handbag. The cover is also nice; not too fussy, but attractive. Another excellent product from the Busy B range of stationary.


Sarah & Duck [DVD]
Sarah & Duck [DVD]
Price: 5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sarah & Duck: Lots of Shallots and Other Stories, 1 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sarah & Duck [DVD] (DVD)
This DVD contains ten adventures featuring the lovable duo, Sarah and Duck. Sarah is a little girl, who lives with her friend Duck, in a surreal and charming world where everything – from the moon, to shopping bags and birthday cakes – talk. This DVD contains the following episodes:

Lots of Shallots
Sarah, Duck and the Penguins
Cheer Up Donkey
Cake Bake
Scarf Lady’s House
Robot Juice
Bouncy Ball
Rainbow Lemon
Sit Shop
Kite Flight

This is a CBeebies show, aimed at young children, and the episodes are quirky and imaginative. They feature events that little children will understand, such as going to the zoo or celebrating a birthday, but with a fun twist where everything is alive. I brought this DVD for my little niece, but my seven year old daughter also loves it and I think it is charming. There are also books, a calendar and plush toys available for fans of the show.


Official Minecraft Zombie 13" Plush Toy
Official Minecraft Zombie 13" Plush Toy
Offered by ToyNARA
Price: 24.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Minecraft Zombie Plush Toy, 1 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Obviously, if you are thinking of a buying a cuddly toy, a zombie may not be your first possible choice. However, I purchased this for a slightly older boy, who loves Minecraft, but who is still young enough to like cuddly toys. One of a series of plush toys based on Minecraft characters, this is actually an extremely cuddly and non threatening kind of zombie; dressed in a blue top and dark blue trousers; he is smiling (well, sort of) and not scary at all. The only minus feature of this toy is that he cannot be machine or hand washed – the instructions say, ‘damp wipe only.’ This is certainly a cuddly toy sure to be welcomed by any Minecraft fans, whatever their age.


Tacwise 181ELS Electric Nail Gun
Tacwise 181ELS Electric Nail Gun
Price: 72.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tacwise Electric Nail Gun, 31 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have to admit that I have never used an electric nail gun before, but the product description stated it was useful for furniture assembly, panelling, door frames and skirting. I have a garden door, where the skirting board had begun to come away slightly, so I thought I would give this a try. Thankfully, the product description also said it came with excellent safety features and, I can attest to the fact that – despite my lack of knowledge about such tools – I was able to load it easily and found it simple to use. I really wanted to test this out myself, so I practised on some loose wood panels in the garage first (so the results could not be seen). I will admit that the nail gun had a kick to it and it took me a little time to get used to the feel and use of the tool – placing your other hand on the nail gun stops the recoil. However, once I had played around with it for a little while, I managed to nail down the skirting board really easily. In fact, the sheer power of the tool means that anyone can complete these DIY jobs around the house. It is also impossible to fire the nails out by mistake and hurt someone, as the nail gun only works when it is pressed against something. Later, my husband also used the tool to put up some shelves and he stated that the job was much quicker and easier with the electric nail gun, than manually.

The tool looks utilitarian, but I don’t suppose it is designed to be other than functional, although it does come in a very nice case. You have to plug it in, which I found easier than a battery pack, but it obviously depends on where you are working and what you prefer. In some cases, there was a little of the nail still protruding and that had to be hammered in completely, but for light jobs around the house it is excellent. If you remove the rubber nose, the nail tends to go in completely, but I preferred to use it with the nose attached as it protects the surface area you are working on and I didn’t feel confident enough to use it without. A good addition to the toolbox and I felt quite confident using it; although if you are not used to tools like this I urge you to carefully read the instructions and try it out gradually, before embarking on any major tasks - although easy enough to operate, it could be dangerous if you are not really careful.


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