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Archi-Doodle: An Architect's Activity Book
Archi-Doodle: An Architect's Activity Book
by Steve Bowkett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.36

5.0 out of 5 stars A very clever book, 9 Jan 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is a sticker on the front of this book declaring that this is 'for architects of all ages'. How true! There are not many people who have little or no interest in the built environment and I cannot imagine anyone not having fun with this ingenious book.

The author gives a good, short introduction and explains what equipment you could use to get the most out of this book (pine-line pens, circular template, set square, paints etc) which are all cheap and easily obtained, but I got a huge amount of this book filled with just my pencil and a short ruler. He also provides a page on Techniques, such as hatching, cross hatching, stippling etc, which is useful, and goes on to explain about sectional drawing.

There is simply page after page of intriguing little projects - from designing an underwater community; a bridge; a 21st Century roof form; re-designing the front elevation to Buckingham Palace etc. All the exercises make you look at and consider many forms of architecture.

A brilliant book.


Orla Kiely Home
Orla Kiely Home
by Orla Kiely
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

4.0 out of 5 stars A Treat, 5 Dec 2013
This review is from: Orla Kiely Home (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you are a fan of the European school of modernist architecture and its interiors you are going to love this book. The buildings featured are not huge, fantasy houses but individual dwelling-places, real homes that remain faithful to the spirit of their original design.

Not a huge amount of text, just well written introductions to the various houses and interesting picture captions. The photography is superb. Even the general reader will find inspiration from this book, whilst the architecture/interiors enthusiast will find it an absolute treat.

Recommended.


The Garden of Evening Mists
The Garden of Evening Mists
by Tan Twan Eng
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight from the start to the end, 2 Dec 2013
Having just finished Tan Twan Eng's first book, The Gift of Rain, I couldn't wait to read his only other work to date The Garden of Evening Mists. I enjoyed the first book so much I refused to believe this second work could be as good. Happily, I was wrong.

The Garden of Evening Mists is a multi-layered story of life, love and loss during a time of war and its aftermath. I was not only royally entertained by a superbly written story, but was also given a glimpse of a place and time I am unfamiliar with, twentieth century Malaya. The author's research is meticulous and the various strands of the story he writes have led me to look at things anew - Japanese gardening, body tattooing, tea plantations etc etc.

Some reviewers have said they found the switching of the time line a little confusing, happily I did not find this a problem at all.

As Tan Twan Eng has only written two books (as yet) I feel a little bereft and cannot wait to read his next offering - I do hope he is a fast worker!

Very highly recommended.


The Beau Monde: Fashionable Society in Georgian London
The Beau Monde: Fashionable Society in Georgian London
by Hannah Greig
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The dedicated followers of fashion, 20 Nov 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Next year sees the tercentenary anniversary of the coming of the Georgian age, for it was in 1714 that the Hanoverian George came to the British throne, so we should expect see a flurry of related publications. The Eighteenth Century provides as a fascinating mine of material for the historian, particularly those with an interest in the emerging middle classes.

One such historian, Hannah Greig, offers a colourful view of this middle class phenomenon, a group of people, increasing in both wealth and number, who were not from the aristocracy but had time enough on their hands for the serious pursuit of leisure. And what a dangerous, almost cut-throat pursuit it became.

The obsession with manners, taste, fashion and reputation is laid bare in this engaging work. The examples the author gives us of this infatuation with the royal court, for example, for the 'beau monde' is both funny and tragic. However, we are reminded that this enthusiasm for 'getting things right' at face value could result in the ultimate goal - power.

This is a seriously good book - with content and originality to satisfy the serious student of the period whilst being interesting and well written enough for the general reader. Well recommended.


The Natural History of Selborne
The Natural History of Selborne
by Gilbert White
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New observations!, 19 Nov 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
'The Natural History of Selborne' is, I think, one of those books we believe we know well, whether we have actually read it or not. We may also be under the impression that as it was written so long ago, during the late Eighteenth Century and before such things as the migration of birds was understood, the content would be irrelevant today. Having had both of these notions, I read this latest edition with interest.

The bulk of 'The Natural History of Selborne' is made up from a selection of letters Gilbert White sent to lawyer, naturalist and antiquarian Daines Barrington and to
Thomas Pennant, a Welsh naturalist who wrote, amongst many important books, 'The British Zoology', from which illustrations for this new edition are taken. There is an interesting introduction by the editior of the book; a useful Chronology of the life of Gilbert White and major events during his lifetime; a helpful section of 'Explanatory Notes'; index and a delightful appendix of 'Responses to The Natural History of Selborne', which includes a poem by W H Auden, the first lines of which read

It's rather sad that we can only meet people
whose dates overlap with ours, a real shame that
you and Thoreau (we know that he read you)
never shook hands.

Despite my initial misgivings that the 'sophisticated' twenty first century reader, with an array of highly illustrated, full-colour tomes and seemingly wall to wall television programmes about nature/wild life to choose from might balk at this work, I found Gilbert White an engaging and entertaining writer. His quiet, humorous observations make a very satisfactory read, I particularly enjoyed his descriptions of the tortoise he inherited. I am delighted that the man regarded as the first English ecologist, the 'father' of nature writing, this country curate who lived most of his life in the same Hampshire house is relevant and readable today.

I very much agree with another reviewer here, 'Emma who reads a lot', this is a particularly attractive edition of a classic that would make a wonderful gift for anyone with the slightest interest in the great outdoors.


The Facts of Life
The Facts of Life
by Patrick Gale
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The author is better than this!, 5 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Facts of Life (Paperback)
Rarely am I unable to finish a book - The Facts of Life by Patrick Gale is one such example. Having just finished the excellent 'Notes from an Exhibition' I found The Facts of Life in a bookshop and was keen to read more of this authors work. What I had failed to appreciate was this was a very early work of Patrick Gale, first published in 1993, re-released in 2009. Sadly this work should have been quietly forgotten about - the characters are not well drawn and the flow of the book is too bitty. The research/editing is downright bad for example reference to the age of consent in post-war Britain as eighteen - no, it was twenty one etc etc.

Please do not read this book and think it is a good example to Gale's - it is not!


All Change (Cazalet Chronicles)
All Change (Cazalet Chronicles)
by Elizabeth Jane Howard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.19

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strictly for the fans, 20 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Surprised and delighted that Elizabeth Jane Howard had written a fifth and final instalment of her Cazalet chronicles, I was interested to see how she would round-off the family saga. What I found was an easy to read page-turner - a good yarn written with a light touch. Whilst fans of the Cazalet series will be pleased to have this opportunity to get re-acquainted with old 'friends', anyone attempting to read this as a stand-alone book will , I think, be confused and disappointed.

Anyone interested to know where Elizabeth Jane Howard got the inspiration for her characters for this series of novels should read her autobiography 'Slipstream' - very revealing!


Almost English
Almost English
by Charlotte Mendelson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family in exile, 15 Aug 2013
This review is from: Almost English (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
To some degree or other we are all in exile - in the wrong place, the wrong era, the wrong body. Charlotte Mendelson writes of a family of women, three generations, all not quite where they should be. The older women living in London whilst keeping old Hungary alive within; Laura, a husbandless-wife and now a childless-mother since Marina, a six-former, is off at boarding school - with it manifold opportunities for social and sexual disgrace.

Charlotte Mendelson gives each character a distinctive voice - Laura is as fragile as glass, Marina as gauche as most of us at seventeen. The mother/daughter roles could so easily be reversed - or, perhaps, the author is pointing out that we do not really 'grow up'. Her portrayal of the three elderly women of the household are particularly well drawn - one could almost smell the face powder and hear the jingle of jewellery!

'Almost English' is a really good read; the storyline keeps one turning the pages, it is deeply amusing and touching by turn.


The Hermit in the Garden: From Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome
The Hermit in the Garden: From Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome
by Gordon Campbell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read!, 30 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gordon Campbell is to be congratulated for producing a work of real interest and great charm. 'The Hermitage in the Garden' charts the curious history of a genre of building, as well as its inhabitants, the likes of which has gone in and out of fashion more often than flared trousers.

The first chapter charts the history of the hermitage; the second chapter explores the notion of the hermit in general whilst chapter three looks at the hermit specifically, with plenty of examples from both real life and literature. In chapter four and five the author looks in depth at the eighteenth century English and Celtic craze for hermitage building and in chapter six the story is brought up to date, including the modern take on the hermit - the garden gnome! The appendices include a comprehensive list of British and Continental hermitages.

The illustrations are good with many black and white on-page photographs and a nice selection of full page glossy pictures.

A well written book, the author allows his sense of humour shine through without ever lapsing into frivolity - quite a feat, given the subject matter! I found the subject really quite absorbing. The only two examples of the hermitage I am familiar with are at opposite ends of the scale - the small cave at Warkworth in Northumberland and the stupendous Hermitage in St Petersburg, but I realise now how much they have in common.

Highly recommended.


Cole & Mason 30 cm Hudson  16-Jar Filled Herb & Spice Carousel
Cole & Mason 30 cm Hudson 16-Jar Filled Herb & Spice Carousel
Offered by KG Homewares
Price: £51.97

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neat and Functional, 23 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After years of groping in the back of the cupboard for elusive jars of spices/herbs, this rather stylish carousel has made a welcome addition to the kitchen. I particularly like the feel of the jars, each with the name of their particular herb/spice neatly etched on the top. It doesn't take up much of the worktop and the whole outfit is very easy to wipe clean.

This would make a superb wedding/housewarming gift.


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