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The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details
The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details
by Stan Williams
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Colourful eclectic trad-with-a-twist interiors, 7 Jan 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As the title suggests, this is an interiors sourcebook featuring 'found' second-hand furniture and objects. I bought it after a recommendation on Anne Sage's brilliant blog, and I definitely agree with her glowing review.

I'm really enjoying scrolling through this book. The images are wonderfully inspiring and the book itself beautifully produced. It would make a good present (in this case, to myself!)

The text is surprisingly engaging for an interior design book - these tend to state the bleeding obvious, but not here. But obviously the pictures take precedence, and most are self-explanatory. There are definitely a few projects I'm keen to try: I am loving the giantess's blackboard on page 219 (blackboard paint and a frame made from salvaged picture rail moulding); the chest of drawers covered in grey linen bookcloth on page 110; and I am very taken with the idea of papering a wall in pages from old ledgers as seen on p134.

A shame that there isn't more how-to detail (as with Martha Stewart), but anyone reasonably handy, with a little bit of common sense and access to Google, could manage most of the ideas featured.

But how frustrating that we don't have Housing Works in the UK! The local flea market or boot sale might be your best bet, alongside county sale-rooms in unsmart parts of the land. If you're in London, Portobello and Columbia Road markets are a possibility, as is the Old Cinema in Chiswick, but none of these are cheap. Personally, I'm eyeing up my parents' garage...

I have taken one star taken off because there's a very distinctive aesthetic at play. It's wider-ranging than, say, the 'Domino' book, but it's still pretty hokey. That's my taste, but if you're into minimalist, modernist, glamorous or impressive interiors, it almost certainly won't be yours.


I Dreamed A Dream
I Dreamed A Dream
Price: £5.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jawdroppingly BRILLIANT album, 13 Dec 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: I Dreamed A Dream (MP3 Download)
There are some superb reviews on this thread so there's little point adding to them. All I will say is that a) I buy loads of music downloads from Amazon and I've NEVER felt the need to leave a music review before; and b) I was determined NEVER to line Simon Cowell's pockets.

I made an exception for Susan Boyle after one of my friends raved about this album, and now I'm raving about it too. I LOVE it. It's soulful, melodic and moving. It's an object lesson in never judging a book by its cover. Susan Boyle has an incredible voice, simultaneously spiritual and sexy, and her covers may only be covers, but blimey they're good. Her 'Amazing Grace' is, quite simply, the very best I've ever heard.


Domino: the Book of Decorating: A Room-by-Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy
Domino: the Book of Decorating: A Room-by-Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy
by Deborah Needleman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin, 9 Dec 2009
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I have a semi-professional interest in design and a very large collection of interior design books, but my husband has never looked through any of them with anything but cursory interest...until he saw this one. "It's quite good this", he said, which is high praise indeed from a Yorkshireman.

The Domino book is unusual because it features homes with normal (ie small) domestic proportions, is full of images that include unremarkable furniture from multiple periods (ie how real people live, with a mixture of scavenged, inherited and bought bits and pieces, not an array of expensive "design classics"), and solves practical problems (a baby's bedroom that doesn't look like Toys R Us; what to do if your dining table is not to your taste but too good to give away).

As another reviewer has mentioned, the book has a great double page spread in each section which uses key images to help you define your style, so you can choose furniture and fittings accordingly.

Finally, because the 1930s and 1940s were the golden age of American building, there are also some excellent ideas for kitchens and bathrooms of that period. No UK designer seems remotely interested in the humble interwar semi, and so there is a real lack of styling information for people wanting to avoid wholesale modernisation - amazingly, this US import could be just the job to help fill the gap.

I have taken one star off because the featured interiors do favour a very distinctive style, loosely summarised as "colourful/eclectic/timeless" - this is very much my own taste, but may be a little too hokey and feminine for some readers.


Speed Decorating
Speed Decorating
by Jill Vegas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Clever title disguising banal content, dated interiors and poor production, 9 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Speed Decorating (Paperback)
Don't be taken in by the glowing 5-star reviews on the US Amazon...click on their 'see all my reviews' to find out why.

As the other 1-star reviewer on US Amazon writes, this is a clever title disguising poor content and bad production - the interiors are dated, the text banal and badly written, the paper is really cheap so the colours look strange. There are no 'before' shots, there's nothing in the way of 'speedy' projects, and there's no home featured here that doesn't already have great architecture and designer furniture.

if you came looking for this book, as I did, after seeing it on the Apartment Therapy blog, save your money: they've already used the best pictures online.

I'm returning mine to Amazon for a refund - the first time ever I've done this. I was taken in by the manipulated ratings, a mistake I won't make again.


Jane Austen's Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood
Jane Austen's Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood
by Kathryn Sutherland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.00

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for literature students and Jane-ites, but probably not for anyone else, 9 Dec 2009
I see the previous reviewer gave this book just one star; I'm leaving this review to provide an alternative point of view.

You are not going to enjoy this book if your interest in Jane Austen is just limited to reading her novels, or only extends to reading popular literary biographies such as Claire Tomalin's (which I would recommend, despite its sentimentalism). It will mean nothing to you if your knowledge of Austen is based on TV or film adaptations.

Sutherland is writing for a primarily academic audience and this isn't meant to be `pop-lit-crit', though the Bollywood reference in the title may understandably lead you to think otherwise. You really need to be a literature student or teacher, or have a fairly serious scholarly interest in Austen, to benefit from Sutherland's research or appreciate her arguments.

If you do have more than a passing fascination for Austen's writing, you will find this the most interesting and provocative commentary on her works since Marilyn Butler's `Jane Austen and the War of Ideas'. I thought it was an incredibly stimulating read, it introduced me to debates on composition and Austen's juvenilia that I wasn't previously aware of, and it's absolutely encyclopaedic in scope: even if this book comprised all your secondary reading on Austen, you'd still amass a huge amount of textual and contextual knowledge. The chapter on `The Watsons' - a manuscript work that rarely gets the attention it deserves - is particularly intriguing, as is Sutherland's tracing of the myth of Jane Austen as created by successive generations of her family and latterly by her reading public.

In its hardback edition this book was quite obscenely overpriced, almost on a par with the legendary £95 it costs to buy the Blackwell Companion to Jane Austen; thank goodness OUP have now brought out a reasonably priced paperback edition.


So You Think You Know Jane Austen?: A Literary Quizbook (Oxford World's Classics)
So You Think You Know Jane Austen?: A Literary Quizbook (Oxford World's Classics)
by John Sutherland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.94

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars huge fun for austen fans, nice 'cheat sheet' for students, 13 Nov 2009
This is a short book - you can easily read it in an afternoon - but a real pleasure. It's presented as a quizbook but that's actually misleading: though the first part is composed of questions of varying difficulty, the second part, answering those questions, explains the significance of tiny details in Austen's novels, and is the reason why you'd actually want to buy it.

The readings do occasionally suffer from being a little glib and simplistic, but the book is both entertaining and useful. It's written in a very accessible style and would be a stimulating read for fans of Austen novels, as well as really helpful for students learning to decipher the sometimes complex subtext of Austen's writing.

Do note that the Juvenilia and minor novels are excluded, which undermine the sensitivity of some of the readings, but on most points you're in safe hands with Deirdre Le Faye, the ultimate authority on all things Austen.


Nelsons Spatone 100% Natural Iron Supplement--28 Sachets
Nelsons Spatone 100% Natural Iron Supplement--28 Sachets
Offered by Direct Pharmacy
Price: £6.95

121 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best iron supplement out there - but too expensive for the NHS, 21 Oct 2009
I have a medical condition which makes me anaemic. I found tablets hard to tolerate and my readings used to come in at around 14, which was at the very bottom end of what is healthy. Spatone has helped me maintain readings of 26, with no side-effects whatsoever.

I was recommended Spatone by my GP. It is sold at Boots over the counter, but is hugely more expensive than tablets, which is why it is not available on the NHS, although apparently most GPs do know it's the best and fastest treatment for anaemia out there.

Within a week of taking Spatone (two sachets a day in orange juice - but remember I'm anaemic, not just supplementing), I had pink rather than purple lips, and rosy cheeks. Best of all, I stopped needing so much sleep - I used to wake up feeling more tired than when I'd gone to bed, but now I can manage perfectly adequately on a normal 8 hour quota of sleep and very early mornings are no longer impossible.

I will never be without this and the sachet packaging is genius.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 10, 2014 8:34 PM BST


Good Things for Organizing (Good Things with Martha Stewart Living)
Good Things for Organizing (Good Things with Martha Stewart Living)
by Martha Stewart Living Magazine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.39

133 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh Martha, how I want your perfectly ordered existence!, 20 Sep 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My husband couldn't stop laughing when he saw me reading this book - I'm the most hopelessly untidy person he knows. "Aren't you trying to run before you can walk? Why don't you start by putting away the ironing?" he asked.

Well, doh!

How can he possibly expect me to put away the ironing until I have a beautiful Martha-style linen closet, complete with dividers, cross-referenced labels on both sheets and shelves, and two different paint effects?

How can I possibly pay bills on time until I have a dedicated home office cunningly concealed inside an antique Dutch armoire?

How can I possibly tidy my unsteady piles of magazines until I have covered my plywood Ikea magazine files in linen bookcloth and added a sashpull for ease of manoeuvrability?

Laugh all you like, husband dear, but I am completely in love with this book. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the chaos of my life, I open the pages of this book, catch a glimpse of Martha's superhuman home-making efforts, and know that, provided I follow her example, one day I too will have a bureau solely dedicated to giftwrapping and 23 towels in my guest bathroom.

Okay, getting the tongue out of my cheek for a second, this book is a little too much for all but the most obsessive-compulsive, but sometimes it is really truly lovely to live vicariously through Martha Stewart.

There are plenty of useful tips in this book, and lots of lovely - and cheap - decoration ideas (who knew a lick of eau-de-nil paint on an old wooden crate could have such a magical effect?) Under Martha's organisational influence, I have finally put away my ironing (now in little colour coded piles, get me); bought a Dymo label machine; and filed six years' worth of bank statements in date order (this last little habit of Martha's must have made the police's job considerably easier when they arrested her for fraud). Hell, I have even googled "bookcloth" and where to buy it (Falkiner Fine Papers in London's Charing Cross, if anyone's interested, and they do mail order).

If you are chronically messy, this book isn't going to change everything, but it might just inspire you to tidy up, adopt a few good habits, and make your world a little bit nicer.
Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 6, 2014 8:45 AM BST


An Education
An Education
by Lynn Barber
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfactory memoir, but great page turner, 15 Sep 2009
This review is from: An Education (Paperback)
This is a very thin autobiography that seems to leave out more than it includes. There are numerous tantalising glimpses of potentially revealing details, which are then never explored. We never find out why Barber's mother is a "beta-minus brain", or what Jonathan and Maria Aitken were really like at Oxford. There is tons of name-dropping, but little in the way of telling tales, which probably ensures that Barber keeps her friends, but disappoints her readers. Those who enjoy reading about Oxbridge bluestockings will find Barber's experiences as an undergraduate are only sketchily recalled, and her recollections of her Penthouse and Fleet Street journalism days aren't a patch on Anne Robinson's.

Yet the book is written in Barber's typically sparkling, tell-it-like-it-is style, and I found it very entertaining. Like Zoe Heller on the cover, and India Knight above, I just couldn't put it down once started, and stayed up into the early hours to finish it, having meant to just read a couple of chapters at bedtime. There are plenty of amusing episodes that made me laugh, and the chapter about her husband's early death (particularly following the chapter relating how they fell in love) made me quite tearful.

'An Education' isn't quite up to the standard set by Lorna Sage's 'Bad Blood', but if you loved the latter, I am sure you will enjoy this book.


Middle English Literature: A Cultural History (PCHL-Polity Cultural History of Literature)
Middle English Literature: A Cultural History (PCHL-Polity Cultural History of Literature)
by Christopher Cannon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.86

5.0 out of 5 stars If you're reading medieval English history or literature, you need this BRILLIANT book, 13 Sep 2009
This book is the most fascinating and exciting work of medieval scholarship I've read in a very long time. If Amazon allowed more than five stars, this would be an easy 10/10 for me.

Cannon's writing style is immensely engaging and accessible, and his scope is extraordinary - if you're reading Middle English history or literature as an undergraduate, Cannon will make you fall madly in love with the period, as well as give you very comprehensive instruction in all the background context that you could possibly need.

Even the chapter headings grab you immediately ('Insurgency' and 'Technology' are two of my favourites), and the book is full of History-Boys-style "gobbits" that will amuse you and your tutors. Utterly brilliant, if you want to do well in your degree you can't afford not to read this book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2014 10:57 PM BST


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