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Mal Page "Mal Page" (UK)
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Wire Art Jewelry Workshop (With DVD)
Wire Art Jewelry Workshop (With DVD)
by Sharilyn Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as bead on a wire, 14 Feb. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I waited a long time to buy this book because I loved Bead on a Wire so much. Eventually I was too intrigued by the idea of the DVD and gave in.
This is not a bad book or DVD - it just isn't as good as Bead on a Wire.
In its favour, the DVD is clear and informative and it does help to see the artist at work. The designs are typical of the designer's style and use quality wire, often silver, and semi-precious stones. Each element, once learned, builds to a cracking 'statement necklace' at the end, so it feels like a proper 'course'.
The points against it, however, negate most of the 'pros'.
The DVD only shows the techniques, not the designs themselves e.g. coils but not earrings. I would have liked to have seen the process right through from start to finsih. The designs are all very 'samey' - mainly a turquoise and silver or garnet and pearl combo. I think a book on wire should acknowledge different tastes and pockets - there's no coloured plated wire on show, for example.
Finally, the fact that each step works towards one statement piece makes it feel a bit brief. There is only really one type of earring wire, two decorative headpins, one clasp and so on. Only necklaces, earrings and bracelets are shown. Bead on a Wire showed a lot of different earring styles and included pendant bails, fibulas and so forth.
In summary, this is nice set and very good value. It would make a great first foray into wirework. If I had seen it first, I would have loved it more. However, if you are only going to buy one book on the subject, buy Bead on a Wire instead.


How to Make Jewellery With Tatty Devine
How to Make Jewellery With Tatty Devine
by Harriet Vine
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You have to love Tatty Devine to get this book, 14 Dec. 2011
The problem I have with this book is that 'How to Make Jewellery' is writ large on the cover and 'with Tatty Devine' is fairly small. It needs to be the other way around because, if you bought this as your first insight into jewellery making, you're likely to be disappointed. If, however, you love Tatty Devine and embrace their whole concept you will undoubtedly love it.

In a nutshell, the authors advocate using 'found objects' to adorn the body rather than being kept on a shelf or in a drawer. Terrific idea. However, they do tend to stick to pendants (item threaded on a jumpring and then a chain) or brooches (item with a brooch finding glued to the reverse). There are no beads used and, to most people, jewellery making involves beads. Also, no 'value' is added to any of the items when turning them into jewellery. For example, the tape measure rosette brooches would have been so much more impressive embellished with glittering button centres and chain/bead/charm dangles. Similarly, a vintage chess piece or jigsaw puzzle component is just hung on a chain without any other beads or charms. I also wonder how long the pieces will last (given that you are encouraged to use treasured mementos) e.g. the leather cuff only slots shut - there is no proper fastening.

This all feels a little 'lazy' and a lot of the pictures are very similar. Also, I think there is probably an age beyond which someone would be unlikely to wear a plastic dachshund on their lapel!

It would have been nice if the book had brought the dated designs of its formative years up to date. After all, a few years ago we had not heard of Steam Punk nor used watch parts, paste board or zips in jewellery. Now they are commonplace and all the rage, which shows that the Tatty Devine ethos of looking at objects differently is the right way to go. A nod to these recent developments would have made the book more complete as a journey.

As just a 'read' I found it interesting and rather endearing. It took me back to my unversity days of make-do-and-mend and I'm sure students of all ages will love it. The anecdotes about how TD got started are cute and funny. For Positive Mental Attitude it can't be beaten. However, I would advise borrowing it from a friend or the library before buying it as, for the reasons given above, it may not be for you. You'll definitely need to buy something more comprehensive if you want to seriously get into jewellery making as a hobby or career.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 29, 2012 10:50 AM GMT


London Calling (Inspector Carlyle)
London Calling (Inspector Carlyle)
by James Craig
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A matter of personal choice, 7 Oct. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book has been reviewed so comprehensively that there is little more to say. You will either find it 'too much' or not, depending on your personal taste.
It was an Ok read at the time and moved along. However, it is nothing particularly new or innovative. Also, the flashback information spoilt the flow of the narrative for me, especially in the beginning, and could have been handled much better.


75 Birds and Butterflies to Knit & Crochet
75 Birds and Butterflies to Knit & Crochet
by Lesley Stanfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of content, 22 Sept. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a great little book which will appeal to young and old alike.
It covers much more than birds and butterflies as there are leaves, fruits and plenty of veg too.
The instructions are testing but Ok if you take it quietly and work through them. I will be using the motifs to embellish hats, brooch corsages and cardies. That's the beauty of this book - one or two items can really give your clothes or home that hand made look. It takes very little in terms of either time or materials to really have an impact.


Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England
Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England
by Thomas Penn
Edition: Hardcover

22 of 50 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Badly hyped, 8 Sept. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It is extremely rare for me not to finish a book but I ground to a halt on this one.

As other reviewers have already said, expectations are raised, falsely in my view, that this is going to be a lively romp through history in the form of a novel. It so isn't.

That is not a crime in itself and I've read many works who take the `text book' route in the rendition of their subject matter. Furthermore, I have to applaud the author for choosing Henry VII as his subject matter. I have always found him interesting and intriguing and little understand TV, film and literature's obsession with the rest of the Tudor clan to the exclusion of its founding father.

What I absolutely cannot forgive is that Thomas Penn achieves the unthinkable - he makes the Tudors BORING. There is very little structure to the narrative and the author flits from one subject to another like a bee among the foxgloves. For example, we start with two ambassadors traveling to Henry's court shortly after his accession. We get two whole, and largely pointless, pages about their journey but, when they (and we) finally meet the King for the first time all we get told is that he didn't speak to them and had a big pearl in his hat! Then we bob off somewhere else. Whenever something interesting is about to happen, it all comes to a grinding halt as we are giving interminable background about the building or other unrelated padding. At one point we are told that two people were taken to Calais, where they were expected to die, but it doesn't tell us whether they did or not!

There is a saying much used in my family - "research, like a lady's slip, should never show". In this book research becomes a constant stream of `fascinating and little known facts' which disrupt the narrative and are just plain ANNOYING. Even the footnotes irritated me. There are thousands of them. However, where I would normally expect to turn to the back and find out more detail on the person or event, in this case you just get an abbreviation of the name of the source material.

I don't doubt this book will be lapped up by history students and professors alike. It has obviously taken a great deal of time and effort to bring to fruition. For all I know, it may even be the definitive work on H7. However, the publishers have done Mr Penn no favours by packaging and selling it as a sort of historical thriller. The raciest and most exciting thing about it was the way it flew through the air as I lobbed it at my bedroom wall!
Comment Comments (17) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2013 7:49 PM BST


The Fishy Fishy Cookbook
The Fishy Fishy Cookbook
by Loz Talent
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fish-tastic, 1 Aug. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I adore fish, so any cookbook dedicated to the subject is fine by me. My heart sank a little when I saw the restaurant on which the book is based is part-owned by Dermot O'Leary but, in fairness to him, he manages a forward which is not at all `show-biz'.

The book is large and substantial to hold but not so huge that it is unusable. At over 190 pages, containing more than 90 recipes, it also represents good value for money. The photos of the dishes are clear, not overly `staged' and very tempting.

The recipes are simple, appetizing and unpretentious. Most people who have any interest in cooking whatsoever could find the majority of ingredients in their store cupboards and freezers. Inexperienced cooks will find the hints and tips very useful, such as cooking a pastry pie lid separately to avoid the filling boiling up and making the underside soggy.

Many recipes come with numerous variations so a technique, once learned, can be used over and over again without boredom setting in. Examples include 3 ways with mussels (Marinere, Thai, Provencal) and eggs (Benedict, Florentine and Royale).

There are a sprinkling of non-fish dishes, including a goat's cheese tartlet and a variety of scrumptious desserts, and I particularly enjoyed the interesting snippets scattered throughout the book. For example, did you know that clam chowder has been served at every US president's inauguration since 1981?

One very small point about this book, but one that makes such a difference, is that the page numbers are HUGE. This makes it so easy to find the recipe you want.

There are very few minuses to this volume but I would mention two:
I've said the pictures are good but, unfortunately, not all recipes are accompanied by a photo of the dish itself. Often there is no picture at all or else it is one of trawlers, hunky fishermen or boxes of fish.

Finally, bizarrely, there are absolutely NO fresh salmon recipes. I find this difficult to fathom as the book supports the use of fresh farmed salmon in view of the fact that the wild variety is expensive and rare. Also, a lot of the recipes are clearly made with entertaining in mind - whether a full sit-down dinner party or impromptu barbeque - and, for a lot of people, Summer entertaining means a buffet. Mine are rarely complete without a quiche, coulibiac or poached side of salmon and none of these appear in the book..

These small niggles aside, I would fully recommend this book since it is simple enough for beginners yet inspiring for the experienced.


Cross My Palm
Cross My Palm
by Sara Stockbridge
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not good enough, 1 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Cross My Palm (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The jacket of this book sounded promising - a Victorian mystery with a female central character who tells fortunes for a living.

Unfortunately, it fails to live up to its billing. For one thing, it cannot decide whether it is an insight into the Gypsy lifestyle in Victorian England, a dark and gothic murder mystery or a full scale chick-lit romance. Consequently, it fails to be any of the three.

If I had to summarise it, I would say it was a good idea written in haste and with little or no research or depth.

The Gypsy heroine is Rosie Lee. First mistake. You either think of the famous Gypsy Rose Lee or else Cockney rhyming slang for tea! Either way, the choice shows a lack of thought and care.

The second mistake is that the said Ms Lee is an uneducated gypsy who runs away from her people at the age of 12 and grows up under the protection of another girl of dubious reputation. Yet she displays perfect grammar and diction and, apart from the odd Romany dialect word, sounds the same as the titled lady for whom she is hired to tell fortunes.

Thirdly, two perfectly normal, sound, women seem to completely lose their senses when confronted with Valentin, a mysterious Romany who makes buttons for a living. Yet Valentin does little and says less. If he flashed his teeth one more time I would have thrown the book out of the window! I don't know about you, but a bloke would have to have a lot more about him than showy tombstones to make me cross the road, never mind chuck in a life of wealth and privilege!

Fourthly, the author uses a first person narrator throughout. This can be a useful conceit, as we experience the same misconceptions and prejudices as the narrator. However, it obviously didn't work here as the narrator changes from Rosie to Tabitha to the Police. Again, this is clumsy and pointless as often passages, including the denouement, are repeated from more than one viewpoint.

Speaking of repetition, the fifth error is that character descriptions are repeated over and over. Tabitha has eyes like wet stones; Emily is a `mouse' with hands like claws. This makes the book a little like a very long, ancient, narrative poem, the sort that had repetitions built in to make them easy to memorise by those who hadn't learned to read and write. The kindly among you may say this is intentional but, personally, I doubt it. The effect becomes really annoying after a while and, with so few characters and less physical description, is entirely unnecessary. I suspect it is more a method of getting what is already quite a short book up to a publishable length.

In summary, this book made me cross. In the right hands, it could have been pacey, atmospheric and intriguing. In fact, there were supposed to be `hooks' and cliffhangers in the story, but these are flagged up so blatantly they fail to surprise. Characters motivations are unclear and inconvenient truths are simply done away with (for example, we are supposed to believe the police don't interview one key person regarding the abduction simply so as not to upset her)!

This book is a very quick read and the chapters are short - ideal for holidays, since you won't lose the thread of the plot during breaks for swimming and cocktails. I hope the author continues with her writing career, as there is a nugget of promise there, but I would suggest a good year of quiet research next time, before presenting the resulting manuscript to a good friend who can point out the gaps and inconsistencies before it is published.


Rogue Male: Sabotage and seduction behind German lines with Geoffrey Gordon-Creed, DSO, MC
Rogue Male: Sabotage and seduction behind German lines with Geoffrey Gordon-Creed, DSO, MC
by Roger Field
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Deeds of derring-do, 1 April 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book outlines the war time exploits of Geoffrey Gordon-Creed (`GGC'), based on his diaries and papers. The author is also a military man and, at times, the recollections of his own career spoil the flow of the book.
It is easy to compare the subject of the novel to James Bond. Both have a penchant for danger and are notorious womanizers. GGC is shown to be resourceful and courageous and has an interesting and varied military career. He is made for war. Born in Cape Town, he is a good shot and useful hunter. Later educated at an English public school, he has the love of sports often engendered by that background and is cherry picked for a special unit when observed skiing with friends. His war stories are at times violent, frequently ribald yet often very funny.
Like Bond, Creed doesn't lack for female company but is fairly cold in his treatment of women. He can catch `em but not keep `em, being married several times. One long-time girlfriend, to whom GGC returns in between trips up the aisle and finally becomes infuriated with being passed over again and again, but is dismissed with the comment that he never spoke to her of marriage. Other women are assessed against a physical checklist that he has compiled as to what makes the perfect bed fellow.
The book is peppered with well-known characters both from the theatre of war and from Creed's more glamorous `down-time' and makes for an enjoyable and absorbing read.
Finally, unlike Bond of course, GGC ages and it is sad to reflect that he probably coped better with world conflict than world peace.
Personally, I enjoyed the stories of the people GGC met during his life more than the deeds of derring-do. His women were fascinating in their own right - the local girl who prevents his capture, sultry screen siren Ava Gardner, the real `Duchess of Duke Street' and the aforementioned girl-friend who became an adventurer and explorer. Perhaps a follow-up novel could be a book about them.............


Modern Cookery for Private Families (Classic Voices in Food)
Modern Cookery for Private Families (Classic Voices in Food)
by Eliza Acton
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great foodie gift, 1 April 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is a facsimile of the original publication and the binding reflects this. It is a sizeable tome with a nice vintage cloth cover and a ribbon bookmark.
I collect old cook books, both originals and reprints (whether 'modernised' or not) and this sits nicely in the collection as it is very comprehensive and provides an authentic voice from a bygone era. It is fascinating to see what has changed in cooking - we've phased out calves' foot jelly - and how much remains the same - we have always, it seems, strived for the perfect gravy. I was intrigued to note how often cayenne pepper and mace were used in everyday dishes and how flavoursome food had to be.
Be warned, however, that this is most definitely not the sort of book you should buy someone as their first foray into cooking. The volume is too big to lie flat on a worktop, the print is tiny and there are very few illustrations. Where pictures do appear they are black and white and more likely to be of the raw ingredients (a bowl of eggs or a live hare) than of the finished dish. Measurements are imperial and cooking temperatures imprecise (a 'medium heat' or 'gentle fire', for example).
If you already know what a 'receipt' or 'catsup' constitutes, and you read your cook books from cover to cover like a novel, then this is the book for you or a gift for a like-minded foodie friend. If, however, you expect full page colour photos of the finished dish, weigh your ingredients to the gram and demand nano-second precise cooking times, for the sake of your nerves give this one a miss!


Last Dance with Valentino
Last Dance with Valentino
by Daisy Waugh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what it said on the tin, 28 Mar. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was very much looking forward to this book as the hook on the cover was that it showed the `real' Rudolph Valentino and revealed his great, secret, love.
I couldn't have been more disappointed. Valentino hardly appears other than in the beginning as a dancer/gigolo and odd glimpses throughout where he is a near-corpse in hospital.
The book is actually about Jenny, an annoying character who spends most of the story trying to catch up with Valentino in Hollywood. If this was set in modern times, she would be at best a sad groupie and at worst a stalker!
If the book were well written and constructed, I might forgive the absence of the supposed lead character. However, the over-use of flashbacks is intensely irritating after a while and I just couldn't care less about Jenny by the end.
The author states the volume is the result of 14 years research - if so, it doesn't show. There is nothing in the historical notes to indicate how she came up with Jenny and very little detail that anyone remotely interested in the era wouldn't know already.
The whole premise of the story is that someone laid flowers on Valentino's grave for years after his death and she was never identified. It is a big `ask' to hang a whole novel off one tiny fact and the author isn't up to the challenge. I suspect Waugh will make a great many sales on the strength of the deception that Valentino is at the epicentre of this book. I doubt very much, however, that she'll make any long-term fans if this is your first experience of her work.


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