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Moi, j'aime lire... (London, UK)

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Simplissime: The Easiest French Cookbook in the world
Simplissime: The Easiest French Cookbook in the world
by Jean-François Mallet
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big fat easy cookbook with distinctive French recipes, 22 July 2016
Never seen a cookbook like this but it's brilliant - completely immediate and easy to use, and the recipes are really distinctive. Nothing has more than about three simple steps and the minimal, visual, approach makes everything child's play.


Draw Faces in 15 Minutes: Amaze your friends with your portrait skills (Draw in 15 Minutes)
Draw Faces in 15 Minutes: Amaze your friends with your portrait skills (Draw in 15 Minutes)
by Jake Spicer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Great how-to from inspiring teacher, 7 Dec. 2015
Jake Spicer is a really popular drawing teacher and this book clearly explains how you can learn to draw faces - or draw them better.


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would LOVE to see Amazon pay both a living wage, and its taxes..., 11 Jun. 2014
Unbelievable that one of the world's largest corporations can't pay its workers a fair wage, or pay taxes on its enormous UK profits. Unbelievable and disgusting...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2015 12:16 AM GMT


Layla
Layla
by Nina De La Mer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping story from the point of view of a young lapdancer, 28 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Layla (Paperback)
The action of this novel takes place over a hectic week in the life of a young lap-dancer, Layla (real name Hayleigh). I don't want to give too much of the plot away - suffice to say Layla, and the book, never stop moving - but what's great about the book is the way you get under Layla's skin. The whole thing is told from her point of view: she finds herself in a terrible situation, and she strives to get out of it and back to her baby son, and you end up passionately rooting for her.

The book's also a fascinating look behind the scenes of the lap-dancing industry, which must churn through thousands of young women like Layla every year - the way the clubs operate has clearly been researched in some detail and the contrast between what the clubs promise (sex, glamour, excitement) and what they deliver is striking. De la Mer's first novel, 4AM, showed you a side to army life that you wouldn't think existed, and she's done a similar job of exposing a little-known world in this book.

Recommended!


Prince
Prince
by Matt Thorne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much knowledge, too many facts, not enough story or insight, 3 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Prince (Paperback)
It's very clear that Matt Thorne is a Prince super-fan. He has seen him in concert many, many times. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of hundreds - possibly thousands - of tracks that have never been released. He has spoken to many of Prince's key musical collaborators and business people. All of this is apparent from this book, which goes over Prince's career chronologically and mentions thousands of songs, gigs, and records in the order that Prince created them.

What is - and this isn't just Mr Thorne's fault - missing, are:

- any detailed cultural or musical context for Prince's work.
- authoritative analysis of the music (as opposed to the lyrics) of Prince's output. Tracks are funk, or pop, or rock, or jazz (or, pop-rock, jazz-funk, etc) and that's about as deep as it gets.
- much sense of Prince's personality, or his relationships, or habits of work, coherently presented (to be fair, it's all there, but it's so bittily presented: Thorne never steps back and summarises, or synthesises)

It's also really unbalanced. Thorne devotes 30pp (chapters 2 & 3) to Prince's-entire-life-until-after-the-release-of-his-first-album - which you'd think might deserve a little more in-depth analysis - and exactly the same space (Chapter 33) to Thorne's experience of going to see the Prince series of gigs at the O2 arena. This is blog-post material.

Compare this to Philip Norman's book about the Stones, or his biography of John Lennon: or Charles Shaar Murray on Hendrix, or Sounes on Dylan, or Greil Marcus on REM, or MacDonald on the Beatles. All of these got under the skins of their subjects, analysed the music in a revealing way, putting the hero in a clear cultural and historical context, and left you feeling that you understood them and their music better than before. As it stands, my understanding of Prince's official output is basically what it was when I started the book: I am, definitely, better aware of the huge amount of unreleased stuff that there is in Prince's vault, but I don't feel inspired to go and seek it out.

So it's a frustrating read, but that's not entirely Thorne's fault: it's that of the editors at Faber, who should have spotted all this.

Given time, a really amazing book could probably be carved out of this stack of facts, Thorne's love of the music, and his dogged determination to track down members of Prince's various bands. You'd need to cut about 25% of it completely, re-organise the rest, and add a lot of summary, context, (musical) analysis, (cultural / biographical) synthesis and perspective. And then you'd have quite a book. But as it stands, this is a real disappointment.


Constellation of Genius: 1922: Modernism and All That Jazz
Constellation of Genius: 1922: Modernism and All That Jazz
Price: £5.49

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Was this book edited....?, 15 Aug. 2013
I'm posting one star because I know that it's a good way to get the publisher or author to read your review.

The book's actually a fine read and I'm enjoying it, but I'm only on p.91 of 500+ and I'm fed up with coming across basic editorial errors and slop. In a £20 hardback, which is aimed at a serious, interested readership, it's unacceptable to have an entry like that on p.28:

"9 January
...in the early months of the year, a period that has been called the 'Broadcasting Room', station after station came on air"
[That would be the 'Broadcasting Boom']

or...

The footnote on p.42 which tells us "Thayer lived in Vienna, where he began a psychoanalytic treatment by Freud" then five lines later "At this time, Thayer was in Vienna, undergoing analysis with Sigmund Freud"

or p.91...

"3 March
Fascists occupied Fiume and Rijeka"
[Fiume and Rijeka are the same place, to Italian or Croatian speakers respectively]

Etc. I'm worried that if I knew more about the people and history of the period I would have spotted other errors, which is a real pity: it gives you a feeling that you can't necessarily trust any of the interesting facts which Kevin Jackson comes up with. There are also plenty of clunky sentences that an editor should have picked up, "has" where "had" should be, and so on.

Tellingly, in the acknowledgements he thanks Peter Straus (his agent) Mark Booth (publisher of the Hutchinson imprint of Random House) and Jocasta Hamilton (publishing director, who I assume bought the rights in the book) - but he doesn't mention anyone so humble or useful as the book's editor, the person who should have been going through it line by line and sorting this stuff out.

A real pity. Still, worth a read, because, as the other reviewers have noted, it's a fun collection of stories.

If Mr Jackson (or anyone else involved) would care to comment I'd be interested to hear their take...
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 4, 2013 11:03 PM BST


The City & Its Creatures
The City & Its Creatures
Price: £1.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deft, entertaining short stories, 8 Feb. 2013
This is a slim, nicely produced book with six short - and they are all short - stories about relationships. Some are realistic, some a little more fanciful, but they share a dry humour and an originality of view that I really enjoyed. Clean, clear prose, wry narration, dialogue that rings true.

Highly memorable and recommended (especially at this low e-book price).


Ronnie's War
Ronnie's War
by Bernard Ashley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, intelligent historical novel for younger readers, 26 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Ronnie's War (Paperback)
I'd never heard of Bernard Ashley until my daughter stumbled across this one in the library: my loss. This is a wonderful, realistic adventure novel about a boy coming of age during the London Blitz, facing the problems that the war brings alongside those of growing up anywhere.

Ashley's characters are great - three dimensional and vivid - and the settings seem completely authentic (I think he draws on his own childhood in this one, but he can't do in all his books as they are set all over the world). There are episodes of peril and fear but also nicely drawn family relationships: it's intelligent, meaty stuff and I wish that I'd come across it when I was a young reader. My daughter loved this, and immediately went back to the library for JOHNNY'S BLITZ (similar setting, equally good story) and ANGEL BOY (completely different setting, but so far just as good). I recommend that you do too.


4 a.m.
4 a.m.
by Nina De La Mer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rave on!, 5 Sept. 2011
This review is from: 4 a.m. (Paperback)
I completely agree with the other reviewers of this thought-provoking book. I've not read anything like it for a long time - the obvious comparison is with Trainspotting (which also has a lot of Scottish in it and a fair few drugs) but where that book is a collection of short episodes, this is a well structured novel which is driven by the contrasting, linked stories of the two main characters. Along the way, it raises questions about friendship, hedonism, growing up and what we expect of our soldiers.

The military environment is bang on, the rave scenes make you think you were on the dancefloor at the time, and the characters are truly three dimensional - by the end, you're really rooting for them. Don't want to give too much away, but the plot has the odd twist, and I didn't see the ending coming, either.

I've caught myself thinking about the characters since finishing it - always a good sign - really recommended.


Paris After the Liberation: 1944 - 1949
Paris After the Liberation: 1944 - 1949
Price: £9.49

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shoddy e-book conversion of a good book, 8 Jun. 2011
This isn't a one-star book - it's a very interesting look at fascinating times (although another reviewer here quite rightly notes that it lingers on the upper crust of society and does not feature the voices of ordinary Parisians as much as you'd expect). I'd give it four for the text.

Why a one-star review, then?

Because the e-book conversion is incredibly shoddy, and this is the only way to get Penguin to notice the fact. The whole text is packed with poorly converted typesetting joining words together, so you get nonsense like "itemon", "anti-clericalismon" and "telegramto" (all these in the space of a few pages: the book is full of them).

Does this stop me from reading and enjoying the text? No.

Does it make me wonder why I paid for it? Yes. Penguin are taking the cash and not bothering to send the book out for a proof read.

Come on, pull your socks up. There are good reasons why editorial standards as we understand them exist and this book doesn't meet them at all.

Mr Beevor / Ms Cooper / Penguin-Person, if you do happen to read this - please leave a comment. I'd be very interested to hear what you have to say.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2014 4:58 PM BST


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