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Mum of the animals "Jenny Benfield" (UK)

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MathsTutor: GCSE Maths Tutorials, Higher Level - DVD-ROM for PC/Mac
MathsTutor: GCSE Maths Tutorials, Higher Level - DVD-ROM for PC/Mac
by CGP Books
Edition: DVD-ROM

5.0 out of 5 stars From E to A IN SIX MONTHS, 24 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I bought this for my 16-year-old son who is not too bad at maths but something had gone badly wrong for him. he received 25 per cent for his mocks and was predicted a C. I held off reviewing it until I received his results so this is an informed review.

Jordan was really prepared to use it, and this itself was important as other revision guides and workbooks had a tendency to gather dust. He would watch the video, carry out the exercises and watch the review of how to work out the sums. The going through the answers was especially useful as most revision books give just the answer and leave it to you to work out where you went wrong. He found the explanations clear and helpful. He claimed that there were bits missing at the top A* end. But generally if there was a subject he needed to revise he would use this.

i am delighted to say he blasted an A grade, his first in any exam ever, and while the boy's willingness to knuckle down, a gifted teacher and mean-minded parents who shut off computer games for six months, were probably the main reasons for the turnaround, this book with its clarity and entertainent, played an enormous part - and there can be no higher praise for a revision book than thatr.

The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs
The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and relevant, 22 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Every now and then an author captures the struggles motherhood with wit and panache and I felt Hopkinson has done so. The plot is urban chick lit and the ending is a bit contrived and unbelievable but I think the dilemmas-of-motherhood theme will strike a cord of all mums with toddlers.

Historical Fiction Writing - A Practical Guide and Tool-kit
Historical Fiction Writing - A Practical Guide and Tool-kit
Price: £4.79

5.0 out of 5 stars A must for apprentice writers of historical fiction, 14 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book does exactly what it promises - offers practical advice to writers of historical fiction.

Reading books about creative writing rather than doggedly producing the draft novel is a well-used diversion-tactic for me. I have hundreds on my bookcase - many unread. So I was skeptical about my motives for buying this one. After all I have an MA in History and suspected the guidance would repeat the obvious advice on writing a book combined with advice on how to research a historical topic which I already know.

I have skim-read about 50% of it and carried out the exercises in the first two chapters and am really impressed. It helped me assess the market in a interesting way and better understand the directions my novel needed to go in. Some of these were not obvious For instance, read historical fiction from separate three centuries to analyse how themes and styles change. Others were sensible, such as write c100 words on why you chose your period/event/theme/place/person (although only one of these was suggested I did a bit on each and felt much better for it) and ideal reader. There are forms you can download to complete the exercises and plenty of examples of 'model' answers so I did not feel lost or as if it was taking up too much time.

Alongside this were lists of useful websites, along with tips from existing authors.

What I like about the advice is that while it helps you pay attention to your market, commercialism never becomes the tail wagging the dog. Ultimately, it helps you the author, make a more informed judgement on whether what you write has a market.

I would certainly recommend it to everyone thinking about writing historical fiction but I think it outstrips many other books on how to write a novel so it could have wider appeal.

The Sedona Method
The Sedona Method
Price: £9.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Patronising, poorly written advertorial, 1 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Sedona Method (Kindle Edition)
The book spent most of the time repeating itself ('Welcome the thought, can you let it go? Will you let it go? When?) without really explaining much. Instead it punctuated every second paragraph with quotes from happy punters whose lives had been transformed by the Sedona Method. It also advertised the course at regular intervals. The basic idea of letting go is fine but hardly unique to Sedona and is better articulated in other self-help books [Thoughts and Feelings for one]. The constant bragging about its wonders is downright irritating.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 24, 2014 7:46 PM GMT

Radio 4's History of Private Life (BBC Radio 4)
Radio 4's History of Private Life (BBC Radio 4)
by Amanda Vickery
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £25.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, authoritive and fascinating social history, 26 Feb. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
From how people kept witches out of the home, through to the importance of the tea ritual for Georgian women, this History of Private Life is a whistle wind tour on the history of domestic life packed with facts. Amanda Vickeray is a professor who explains and guides us through the history of married and family life, with its housework, squabbles from Pepys (ish) period to the 1950s (ish). She makes a really gallant effort to get under the skin of what people thought about their home life - frustrations and joys and does not shy away from subjects normally hidden from history - domestic violence, divorce and alcoholism. Her examples are illustrated by songs of each period that are filled with wit or pathos and all are beautifully sung. Amanda has a lyrical but cheerful narrative voice that is pleasant to listen to as well. For anyone who enjoys social history,it is a must.

Punctuation Repair Kit (Repair Kits)
Punctuation Repair Kit (Repair Kits)
by William Vandyck
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chatty style, funny cartoons and clearly written advice, 5 Sept. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you want a grammar book that children will actually read and understand, try this book. As the author admits 'learning the rules can be as interesting as watching the skin form on your school dinner gravy'but he makes a valiant (and I think successful) attempt to make things clear, concise and lively.

The book centres around three cartoons kids in a garage: Zelda, Steven the stupid monster and dull Colin.

It covers the very basics - what is a sentance? proper nouns and full-stops.
It has also has advanced sections : what everyone gets confused about - such as punctuation marks when using quotations; jargon alerts.
It has regular and entertaining tests to make sure you - or your children - have understood.

# SOCIALMEDIA NONPROFIT tweet Book01: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Nonprofit Social Media Engagement (Thinkaha)
# SOCIALMEDIA NONPROFIT tweet Book01: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Nonprofit Social Media Engagement (Thinkaha)
Price: £7.46

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just a list of tweets - and not very good ones, 28 Aug. 2010
I had high hopes and maybe I am taking out my disappointment by marking too harshly.But I really do need a good book on the use of social media in the non-profit sector. However, this book is largely one liners from different charities that are too vague to even count as hints and tips. I hope the profits made from this book are re-invested in the charities so at least it has done some reason for being written. Certainly, it wasn/t written to enlighten anyone.

US Punctuation (Basher)
US Punctuation (Basher)
by Mary Budzik
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly targeted and unclear definitions, 27 Aug. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Just because a book fills a need does not mean that it is intrinsically a good book.I am all for a move away from dreary textbooks on English grammar and this book is bright and colourful. Hence, I believe, the enthusiasm of the reviewers. Nevertheless it has serious weaknesses. I passed it over to my child to review and this is what he said: The text is far too difficult for children aged four to eight years old and the pictures are far too childish for an older child to be seen dead with. I asked for examples. He pointed to a defination of capital letters: the illustration looks like something from a first phonics book and the text "We are ... the head honchos, the whole enchilada." Surely, if you were old enough to read and understand Spnish words like 'honchos' and 'enchilada'you would be too cool to want to be seen carrying a book that looked babyish. He also said that the cartoons would be better if they looked like the mark they represented as when you are a kid you need to be reminded what the marks look like. In some cases they do and in others they don't which made it even more confusing.

If you are looking for a good off-beat punctuation book for your child, try the following rather than this one.
Punctuation Repair Kit (Repair Kits)
Perfect (Pop-up) Punctuation Book

The Spectator
The Spectator
Price: £2.99

23 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why haven't I read it before? Now I remember!, 21 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Spectator (Kindle Edition)
All the young foggies in my family loved The Spectator in the Thatcher years - so I (radical-ish student) despised it. As the years drew on I would try it but never really enjoyed it. It still felt politically smug. However, when I downloaded it onto my kindle, I just loved it. The articles on politics seemed amusing, fresh and insightful. The book reviews were excellent. Radio, TV shows, theatre and opera all covered. And all British stuff which is a refreshing change from the Americo-centric I have been reading. Maybe I am now an old foggey as the years pass by, I thought, as I put on my fluffy slippers and supped on Horlicks.

Then just as I was chuckling over an article entitled 'A council-funded visit to a whore in Amsterdam? Yes please' with its inevitable conclusion that 'it is obvious local authorities have too much money', I suddenly realised this was something I knew alot about and it just didn't ring true. The article is about a major and innovative change in government policy to give disabled people individual budgets to spend how they feel fit. It does permit holidays abroad for the very reason that a break in Tunisia with a friend is cheaper than a week in institutional care. If it saves money, the client prefers it and it has effective results, where's the problem?

I did not believe that the policy had been hi-jacked to pay for prostitutes and my research showed this to be the case. The story is based on the most tenuous facts from an article in the Daily Telegraph. There was one 'reported' case about an un-named person at an un-named council. Charities and councils denied personal budgets were being used for this purpose. The article was a well-written piece of right-wing propaganda to suggest local councils are wasting money and incompetent. Yawn! This is a refrain that has not changed since 1980s when the press accussed councils - erroneously - of banning the words black coffee and man-holes on the grounds of political correctness.

This one article coloured my former judgement of the magazine. The other articles were not ones I knew much about. Were they all just there for a cheap giggle or were they meant to be serious journalism? Suddenly the articles morphed from amusing, fresh and insightful to mocking, politically blinkered and poorly researched.

Now we all know the UK needs to save money and I appreciate the right-of-centre's exasperation in how to do so. However, this sort of 'useless plonker' attitude to public services is devisive and when combined with poor journalism unacceptable.

The Spectator I concluded, is vanity publishing by self-congratulatory schoolboys who get a kick out of mocking rather than understanding people less fortunate than themselves and won't let the facts interfere with their favourite past-time. But it is extremely amusing and thought-provoking so four stars.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 3, 2011 3:31 PM GMT

Poets and Writers Magazine
Poets and Writers Magazine
Price: £12.43

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Limited scope, 21 Aug. 2010
I was very disappointed with this. Its prime strength is it lists all lterary competitions with over $1,000 dollars in prize money- and some of the prizes are really life-changing such as an expenses paid lecture tour round US Colleges. It also seemed strong on trends in the market and how it might affect a writer's ability to earn an honest crust. Yet compared to Writng Magazine UK it seemed so limited and rather money-centred. There were no 'how to' articles, not much wit and so on. Also all the book fairs, conferences, symposiums listed are all in the US so out of reach of most of us.

Let's hope Writing Magazine has the courage to go 'Kindling' soon.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 13, 2010 10:59 PM BST

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