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ceriithomas (wales)

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The Best Laid Plans: A Novel
The Best Laid Plans: A Novel
by Terry Fallis
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent political drama, 27 Nov. 2011
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Angus is an dour Scottish engineering professor in a Canadian university. Lacking any background in politics, he divides his spare time between writing diary letters to his late wife and building a hovercraft. Daniel is a disillusioned political hack who returns to academic life. In return for taking an unpopular teaching commitment, Daniel persuades Angus to stand as a paper Liberal candidate in an ultra-Conservative seat.

This unlikely scenario takes on further twists as Angus's non-political background influences his decision to put principles before party. Yet the maverick politician's engineering skills take an unexpected significance during a crucial Parliamentary division.

Despite an implausible plot, I enjoyed this novel. Both Angus and Daniel are strong characters and interact to form a highly entertaining, if rather unusual, political drama.


The Jury [DVD]
The Jury [DVD]
Dvd ~ Julie Walters
Price: £12.48

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising drama marred by over-editing, 13 Nov. 2011
This review is from: The Jury [DVD] (DVD)
The series starts with a promising plot, which relates to a retrial after an earlier conviction was declared unsound for an unspecified reason. There is plenty of potential in the material: an agitated defendant charged with damning circumstantial evidence; a juror who becomes influenced by learning of revealing accounts of the previous trial; another who risks a conviction for impersonating her overworked boss. Julie Walters delivers an entertaining performance, as an eccentric defence counsel who begins each cross examination sequence with a rambling monologue, before pouncing with the killer question.

However, the series was let down by the fact that some of the sequences, both in the courtroom and in the jury room, appear pared down. As a result, both examination-in-chief and cross-examination sequences appear incomplete. Perhaps this was due to over-editing of the script or of the footage.

Despite this, I enjoyed the series, and would probably watch it again.


100 Ways To Take Better Landscape Photographs
100 Ways To Take Better Landscape Photographs
by Guy Edwardes
Edition: Paperback

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A journey from remote Rannoch to dreamy Dorset, 1 Oct. 2011
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Guy Edwardes is an outstanding photographer, who has a talent for transporting atmospheric scenes into your living room. Most of the scenes are shot in England and Scotland, although a handful from Scandinavia and USA add diversity to his portfolio. Each photograph is accompanied by text to illustrate a theme such as composition, exposure or depth of field.

Paradoxically, it's the excellence of the images that makes this book rather less useful as an educational resource. Rather than showing how average images can be improved, Edwardes simply provides us with the exemplary image. To be fair, the text is helpful, even if it does in places tend to state the obvious. I have no problem with photographers showcasing their talent (and Edwardes has plenty of it), but this was not the book I expected.


Spade, Skirret and Parsnip: The Curious History of Vegetables
Spade, Skirret and Parsnip: The Curious History of Vegetables
by Bill Laws
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A miscellany of vegetables, 29 Sept. 2011
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Ever wondered why early Protestants eschewed the potato whilst devouring the parsnip? Or how the introduction of Russian comfrey was the result of a communication error? Then Spade, Skirret and Parsnip is the book for you.

Concentrating mainly (but not exclusively) on domestic production, Laws guides us on the ancestry of vegetables to the histories of the allotment and organic movements and the working conditions of gardeners on country estates. At around 200 pages, this concise volume can provide no more than an overview of the history of vegetable growing, but is nevertheless a welcome inclusion to the bookshelves of any grower or gourmet.


Getting Orlando
Getting Orlando
by Anthony McDonald
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An emotionally-charged domino stack of events, 25 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: Getting Orlando (Paperback)
Unemployed civil servant Oliver receives an offer from a friend's acquaintance for an expenses-paid trip to Madeira to courier a rather unconventional package - a set of dominoes. Despite his understandable suspicion, he agrees to pursue the offer. Following a series of chance encounters with an unemployed actor, their own lives become embroiled in a complex domino stack of events in which they discover that neither their ethics nor their mutual love are set in black or white.

Though let down in places by over-reliance on coincidence, this remains a highly readable novel: fast-paced, strong characters and good style.


Evil Under The Sun [DVD] [1982]
Evil Under The Sun [DVD] [1982]
Dvd ~ Peter Ustinov
Price: £4.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding adaptation, 28 Aug. 2011
Departing in a number of respects from Christie's script, this adaptation is outstanding. The film has translocated the setting from Devon to the Mediterranean, providing a context that is exotic, and deceptively idyllic. Compared with the book, the annoying attributes of the characters are exaggerated, but on the whole, the casting maintains a succesful balance between entertainment and gravity.

The strongest performance is no doubt from Ustinov himself. Whilst maintaining humour and charm throughout the film, his deduction is delivered with such suspense and masterful timing that it's almost possible to overlook its heavily reliance on conjecture and coincidence.


Inflight Science: A Guide to the World from Your Airplane Window
Inflight Science: A Guide to the World from Your Airplane Window
by Brian Clegg
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diverse phenomena of air travel explained simply, 25 Aug. 2011
Aimed very much at non-scientists, Clegg provides entertaining and moderately informative explanations to a number of diverse aspects of air travel. He guides us from the technology of airport security systems and the science of flight to the formation of topographic features seen from above and the weather systems that we might encounter.

Clegg's conversational style generally works well, and succeeds in explaining complex phenomena relatively free of jargon. But I felt that a few more diagrams might have added to the text.

Some of the features appear to have been selected on rather a random basis (the chances of spotting crop circles or Nazca lines from the air are in reality pretty slim), which lends the book a rather quirky character. This might not teach you all the science that you had forgotten since school, but it's a step in that direction.


The Wedding Planner [DVD] [2001]
The Wedding Planner [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Lopez
Price: £3.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Love, hate, jealousy, rage - but no credibility, 3 Jun. 2011
Oh dear! I rarely agree with damning reviews, but a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. I'm afraid that the negative reviewers are right - The Wedding Planner disappoints on several counts. Poor directing, shallow characters and overacting prevail, whilst the plot is not barely credible, even for a comedy. Consider this scenario: the wedding planner is literally swept off her feet to avert a collision with a garbage trolley. Without even seeming to be ruffled by the incident, she instantly becomes mesmerised with the doctor who saves her life.

If that scene seems bad, it doesn't get much better. I've awarded two stars for the occasional inspired one-liners, and a mildly (but predictably) amusing scene with a statue, but I can't help feeling that even that score is generous.


The Allotment Chronicles: A Social History of Allotment Gardening (History & Heritage of Britain)
The Allotment Chronicles: A Social History of Allotment Gardening (History & Heritage of Britain)
by Steve Poole
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong focus on social history, 3 Jun. 2011
This is not so much a book on the history of vegetable growing but on the social and political history of the allotment movement. Whereas some modern gardeners view the movement as a product of alternative 1970s lifestyles, Poole stresses the much older origins arising from the need to alleviate poverty, and in some cases, destitution. He views events such as the need to compensate commoners disposessed through the Enclosure Acts, the benevolance of some landowners, and nineteenth century local government reforms, as critical contributions towards the strength of the allotment movement. Never short on detail, Poole inserts a diverse range of quotes to illustrate his arguments.

This book would interest social historians (even those who are not growers themselves) who wish to understand the social and political factors which contributed to the allotment movement.


Men of Iron: Brunel, Stephenson and inventions that shaped the world
Men of Iron: Brunel, Stephenson and inventions that shaped the world
by Sally Dugan
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A legacy of achievement, 31 May 2011
Dugan focuses primarily on the friendly rivalry between Stephenson and Brunel, which sparked and sustained significant advances in railways and other infastructure. The logistical, technical, financial and political obstacles to engineering projects are well illustrated; more poignant perhaps are accounts of the navvies' horrifying working and living conditions. The gauge wars, the controversy over cast iron bridges and the adoption of innovative tubular and bowframe bridges show how railway technology overcame obstacles. Brunel's shipbuilding achivements are also documented, although these chapters sit rather uneasily with the land-based projects which marked the progress of his rivalry with Stephenson.

From a modern perspective, it's easy to focus on the enduring physical legacies, such as the GWR and Britannia Bridge. But their greatest legacy of all was not vested in standstone or steel. It consisted of drive and determination, undeterred by the monumental failure of earlier projects, to achieve the ambitious status for which Victorian engineers are still renowned.


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