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Reviews Written by
Heather "star_reader" (Leeds, Yorkshire)
(VINE VOICE)   

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A Tiny Bit Marvellous
A Tiny Bit Marvellous
by Dawn French
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny.. very funny indeed, 6 Nov. 2010
This review is from: A Tiny Bit Marvellous (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Like other reviewers I wasn't quite sure what I was going to make of this book. I am from the 'Vicar of Dibley' Dawn French era and so she is fixed in my mind as the hilarious Geraldine Granger. I have not been disappointed though and thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. A Tiny Bit Marvellous tells the story of the Battles family and is split into short, easy to read sections narrated by different members of the family. At first this format was a little jaunty but once I got into the book and got to know the characters I thought it did work well. The book is well written and each of the characters are believable and genuine...my favourite though had to be mum of the family Mo.

If you are unsure about this book then don't be. It really is a very funny, touching portrait of the not so perfect family. Enjoy.


Bill's Basics
Bill's Basics
by Bill Granger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great book by Bill, 6 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Bill's Basics (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am a big fan of Bill Granger and have bought a number of his books over the last few years but in my opinion this new book tops all his previous books as it brings together everything about his style of cooking in one comprehensive edition.

I often associate the words 'simple' and 'basic' with Bill's style and by this I do not mean they are in any way dull. In fact, what Bill does well is make delicious food that you want to eat again and again but in a way that feels simple. I never feel I have to slave away for hours to achieve the same results as Bill.

In this book each recipe has a double page spread with a large colour photograph of the finished product on one side and the recipe on the other side. Instructions are simple and kept to a minimum making them easy to remember. Who wants to follow an over complicated recipe? Not me. I like things simple and easy to follow- constantly going back and forth across the kitchen to re-read the recipe just complicates and prolongs the process! In addition each page has a small passage written by Bill which gives a bit of extra information about the ingredients her prefers for each recipe or how the recipe came about.

As in other books of Bills that I have, meat features quite heavily. This book in particular has some lovely suggestions for chicken and fish. I often associate Bill's style of cooking with Asian flavours and this book does contain recipes that show that- chicken noodle soup and Tom Yum for example, but there is also an extensive section inspired by Italian flavours which is a nice addition. As always, the sweet treats in this book are delicious. In my other cookbooks by Bill the recipes which I come back to time and again are the muffins, choc and banana bread and brownies. This book updates some of those old favourites but also contains some lovely recipes for fruit tarts as well.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. If you are new to Bill Granger then this one is for you as it combines his best types of recipes in one book. I think it will be a book that I will keep coming back to and trying different things from and will be a happy addition to my cook book shelf.


How I Cook
How I Cook
by Skye Gyngell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully refreshing cookbook, 6 Nov. 2010
This review is from: How I Cook (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I must be honest... I had never heard of Skye Gyngell and was initially drawn to this cookbook because of the beautifully simple photograph on the cover. But should I really get another cookbook just because of the cover? Well, the answer was YES and I am so glad I did!

The book is beautifully presented inside and outside and contains some excellent recipes. The book is divided into sections for 'breakfast', 'Sunday lunch', 'alfresco dining', 'late night supper' etc making it easily accessible and helpful if planning for a particular occasion. But it is not just a 'special occasions' cookbook. There is a section in the middle on simple midweek dinners. The chicken with rice and basil is particularly tasty. Also, as it is divided into sections by eating occasion there are suggestions for main courses and desserts in each chapter.

All recipes are accompanied by a colour photograph of the finished product- a must have for me with any cookbook!

This cookbook is definitely not a glossy celebrity cookbook in the realms of Nigella and Jamie (which I have no problem with at all). But it is refreshing and if like me, you are just looking for something a bit different then this is the book for you. It is a true 'home cooks' book and the beautiful photographs of vintage plates, cutlery and linen alongside the delicious food make it even more enticing. This is one of those cookbooks that is just a lovely read inside and outside the kitchen. Enjoy.


The Knitter's Year
The Knitter's Year
by Debbie Bliss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book, 25 Oct. 2010
This review is from: The Knitter's Year (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a beautifully laid out book which contains some really interesting projects and would be inspiring for anyone who loves knitting. I would particularly recommend it as a gift for someone who enjoys knitting. It would make an excellent Christmas present as the book is divided into sections by season and suggests projects which could be worked on throughout the following year, ending with some lovely christmas knitting projects such as a stocking and tree decorations. The book is not a beginner's guide, however, each project is accompanied by a number of large scale colour photographs of the finished project and a step by step pattern which is easy to follow once familiar with the abbreviations used which are given at the start of the book. The projects include a number of baby items such as booties, cardigan and hat as well as socks, a pencil case, a bag and doorstops. I certainly felt that I would like to try most of the projects in the book.

An experienced knitter or someone with lots of time may well like to work through the book in order and would certainly have produced a lot of work by the end of the year, however, others with less time to knit each week may dip in and out of the book and choose projects that take their fancy. With it being a Debbie Bliss book, all the of the projects do refer to the Debbie Bliss branded yarn recommended for that particular item, however, with some of the projects I'm sure it would work just as well to use the yarn of your choice or adapt slightly to suit the yarn you have.

Overall, I highly recommend this book, it would make a lovely addition to any keen knitters collection or be a good starting point for a new knitter who is looking for some contemporary inspiration. Enjoy!


Annexed
Annexed
by Sharon Dogar
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting idea..., 25 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Annexed (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The premise of this novel is really interesting... It takes the historical figure Peter Van Pels who appears in The Diary of Anne Frank and re imagines Anne's story from his point of view and even continues the story beyond where Anne's diaries end, into Auschwitz. The author has attempted to maintain as much historical accuracy as is known about the annex and the families who stayed there in order to frame her imagining of Peter's story. For those who have read The Diary of Anne Frank this may be an interesting read but we must remember that it is fictional and Peter is not known to have kept any diaries so the novel cannot provide any further insight into the facts of Anne's life or those of the families she hid with in the annex.

For me, the major let down of this novel was the writing style and the 'voice' that Peter is given. It seems to rely too heavily on jaunty, basic dialogue and exchanges between 'characters' seem trivialised. I would love to have seen more of a development of Peter's thoughts- longer passages where the reader got to connect with him and have a greater insight into his thoughts and feelings while trapped in the annex. Despite the difficulty of the subject matter at hand I feel that the author's target audience could have handled a much more authentic engagement with the seriousness of the events of the time.

All in all an interesting idea but poorly executed and written at too basic a level for it's 'young adult' target audience.


Fast Fabric Gifts: Scrap Fabric Style, Small Scale Sewing, Thrifty Chic: 30 Irresistible Fabric Gifts
Fast Fabric Gifts: Scrap Fabric Style, Small Scale Sewing, Thrifty Chic: 30 Irresistible Fabric Gifts
by Sally Southern
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.94

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Basic Sewing Projects, 6 Sept. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As a new crafter I was attracted to this book which promised simple crafting projects that could be achieved without a sewing machine. Although the projects were simple and in most cases required only basic equipment I found the overall style of the book and the projects to be extremely dated and reading through the book I wasn't attracted to trying any of the projects. Projects on offer include, a simple pencil case, fabric covered photo frames, felt jewellery, pin cushion and a decorative jewellery box. All of these projects had only 'novelty' attraction and offered nothing new or interesting that I have not seen before.

One positive thing I did take from the book was the useful 'techniques' section at the back of the book which does give a step by step guide to the most common sewing styles and techniques, these were quite easy to follow and may prove useful for beginners or those who want to refresh their memory, if like me, they haven't done any sewing since leaving school. The book, however, is not worth purchasing just for these sections as similar tutorials could easily be found elsewhere.

Sadly, I would not wish to recommend this book. I think there are many more crafting books available that offer contemporary projects using traditional techniques and that do it much more successfully.


Simple Knitting
Simple Knitting
by Erika Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book, 6 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Simple Knitting (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is, as the title promises, a simple introduction to knitting. The opening pages take you through, step by step, how to begin knitting; from the simple equipment that you will need to get going, to basic stitches, explanations on how to read a knitting pattern and (very helpfully) troubleshooting for when it inevitably goes wrong as you are beginning to learn. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book when first using it is how well structured it is. By working through the book in order it is possible to practice all the basic stitches before combining these to make your first project.

The first project, a simple scarf, is one of 20 projects that the book has to follow and these are clearly arranged with a rating which suggests if they are suitable for a beginner or for someone a little more experienced. If like me, you are new to knitting then I would suggest working through the book in order and building up your skills as you attempt each new project. Other projects in the book include very simple, but charming, knitted cotton dishcloths, socks, a hat, a cardigan and a tea cosy. If, however, you already know the basics then the book offers 20 beautiful projects that you can dip in and out of, selecting projects that take your fancy.

Aside from this book's simple approach to knitting, it is also simply put together. Knitting techniques are explained by simple pencil illustration, rather than photographs and each project also has a full page photograph of the finished product in beautiful muted shades. As well as being a useful guide this is a beautifully presented book that will be appreciated by anyone who has an interest in the art of knitting.

Have fun knitting!


Two Serious Ladies
Two Serious Ladies
by Jane Bowles
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 27 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Two Serious Ladies (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Two Serious Ladies tells the story of the eccentric Christina Goering and Mrs Copperfield. The two women meet briefly at the start of the novel, at a party, but then go their separate ways until reuniting at the end of the novel. As the two women go their separate ways they each give up the lives that they have been living, making unexpected changes to their lives. Christina gives up her grand life in a mansion to share her time with an odd array of characters in a remote squalid house, while Mrs Copperfield's life changes when she meets Pacifica, a prostitute, whilst on vacation with her overbearing husband, in Panama.

Whilst I can imagine that the decisions the women take were shocking when the novel was first published in 1943 it fails to stand the test of time in my view due to the lack of insight we are given into the womens' motivations. They seem to make life changing decisions on a whim and give no real reasons for these decisions which I found make it very difficult to connect with or sympathize with the characters.

Apart from their brief meetings at the start and end of the novel the two women's lives are unconnected and their final meeting seems almost forced in order to tie up the novel neatly although there is no real logical reason for them meeting again. I think it would have been a more successful novel had it concentrated on one of the women in more detail, rather than devoting half of the novel to each in two seemingly unconnected narratives.

Overall, I would not rush to recommend this novel to another reader.


Movies on iPod 2 (PC)
Movies on iPod 2 (PC)

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 25 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Movies on iPod 2 (PC) (CD-ROM)
Movies on ipod 2 has a simple and easy to use interface, however, this is because of the lack of content to be found in the software. You can easily find better freeware elsewhere on the net, with a better package of codecs and features.
It is ludicrous that software designed with the sole intention of interfacing with the Apple ipod is not Mac compatible.


Quality Of Life [2004] [DVD]
Quality Of Life [2004] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lane Garrison
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A genuinely interesting take on youth culture, 25 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Quality Of Life [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Quality of Life, as a true low-budget indie, is a remarkably polished film. Chronicling the lives of two Frisco graff writers (Vain and Heir) as their encounters with the law place strain on their friendship and ambitions, the movie takes a penetrating look at those involved in the underground graffiti movement, as well as their place in society.

While one character, Heir, considers straightening out his life by getting involved in advertising, bringing to light the difficulties involved in such a transition, his friend, Vain, unwilling to let go of the "bombing" lifestyle, heads into a tailspin, that eventually explodes in the film's powerful climax.

Despite the serious nature of the film, the movie has a lot of funny moments, which prevent it from being overbearing. The characters- artists at a crossroads- are complex and interesting, and a good balance, the more volatile Vain complementing the more level-headed Heir. Aesthetically, the cinematography, which mirrors the grittiness of the Frisco graff scene, is beautiful in its abrasiveness, and the soundtrack, featuring bay area emcees like Andre Nikatina and Top Ramen, helps set the mood. There's also some pretty cool fight scenes and the tags are top notch. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone interested in hip hop culture.


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