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Christine Wise (UK)

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The Gracekeepers
The Gracekeepers
by Kirsty Logan
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 2 Aug. 2015
This review is from: The Gracekeepers (Hardcover)
Beautifully written, with wonderful characters and an intriguing setting. I loved it,


A God in Ruins
A God in Ruins
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely., 19 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A God in Ruins (Kindle Edition)
Having already fallen in love with Teddy in "Life After Life", I was fairly confident I'd end up loving this book too. It lived up to expectations. Warm, richly characterised, and cleverly executed, "A God in Ruins" is a wonderful read. It's not always a happy story - though there are genuinely funny moments - but while I sometimes ached for the characters it wasn't depressing. Still, best to have a hanky on hand.


Supertato
Supertato
by Sue Hendra
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous., 19 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Supertato (Paperback)
Bought for storytelling sessions I do with under-5's at local libraries. The kids love it. Funny, unusual, and wonderfully illustrated. Sue Hendra's books are always fun, but this might be my favourite. A winner.


The Girl Who Fell From The Sky
The Girl Who Fell From The Sky
by Simon Mawer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing., 19 July 2015
I really expected to like this book. I was inspired to pick it up after reading Elizabeth Wein's "Code Name Verity", which I loved. Women of the SOE being clever, brave, and daring in occupied France? Lots of intrigue, drama, and suspense? Yes, please. "The Girl Who Fell From the Sky" sounded like it would be right up my steet.

It wasn't. The author appears to have done a fair bit of research into SOE training and such, but neglected to give his protaganist a personality. We know that Marian's pretty, speaks French and, um, she's fiesty? That's pretty much it. It doesn't help that far too much pagespace is devoted to her romantic shenanigans, as Marian swings between two men who appear to have been written with the intention of being equally unlikable in completely different ways. Marian's actual spying activities are mostly limited to smuggling stuff up her hoo-ha and displaying terrible judgement about people. Still, the story of someone who wasn't actually very good a spying could still be compelling if well-done, right? Sadly, no. Marian's nerves about parachuting into France are, apparently, "like period pain but it wasn't her period." (That's from the book, btw. I'm not making this up.) There's no depth or development to her character to speak of - and no, saying "merde, alors" a lot isn't an adequate substitute for characterisation.

I kept on to the end because the story did have potential and I kept hoping it was going to get better. It didn't get better. The ending is pretty much a massive slap in the face. The preface of the book calls the women of the SOE brave and extraordinary, but the text of the novel itself paints them as a bit crap, really. The most frustrating thing I've read in a long while.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2016 8:49 PM GMT


Code Name Verity
Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 17 July 2012
This review is from: Code Name Verity (Paperback)
I read this after seeing a number of gushing reviews, only a little afraid that it might not quite live up to the praise my friends had heaped upon it. Now I only worry I can't quite sum up just how good this book is.

This is a story about war, and spies, secret agents, and lady aviators - all that dashing, exciting stuff. But more than that it is a story about two brave, fallible, and utterly charming women and their deep and abiding friendship. The lead characters feel so very real, it's hard not to become attached to them. The supporting characters too are well-realised, never falling into the cliched trap of Nazis, Boo v Brave Resistance Heroes, but never letting the atrocities of war go overlooked or excused either.

Code Name Verity is a hugely enagaging read, well-paced, dramatic and wonderfully characterised. It's not a happy story by any means - though there are moments of warmth and humour - but it is very moving, thoroughly charming and very much worthwhile.


Pretty Little Things to Make: 20 Heirloom Projects for Babies and Toddlers
Pretty Little Things to Make: 20 Heirloom Projects for Babies and Toddlers
by Judith More
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 16 Sept. 2010
I liked the idea of this book much more than the actual book, I'm afraid. It's a nice enough little read, and I like the fact that it includes knitting and sewing patterns, some of which I haven't seen in other places. (Though in the case of the knitted dungarees, there may be a good reason for that!)

The format of the book didn't work for me at all. It's much smaller than most sewing books, and the patterns at the end need a lot of blowing up. The instructions seemed too crammed in for my liking. While the layout does enhance the vintage feel of the book I found it so off-putting that I haven't even attempted any of the projects in the book.


How To Be A Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking
How To Be A Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking
by Nigella Lawson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious, 16 Sept. 2010
Nigella more than earns her Queen of the Kitchen crown with this book, her most famous and the best. My copy is well-thumbed and looks an absolute disgrace, what with pages stuck together with jam, batter stains on the cover, and crusty egg marks on random pages. A sure sign of a winner - remember folks, the dirtier the cook book, the better the recipes.

There's a really good range of things to bake in this book, though my personal favourites are the cupcakes and loaf cakes. Almond and cherry loaf - oh, what a delight, and so easy to do! Cupcakes range from child-friendly vanilla with dolly mixtures to the sumptiously grown-up dark chocolate cherry cupcakes (so rich than even a very greedy person like me struggles to eat a second cake).

Along with the solid stock of recipes there's some wonderful photography and Nigella's friendly advice as you go. The instructions are clear and unpretentious, and I've found them all nice and easy to follow. I did worry that Nigella's reputation for extravagance might mean very expensive recipes, but actually it's not so bad. There are a few recipes which can be price-y to make up, but there's also plenty of more standard fare, containing just the sort of ingredients that your average baker would keep in stock.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes cake. (Or pies, biscuits, scones... )


Alabama Stitch Book: Projects and Stories Celebrating Hand-Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery for Contemporary Sustainable Style
Alabama Stitch Book: Projects and Stories Celebrating Hand-Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery for Contemporary Sustainable Style
by Natalie Chanin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem, 1 Sept. 2010
This may be my absoulte favourite sewing book, and I buy a lot of them! A pleasure to read, this book includes a history of Alabama Chanin along with a range of projects. As an added bonus you'll find recipes, a ready-made stencil, and a postcard ready for beading.

Chanin's style is simple, rustic, and elegant. All the projects use cotton jersey and most include applique/reverse applique and/or beading. All patterns are for hand-sewing and many can be made from upcycled materials, like old t-shirts. The approach here is restful, slow and steady sewing, and makes a refreshing change from so many of the "quick makes" that saturate the market. Don't panic if the prospect of hand-sewing an entire garment is alarming as there are other, smaller projects to start with and the techniques used could easily be adapted for embellishing t-shirts or jersey dresses. Before we get to the projects there are simple, easy to follow instructions on all the techniques needed and ample illustrations are provided.

My only minor gripe is that a couple of the templates need to be scaled up for use as stencils (though the inclusion of a read-to-use stencil prevents me getting too annoyed about that). Otherwise this book is amazing, a real inspiration.


Scandinavian Needlecraft: 35 step-by-step projects to create the Scandinavian home
Scandinavian Needlecraft: 35 step-by-step projects to create the Scandinavian home
by Clare Youngs
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good source of inspiration, 1 Sept. 2010
I bought this after trying one of the patterns (for baby booties) that I'd found published in a magazine. There are some lovely projects in here, all good examples of the simple, pretty scandanavian style which I really like. The instructions are clear and easy to follow and the projects use a nice range of techniques (applique, cutwork, embroidery etc).

The only reason I'm giving the book four stars rather than five is that all the templates - except for the booties that inspired me to buy the book - need to be scaled up. It's particularly annoying when several of them are fairly small anyway - seriously, why should I have to blow up a template for an egg cosy? Such a shame, as I'm sure I'd have made more of these projects by now if not for this hassle.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2014 2:15 PM GMT


Stray Sock Sewing, Too: More Super-Cute Sock Softies to Make and Love
Stray Sock Sewing, Too: More Super-Cute Sock Softies to Make and Love
by Daniel Ta
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very cute, 1 Sept. 2010
I bought this for my niece's twelfth birthday and she seems very happy with it. The book is beautifully illustrated and the sock creatures are adorable. There's even a short section with "bios" for some creatures just to up the cuteness factor. The birthday girl and my daughter (aged 11) both had a go at one of the creatures and although they really enjoyed it, they did find it a bit tricky. I'd say this is a good book for ages kids of 12 and up with some sewing experience and/or a competent adult helper.


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