Difference between revisions of "Newest Reference Reviews"

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{{newreview
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|author=Dorling Kindersley
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|title=First Science Encyclopedia
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|rating=5
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|genre=Children's Non-Fiction
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|summary=I wasn't introduced to 'science' until I was eleven and went on to senior school: I wasn't alone in this, but it really was too late.  Thankfully, times have changed and children at primary school are getting to grips with plants and animals, atoms and molecules and even outer space from a very young age.  What's needed is a good, basic reference book which will introduce all the subjects and give a good grounding.  It needs to be something which would sit proudly in the classroom library and comfortably on a child's bookshelf.  The ''First Science Encyclopedia'' would do both well.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>024118875X</amazonuk>
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}}
 
{{newreview
 
{{newreview
 
|author=Deirdre Osborne (Editor)
 
|author=Deirdre Osborne (Editor)
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|rating= 4.5
 
|rating= 4.5
 
|genre= Reference
 
|genre= Reference
|summary= First published in 1960, ‘’To Kill a Mockingbird’’ is not only a beloved classic, but a touchstone in literary and social history. ‘’Scout, Atticus & Boo’’ commorates the fifty years plus since ‘’To Kill a Mockingbird’’ was published, and discusses its impact with contributions from Oprah Winfrey, James Patterson, Adriana Trigiani and Wally Lamb amongst others – particularly Alice Finch Lee, Harper Lee’s older sister who passed away last year.  
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|summary= First published in 1960, ''To Kill a Mockingbird'' is not only a beloved classic, but a touchstone in literary and social history. ''Scout, Atticus & Boo'' commorates the fifty years plus since ‘’To Kill a Mockingbird’’ was published, and discusses its impact with contributions from Oprah Winfrey, James Patterson, Adriana Trigiani and Wally Lamb amongst others – particularly Alice Finch Lee, Harper Lee’s older sister who passed away last year.  
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>178475305X</amazonuk>
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>178475305X</amazonuk>
}}
 
{{newreview
 
|author=Stanley Gibbons
 
|title=Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue 2015
 
|rating=5
 
|genre=Reference
 
|summary=The thirtieth edition of the Stanley Gibbons Concise Stamp catalogue lives up to expectations once again.  It's been extensively updated and prices have been revised in line with the current market, leading to thousands of price increases (particularly in varieties, errors, Machins, Post & Go stamps and booklets), which will please you - or not - depending on whether you're a seller or a buyer.  It's pitched at that sector of the market which has outgrown ''Collect British Stamps'', but not yet graduated to the [[Stamps of the World 2011 by Stanley Gibbons|Stamps of the World series]].  The cover price of £34.95 is reasonable when you see the amount of work - and technology - which has gone into the creation of the book.
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0852599447</amazonuk>
 
 
}}
 
}}

Revision as of 17:02, 19 May 2017

First Science Encyclopedia by Dorling Kindersley

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I wasn't introduced to 'science' until I was eleven and went on to senior school: I wasn't alone in this, but it really was too late. Thankfully, times have changed and children at primary school are getting to grips with plants and animals, atoms and molecules and even outer space from a very young age. What's needed is a good, basic reference book which will introduce all the subjects and give a good grounding. It needs to be something which would sit proudly in the classroom library and comfortably on a child's bookshelf. The First Science Encyclopedia would do both well. Full review...

The Cambridge Companion to British Black and Asian Literature (1945–2010) by Deirdre Osborne (Editor)

5star.jpg Reference

This literary companion offers fifteen essays addressing the contribution of black and Asian authors to the British literary canon since 1945. It covers not just fiction, but also poetry, plays and performance works. It sits as a kind of joyful cuckoo in the nest, interrupting the usual narratives of literary waves and movements in Britain that take little notice of any perspective other than the dominant white - and posh! - direction of travel. It's a disparate, varied collection of essays, covering spoken word performance poetry, black British urban fiction, LGBTQ writing, liberationist writing and much more. I was really happy to see children's authors such as Malorie Blackman, Jamila Gavin and Catherine Johnson discussed and respected. Full review...

Beginner's Project Management Handbook: Art of Project Delivery by Dr Sunil C Gebalanage

4star.jpg Reference

In the last fifteen years I've project managed the construction of an office and the extension of a building. On both occasions I looked for a resource which would give me a framework within which to proceed, but whilst I could find several volumes which dealt with individual parts of the project I couldn't find any literature which put it all together. An additional problem was that what literature there was out there was written with specific professionals in mind and didn't accommodate the generalist. It was with relief for those following me that I discovered Beginner's Project Management Handbook: Art of Project Delivery. Full review...

What's Where on Earth? Atlas: The World as You've Never Seen It Before by DK

4.5star.jpg Reference

I dread to think how old the atlas we used when I was a child was, but at least we had one, and I didn't need to go to school or a library to check up on whatever bit of trivia I was seeking. I'm so old a lot of things about it now would be most redundant, but if you choose to risk your arm and buy an atlas for the family shelves that all generations will benefit from, as opposed to relying on electronic and updateable sources of information, then this is the one to have. Full review...

Pirates: Truth and Tale by Helen Hollick

4star.jpg History

The eighteenth century lived in terror of the tramps of the seas – pirates. Pirates have fascinated people ever since. It was a harsh life for those who went 'on the account', constantly overshadowed by the threat of death – through violence, illness, shipwreck, or the hangman's noose. The lure of gold, the excitement of the chase and the freedom that life aboard a pirate ship offered were judged by some to be worth the risk. Helen Hollick explores both the fiction and fact of the Golden Age of piracy, and there are some surprises in store for those who think they know their Barbary Corsair from their boucanier. Everyone has heard of Captain Morgan, but who recognises the name of the aristocratic Frenchman Daniel Montbars? He killed so many Spaniards he was known as 'The Exterminator'. The fictional world of pirates, represented in novels and movies, is different from reality. What draws readers and viewers to these notorious hyenas of the high seas? What are the facts behind the fantasy? Full review...

The Prose Factory by D J Taylor

5star.jpg Reference

D J Taylor's exploration of writing, reading, publishing and critical reviews spans a century of literary history, discussing everything from Eliot-era modernists and Georgian traditionalists, to the impact of politics, creative writing degrees, reviewers and critics. It is a deep and thorough exploration of the multi-complex influences on English literary life over the past century and the way these have shaped readers' preferences and reading habits. But don't be put off by thinking that this is a dusty, encyclopaedic tome – it is a large book at around 500 pages – but it is accessible and thoroughly readable. Full review...

A Beatles Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Beatles but Were Afraid to Ask by John Van der Kiste

5star.jpg Reference

You might have thought that just about everything which could be said about the Beatles had been said and certainly there's been no shortage of books about what went wrong, what happened to the money and even what went right. But what I've never seen before is a 'miscellany' - all those little facts which are so hard to track down and this is where historian John Van der Kiste comes into his own: he's a man with an eye for detail and the ability to bring everything together into a very readable whole. It's a wonderful collection of the small facts. Full review...

British Airways Colouring Book by Paul Jarvis

4star.jpg Crafts

Over the past couple of years we've seen a lot of colouring books: flowers, patterns, fantasy creatures, characters and settings from television shows, films and books and lots more, but I can't recollect that we've ever before had one which featured a company. Mind you, British Airways, is rather special; iconic and rather more long lasting than most passing celebrities. It has heritage and tradition. The British Airways Colouring Book is based on exclusive posters, photographs and artwork from the company's archives and the 46 images allow the reader to recreate these as they wish. There's a bonus too: on the facing page of each image there's a potted history. I passed the book to someone with an interest in BA and he found the book interesting and informative without even thinking of doing any colouring. Full review...

Infographics: Technology by Simon Rogers

5star.jpg Reference

As parents, we can often be bombarded with questions as our children start to discover the world. These questions soon become increasingly complex, especially with the latest technological advances. How do computers work? What's inside a smartphone? How can earth communicate with spacecraft? Thankfully we now have a handy, illustrated guide to help us: Infographics: Technology. Full review...

Winter: A Book for the Season by Felicity Trotman (editor)

3.5star.jpg Anthologies

This seasonal anthology contains a nice mixture of poetry, nature and travel pieces, and excerpts from longer works of fiction. Felicity Trotman, a freelance editor and member of the English Civil War Society, has arranged the material into three sections: 'The Old Year', 'Christmas, Sacred and Secular', and 'The New Year'. This creates an appropriate sense of chronological progression, and also serves to make Christmas the heart of the book. Black-and-white illustrations – maps, photographs and engravings – are interspersed throughout, and each author gets a short paragraph of biography and background. Full review...

Misadventures in the English Language by Caroline Taggart

3.5star.jpg Reference

Misadventures in the English Language styles itself as an examination of the confusing bits of grammar, vocabulary and punctuation, with some indication of which rules matter and which can be broken without dire consequences, though it's actually broader than this description makes it sound. It has chapters on: words and phrases borrowed from other languages, new usage and changes of meaning, common grammar and punctuation pitfalls, confusing spellings, dreadful jargon, and using unnecessary words that don't add anything to your sentence except length. Full review...

How To Win Short Story Competitions by Dave Haslett and Geoff Nelder

3.5star.jpg Reference

This guide to what is for many writers the first step on their path to glory (or not) is only available as a Kindle download or as a PDF direct from the publisher's website. It is not issued in print format. Given the low price on Amazon, it feels like a worthwhile investment for anyone interested in taking this route to enhance their writing profile. Full review...

Carols from King's: The Stories of our Favourite Carols from King's College by Alexandra Coghlan

4.5star.jpg Reference

The exquisite sound of a lone chorister singing Once in Royal David's City amid the chapel of King's College, Cambridge, marks the start of the Christmas festivities for millions of people round the globe. Broadcast at 3pm on Chrismas Eve, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols provides a precious moment of tranquility amongst the bustle of the festive season. Here author Alexandra Coghlan takes the reader on a journey through the fascinating history of carols, from the very first - sung by the angels to the shepherds at Bethlehem - to anecdotes from contemporary King's choristers, and shows them how carols have evolved from pagan songs to become one of our nation's most sacred treasures. Accompanied by lyrics and music and compiled in conjunction with Radio 4 and King's College Chapel, Carols from King's is the official companion for fans of Christmas and carols alike. Full review...

The Date-A-Base Book 2017 by Dave Haslett and Kate Haslett

4star.jpg Reference

So here's a question for you: how do you go about reviewing a list - especially a list that runs to 3,800 entries and 544 pages? No, I'm not sure either, but I'm going to give it a go. Full review...

In Real Life: Love, Lies & Identity in the Digital Age by Nev Schulman

4star.jpg Reference

Nev (it's pronounced Neev) is a man who knows about the darker side of online dating. Known for his documentary Catfish – a film which showed an online flirtation going sour, Nev then began making a tv show of the same name, travelling America to offer advice to those in online relationships, and possibly being catfished (which means being lured into a relationship by someone adopting a fictional online persona). Now the go-to expert in online relationships for millenials, a generation who have never known a world without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online places where interactions can form. Here, he takes his investigation to the page – exploring relationships in the era of social media, delving deeply into the complexities of dating in a digital age, and continuing the dialogue his show has begun about how we interact with each other online – as well as sharing insights from his own story. Full review...

The A-Z of Victorian Crime by Neil R A Bell, Trevor N Bond, Kate Clarke and M W Oldridge

4.5star.jpg True Crime

Victorian crime has never ceased to cast its spell. Is it because such terrible goings-on took place sufficiently long ago that they do not disgust us in the same way as equally dreadful events from, say, the last few days of which we read from today's papers or online coverage? Whatever the reason, there is an endless fascination with murders and other major transgressions of the law from the era of gas lamps and swirling fog – true Victorian melodrama, misbehaviour and horror from real life writ large. It is amply catered for in this title, the joint work of four authors. Full review...

Weatherland: Writers and artists under English skies by Alexandra Harris

4.5star.jpg Reference

The story of English culture over a thousand years can be told as the story of changing ideas about the weather. A sweeping panorama, Weatherland explores how writers and artists, looking up at the same skies and walking in the brisk air, have felt very different things. A journey through centuries and cultures, Harris walks the reader through misty moor and foggy fen, lays with them on bright sunlit beaches, treks with them to stormy summits, and introduces them to a fascinating cast of writers, artists and cultural figures along the way. Full review...

Great Britain Concise Catalogue 2016 by Hugh Jefferies

5star.jpg Reference

It's difficult to believe that it's the 30th anniversary of the first publication of Great Britain Concise, but this is the thirty-first edition, with just under 500 pages and over three and a half thousand illustrations. It feels almost painful to look back to the days when the choice was between the Collect British Stamps series which never pretended (or pretends) to be more than a checklist (but got many people off to a sound start - myself included) and the specialised series, which is beyond the purse of many amateur collectors. Great Britain Concise sits comfortably between the two extremes with an affordable cover price. Full review...

24 Hours at the Somme by Robert Kershaw

5star.jpg Reference

They came past one by one...walking lumps of clay, with torn clothing, hollow cheeks and sunken eyes...There was a dreadful weariness, but a wildness burning in their fevered eyes, showing what this appalling hand to hand fighting had cost them. Utterly unforgivable for me...

So goes the description of the men, the ghosts, at the end of the first day of the Somme. July 1 2016 will mark 100 years since this most bloody of battles took place. It was supposed to be the optimistic 'Big Push' that would end the Great War, but by sunset of the first day the British casualties numbered 57,470. The battle would rage until November that year, with the total number of casualties on all sides exceeding one million. Full review...

The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation by David Crystal

5star.jpg Reference

Language changes, not only in the way that it's written, but also in the way that it's pronounced. I've seen changes over my lifetime and even more substantial changes have occurred in the four hundred years since Shakespeare died. For someone watching or reading a play the differences are not usually material: we can generally understand what is being said, but occasionally we're going to miss jokes which rely on a certain pronunciation, or the fine nuances of what is being said. What's required is a dictionary of the original pronunciation and that's exactly what David Crystal has provided. I'm only surprised that it's taken so long for such a book to appear. Full review...

Worlds Elsewhere by Andrew Dickson

4star.jpg Reference

From the sixteenth-century Baltic to the American Revolution, from colonial India to the skyscrapers of modern-day Shanghai, Shakespeare's plays appear at the most fascinating of times in the most unexpected of places. But what is it about Shakespeare – a man who never once left England, which has made him an icon across the globe? Travelling across four continents, six countries and 400 years, Worlds Elsewhere attempts to understand Shakespeare in his role as an international phenomenon. Full review...

Words of a Feather by Graeme Donald

4star.jpg Reference

Words of a Feather. The title alone suggests an engaging read about language, and the book certainly delivers. It pairs seemingly unrelated words, digs up their etymological roots and reveals their common ancestry. The English language, of course, provides rich pickings indeed for a book of this type and it is fascinating to see the hidden meaning behind common and not-so-common words. Some connections are fairly obvious once you read them. For example, the link between grotto and grotesque is easy to grasp: the word grotesque derives from unpleasant figures depicted in murals in Ancient Roman grottoes. Other connections are just extraordinary, like the so-crazy-you-couldn't-make-it-up connection between furnace and fornicate. These two words date back to Ancient Rome when prostitutes took over the city's abandoned baking domes. And some connections are more than a little tenuous, seemingly just a collection of words banded together, as is the case with the insult and salmon pairing. One of my personal favourites: the Italian word schiavo for slave was used to summon or dismiss a slave; this word became corrupted to ciao, a word the more well-heeled among us use instead of goodbye. Full review...

The Art of Stephen Hickman by Stephen Hickman

4star.jpg Fantasy

Stephen Hickman has been a well known artist in the Fantasy and Science Fiction worlds for a number of years now, having created covers for authors such as Harlan Ellison, Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, and Larry Niven. His paintings are vibrant, kinetic, sometimes scary, often sensual, traditional, and yet modern. The Art of Stephen Hickman collects hundreds of these paintings, and the artist himself provides an intriguing commentary alongside which offers a fascinating glimpse into the artistic process. Full review...

How Good is Your Grammar? by John Sutherland

3star.jpg Reference

In the preface of How Good is Your Grammar?, John Sutherland suggests that the abolition of grammar schools in the 1960s coincided with a general decline in grammatical standards in the decades that followed. In our modern age of 'text-speak' and emoticons, the need for grammatical correctness seems to be rather low on our agenda, maybe even regarded as irrelevant by some. Is this gradual erosion an inevitable part of the evolution of communication, or will certain rules always remain an intrinsic part of the fabric of language? Only time will tell, but for those wishing to brush up on their grammar skills, Sutherland has compiled 100 quiz questions that he claims are the ultimate test for his readers. Full review...

Stitches in Time: The Story of the Clothes We Wear by Lucy Adlington

4star.jpg History

Stitches in Time is a lively history of clothing. Riffling through the wardrobes of years gone by, costume historian Lucy Adlington reveals the stories underneath the clothes we wear in this tour of the history of fashion, ranging from ancient times to the present day. With beautiful illustrations and full colour photographs, Stitches in Time is a reminder of how the way we dress is inextricably bound up with considerations of aesthetics, sex, gender, class and lifestyle – and offers the reader the chance to appreciate the extraordinary qualities of the clothing we wear, and the rich history it has led. Full review...

Harry Potter: The Character Vault by Jody Revenson

4star.jpg Entertainment

Unlock new information about your favourite characters from the Harry Potter film series. This coffeetable book profiles the good, bad, and everything in between – from Harry and Ron to Voldemort and Umbridge. Hugely detailed and filled with beautiful illustrations, images, and never before seen glimpses into the design process – this book will answer your questions about character design in the Harry Potter series. Full review...

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman

5star.jpg Reference

Neurotribes is is an ambitious book. It aims to challenge the widely-held perception that autism is a disability, or a developmental delay. One of my favourite quotes from the book is this:

One way to understand neurodiversity is to think in terms of 'human operating systems' instead of diagnostic labels... Just because a computer is not running Windows doesn't mean that it's broken.

This refreshing approach underpins the whole of this ground-breaking work, which is essentially a potted-history of autism from the distant past to the present day. It will fascinate and enlighten anyone with an interest in the subject, or who is affected, directly or indirectly, by the condition. For autistic people, this book represents their roots; their cultural history, and illustrates how far the autistic community have come over the past few decades. Full review...

Scout, Atticus and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy

4.5star.jpg Reference

First published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird is not only a beloved classic, but a touchstone in literary and social history. Scout, Atticus & Boo commorates the fifty years plus since ‘’To Kill a Mockingbird’’ was published, and discusses its impact with contributions from Oprah Winfrey, James Patterson, Adriana Trigiani and Wally Lamb amongst others – particularly Alice Finch Lee, Harper Lee’s older sister who passed away last year. Full review...