I’ve finished my Book Bingo Card!

I’ve done it, my Book Bingo card is now filled and handed in ready for the finished cards to be put in a hat and a winner to be drawn! The draw will take place next Saturday and one lucky winner will walk away with twenty five English pounds to spend (hopefully) on books.

I never expected to finish (and with a week to go…..unheard of for me) It’s been a lot of fun and has revived my love of reading which of course was one of the reasons Book Bingo was set up in the first place. IMG_20160729_1349360_rewind_kindlephoto-172126978

Book Bingo….the final push!

Well………I’ve done it! I’ve read the last three books that I needed in order to complete my Book Bingo card. I didn’t expect to finish the whole card but I have and I’m delighted.

So which three books did I choose?

I needed to read a book “set in another country” and chose another Agatha Christie….A Caribbean Mystery. It’s a Miss Marple story and if you can forgive the, perhaps, racist comments about the native Caribbean folk, is good read.(It was first published in 1964 when people could get away with being dismissive of anyone who wasn’t white, middle class and Christian) Half way through the book I realized that I’d seen a television film of the story but I’d forgotten the ending so it didn’t spoil the book.

For”A book not originally written in English” I read Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson. This is a children’s book though I’m not entirely sure what kind of child it’s aimed at! I obviously don’t have the kind of imagination need for stories like this because although charming in parts it IMG_20160726_0816442_rewind_kindlephoto-3401683became so surreal that I began to wonder if someone had slipped some hallucinatory drugs into my tea!

My final read was The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne which is “A book which has already been made into a film”

I’ve seen the film which I thought was excellent but the book is magnificent. It’s a book that everyone should read (probably more than once) It should be on the syllabus of every school. If you haven’t read it then go to your nearest bookshop TODAY and get a copy, get a couple of copies and give the others to friends..

So my Book Bingo card is full and I’m in with a chance of having my name drawn out of the hat to win……..I’m not sure what the prize is and as Book Bingo was Phil’s idea in the first place I probably shouldn’t accept the prize even if I did win!! It’s been a lot of fun, I’ve read stuff that I wouldn’t normally read, some hasn’t been so good (the graphic novel comes instantly to mind) but the majority has been excellent, poetry, chick-lit, children’s books, from the teenage section, not originally written in English. More people than expected have taken up the challenge to play Book Bingo, far more than expected have actually finished. More people are using our lovely little community Library, more books are being read, people are talking about stories, authors, the different categories of books, making recommendations etc…….oh and we’ve collected some money in order to be able to buy new books. Will we do it all again again next year……well, I think we would be silly not to!


Book Bingo!

People have been asking me about the book bingo that I wrote about a couple of month’s ago! (they have …..really)

Well, it’s still going strong…though I’ve let things slip !

I’ve had my mind on other things lately and haven’t been doing so much reading however with book bingo ending in August I thought I’d better pull my socks up and at least attempt to get my bingo card filled, especially as it was my partner’s idea in the first place!

I don’t think we’d imagined that anyone would actually finish a card but every time I go into the library there seem to be more finished cards displayed on the wall, one lady is just one book away from finishing her second card!

Last time I wrote about it I was about to start reading a graphic novel……let’s just say It wasn’t my cup of tea and leave it at that!IMG_20160720_2150393_rewind_kindlephoto-924639932

As you can see I’ve got a lot of squares filled in but have a long way to go…well actually not that far now as I’ve been reading madly!

For a ‘book published before 1966’ I have just finished Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s one of her Hercule Poirot stories and good read. M Poirot has to discover who killed a famous artist sixteen years after the murder….if in fact it was a murder?

For the ‘By an American author’ I read Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell. I’ve read some of her books before and enjoyed them but I’m afraid I just couldn’t connect with this one. I couldn’t empathise with the characters and in the end really didn’t care why or who did what they did…sorry Patricia.

For a ‘From the Chck-lit rack’ I was recommended to read A Seaside Affair by the lovely Fern Britton. Frankly, although I’d heard the term Chick-lit I’d really no idea what it meant although I rather thought that I wouldn’t like it, whatever it was. Well, actually I did like it, I liked it a lot. I’ll probably not be rushing back to the rack to grab piles of Chick-lit books any time soon but I’d certainly think of reading something else by Fern. It advertised itself as having “fun and friendly charm on every page” …………I’m not quite sure about that but it was certainly enjoyable and if only real life was as interesting and fun as in the little Cornish town of Trevay.

For a ‘Shorter than 200 pages’ I went for the children’s book The Cuckoo Clock of Doom from the Goosebumps collection of books by R L Stine.       I used to read these books to my class when I was teaching and they always went down well. Any book that states on the cover ‘Reader beware you’re in for a scare’ is always going to be a winner, and it was.

For ‘A book with 5 or more words in the title’ I chose another children’s book The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me by Roald Dahl. I’ll come clean, I don’t like Roald Dahl, I wasn’t brought up reading his books and somewhere along the line I’ve got it into my head that he wasn’t a very nice man. I’m not sure where this idea has come from and it may be completely wrong, certainly everyone else I know loves his work and loves him so I’ll probably have to change my opinion. I picked this book mainly because I needed to read a book with five words or more in the title and this book has more than five words in the title. I loved it and loved the drawings by the magnificent Quentin Blake. Yes I loved it so look ……already my opinion of Roald Dahl is changing!

I needed a book with a child on the cover and grabbed Demon Dentist by David Walliams. Friends have read it and enjoyed it and I guess I did too….to a point. It was quite funny but maybe I’m a bit out of touch with what children these days find funny.

That just leaves ‘A book which has already been made into a film’ ‘Set in another country’ and ‘A book not originally written in English’ and I’ll have a completed bingo card…….surely I can manage that!!!!IMG_20160720_2146210_rewind_kindlephoto-924559702



Book Bingo latest!

IMG_20160309_2331059_rewind_kindlephoto-1075917614Today I ‘got a line!’ on my book bingo card, and received my prize, a lovely Shanklin Community Library book mark. I’m actually getting quite excited about this book bingo malarkey. I took back my Dirk Bogarde autobiography which I’d bought from the library “for sale” shelf (not usually interested in autobiographies and the poor chap didn’t live the rather gilded life that I was expecting to read about) to qualify for a corner square and picked up a graphic novel (the only one in our little library) in order to be able to claim my “a book from the young adult/teenager section” square! I’ve never read a graphic novel before so I’m not quite sure what to expect…… but you never know I might like it!

Classical Ornament – C. Thierry (Dover Books 2016)


I love Dover Books and have loads of them. A visit to the Dover Bookshop on Earlham Street in Covent Garden was always a treat when I was at college and then working in London. It featured a design donated by Eduardo Paolozzi, a long time fan of the shop and the shop was a draw for artists and designers featuring everything from Japanese border patterns to Victorian medical illustrations. There were books on photography, architecture, graphic design, fashion and at the back a terrific children’s section including Paper Doll Cut Out Books (Why I have one of Joan Crawford is anyone’s guess – you can apparently get them for David Bowie and Adele now as well!)

The shop was a treasure trove of books, an image library specialising in largely royalty free illustrations and used by all sorts of designers from Paul Smith to Vivienne Westwood. Unfortunately with the area around Earlham Street moving from niche specialist shops to larger chains and free images being easily sourced online, after twenty seven years the shop had to close. Thankfully, Dover Books (an American company) are still available and as marvellous as ever. This book “Classical Ornament” by C.Thierry was originally compiled in the 1860s. It presents more than 70 illustrations of classical ornament, consisting of architectural elements from structures such as the Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Vatican Museum and other buildings. The book is aimed at a pretty niche market, students of architecture and the decorative arts, graphic artists, designers and historians. With only 70 or so precisely detailed renderings on 74 pages it is hardly exhaustive on the subject but is excellent and the images are of course, royalty free.


If classical ornament is your thing then Heck’s Pictorial Archive of Art and Architecture is worth looking out for, with over 2,200 illustrations it’s a veritable treasure trove and also printed by Dover Books.

Empire Style Design and Ornament, (again published by Dover Books) is a collection of designs for architectural ornaments manufactured by Joseph Beunat in 1813 and contains everything that pertains to the decoration of rooms, such as panels, overdoors, mirror friezes, wall friezes, pilasters, door posts etc, it’s another winner in my mind as is Decor Architectural (Les Editions du Carrousel).

This edition of Classical Ornament is published by Dover Books in 2016.  Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for letting me view this review copy.

Interior Decoration a to z !

It’s cold, misty and very windy on The Island today……and I’m not going out!

On days like this I like to visit my bookshelves and pull out a book that catches my eye. I was trained in three dimensional design- interior design and the history of art and have shelves of art and design books. Many could be described as being coffee table books, some profess to be educational!

Some of my favourite are the old ones and one of these is Interior Decoration a to z, an American book from 1965.

I love some of these older American books because design wise anything goes. In Europe we were often restricted by our history and traditions where as the Americans simply did what they wanted……sometimes to great effect……. and sometimes not!

In the 1950s there was a revolution in colour in America, conservatism and caution went down the drain. They felt a freedom to use strong colours, a true red, an intense blue, an undiluted yellow. There was built in furniture taking on an architectural flavour, large patterns with pattern on pattern, pop art next to antiques!

Mad, bad and a little scary but ultimately (sometimes) fabulous.


I love these pictures….particularly the painting in the left hand photo that seems to have been cut to follow the ceiling line!


The idea of the fabric stool is very contemporary, three floor cushions strapped together….I’d buy it!



I’m not quite sure what Mondrian would have made of that kitchen wall, note the wicker chairs and the ‘cut down’ metal garden table.


Now that is red!!


All photographed on my purple, blue and black Welsh blanket, a design classic then as now, thanks Mum, a good buy.

Book Bingo and my first completed squares!

My partner Phil and I volunteer at our local community library which stopped being funded by the IOW council and has been taken over by Shanklin Town Council. If the town council hadn’t taken it over we’d have lost the library for good……incredible isn’t it!

We have one paid member of staff and a team of volunteers. Fundraising in circumstances like this is very important. Phil over at reviewsrevues.com (read the whole story there!) had the idea to produce bingo cards set with reading challenges instead of numbers. Sold at £3 per card they aim to generate some much needed money and get library users talking and excited about books.

If you complete a line you get a small prize and at the end of six months the first full house card pulled out of the hat will receive a Grand Prize!

The scheme was introduced at a library coffee morning last week with the Mayor, High Sheriff, local press and radio in attendance. We were interviewed and it was on the local radio hourly news bulletins throughout the day.

Already the response has been incredibly enthusiastic with people coming in for their first stickers and wanting to talk about their books.

So here are my first two stickers and the books I read!


“The Sketchbook War, Saving the nation’s artist’s in world war two”, by Richard Knott and “Eric Ravillious, masterpieces of art”, by Susie Hodge.

The 1930s and 40s seemed to produce a rich seam of British artists and illustrators and some of my favourites are Edward Ardizzone, Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious, Evelyn Dunbar and Lara Knight, all of whom produced large bodies of work during the war.

(I think we we are lucky enough to have found another rich seam  with likes of Clive Hicks-Jenkins, Paul Bommer, Ed Kluz, Mark Hearld, Angie Lewin, Kit Boyd and Emily Sutton, amongst others).

The Sketchbook War tells the story of some of the artists who went to the front to capture something of the life and death, horror and destruction caused by war (I’m not sure they were supposed to show so much of the horror and destruction after all ‘ the powers that be’ don’t like to highlight that inevitable aspect of war).

It’s a fascinating read with information gathered from the artists’ letters and from recorded interviews (from those who survived!). I don’t always want to know too much about the private lives of the actors, musicians and artists whose work I admire in case I’m disappointed but in this instance I find myself even more impressed and inspired by their work.

My only criticism of the book is that there are not enough examples of the work talked about……however of course that’s set me the task of searching out more books about these artists. The first one I’ve discovered is from the Masterpieces of Art series and deals with Eric Ravilious.

Eric Ravilious was responsible for a magnificent range of different works, workbook illustrations to ceramic designs for Wedgwood, from travel posters to murals and watercolours. The first part of the book deals simply and straightforwardly with a biography of his life interspersed with examples of his work while the rest of the book allows the reader to enjoy his extraordinary work, his landscapes and interiors, wood engravings, High Street illustrations and War art.

On 28 August 1942 Eric Ravilious flew to Reykjavik and then travelled on to RAF Kaldadarnes on the coast. On his arrival, on 1 September, an aircraft failed to return to base from an operational flight and the next morning three planes were despatched at dawn to search for it. Ravilious chose to join one of the search missions. But his aircraft failed to return and after four days of searching the RAF declared Ravilious and the rest of the four-man crew lost in action. His body has never been recovered.

As a fan of his work I can see this being a book that I’ll treasure.

The Gift Wrapping Book by Caroline Birkett

This is a book review which first appeared a couple of weeks ago when I was asked to be a guest reviewer over on reviewsrevues


We all give presents but how many of us fail miserably when it comes to the wrapping?  All too often we resort to popping the gift into a shop bought gift bag or box.  Present wrapping is something we are just expected to be able to do.  There have been countless times I’ve ended up having to throw away ruined wrapping paper and there have been too many fights with sticky tape, just finding the end of the roll can be a nightmare.  However, a beautifully wrapped present can be a real joy to receive, even before you’ve seen what’s under the paper or in the box.

Understanding the various wrapping techniques, the range of materials available and the tools needed for the jobs can turn a necessary chore into something enjoyable, creative, and we can produce something special and personal for the recipient.

“The Gift Wrapping Book” is ideal both for those who haven’t a clue how to wrap a present and for those who are keen to try something a little different.

The book is well laid out and with clear photos and step by step instructions.  Caroline starts by showing the correct way of wrapping a box with standard wrapping paper and then goes on to suggest how this could be done with other types of paper.  We find out how to produce our own decorative paper using methods such as wax resist, gilding, stamping etc and then more elaborate bows and embellishments with gift tags and other items.  Patterns and templates are included together with information on the materials and tools required.  Importantly, she explains how to wrap those awkward shape parcels we all have problems with.

Caroline makes it clear that wrapping doesn’t need to be elaborate, doesn’t need to take a long time to prepare so long as it is neat and thoughtfully put together.  However, with an understanding of some basic techniques and a little imagination there are no limits as to how fantastic your presents can look.  Just make sure that the actual present under all that wrapping is worth receiving!

The best publications from Dover Books have a good combination of style and practicality.  This book may not be as lavishly laid out and photographed as books by some publishing houses and magazines but here the results are attainable.  This book, which seems to have been previously published by another company in 2002, will not date as it gives good clear instructions on how to develop gift wrapping skills.  There may be more fashionable coffee-table style books of this type around but this may very well be the one to consider purchasing.


Pure Soapmaking – Anne-Marie Faiola

This is a book review which first appeared a couple of weeks ago when I was asked to be a guest reviewer over on reviewsrevues


This is a book for people who want to move away from commercially produced soaps containing harsh and synthetic ingredients and make their own containing natural ingredients tailor-made for their skin type.  This is not a book for general crafters, there is no sitting around a table with your friends making up a few bars of soap over a cup of tea and a slice of cake.  Here there is a lot of science, a fair amount of equipment required and a lot of ingredients.  At the beginning of each of the soap recipes we read the author’s mantra for Safe Soaping – to wear safety gear the whole time, to work in a well ventilated space and no distractions (no kids or pets around) so you can tell that hand-made soap making is serious (and slightly scary) stuff.

The first section of the books deals in detail with the ingredients used, the science, and importantly, with the dangers of some of the chemicals. The soap recipes are clear and well described, with lists of what is needed, ingredients, moulds, special tools etc.  The instructions are thorough but straightforward and the photos excellent.  In fact, the photos of the finished soaps are very seductive.  The bars you will end up making look like little works of art and a million miles from most standard shop-bought soaps.  It is clear that this is not really a book for a soap-making beginner but should provide inspiration and instruction for those with some experience and for soap aficionados.

Be warned though, this is an American book and there may be different regulations as to what you can do with your end products.  In the UK, I have found with a bit of research that you can make soap for your own use and to give to friends but you cannot sell unless you have a licence.