Broad-brush book reviews
An interesting mix of semi-interactive, light comedy and conveniently-sized guide books tickled the opinions of Iain Robertson, as he continues his reviews of the latest titles worthy of purchasing, whether for gifts, or for stacking on bookshelves.
Four transformative titles (see text)
By various authors
ISBN: 978 0233 00 5584/5591/5607/5614
Andre Deutsch (Carlton Books imprint)
While it may seem wasteful to spend £20 on a hardback reference book, only to tear it apart (carefully!), this collection of four titles is not dissimilar to the ‘pop-up’ style of books that appeal so highly and magically to children. Naturally, each of the titles, which will be appreciated by older children and adults, has its own specific ISBN number (noted above), to which I shall attribute each review. The first (5584) is by Matt Merritt, who is editor of best-selling twitchers’ magazine, ‘Bird Watching’. His love of poetry is clear in the delightful text, which describes fifty species of beautiful birds. The second (5591) is by James Lowen, an award-winning naturalist, writer and photographer, who brings to life more than 50 species of butterfly. The third (5607) is compiled by Michael Scott OBE, a botanist and author, who describes the many-varied shapes, colours and scents of around 50 flowers, accompanied by informed descriptions of each. The final, fourth edition (5614) takes more than 50 trees as its inspiration and is written expressively by Steve Marsh, an acknowledged woodland conservationist. In each case, the heavyweight pages contain ‘cut-outs’ of their subject matter that can be folded out and turned into a colourful work of display art, if that is the reader’s passion. Personally, I would leave the pages intact but the prospect of turning a work of print, for which each set of illustrations is not merely colourful but also exceptionally elegant, into a work of art is no less than innovative and intriguing. While £80 for the set of four seems a little stiff, there are clearly hours of fun attached to them.
Two books for ‘Wrinklies’
By various authors
ISBN: 978 1 911 610137/610144
Prion (an imprint of Carlton Books)
There are additional titles in this delightful, compact hardback book series, although I have only read two of them. As above, I shall refer to them by their ISBNs. The first is ‘Wrinklies Wordly Wit & Wisdom’ (610137), by Alison Vale and Alison Rattle. Through 46 ‘chapters’ (headings) that cover most stages of aging, this book is little more than a series of valuable quotations, some of which are attributed to famous people but many of which are charming little observation pieces. With over 1,500 witticisms spread over 192pp, some of which are wiser than others, as long as the older reader can remember them, they are re-quotable and may be used in conversations, at funerals and gatherings to mostly good effect. The second book, ‘Wrinklies Classic Joke Book’ (610144), by Mike Haskins and Clive Whichelow, follows a similar pattern, with jokes, gags and one-liners for the ‘older generation’. Through 192pp of continuous witty repartee, you will find yourself chuckling and hoping to recall as many of the punchlines as possible. Beautifully compiled and neatly assembled, I feel certain that readers of all ages will find the books of interest and they are certainly worth the asking price.
The Bartender’s Book
By Dave Broom
ISBN: 978 1 78739 170 3
There are loads of specialist books in the publishing scene and none more so than for the booze market, with titles covering all aspects from wines to spirits and beers to home-brews. However, mixology is a blend of science and art that has been accentuated in recent times by the growth in popularity of certain source products, such as gin and the multiplicity of small batch specialists and artisan distillers. Whether a domestic booze god or goddess, or a practising barman, you will find the contents of this book a fine accompaniment to your creative side. Within its convenient, compact format 192pp, you will find in excess of 500 cocktail recipes, ranging from classics like the Bloody Mary and Singapore Sling, to fascinating new concoctions. Fortunately, as a reference book, it details each of the ingredients, the mixing instructions, the correct glasses and even the equipment you will need to amaze and enlighten. Packed with information, whether for the sheer fun aspects, or for serious drinkers, this excellent little hardback book is a useful compendium that is sure to be referred to, whenever the party poppers are brought out and you need to put a smile on the faces of your guests.