Reading Maze For Book Reviews

Reading for the Young & Old

Deciphering the UK Building Regulations

In the UK, building regulations are amended and updated amazingly frequently, and this can be a minefield for builders and construction workers, whether amateur or professional.

Often lengthy and confusing, the extensive rules for what can and can’t be done in the UK are difficult to read, interpret and remember. So any sort of builder considering any type of building, whether it’s an extension to an existing property, a renovation of an old one or the installation of a garden home office, needs a reliable guide to the building regulations.

Author Ray Tricker (MSc IEng FIET FCIM FIQA FIRSE) is a man who can help. Noticeable by his wealth of experience and qualifications as a building surveyor, he has turned this to advantage by putting together several books aimed at professionals in the construction industry.

A recent publication entitled ‘Building Regulations in Brief’ does exactly what it says on the tin — it is a concise distillation of all those confusing and long-winded  laws that govern a builder’s workday hours.

Not only does the author explain the ins and outs of the building regulations, he outlines ways in which to conform to them in a cost-effective way, thus potentially saving users quite a lot of money when undertaking their projects. In the current economic climate which has proved particularly severe for the construction industry, this aspect of this book should make it a best-seller.

As well as being a good reference guide to the rules, Tricker goes into a little bit of detail about the evolution of them all and why they exist. This makes the whole subject easier for the reader to understand, ingest and remember and is a useful addition to the normal guidebook style. He writes about how councils and local authorities view certain issues in order that the reader can appreciate and take into account the opposing viewpoint and the official stance they will be dealing with.

Building Regulations in Brief

Essay composition – a guide for students

At this time of year, students all over the country are gearing up for some serious exams on the horizon in May and June. A sensible student takes all the help they can get, so what books are out there for essay help?

A current best-seller is ‘One Step Ahead: Essays and Dissertations’ by Chris Mounsey. The author is a highly experienced academic and teacher, having taught English at the prestigious Winchester College for more than ten years and has also penned two other learning-related books aimed at assisting students with writing essays.

This guide is written in a clear and easy to ingest manner – as would be expected from an English teacher of such repute – and contains much useful information plus hints and tips, and some example essays.

Many students find that composing an essay is the hardest part as they get lost in the narrative process; this book takes the guesswork out and holds the budding author’s hand step by step. Essay writing can easily be learnt and is not a divine art.

As a teacher working at a college and not purely an academic, Mounsey has the inside scoop on what essays marked by teachers should conform to, i.e., what the education establishment is expecting.

There is also some relevant advice regarding the initial research stages; in today’s technology-led learning environments this aspect is very much altered from the situation a generation ago when the only source of information was a library with actual books. But its not all plain sailing with online resources and Mounsey steers the reader through the potential pitfalls.

Plan…then party….

A Hollywood celebrity who was a teen star and daughter of one of the industry’s most powerful moguls might seem an unlikely author for a party planning book.

But Tori Spelling’s book “celebraTORI” [pun intended] is surprisingly readable and full of useful stuff. Covering everything from the theme, the food, to decorations and etiquette, and what to do when things go awry and guests behave unexpectedly, the book is a handy blueprint to all things related to parties or entertaining on any level.  With her glamorous background, at least the reader can trust Spelling’s advice on the subject, as one can assume she’s attended a party or two in her time and knows enough to tell it like it is.

Spelling guides the enthusiastic potential host or hostess through the initial stages of planning, and delivers plenty of inspiration on probably the most important aspect of any do – the theme. She has a plethora of suggestions up her sleeve and seems especially keen on upscale ‘Hollywood’ black-tie bashes and murder mystery weekends.

Indeed, there is much detail about a rather retro ‘Cluedo’ theme – based on the popular board game – where guests have to take part in the twisted plot in order to unravel the mystery of the pretend dead body found behind the blinds in the conservatory!

Other occasions are not neglected and there is content relating to events tailored to the time of year, such as Christmas, New Year and Easter. Children’s parties are briefly described and the author’s experience as a mother gives rise to a chapter about getting your children involved in the process and also throwing a successful children’s party.

This practical guide full of arty photos and personal touches from Spelling is recommended reading for a keen event organiser and should inspire absolutely anyone to hold an original and successful party.

Top Gear: 100 Fastest Cars by Matt Master

This hardcover book is packed full of facts and figures about the super cars most of us can only dream about owning. Although keen adult car fans will enjoy this well-presented 208-page book for its statistics and photographs, it would also make a great gift for younger fans of the popular BBC television programme as it is written in an accessible style familiar to the show’s many viewers.

The book covers all the expected fast cars, such as Ferraris, Maseratis and Audis, but also has some surprise inclusions. For example, who would have guessed that the VW Golf MkII, when stripped down and lowered, would be one of the speediest cars around?

The top ten includes some familiar favourites but there are a number of wildcards. For example, the 1970s Ford Falcon XB GT and the old-school racer Peugeot 205 GTi both feature in the list. As you might expect from Top Gear, the top spot is reserved for a truly cheeky choice – the borrowed car.  The narrator ends this homage to the boys’ toys of your dreams by concluding: “You can do anything you want in a hire car as long as you always remember one crucial thing – it’s not yours.”

The book is peppered with amusing quotes from the TV series itself, and shares the excitable, boyish language of the show.  It would make a fun addition to any petrol head’s bookshelf while having enough facts and figures to act as a decent reference book too.

Insurance For Dummies

The ‘… For Dummies’ range always provides good, solid information in a fun way, so covering a famously dull topic such as insurance is a welcome addition to existing books on this subject.
The book aims to put readers who are bamboozled by the range of policies at ease, and gives detailed information on house insurance, car insurance, pet insurance, health insurance and life insurance.  It looks at contents insurance in the home and clearly outlines what is worth insuring and what is not.

The book helps readers to select the right plans and coverage at the best price, and even explains how to fill out forms should you have to make a claim.  Ideas to manage risk factors and reduce liability are included, allowing readers to make changes to their home, lifestyle and possessions to reduce their risks and premiums. 

It provides information specific to people in different stages of life such as new graduates, families and the elderly, as well as looking at the sometimes complex topic of insurance for people who work from home, whether that be in a self-employed capacity, or as a remote employee.

The sections are laid out into easily digestible chapters and describe how to handle claims and make sure you are adequately compensated in the event of a claim; common traps and loopholes in policies; and advice on navigating your way through the plethora of policy types.

The friendly language and illustrations make this book a fun read, whilst clearly explaining how to make sure that your insurance policies provide you and your family with the cover you need.

365 Style and Fashion Tips for Women

A useful addition to any stylish woman’s bookshelf, this 230 page fashion guide has a hint or tip for every day of the year to help you get the very best out of your wardrobe.  Illustrated with an array of colour photographs, this book literally gives top to toe fashion advice, covering all aspects of dress for different occasions, from traditional to contemporary styles.

The book looks at a vast range of subjects: how to dress for self-confidence and success; how to combine fabrics, patterns, accessories and jewellery; and how to look great on a limited budget without compromising on style.  The accessible writing style and clear photography make this guide simple for all women to follow, however confident they are in their personal style. It provides tips on rejuvenating your existing wardrobe with jewellery and other accessories, and gives good advice on how to dress for different ages and shapes.

The book looks at high fashion but its real strength is in the guidance it provides for everyday situations, including tips on how to pull off casual clothing and sportswear successfully. It also provides suggestions for those occasions when many women struggle to get their outfit right – going out for dinner or a business event, and special occasions such as weddings and parties. 

This is a really useful guide for any woman who wants to improve the way she dresses and be secure in the knowledge that her outfit is just right, whatever the occasion.

How to find a good used car by Timothy Marshall

In this day and age, many people choose to buy used cars rather than spending money on expensive new models which depreciate the moment they leave the car showroom.  However, finding a good quality car can be a daunting prospect, particularly for those who are not very knowledgeable about cars, and this handy guide is a useful read for everyone who is in the market for a second hand vehicle.

At 46 pages, the book is not a lengthy read, but it covers all the things you need to consider before choosing what kind of used car you want to buy, and from where.  It provides step-by-step tips to picking out the right vehicle for your needs and also provides advice on potential pitfalls.

The book includes some useful money-saving ideas on running an older car, and what to look out for if you want an economical vehicle. The legal side of buying a used car is also covered, so buyers can ensure all the paperwork is in order when signing the contract.

There is advice on where to find a good selection of used cars, and the different sources — such as used car dealerships, newspaper or magazine advertisements, and online websites — are all explored.

This book is a useful source of information for anyone who is looking to buy a used car for themselves. It is also a good guide for people who are considering buying and selling used cars as a business venture.

Blinds, Curtains and Cushions: Design and Make Stylish Treatments for Your Home

Blinds are a great alternative to curtains, and this book covers all types of window treatment for your home.  Blinds provide a modern, crisp look, and this book is certainly up to date with all the latest trends in window furnishing.  It gives detailed descriptions of the different types of blind that are currently available on the market, as well as advising on how to choose which type of window covering is best suited for your room. It also looks at the range of fittings that are available on the market to give a professional finish to your projects.

There are precise diagrams and detailed instructions for making roller, roll-up and Roman blinds.  In particular, there are a number of different techniques for making Roman blinds and this book explores each of them in detail.

The step-by-step guidance is similarly used in the sections on making curtains and cushions, and all the sections are set out clearly so it is easy for readers to find their way around. The book also includes a guide to measuring your windows, together with a glossary so that readers have the right terminology before they begin. The photographs in the book are of a very high quality and each stage of the process is clearly photographed.

Those who just need a little design inspiration and guidance will thoroughly enjoy adding some character to their home with the ideas in this book.

Where to Ski and Snowboard 2012: The 1,000 Best Winter Sports Resorts in the World

Those who love their winter sports will really enjoy this highly detailed and well-illustrated book.  It is very extensive, with 704 pages divided into 30 chapters, all aimed at the British skier and boarder.  It is not exactly portable due to its size, but the sheer amount of information it packs into its pages means that it has become the bible for every keen skier.  There are over 550 colour graphics including 150 amazing panoramic mountain maps produced especially for this book, which is in its 16th edition.

The book covers a total of 1,100 resorts around Europe and North America, giving additional details for 450 of the most popular ones.  Highlights of the book include Val Thorens in Savoy, France; Saas Fee in Switzerland; the Stubai Valley in Austria and Bad Kleinkirchheim – known as BBK by ski aficionados. 

Not only is this an extremely thorough review of the best winter sports resorts, but it is realistic, impartial and unbiased.  The pros and cons of each resort have been put together by a team of enthusiasts who have visited each destination, and star ratings are also included so that readers can make an educated choice about which resort is the right one for them.

Anyone who is thinking of taking a ski holiday in the 2011/2012 season will find this beautifully-presented book a great source of information to plan their holiday, and the photographs and illustrations will continue to be enjoyable long after your ski boots have been packed away.

Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians and Fashion

This is a very interesting analysis of the psychological and sociological aspects of power dressing and its impact on women’s clothing more generally.  Female politicians in the public eye are subject to plenty of scrutiny from the media and how they dress is endlessly analysed.  Women in power often use fashion to convey a particular message, knowing that it is something that sets them apart from their male counterparts.

The book is written by an experienced fashion journalist who provides his perspective on how clothing choices can influence the careers of female politicians and first ladies.  There are chapters covering the different trends in power dressing over the years, as well as detailed breakdowns of the fashion choices of more than 50 high-profile female figures.  Female prime ministers, presidents, MPs, royals and first ladies from over 30 countries worldwide are included. These include contemporary figures such as Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Queen Rania of Jordan and Angela Merkel, as well as more historical figures like Imelda Marcos, Eva Perón, and Margaret Thatcher.

The text is accompanied by numerous photographs to illustrate each of the subjects covered. As well as the author’s perspective, the book also includes comments from commentators on each woman’s personal style and how it has changed over time. 

This book is a fascinating read for anyone interested in women in politics, fashion, political history and feminism as it neatly charts the rise and influence of women in the political arena through the prism of clothing.