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Review : Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (PS4)

Sharing a review of Wonder Boy on the Playstation 4 by Games Centre at METRO

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (PS4) – a masterful remake The Sega Master System classic makes an unexpected return, with some of the best graphics you’ll see all year. It’s easy to get cynical about the seemingly endless stream of remasters and remakes. When they’re dredging up no-name tosh like Voodoo Vince it feels like there’s…

via Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap review – retro master remake — Metro

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Profiling artist Colin Thompson

About Colin Thompson

London born, Thompson is an artist, writer and illustrator. After art training and subsequent employment as a graphic designer in the UK, and later, time spent in film making for the BBC., Thompson has enjoyed a full career in the creative industry which has involved living and working abroad. Thompson gained a dual citizenship after moving to Australia in the mid nineties

Black and White

Thompson’s background in design and print meant that he was always able to create very detailed black & white drawings. In 1990 he wrote his first two children’s books, both were published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1991 as small hardbacks and included thirty or so black and white illustrations. Since then, award winner Thompson has written and illustrated over 70 children’s books which have been published in many countries over the world.

Grayscale and Half Tones

It was only going to be a matter of time before Thompson would see an opening for him in this latest colouring book for adults craze. Colin Thompson’s Colouring Book (suitable for ages 12 years and up) brings together many of Thompson’s best known designs from his commercial work for Ravensburger and some book titles. Designs are in grayscale and halftone, which increasing depth and drama to the format of every illustration and so offers something different to the 2D activity. Has received many 5 Star reviews at Amazon.

See the images below

Ludicrous Library design by Colin Thompson. From Colin Thompson’s Colouring Book. Printed in Germany http://www.ravensburger.com

image from Colin’s Thompson’s Colouring Book by Ravensburger

The Red Box design appears in Colin Thompson’s Colouring Book. Published in Germany by Ravensburger


Colour
Thompson, of course, does the most wonderful colour work too, using digital painting techniques. Thompson’s designs are busy, and complex, and have a distinct feel of Tolkien meets M. C. Escher often, with a touch of the Oriental sometimes. With free flow of nature and man-made themes and that injection of humour and character running through his artistry. So much to admire

the Ludicous Library , A Ravensburger puzzle. Artwork by Colin Thompson


On a separate note What do you think about The Coloring Book Craze? Take a seat in Colin’s chair (which is green by the way) to ponder, and then join in with a past discussion here)

image from: Colin Thompson’s Colouring Book’

Short Reviews of two ‘Best of British’ Ravensburger jigsaw puzzles

Notably it is Artist, Geoff Tristram who contributes designs for all from the ‘Best of British’ Ravensburger Puzzles. ‘Used Car Lot’ (see images above) is No 18 from this comic style series. The picture to compile, using 1000 quality pieces, is really colourful. The jokes on the signage are so relevant to the stereo typifying of a, shall we say, less than scrupulous Used Car Sales operation. The tongue in cheek humour is all aplenty and doing this puzzle will make any dull day a bit brighter.

Click below to read another short review previously published of The Supermarket another from this popular set which is equally amusing
Source: Short Review of Best of British – The Supermarket jigsaw puzzle

Book Review – The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale
Hardcover: 318 pages
Author: Margaret Atwood
Illustrations by: Anna and Elena Balbusso
Published by The Folio Society 2012 – Second printing 2017
RRP £38.95

An Adult Fictional Book – Classic Dystopian Themed Novel/Speculative Fiction

OVERVIEW
The Handmaid’s Tale has been in print for over 30 years so this review is more an evaluation of the second printing 2017 by The Folio Society, London, which includes some fabulous illustrations and is introduced by the author.

As with most dystopian themed classics, this too, is chillingly prophetic. In this strange world, the narrator, Offred is a Handmaid in service to the Republic of Gilead (a country that stands in the place of what was the USA) in a future near. Gilead is built around a single goal: the control of reproduction. Political subjugation creates a society in which women are treated as subhuman.

The Wives, Handmaids (and the Marthas) serve their husbands, the military Commanders and their households in one way or another. The state tackles the problem of the decrease in birth rates by assuming the control of women’s bodies. For The Handmaids specifically freedom is restricted. They move in pairs. They dress in Red Habits and White Veils. There are so many rules. It is dangerous to speak because some words are forbidden and cannot be uttered. On the other hand, it is dangerous not to speak as the silence may give away one’s true feelings. For women in general they cannot vote, read, work or hold property.

Offred’s role is to bear child(ren) for her Commander, whose wife (Serena Joy) is unable to conceive.

The colonies are dreadful places and the handmaids live in fear for their lives because if they do not fall pregnant within two years they can end up there; or be shredded!

The reader gets to know of Offred’s inner struggles because of the first-person narrative. So, the reader learns of Offred’s whole life…her life before this, about her relationship with divorcee, Luke, and about the child they parented. Offred’s real name is not revealed. Her anonymity throughout is significant to a key story plot toward the end.

The final section of The Handmaid’s Tale includes Historical Notes, which explores many topics and themes of the book as well as the open ending.


COMMENT AND GUIDE

First published in Canada in 1985, and if you’ve never came across this as a form of curriculum study for the topic of totalitarian theocracy, or it has been a cautionary tale that has escaped your radar so far, I whole heartedly recommend it.

Why? Well the first thing that struck me was seeing this as a literary modern classic, written in a non-literary style. Having never been out of print the writing shouts quality from the start. It is not wordy, sentences are deliberately clipped. Repetition is widely used for and an easy flow, for instance the second paragraph of Chapter Two the word ‘window’ appears five times in five lines. This wouldn’t usually work in prose, but in Atwood’s it does.

Secondly, Atwood has invented a world. I always admire that in any piece, in any kind of artistic format. There are Aunts, but not in the true sense of the meaning. Religion and prayer is a theme but the Guardians and the Angels are not in the context one might expect. People descriptions include: lesser men, unbabies; unwomen; gender traitor.

The book is visually presented in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and paper smooth. Illustrated by Anna and Elena Balbusso. Therefore, as well as the Frontispiece  there are six colour illustrations printed on a paper material with a fabric feel to the touch, two of which appear below.

Illustration by Anna and Elena Balbusso from The Folio Society edition of
The Handmaid’s Tale

Illustration by Anna and Elena Balbusso from The Folio Society edition of
The Handmaid’s Tale

There are techniques in the artwork that also look textured. I take an educated guess at a mixed medium of printing inks, acrylic paints, pastels and artist pen with digital enhancement. With shades from the Red colour palette, and white, black and gold accentuated in clothing. While others have contrasting objects of bold greens and strong blues included. Stunningly unusual!

Book review by Reviewer and Critic, Debra Hall

Endometriosis – is a debilitating, chronic medical condition. The pain for the female sufferer is severe!

(Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler)Finally, women’s complaints about how their endometriosis has been handled by doctors has been vindicated. ‘Sexist’ advert showing old man and young woman will be taken down after backlash Women aren’t exaggerating their pain. They’re not overreacting. Their pain is real and doctors aren’t doing enough to help them with it. BBC…

via Women with endometriosis aren’t being diagnosed quickly enough or receiving adequate treatment — Metro

Book Review: Stitching with Beatrix Potter

the book cover of Stitching with Beatrix Potter by Michele Hill

ISBN 978-1-61745-610—7

Author:  Michele Hill
Publisher: C&T Publishing (2 Feb. 2017)

RRP £16.99

Content – 10 sewing and stitching projects based on stories and characters of Beatrix Potter. A couple of craft projects relate to Potter’s home at ‘Hill Top’ and the surrounding farmland in The Lake District, UK (now a National Trust property)

Introduction
Australian Author, Michele Hill talks of being bowled over by the gallery displays of both William Morris and Beatrix Potter inspired quilts at the 2016 Tokyo Quilt Festival. Already conversant and somewhat obsessed with the life and work of William Morris, Hill made connections of these two famous people and began to research Beatrix Potter. Being an award winning quilter, Hill had in mind to write a Beatrix Potter book. Hill had the help and encouragement of history buffs who she names and credits in her welcome message and who also contributed background information, and photographic images from the archives shown in the Life of Beatrix Potter that is presented on pages 7 and 8.

Range of information 8/10
skills: machine applique and sewing machine use and techniques; binding; hand embroidery stitching (represented in step-by-step instruction); quilting – fabric, materials and terminology. Use of other textiles and materials, and patterns. One project suggests the use of a Lightbox, also the mention of IKEA purchases the author made to finish projects.

Quality of information 9/10
We have not checked the patterns but we have gathered and reviewed feedback comments online of Hill’s other work, and have concluded that Hill is an expert in her field and that she has conveyed the expertise she possesses perfectly well in the writing, instruction and presentation of this book. We would place suitability approx 14 years to adult: projects include scissor use, sewing tools, sewing machine skills and use of an iron.
The information detailed under the ‘You will need’ and the ‘Method’ sections of each project will inform a stitch enthusiast or an experienced quilter straightforwardly without having to research elsewhere, unless they are looking for an answer to a question that is more specific.

Layout 9/10 Paperback. Consists of only 64 pages. The craft work from each project features in a staged and styled showcasing on the cover (front and rear). Pattern pages are perforated and can be photocopied for personal use only. Fonts used throughout are a good size, which makes for ease of reading and close following.

Photography/Illustration 9/10 As mentioned credits and copyright information is included in the book’s publishing information and in pages of the text. Colour photography of the project making and the end results are Michele Hill’ s own. The additional work of the art editor enhances Hill’s designs.

Features 8/10
make: a pinwheel (farmyard and fauna) and a floral wall hanging; a Mrs Tiggy-Winkle iron cover (who uses an iron cover these days, but the design is lovely). A Nursery Quilt a baby ball and a lap quilt (all  three of Beatrix Potter’s story book characters). A cushion (a nod to the Tailor of Gloucester story); a box (with Hill Top design in felt); a Double-bed quilt; and a quilt (unfinished).

from Page 51 of Stitching with Beatrix Potter by Michele Hill – 1863 – A Wedding Quilt

Conclusion All projects are linked to the stories, the artwork or to something meaningful to Beatrix Potter in real life. Thankfully, and intentionally on the author’s part, the designs are not twee at all. One glaring negative about this book however, is the price, we see lots of craft books and this is not keenly priced in comparison to similar titles of this size and which have similar content. The real triumph, in regard to the projects, is Hill’s marvelous reproduction in applique of the bed quilt from Hill Top Title: 1863- A Wedding Quilt. However, our Editor’s choice has to be the Cherry Twist Cushion as in the story The Tailor of Gloucester the mice used the ‘twist’ that pesky cat Simpkin had hid, and embroidered beautiful stitching detail on the silk waistcoat for the Mayor and saved the day for the work weary Tailor. Hill has represented the design as described in the tale on a rectangular cushion beautifully and exquisitely – a touch of the William Morris right there!

 

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Book Review – A Dangerous Crossing

A Dangerous Crossing

Author Rachel Rhys

Published by Doubleday

Release date 23 March 2017

RRP 12.99 (Hardback)

An Adult Fictional Book – Crime Thriller

OVERVIEW

Set in 1939, just before the outbreak of WWII, and young, Lily Shepherd takes an ocean liner journey from England to Australia. Compelled to get away from the dark shadows of near past events, her plan is to live in Sydney working in domestic service for a couple of years. Once aboard the good ship Orontes Lily makes her friendships and acquaintances with a small band of people almost straightaway. As a single woman, travelling alone, Lily is thrown into new experiences. Early in the voyage she suffers a bout of sickness, and is home sick at times, especially as news filters through of Germany’s growing aggression. Lily is cliquey with certain people. Her attentions go to a couple from the first-class deck to whom there is much gossip and scandal attached. The pair load luxury upon her. In the meantime, she is having flashbacks, she’s trying to cope with her anxieties and is hoping too that the love she has found for fellow traveller, Edward Fletcher does not end up being unrequited.

COMMENT AND GUIDE

Rachel Rhys (the author) has based this story on the real life journal entries of a young woman who embarked on a voyage like this one a year earlier than Rhys has settled on. Rhys decided to use the diary mentions and produce this fictional story using the diarist’s references to geographical places, her social circumstance and other first-hand observations. The mechanics Rhys has used in making those links in her structuring is sometimes too apparent which affects the flow. The structure too is almost lending itself to being halfway adapted for silver screen showing, or for film or stage. There are director style pointers in the descriptions which seem out of place and the third person narrative is confusing because we hear too much of Lily thoughts in the text. I wonder if Rhys had other plans for this work from the off rather than concentrating wholly on it being a fiction book format.

I sometimes refer to a play being ‘a play of two halves’ meaning there is either improvement or deterioration in Act II to what went before in Act I. The same analogy applies to this book. When I arrived at the middle section I had enjoyed reading it very much and was thinking that this was all set up for suspense building on the intriguing bits that had been presented. It is at this central point the story telling loses momentum. Characters continue to be stereo typified and hopes of being surprised by any one of them quickly falls away. Everyone is suddenly getting hold of the ‘wrong end of the stick’ and I cannot count how many times Edward seems to be missing from Lily’s eye-line. I had worked everything out long before the ending so there’s not much mystery attached. I was bored with reading it long before the confirmations arrived.

This is largely a story about class differences and relationships. It’s about infatuations and sensibilities within pairings and groups. It includes a couple of weak story threads trying to deal with big issues like fascism and people prejudices, as well it is attempting to inform of actual world events over two months of the summer of 1939. Rhys’s decision to interweave real history and happenings from a relatively short time span, with the fickle and somewhat naive reactions of a rather wishy washy central character of fiction does not work. Sub-plots are non existent. Try to imagine British Pathe, meeting Downton Abbey, meeting Murder on the Nile!

Book review by Reviewer and Critic, Debra Hall

Stage Review : Betrayal (A Derby Theatre Production)

The story of Jerry, Emma and Robert is told in a kind of reverse chronology of events as to how the trio’s love lives were once intertwined. Betrayal is a memory play.

Jerry and Emma meet in a bar in the opening scene. Conversation is polite and a little awkward. They haven’t seen one another for a long time, nevertheless, they are old friends who met many years previous through association with Emma’s husband, Robert. Actually, we learn that the two men, Jerry and Robert, have remained in regular contact. They still meet for lunches on occasion as they both work in publishing.

So, Jerry and Emma’s café catch-up is similar to when someone meets up with a Facebook friend. They appear interested to hear news about each other’s spouses and of the well-being of both sets of children, but as Robert remains a ‘mutual friend’ the pair are already, to some degree, aware of what has been occurring in each other’s lives. It’s that kind of conversation. As the talk progresses however, and tongues loosen after a couple of drinks the things they say becomes more intimate.

By the end of the first scene we have learned that Jerry and Emma were once engaged in an extra-marital affair and we know to some degree how that affair had been handled in secret from Robert, and from Jerry’s wife (who we never see).

Much of what is revealed in that first scene is hugely relevant to how the play is structured. In my mind, I landed on the mid-80s being the earliest time setting which happens overall, I only use the funk group Cameo vibe played as a clue to arriving at that assumption! This is the time when Jerry first ever makes a move on Emma at a party she is hosting, and it is this same social occasion that forms the final scene of the play. Actually, designer, Neil Irish has attempted to create a setting freed from a specific period, and because of his efforts, this fine production has a real contemporary feel.

Ben Addis as Robert and Philip Correia as Jerry Photography by Robert Day

 

With the exception of Scene One which takes place in front of the stage curtain, the rest of the play is performed within a giant, revolving Perspex ‘Memory Box’. As scenes change, those cast members that are not involved in the action at any one-time use hand-held cameras to zoom-in for close up shots of the character’s faces which are projected on massive screens up high and behind in black and white. Depending on the time setting and whether Robert is in the company of either Emma or Jerry at any one time, those faces at any one time can be of: the two faces of lovers-in-love; or the one face of an ex-lover confessing to a friend; the poker face of a lover deceiving her husband; the hurt faces of a couple breaking up, or a face with probing eyes. Technology utilised this way is a powerful addition to the story telling. Theatrical devices used and Lekan Lewal’s direction is expert.

Kemi-Bo Jacobs as Emma. Ben Addis as Robert.
Photography by Robert Day

Matthew Curnier plays the role of the Italian waiter at a restaurant where the two men meet for lunch, and he also has continued presence as a scene changer and is the main camera operator inside the box. I report strong performances by all three male cast members, and, having seen the stage work of Kemi-Bo Jacobs before, I, again, found her speech to be very monotone, but her acting finesse exceptional. An enjoyable first night reviewing theatre at Derby Theatre!

Review by theatre critic, Debra Hall who attended press night of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal at Derby Theatre on Tuesday 21 March 7.30pm