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Linda Gruchy

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The Garden Forager: Edible Delights in your Own Back Yard
The Garden Forager: Edible Delights in your Own Back Yard
Price: £6.02

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly charming, 5 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have the hardback version of this book rather than the Kindle version. It's a compact volume, but full of useful information, delightfully illustrated. Each plant or plant group has the Latin name for proper identification as well as the common or garden names, some well written paragraphs covering the plant itself, and some recipes to inspire us.

I wasn't sure that I needed yet another book on unusual edibles, but I'm very glad I got this because it contains information that's new to me, and confirmed information that I have read elsewhere. Long term, this book will help to define what I plant in my next garden. (My current garden is small and stuffed.)

It's just lovely.


Around the World in 80 Plants
Around the World in 80 Plants
by Stephen Barstow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and entertaining., 21 Feb. 2015
Well written and entertaining, I read this book from cover to cover, then read it all over again (I was on holiday). I'm not sure how practical it will be for me, but it certainly opened my eyes. I'm also not sure I could be so sanguine about Japanese Knotweed.


Call Nurse Jenny
Call Nurse Jenny
Price: £3.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasing, absorbing wartime saga, 31 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Call Nurse Jenny (Kindle Edition)
I have a review copy of this book.
This isn't my usual reading fare, but I have read enough of this ilk to know this is a good example of the genre. The wartime atmosphere has a very authentic, "lived through" feel to it. I didn't find myself particularly in love with the characters, but nevertheless, it was an absorbing read and I enjoyed it, well worth a try if this is your sort of saga.

This is a wartime saga, not a doctors and nurses romance novel, although the main character becomes a nurse in the story.


Forgotten Dreams (Transita)
Forgotten Dreams (Transita)
by Doris Leadbetter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 15 Jan. 2015
I'm sorry to say I struggled with this novel. The idea was an interesting one but the writing was passive to the point of tedium. I didn't fall in love with any of the characters and so didn't really care what happened. I finished it, but the ending was predictable even if the route had a few surprises.


The Devil's Feather
The Devil's Feather
by Minette Walters
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 11 May 2014
This review is from: The Devil's Feather (Paperback)
I'm slightly embarrassed to say I bought this in a charity shop, hence no verified purchase.

I enjoy Minette Walters’ novels because they are well plotted, both from a narrative and a psychological viewpoint, her characters make sense, even though I sometimes find the actual writing somewhat cold and have trouble identifying with the protagonists, which means I feel slightly detached from the action. Her stories are logical, plausible and above all, intelligent. The Devil’s Feather is no exception, and I think it is the best I have read so far. (I have not yet read all of hers, so can’t really judge.) The characters seemed very real, the writing as always was excellent, and there was no irritating overt political intrusion, something which has annoyed me in some of her novels. It was quite slow paced for a thriller, or perhaps it's better described as having a long fuse, but this did not detract from my enjoyment one jot.

I know from reviews of my own work how sensitive some readers can be to crude language, so I will warn potential readers that there are several used of the F word and the C word, but every single use is not gratuitous and essential to the plot. Personally I have no problem with it, indeed, think it utterly appropriate in a novel of this ilk, but if you as a potential reader are easily offended by such words, this may taint your enjoyment.

Anyone who enjoys a well-written and realistic psychological crime novel will enjoy this one.


Grow your own food
Grow your own food
Price: £4.65

3.0 out of 5 stars A Curate's Egg, 2 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This promises much but mostly fails to deliver more than waffle. Parts of it are good, but the overall quality is brought down by parts which are lackluster or downright confusing.

For example, regarding rootstocks, the chapter on fruit trees says, "With apples, the stock ranges from M.27 for a small tree up to a couple of metres high, to the vigorous MM.111 that grows to 5m plus." - A novice might, from reading this, expect that the higher the number, the larger the tree, something which is just not true. It wouldn't be so bad if the author went on to describe each of the common rootstocks; M9; M27; M25; M26; MM106 and MM111 and inform the reader which is best for certain conditions. This is what I mean by waffle and no substance. Although it does mention self-incompatibility, it doesn't go into enough detail.

The part about soil answers a "question" about mushroom compost but fails to mention that it is alkaline and so unsuitable for lime-haters or where the soil is already alkaline.

In the Organic Gardening chapter it says, "And by the way, John Innes is a type of compost based on loam rather than a brand, and was developed by Mr Innes in the late nineteenth century. So now you know." Quite apart from being stylistically irritating, the second half of this statement is incorrect. John Innes was a merchant and philanthropist who bequeathed money to set up The John Innes Institute. It was this institute which developed the range of John Innes compost recipes for different purposes. If an author is going to discuss John Innes composts, s/he should at least discuss the various types and what they are used for. The use of peat is also treated in rather a cavalier fashion. If someone is relying on a crop each year they simply haven't time to experiment from year to year to find which brand suits their needs, because some low-peat composts are so poor as to result in utter crop failure. In my experience John Innes composts are at least reliable, though some brands are better than others. There was no real discussion about the use of peat substitutes, no mention of sequestration of nutrients by these substitutes, just a mention of blood boiling about the continued use of peat. This was of no help to the would-be organic gardening novice wanting to reduce their reliance on peat.

It would be nice to have enough land to leave part of my rotation fallow.

There are a number of quotes from famous people, such as Bob Flowerdew and Monty Don. I do hope permission was sought before using any copyright material, and appropriate fees paid. So many people nowadays seem to think that anything published can be repeated without permission. I would be outraged if I discovered my words had been quoted without my permission, especially in a book of this quality.

The style of some of this book left me wondering if it was written by an American or for the US market with the use of the word "yard" rather than "garden". It grated on me, though I don't understand why because I enjoy reading some US homesteading publications. Perhaps I just felt confused and disorientated.

The Henry Doubleday Research Association is now called "Garden Organic". I would expect an expert gardening author to know that. Later on, in a different chapter, Garden Organic and the Heritage Seed Library are mentioned. The editor has not done his or her job properly, then. These inconsistencies should be ironed out.

I was not impressed by the chapter on preserves. I would not bottle fruit that way, I boil my jam to reach setting point, jellies are not made by sieving the pulp but by straining through a bag. You can sieve fruit to make pip-free jam, indeed I do this.

I quite enjoyed the chapter on smallholding, as far as it went, but it didn't go nearly far enough. There was nothing about the legal pitfalls and legal obligations in keeping stock. It mentioned about having well water regularly checked, but there is no information about how to get this done.

There are very few references in this book. If it's aimed as a self-help book I would expect references such as The National Allotment Society, Garden Organic, DEFRA, and so on.

There are no illustrations.

As an overview, this book is tolerable. It's mostly well written and does give some food for thought. But it is in no way a "how to" type guide. I would not recommend it because there are far better books available.


25 Cool Things to Do with Wine Bottles
25 Cool Things to Do with Wine Bottles
Price: £0.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, sorry, 2 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The only reason I got this book was for instructions about cutting down glass bottles. This book just refers us elsewhere. I wasn't inspired by any of the projects.


Pure, White And Deadly: How sugar is killing us and what we can do to stop it
Pure, White And Deadly: How sugar is killing us and what we can do to stop it
Price: £5.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by everyone, 2 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Although dated this book should be read by anyone who wants to know how damaging sugar is to our health, and how devious industry can be in protecting its profits.


The Forager Handbook
The Forager Handbook
by Miles Irving
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

4.0 out of 5 stars I'm glad I got this, 2 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Forager Handbook (Hardcover)
I bought this book because it's mentioned as a reference in Alys Fowler's foraging book. Its strength is that it covers plants which are toxic yet might be confused with the edible plants. Its weakness is the monochrome illustrations. It's a weighty tome unsuited to carrying around, and is more use in informing the forager before we leave home with a good identification guide, or for use in confirming a plant is edible before we eat it. Some of it seems to be rather "extreme foraging" in that if a plant is so bitter it needs its flavour tempering with lots of fats, I'm not convinced I'm dedicated enough to try it. But that's personal taste. As a reference book this one is very good and one I will refer to often.


Coconut Oil and Flour Recipes : Healthy and Natural Cooking Using Coconut (Cook the Coconut)
Coconut Oil and Flour Recipes : Healthy and Natural Cooking Using Coconut (Cook the Coconut)
Price: £0.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good number of recipes, 2 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I downloaded this book to get some ideas about using coconut products. I haven't actually tried any of the recipes yet, but enjoyed browsing through the book. The use of English is quite quaint and this added to the charm because it felt like friend with an accent telling me how she makes a certain dish, rather than just another reiteration of a standard recipe. This characteristic of the book might annoy some people.

I had a quick look at some of the other coconut books available, and this one seems to be good value because it's quite long, but size isn't everything, the quality of the content matters. I do get fed up when I access the "look inside" only to find the entire sample is taken up with large, occasionally repeated generic photographs, a table of contents and affidavits of dubious provenance. Thankfully this book is free of such dross, and the sample takes us into the Table of Contents and some of the recipes, so a potential purchaser can see more than promises.

There were no illustrations. I suspect there were a couple of typos in one or two of the recipes which might mean too much oil would be used, but overall this wasn't a problem. Coconut oil is pricey in this country so some recipes will be expensive to cook.

This review may be a bit pre-emptive because I haven't tried any recipes, but I'm getting very bad at intending to write reviews and never getting round to it, so thought I'd do this one while I remembered.


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