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Lisbeth Davies (Kingsclere, Hampshire, England)

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The Low-Sugar Cookbook
The Low-Sugar Cookbook
Price: £5.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Jam-packed with a huge range of deliciously healthy recipes for the whole family!, 17 Sep 2014
This book came to me at probably the perfect time for our family - a coeliac diagnosis for one and the knowledge that it's hereditary so we should all be thinking of reducing gluten intake plus the need for us all to start eating less sugar. I'll confess to having been a bit hazy on the differences between xylitol, stevia et al so it was good to sit down and read the research and make up our own minds on what to use (and how much).

The first recipe I tried was the cinammon porridge with pear (verdict: delicious!) followed by baked eggs & spinach - I've made it a few times before but it was nice to make it again with the added knowledge that it's got a healthy badge :-)

This weekend I'm planning to try the "more fish than rice kedgeree" but there are enough "must try" recipes to see us through many, many months of breakfasts, lunches and suppers!

I'm not sure where an earlier reviewer gets the idea that some of the recipes have unusal ingredients - I'm an average cook, the only "exotic" ingredients in my store cupboard are things like cardoman and nigella seeds for making big pans of Thai, Indian and Bangladeshi curries (jalfrezi, madras, etc.) for the freezer. Some recipes do require preparation such as overnight soaking but hey, you want a healthier lifestyle? A wee bit of extra work is worth it, I think!

This book is absolutely jam-packed with a huge range of deliciously healthy recipes and I'll be referring to it for many months to come.

Bring Your Lunch: Quick and Tasty Wallet-Friendly Lunches for Grown-Ups
Bring Your Lunch: Quick and Tasty Wallet-Friendly Lunches for Grown-Ups
Price: £1.02

5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't know I needed this book until I read it!, 16 Sep 2014
It would never have occurred to me to seek out a book specifically for lunches so I'm doubly glad to have received a review copy of Califia Suntree's delightful book.

My other half is a fishing coach (yep, he teaches children and adults how to fish) and of course needs a packed lunch on coaching days. I had a fairly limited repertoire of:
- pastrami & horseradish on brown
- corned beef & picallilli on brown
- roast beef & horseradish on brown...

Rotate where necessary.

Do I hear the word "boring" from the back there? Heck yes! It's even more boring when you realise that the rest of our diet is fairly interesting with recipes and influences from India, Pakistan, China, Singapore, etc. - I regularly make a huge 30 portion pan of lamb jalfrezi for the freezer, for example - I really don't know how we've settled into mundane lunches.

So when I saw this book and the magic words "Quick & Tasty Wallet-Friendly Lunches for Grown-Ups" I did a happy dance and settled down to read it immediately, shopping list at hand.

I concentrated first on the cold lunches (there are no microwaves for reheating on the river bank!) and the Nicoise sandwich caught my attention (verdict: delicious, even without the egg).

I won't write a list of all the lovely recipes we've tried and will try over the coming months, not just the "easily portable to the river bank" recipes but also the "at home" lunches such as "Hardy Greens Mini Lasagnas". They all sound so delicious!

To sum up: Bring Your Own Lunch is a really useful book, beautifully designed and illustrated by Shannon May and Ariana Abud and each recipe is classified as Vegan, Gluten-Free or Dairy-Free (very handy for those of us who have to cook for family with allergies) and would make a smashing low cost gift for just about anyone on your Christmas shopping list.

Bon appetit!

Glitterville's Handmade Christmas: A Glittered Guide for Whimsical Crafting
Glitterville's Handmade Christmas: A Glittered Guide for Whimsical Crafting
by Stephen Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute delight for the whole family!, 16 Sep 2014
First up, the book is beautifully designed and laid out. From the cover to the photography and especially to the page design, it's a absolute l pleasure to read.

Second up - I've owned a few craft books in my time but after the initial "ooh, look, I could make that!" you realise that you'd have to spend quite a bit of extra cash on purchasing the necessaries to make the pretty things. Not so much with this book, a lot of items you'll already have to hand.

Third up, the author doesn't just provide excellent instructions and templates for decorative items made with pipe cleaners and glitter, etc., he also makes Cake! Cookies! And Candy!

Fourth up, all of the items look as if they're very make-able, both by klutzes (me) and younger members of the family.

So... our two grandsons (currently 8 and 5.5) will be coming to stay at October half term and I'll be putting this book to the test. I've already started collecting cardboard toilet rolls and the plan is to make Mr Brown's delicious coconut cake with lemon icing which I'll serve with a jug of hot chocolate when we get home from collecting cones ready to make a set of "pine cone glitter gnomes" for the Christmas tree. Can't wait.

Note: I received an advance copy of this book in order to write an honest review. I was not otherwise compensated.

Binary Witness (Amy Lane Mysteries)
Binary Witness (Amy Lane Mysteries)
Price: £2.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely loved it, can't wait to read more!, 15 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'll agree with all of the FIVE STAR reviews left by other fans and add my notes from GoodReads.

If you loved the first series of Sherlock (the one with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman) then you'll love this. Oh yes, it's that good.

I enjoyed this book from page 1; by page 3 I knew I'd have to buy book #2 and by page 10 I was completely hooked, a fan of however many in the series we're lucky enough to get from Rosie Claverton.

Why? Isn't it just another crime thriller? Well yes but what sets it apart I think is (a) the warmth between the characters (apart from the killer, obviously...); Amy and Jason, Jason's mam Gwen, even his sister (their relationship reminds me a little of that between "Smiffy" & his sister in Gavin & Stacey) and (b) the unusualness of the characters. An agoraphobic hacker and an ex-con cleaner? It'll be interesting to see the casting when this gets made into a tv drama (as I'm sure it will be!).

I'm tempted to cancel all plans for the weekend to settle down with Amy Lane #2 but I rashly organised the grandsons to be here during their summer vacation. Maybe I'll put them to bed really early and read it overnight in one hugely enjoyable sitting again!

Responsive Design with WordPress: How to make great responsive WordPress themes, and plugins (Voices That Matter)
Responsive Design with WordPress: How to make great responsive WordPress themes, and plugins (Voices That Matter)
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 28 Feb 2014
I've not yet read this from cover to cover but instead dipped in and taken the information I needed but I certainly plan to go back and read it completely because the sections I have read are very clearly written and perfect for following when you need to brush up on rusty WordPress skills to complete a specific task.

The author definitely knows his way around a well planned WordPress theme and perhaps more importantly the pitfalls in all those "does everything except make coffee" premium themes so popular on themeforest et al - custom post types I'm looking at you here!

Can you get by just by reading this book or will you need more information on responsive development? Yes and no*. This book certainly delivers clear, concise methods for producing responsive sites with WordPress so you could indeed work with this and no other but the responsive landscape is constantly changing and new specs, methods, etc. are being written about all the time (how to handle images, for example).

* So I think a yes/no answer is true of any book on WordPress, html, css, responsive design, etc.

The trick I think is to get a good, well-written overview to master the necessary techniques and then keep updating your knowledge via articles at sites like Smashing Magazine and A List Apart. This book fulfills that criteria very nicely indeed.

Highly recommended!

The Modern Web: Multi-Device Web Development with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript
The Modern Web: Multi-Device Web Development with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript
Price: £11.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding book, should be required reading!, 25 Jan 2014
For some it's shoes, others collect Zippo lighters... me, I have a weakness for web design/development books and this is right up there in my top three. Chapter 3 is worth the purchase price on its own but do start at the beginning - it's not the usual *yawn* potted history of the internet and its browsers, it's a valuable overview of the state of technology in 2013.

Bonus: each chapter has a list of suggestions further reading, also highly valuable.

I have to agree with Craig Buckler in his excellent review above that the first part of the title does the book a disservice but hopefully as more people read the book and leave swooning reviews such as this one, the title will matter less and it'll be known as "the book you MUST buy".

Very rarely do I say I would fork out for the second edition of a book but if one were to appear in 2015, 2016 I'd be queuing at midnight like a Harry Potter fan* to buy it :-)

* Disclaimer: I haven't yet actually read any HP but apparently they're quite popular...

Raven Black (Shetland Book 1)
Raven Black (Shetland Book 1)
Price: £3.59

5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking good read!, 6 Mar 2013
Knowing that the BBC is about to broadcast a dramatisation of the third book in the Shetland Quartet (Red Bones), I realised it was about time I got stuck in on the first (Raven Black), hoping to complete all three before Sunday.

Thoroughly enjoyed it, read in one long sitting and despite having guessed the whodunnits early on, really liked the characters, setting and potential for a developing relationship between two of the main characters.

Definitely five stars, looking forward to the rest of the series.


I'm not sure how Dougie, sorry Douglas-as-he-now-wants-to-be-called, Henshall got the part of Jimmmy Perez:

"She saw the face of a man, the impressionist image of a face, blurred by the mist and muck on the glass, wild black hair and a strong hooked nose, black eyebrows. A foreigner, she thought. Someone even more foreign than me.

From the Mediterranean perhaps, North Africa even. Then he spoke again and she could tell he was a Shetlander, though the accent had been tamed and educated."

I thought this "otherness" was an important part of Perez' character and hoped that it would be explored further in the remaining books of the quartet.

Anyone coming along and picking up the paperback with the actor full frame on the front cover is going to be a little... disconcerted to meet Perez. Yet another reason to *always* read the book before the film!

Reinventing Claire
Reinventing Claire
Price: £0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Only for those who enjoy light romances, 4 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Attracted by the cover (beautiful!) and the fact that it was free (even better!), I added this to the Kindle a while back but it wasn't until I was down with a nasty bout of flu that I got the chance to read it.

Overall it's a sweet story but I got awfully tired of page after page of the heroine and her sisters choosing outfits to attract men. Apparently the herione had an interesting career in marketing but we heard diddly-squat about that, other than as a plot point involving... yep, a man. Somewhere along the line she gets office space downtown and an assistant - now *that* would've been interesting but no. We're on a man hunt and it merits two sentences in the whole book.

Also, if you're going to use a word every other page, you really need to know its exact definition:

Verb: Smile in an irritatingly smug, conceited, or silly way.
Noun: A smug, conceited, or silly smile: "a self-satisfied smirk".
verb. simper - grin
noun. grin - simper

Every character in this book is a simpering, smirking, self-satisfied idiot? No, quite.

I've given it 3 stars rather than the 1 star I felt it merited because I acknowledge that this type of light, girly romance is not my cup of tea. And I was unusually bad tempered and crotchety due to the aforementioned flu.

The Poison Tree
The Poison Tree
by Erin Kelly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding psychological thriller!, 9 Dec 2012
This review is from: The Poison Tree (Paperback)
The dogs almost didn't get their daily walk because of this book - having stayed up until silly o'clock on day 1, I kept sneaking off the computer the following day to snatch "just another few pages" until finally I got an uninterrupted block of time to finish it tonight. Phew.

If you enjoys the novels of Sophie Hannah, Nicci French, Tana French et al then Erin Kelly's books are definitely for you.

Once I've sorted out the Christmas budget, I'll undoubtedly succumb to temptation and get her second novel (The Sick Rose) and will definitely be queuing up to get #3,The Burning Air, in January 2013.

Into the Darkest Corner
Into the Darkest Corner
by Elizabeth Haynes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding novel but not for everyone., 9 Dec 2012
I'd intended to put some distance between finishing this book and writing some notes but its powerful story has stayed with me all day so I'll jot my thoughts down while still fresh.

On one level it's an excellent "page turner", I was utterly caught up in the story, needing to know what happened next, hoping for certain resolutions.

But of course it's so much more than that. By constantly switching between the before and after, the author has very effectively shown how one woman lived through the excitement of a promising new relationship, the prickling doubts and then the brutality. And the betrayals.

Excellent writing, very well drawn characters and a very satisfying conclusion.

I normally dash to the phone/email to recommend books as soon as I've finished them but this is such a harrowing story I've not done so, I'd rather that my "book buddies" make up their own minds as to whether they want to read it.

But if you've ever heard of a case of domestic abuse which ends in tragedy and asked yourself "Why didn't she leave him?", you might want to read this to understand how complicated it can be. Similarly, it's a remarkable insight into OCD - reading about the rituals was distressing enough, having to live that life must be overwhelming.

Summary: a very powerful novel which I think I will read again in a few years time.

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