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Classic Austrian Cooking (Cookery Classics)
Classic Austrian Cooking (Cookery Classics)
by Gretel Beer
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious. Great book., 5 July 2014
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Delicious, fantastic book by a great cook. I adore Austrian food anyway and so my husband and I is thrilled to have the book. Mother-in-law is Austrian and a terrific cook but she can't be bothered any more so thank heavens for it.

Make Your Own Stupid Sock Creatures
Make Your Own Stupid Sock Creatures
by Lark Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The best use by far for a pair of socks, 5 July 2014
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Buy it! Buy it! Buy it! Then get used to going around barefoot, for you will realise that the best use by far is to turn all cosy sockwear into Stupid Sock Creatures! Before John Murphy's beautiful book, we all had nice warm feet. Life is much better now, for although our feet may be cold, we have many more friends in the house, all living on our three children's beds. I myself have made countless Stupid Sock Creatures, and have painted pictures of them, and ave made Stupid Pyjama Monkeys too. I was sort of trying to get the kids sewing...and now they know loads, all because of this book. My boy has made about eight Stupid Sock Creatures, all by himself, and he was only ten when we got the book; my younger daughter was only seven, so I think she was a tiny bit young, but still made lovely versions of Stupid Sock Creatures; my eldest, who was twelve, made up her own patterns, as no one tells her what to do, and they are all very lovely. I gave workshops in the local library to kids based on John Murphy's book (voluntary ones!) and the second time I did it they all came back laden with their own creations. Now i think I will teach my art class how to make them as they're very enthusiastic.

Quite simply a work of inspiration. Beautifully presented, easy to follow, and a barrel of laughs!

Committed: A Love Story
Committed: A Love Story
by Elizabeth Gilbert
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read but weird about children, 5 July 2014
I enjoyed this, but I can't help but find fault with a couple of things.

I enjoyed parts of Eat Pray Love, but on the whole thought it was a bit annoying. Liz Gilbert's best gift, in my opinion, is in reporting the speech of others. She does that well and amusingly in both books.

I would give Committed a lash, it's well worth a read. Very interesting facts and tidbits about marriage in other times and places.
Poor husband, Felipe. His entire personality and love life, laid bare for the world to see. Liz does say that she warned him in advance though, and said he could cut and run.

Lots of reviewers find her self-obsessed. So what? That seems to be common enough for ambitious childless women. or some childless women, at any rate. I should know, I was the same until having kids took me down a peg or two.

The author is a very nice person, but she should let that become clear through her writing, rather than telling us how lovely she is, spreading her largesse and kindness to all and sundry - she figures that while she's childless by choice, she is still a wonderful member of the Auntie Brigade, being there for all her tired, worn-out mother friends. I can safely say that the only people who have stepped in for me since my kids were born are other mothers (and fathers, my own super dad and my super brother). My brother once said the husband and I should leave the kids in the elevator to his apartment, hit no.5, and go off to the airport. Then we all went to the shops with the kids, two minutes away, and he asked if he could retract the offer! Not once has a childless woman ever offered to take the kids for me or give me a dig-out. Only other mothers understand the deliciousness of a meal...cooked by someone else!

The other issue I have is that she constantly talks about the bum deal that women get in marriage. She hasn't had kids so she doesn't understand that while your husband can drive you nuts in so many ways, the work he does enables you to spend every moment that you want with your babies (too many perhaps!), and the joy they bring is like nothing else on earth. It has also enabled me to mess about with my own career until such time as I've hit the jackpot, at my leisure, in my own way, without having to take demeaning, repetitive jobs.

But Liz really doesn't get the love that a mother feels for her children. For example, she tells a story that her grandmother told her about a beautiful wine-coloured coat with a fur collar. It was not only beautiful, but a tremendous achievement for a young woman in the Depression to buy such a thing through the effort of her own hands. Then, after her marriage, money is tight, and her grandmother snips up the coat to make a winter outfit for her eldest daughter, the author's aunt. Liz think this is a tragedy. If that was me, I would have said, "Right, the coat has served me well, and I loved it, but my little one is going to look so cute when it's done, and she'll be so warm and cosy!" She also can't understand when her grandmother says the happiest time of her life was during the early years of her marriage and motherhood. She says she has to respect her enough to believe her, but still can't understand it. I know that my life changed forever the second my first child left my body, and I could never have envisaged it beforehand, so I should let her off fact the more I think about it the more I realise I was a complete cow to my friends' kids before I had children of my own - totally intolerant of their dear little ways and not spoiling them as I should have, or even talking to them much.

So much for the whole kid issue.

I think that as a treatise on marriage, the book was excellent. However it's strange that she doesn't really see that any marriage is as different as the couple involved, and that everyone writes their own rules, albeit usually stacked in the man's favour, by and large. I told my husband that according to the author many American women wish, above else, to be "inspired" by their husband-to-be. Hilarious! But a bit sad too - they're in for a terrible land, and that's coming from someone who's mad about her husband, and even occasionally inspired, dare I say it (but also driven to distraction). I did find loads of useful tips that would have been great to know when I was starting out fifteen years ago - like being extra-careful with what you say when you're both stressed, and a few other things that I can't remember but will no doubt come in useful when my aging memory drags them up again. I was reading lots of stuff out loud to my husband and he said "You're part of the problem." I said "What?!" even though I should have guessed what he meant. "You're part of the problem, for reading it," he said. I was so inspired by that.

That's about it really!

Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry
Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry
by Deborah Cadbury
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than a good read: an inspiration, 21 Nov 2013
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I wanted to read about the development of chocolate for a number of reasons. I love reading stories about family businesses, coming from that kind of background, and anyway it's always so interesting to see how a family has grown a business. I also wanted to educate myself on the history of chocolate, as I'm an author/illustrator and I am always on the lookout for a good project.

I got much more than I bargained for.

Chocolate Wars is very much the exciting story of chocolate, which is fascinating in itself, and as another reviewer mentioned, Deborah Cadbury's book reads like a thriller. But it's the story of the Quaker principles that has touched me the most. I have a few Quaker relatives but I had no idea of what the ethos really was. If I decided to follow any religion at some point in the future, Quakerism would be my first choice. The protagonists never seemed to put themselves first, but always, always, the common good, in a real and practical way - like building a convalescent home for poor little children crippled by being shoved up chimneys or abused by drunken parents (there were a lot of awful social problems in Victorian England). That's just one tiny example.

I'm only halfway through (I usually can't stay awake more than ten seconds after hopping into bed) but I love this book and I feel so much richer for my newfound knowledge. Sometimes I read a passage aloud to my husband. Normally when I do this he'd say "I'm reading my own book, thank you" but with this one he just listens, and wants to hear the next bit.

I believe Ms Cadbury has written something on the rivalries between palaentologists in the nineteenth century: as a geologist with a modicum of knowledge on the subject, I can't wait to read it.

Read this book - you'll be the better for it.

Creating the Creole Island: Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Mauritius
Creating the Creole Island: Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Mauritius
by Megan Vaughan
Edition: Paperback
Price: 15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars superb, a tour de force - and a page-turner to boot, 6 Aug 2013
Megan Vaughan has put an enormous effort into recreating Mauritius as it was in the eighteenth century. I feel very grateful for her dedication: the book is an excellent read in every way. Sure, it will make you furious about the cruel treatment of bonded humans by their fellow men, but more than that, it will enrich your knowledge of human nature. A lot of it isn't pretty. The book has made me think - not for the first time - about what it means to be in the control of someone else, to be a colony, to be an abducted person with no hope of a better life.
As to the content: you will learn about the daily lives of early Ile de France settlers and the bonded people whose lives they controlled (slaves); about the bizarre demographics of Mauritius at the time; about the absurd lengths to which Franco-Mauritians went to oppose abolition of slavery. These are all present in the public record, but be warned, a lot of it is grim.
There's even some fascinating theories on the evolution of Mauritian Creole.
Buy it - with every penny and more.

Just Dance 4 (Wii)
Just Dance 4 (Wii)
Price: 16.00

5.0 out of 5 stars it WORKS, 2 May 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Just Dance 4 (Wii) (Video Game)
I adore dancing and I adore music with a good beat. Added to this is the fact that all my life I have wanted to get slimmer. I'm an ex-hockey player and have always been very active but never slim the way I wanted to be. Got great results in the gym (hello, cheekbones!) but it got boring...always my enemy. BUT along comes Just Dance 2, 3 and 4...I love them all but I do think Just Dance 4 has the edge. I don't bother with the gym anymore as it was becoming a real chore but I adore the hour I have to myself every day for the Wii and Just Dance 4.
Sometimes I go for the individual tracks but mostly I just want to get my pulse up and get thoroughly out of breath so I use the Just Sweat feature. I'm still not at my target size (it would help if I didn't eat so much)but my body has changed completely and everyone is commenting.
I'm useless at following the moves but I'm getting better and it's a great feeling when you actually keep up with the moves.
I'm completely addicted now and I feel a great sense of calm after a good workout. Better than running as my knee packs up too soon.
I also use Zumba and I find it very good for fitness but I do prefer Just Dance. Depends on your mood on the day really.
Overall, an excellent choice.

Zumba 2 Fitness Wii - Bundle Pack with Belt accessory
Zumba 2 Fitness Wii - Bundle Pack with Belt accessory
Offered by sir_bubby
Price: 29.95

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars beyond horrible, 26 April 2013
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Having completed the first zumba, I thought it was time to get going with the second. I adore good beats and love zumba in general, especially live classes. The reviews were glowing. The graphics were better, the music was better, everything was better.
I'm very disappointed. It's the graphics more than anything - they are hideous. Where do I start? They look like Sims people. They are really ugly, and funny-looking. The moves are odd, really computer-y. The girls are really rough - they'd probably look lovely if they were real but to me the avatars or whatever you call them looked really skanky...tattoos, dreadful hair, horrible midriffs - as I say, all could look fine on a real person but just awful on a Sims creature.
Then there's the bit at the end of each song - the strange little Sims person does all these supposed-to-be-cool attitude-y moves while an imaginary crowd goes crazy, clapping and cheering. For ages.
On the plus side, each move is repeated so many times that even a useless dancer like me can eventually get the hang of it.
I didn't crack a sweat, and I found the moves really slow, but that could be because I lost heart quite early on (I've NEVER given up before - even a Rick Astley song on Just Dance!).
Very disappointed. Also...I know I'm doing this because I need to shape up a bit but the "real" people on Zumba 1 \nd Just Dance (funny colours and all) seemed a lot kinder! I hated looking at cartoon bodies. I often think that people who play computer games are falling for a huge con as the graphics are so dreadful. So at least you know where I'm coming from!
I do Just Dance or Zumba every day and I am soaked in sweat afterwards, and I love it really is just Zumba 2, not the whole dance-wii principle!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 20, 2013 5:37 AM BST

Mauritius: On the Spice Route 1598-1810
Mauritius: On the Spice Route 1598-1810
by Denis Piat
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 22.27

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, pity about the 200-year-old grudge, 5 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I read this as research for a book I'm writing. I loved it - Denis makes history come alive, his characters are written with seemingly personal knowledge and it's not often that I find a history book unputdownable. The book's format is based on describing the personalities of the time, and how their lives and actions influenced events of the period. I wanted to go into detail about the history of Mauritius and I wasn't disappointed.
It ends with the taking of Mauritius by England in 1810, so I'll have to look elsewhere for any information on nineteenth-century Mauritius.
The author seems devastated that Mauritius was lost to France - you'd swear it was a recent tragedy, rather than 200 years ago. Also, I'm not English - I'm Irish, and I am a lover of France and the French language - but I got very fed up with the anti-English tone. Most English would find it amusing, I know, so maybe that's a plus! But I found it a bit tedious after a while.
Having said that, it's an excellent read and well worth the steep price tag.
It would have been five stars except for the chippy tone towards the end.

You will discover a world of disaster, tragedy, intrigue and above all incredible daring in Mauritius' early history. I found the tales of determination by the early settlers and governors very inspirational: these were men who never gave up, faced with events that would send most of us running for the hills.

The author represents women as, on the whole, pretty and decorative characters, there to make life sweeter. "He can't have known many women then," was my husband's comment.

Buy it - it's brilliant. One of the very best on the subject that you'll find.

The Fear Index
The Fear Index
by Robert Harris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.04

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, 28 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Fear Index (Hardcover)
My only complaint with this book is that it distracted me from work.

I have only just started reading Robert Harris. I loved Enigma - a sense of time and place masterfully evoked - and The Ghost. So I downloaded The Fear Index onto my Kindle the other day with great confidence.
I was not disappointed. From the first few pages on my Free Sample to the very last, when I banished everyone from the room, children and husband alike, so that I could savour the dénouement undisturbed, I read with great enjoyment.

The plot gives little hints as to what might happen, but I am very obtuse when it comes to guessing the ending of anything, so others may guess more quickly than I. It was very clever, anyway, with a clever ending.

Mr. Harris has a great gift for making you feel like you're right there. I found his characters likeable (with one obvious exception) and always believeable. What a pleasure he must get from conjuring up his stories!

One little thing: I didn't understand anything at all about the stock market, but again, that's hardly his fault. He does explain everything really clearly, just not quite simply and slowly enough for me (but I bet it's worth studying - it's obviously very exciting to those who do understand it).

Highly recommended!

Fashion Design Workshop: Stylish step-by-step projects and drawing tips for up-and-coming designers (WF Studio)
Fashion Design Workshop: Stylish step-by-step projects and drawing tips for up-and-coming designers (WF Studio)
by Samantha Rei
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect for budding fashionista, 5 Mar 2012
This book was a present for my daughter who just turned 12. She is really delighted with it and was inspired to spend hours drawing the day she got it. She is really interested in drawing techniques and even though I am a professional artist she will pay attention to the tips and techniques in the book and not really listen to me...but it has really brought life to the things I've told her. She now wants to set up a fashion website with her pal.
The book is really easy to follow and very comprehensive. It teaches the youngster about loose drawing, figure sketching, fabric textures and overall "looks" - she loves that bit and has come up with pages of looks of her own.
A fantastic book for a beginner.

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