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The World's Best Street Food: Where to Find it & How to Make it (General Pictorial)
The World's Best Street Food: Where to Find it & How to Make it (General Pictorial)
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Mouthwateringly good, 12 April 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
"The World's Best Street Food" from Lonely Planet is a great book for anyone interested in international cuisine. With a double-page spread dedicated to each dish, the book blurs the lines between cook book and travel journal, providing the reader with information about the dish's origin, key features and background, as well as how to make it and the best places to find it in the country in question. The left-hand side of each page is dedicated to the background information, while the right-hand side sets out the recipe in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. Each page also features tasting notes, so you'll be a connoisseur in no time!

As for the dishes covered, the recipes range from tasty breakfast dishes, to on-the-go snacks, right through to sides (such as the perfect sticky rice) and complete dishes such as Phat Thai or Jerked Pork. All manner of cuisine features, from countries as near as Germany and France and as far as Thailand and Vietnam. Even good ol' Blighty features with the humble Cornish pasty! The layout of the book is clear and no-nonsense, making it easy for cooks to work their way through the recipe. The photographs add splashes of colour, making the book as vibrant and appealing as the dishes themselves.

In short, a fantastic addition to any cook's library!


Heels on Wheels
Heels on Wheels
by Katie Dailey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for anyone wanting to get back in the saddle, 31 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Heels on Wheels (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When I first stumbled upon "Heels on Wheels", I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, as often anything branded "A lady's guide to..." runs the risk of being patronising.

However, I have to say that this book couldn't be further from that.

For someone like myself who is venturing back into the saddle after a prolonged break (longer than I'd care to remember), "Heels on Wheels" provides a number of useful tips, on everything from what saddle and lock to buy for your bike, to how to avoid those pesky bike thieves, right through to combating helmet hair and inadvertent knicker-flashing when wearing a skirt! What's more, Dailey's writing style adds more than a dash of humour to the mix, making it not only an informative read, but an entertaining one too.

Dailey also includes an entire section dedicated to answering questions we all need to know the answers to, but are too embarrassed to ask, making this book indispensable for anyone wanting to get back into cycling, whatever their reason.

All in all, a fabulous book for all budding cyclists out there!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2012 12:04 AM BST


Britain's Best Dish - The Chefs: Delicious Recipes from the hit TV show (Good Food Guide)
Britain's Best Dish - The Chefs: Delicious Recipes from the hit TV show (Good Food Guide)
by The Good Food Guide
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haute cuisine brought to your kitchen, 3 Mar. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A great book offering a wide range of recipes, varying in complexity and style, underlining the sheer range of cuisine on offer in this country.

The recipes are all written by professional chefs, and while it is clear that they have been adapted for the home cook, a certain level of complexity is to be expected. This is not to the detriment of the book, in fact quite the opposite. It is designed for the inquisitive cook who wants to push the limits of their cooking abilities and trying something new.

The recipes themselves are broadly categorised into 'Mains' and 'Desserts', with sub-categories available to lead to the reader to the relevant recipes they are interested in more easily. The level of detail in which the recipes are presented varies depending on the complexity of the dish, but sufficient guidance is always given, even for less experienced cooks. The vegetarian section of the 'Mains' category is somewhat thin, which may be a problem for some, though the book does offer plenty of delicious-sounding recipes for carnivores such as myself. Each recipe also features some information about the chef and/or about the establishment at which the chef works.

In short, a great book for experimental (and fearless) cooks, but not the ideal reference work to grace a kitchen.


Post-it Apple Dispenser
Post-it Apple Dispenser
Price: £8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great novelty item, 19 Feb. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
With its sturdy base and durable plastic design, this apple-shaped Post-it note dispenser is the perfect novelty item for any desk.

Large enough to hold the typical, square Post-it note, the product comes complete with a pack of 50 sheets, so you can start using it straight away. The cheery, apple design makes it ideal for any environment, be it school, work or home. The Z-Note style provides a continuous supply of notes, lifting a new sheet out as soon as you remove a note. The weighted bottom also prevents the product from falling over, and allows you to pull the sheets out with a single hand without having to hold onto it, great for when multi-tasking! All you need to remember is to fill it with Z-note Post-it notes, as these are stacked in a zig-zag formation to allow them to be dispensed easily.

Guaranteed to brighten up any desk and great for gifts. I already have a number of people eyeing mine up!


Thirst
Thirst
by Andrei Gelasimov
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A brief glimpse into Russian literature, 2 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This little novella is my first foray into the genre of Russian literature, and did not disappoint.

The plot centres around Kostoya, a Russian soldier who returned from the Chechen War with horrific injuries, completely disfigured. His day-to-day life involves drinking copious amounts of vodka (so much that it can't all fit in his fridge), and scaring his next-door neighbour's child into going to bed at night. However, the drudgery of his day-to-day existence is cast into disarray when the man who saved him from a burning tank goes missing and he attempts to search for him together with his former comrades.

The plot itself runs on two different time lines -- the present, with Kostoya drinking himself into oblivion to shut out the world, and the past detailing Kostoya's childhood, introducing his love of and talent for drawing. Andrei Gelasimov contrasts and juxtaposes these episodes in Kostoya's life to great effect, making subtle statements on modern day Russia and the difficulties former soldiers face.

However, by far the best element of the book is the recurring theme of thirst, as the very title itself suggests. Gelasimov uses the idea and physical state of thirst to represent a need for something (and not just vodka). The former soldiers' unquenchable thirst for vodka can be read as a physical manifestation of their search for some kind of meaning and a place in the world, a clever literary device that highlights Gelasimov's skill as a writer.

An interesting short story that really packs a punch.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2014 10:09 AM GMT


Tasting India
Tasting India
by Christine Manfield
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply stunning, 5 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Tasting India (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A stunning book documenting Manfield's own experiences in India over two decades, interspersed with the recipes she has collected and cherished along the way. With dazzling photography from Anson Smart, this book brings India's many faces to life before your eyes, from the bustle of Kolkata to the stunning backdrop of Darjeeling and beyond.

Even the book cover reflects the exotic nature of the country -- the tactile, yellow silky fabric and deep purple writing are exquisite, immediately making you want to pick up the book and delve into its contents.

As for the recipes given, they encompass the full scope of Indian cookery, broken down region by region to allow you to compare and contrast. Varying in complexity, there is something for everyone to try, while Manfield ties her personal experiences into each one, adding an extra dimension to them. However, the recipes are almost secondary to Manfield's account on her culinary journey, which is the primary focus of the book.

In short, a treat for anyone interested in learning more about this intriguing and enchanting country.


Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything
Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything
by David Bellos
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, engaging but not light reading, 6 Nov. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
On the face of it, "Is that a Fish in Your Ear?" is a book exploring all aspects of translation; different approaches and views towards translation and how this view has changed over time. It raises interesting questions about the subject (not all of which I necessarily agree with) and engages the reader, dealing with current translation issues which have yet to be fully explored such as the significance and pitfalls of automated machine translation.

However, my main criticism of the book would be that it doesn't seem to be completely sure who it is aimed at. Those in the field? Or those interested in translation but without extensive practical experience? With the somewhat jocular title, you could be forgiven for thinking that this would be slightly lighter reading that it actually is -- while this is no criticism in itself, it could be argued that the book would be too 'heavy' for those with just a passing interest in translation. It reads more like an academic tome in places than the title would suggest, and is slightly impenetrable at times.

One of the best features of the book in my opinion is the examples of actual translations that Bellos includes, most notably the example of a translation of an Asterix comic strip, and poetry translations. These really support his argumentation, and highlight different approaches to translation that are not immediately obvious.

In summary, an interesting and engaging book, but one that you should be prepared to commit to to get the most out of.


BT Inspire 1500 Trio Digital Cordless Phone with Answer Machine - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)
BT Inspire 1500 Trio Digital Cordless Phone with Answer Machine - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleek design meets top functionality, 6 Nov. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This set of three digital cordless handsets from BT, including a main base with integrated answering machine, is a great package for any home. The phones themselves are stylish yet easy to use, with a clear display and large number keys. When entering numbers into the handset, they appear very large on the screen, making the phones suitable for people with poorer vision. The blue-backlit display is also very easy to read, indicating the name of the particular handset, date and time and battery charge level. The directory, which can store up to 100 names and numbers, can be called up from any handset and makes it much quicker to call the numbers you use most frequently, without having to dial the numbers in each time.

Other useful features include the answering machine, which is extremely easy to use from the main base, a text messaging service, and handsfree speaker option, perfect for if you are pottering around while on the phone. The cables are long enough to allow the bases to be placed pretty much anywhere in normal-sized rooms, though they should be ideally placed near a wall to avoid the cables trailing.

The quality of the sound is also very good -- no crackling at all, even when some distance from the base. Finally, the modern, sophisticated, sleek design reflects the quality of the phones overall, yet is subtle enough to blend into any room, whatever the décor.

All-in-all, a set of high-quality phones that would suit the needs of any household.


Spices
Spices
by Sophie Grigson
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and well laid out, 6 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Spices (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
'Spices' by Sophie Grigson is a fantastic addition to any cookery-lover's collection. Jam-packed with information and recipes and brought to life with stunning photography courtesy of David Loftus, it assigns the different spices to various categories -- "Hot", "Bitter and sour", "Aromatic", "Anise", "Nutty" and "Warm, sweet & scented". While it can be argued that some spices could potentially fall under more than one of these categories, this doesn't really hinder the reader as it is still relatively easy to find information on a particular spice using the index at the back.

What I really like about the book is that Grigson provides a wealth of information about each spice -- extending far beyond the basic information such as where it is grown/harvested. While this isn't necessarily "need-to-know" information, it adds another dimension to the book. Take pepper, for example. Grigson opens this chapter by posing a question to the reader: "What connects lyophilisation, garbling, Yale University and witches?". This laid-back, informal style makes you want to read the book from cover to cover (rather than just dip in and out). Her comprehensive approach also means there is something for everyone in the book, from those interested in the basic information about spices, to those wanting ideas for new recipes to try. She also includes tips for shoppers in terms of what kind of spices to buy, what to look out for (especially if purchasing spices abroad) and how to store the spices properly.

In short, everything you need to know about the most common spices used in kitchens today.


Paris Noire
Paris Noire
by Francine Thomas Howard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor on so many levels, 3 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Paris Noire (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book was a real let down.

The blurb and premise of the book appear so promising, making you expect an atmospheric tale of liberated Paris, with racial and political undercurrents and tensions bubbling under the surface. Unfortunately, for me it just fell flat and failed to excite on any level.

I think one of the main reasons for this is the way it is written. The characters and storyline are all one-dimensional, they fail to engage the reader and aren't complex enough to carry the more substantial elements of the plot. Francine Thomas Howard altogether fails to deliver any sort of racial or political undertones, with the plot coming across as being underdeveloped with very little (if any) research. While the plot centres around Marie-Therese and her two children, characters pop in and out of the plot (such as Alain-Hugo and the man who works with Christophe at the bakery) but aren't developed into full-blown characters, instead remaining shadows lurking in the wings that fail to bring anything to the plot. Numerous characters could be completely written out of the book without detriment.

While I can see why the author decided to try and bring across the different flavours of English used, from the broken English used by non-native speakers, the drawling American English of Glovia and the soldiers and the Martinique patois (albeit in translation), this is more of a hindrance to the reader than a clever, distinctive feature of the book, and begins to grate after a while. While it is nice to see the German and French enter the book, some of this is questionable in terms of accuracy (as has been stated by other reviewers, particularly the use of 'tu' and 'vous' in the French and the issue with the title), and, like the variations of English, had an alienating, distancing effect on me as the reader rather than setting the scene and heightening the atmosphere created.

As for the sex scenes depicted in the book, I personally found them cringeworthy in places, teetering dangerously close on the brink of Mills and Boon territory. And by the time we had got to verbose phrases such as "until the meat had reached the correct degree of doneness" (what's wrong with "until the meat was cooked"?!) I'd given up on the book altogether.

A disappointing read that completely failed to deliver the goods the description offered in such a tantalising way.


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