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J. Pease (Dorset, England)
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Save with Jamie: Shop Smart, Cook Clever, Waste Less
Save with Jamie: Shop Smart, Cook Clever, Waste Less
by Jamie Oliver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.00

345 of 367 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saved over £40 on the food shopping this week, 2 Sept. 2013
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We are always struggling to make ends meet, and unfortunately, it's usually the food budget that gets trimmed. We had already switched to supermarket own brand or value line on almost everything and so I wasn't convinced that I could cook really great meals and save any money. I decided to try the book as I really like Jamie's easy, relaxed style.

All the recipes looked typically appealing; one thing I did notice was the lack of costing, although you can go to jamieoliver.com/savewithjamie for current prices. I was spending £130-140 per week for a family of five, which includes 2 teenagers who are constantly hungry. I was immensely pleased to spend just £91 this weekend, which included toiletries etc. but not the ingredients for the chicken korma, or the rice for the risotto, which I had already (see menu below).

Here is our menu for the week, with comments for the dishes already made:

Sunday: Mothership Sunday Roast Lamb
Delicious, and masses of leftovers.
N.B Take great care with the water level in the pan after you remove the foil. Mine seemed to disappear suddenly, leaving the outside of the meat a little dry.

Monday: Bad boy burritos
Another very tasty meal, which was surprisingly filling. The recipe serves four, but only my husband and I ate these and so I have frozen the rest to take to work for lunches as and when I fancy them.
I didn't use BBQ sauce, but the leftover onion gravy and mint sauce. When I make this next time, I would reduce the amount of rice by about half as I felt there was too much rice to the meat. It is also really easy to overfill the tortillas which makes rolling them up a challenge! Once you've done one or two, you get the hang of it.

I also made the Happy & Hearty Scotch Broth, using the bones from the lamb and a combination of leftover veg from the roast(cabbage and peas) and celery and carrots, which I cooked as per the instructions. I used rice left over from assembling the burritos, rather than pearl barley. Again, I have frozen several portions left after lunch.

Tuesday: Lamb pie

Wednesday: Butternut Squash Risotto (Arborio rice I already had and half squash, other half to be used Friday)

Thursday: Cottage Pie (using last of roast lamb)

Friday: Pasta Rotolo

Saturday: Chicken Korma (all ingredients already in freezer/cupboard)

So I would say I've been impressed so far, although I haven't cooked a whole weeks' worth yet, and I didn't have to buy absolutely everything. I have also made some small substitutions to avoid buying things which may not get much use (like BBBQ sauce).
If the above menu was helpful, please comment and I will update at the end of the week.

*** Update Nov 2013***

Slightly later than promised but I have used this book a lot and it does definitely save you money.We have liked all the food I have cooked from the book, with the exception of the Sweet Pea Fish Pie. The downside is that the recipes are quite time-consuming.I do plan meals from this book about two weeks in three and then have a week off, as I don't always feel like spending an hour or more cooking dinner after work. Even if I'm not following the meal plans on any given week, I still try to make sure we have one or two vegetarian dinners a week, as it really does save money and even the carnivores in our house seem to enjoy them.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 9, 2013 4:02 PM GMT


Asperger Syndrome in Adolescence: Living with the Ups, the Downs and Things in Between
Asperger Syndrome in Adolescence: Living with the Ups, the Downs and Things in Between
by Liane Holliday Willey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.95

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard work and ultimately largely unrewarding, 28 Nov. 2012
I was looking forward to reading this book as although there are lots of books about younger children with AS, there are few aimed solely for parents of teenagers.There were some interesting and useful chapters; I particularly liked the thought-provoking chapter on sexuality and the hilarious 'Domino Effect' (parenting) written by Jacqui Jackson, mother of the author of Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence I have three children, two of whom are on the autistic spectrum. Jacqui has seven children, four with a diagnosis of autism. How she manages, I do not know but she's still able to laugh.
There were a couple of very dry chapters, which I just skimmed. These were entitled 'Cognitive Behaviour Therapy' and 'Disclosure for People on the Autistic Spectrum' They may have been more suitable for professionals, rather than parents.
There were two chapters I found really irritating. One was 'Settling into a Diagnosis' and the other 'the Importance of Occupational Therapy'. The former spoke about the many wonderful therapies available for your newly diagnosed child. Our experience was a five minute appointment, after months of assessment, to be told 'Yes, it's Asperger's Syndrome, I'll see you again in six months'. End of. Where we live, there is neither support nor services. Similarly, even if there were services available, or if one had unlimited money to buy them, I do not know how it would be possible to find the time to implement even half the suggestions. The chapter is broken down into subsections dealing with sensory integration, tactile provision, oral provision, auditory provision, aural, olfactory and vestibular and proprioceptive provisions. Here's just half a dozen of the twenty-odd recommendations from the last subsection:

Snow or water tubing
Do aerobics or pilates
Learn to ride a unicycle
Use an inversion traction unit (!)
Plant trees and dig gardens
Join a Wrestling club

The author goes on to say 'Sensory integration treatment should focus on providing graded ..activities that are designed to challenge the brain...a sensory rich diet designed by a qualified occupational therapist could make a significant difference in the teen's ability ...' Hmmm. Back in the real world, we have to get on with it as best we can.

Finally, unlike the previous reviewer, I found the book to be very American. Out of 13 chapters, 10 are written by American or Canadian authors. Naturally enough, everything was therefore, discussed with an American slant; visiting the Doctor's office, problems in (Junior)High School etc. I often found it hard to relate to what they were saying and would have liked more balance in the authors.

To sum up, there are chapters of worth and some interesting material scattered throughout. Doubtless people will get different benefits from different parts. My honest advice is to borrow it from the library before parting with the best part of £15.


An Instance Of The Fingerpost
An Instance Of The Fingerpost
by Iain Pears
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let down by a silly plot twist, 23 Jun. 2012
There are several mysteries contained within the book; who killed Robert Grove, who is Marco da Cola and is Sarah Blundy a virtuous woman, a whore or a witch? The second two questions were, for me, intriguing but the killing of the professor was less so as he was a very unsympathetic character and the killing only plays a minor in the story (despite the 'blurb' on the back cover)
Four characters narrate events,a device which works well.I found myself trying to work out who is telling the truth and who is not. Pears seems skilled at re-creating the feel of the times. You get a good sense of the political and religious upheaval and the corresponding fear, coupled with the excitement of new scientific discoveries. The misogyny of the times comes across starkly, as does the rigid class structure. Good, decent people thought it their duty and right to beat a disobedient woman or servant and I am heartily glad I was not a woman in this period of history. My blood boiled when a priest said it was obvious God had not seen fit to give either soul or intelligence to women or animals!
My problem with this novel was one plot twist towards the end. I don't want to give away the plot and so won't even say whom it concerns but I found it rather hard to swallow. The clues were there, so it wasn't a complete shock, indeed,I found myself hoping the author wasn't going to take the plot to the place it did. I understand this particular storyline is based on supposed real events but this doesn't make it any more credible for me. Some people may even find this twist offensive.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. Ian Pears' books take a bit of work, I find, but the reward is usually well worth it. Unfortunately for me, this one didn't quite hit the mark. I'm glad I read it but won't be re-reading it.


Perfect Your German 2E: Teach Yourself (Teach Yourself Complete Course)
Perfect Your German 2E: Teach Yourself (Teach Yourself Complete Course)
by Heiner Schenke
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could have been perfect..., 10 April 2012
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This book and CD pack perfectly bridges the gap between GCSE/AS Level or beginner/intermediate level with the Open University. The first units revise and consolidate previous knowledge and the units then become progressively more complex and challenging. The topics are interesting and relevant, especially for adult learners and the exercises will help you get the most out of the authentic recordings.

My only problem with this pack is the CD. There are generally three audio recordings per unit and for some inexplicable reason, each of these is on one track (i.e. one track per unit)This makes re-playing individual recordings a pain, especially if, like me, you want to listen to the CD in the car. I found this so irritating, that I would only listen to each track once and would then use the transcript to clarify anything I hadn't understood. This does somewhat defeat the object. I hope that future editions will have a separate track for each recording, which would make this pretty damn-near perfect.


Tanglewreck
Tanglewreck
by Jeanette Winterson
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Tangle, 22 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Tanglewreck (Paperback)
I bought this for my son's 11th birthday on the strength of a recommendationin the bookshop. He's quite hard to buy fiction for as he'd rather read encylopaedias or other factual books. He really enjoyed the book and when he'd finished, he lent it to me. Were he writing the review, I think he'd award five stars.

The first thing that stuck me was the high quality of the prose: "Riding the river as though it were a road was a phalanx of chariots and horsemen" I thought the prologue was very well written, expertly drawing the reader in. The book is hugely imaginative and ambitious; combining Egyptian mythology, quantum physics, time travel an underground race of beings and a preocupation with a youthful appearance to name but a few.

I loved the character of Silver and thought Winterson adept at conveying her loneliness. Regalia Mason was another great character, albeit an unlikeable one. Some of the other characters were a bit two-dimensional and like other reviewers, I found that the resolution of certain tricky situations weren't really explained properly. I felt that Winterson wanted to keep the pace of the story at break-neck speed, to the detriment sometimes, of a proper resolution. Having said that, if I'd read this book as an older child, I don't think I would have even noticed so gripping is the storyline.

All-in-all, a very good read, marred by some lazy shortcuts which should not be expexted from a writer of Winterson's calibre. Although the book is richly imaginative and very enjoyable, Beth Webb's Ring Fire (Fleabag Trilogy) is in my opinion, the better book of the two for children 10+ years.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 23, 2011 3:00 PM GMT


Ring Fire (Fleabag Trilogy)
Ring Fire (Fleabag Trilogy)
by Beth Webb
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for children and adults, 21 Feb. 2011
I was slightly surprised when my son asked me to buy this at his school's book fair; although he reads a lot, he doesn't much like fiction.He kept talking about how exciting the story was and how much he was enjoying it and we even had to tell him a few times at night to turn his light off and go to sleep. When he finally finished reading it, I decided to give it a go.

A couple of pages in and I was hooked. Fleabag, the cat, has a wicked sense of humour, making disparaging remarks to those he loves and sinking his claws and teeth into his enemies. He is extremely wise, opiniated and a fantastic ally in a fight (of which there are plenty). Orphan Gemma is the girl we can all identify with. She's unsure of the task with which she's been entrusted and doubts both her worthiness and her place in the world. Fellow orphan Phelan is a 'bad boy' when we meet him but he comes good and is destined for great things. I found the cast of characters, from the dying Queen Sophia to the Sorcerers, hostelers, knights and villagers, not forgetting of course, the mysterious fire-wielder, almost without exception, very well-drawn and believable. The Palace staff are a little sterotypically nasty but as they only have very small parts, it's a minor quibble.

There is a strong allegorical thread throughout, I'm not sure whether this is intentional but don't let it put you off.The writing is superb and the story line gripping and dramatic. As an adult, there aren't too many surprises but this is after all, a childrens book. What I particularly enjoyed was the way in which the author wrote about Gemma's feeling and emotions. It was so true to life and really stuck a chord with me. I will very definitely be buying more of her books.


La Maravillosa Medicina de Jorge = George and the Marvelous Medicine (Alfaguara)
La Maravillosa Medicina de Jorge = George and the Marvelous Medicine (Alfaguara)
by Roald Dahl
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't assume children's books are easier than adults, 8 Aug. 2010
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I bought this book early on in my second year of studying Spanish. I know the book well in English and thought it would be 'easier than an adult book' That was not the case. If you can at least recognise the imperative, preterite and imperfect you should be ok. If you can't, or don't yet know what I'm talking about, go for a graded reader instead which are aimed at adult (or older teen-plus) learners but with appropriate grammar to match your stage of learning. A good one to start with is First Spanish Reader (Beginners' Guides) [Paperback] by Angel Flores.

When I first tried to read this in January or February, I had to borrow my son's English copy to read alongside it! I can now, just about cope with reading the book and it's as funny in Spanish as in English. As an added bonus, your vocabulary of household items, insects and animal ailments will improve!!


My Father's Notebook
My Father's Notebook
by Kader Abdolah
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poetic prose but left me slightly underwhelmed, 8 Aug. 2010
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This review is from: My Father's Notebook (Paperback)
This book was in my recommendations and on the strength of the other reviews here, I decided to order a copy.

I won't bother with a synopsis of the storyline as that has been done by others. I would agree with other reviewers that Abdolah's prose is beautiful. Lyrical, even. Much respect must also, surely, go to Susan Massotty for the translation. I enjoyed the backround about Iran, both at the time of the Shah and at the time of the rise of Khomeni. However, I'm not sure that I completely took to Ishmael as a character and I was a bit confused as to whether or not he managed to decipher his father's notebook. I felt a little dissatisfied when I had finished.

Am I glad I read the book? Yes, although for my money, Khaled Hosseini's books were much more enjoyable. I will read the book again at sometime to be sure I've given it a fair chance-I do find some books improve on a second read-but I doubt it will become a treasured favourite.


The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
by Antony Beevor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.24

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not perhaps the best introduction for the unitiated.., 6 Aug. 2010
I was given this book as a present; it was not my intention to start with this book as I knew almost nothing about the Spanish Civil War prior to reading this book. We have looked a little at the war on my O.U. Spanish course but that was the sum total of my knowledge.

On the plus side, the book is full of information, presented in a very accessible way and I found his style eminently readable.

For me, the downsides were, firstly, that the conflict was enormously complicated and with the huge number of different political groups involved, I did have some degree of difficulty keeping track of them all. I found it frustrating to keep referring to the index. If, however, you have some prior knowledge, I don't think this would be an issue. I also found I could not read the book very quickly. This was partly due to the issue above, but also due to the subject matter; I found some of the atrocities committed both shocking and heart-rending and had to put the book down at regular intervals. Perhaps that sounds naive:it is after all, a book about a war. I think though, being born in the 70's and being fortunate enough not to have experienced war first-hand, I was unprepared to a point for the realities of life 'on the ground' during conflict. Beevor's writing gripped my imagination and it was all to easy to vicariously experience the smell of fear and gunpowder, the gnawing hunger, the hatred and betrayals to say nothing of the battles narrated. I also found myself desperately willing the republicans to win (even though I knew they wouldn't!)and felt depsperately frustrated by some of the internecine fighting on the left.
I did manage to finish the book but it wasn't easy. I have given the book five stars because the difficulties I had were due to my own inexperience rather than any fault with the book. It is a fabulous book if you want in-depth knowledge of the Spanish Civil War and I'm sure I will read it again at some point but I think I would like to know and understand a bit more first. If anyone has some suggestions about a suitable book for me to read next about the Civil War, I should be very pleased!


An Anarchist's Story: The Life of Ethel MacDonald
An Anarchist's Story: The Life of Ethel MacDonald
by Chris Dolan
Edition: Paperback

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving, inspiring and, strangely, uplifting, 5 Aug. 2010
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I stumbled upon this book by accident whilst looking for books about the Spanish Civil War. I had never previously heard of Ethel MacDonald and erroneously thought an Anarchist was someone who advocated lawlessness. What a mistake! I have found myself re-thinking my own political beliefs as a result of this book.

Ethel was a woman with deeply-held beliefs who travelled to Spain, virtually without money, to help the workers of Spain in their struggle for freedom. Not simply freedom from Fascism but from authoritarian rule in whatever guise. When Barcelona fell to the Nationalist forces, she put her life in grave danger by reporting events back to Great Britain, visiting people in prison and arranging safe passage for others to escape. She was eventually arrested and imprisoned herself, but rather than be cowed, she courageously continued her work from inside prison.Eventually, she was able to leave Spain but apparently always felt afterwards that she had somehow let down those she left behind.

I was incredibly moved by Ethel's story. A poor woman who would give away her own belongings in order to help others in need is a far cry from the world we inhabit today. I also shared Ethel's frustration regarding some of the parties of the 'left'and found myself questioning their motives. My blood boiled regarding the British and American Governments' policy of non-intervention which actually aided Franco and came away feeling I understood just a bit more about this hugely complex conflict.

As a previous reviewer stated, the one thing you won't learn too much about is Ethel herself. She never liked to talk about herself and so the picture we have is taken from archive papers and accounts by her contemporaries and family memebers. However, do not let that put you off. Unlike many books regarding the Civil War, it is very easy to read even if you know little or nothing of the War.It does not shy away from some of the atrocities which occurred but seems, actually, to be an uplifting and inspiring read.I enjoyed it immensely.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2010 12:16 PM GMT


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