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The Last Queen of England (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery)
The Last Queen of England (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery)
Price: £3.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Great idea and plot, but weak characterisation, 9 April 2015
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I took a chance on this, and I'm glad I did.

It's definitely a page-turner, and grabs your interest with a really interesting "what if..." premise, as well as a great alternative to conventional detective work.

There is plenty of action, generally with a payoff which drives the story forward in some way.

The characterisation was definitely not a strong point of the book for me. I felt the majority of the characters were not well drawn but are rather one-dimensional and just there as grist for the story mill - which recalls John Grisham's work, to my mind. As a result, I didn't feel I got to know any of the characters particularly well, and some of them were such stereotypical cyphers I really couldn't give a hoot what happened to them - I tend to prefer to actually care enough about the characters to engage with their story arcs. The best written character in this was DI Fable, although I began to warm to JT himself by the end. I also found some of the resourcefulness displayed by JT and is main sidekick in the story rather implausible. With JT that may be explained by the preceding novels, but not the side kick, I suspect.

The story zips along with loads of energy, and there is a feeling of authenticity about the settings JT encounters as he zig-zags across London. It maybe seems strange given what I've said above, but I'm giving this 4 stars (3.5 rounded up, actually) as its supremely entertaining, and I will be happy to read the other books in this series.

101 Fat Burning Juicing For Weight Loss Recipes: Metabolism Boosting, Energy Producing, Juicing for Weight Loss Recipes
101 Fat Burning Juicing For Weight Loss Recipes: Metabolism Boosting, Energy Producing, Juicing for Weight Loss Recipes
Price: £2.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor "recipes", 17 May 2014
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I returned this for a refund as I found the content very poor quality and disappointing.
These are NOT recipes. A recipe has a list of ingredients and then a method. This has a list of ingredients - not always very clear on quantities either.
There is no indicator of which ingredients you juice and which you blend, so unless you are already familiar with juicing you could try to juice a banana, or frozen fruit items.
There is no indicator of which type of juicer the recipes are for - and this matters for some ingredients - particularly leafy ones or berrires (eg: you can't juice wheatgrass in a centrifugal juicer).
There is no indicator of what size portion of ingredients (eg: how big is a bunch?). One recipe calls for 2 pumpkins - what size? A halloween monster?
There is no indicator of how many servings each recipe will make, or even approximate juice quantity.
All ingredients have only their American names, but I suspect that it could still be difficult to work out how much of an ingredient you should use (squashes, like pumpkins come in a range of sizes, as I am sure do bunches of herbs or leafy greens).
Bizarrely, given the title is concerned with weight loss - not a calorie content in sight.

I've been juicing for 5 months - predominantly using Jason Vale's juice recipes, which are far superior to the ones presented here.

This, to me, is an extremely lazy "book", offering no help whatsoever to a novice juicer, and precious little to anyone else. I'm not impressed that they have the nerve to charge any money at all for this poor effort, which can't have taken more than a couple of hours at most to assemble. It smacks of simply cashing on the juicing bandwagon. Avoid.

5LBs in 5 Days: The Juice Detox Diet
5LBs in 5 Days: The Juice Detox Diet
Price: £6.99

36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 30 Mar. 2014
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I like things which are achievable, and don't require an immediate all-or-nothing commitment.

Of course Jason Vale is hoping to inspire you to make permanent life changes, but this is doable by anyone who wants to re-boot.

I did this in January and I was not looking for any weightloss, but rather to get more energy to jump-start the year, as I had been feeling increasingly lethargic and unmotivated, and suffering sleepless nights and horrible hot sweats.

The writing style isn't everyone's cup of tea - but it is very Jason Vale - brimming with energy, enthusism and humour. If you need to be inspired and motivated to do a detox (and let's face it, who doesn't?) Jason's your man.

You really need to read this book cover to cover before you embark on the detox. It's the cornerstone of your planning for your detox. If you don't prepare, and plan, you won't succeed.

The book covers the benefits of juicing. It includes extensive testimonials. A 5 day plan, with 2 juices to be taken twice each day (the first and last of the day could really be described as smoothies). You get the benefits of particular ingredients explained to you (useful for keeping you going if you hate the taste of anything). You get a complete shopping list - you need an empty fridge to accommodate it all in one go, unless you have a huge fridge and/or nobody else to cater for during the 5 days.
You get 10 juice recipes for the week, as well as a ginger shot (not to everyone's taste, particularly if you really hate ginger).
There are SOS extra snacks if you can't cope with the hunger pangs - which will help you to maintain your willpower and motivation.
You get a suggested exercise program, which will help you maximise the weight loss you can expect, if that's your goal.

You will be only consuming the juices during the detox, and water, and caffeine free teas, and there is plenty of variety. That advice to "eat the rainbow" to get your nutrients? It's here in juice form!

One top tip - taper down your caffeine intake for approximately 10 days before doing the detox or you will have hellacious headaches caused by caffeine withdrawal (not fun when combined with feeling hungry on the first couple of days).

Another top tip - get the best quality juicer you can afford (if you don't have one already), and particularly make sure it's easy to use and easy to clean. If you don't want to invest until you see if juicing is for you, you can send off for the juices ready-prepared and delivered to you. It's obviously cheaper to juice yourself - and don't forget when you look at the amount of money you are spending on fresh fruit and vegetables, that's all you're eating, so you're saving the cost of everything else you would normally buy (only true if you are not catering for others who are not on the detox, admittedly).

So - I didn't weigh myself or measure myself, as I had no goal of losing weight, though I dare say I actually did.

What I did achieve was, for me, astounding. Better, deeper sleep. No hot flushes / hot sweats, at all. More energy, and after day 2 no more hunger pangs. No craving for sweet things (can't say the same for savoury things). Any cravings were easily controlled by the reminder that it's only 5 days.

Since doing the detox: I've kept up with the juicing - I regularly make a breakfast green smoothie. I've stayed caffeine-free (it's saving me a fortune at well-known coffee retailers on the high street). I'm incorporating more exercise in my daily life. I'm keeping focused on eating healthily, but not beating myself up for the odd cheeky bar of chocolate.

Whether you are looking to lose weight or simply to re-boot your health, this 5 day regime is highly recommended.

The only danger is that it could lead you to make longer-term changes to your lifestyle, to continue reaping the benefits of juicing.

The Staying Organized Survival Guide: Organizing Your Home & Getting Rid Of Clutter In Just 15 Minutes A Day (Home Organization Books)
The Staying Organized Survival Guide: Organizing Your Home & Getting Rid Of Clutter In Just 15 Minutes A Day (Home Organization Books)
Price: £2.23

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, simple and effective, 26 Mar. 2014
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OK, I've always struggled with clutterbug tendencies. Somehow always I manage to let them slip the leash and run wild. Result? Me paralysed by the challenge of the task ahead. Where to start? How to do it correctly? Will I be able to sustain a more organised environment?

I'm normally put off (sorry) by American self-help authors. The style is usually very evangelical and demanding - it's all too much.

Nevertheless, the title of this captured my interest. Not "getting" organised, but "staying" organised - aha! the very thing I have struggled with for years.

So: it's a quick read. It doesn't go into creating systems for anything. It's practical. It has practical examples. There is no fluff and puff - it's very down-to-earth. It's achievable.

It's freed me from this idea that getting organised has to involve a titanic effort that leaves me exhausted and phobic about sorting stuff out (despite that being the root of the recurring clutter problem).

I finished reading it and immediately put into practice the advice I just read. I picked a spot, set a timer, and there I was, getting organised, and building a habit at the same time.

Because you are not aiming for perfection; not looking for the correct place to start; not blitzing an area until it is done, the enormity of the task ahead disappears. You focus for an alloted period of time, and then you stop. Simple!

So - if you've wondered where to begin, how to choose a starting point, wonder no more. This little book could be all you need to set you on the path to effective (not perfected) organisation. No matter how busy your life is, I believe the 15 minute habit is within all our grasps.

The simplest ideas are usually the best.

Well done, and thank you Chloe.

Homespun Bride (Mills & Boon Historical)
Homespun Bride (Mills & Boon Historical)
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious reading, 24 Aug. 2013
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I don't mind a slow burn story, but this was ridiculous. Loads and loads of repetitive internal dialogue for both lead characters. This may be the author's delusion that taking forever to get to the point builds suspense, but there needs to be a solid reason which you as a reader can accept as valid. That is not the case here. There is absolutely no reason why the dithering leads cannot get down to brass tacks and talk to each other.

The result for this reader was a total loss of patience. I ended up not caring whether they resolved things for a HEA.... and the final stages of the book didn't mean an end to pointless and stupid "we can't get together" dialogue. GRRR.

Tedious and infuriating. I resent the fact I paid good money for this.

Heart of Obsidian: A Psy-Changeling Novel (Psy-Challenging Book 12)
Heart of Obsidian: A Psy-Changeling Novel (Psy-Challenging Book 12)
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The one I was waiting for, 19 Jun. 2013
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First off - I had the Kindle edition. Really well edited with no glaring, jolt-you-out-of-the-story, spelling or punctuation errors.

So, this is the story which has been elusively just beyond our grasp for most of the series, since Kaleb Krychek first came on the scene.

Yes, he's enormously powerful - and the events of this novel underline just how much more powerful he is that pretty much any Psy we've encountered (yes, even Sienna). He's also capable of dreadful acts. He's not riding to the rescue wearing a metaphorical white cowboy hat... He'll be the dude in the black hat, except when you shake the dust from it, his hat is actually more of a grey. He's been searching, determinedly and single-mindedly, and now we know what, or who for.

There are echoes of other relationships within this novel (Clay and Talin, in particular), and you really do need to have followed this series from its very beginning to appreciate how many threads are drawn together here.

Kaleb's bright particular star is Sahara, and she really is his saving grace. Light to his darkness, and the love and devotion he has for her is spectacular. There is not anything he wouldn't do for her (which really makes her even more powerful than him).

Sahara's belief in, trust of and love for Kaleb are immense. She herself has a unique skillset which has led to her being hunted and in danger for most of her life. We don't learn her full designation, and I'm not even sure that there is one. It's clear from what we know of Krychek that his "official" designation is just the tip of the iceberg, so her situation is entirely consistent.

For me, this series is so much more than a succession of romantic pairings coming into being, and Nalini Singh does not lose sight of that:

Yes, there is a beautiful love story, with emotional and sensual passages as you would expect.
The Psy conflict is explored some more, with some terrible events as a counterpoint to the romantic elements.
We also hear a little more about Aden and Vasic (more please!).
This time, though, there is only a minimal amount of changeling presence: enough that you know they are there every step of the way, but this one is about the Psy all through.

Well-written, great story within a fantastic story arc, with interesting characters. Each couple's story always builds naturally into the unfolding events, and you care about both outcomes: the personal, and the wider social and political ones.

I can't wait for the next installment - 2014 seems a long way away!

Start Italian (Learn Italian with the Michel Thomas Method)
Start Italian (Learn Italian with the Michel Thomas Method)
by Michel Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.63

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Taster of the Michel Thomas' Method - Italian, 26 Aug. 2011
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If you have never come across the Michel Thomas language courses, and you want to see if his method and style will work for you, and you want to learn Italian, this is a good taster. Like the previous review said, it's not going to get you around Italy unless you do more work.

I decided to get this rather than pay for the full course, in case it wasn't for me. Having confirmed to myself that this method will work for me, I will be getting the Total Italian course.

You definitely need to have a finger constantly on the pause button as the information is coming at you extremely fast. The simulated classroom environment (2 other students learning alongside you) is relaxing. There is one male and one female student, both with UK English accents, and they fumble and make mistakes, so you do feel a certain kinship with them as you make your own attempts.

This method launches you straight into building sentences, with any grammatical points explained along the way, but it is not dry stuff that you don't need for the immediate exercise you are doing.

Another plus point for those embarking on (or resuming) learning as a busy adult if you drive and have a CD player - you can do the couse in the car (providing you can easily and quickly access that pause button) and there is absolutely no homework to do! This makes it supremely easy to get on with picking up a new language, or brushing up on one you're rusty in. If you travel on public transport it will admittedly be a bit more difficult, but if you are walking you could do it then.

The focus is entirely on the spoken word - but then most of us wanting to use languages as adults want to speak (and most school language tuition in the UK, certainly in the past, has been too focused on reading and writing with the result that most of us have little or no confidence with speaking and communicating).

Let's face it - when you learn your native language you first learn by speaking, not reading and writing, so it makes perfect sense to do the same when learning another language, doesn't it?

Total Italian, here I come!

Faceless Killers: Kurt Wallander
Faceless Killers: Kurt Wallander
by Henning Mankell
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and atmospheric, 22 Jun. 2011
I was lent this by a colleague very recently. I was spurred on by having enjoyed the Kenneth Branagh versions shown on the BBC, and I definitely recognised the rather disorganised, angsty detective horrified by violence immediately. It opens with a very nasty murder.

Reading this in 2011 it does now read like a period piece in terms of the lack of modern technology we all take for granted, but many of the themes are universal and relevent today... dealing with the breakdown of relationships (estranged daughter, separated wife seeking divorce, father with dementia).

The translation is good - the book still feels Swedish, definitely helped by all the proper nouns retaining the Swedish letters.

Although this is bleak and despairing, as Wallander casts around for the slightest of clues to solve the initial brutal murder that opens the book, there are elements which are comic (there is something almost Bridget Jones-esque about his concern about his diet and weight), and sometimes downright farcical, even if there is an unpleasant final outcome. It's this leavening of humour which means you never drown in the darkness.

Multifidus Back Pain Solution: Simple Exercises That Target the Muscles That Count
Multifidus Back Pain Solution: Simple Exercises That Target the Muscles That Count
by Jim Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple exercises to make a big difference, 26 May 2011
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Jim Johnson has put a lot of research into his book about the mysterious multifidus muscles in the lower back, to supplement his years of experience treating patients with lower back pain. The style is accessible - you don't have to be an expert on physiotherapy to understand anything as it's all explained for you.

All of it is distilled into the centre-piece of the book, which is the simple set of exercise alternatives you can do to strengthen the multifidus muscles which flank the spine on either side. These muscles are apparently always weaker in back pain sufferers, so it makes perfect sense to try and strengthen them if you can. Jim Johnson describes 6 different alternative exercises that will do this, so you can choose the one to suit you, and vary it if you want to.

You only need to do one of the exercises, and then do the exercise you pick. The exercise should only take 5 minutes or less out of your day. No need for special clothes or equipment, no need to do daily (3x per week recommended to strengthen, 1x per week to maintain) which is nothing if it either reduces the frequency or level of pain you experience with your back.

He explains the importance of how you do the exercises and particularly the terminology and what's significant about the number of repetitions you do, the intensity rather than assuming you know it.

Well worth trying to see if this holds the key to reducing your back pain, as it's something easy to keep doing over the long term.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Dr Scholl Fitness Walkers, 26 May 2011
If you are looking to try the MBT / Shape-up type of shoes to see if they're for you, these are an excellent low-budget but high-quality alternative, from a well-known and trusted name in foot care.

These are nice-looking, and less clumpy and heavy-looking than some of the more expensive alternatives, and you will find that your walking becomes more challenging as more muscles get involved than walking in ordinary trainers or shoes.

If you like walking for fitness, and you want to make your walking more strenuous and rewarding without resorting to weights, these are an ideal next step!

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