Book Review – The Chinese Kitchen Garden by Wendy Kiang-Spray.

Chinese kitchen garden

4 out of 5

I would like to thank Timber Press for providing me with a free ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

What a gorgeous book and so well constructed too. You not only get the history and justified passion of Ms Kiang-Spray for cooking and gardening, but you get a bounty of helpful information on how to grow and use these products for yourself.

I loved the mixture of ‘Old World’ and ‘New World’ within the pages too. Generations of a family passing on their gardening and cooking passions showing how key they can be to raising happy, healthy people. Wonderful.

I grew up in the city of Darwin, where the Chinese culture had played a strong role in its history and creation (well, that’s how I remembered it) and so I grew up with mostly Cantonese style foods as a common thing. So to learn how easy to grow, cultivate, harvest, use and cook some of those ingredients of my childhood – talk about a comfort food cook book!

As to the formatting side of things – which I always talk about – the layout of this book is perfect. Well-constructed, easy to read from cover to cover as well as to spot reference as needed. It includes clear and precise instructions on both gardening and cooking.

Would I recommend this cook to others?

I would and I wouldn’t. I mean, I do feel you need to have a passion or connection to authentic Chinese/ Asian foods to get the most out of this book. Please don’t get me wrong, there are many “common” foods also explored within this book, but the overall theme is what the title says it is.

So, yes I would recommend it… but only to those who I know would appreciate it for what it is. A book on growing and cooking your own food and a family keeping in touch with all aspects of the cultures that created it through food.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I’m honestly not too sure. I mean, I loved reading it and found quite a few tips, tricks and recipes in it I would love to refer back to again and again… but this is the type of book I would want in paper format and I just don’t think I loved it enough to give up any of my precious physical bookshelf space for it. Oh I am a horrible person, we all know that! I loved this book and feel it has just so much goodness to give and share… but I am being stingy with my shelf space. Sorry.

In summary: It is not just a book on family, or on how to grow things or even how to cook. What makes it special is it is a lot of all three. Loved it.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Rasputin’s Supernatural Dating Service by David D. Hammons.

rasputins-supernatural-dating-service

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank the author David Hammons for offering me a free electronic copy of this book as,  quite simply, I love his work. Can one be in love with someone else’s imagination? Or is that just getting into the ultra-creepy cougar stalker zone?

Oh, and I also got offered a free electronic copy of the book, via Netgalley, by the publisher Curiosity Quills… so not totally stalker zone. 😉

Can you tell I really liked this book and truly do love Mr Hammons’ imagination? Such a funny, sarcastic and whimsical view of urban fantasy… seriously going to have to get myself signed up as an over 40’s fan girl.

I have read other works by Mr Hammons, starting with ‘Alice takes back Wonderland’ and I thought it was… okay. But his ‘Don’t Eat the Glowing Bananas’! Oh my goodness! I have not loved such a skewed view of a dystopian world – ever! The humour and intelligence in that book was just so me!

And so, we come to ‘Rasputin’s Supernatural Dating Service’ from the blurb I did raise an eyebrow as I wondered if it would be at Alice level or Banana level… it was at Banana level. A brilliant, funny and whacky look into the world of urban fantasy. I simply loved it.

The only reason I’ve not given it the top score is there was just something lacking… maybe the slow start, I don’t know? But I just didn’t go bananas over it as much. Though by the end I was getting antsy and preying this was the first book in a series as my goodness! We have found Mr Pratchett’s replacement! The humour, sarcasm, irony and skewed outlook on life that so resonates with me  – and will resonate with so many others – this is going to be a killer series. Hint hint there Mr Hammons!

Okay, enough gushing about the author – he’s probably getting a restraining order put together as you read this.

On to the book. ‘Rasputin’s Supernatural Dating Service’ did start a little slow for me and I did wonder if/ when it was going to get to the point. I mean, the plot was there and I got that… but our protagonist took a little too long to justify why he was the protagonist. Or maybe I was just too impatient? Who knows?

Loved the things to google mentioned throughout the book. I will not confirm or deny having used google to look up facts mentioned in the book… but, yeah, just adds that special level of humour within modern day reading. And what is it with Montana? Since I started reading this book I’ve heard a few similar comments on TV shows. Don’t tell me I may or may not have to google again!

The story was well worth it in the end as, when it got going, it really got going. The whole not exactly Men in Black, this is the reality of supernatural creatures in today’s society thing that ran throughout the book was fantastic. Made it a highly entertaining read. Just so glad the Winchester boys don’t know about RSDS!

Oh and Ivan… Just Yes. Is good for health. Yes.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Hell yes! Loved it, totally entertained by it and while you’re out buying it, go grab Mr Hammons other two books I’ve mentioned and thank me later. I like proper chocolate and free books. Just a hint. 😉

And, as much as I feel my 12 year old would enjoy ‘Don’t Eat the Glowing Bananas’ (she keeps hearing me go on about it and so wants to read my copy) I don’t feel ‘Rasputin’s Supernatural Dating Service is as age appropriate. I suggest more your New Adults, rather than Young Adults as an audience. As well as we old cougars with a love of both the NA and YA genre! 😀

Would I buy this book for myself?

Uhhhh, let me think on that for a moment. Yes! Huge fan, not a stalker, just a fan. Would most definitely buy this book – and any more of the series to come. You should too. Thank me later. Remember proper chocolate.

In summary: for lovers of quirky, sarcastic, tongue in cheek urban fantasy that is still an adventure and has a HEA ending… this is the book for you. I highly recommend it!

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Fast Your Way to Wellness – Supercharged Food by Lee Holmes.

Fast your way to wellness.jpg

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Murdoch Books for sending me a paper copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

As someone who finds great health benefits and healthy weight loss/management from a 16 – 8 fasting diet, I was very interested in reading ‘Fast Your Way to Wellness’ as, quite honestly, I’d come up with this fasting/ feeding pattern as it suited me and I didn’t really know if what I was doing was the right thing.

Turns out, Ms Holmes thinks it’s one of the fasting patterns that does indeed help! Though I do love how her book encompasses all the common fast/ feeding options there and does emphasis that it’s not a “one size fits all” sort of thing and how people need to find an eating pattern that best suits them.

What I also liked was how I have now been given more options to as to how to fast and what meals would best suit. Some days I just don’t have the opportunity to stick to my fasting ways, but I feel days like that – rather than me just ignoring food or over doing it – I can now treat them as “fast days” and refer to some of Ms Holmes super easy recipes to keep me going and keep me feeling good. As I honestly feel better if I allow my body to remember what it is like to be hungry. Not starve myself, but not just eat out of routine. It was so good to find a book that encourages and endorses this type of eating without turning the whole process into a fad diet or over commercialised trend.

The guidance given by Ms Holmes at the beginning of the book is very insightful and made me feel quite welcome and comfortable to keep reading. This wasn’t a trendy “in fashion” thing to give me a beautiful body. No meal replacements, yo yo dieting – none of that nonsense. It was all about eating better, improving your gut health and holistic health through better eating and how to simply enjoy real food.

The recipes that followed simply encouraged that feeling. I am someone who is totally against fad dieting and restriction dieting – you can only eat lettuce today – sort of thing… which is why ‘Fast You Way to Wellness’ is such a terrific book as there is none of that nonsense in it!

Yes there is calorie counting… but that is the point of fasting. You don’t have to scrimp and calculate points and kilojoules… you just need to eat the right level of calories for your body, your active/ not active life and that’s it. And, to be honest, that is the most fundamental thing about healthy eating and maintaining a healthy body weight for who you are – calorie intake. We want to make sure we eat the right amounts to keep us going and not starve… but also ensure we’re not eating too much so that we just store it as fat. That is the only reason I see the calories mentioned. As we truly are what we eat so let’s just eat what we need, no more no less.

Yes you are being taught the benefits of fasting to see if it’s something you would like to try, but there is no strict “thou must or else” attitude. This is a guide book to better health and better eating – a cook book for the soul and well as the stomach.

And no, fasting is not the same as starving or deprivation diets. Fasting is simply controlling what we eat and when we eat but ensuring we eat well. Yes, you can maintain the body weight best suited to who you are and eat your cake too! 😉

Now, if you’re like me you are fasting because you’re overweight, or simply want to ensure you don’t become overweight. Me, I am prone to eating far more calories than I will expend if I’m not careful and right now am very overweight due to a back injury almost immobilising me for the last year. But! This book isn’t about being super skinny with a six pack and thighs you can crack walnuts with. It is simply about looking after yourself through eating right and in amounts that suit you – the individual – not the mass market. We are all different, our body types and we react to foods are different and so what we weigh is different. What is an ideal body weight, shape and size for me with my heavy bone structure and 187cm height is not going to be ideal for the light framed person who is half my height. And please ignore the BMI – it is wrong and based on text book people. You are not a text book, be yourself and eat well. Which is exactly what I feel ‘Fast Your Way to Wellness’ is all about.

Okay, I feel I am getting a little too soap boxy there so will step down and get back on with the review. 😉

So, I loved the introduction. It really got me into the right sort of mindset to enjoy reading it all. Simply loved the section on which foods are best at helping to support your health and, if needed, weight loss. Then, before getting into those sooo yummy recipes, it gives super simple and easy to follow calorie/ kilojoules charts on all the ingredients used within the recipes of this book. And they are broken down into super easy sections to make looking them up a breeze.

Then – for those into the most common form of fasting – there is even weekly meal plans that map out the foods, calories, etc. Seriously, this book doesn’t just teach you the benefits of fasting and share a few recipes; it gently takes you by the hand and walks you through process every step of the way. Such a positive feel as it comes across that Ms Holmes truly does want to help people find and maintain a better way to eat and isn’t just about selling you a book or idea. Her passion for helping us all find better health through fasting and whole food eating simply shines through the pages.

Now to the all essential formatting and layout: excellent. The book is set out in an easy to read and follow manner. Introductions to what it’s all about, important information that will help and then the recipes themselves.

And the recipes? Perfect for cooks of all skill levels. Well laid out, easy to read and follow (uses both metric and imperial measurements) and each comes with a little extra information to help you connect. Whether it be a brief intro or a super charge tip. They’re all good.

If I loved this book so much, why the average rating? Well, it is totally a fault with the reader as the recipes, on average, are “Serves 2” portion sizes. And so trying to cook for myself, my husband and my hungry hordes – I prefer recipes for “Serves 5” or higher. 😉 ‘Fast Your Way to Wellness’ is obviously not a book for feeding the family, and more for your couples or singles. This is perfectly fine and totally acceptable. I am just not the right audience for that range. See, the flaw is with ME!

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Already have been actually as the information provided, the guides to better health through better eating and the recipes are really good. And I’m a big girl; I know how to double a recipe! Others with larger families can too. Or they can feed their kid’s one thing and the adults another. Totally fine!

Would I buy this book for myself?

I might. If I hadn’t been sent a paper copy to review, I would have probably sought it out through my local library first to get a better feel for it before I would purchase it. I am a picky cook book buyer!

But now that I have a copy, will I be keeping it? Yes I will. There are quite a few rather interesting recipes to try out and incorporate into our daily life. Look out for them on my Instagram account as berry cacao smoothies and baked apple pancakes will be appearing there soon. 😉

In summary: If you are looking for an introduction to the various ways of fasting and eating well, this is a great book to start with. Loved it.

Until next time,

Janis.

Fringe Frollicks – Tony Cowards.

Okay, as I’m in Adelaide I simply have to jon in the fun at the Fringe Festival. Sadly, thanks to my HFASD son having issues with me being out of the house after dark, I can’t actually attend the Fringe, but I can at least still share the love.

Here is an interview with Award winning – a bronze swimming award and then some – UK comedian Tony Cowards. Get along to check out his show, I’ve watched a bit of his stuff online – I laughed, so must be good. 😉

tony-cowards

So Tony is here in Adelaide right now! And was sweet enough to answer some questions I set him. Though I am still waiting to see if he takes me up on one of the Adelaide challenges I set him. I mean, who hasn’t gven our Mall’s balls a rub or ridden a bronze pig, right?

To find out more about his show, check out the Fringe page linked to the below image.

tony-cowards-fringe

And now for the interview…

What is the name of your act? 

Tony Cowards: Daft Pun 

Briefly (you must use more than 10 words) explain what your act is all about.  

Puns and silly jokes. Lots of puns and silly jokes. 

An Edinburgh review described the show as “a performance that is often hilarious and unpredictable” 

How did you come up with the idea? 

I thought of the title “Daft Pun” and the poster and then wrote the show. I’ve been writing silly jokes for most of my life, even before I actually became a comedian, so there was plenty of material to work with. 

Where are you from? 

I was born in Ipswich in the UK and now live in a picturesque village called “Swindon” (for anyone who’s not been there, I wouldn’t bother). 

Why come to Adelaide? 

Why not? It’s a lovely city and somewhere I’d not really seen much of before. I was here briefly in 2002 but was traveling at the time and didn’t get a chance to experience the city. 

It has a reputation as laidback place and a wonderful place to do comedy.  

Where else have you performed? 

I’ve performed at various festivals around the UK including 4 shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. 

Want to brag about any awards or similar? 

I got my bronze swimming award at school.  

Comedy wise I’ve had a few awards (a Silver Sony Award for a Radio show being a highlight) but they pail into insignificance compared to the swimming one. 

What, if anything, did you know about Adelaide before deciding to perform here? 

I knew that it’s a lovely city and regularly features in the “Most Liveable Cities” lists that seem to crop up in the media from time to time (usually during slow news weeks). 

What do you hope to get out of your time here? 

Some sun! Having flown over from a very grey, cold and damp London, it’s just wonderful to see that weird yellow thing in the sky. 

Other than good weather, it’d be nice to get some lovely audiences and to have a lot of fun. 

Anything else you would like to add? 

Please come to my show. Please. 

8.30pm every night in The Cellar at The German Club, 223 Flinder Street 

Author Spotlight -Trevor Leck

I am honoured to be part of the blog tour for Trevor Leck’s new book ‘The Cubit Quest‘ thanks to Authoright.

Cubit 3.2.jpg

Twelve-year-old Charlie Watkins could have inherited his dad’s massive intellect. 
He got his massive feet instead. 

Perhaps if Charlie had that intellect he might have been able to figure out why so many men in suits were suddenly following him or where his dad hid the Cubit – a mythical object that men have sworn to protect and even more have died trying to possess – before his so-called accident. 

If starting yet another new school wasn’t bad enough, Charlie meets Mr Leopold, a disfigured, mind-reading lunatic and discovers that he alone must find the Cubit if he is to save his dad. The Brotherhood, however, have other ideas. Led by the ruthless Draganovic, they will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. With the help of Mr Leopold and fellow new boy Elvis, Charlie sets out on The Cubit Quest. 

Hunting for the Cubit, playing football, lessons with the dreaded Funeral Face and unsuccessfully avoiding school bully Grimshaw by day, Charlie finds his nights no less complicated. Stalked in his dreams, he’s soon immersed in a world of power struggles, battling dragons and duels to the death. With the Brotherhood hot on his heels and as the bullets begin to fly, there are no guarantees that Charlie, or anyone else, will make it to the end in one piece.

Watch Trevor Leck reading an extract here.


 

About the author – 

ODI-20161214-638 Living in Telford, Shropshire, Trevor Leck has been dabbling in writing for over fifteen years. Always a fan of gripping adventure stories he has taken inspiration from his favourite authors, including John Grisham and J K Rowling, and the towns and cities he grew up, especially North Shields, to create his Young Adult series.

 

 

 

Take a look where Trevor’s virtual book tour stops next – 

trevorleck_banner

 

Book Review – The Art of Stone Painting by F. Sehnaz Bac.

art-of-stone-painting

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Dover Publications for providing me with a free ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

I initially requested to review ‘The Art of Stone Painting’ for my two very artistic daughters to look over with me, but I soon fell in love with it myself and am now dying to have a go!

This proves it’s a great book for young and old alike I guess! Plus it comes across as good for all skill levels as the initial projects are very basic and simple, and the further you progress into the book, the higher the skill level required. But, in all honesty, if you’re a beginner like me and paced yourself and did each project as you go – one a week or longer – you could quite easily have the skill level required to do the trickier ones when you got to them! And if you are already experienced in this sort of art, you could easily pick and mix skills from throughout the book.

As I am a formatting and layout diva, here is my take on those – excellent! Clear, concise formatting, every picture and all the instructions are clearly marked and easy to follow. There is a great introduction into this type of art and includes the materials needed. So it truly is a great book for all ages from I’d say around the 8 to 10 year olds and up… But I am basing that on my own children who are very arty and love to read. All the same, the instructions and clear and easy to follow for children and adults alike. I, personally, would still do the project along with the child – one for them to make, one for me, as it’s something I’d love, we’d both enjoy and would give us some creative time together.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. The projects, instructions, clear images – all of it so simple and easy to use that it encourages people to give stone painting a go. Anyone interested in having some “me” time, or even parent and child craft time would really enjoy this book. So many things to try and so many ideas to share.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yes I would, and it’s in my Amazon wish list right now. Loved it, was inspired by it and can see it as a fantastic way to spend some crafty hours with my children in the coming years ahead.

In summary: An easy to follow, inspiring and highly creative book that will have everyone’s inner artist wanting to try stone painting.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review -The Book Club Murders (The Oakwood Mystery Series) by Leslie Nagel

book-club-murders

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group – Alibi for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

So, I have finally gotten a chance to read this book and it was so worth the wait! Well written, well mapped out, good strong characters and the right smattering of red herrings to get we mystery lovers all aquiver! 🙂

Okay, I will admit I found the array of secondary characters a bit too similar and confusing the start with  – the Agathas – but I put that down to the fact I started reading ‘The Book Club Murders’ while I was still finishing off another book and so was confusing myself. Not the writer’s fault at all. As, honestly, once I devoted myself full time to this book all the characters became easy to identify and remember as individuals.

I think the thing I really loved about the story is it handed you the clues as it went in such a casual way that not all of them even appeared to be red herrings… while also giving you info that you recall at the end as being important with a “duh, the book did tell us that!” I loved it! I do love a good mystery that tells a story, gets to the point, doesn’t pad things out too much and doesn’t try and drown you in so many red herrings you smell fishy for weeks later. ‘The Book Club Murders’ didn’t do any of that and so was a great read.

The protagonist was easy to relate to, as were her friends and family and there was just that nice bit of spice and sexy romance to really cover all the bases of mystery lovers – crime, colourful characters, a strong protagonist, great sidekicks and sexy men. What more could my cosy crime driven heart desire?

However, I do have to say the name of her shop kept giving me the giggles. As, you see, I read a lot of Regency stuff and have learnt a lot of the dialects and cants used in that era. And, well, “old hat” isn’t exactly a polite word to use. Google it if you need to know more. “Often felt” – giggles every time.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would, especially as it is the first book in a new crime series and I do love starting a new series at the first book and not coming in it at book three or so… which sometimes happens – you don’t often see those reviews as I don’t like finishing books that I come into mid-series and I rarely post reviews for DNF (Did Not Finish) books.

But yes, lovers of cosy crimes and American Mysteries would love this book and I would indeed recommend it to anyone wanting to try something new.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I think I would. With some series I need to read the first few books before I can decide as to whether I would want copies in my physical or electronic library, but with ‘The Book Club Murders’ I would happily own a copy in my eBooks selection. And I look forward to finding the next one in ‘The Oakwood Mystery Series’!

In summary: A well written little murder mystery that had just the right amount of everything. A great read.

Until next time,

Janis.

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