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Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton)
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   

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Forty Acres: A Thriller
Forty Acres: A Thriller
by Dwayne Alexander Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.80
30 used & new from CDN$ 11.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Debut Novel, Sept. 14 2014
Forty Acres starts with a young, black lawyer, Martin Grey, winning a major law case in some style. At that stage I thought I was in for an interesting legal drama a la Grisham style. However, nothing could be further from the case as the story quickly develops into an original, well written and well plotted tale with a rather tense climax.

Following his victory, Grey is introduced to a small group of powerful and successful black men. His first reaction is to be flattered and to anticipate these connections helping his career. However, clearly this is a very select group who have chosen him to join them. Grey soon realises that all is not as it seems and that these people are harbouring a secret of immense proportions. He soon realises that there is no way out and that both he and his wife are potentially under threat if he does not fit in.

I liked the story which raises issues about race and identity and I liked the style of writing. It is very much to the point and the author does not repeat the mistakes of many new authors in overcomplicating things, adding unnecessary description and trying to impress with verbiage. It is a good length book, but not overly drawn out and the climax is well thought through. The twist at the very end was to my taste, although I suspect it will not suit everyone.

Overall this is an excellent debut novel and it will be interesting to see what the author comes up with next, as Forty Acres has a fairly unique plot which would be difficult to transfer to a sequel. Highly recommended!

Risen: The Battle for Darracia (Book III) (The Darracia Saga 3)
Risen: The Battle for Darracia (Book III) (The Darracia Saga 3)
Price: CDN$ 2.12

4.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining Trilogy, Sept. 4 2014
This is the third of the Darracia saga and I have been anticipating reading this one, having enjoyed the first two. The first thing to mention is that you really need to have read the others, or at least the second one to get on board with this story. The starting point is very much the continuation of the end of the second book, and without this background you will probably just find it confusing. Even having read the second book, there is a lot of reference to various characters and I found myself working hard to remember who was whom. A list of players would possibly be helpful.

However, overall this is a very entertaining trilogy. It is certainly one of those sagas where it is very clear as to who are the good guys as the divide between good and evil is unambiguously portrayed. I think I commented in an earlier review that I feel that this is ideal for the Young Adult market, but having said that, I, who am certainly not a YA nor have been for quite a while, found plenty to keep my interest alive here.

Personally I did not think this offering was quite as strong as the other two and hence my rating. However, overall I would certainly rate the trilogy as a whole at Five Stars. Michael Phillip Cash has, in his relatively short writing career, already demonstrated what a gifted and versatile writer he is. I have read all his published books and am looking forward to reading his next offering. I wonder what direction he will choose to go in next!

Love to Cook: 140 Simply Delicious Recipes to Share
Love to Cook: 140 Simply Delicious Recipes to Share
by Valli Little
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An Eclectic But Interesting Collection, Aug. 28 2014
This is an unusual cookbook in that it has no particular theme, but is just a collection of recipes which, presumably, have appealed to the author who has considered that they are dishes which her readers too will love to cook. It is none the worse for that in that the scope of the recipes has not been limited and the result is an eclectic but interesting mix which is fun to read and fun to follow in the kitchen.

The book is split into a dozen sections – eggs and dairy, soup and starters, seafood, poultry, meat, pasta noodles and rice, vegetables, salads, desserts, cakes and bakes, fruit and, finally festive. Some of these are incredibly simple such as proper custard and how to boil and egg properly – don’t laugh but I was certainly not boiling eggs quite this way! Others are much more sophisticated. However, none suffer from the syndrome of unrealistically long lists of ingredients, nor did I spot any of the ingredients which look too demanding to source.

The methodology is succinct and not overly lengthy and is quite easy to follow. This is clearly one author who does not believe in making things too complicated in order to impress her readers! However, some of the dishes are very tempting. Indian Spiced Prawns with Fresh Coconut, Bloody Mary Crab Pasta and Lemon Tiramasu are just three examples which I will be trying out.

Overall I thought this was an impressive book which I am sure will be the source of some favourite recipes.

MeasuPro TF1000 ThermoFast Waterproof IPX7 Pen Shape Digital Stem Food Thermometer with Wide Range and Large LCD Screen
MeasuPro TF1000 ThermoFast Waterproof IPX7 Pen Shape Digital Stem Food Thermometer with Wide Range and Large LCD Screen
Offered by MeasuPro
Price: CDN$ 32.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Takes Out All The Guesswork, Aug. 26 2014
In my opinion a probe thermometer is an essential extra in any kitchen as it takes all the guesswork out of cooking meat. Some meats are juicy at certain temperatures but dry out at higher temperatures, beef being an obvious example. It is even more important on the barbeque, where undercooked poultry is an ever lurking hazard.

I was impressed with this probe. It is designed to be inserted in meat for a few seconds - you should get an accurate reading after about six seconds - rather than being left in the meat whilst cooking which it is certainly unsafe to do. Clearly well made, it is constructed from food safe and robust plastic with a stainless steel probe. Completely waterproof it is rather surprisingly also dishwasher proof which speaks to its robust construction and is very useful as this is one item which you absolutely need to be absolutely uncontaminated. It also comes with an instrument which looks like a biro with a clip which you can put the probe in to hold it in a breast pocket.

The instructions are sufficient to operate the probe but are extremely difficult to read. I do not know who decided that white on grey was a good idea but I feel they were misguided! However, it is intuitively quite obvious what the control buttons mean. It has the facility to swap from Centigrade into Fahrenheit and has a phenomenally large temperature range. There is a hold function to keep the last reading and a maximum and minimum facility to recall the highest and lowest temperatures measured.

In my opinion a temperature probe is an essential aid in the kitchen as it makes the whole process of cooking meat rather more scientific. In the last few weeks this has behaved faultlessly and I have no hesitation in recommending it.

This was kindly sent to me so that I could test it in order to write an objective review.

Live It, NOT Diet!: Forget Cardio. Forget Calories.
Live It, NOT Diet!: Forget Cardio. Forget Calories.
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking, Aug. 23 2014
The basic concept behind Live it, Not Diet, is the virtue and effectiveness of a low carb diet. The process of entering ketosis, where the body, as the author puts it, becomes a fat burning machine, is tried and tested. This reviewer, for one, read the Atkins Diet with great interest and was able to confirm that a carbohydrate restrictive regime does work both in terms of losing weight and generally feeling rather well.

Although not a new idea, I found that the way the material is presented here is in a very user friendly format and there are a lot of ideas to enhance the process. This is logically set out and very clearly explained. Whereas when I read Mike Sheridan’s previous book, I did feel that certain parts of his assertions were being rather overstated, I felt that what was being presented here made eminent sense and, to a large extent, was in agreement with what I already believed.

What is particularly helpful is the hints and wrinkles which will help to keep you on the right track if you do follow this regime. For example the feast once per week idea as a reward for good behaviour is a good incentive. Neither is this just a dietary recommendation, but more a life style guide and covers such essential topics as sleeping well and the benefits of walking regularly rather than overdoing it with excessive running.

I thought the content here was right on the mark and I cannot imagine that most will not learn a lot. As in Eat Meat and Stop Jogging, some of the graphs were virtually impossible to see clearly in the paper version, but this is a failure of the printer and hardly the fault of the author. In my opinion this is a thought provoking book that deserves a top rating.

The Cabana Cookbook
The Cabana Cookbook
11 used & new from CDN$ 24.22

4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Mix, Aug. 14 2014
This review is from: The Cabana Cookbook (Hardcover)
Looking through this book, it is clear that there is quite a mishmash of recipes, some undoubtedly of Brazilian origin but others of rather dubious pedigree. However, that is not to say at all that this is not a worthwhile book with plenty of interest. As well as the recipes themselves there is quite a lot of background information on Brazilian cuisine in general and in particular about each of the dishes.

Generally there is a modest list of ingredients, all of which are easily sourced. I had not come across Cachaca before, which is a distilled spirit, but apparently Waitrose and, I would presume others stock it. Similarly the methodology is quite clear and straight forward with useful little tips thrown in such as ‘try not to overcrowd the pan or you will end up stewing them’, which rather suggests that these are all tried and tested recipes.

I do not think it likely that this cookbook will join my small group of essential recipe books, but it does strike me as a fun book which one can dip in and out of to find something interesting when the fancy takes you. Some recipes are incredibly simple but still mouth watering such as Avocado and Mango Salad, some are great barbecue recipes for something a bit different whilst others, such as Lobster and Prawn Moqueca, would not look out of place served up by an accomplished chef at a dinner party. So a very good book when you are looking for a little inspiration!

Yoga For Dummies (For Dummies (Health & Fitness))
Yoga For Dummies (For Dummies (Health & Fitness))
Price: CDN$ 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not The Best Guide for Beginners, Aug. 14 2014
This is an extremely comprehensive book, in some ways a bit too comprehensive for its own good. There really is a great deal here from a basic understanding of what yoga is all about, what it is trying to achieve and how to go about getting involved to yoga positions (about a hundred pages of these alone) to creating your own routine. There is certainly an effort to cover all bases as there are even sections on pre and post natal yoga, yoga for kids and teens, yoga for the older etc etc.

If you are already into yoga then you are going to enjoy dipping in and out of the text to augment your existing knowledge and to look in greater depth at whatever aspects interest you. However, for the absolute beginner who is looking for some basic introduction and guide as to how to get involved then this comprehensive book is likely to prove quite intimidating and they may well be better off purchasing one of the many more basic guides to just get started. There is a real danger here of getting lost in the maze. If this is your first acquaintance with yoga, then page 177 and the section on designing your own programme should probably be one of your early ports of call.

Unlike, I imagine, most I am not familiar with the basic layout of the Dummies books. Clearly this is intended to be as comprehensive as possible. However, the print and paper quality are poor and the illustrations are not sharp. Successful yoga books really have you itching to get started and unfortunately the combination of the mass of content and poor production meant that this book rather disappointingly did not work like that for this reviewer.

Cut the Carbs
Cut the Carbs
by Tori Haschka
Edition: Hardcover
11 used & new from CDN$ 20.19

5.0 out of 5 stars A Winning Combination, Aug. 13 2014
This review is from: Cut the Carbs (Hardcover)
The premise behind this book is to enable you to replace the so called white carbohydrates such as rice, bread, potatoes and her personal downfall, noodles, with ‘smart carbs’. These are the ones which do not get digested quickly and result in a sugar spike, but which provide longer term fuel for the body.

The author provides us with a selection of, mainly very interesting recipes covering breakfast, light snacks, soups, sides and salads, summer feasts, comfort foods and, last but not least, moreish puddings. Most of the recipes have a manageable number of ingredients and nothing very obscure which the reader will find difficult to source. The description of method is succinct and quite clear which is a nice contrast to some recipe books.

Most books have a few or even quite a lot of recipes which one is quite eager to try out. However, here it is quite difficult to find anything which is not rather tempting. Favorites at the top of my list? Well, that’s a difficult one, but I would say that Lamb Shank and Fig Tagine, Thyme Roasted Chicken Legs with Braised Baby Lettuce and Peas and Orange, Chocolate and Hazlenut Pudding particularly appealed to me.

Overall this is a well thought out book, with a great mix of recipes and which has the aim of making your diet healthier by cutting out bad carbs. A winning combination!

Bolse® [Apple MFi Certified] 6 Feet / 1.8m Extra Long Cloth Jacketed Tangle-Free USB 2.0 A to 8 Pin Apple Lightning Cable for iPhone 5, iPad 4, iPad mini, iPod nano 7, iPod 5G (Light Blue/Yellow)
Bolse® [Apple MFi Certified] 6 Feet / 1.8m Extra Long Cloth Jacketed Tangle-Free USB 2.0 A to 8 Pin Apple Lightning Cable for iPhone 5, iPad 4, iPad mini, iPod nano 7, iPod 5G (Light Blue/Yellow)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Attractive and Efficient, Aug. 9 2014
The first observation about the Bolse cable is that is Apple certified, which is important given the number of cheap and inferior imitations on the market. In practice I found that it appeared to charge my Apple products just as efficiently and quickly as the Apple supplied cables.

It is not a comment which I thought I would be making about a charger cable, since they generally look much the same, however this one is really nicely designed and quite different from the norm. The body of the connections at each end is in rather a nice, brushed steel finish whilst the cable itself is really quite novel. It is not the usual, plasticky finish but is made from nylon fibre cloth. This is the normal width, but is the sort of finish which you would normally see on the cord to an iron. I have no idea if these innovations have practical advantages, but the result is certainly attractive and different.

It is very useful to have a lead this long which is something which Apple do not supply with their products. Overall this is a very well designed and useful product which I have no hesitation in recommending.

This product was kindly sent to me so that I could test it and write an objective review.

Eat Meat And Stop Jogging: 'Common' Advice On How To Get Fit Is Keeping You Fat And Making You Sick
Eat Meat And Stop Jogging: 'Common' Advice On How To Get Fit Is Keeping You Fat And Making You Sick
Price: CDN$ 6.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging Accepted Wisdom, Aug. 1 2014
The title of this book is deliberately provocative and sets the tone as the author sets out to debunk accepted wisdom as to what constitutes healthy behaviour in our modern society. I always find books like this refreshing as they force you to look at things from another perspective, and even though you may not wholly agree with all aspects of the argument it is entirely proper to question.

Some of what is being proposed seems entirely reasonable. For example, it is clear that low fat diets do not work for most people on a long term basis, and even successful dieters often end up putting the weight back on. There are a huge number of yoyo dieters who try one diet after another. The author explains why he thinks this is the case, and how this sort of diet is self defeating and results in loss of muscle which is clearly not the objective.

Other areas I found more controversial. I would agree that, whilst there is a strong correlation between high cholesterol and heart disease, I am not entirely convinced that it is a causal relationship. However, whilst the author draws attention to, mainly very rare, possible side effects of statins, in reality the only relatively common one is aching limbs, which is hardly life threatening and the solution is normally to switch to a different statin. Numerous studies have shown that patients on statins have a lower mortality rate than those without, not just due to a lower incidence of heart disease, but also due to various other areas. Even with cancer patients the survival rate has been shown to be higher for those on statins.

I would agree with the other reviewer who criticised the presentation of the graphs. Whilst doubtless they support the author’s argument, in the paper edition they are totally unreadable and I don’t mean just a bit difficult to make out, but quite impossible. I really do not think the printer should have been allowed to get away with wrecking quite a crucial part of this book.

Overall I found this book to be thought provoking and a worthwhile read. I do not believe that what is being presented is an entirely balanced argument, but I do not think that was the author’s intention. What he set out to do was to make us question what is too often regarded as fact and perhaps not to blindly follow advice that may not be as beneficial as it is presented.

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