Sunday, January 31, 2016


Chickpeas: Sweet and Savory Recipes from Hummus to Dessert
By Einat Mazor
Published by Charlesbridge/Imagine, Feb 2nd, 2016

Exactly as it says on the cover, this is a recipe book to gladden the heart of anyone who loves chickpeas and is looking for something a little more adventurous than Hummus yet again!

The majority of recipes are Vegetarian-friendly and a significant number are also Vegan-friendly and Gluten-Free, making this an ideal cookbook for people looking to reduce their meat and dairy content for medical reasons or religious fasting or due to gluten intolerance.

There are hummus recipes, of course, but with a twist - I was particularly taken with the beetroot flavoured one - and recipes are taken from a myriad of Mediterranean cultures as well as Indian sub-continent recipes, and some have a Japanese influence too.

Whether you are looking for soups, casseroles, burgers, main courses, salads, cakes or desserts, this little book is brilliant.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

By Katarina Bivald

Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, January 2016

Sara Lindqvist lives in Sweden, is a bona fide bookworm and has an elderly penfriend named Amy, united by their shared love of literature.

Amy lives in a remote small town in Iowa with the wonderful name of Broken Wheel, and when Sara takes up Amy's offer to visit, she arrives to find that Amy's funeral is underway and she is utterly at a loss to know what she should do now. The consensus of opinion among Amy's friends and her nephew Tom is that Sara should stay in Amy's house exactly as Amy had planned, but as Sara explores the tiny town, she finds it hard to reconcile the quirky, vibrant place and people so lovingly described in Amy's letters with the moribund town and seemingly very ordinary people she encounters.

There is much more to Broken Wheel and its inhabitants than she first perceives, and when she decided to open a bookstore using Amy's extensive collection of books, the town begins to come to life and the people start to show hidden depths and strengths.  The lives of Sara and of the inhabitants of Broken Wheel will never be the same again now that their lives have been touched and transformed by books...

This is a book to be savoured - an enchanting read.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Life in the Third Reich

Life in the Third Reich: Daily Life in Nazi Germany 1933-45
By Paul Roland
Arcturus Publishing 2015 (2016 in UK)

This is a reasonably good illustrated introduction to what life was like in Nazi Germany, but it does only skip across the surface of the topic. My daughter is studying Nazi Germany at A level and is able to go into much, much greater detail than this book, which does then beg the question as to its intended audience. I think it would work well as an introduction for younger schoolchildren just starting to study Nazi Germany for GCSE, but any adult with an interest in history would probably be aware of  a lot of the content anyway.

I would have liked to have seen much greater use of contemporaneous or immediately post-war source material  and less stress placed  on websites as potential resources, but that means I am probably showing my age :-)
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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Dean's Diaries

The Dean's Diaries

Being a True & Factual Account of the Doings & Dealings 
of the Dean & Dons of St Andrew's College
By Professor David Purdie
Published by Luath Press, 2015

Words fail me when it comes to describing this book, but I shall try, nevertheless.
Imagine the lunacy of the academic staff at Terry Pratchett's Unseen University at Ankh-Morpork combined with the intrigue and scheming of the Byzantine courts, the setting of Hogwarts and add to that an unusual British academic institution which takes itself, its customs and traditions very seriously indeed and then you begin to get some idea of how thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable this book is.
The Dean is long-suffering, intelligent, articulate and determined to preserve the status quo of his somewhat secretive tower of academe, despite the best efforts of some of the more eccentric staff and the menagerie of animals also resident in various departments; we meet Schrodinger the cat, the philosophical Mynah bird, assorted dogs, a Giant Squid and a defrosting Woolly Mammoth. Grace has been known to be said in Latin, but in such a way that it causes theological chaos and you will have to read the whole book to discover what else the Dean has to put up with and how great his damage limitation skills really are.....
I really do hope a sequel is in the pipeline :-)
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Blood Trails

Blood Trails:
 Follow your medical lab work from beginning to end with everything that can go wrong in between
By Ralph Giorno, MD
Published by, 2015

If you have any interest in health care in general, or any form of disease or illness, it is well worth reading this book. We take what happens to specimens of blood, urine etc for granted, assuming the samples will be properly taken at the correct time, handled appropriately and that the tests will be done in such a way that accurate and reliable results will be generated. Sadly, however, this is not necessarily the case and patients need to be aware of what can go wrong in order to ensure that it does not. 

Although much of the information is based on US medical care, with many independent labs handling tests as well as hospital labs, there is a great deal in this book which is highly relevant to the UK too.
As a hospital trained midwife, I have to admit that there were quite a few things about lab testing that I certainly did not know and nether did my doctor colleagues, so it is fairly safe to assume that the vast majority of patients who have lab tests done would not know either. When should your TSH thyroid test be done for the most accurate results? Unless you want to run the risk of being inaccurately diagnosed as hypothyroid, avoid having your test done before noon when there is a natural surge in the hormone levels which could skew your results quite markedly...

How and when should blood be drawn?  How are results interpreted? Why do tests fail and need to be re-done? To fast or not to fast before blood tests? Who draws up the reference tables against which the results are interpreted, and are these accurate across a range of age groups and for both males and females? What tests do you actually need to have done?

You might think the answers to these questions are simple, but you would be mistaken. An excellent and clearly written guide for patients and which will also be of value and interest to health care professionals.

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