Salad in a Jar by Anna Helm Baxter. 5 STARS

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Author: Anna Helm Baxter
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
EDITION: Paperback
ISBN: 9780399579370
Pub. Date: January 17th 2017 
Source: Netgalley

Summary
A collection of more than 60 illustrated recipes for simple-to-prepare salads, dressings, breakfasts, and snacks to take on the go.
The solution to the lunchtime salad rut, Salad in a Jar provides healthy, easy alternatives to dissatisfying or overpriced grab-and-go meals. These nutritionally balanced recipes are perfect for making ahead. Anna Helm Baxter reveals the keys to layering ingredients to maximize freshness and texture for a hearty and satisfying dish or snack. Tips and tricks include instructions on designing salads in a jar with recipes for raw salads, side salads, meal salads, snacks, and desserts.

Review
I have been looking for a book about jar salads and this one is the best I have come across. Simple layout, easy to follow layering instructions and tasty, diverse recipes.
Each recipe also has an indication of the health benefits of the ingredients. 
The beauty of salad in a jar is that it can compete with fast food, once you understand the basic rules, do a quick bit of prep, there it is in the fridge, ready to grab.

I shall be buying the book and I know it will be well used
Review copy via NetGalley

Threat: Rina Walker Book Two: 4 STARS

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Written by: Hugh Fraser
Narrated by: Annie Aldington
Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins 
Unabridged Audiobook/Kindle
Release Date:14/07/2016
Publisher: Audible Studios
Series: Rina Walker Book 2
Genre: Crime, Suspense, Mystery
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Publishers Summary
London, 1961. In the dying days of the Macmillan government, George Preston is in control of crime in West London, and Rina Walker is his favoured contract killer.
When Rina is hired by Soho vice king Tony Farina to investigate the disappearance of girls from his clubs, she discovers that they are being supplied to a member of the English aristocracy for the gratification of his macabre sexual tastes.
Rina's pursuit of the missing girls and her efforts to save the innocent from slaughter become increasingly perilous as she grapples with interwoven layers of corruption and betrayal and makes her way, via the louche nightclubs of Berlin, towards a final confrontation with depravity.

This Book Contains Adult Content and possibly a spoiler
Review
Having read “Harm” the first in this series, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in to this second book. 
It is 1961 Rina and her young sister Georgie are living together in their flat. Rina is a successful contract killer but when Tony Farina asks her to take on a more investigative role to help find these girls she reluctantly agrees. His girls are disappearing and he wants to know why. 

Nobody could have guessed at their appalling and macabre fate. 

Lizzie, Rina’s lover, is given a more prominent role in this book, she runs her own sex business from her home and seems to specialise in providing the more unusual sex acts for her clients. Some of these acts are described, but are not overly detailed. 

Lizzie and Rina meet up with some well to do chaps at a nightclub and end up joining them to spend the weekend at a rather stately home. Believe me, what follows is a highly complex series of very dangerous events that eventually lead Rina to the perpetrator of the most heinous of sex crimes.

I continue to be fascinated by the character of Rina who, on the one hand is a killer without conscience, yet on the other is a protector of the vulnerable. She uses self inflicted pain to relieve her feelings during moments of intense stress. 

I particularly appreciate how the author writes without bias, he presents Rina just as she is, he justifies nothing any judgement is up to the reader. The most despicable of acts are described in a detached manner, which, I must say, did make them a little easier to tolerate.

Nevertheless, I did not like the inclusion of necrophilia, I found it shocking and disturbing which of course affected my enjoyment - hence 4 stars and not 5.
 This is but a matter of personal opinion and, according to reviews, many readers are quite comfortable with the subject matter. However, before buying the next book I shall read the blurb more carefully!

Narrator
Another fabulous narration by Annie Aldington who gets everything so right. She is the perfect match for the writing style of the author as she knows exactly when to allow Rina emotion and when to leave it out. Masterful work from a narrator who knows her craft.

-This audiobook is my own copy

Click HERE for my review of Harm

How Will I Know You: Jessica Treadway. 2 STARS

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

ISBN: 9780751555295 ISBN-10: 0751555290
Genre: Psychological Murder Mystery
Format: Paperback 
Number Of Pages: 416
Published: 13th December 2016
Publisher: Sphere
Source: Hachette Australia
Publishers Summary:
Someone knows what really happened . . .
On a cold December day, teenager Joy Enright is found drowned at the edge of a frozen pond. When an autopsy reveals she was strangled first, suspicion is thrown onto Martin, the young graduate who was last to see her alive.
Someone who is prepared to keep their secret at any cost.
In a small community, secrets are hard to keep and as the web of lies around Joy's life and death unravels, the truth will either bring one family closer together, or tear them further apart.
Suspenseful, engaging and shocking, HOW WILL I KNOW YOU? will make you question everything you thought you knew about the ones you love.

Review
The victim is Joy Enright, a young girl who goes missing, they all believed that she had drowned by accident, that is until her strangled body is discovered in nearby woods.

Four characters are each telling the story from their own viewpoint.
Suzanne, her mother, who seems determined to blame herself because she has been up to no good.
Harper, once Joys closest friend, spends her time wondering how and why their relationship went so wrong.
Tom, the rescue diver who had a strange experience when looking for Joys body in the pond.
Martin, the “black guy,” art student arrested for the murder of Joy.

Doug Armstrong is the stand-in chief of police, and he is determined to get a quick arrest and conviction Not bothering with a by the book investigation, he quite simply, arrests the “black guy” as Martin is referred to. He achieves the arrest by leading the witness and, possibly, by planting evidence.

To be honest, I couldn’t get past the racist attitude of the police. The author presented them as stereotypical racist haters, they called him names, jeered at him at every chance and showed him no respect whatsoever. Does this really happen? Fixing someone up for murder merely because he is black? I wouldn’t have thought so, not in these times.

Much of the story consists of the psychological meanderings of these four giving me the feeling that I was reading more a study in psychology than a murder mystery. I tended to lose interest in these people.

I am sorry to say that I also found the ending a little disappointing, after ploughing through the rest of the book I was rather hoping that a really good denouement would justify the time spent reading.

Review copy provided by Hachette Australia

Retribution: Harry Starke Book 7: 5 Stars

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Written by: Blair Howard
Narrated by: Tom Lennon
Length: 5 hrs and 53 mins 
Series: Harry Starke, Book 7
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:09-20-16
Publisher: Blair Howard
Publishers Summary
Shadows from the past. A brutal murder. This time it's personal.
It takes only one phone call to turn Harry Starke into a monster. It begins when Harry's kid brother is brutally murdered, his body thrown into the murky waters of the Tennessee River. That alone would be enough to set Harry on the warpath, but less than 24 hours after the body is found, Harry finds out there's a bounty on his head, too. $25,000. His answer? Strike first and strike hard. And so it begins. Harry and his army of three must go up against old enemies, but they face almost insurmountable odds when they go looking for retribution.

Review
What marks the Harry Starke books above many a P.I. series is that each book is so different to the other. There’s nothing run of the mill about this series, it never gets stale, and in this book we see yet another side of Harrys complex character.

“Retribution” begins with so much happiness, Harry, August, his father, Rose his stepmother and Amanda his fiancee are at the country club. Rose pushes Harry and Amanda for a wedding date, Harry surprises them all with not only a date, but also, actual wedding plans. A great celebration is arranged and everyone is over the moon.

Not for long though, when Harry is told the terrible news of his brothers death he puts life on hold. He vows to find the murderer.
His quest for retribution results in his life and the lives of his family and staff being put in great danger.  To avenge his brothers death Harry and his team of two face seemingly impossible odds,  there is a lot of gunfire and there’s violence aplenty. What follows is a dangerous, exciting and nail biting adventure. 
How the heck does he get out of this one?


Yes, there is a lot of violence in this book but it is balanced out with some tender and moving moments as the family bonds are strengthened in their time of grief.

To get the full back story on Harry and all the other characters it is well worth reading the earlier books in this series


Narrated by Tom Lennon who, once again, succeeds in bringing Harry  and all the characters to life. Most audiobook fans agree that a good narrator adds an extra dimension to a story  thereby making it that much more enjoyable, and Tom Lennon excels in doing just that. Top job Tom!

Audiobook provided by Narrator, author or publisher for unbiased review

click on the links to read reviews of previous Harry Starke books:





The Riviera Set: Mary S. Lovell. 4 Stars

Monday, 12 December 2016

Author: Mary S. Lovell
ISBN: 9781408705223
Category: History
Format: Paperback / softback
Publication Date:08-11-2016
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Imprint: Little, Brown
Pages: 320
Source: Hachette Australia
4 Stars

Publishers Summary
A portrait of high society in the twentieth century, told through the stories of the guests of Maxine Elliott and Prince Aly Khan at the Chateau de l'Horizon in Cannes.

The Riviera Set is the story of the group of people who lived, partied, bed-hopped and politicked at the Chateau de l'Horizon near Cannes, over the course of forty years from the time when Coco Chanel made southern French tans fashionable in the twenties to the death of the playboy Prince Aly Khan in 1960.

At the heart of this was the amazing Maxine Elliott, the daughter of a fisherman from Connecticut, who built the beautiful art deco Chateau and brought together the likes of Noel Coward, the Aga Khan, the Windsors and two very saucy courtesans, Doris Castlerosse and Daisy Fellowes, who set out to be dangerous distractions to Winston Churchill as he worked on his journalism and biographies during his 'wilderness years' in the thirties.

After the War the story continued as the Chateau changed hands and Prince Aly Khan used it to entertain the Hollywood set, as well as launch his seduction of and eventual marriage to Rita Hayworth.

Mary Lovell tells her story of high society behaviour with tremendous brio and relish, and this book has all the charm and fascination of her bestselling The Mitford Girls and The Churchills.

Review
This book, by renowned biographer Mary S. Lovell is not, she tells us, a biography, but about a house and of those who were entertained within its walls.
It is written in three parts, the first being an account of the early years of Jessie Dermot:

Jessie Dermot, by dint of her beauty, talent and sheer determination, transformed herself into the fabulously rich queen of high society Maxine Elliot.
At her beautiful Chateau de l'Horizon Maxine entertained princes and politicians; the incredibly rich; the cream of high society, and the glitterati of those times.

The second part features the 1930s, the high days of Maxine’s reign at the Chateau de l'Horizon 
What fascinated me is what some of these people got up to in the privacy of the Chateau! The chapter entitled “Courtesans and Assignations” is a real eye opener. Take Daisy Fellowes for instance, described as being “rich as Croesus” she thought nothing of spending thousands of pounds on a dress. Her secret to livening up a party was to add benzedrine (an amphetamine) to the punch! 

The third part features the days of the war and the changes that took place post-war. Particularly interesting to me was the account of the return to Britain of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, sensitively organised by Winston Churchill.

Following the death of Maxine and the eventual return of peace, things changed at the chateau, it was purchased by the Prince Aly Khan. There is a lovely account of his wedding to Rita Hayworth, the chateau providing a sumptuous venue for the lavish affair.

This book is highly readable and enjoyable with a good balance between the deliciously gossipy and the factual.
Highly recommended.


Review copy provided by Hachette Australia

Harm: Rina Walker Book One: 5 Stars

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Written by: Hugh Fraser
Narrated by: Annie Aldington
Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins 
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date: 14/07/2016
Publisher: Audible Studios
Source: Own copy

Publishers Summary
Acapulco, 1974: Rina Walker is on assignment. Just another quick, clean kill. She wakes to discover her employer's severed head on her bedside table and a man with an AK-47 coming through the door of her hotel room. She needs all her skills to neutralise her attacker and escape. After a car chase, she is captured by a Mexican drug boss who exploits her radiant beauty and ruthless expertise to eliminate an inconvenient member of the government.

Notting Hill, 1956: Fifteen-year-old Rina is scavenging and stealing to support her siblings and her alcoholic mother. When a local gangster attacks her younger sister, Rina wreaks violent revenge and murders him. Innocence betrayed, Rina faces the brutality of the postwar London underworld - a world that teaches her the skills she needs to kill….

Review 
I loved this story!
It isn’t often that I get so deeply immersed in a story so quickly. Half-way through the first chapter I knew I’d find it hard to stop reading, or, in my case, listening ….

Rina, beautiful, strangely compelling Rina, discovered that the reason for her abduction was because the drugs lord needed her to kill an enemy. His logic for choosing Rina was because of her ability to attract men and, of course, her job skills. Her pay off would be generous but would she live to collect?

From then on there follows an amazing adventure made all the more hairy by Rina not knowing who she can trust …

The story moves between 1974, Rina’s adult years and 1956, when Rina was fifteen years old and caring for both her siblings and her incapacitated mother, they were living a desolate and demeaning hand to mouth existence. People did what they had to do in order to make life a little more tolerable, Rina, at fifteen years old, committed her first hit.

The story is utterly compelling from the very beginning to the very end, the characters are vibrant and diverse, and the writing style is clean, uncluttered and flows beautifully. 
The vivid descriptions of the living conditions endured by the poor are quite moving: the over crowding; the unsanitary conditions and the ever present fear of eviction.

It’s the use of the parlance of those times and the inclusion of little details which adds both authenticity and flavour to the story. Not many people have to “pull the chain” in the lavatory these days, and certainly nobody has to deal with the old telephone kiosks with their button A and button B. 

The story stayed with me long after I finished it, wondering how Rina came to be that person who kills for money, the bigger question though is how on earth did the author get me to be rooting for her!


Narrator
Narrated by Annie Aldington, a renowned British actress and voiceover artist. Her talent is obvious from the very start of this high quality recording. For me, one of the most important qualities of a good narrator is the ability to produce well differentiated and consistent characters, a talent that Annie has in abundance. I also admire her ability to portray emotion - or lack of - in her characters, there no overacting here. Excellent job which added to my enjoyment of this book.


Source: Own copy purchased from Audible Australia

The Bone Broth Secret: 3 Stars

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Bone Broth Secret: A Culinary Adventure in Health, Beauty, and Longevity
Authors: Louise Hay, Heather Dane
File Size: 25406 KB
Print Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Hay House, Inc. (January 5, 2016)
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
ASIN: B0170HFG7C
Source: Hay House via NetGalley

Lots of Blurb from the publisher: 
When a forgotten, time-honored traditional food is rediscovered for its health and beauty benefits, we all pay attention. In this one-of-a-kind culinary adventure, internationally renowned self-help pioneer Louise Hay and “21st-century medicine woman” Heather Dane join together to explore a fresh and fun take on the art of cooking with bone broth, as well as the science behind its impressive curative applications.

Chock-full of research, how-tos, and tips, this inventive cookbook offers a practical, playful, and delicious approach to improving your digestion, energy, and moods. With over 100 gut-healing recipes for broths, elixirs, main dishes, breads, desserts—and even beauty remedies and cocktails—Louise and Heather will show you how to add a dose of nourishment into every aspect of your diet. You’ll also get entertaining stories along the way that remind you to add joy back onto your plate and into your life. Plus, you’ll find out how Louise not only starts her day with bone broth, but uses it as an ingredient in many of her meals as well—discovering why it is one of her secrets to vibrant wellness and longevity.

“Wherever I go, I’m asked, ‘How do you stay so healthy and young?’ Or I’m complimented on how beautiful my skin, hair, and nails look. I always say that the key is positive thoughts and healthy food. For many years, the staple of my diet has been bone broth. My doctors keep pointing out that my blood tests and other health-test results are better than people half my age. I tell them, ‘I’m a big, strong, healthy girl!’ Then I talk about bone broth. I want everyone to know about it because I believe it is an integral part of my health, energy, and vitality.”
— Louise Hay

Review
To say that authors Louise Hay and Heather Dane are strong proponents of the health giving benefits of bone broth is very much an understatement. Making bone broth has long gone out of fashion, after all, who has the time?
However, anyone caught up in the resurgence of this health sustaining super-food and is wanting to give it a go, then they would do well to read this book.
Apart from the recipes, the authors teach us how the use of modern equipment makes this task far more feasible, even for busy people. this is good news considering some of these broths take days to make.

The book is laid out quite well beginning with the history and the science behind bone broth. What it is, and why it is considered such a restorative.
They provide healing affirmations specific to particular health conditions. I do not find affirmations particularly inspiring myself, but I know that many people do.

Next comes equipment, refreshingly basic, nothing fancy required and nothing too expensive other than, perhaps, a large slow cooker/crockpot.
 Next we learn about the different types of broth and how to choose the bones. 
Then comes a “getting started” section which pretty much repeats much of what has been written, but in more detail.

Part Two repeats a bit more, then we get to what to actually do with your broth.
There are some really surprising recipes here, that is for a bone broth book, but you will find out the hows and whys. There are desserts, drinks, cocktails and some really sumptuous but rather complicated (for me) fine dining style recipes.

If you want to make your own beauty products these are included too, but don’t worry, you won’t have to use the gelatine hard won from the bones, the packet stuff is fine. Using collagen to improve hair, skin and nails is all the go these days, the authors explain how it works and, better still how to make your own

What I did not like so much:
I found the book a little difficult to navigate due mostly to similar information being disseminated. The text is clunky and it doesn't flow and this spoiled the reading experience. Rigorous editing would polish up this book beautifully.
Source: Review copy provided by Hay House via NetGalley

About the Authors (via Amazon.com)
Louise Hay, the author of the international bestseller You Can Heal Your Life, is a metaphysical lecturer and teacher with more than 50 million books sold worldwide. For more than 30 years, Louise has helped people throughout the world discover and implement the full potential of their own creative powers for personal growth and self-healing. Visit www.LouiseHay.com

Heather Dane is a certified health coach specializing in applying functional medicine and nutrigenomics protocols to resolve chronic conditions. She has worked with many of the great minds in medicine, natural health, nutrition, and energy healing, and designs delicious recipes to nourish body and soul. Visit www.HeatherDane.com
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