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My Journey, A Victory Over Cancer Through Alternative Methods, A Book That May Save Your Life, Valarie Hendriks

My Journey, A Victory Over Cancer Through Alternative Methods,
A Book That May Save Your Life, Valarie Hendriks

My Journey: A Victory Over Cancer Through Alternative Methods by [Hendriks, Valarie ]

Genre: self-help, health, mind and body

Having had cancer myself 22 years ago, stories like this interest me and I’ve always had an interest on complemetary and alternative medicine.
I think its a very long time though since a book has made me as angry as this one.

Its a dangerous book IMO, that suggests conventional treatment kills, that  current treatment is basically a stitch up between doctors getting paid by treatment, drug companies wanting to make money, that the medical profession as a whole are ignoring these simple and inexpensive cures. She posits that alternative treatment cures, and the book is full of sweeping statements that have no data or available research to back them up, though plenty of info from the makers of each. No bias there then.
Its presenting these statements, opinions and speculations as fact that angers me, and I feel its very dangerous for those who are desperately hoping for a cure.
I know I searched hard when I was undergoing treatment, to see what I could be doing to help myself, and back then its was all Sharks Cartilage, Apricot Kernels and coffee enemas that were the holy grail of alternative remedies. ( Coffee enemas feature here too…)

There were times when we agree, she promotes healthy eating and looking after your body and I feel that’s very true, we need to ensure our bodies can cope with what we want, give them the tools to fight off abnormalities. Its a common sense approach that a physically strong body should respond better to whatever treatment, whatever illness were dealing with.
She’s a strong promoter of God and Prayer, for me its Positive thinking – I’m not a non believer, but I’m not sure if its god that’s who I believe in, but it helps to think there’s someone, something greater than us who can push our health in the right direction.
I did find the religious pushing, the constant cheeriness, exhortations to Smile, group hugs, the use of Lots Of Capitals and Exclamation Marks were trying after a while!!!!
Its a tone that didn’t work for me though, but it’s just a personal thing and will be fine for others.

What made me cross too was her constant pushing of certain manufacturers, her constant stating of her opinions and online finds as facts – ie Citing a case quoted by the inventor of the hot sandwich, how within one week of eating a “hot sandwich” every day – that’s basically habanero peppers, garlic and organic butter on organic bread -the tumours in both his (patients) colon and liver had disappeared. (loc 2670)
Kelley Eidem, inventor of this sandwich also has a hub page – “how I cured stage 4 cancer in two weeks for less than the cost of a night at the movies.”
Hmnn now – do I think that’s true? Is there details of the person who was cured? Is there any form of backing data, facts, real people coming forward who have been cured by this method? Is there really a huge conspiracy against this and similar treatments by the whole medical profession and drug companies, ensuring we still get ill just to keep them in jobs? They’re not perfect, they’re human and make mistakes but to take things that far is something I can’t feel is right.
Then she goes on about how awful chemo is, ( true – but sadly necessary for lots of us), how more people die from the chemo than the cancer – again no backing data, and a quick sentence sneaked in among the heavy pushed alternative remedies tells us she had treatment of Rituxan – but that’s OK because “Rituxan is not chemotherapy. Rituxan is a type of antibody therapy….”
Well, that’s true to an extent, its what the makers say, but its certainly conventional treatment for certain cancers, and not one of the natural vitamin supplement or coffee enemas she’s so fond of. Chemotherapy is just that to me, therapy made from chemicals, from research of all kinds, some of which are man made and some found in nature. Rituxan is certainly that, so to suggest her cancer was cured solely by alternative methods is a little stretching things. Rituxan is actually made by fusing part of a mouse body with part of a human antibody, not quite a simple therapy.  There are deadly remeies in nature too, arsenic, cyanide, lead, so many things that are “natural2 can also kill. Its not nature good – man-made bad. Both have points for and against

Maybe the treatment in US is very different to UK, but when I underwent chemo some 22 years back I had a battery of tests, x-rays, CT and MRI scans, blood tests, urine tests both before, during and after to ensure that my body was able to cope with the chemo, that it would help, not hinder recovery. My chemo was tailored to me, not a blunderbuss of “might help” chemicals. She kind of suggests in US they throw that sort of treatment at a patient without all that monitoring, thus the many that she says die from the treatment not the disease, and I find it hard to believe it would vary so much from UK/rest of the world in US.
I’m just so angry that she derides conventional treatment, makes these sweeping statements about how her research has shown that more people die of chemo effects after they’ve been cleared of cancer, that having chemo is akin to a death sentence, that with the right combo of vitamins, coffee enemas, using Bentonite clay inside and outside the body, massages, special saunas, fasting on juices for up to 14 days at a time etc you can be cured ( and the power or Prayer, she’s a great fan of God’s help – and that’s good for her but not for everyone.)
When people are diagnosed, especially when the chances of living are minimal, then its natural to look for something we can do ourselves, and this book just takes me back to those sharks cartilage days. I worry that people will only see the alternative remedies as the cure, and not the very real conventional treatment she had.
Spurning data backed, tested and verified results of conventional treatment in favour of those alternatives could mean the difference between life of death. If anyone is going to do that don’t just rely on one person’s words, check facts, look up some of the science, look for results, for real people that have undergone what your doing.
I’m not saying blindly accept what is offered conventionally, you should ask questions there too, what, how, why am I having….Its your body, you are the one taking the risk so look very carefully.

What I can say is don’t be disheartened by this book, don’t feel its all one way or the other, that if you don’t follow this regime, if you go with conventional treatment you are going to die.
I have been cancer free for 22 years now, after an amputation and two rounds of experimental chemotherapy. By the time my tumour was diagnosed it was very big, very advanced, I was lucky it hadn’t spread. My chances of surviving were assessed at just 15%.
Ididn’t have lots of alternative therapies, I did put my trust in the doctors who treated me having asked them and received answers to my questions. I didn’t go for healthy eating all the while – I tried as much as I could but didn’t always feel like eating anything, never mind swallowing a battalion of supplements. I couldn’t have afforded them in all likelihood anyway, nor the special saunas and as for coffee enemas, well, I’d have to be very convinced they work.

I’m glad that whatever worked for her did, but whether it was the conventional treatment or the alternative that worked who knows?
I’m all in favour of complementary therapy, something many cancer hospitals offer, all in for helping ourselves, of trying to wrest some form of control of our illness, not let it take over our lives, but Cancer is unpredictable – we can do a lot to help ourselves by way of avoiding unhealthy lifestyles, by ensuring we eat and drink sensibly, look after our bodies, and sometimes it regresses for no known reason. It just isn’t as simple as she makes out and I worry she’s putting out a dangerous message.

Stars: One, sorry, I’m sure Valarie put her heart and soul into writing this book, I’m sure she strongly believes what she’s written but that doesn’t mean alternative is best or that conventional kills.
If you want to go the alternative route talk to your doctors, research for yourself what actual results have been verified, not just someone saying “xyz people have been cured by….” Don’t get fooled by smoke and mirrors

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Sweet, Savory, and Free, Insanely Delicious Plant-Based Recipes without Any of the Top 8 Food Allergens, Debbie Adler

Sweet, Savory, and Free, Insanely Delicious Plant-Based Recipes without Any of the Top 8 Food Allergens, Debbie Adler

Sweet, Savory, and Free: Insanely Delicious Plant-Based Recipes without Any of the Top 8 Food Allergens by [Adler, Debbie]

Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine , Parenting & Families

I’ve been lucky in my family, my children have never had allergies that are a serious issue. My daughter was brought up on goat milk as she reacted against cows milk, but she outgrew that by around two years old.
She became a strict vegetarian at nine, so food labeling and ingredients became a normal part of life for us. Its amazing what gets tucked into the most innocent of foods, and we found animal based gelatine crept into so much.
Then her third child was born with multiple allergies, cows milk, goat milk, soya, wheat, eggs, and she was advised to avoid meat and fish at weaning plus all nuts. It meant sticking strictly to label reading again, and I found 20 years on manufacturers still putting in things that to my mind weren’t necessary. Orange ice lollies, the juice kind, we were amazed they have dairy in them. Why? Its not needed.

For anyone in that situation, or indeed anyone concerned about what exactly we’re eating this book is perfect. I doubt it’s for those who claim “intolerance” but eat those foods “on a good day”, they don’t have the determination to change what they eat, just to inconvenience others….
Allergies are serious, life threatening, not a choice issue.

If I was starting my family again I’d use this book as a key element of family nutrition. Its not full of weird recipes and ingredients everyone is unfamiliar with, but favourite ones that Debbie has carefully researched, so they can be reproduced from ingredients that are both healthy and non allergenic.
It does mean changing the whole way of looking at food and ingredients though. I’ve always done what I think of as “clean” eating, making most of out meals from scratch, not buying ready meals. That’s how I was brought up, and it wouldn’t be difficult to change that to this way of eating.
Debbie’s done all the hard work, and though the initial food lists look daunting they’re not and I’m sure it would soon become second nature to use these instead of what we ordinarily have in the cupboard.  It’s a simple matter to swap the usual ordinary flour, sugar, fat etc to one of those she recommends. That way you can still use your old favourite recipes, just make them better for everyone.
Its not all dry nut-roast, lentil burger and meat free loaf stuff either, but recipes that really do sound mouthwatering and attractive.
I remember when Brennan ( the grandchild mentioned above) was one, the challenge to find a recipe for a cake that was egg, dairy,wheat and soya free. Even the hospital swap lists didn’t really deal, advising those with wheat allergies to swap with soya, the same for dairy. If you’re allergic to them all they didn’t have an answer. Fortunately Vegan recipes helped me source a chocolate cake recipe, that was tasty and satisfied the Birthday Cake remit. If we’d had this book though, we could have varied his diet so much more, with food the whole family would enjoy.

If my children were young I’d definitely use this as a daily eating guide and change my pantry ingredients. With the internet its pretty easy to source most foods now, and the ones in here can mostly be found in big supermarkets now anyway. Its just ingredients to hand and mindset that really needs changing, and I’m sure after a few weeks it would become second nature.

For personal preference I think conventional print format is better for recipe books ( in fact most non fic books). It makes browsing and choosing what to cook so much easier I find. As I’ve now eye issues and can’t read them though, I’m thankful of the e-book versions.

Stars: Five, the book to give anyone as a new home gift. Packed with mouth watering healthy recipes.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits, Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life. Alyona Nickelsen

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits, Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life.  Alyona Nickelsen

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life by [Nickelsen, Alyona]

Genre: non fiction

Like many artists I’ve accumulated a mass of materials. Some artists stick to one medium, I like to try anything and everything so my summerhouse/studio is crammed with materials.
Not so expensive as it seems, I paint for fun, sell a few, and from the start any sales I made support new materials. Throw in birthdays and xmas and it soon adds up. In among them I’ve some watercolour pencils, some like traditional ones, some very waxy. I hadn’t really considered soft and oil pastels as pencils either, but in a way they fit the description. I do like the immediacy of these, the way my hand is on the canvas without the brush barrier in the way.

In this book Alyona tells us about different types of pencil and ways of making them last. The traditional sharpening method is incredibly wasteful, something I hadn’t realised. Also I’ve used sandpaper and gesso treated board with soft pastels, but never thought of using coloured pencils on them.
As with all materials the quality varies considerably, and my ethos is to always buy the best you can afford.
I’ve seen people very dispirited with their paintings, when they’re trying to use cheap, thin paper, grainy poster paints, pound shop brushes etc. Nan always used to say “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” and that’s really true with art materials. Better to buy a dozen top quality basic colours and learn how to blend them, than a fifty pack of cheap pencils. Those will fade, won’t blend easily and the colours will be bland as they’ve little real pigment. Another of Nan’s adages – “cheap always comes dear in the end”, where money is wasted if you can’t use what you’ve bought, and end up spending more on getting what you balked against buying because of cost.

I’m certainly going to get my pencils out again and play. One of the issues I found was that once I’d added a layer of colour its difficult to get a second one on, unless I used it very lightly, and almost impossible to add a third as the tooth of the paper was covered. Alyona mentions a fixative that gives another sort of coating over the colours, without spoiling them, but allowing more colour to be applied on top. That’s really useful, and great for whites and other pale highlights. I’m a bit of a spontaneous artist, add the pencil, paint, whatever, and work along making the painting up as I work. That means so often I’ve already coloured over where I later decide I want a highlight, but now with some fixative I can add it.

There is lots of advice on portraits of course, from how to pose the sitter, to how best to flatter them without losing the identity of the sitter.
Techniques too are covered with some wonderful step by step illustrations, and lots of completed paintings with tips.
I’d never thought of using a medium or physical shaper for blending either, as I do with paint, only ever used fingers, and that gives yet another different effect.
Pencils are such a great medium for taking out and painting outdoors, easy to transport, very little needed except pencils, support and maybe some fix and blenders. I’ve done a little of that using my sketches for further paintings in other mediums, but of course now I see how I can use them to create artworks in their own right.

I think one of the issues facing those promoting their use is that they are still seen as very much a child’s toy, very limited in application for artists, when in fact after reading this book I can see they are incredibly versatile.
Its a mindset thing, something that takes time to change but with fabulous portraits like the ones in this book we can see just how versatile pencils can be.

Stars: Five, a fabulous addition to the artists library

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The A-List Diet, Fred Pescatore. Tom, Ann Voss Peterson

The A-List Diet, Lose up to 15 Pounds and Look and Feel Younger in Just 2 Weeks, Fred Pescatore

The A-List Diet: Lose up to 15 Pounds and Look and Feel Younger in Just 2 Weeks by [Pescatore, Fred]

Genre: Health, Mind & Body

Hmnnn, if like me you’ve been in a lifelong weight battle that headline Lose up to 15 Pounds and Look and Feel Younger in Just 2 Weeks will appeal. So I eagerly dived into this book and….
Well, if you’ve a Science degree maybe you’ll follow it better. My degree is Law, and some of those papers were pretty dull, but they had nothing on this.
It felt like my poor word selection lookup on my paperwhite was in use several times on far too many pages with all the fancy/complex terms he uses.
I’ll pick a page totally at random and quote a few lines just so you can see what I mean about words. Ok, its loc 1194: “…of the cell to the mitochrondria, where it is used to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fuel that powers all cellular activity”. Further down that page he talks about Aspartic acid being good for the mind, increasing NADH which boosts production of neurotransmitters, and removes excess toxins from cells especially ammonia, which is damaging to the brain.
You thought this was a diet book didn’t you? A magic fix to help you lose that stone quickly. Well, there are recipes and ordinary-ish advice, but they come quite a way into the book after you battled through all the science stuff first, and read about recommended tablets etc. And of course there’s lots of them, but it’s OK, Fred sells them.
So he starts off with a week long detox, assuring us we will not get hungry, and citing a patient who had persistent and so far untreatable pain and fatigue issues. She was one of the first to try his detox, and after looked like a whole new person! She lost 8 lbs, regained colour to her face, and talked about going back to work after she’d thought she wouldn’t ever be able to. Sounds a little miraculous to me.
Of course there’s also the proviso found in all diet books, the one we never pay attention to, that says check with your GP before starting and you may not lose as much weight as suggested.

So what is the detox? Well, basically nothing for first two days except water and herbal teas, then a little broth after that. Later in the week we get to add…eggs, then avocado and finally a few nuts and fish. And the pills of course: a good multi-vitamin, which he sells at 2 three times a day, a detox supplement formula ( again he makes one) at 2 three times a day, and one Reg’Active ( that’s what’s written,not sure what it is) twice per day. Its not hard to see how a week of this will result in weight loss, but a lot harder for me to believe I won’t be hungry, especially the first two days!
After that it depends on what sort of person you are as to what you eat, he breaks people down into six different types and treats each differently, which I found interesting. There’s some pretty comprehensive lists of foods according to what type of person you are, but they seem to be mainly along the lines of lean protein and vegetables, avoiding carbs and starchy veg and including only a little fruit.
It kind of makes sense as these foods are good for the body and do increase metabolism, but I’m not yet convinced.
One issue I have as a UK reader is that I know many of these foods by a different name, but there are also many that I haven’t a clue what they are, and they’re certainly not available in the rural part of the country where I live.
I know the internet is great for sourcing most stuff, but not fresh food. I’m thinking of creme fraiche qurut, coconut butter soy milk ( unless maybe that’s two things and a misprint?), queso fresco Gervais, chaource, eposses, harz, livarot ( that doesn’t sound good for liver 😉 ) caprini, abondance….you see what I mean here? This is just a fraction of the list. Once past week one and the supplements needed there, we need more for the next parts of the diet, specially formulated by Fred.

What I like about the diet is no calorie counting, no fat gram counting and long lists of foods that can be eaten ( even if I don’t know what many of them are). I enjoy reading about why and how certain things work, it helps me to stick to a diet when i know, for example, that lean protein boots metabolism which in turn helps fat burning.
There’s a useful section of recipes included in the second half of the book, but they are once more pretty complex. For example breakfast of fried egg and gruyere on a bed of avocado has nine ingredients and mexican fried eggs has thirteen..vegetable soup has seventeen, stuffed chicken and squash ribbons has fifteen. I find the more ingredients, the less likely I am to make a recipe for every day use. Too long in the kitchen and I want to nibble.
I do like that Fred sells the specific tablets needed.

What I don’t like about this book though is that Fred sells tha tablets. Yep, that’s ight, I do and don’t lie it. Do in that its easy to get them ( in US anyway), and don’t in that the cynic in me is thinking do we really need them? Is this just a way to get more money out of people?
Then IMO he goes too far in the explainations, blinding the reader with scientific terms and stats and words we’ve never heard of. That makes me a bit suspicious, maybe I’m just a cynic, but I like simple transparency. Not everyone is like me though, some like the fuller texts.
Back at work some 20 years ago I was talking to a head teacher about one of the floors we cleaned. I told him I’d brought a new product for the cleaner to use, no machine polishing needed, as it was a new trial of a self shining, floor sheen emulsion. Or something like that… It was a tiny school, very little profit and the company wouldn’t spring for the expense of a floor polisher. If I’d said no need for a machine I’ve got a different polish, he wouldn’t have been happy. Suggest its something new and fancy and he was. Some people need the complexity more than they want the transparency. I guess its like needing scientific terms to let you be able to believe, rather than just understand how it works.
I think in theory this is a good weight loss book – if you can stick to it and don’t mind spending lots on supplements.
I think the headline 15 lbs in 2 weeks is something most people will focus on and few will achieve. Celebrity diets are fine, they tend to have chefs to source, weight, measure and cook everything, but for the ordinary person I can’t see this book being really helpful.
For me its not a diet that appeals, I’d rather get my vitamins and nutrients from real food than a pill.

Stars: Three, for me its not tempting but I guess it might appeal to others who are dedicated to what they eat, and have patience to follow this. It does have some useful advice, even if its all locked up in jargon and soundbites.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Tom, Ann Voss Peterson

Tom (Renegade Magic) by [Ann Voss Peterson]

Genre:  Romance, Mystery and thrillers

I knew this was a trilogy, written by three different authors, but didn’t realise each section would be so short, this part of the story is only just over 1000 kindle locations, around 80 pages I’d guess.

I have issues with shorts, novellas, I find they just don’t let me explore the characters and the story in the depth I need to enjoy it. That’s not so for everybody, many readers love the brevity of stories like this, especially those with little free time.

It did mean that though I found the story interesting, intriguing even, although I hadn’t read part one, but that I felt it was just too slick, cut and dried, easy answers.

Hardly had an event happened that the solution was found, everything was very quick with no time for the characters to mull over, make mistakes. It felt like problem, solution, sorted, within a few pages.

There’s such a lot going on here that it means nothing really gets explained, contains any great mysteries or needs deep thinking to ponder whats going to happen, because turn a few pages and it does 😉

Its well written, intriguing and has characters and a storyline I think I’d like if I could know them in more detail, but for me its all just too quick, too short.

If that’s what you want though, a quick, sensual read with a side of mystery and puzzles that get solved promptly, then this is a read you may love.

Stars: Three, its a good read, just too short for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Candy Is Magic, Real Ingredients – Modern Recipes, Jami Curl

Candy Is Magic, Real Ingredients – Modern Recipes,  Jami Curl

Candy Is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes by [Curl, Jami]

Genre:   food and wine, cooking.

I love my kindle but there are some books, non fiction mostly, that I feel are better in print and this is one of them.
I read it on my kindle fire, at least there I can appreciate the stunning colour photos. and drool at the wonderful confects created.

When my kids were young I used to make toffee, mainly for toffee apples and millionaire’s shortbread, something they all loved. ( And probably with a million calories in, though very delicious…)
Of course I burned it a few times, soon learned that soaking burned pans lifted off the burnt sugar in time, but the results of my experiments were always a bit hit and miss.
I didn’t have kitchen scales or a thermometer, used to use the cold water cracking method of timing, which isn’t accurate…somehow having several bad batches put me off and I stopped.
Reading this book though gives me the enthusiasm to restart, make some for Xmas gifts and birthdays, and just for fun.

The recipes are clearly set out and very well devised, so that the amateur cook can follow using the recommended tools.
There isn’t a need to buy too much, scales and thermometer seem to be the basic must haves, with other things recommended but not essential. The recipes don’t have 101 hard-to-find ingredients. That is so off putting when something you want to make has ingredients you just can’t find, or have to buy a huge pack to get the few grams needed for a few lollies or toffees.
The combinations used for flavouring sound delicious, and will also spur the reader on to their own ideas.
The sky really is the limit when it comes to flavours, some you’ll like and some will get a pass…but all will be perfect if you follow the easy steps laid out here.

I want to get back into toffee making, know now why my attempts at fudge went wrong, and the lollipops, those clear ones with little seeds etc in for decoration, I really want to try those. Maybe some candy canes for the tree at xmas too. I love all things glitter and metallic so I thought I could add some edible gold leaf or some gold dust to the clear lollies and have a bit of edible glitz for xmas.

Stars: Five, an inspiring book, to create sweets to satisfy cravings without filling your body with preservatives and artificial flavours.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Inspired!, True Stories Behind Famous Art, Literature, Music, and Film, Maria Bukhonina

Inspired!, True Stories Behind Famous Art, Literature, Music, and Film,  Maria Bukhonina

Inspired!: True Stories Behind Famous Art, Literature, Music, and Film by [Bukhonina, Maria]

Genre:   Biographies and memoirs

I love the stories about who, why and how inspiration brought about paintings, stories and relationships so this was a fun read.

I’m a bit of a wiki addict and this was very much like reading that, but in a bit more depth.
There’s some fascinating stories here, and I was absorbed reading about them. I didn’t read right through, but picked up and put down absorbing individual stories, rather than info-dumping with too much.
My husband brought me some paperback about individual artists a few years back and some of this overlapped but there was also much more that I didn’t know, which let me onto a fact finding mission via the internet for more details.

I’m always pondering how and what inspired works, and thinking if things were different, if people hadn’t met in that way, or perhaps not at all, if their families had been more or less supportive, it makes me wonder just how things evolve.
In my own case it was being suddenly disabled and retired from work that led me down the art path – if things had been different would I have taken that journey or gone a different way. so much of our lives interacts with what we do that there are many possible different ways unfolding over the years.

If you like not only looking at paintings, reading books, watching films and going to theatre but researching how these things came about you’ll find this a fascinating read.
I have it as a kindle file and its ok like that but its one of the few books that I feel are best appreciated in traditional prints format.

Stars: Four, an interesting and absorbing read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Call to Arms: Year-long survey reveals which book advertiser offers best value for money

Reblogged from http://nicholasrossis.me/
Interesting reading for authors. I recently had an email with a survey on what I enjoy in romance reads, and I think this kind of data is important for authors.

You can write any book of course, and you can choose what you want it to be about and that’s your choice but if you want to make a living then you need to know what readers of your genre want. Having written your book data like this from Nicholas is important so you don’t waste your precious funds on places that don’t deliver a return.
It mentions Facebook – I’m assuming that’s some kind of ad promotion rather than just posting on own sites, and hoping others pass it on – I’ve found lots of gems that way. Read a brilliant one last night on KU that I found via that kind of FB post

Patricia Finney  Love without Shadows Love without Shadows by [Finney, Patricia]

 

From: http://nicholasrossis.me/2016/11/04/call-to-arms-year-long-survey-reveals-which-book-advertiser-offers-the-best-value-for-money/

Last year, I shared with you the result of my Call to Arms, on my very popular post, Book Marketing Results 2015. I now have collected enough data to follow up with this year’s results. Like …

Source: Call to Arms: Year-long survey reveals which book advertiser offers best value for money

Farm To Table: 50 Recipes for Clean Eating (Clean Diet Cookbook)

Farm to Table Colleen Seward

Farm To Table: 50 Recipes for Clean Eating (Clean Diet Cookbook) by [Seward, Colleen]

Genre: non fiction, cookery, lifestyle

Healthy eating – we see that pushed out all the while don’t we? Yet its usually in the form of buy this supplement, try these health ready meals, or sometimes there are recipes, but they have four hundred ingredients, some of which needs sourcing at daybreak on the summer solstice, while wearing a robe made of unicorn hair…well, that’s how it feels:-)

None of that here, just simple, easy recipes, with ingredients available everywhere.
Colleen doesn’t push any one super food, but more the idea of a properly balanced diet, where making meals from basic ingredients naturally keeps the preservatives and additives to a minimum.
She puts forward the argument for food that’s as fresh as possible, grown without too many extras but doesn’t take the somewhat fanatical “if its not organic its no good” stance. Too many books seem like they are preaching, too pushy and make the reader just switch off. Colleen’s persuasion is more gentle and accepts that sometimes a compromise is needed.

You could start by changing just one meal a day – or even just four a week, something like that, and once you start to get into the routine and appreciate the taste of real food, ingredients that aren’t chemically enhanced, hopefully you’ll want to include more in your life.
Using this book is simple, its dived into sections full of easy to follow recipes that don’t take hours to make, and are easy for even those new to cooking.
Start by adding a few a week and take it from there.

The recipes are simple and its easy to ring the changes using the ideas for one meal and replacing certain ingredients – pork for chicken, mushrooms instead of peppers or sweet corn, things like that.
The main proposal Colleen puts forward is that the most important thing is that ingredients are as fresh as possible and as free from additives etc.
Go to farmers markets, get to know your butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer and you can find out that info.
Supermarkets have a bad name, undeservedly IMO, and the same idea works there – most have dedicated butchery etc so speak to staff, find out how fresh your food is, where its been, how its been treated.
Its your body, take care of it. You won’t put cheap, second grade fuel in your car and expect it to perform top class and its the same with your body.

I found this an interesting read, especially as I tend to eat this way anyway, having been brought up on home-grown fruit and veg and meals from scratch.
In the long run its much cheaper than ready meals too, and with a little forethought so easy to do.
Living alone now I tend to make a batch of meals, casseroles, cottage pies etc and freeze in portions so I have home made ready meals. You can do the same even if you’ve a big family, just double up on the main ingredient and freeze half. Than all you need to do is put your meal in the over for 40-60 mins or so from the freezer,add some salad or fresh veg, maybe some crusty bread and you’ve a meal with very little prep that’s nutritious, healthy and tastes good.

Stars: Five, excellent practical read to start a healthy approach to eating.

ARC supplied by author

Second Chances, FROSH 2, Tree Houses Reimagined, A Vampire’s Honor,

Second Chances, FROSH 2,  Mónica B. Wagner

Second Chances: FROSH #2 by [Wagner, Mónica B.]

Genre: Romance, New Adult.

Gah!! third part isn’t out til next year… that’s just what I hate about trilogies and duologies, you’re hooked in to the story, racing along with the characters and then..The End, For now anyway, come back next year 😦

I loved the first book, First Blush but that was last year and a few hundred books back, so when picking this up although I could recall roughly the story and the main dramas the intensity had gone, and I was confused by some of the references such as the Tanner/Ellie kiss..I just can’t remember that, what prompted it, why it happened.
Books like this are great because they allow the space for the author to really expand the characters and the plots, but its the waiting that’s so hard. I get the most from these by rereading when all parts are out, going straight from book 1 to 2 and then to 3. Still, next year *sigh*

Its another terrific read, packed full of dramas and angst.
Ellie and Grant have parted after the revelations of the last book, but there’s still the feeling that they are on the edge of getting back if only they would talk, see each other, one of them take that step.They both still have such strong feelings for each other and I was rooting for them to move forward.
Ellie’s still dealing with the fallout, getting bullied and blamed for the situation, even though she was a victim too and not the one who caused the issue. Its easier to blame her though, than to look at the years of abuse and failings of the booster system. Now the problems have stepped up and Ellie is scared – when will it stop? Is it really worth staying here given her reputation is in tatters and Grant seems lost to her? He asked for space and she’s given it, but will he ever want to go back to her?
Then there’s the gorgeous Charlie, he’s really such a Gem, a true Gentleman. I remember loving him in book one and he’s still that same incredible, intelligent, caring and genuine man. Wish there were more like him, and given how hard its been for him and his mum he’s a real credit to her, has some values that would make the world better if we all shared them.
He’s been hiding though, behind his created anonymous podcaster Dr Love, a fun thing that’s become really popular and a huge question for the students, they love Dr Love, but who is he? He’s the man Charlie would really like to be, cool, popular, able to fit in easily. You can see Charlie’s issues by looking at how he’s shaped Dr Love.
Then there’s his girlfriend Devon. She’s got issues too- on the face she has it all, money, popularity, self confident and yet her family are fractured and she’s trying to put it all right. Her parents are more concerned with reputation than rightness, and her brother has had drug and alcohol problems which of course get covered up for the family rep.
I’m kind of mixed about Devon, can’t remember really feeling strongly about her in book one but here – she’s all the things I hate, selfish, self obsessed, a bully, a real b itch in fact! Yet Charlie thinks the world of her and she does seem to think much of him. Opposites attract and all that.
I love the family dinner and Lobster Woman. Poor Charlie, he seems to see a different side to Devon and its well hidden from the rest of us. What will happen when he sees her as we do? Or will she change? Can she change? Does she want to? She likes the ease of her life, the way money sorts out most problems and its a lot to give up.

Sorenson – the man with the answers, Devon’s childhood friend and her go-to guy is still around though we don’t see as much as him. I feel for him, he wants Devon but she’s blind to it, she wants Charlie, though she did want Grant before…tangles all round then, and of course there’s a couple of new players too in this book.
One of them is Rebecca, one of Charlie’s students who looks set to throw things awry in her effort to attract his attention. The second one is  Tali,  who does drama in her spare time and becomes a friend to Grant. I think she wants more than friendship, but am I right or off base?
Does Grant still really want Ellie or am I wrong there too. Will Tali come between them. Will Ellie stay or go, will they get back, will Devon and Charlie stay together or will Rebecca and Sorenson interfere. What about the scandals, and the bullying – can they pass or will they still cause such problems. Is Devon’s brother really clean or still hiding his problems from everyone.

Its another story full of questions and ends on yet another cliff-hanger, Gah! By next year book one will be a faint memory, and I’ll have forgotten from this one all the little subplots that make it such a great read.
Still, there’s always the Wallow to look forward to, the back-to-back reading fest where I can indulge myself in these characters and not lose the momentum  😉

Stars: Five, another fun drama filled read, but oh…the wait 😦

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Tree Houses Reimagined, Luxurious Retreats for Tranquility and Play,  Blue Forest & E. Ashley Rooney

Genre:  non-fiction

Tree houses – they conjure up rustic structures, made of old bits of wood roughly nailed together by kids in the boughs of old trees don’t’ they? Well, a look at this book will certainly challenge that perception.

These aren’t  playhouses – except for few very lucky kids, but structures built to blend into the landscape,  intended  to create a stunning contemporary retreat, or create a fairy tale structure.
Its hard to find a  favourite, there’s so much thought gone in to them. I love the ones that mimic the “real” tree-house ideal though, ones that use imagination and create fairy-tale strictures. Maybe its just that living close to nature in the way Fairies etc are supposed to means that these houses can feel real to me, be places I’d love to live. And maybe I’m just still a child of the 70’s in my heart, and a lover of all things nature and natural.
I would adore to have some of these, to live in them and become part of the land. Its self sufficiency made up to date, made beautiful. Yes you can live in a wood cabin, work the land, survive that way, but how much more satisfying to do it while living in homes like these…

They have more going for them than just stunning appearance though, the whole live-with-nature ethic is worked in to most of them, with materials used, water, waste and energy very carefully thought out, well designed to make use of local natural features and to cause least harm to the land. I’ve been drooling looking through this book, just adore the places created, and wish, wish, wish I could afford something like this in my garden.
They aren’t just kids playhouses, but places for holidays, for holding meetings ( one of them can hold 40 adults!), to be used as a home office, or for businesses like Yoga studios, where the idea of creating a place to work from natural materials to fit in with nature and become part of the landscape is an extension of the Yogic ethos. they truly are places of relaxation.

I’ve been reading this on my Kindle Fire and that really shows the illustrations well. I’ve been waving it in front of visitors, friends and family for past few weeks, and making them all drool too. We all agree the things created here are incredible, the thought that’s gone in to each very well researched and carried out, the book is one to treasure, to inspire and to build dreams with.

Stars: Five, a stunning, visual feast for nature lovers, inspiring creations for those talented enough to build them. *sadly not me 😦 I need a goodly lottery win! *

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

A Vampire’s Honor,  Carla Susan Smith

A Vampire's Honor (Vampire's Promise) by [Smith, Carla Susan]

Genre: Romance, Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Onto book three and ..Gah! Ack! It ends in a cliff-hanger…and I just so, so hate them, despise them.
The good part is that book four is due in Oct, just a month after this one releases so its not too long to wait. what makes me so cross about this type ending is when authors end book in cliffies and then sequel gets delayed and delayed until suddenly its 2, 3 even 4 years since you were left hanging. Thankfully Carla has book four lined up ready to come out soon after this one – Thank You Carla!!

So after all the deep drama in book two this one feels a bit less intense, but its still got a huge amount going on. Its a while since I read the last book, and ideally I’d have reread it before starting this but as even time was limited 😉 All was fine though, as I continued reading the full events came back to me. It’s so clever the way authors weave little things from earlier books into major plot angles in later ones. Sometimes its just a tiny thing, a throwaway remark, and I like to challenge myself if I can pick them up – I spotted one in this book that led to some big events later, but I’m sure there’s more I missed. Its why I love to read a series back to back when all parts are out, I get really engrossed, pick up things I missed first time round, and its a great way of enjoying a story, getting totally immersed. Don’t try reading this without books one and two though – you’ll be lost.

You’d think Gabriel and Rowan could get a break after all the things that have happened but no, once more it seems events and certain others are against them, and the dangers start up from Rowan getting abducted, and end in what looks like could be a permanent separation.
How can that be when she’s his Promise?
Well, there are always little details, little clauses in agreements, and Rowan does tend to rush into things without thinking of the consequences. This time her impetuousness really comes back to bite her with a vengeance.

I love Rowan and Gabriel, loved seeing some of his history with Aleksei, and of course Anazstazia, and of course there’s the wonderful Tomas. The five really do make up the core of this book, with the introduction of an old enemy, and someone new coming in who seems to have a desire to cause trouble – why though?
Well, as always who knows? Seems Rowan’s Demon from the last book may have got a few irons in the fire too. Its left on a real gut churning cliff-hanger, where it looks like things could be permanently split for Rowan and Gabriel – I can’t believe he hasn’t worked some way out though, can’t see him just rolling over and giving in, but what he can do I’ve no idea.
Good job its not me writing but Carla or it would be a weepy ending, and not the happy tears kind of crying!

Another fantastic, engrossing novel, and I Just Can’t Wait for book four!

Stars: five, roll on book four.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Kinky Sprinkles, L.A. Witt and Farm to Table, Colleen Seward

Kinky Sprinkles,  L.A. Witt

Kinky Sprinkles by [Witt,L.A.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I love L A Witt’s writing and have read quite a few of her books now, so looked forward to this one.
It covers something I’ve often wondered – what happens when two people fall in love but don’t share sexual tastes?
Sometimes its a choice thing for people but sometimes in cases such as this they have a need for certain practices as opposed to just enjoying them.

André is like that – he needs to be a Dom, needs to dominate and hurt people to be satisfied. He wants to be with Joel though, who’s just got out of  a two year, very bad relationship with a sadistic Dom who wasn’t a good one, wasn’t safe, didn’t respect his sub and look to his needs.
He doesn’t want to go back there. and only got into the role because of his ex. He’s not interested in that, not going there again.

So what happens in those kind of cases? Usually we get the perfect blend, sub meets Dom, someone who wants pain meets a Sadist – its interesting when two opposing sides want to be together and I suspect that’s far more likely to happen than the usual way portrayed in romance reads. So I was interested in how LA would let things play out, what solutions she’d come up with..
I loved Joel, hurt by his ex in more ways than one and yet he’s still got an inner core of strength that allows him to say No to André, to explain he just doesn’t want to go there, isn’t a natural sub.
Andre too is lovely, he doesn’t want to hurt Joel, isn’t interested in doing that to someone who doesn’t want it, but they decide neither can make things work long term, either Andre will give up what he needs or Joel will do something he doesn’t want to and one will start resenting the other. Not a good start to a relationship.
They each try to stay apart and yet circumstances keep bringing them together, and wow – the heat between them is scorching, sensual and addictive. Each time is sort of “we can’t keep doing this” but then they can’t stay away, and neither can get interested in others.

Finally Joel comes up with a solution – well, something they can try anyway and to be honest its blindingly obvious.
WARNING – SPOILER AHEAD

He suggests an open relationship where Andre can play with others….sounds good but though it doesn’t outright say, the inference is that Andre will be having sex with others too..
What!! I didn’t see that coming and don’t understand why they go that route. We’ve already been told André likes the play most, that’s the bit he really gets off on, and can stop before sex, getting with someone else after for that – its how he and Joel had their first encounter after all.
Why couldn’t they repeat that? Joel likes watching, he could watch and then when its over he and André could satisfy the need for sex, no need for others to get involved in that side of things.
Maybe its just me, but I have trouble with the being in love with one person but wanting sex with others, and here it was so needless. It spoiled what would have been a five star read for me…still, it’ll suit others and maybe you won’t feel as strongly as I do.

Stars: Three, a fun read, but I wasn’t happy with parts of the solution

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Farm to Table Colleen Seward

Farm To Table: 50 Recipes for Clean Eating (The Healthy Foodie) by [Seward, Colleen]

Genre:  non fiction, cookery, lifestyle

Healthy eating – we see that pushed out all the while don’t we? Yet its usually in the form of buy this supplement, try these health ready meals, or sometimes there are recipes, but they have four hundred ingredients, some of which needs sourcing at daybreak on the summer solstice, while wearing a robe made of unicorn hair…well, that’s how it feels:-)

None of that here, just simple, easy recipes, with ingredients available everywhere.
Colleen doesn’t push any one super food, but more the idea of a properly balanced diet, where making meals from basic ingredients naturally keeps the preservatives and additives to a minimum.
She puts forward the argument for food that’s as fresh as possible, grown without too many extras but doesn’t take the somewhat fanatical “if its not organic its no good” stance. Too many books seem like they are preaching, too pushy and make the reader just switch off. Colleen’s persuasion is more gentle and accepts that sometimes a compromise is needed.

You could start by changing just one meal a day – or even just four a week, something like that, and once you start to get into the routine and appreciate the taste of real food, ingredients that aren’t chemically enhanced, hopefully you’ll want to include more in your life.
Using this book is simple, its dived into sections full of easy to follow recipes that don’t take hours to make, and are easy for even those new to cooking.
Start by adding a few a week and take it from there.

The recipes are simple and its easy to ring the changes using the ideas for one meal and replacing certain ingredients – pork for chicken, mushrooms instead of peppers or sweet corn, things like that.
The main proposal Colleen puts forward is that the most important thing is that ingredients are as fresh as possible and as free from additives etc.
Go to farmers markets, get to know your butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer and you can find out that info.
Supermarkets have a bad name, undeservedly IMO, and the same idea works there – most have dedicated butchery etc so speak to staff, find out how fresh your food is, where its been, how its been treated.
Its your body, take care of it. You won’t put cheap, second grade fuel in your car and expect it to perform top class and its the same with your body.

I found this an interesting read, especially as I tend to eat this way anyway, having been brought up on home-grown fruit and veg and meals from scratch.
In the long run its much cheaper than ready meals too, and with a little forethought so easy to do.
Living alone now I tend to make a batch of meals, casseroles, cottage pies etc and freeze in portions so I have home made ready meals. You can do the same even if you’ve a big family, just double up on the main ingredient and freeze half. Than all you need to do is put your meal in the over for 40-60 mins or so from the freezer,add some salad or fresh veg, maybe some crusty bread and you’ve a meal with very little prep that’s nutritious, healthy and tastes good.

Stars: Five, excellent practical read to start a healthy approach to eating.

ARC supplied by author

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