Friday, January 29, 2010

Vegie Patch by Alan Buckingham

Completely and authoritatively adapted for Australian conditions and Australian gardens. How to grow fruit and veg all year round in your very own vegie patch. For tasty, delicious fruit and veg that hasn’t travelled halfway around the world, you can’t beat home grown produce from your own vegie patch. Here’s how to ensure your plot provides fresh, healthy food all year round. Easy-to-follow advice on what to do in your vegie patch and how to do it. Pick up time saving tips and techniques on everything from pruning to dealing with pests. There’s clear guidance on when to sow, plant, and harvest for excellent results (from the publisher).
I'd been searching for some time for a book like this, something that suited the Australian climate and an easy, yet comprehensive what-to-do-and-when. The chapters are month by month and covers everything from where to plant to how to store your produce.
Rating - I give this 4/5 GREAT!!
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Reviewed by Michelle @ admin

Friday, January 22, 2010

Velvet Pears, by Susan Southam

It was a great pleasure some years ago to visit Foxglove Spires, the country garden Susan Southam lovingly created at Tilba Tilba on the NSW south coast
And it was lovely to renew my acquaintance with this gorgeous garden through the pages of Velvet Pears, the book Susan has written about her endeavours in turning a sheep paddock around her old house into a place admired by thousands of visitors.
A lavishly illustrated and deeply personal story, Velvet Pears is an inspirational book about family life and gardening that is also full of practical ideas.
Not just another gardening book, it captures the essence of living simply and with the seasons, within a small local community and with a sustainable lifestyle.
I'm looking forward to another visit someday. Meanwhile, I'm off to buy my own copy of this book and enjoy the loving descriptions and photos of roses, pear arbours and all manner of other lovely things - without the backbreaking work.
Rating - I give this 5/5
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Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Inner Circle, by Mari Jungstedt

Scandinavian mythology, archaeology and death come together in this gripping crime novel by Sweden's Mari Jungstedt.
Two young girls find a pony dead and beheaded - with its head missing.
An international group of young archaeology students uncovering a Viking fortification works and parties hard but the good vibe turns to horror when one of their group, 21-year-old Martina Flochten disappears. Her naked body is found hanging a short time later and her injuries indicate she is the victim of a ritual killing.
Before Inspector Anders Knutas and his team can solve the mystery, the horse's head is found at the home of another victim.
The Inner Circle is the third in Jungstedt's series featuring Inspector Knutas and it's no wonder they are so popular. The characters are believable, the plots are pacey and intricate and each of the books I have read has been a real page-turner.
Knutas isn't nearly as dark and brooding in character as that other famous Swedish policeman, Kurt Wallander and the background of life in Sweden and the relationships between characters make these less-than-standard whodunnits even more interesting.
Rating - I give this 4/5
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Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Beautiful bodies, by Gerald Stone

This is not a novel about celebrities - it's the tragic tale of the first major shipwreck of the convict transportation era.
In August 1833, the Amphitrite, a small ship sailing from England to the Australian penal colonies, was wrecked in a storm on the French coast. She carried 102 female prisoners, 12 children, the captain, crew, medical officer and his wife. Only three survived, and as an English journalist at the scene wrote: "I never saw so many fine and beautiful bodies. The French and English wept together at such a horrible loss of life."
Author Gerald Stone is strong in his condemnation of a journey that was a bungle from beginning to end and of the authorities and the ship's captain and medical officer he sees as responsible for the tragedy.
Stone has written an absorbing book about a terrible event in history and rather than using footnotes to back up his statements, has confined himself to endnotes so as not to break up the flow of the narrative.
And in recording the names of the convict women who undertook that fatal voyage, he restores the individuality and dignity denied them during nearly 200 years of anonymity.
Rating - I give this 4/5
Get this from the library (link to catalogue)
Reviewed by Jan@ Ballarat branch

Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell

If you were fed up with life, the universe and everything, would you leave your job and/or your husband or take on a self-imposed assignment to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the art of French cooking in one year in your small, inadequate kitchen?
New Yorker Julie Powell opts for the latter, punishing herself and husband Eric as she squanders hours, money and serious quantities of butter in her mad quest.
There's some fabulous food, and some disasters, in Powell's life as she gains weight - and fans as she blogs about her sessions.
It's a tough way to change your life and get the publishing deal that resulted in this book but I guess someone had to do it.
Powell is a trouper who can cook, write and isn't finicky about the cleaning up. If you're squeamish, skip the bit about the maggots in the kitchen. This is an enjoyable book that makes me want to eat fabulous food - but cooked by someone else, thanks.
Rating - I give this 4/5
Not bad!
Get this from the library (link to catalogue)
Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

Made by Me by Jane Bull

What a gorgeous book this is. Full of colour and with pages of projects to tackle, it will inspire young girls who love to stitch or get mums and daughters making things together.
For me, it brings back memories of stitching with my mum and hoarding pretty braids, ribbons, buttons and fabrics to make something special.
Each of these projects - which include lavender bags, felt flowers and cupcakes, knitted purses and embroidered T-shirts - is easily achievable, with full pages of photos and step-by-step instructions. It's ideal for beginners as there are how-to instructions for embroidery stitches and knitting - and all the projects are done by hand, no sewing machine required. A real winner for young crafters.
Get this from the library (link to catalogue)
Reviewed by Jan@ Ballarat branch