Sunday 14 November 2021

More Taste & Less Waste

More Taste & Less Waste is a new cookery book form the Dairy Diary publishing company.

It offers readers the opportunity to prepare and serve utterly delicious meals, whilst at the same time cutting down on food waste.

As well as page after page of utterly mouth-watering dishes, it gives the modern home owners detailed advice on how to better and more economically shop for food ingredients. Also, readers will learn how to store food ingredients and how to prepare them.

The recipes will offer cooks the opportunity to find out about meals with perfect portions, servings for two and also servings for three or more in some instances.

There's also a section on meals that you can prepare and then freeze for consumption at a subsequent time.

Each recipe also comes with a very handy QR Code which you can scan to provide you (or someone else) with a very handy ingredients list for when the shops must be visited or an online shopping order put together.

Recipes include a Speedy Beef Stew, a Pea & Prosciutto Gnocchi, a Vegetarian Toad in the Hole, Stuffed Chicken Thighs Wrapped in Bacon, Five-Spiced Lentil Soup to name only a few.

There is also a fantastic range of desert recipes, including Candy Rice Pudding, Marmalade Pancakes (wow!) Golden Ginger Cakes, Marshmallow Mango & Lime Pies and Ice box Caramel, Peanut & Banana Pies.

Each recipe tells you how much it serves, how long it takes to prepare and the cooking time. All recipes have been triple tested and tasted(!) so you can be sure of perfect results, when you follow the recipes. 

It is a perfect Christmas gift for the cookery buff in your life.

You can purchase it in cookshops, good bookshops and also direct at where it costs £12.49, including postage and packing.


Pushing Cotton

Pushing Cotton by Darran Nash is sub-titled A Modern Fairy Tale.

A man, a complete stranger, approaches Nelson Hitchcock and implores that Nelson comes to his assistance whilst Nelson is on a school trip to a museum.

The reward? That Nelson can receive anything his heart should desire. 

What's the one thing that Nelson's heart desires? The return of his father, who vanished in mysterious circumstances three years before.

But for ever action there is a reaction and there's always a price to pay. And what heavy prices is demanded? By the end of the next Halloween, the stranger will be dead. This gives Nelson a very short time in which he must keep to the bargain he struck with the stranger.

But that's where the story becomes interesting. Because exactly 100 years previously a local police sergeant called Caleb Fitzgerald was taking part in a desperate, but utterly vain, search to find his own son, one of four children who were snatched in the night in 1903. 

The only clue? A mysterious calling card left at each scene.

Whilst a family party is underway the journal of Sergeant Fitzgerald is discovered. Nelson is certain that he has left clues to help him unmask the presumed killer of the missing children.

Despite his motives for good, Nelson unwittingly is to set about the animation of a terrible blood feud that is 100 years old. 

It's a supernatural vendetta where past and present life will collide together with catastrophic and cataclysmic events.

It's a somewhat dark book with elements of the paranormal and psychological thriller. It will make a very good Christmas present.

It is published by The Book Guild and costs £8.99

Poetic Justice: The Inheritance

In Poetic Justice: The Inheritance by Fran Raya, readers continue to enjoy learning about the life of Randal Forbes.

Forbes has extraordinary powers that make him a very scary person indeed. He believes his extraordinary telepathic powers are "the gift." Yet others, victims of his powers, would be more likely to describe it as a curse rather than a gift.

Randal Forbes's special child has been born. The child, a result of a one time assignation with his artist Maxine Hale, is something of a bitter pill for him to swallow down.

Maxine Hale is married to Saul Curtis so she is able, at present, to pass the child off as the progeny of Curtis.  

But Maxine is all too aware of who the child's real father is. She finds the gaze of her eyes to be frightening. She is also disturbed by what she perceives as her unusual behaviour.

Forbes is protected by his constant companion and lover, Clive Hargreaves.

Fortunately or unfortunately for them, Randal's children and their mother, Alison, are completely in the dark to his true, evil nature.

But now he has the desire and need to develop the power that is growing within Roxanne, his daughter.

However, even with his special, dark powers the life of Forbes is not without risk. Because what if he were to face a challenge from someone with powers equal to his own or even stronger? Could Carlton Flint be that man? 

But there's another stunning twist in this narrative. Will I reveal it? No. To learn what it is you'll need to buy the book, it's published by The Book Guild, at £8.99.

It will make a perfect Christmas present for the lover of paranormal thrillers in your life.

The Fairy Tellers

The Fairy Tellers by Nicholas Jubber is a book that is specially significant to me. Because after many years I returned to University (University of Wolverhampton for those readers who are curious) and as part of my BA (Hons) in Creative and Professional Writing as part of my coursework I helped first year students with work they were doing on fairy-tales.

With that out of the way, please let me continue with the review of the book.

Far too many people are over eager to merely dismiss fairy tales as being only suited for children and whilst that is true, to a certain extent with some bowdlerised versions, the truth about fairy-tales is that they are often actually records of historical events. 

A careful reading of them (in context) can reveal something of how a civilisation was formed.

Nick Jubber (who you might have come across in his role as an award-winning travel writer) explores the backgrounds to the fairy-tales, their secret histories, the people who related them, the cultures in which they were formed and the landscapes that gave birth to them.

Readers will almost certainly heard of Hans Christian Anderson or the Grimm Brothers (or Brothers Grimm, if you prefer) in relation to fairy-tales. But Jubber calls attention to other tellers of fairy-tales who are long forgotten. I have to admit that I was unaware of the Wild Sisters of Cassel, or of the  Syrian storyteller Youhenna Diab. 

In fact, had not Dortchen Wild told her stories to Wilhelm Grimm, it's almost certain that these stories would probably be unknown today. A very sobering thought.

Jubber traces the origins of fairy-tales to Italy, the countries bordering on the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Forrest and even as far as the Siberian tundra and up into Lapland.

This will be a wonderful gift to anyone with an interest in fairy-tales from the academic to the person who recalls being told these stories as a child.

It is published by John Murray on Thursday 20th January.

I'm Going to Find You


In 1976 there was the longest heatwave in decades. And in I'm Going to Find You J D Pullan brings her readers the story of the disappearance of Cerys Morgan a very attractive young student. She was camping with friends and vanished without trace from a crowded Cornish beach.

Her disappearance brought about the biggest police operation of its kind at the time. But despite the assistance of hundreds of local volunteers to help in the intensive searches, not even a trace of her was ever discovered, despite the story being in the news headlines for several weeks.

But in 2010, 34 years later Emily Harrison suddenly remembers something that she had observed back in the blistering hot summer of 1976 as a young child. 

But now, as an adult, Emily realises the dreadful significance of what she had witnessed all those years ago.

She immediately goes to the police to tell them what she witnessed as a child, giving them all the details she can recall.

But will she be believed? After all, her own parents put no stock in what she told them back in 1976, so why would anyone believe her now, all these years later?

But Emily is not the kind of person who can easily let something like this go, so she becomes obsessed with finding out the truth of what happened to Cerys. after all, don't her elderly parents deserve to find out the truth at long last?

But who is sending her some rather sinister and nasty threats? Why don't they want the truth to come out? And why is her own, apparently happy life, spiralling out of control? Can Emily discover the truth before it becomes too late?

This will make a nifty Christmas present for the mystery lover in your life.

It's published by Matador at £8.99. 

Cut the Crap and Feel Amazing

Cut the Crap and Feel Amazing
is an important new book from Ailsa Frank who is a highly regarded hypnotherapist, motivational coach and self-help writer and author.

Feel as if you don't know where you are, where you should be? Or perhaps you think you know where you should be, but haven't a clue how to go from where you are to where you should be?

Have goals, dreams and aspirations but can't get motivated to reach them?

If so, then through her book Ailsa will, be able to help you get to where you deserve to be.

Everyone has negative habits, things they do (often without realising it) that hamper them in getting to live their best possible life.

In her book Ailsa helps you identify things in your life that you do, but shouldn't be doing. Or stuff that you should be doing but haven't yet got around to doing? Or perhaps they are key techniques that you hadn't even thought of?

Learn how to make small changes to your life and the way in which you think, because these small changes will help bring about the larger changes that you want to bring about.

It's published by Hay House at £10.99 and will make a fantastic Christmas present.

Dangerous Skies

Dangerous Skies
is a well-plotted novel that is set against the backdrop of the dangerous skies of World War Two London.

Not all children were evacuated to the countryside or distant Canada or Australia. Many of them remained at home, sharing the dangers of the Blitz with their families, friends and neighbours. 

Brian James' novel follows the adventures of Alan and his mates Tommy and Alan's sometime bully Wilkie bunk odd school, explore the streets of their part of London, playing in bombsites and burnt out or abandoned houses.

Whilst they are merely having fun others out on the streets have far more serious and nefarious matters on their minds and they become enmeshed into the dark world of a gang of dedicated looters.

As the police close in on the gang Alan and his schoolmates are sucked into a deadly battle for survival by an evil killer and the police.

Can they escape the clutches of the gang? Return to the relative safety of their family bomb shelters as the bombs rain down on the civilian populace of London?

This is a gripping story and aimed at children who are at Keystage 2. Always provided they can rescue it from their parents and grandparents, that is!

It's published by the Claret Press and very well illustrated by Oscar Clarke.

It costs £8.99 in paperback at

It is an ideal book for bulk purchase for schools and libraries and will make a fantastic Christmas stocking filler. 

Rufus Needs a Haircut

Rufus Needs a Haircut is a book for all lovers of shaggy dog stories from the pen of David Selby.

David has taken many shaggy dog stories and, assisted by the lock down period, has taken the time and effort to bring them to a new generation of book lovers and dog lovers.

There's the eponymous Rufus, who did, indeed, need a haircut. And what of of Britain's great heroes of yesteryear, Sir Walter Raleigh? You might be aware of his part in bringing potatoes and tobacco to the British Isles. 

But what of his search (ordered by no less a personage that Good Queen Bess) for the fabled and long lost bacon tree? Could the best ship in the Royal Navy crewed by the navy's 250 best sailors, captained by Sir Walter himself, seek out this mythical plant and bring it back home to his Queen?

Those of you old enough to know the end of this story, well, don't spoil the end of it, for the others, will you?

There's stories about prawns, the tale of the Bloody Red Night on the Bloody Red Horse. For this story at least, David Selby advises that the reader should provide their own sound effects. 

Read of a lone shark, odd doings at a library, auditions, and much, much more. And you'll be sure to admire the lovely line drawings of Katie Colquitt. 

Some of these will make you smile, smirk, guffaw or even groan. It'll be a great Chirstmas stocking filler for the lover of humorous writings in your family or circle of friends. 

 It's published by David Selby and is available from Amazon at £7.99 in paperback or £2.99 as an eBook. 

Vicious Cycle

Vicious Cycle is a very interesting book from cyclist and author Jim Rees.

It began its life as a book about a cycle race but over time it evolved and developed into a highly readable and very relatable book about the story of a life, or of life.

As well as being an outstanding athlete Jim is a highly respected executive coach and an accomplished author. When you buy this book you will see what I mean by that remark.

In his book Jim shows his readers to identify what a vicious circle is and how to avoid them.

It's a powerful and very important book that serves as something between a guidebook and a life script that readers can use to help them navigate their way through life. A sort if cycle path through the vicissitudes of life, if you will.

The following quote from Jim's book is a key part of why his book is a sure fire way of getting you were you should be: "Discovering who we are will force us to accept that we can do more than we think we can, we are only scratching the surface of our potential."

Jim has a heartfelt belief that literally every human being on the planet is "built for greatness" and that they can, potentially, be helped, encouraged and motivated to achieve this greatness.

Part memoir (learn of Jim's own struggles and his involvement in Ultra-Racing, plus how he has helped people achieve success and empowerment in his role as a life coach.

From fellow cyclists to senior executives, from athletes to health practitioners, Jim's helped many people from all walks of life. And he doesn't always charge.

The book is in hardback and is nicely illustrated with colour images.

It is published by The EI Guru Publishing at  £28.45, including £3.50 postage and packing.

This book will make an excellent Christmas gift for the cycling enthusiast and life coaching aficionado in your life. Or a great self-gift, too. 

Saturday 13 November 2021


Plague is a stunning and tightly crafted thriller from Julie Anderson.

An ancient plague pit is discovered in London. This isn't an altogether rare occurrence, but there's something special about this plague pit. It's on the route of a Tube extension and civil servant and somewhat disgraced former GCHQ investigator Cassandra Fortune is tasked with the job of overseeing the discovery of the plague pit, liaising with the archaeologists and the construction crew.

However, there's also something unexpected about this ancient burial pit. Because for the first time in 360 or so years a new corpse had been added to it. But the victim hadn't died of the plague. He had been cruelly murdered. But Cassandra noticed something about the body that becomes an important clue.

The discovery of a further murder victim, with an apparent link to Cassandra and to the Palace of Westminster, found at another plague pit site, caused her remit to be changed. She had her high security clearances reinstated and her task was now to ensure that the integrity of the government was kept sacrosanct. If at all possible.

She teams up with a senior Scotland Yard detective and together they face a maelstrom of conflicting interests as the body count rises and it becomes clear that there's a secretive, highly dangerous criminal network for which money is all, and human life is of no importance. 

But who can be trusted in their search for the truth and for justice? Is a member of the House of Lords or a Knight involved in the murders? And who else is involved?

Who is orchestrating a media campaign to whip up public fear of the threat from the plague and briefing against Cassandra and the police? And who managed to defeat the electronic security measures at Cassandra's flat? Where they looking for something or sending her a message?

Can Cassandra and the police uncover the truth before they are stopped or murdered?

This book is a must have Christmas gift for the murder mystery lovers in your life. As a confirmed mystery fan I am pleased to announce that I have found another 'must read' author in Julia Anderson.

It is published by Claret Press at £9.99 in paperback (including postage? Bargain!) or 99p in eBook format.

Gothic Ghost Stories


Gothic Ghost Stories is a new collection of ghost stories from Trevor K. Bell.

For some reason ghost stories have been popular at Christmas time since at least Victorian times. And this book will make a a fine Christmas gift for ghost story fans.

By the low light of their reading lamp, mince pies and sherry to hand as they sit before a cosy fire, they'll read of an enthusiast who buys a coveted model train. 

But would he have been so eager to make the purchase if he had known what the dealer and his wife knew about it?

There was the hotel that had once served as a waiting mortuary where the dead were taken to ensure they really were dead.

What could possibly occur to poor Mr Tulip? Who or what tickled his nose? Why was their the ringing of bells in his room all night?

Read of the fate of a tomb robber who comes across the very last person he would have wanted to meet.

There's a Doctor who has grand medical plans for both an orphan boy called Tom and for a Lord. But who will win and who will lose in the end?

Wonder about the possibilities of, ghostly apparitions, a very angry mummy,  the alternate visages of a man who, by turns, looked paternalistic or like a homicidal maniac. What did he do with his newly constructed wine cellar?

What had happened to Harold? And why did his fiancée apparently not care?

Why did the matching pair of apparently endearing French Dolls engender such feelings of dread in people caught in their proximity?

And what of the vengeful ghost of a deceased German soldier, of such a terrifying visage that the living would rather risk death by bullets from German soldiers? Would he obtain the vengeance  he was seeking?

There is also the strange case of Mad Allen, cheated of the love of his wife and of his wealth. He had pronounced a great and terrible curse against anyone who would disturb his last resting place. But surely nobody would be stupid enough to put that to the test? Would they? And if they did, what would occur? 

This is a wonderfully disturbing collection of stories that will leave a frisson of fear in the heart of the reader.

It is published by The Book Guild at £8.99.