Book Review: Shepherd’s Prayer by Katja Willemsen

20 10 2012

I have recently read Shepherd’s Prayer, a Kindle eBook by Katja Willemsen. I reviewed it on Amazon but thought I’d post it here too.

From reading the synopsis, I was under the impression that this would be a thrill-a-minute, somewhat sensationalist adventure and not really my kind of book. From the outset it was clear I was wrong.

While it is fairly fast-paced, there were so many opportunities for the author to take the easy way out with the obvious “the lights came on, the police rushed in and we all went home for tea” ending, which never came. The characters are completely plausible and very well-developed and, while the story is exciting and has you wanting to keep on turning those ‘pages’, some important themes are addressed in an accessible way.

It’s a very interesting combination of adventure and a bit more. It punches well above the weight one might expect from the synopsis, in terms of depth, characters, plot and style. Definitely worth a read.





Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie

28 07 2011

I am actually rather enjoying the Sherlock series running on the BBC at the moment. They’ve done quite a good job of updating it, but the spirit of it is quite true to the original. Good fun.

I’ve been reading an Agatha Christie, The Secret Adversary, on my phone. There are some really quite amazingly racist, sexist and classist statements in it. Seeing how mainstream views like that were so recently does serve to remind how far we’ve comein a relatively short time. Still a good way to go, of course, but there’s always room for improvement in everything.

I’ve been playing round a bit with a few of the apps I downloaded the other day. I cropped and tweaked this picture in Photoshop Express.

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Old books

18 05 2011

I’ve just happened upon The Accomplisht Cook, OR THE ART & MYSTERY OF COOKERY, which was first printed in 1685. While much of the contents is a little more than I’d be willing to attempt (“Make the likeness of a Ship in Paste-board, with Flags and Streamers, the Guns belonging to it of Kickses“), I am thoroughly pleased with the headings in the section on “Directions for the order of carving Fowl“. I have reproduced the headings below. They strike me as the kind of thing that I could accidentally learn by heart and be caught secretly chanting as I work.

Lift that Swan
Rear the Goose
To cut up a Turkey or Bustard
Dismember that Hern
Unbrace that Mallard
Unlace that Coney
Sauce that Capon
Allay that Pheasant
Wing that Partridg
Wing that Quail
Display that Crane
Dismember that Hern
Unjoynt that Bittern
Break that Egript
Untach that Curlew
Untach that brew
Unlace that Coney
Break that Sarcel
Mince that Plover
A Snite
Thigh that Woodcock

On a slightly less excitable note, I rather like the look of THE COOKING MANUAL OF PRACTICAL DIRECTIONS FOR ECONOMICAL EVERY-DAY COOKERY by Juliet Corson, printed in 1877. It is sub-titled “How well can we live, if we are moderately poor?” and there are chapters on “cheap dishes” with and without meat. The recipes are straight-forward, easy to follow and sound tasty. Quite a few of the cheap meat dishes are made from things it’s not easy to get hold of post-BSE, but some of them are viable as-is and substitutions could be made in many of the others.

Taking a much-more-modern tack, I’ve been enjoying reading The 1940s Experiment and am hoping to try out some of those recipes too, particularly the mock cream.





Free stuff

12 05 2011

Freecycle

Just in case anyone hasn’t come across it, I thought I’d make a quick mention of Freecycle. Here’s the description from the Freecycle website:

Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,944 groups with 8,449,161 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!

Free Books

Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few people looking for books in my local Freecycle group. I find that I have more books than I can possibly read available for free, so I thought it would be worth sharing that information too.

Local libraries

Until recently, I hadn’t visited a public library in 10-15 years. I was very much impressed by the quality of service on offer. I was registered and issued with a card and PIN very quickly, which allows me to use the reference library, withdraw books, DVDs, CDs, audio books etc, access the catalogue from home and request books, extend loans and make suggestions for new resources. I can also now log in to the e-Library and download e-Books and audio books in a variety of formats for a range of devices.

Google Books

Google Books offer quite a range of e-Books. Some are free and some paid. They can be downloaded or read online.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg offers over 33,000 e-Books to read online or download in a range of file formats. There are also human- and computer-read audio books. Additionally, there is a range of digitised sheet music, although this project is currently dormant.

Librivox.org

Librivox.org has just under 4,000 audio books available for download. The books have been read by volunteers and can be downloaded as MP3 or ogg vorbis files.

verkaro.org

verkaro.org is another site with free audio books. It is run by a group based in Mexico.

loudlit.org

loudlit.org is another free audio book site.

Technology

It seems to have become standard that people expect to have to pay for computer software. In fact, there is a vast array of free software available, ranging from computer operating systems to smartphone apps.

Linux

According to wikipedia:

Linux […] refers to the family of Unix-like computer operating systems using the Linux kernel. Linux can be installed on a wide variety of computer hardware, ranging from mobile phones, tablet computers and video game consoles, to mainframes and supercomputers. Linux is a leading server operating system, and runs the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world.

What does that mean? It means that, rather than paying for Windows or Mac OS on your computer, you can run a free Linux operating system instead. Linux tends to be less resource-hungry than other operating systems and can give an older computer, struggling to run the latest version of Windows, a new lease of life. As it is less widely-used, there tend to be fewer virus targetting it than Windows and updates are issued frequently due to the fact that it’s community-driven and people all around the world are contributing.

Personally, I run Ubuntu on my laptop. From beginning the installation, my laptop was up and running and connected to the internet within two hours. I didn’t need to install hardware drivers once the operating system was installed – it was just ready to go. I have not found anything that I have been unable to do with it.

openoffice.org

openoffice.org is a free suite of office applications, compatible with the pricey Microsoft Office. It is also very useful for recovering corrupt Microsoft Office documents, which Microsoft products can no longer open.

Security

Free anti-virus, anti-malware, firewalls and anti-spyware software are available, negating the need for expensive and resource-intensive products such as Norton Internet Security.








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