The Green Beauty Guide

If, like me, you are at all concerned about what you're putting in and on your body for health's sake read this book.

Julie Gabriel clearly explains some of the chemicals in your beauty products, such as shampoo, moisturisers, toners and dyes. She does not push any one particular green product line nor does she come down hard on any one company of "non-green" products. Her research is backed up with studies and references to those studies so you can check them out for yourself.

The language used is simple to understand (not scientifically blinding) and the content is not too heavy for bedtime reading. There are some recipes, but it is not a recipe book. It is an expose of the beauty industry and how easily we can be drawn into their sales pitch to the detriment of our health and beauty. She also points out that some "green" companies could do better, and also what ingredients you could add to your green poducts to make them better for your skin. I like the few product reviews she has which give the good, the bad and the how can I make this better about each one.

For me this is one of the best books I picked up at a local cash and carry type store, I highly recommend it. It doesn't try to make you feel guilty about the products you use now, which I find most other "green" books have a habit of doing, it's straightforward and well laid out so you can go back and check on good and bad ingredients before you buy.

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Spell It Yourself

Spell It Yourself! is great for kids and adults alike who have trouble spelling. Each word has all possible endings, for instance if you can't remember whether "permitted" has two "t"s or one just look up permit and there's your answer.

My son finds this book invaluable for school work. There are no definitions or meanings associated with dictionaries, just straight forward spelling. Great when you don't need a definition, you know what you want to write your're just not sure of the spelling (very empowering for him). It's amazing how his spelling has improved and how much he was willing to use it. The book even includes countries, contraction, names, countries, cardinal and ordinal numbers. An excellent reference book in a handy size.

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Dirty Dog Boogie

This collection of poems will have you and your kids giggling in no time. If you like tongue twisters or nonsense poems this book is for you.

The poems aren't only about dogs, they involve children, cats, sausages, heads, laundromats and others. Fast paced poetry, in a rhythm kids will love to move to, so don't try reading this as a bedtime, settle down story.

There are cute simple illustrations all the way through and is ideal for kids in the 4 to 10 range.

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One Snowy Night

This little story is perfect for a snowy day (or even a hot day if you want to feel a little cooler). Percy the Park-Keeper is everyone's best friend and all the animals in his park love him. He treats the animals with respect and they become his best friends.

One winter night it gets so cold he receives a knock at his door, looks and sees a very cold, unhappy squirrel. And that's just the start.

All kids can relate to a warm cuddle from someone that makes them feel safe, and what kid doesn't like small furry animals, stuffed or real? The illustrations are bright watercolours and depict a rosey cheeked always smiling park-keeper. The animals are never wholly domesticated and keep a certain amount of realism (but only just) that children like and can relate to.

I love reading these to young kids, they're great for snuggling up in bed or with a hot drink and a cookie.
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Hairy Maclary Scattercat

This whole series has got to be the best I've ever read to a small child. The series is about a small scruffy looking dog and his crazy antics with his friends and the neighbourhood cats and people.

Scattercat sees Hairy Maclary on the prowl for some fun, in dog language: let's go scare a cat. However, things don't always turn out the way you expect!

If you have dogs you'll notice immediately how close these stories are to real dog behaviour and thought patterns. All the stories are written in rhyme, with a rhythm that builds slowly to a race at the end. The names of the characters involved are funny and highly descriptive. I've always found the kids can remember them with ease (my teenagers can still remember all the characters and a lot of the stories by heart). The drawings/paintings are a beautiful description of the scenes in their own right, a child can immediately see what's about to happen, so they're involved in the reading process even if they can't read yet.

A fun easy read for bedtime or cuddle time and great for getting kids to love reading.

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The Man in the Brown Suit

After Anne Beddingfield's father dies she is left a pitiful legacy to live off. Taken to London by some friends of the family to find work, she is plunged straight into the middle of a mystery when a man dies on a subway line. Who was the strange man in the brown suit who pretended to be a doctor but obviously wasn't? What did the writing on the piece of paper that fell out of his pocket mean?
Anne sets out to discover the answers to these question, and is promptly tossed into the adventure she has always dreamed of. Traveling from London to South Africa she seems to make enemies at every turn as she pretends to know nothing.
I really didn't expect this book to be as funny or as well written as it is. The main character, Anne, is very realistic; she has flaws and petty ideas as well as brains and a good education. This book is odd in the fact that it differs from other Christie books in the way that it is written, a much spunkier style than usual. The "evil baddie" was a complete suprise and even he had his good moments! The most enjoyable part was that it was all completely believable! You actually can think of the happenings and characters as existing because they are all realistic.
I would reccomend this to people over the age of 14 who want a fast paced and comical adventure.

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Homicide in Hardcover

Brooklyn Wainwright is a "book doctor", that is she specialises in fixing old "sick" books. When she takes on a badly damaged copy of Faust after the previous "doctor" dies in a pool of blood, she is aware that the book is supposedly cursed but dismisses it as just another old wives tale made up for publicity. The curse seems to be coming true, however, when people connected with the book begin to die one by one. Brooklyn is determined to find the actual killer, after all, books cannot murder people in cold blood. When she is accused of murdering her mentor, things start happening at amazing speed. If only she could stop passing out every time she sees blood perhaps she could investigate the scene before the police remove everything as evidence!
This book I really enjoyed reading. The author has a wonderful sense of humor and every sad or upsetting part was promptly followed by comic relief. There is romance in the story but it isn't at all heavy or disturbing, which was very much appreciated! I was also pleased to discover that I didn't know who-dun-it until the correct moment, when you suddenly realise that the murderer could only be that person!
A very good read, full of suspense, but probably not suitable for anyone under 14 years of age. Let's hope Kate Carlisle writes another in the series soon!

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How to train your dragon

By Cressida Cowell

This book was incredibly funny. It is about Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the III who is a Viking in training. In this book Hiccup’s first task is to get a dragon to train.

Everything goes terribly wrong when Hiccup’s fellow trainee, Fishlegs, upsets all the dragons and Hiccup (who is the son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans) gets the most common of all dragons -- a garden dragon.

I found this book particularly funny because of the names of the characters Dogsbreath, Toothless, Clueless, Snotlout and Fishlegs. With its wacky plot weird ways and nutty names it is a joy to read for any one any age.

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Sparkling Cyanide

When Iris Marle's sister Rosemary swallowed a cyanide capsule one night in a room full of people, the coroner decided it was suicide. No more thought was given to the matter until All Saint's Day, when her sister's husband dies in the same way at a party being held in honor of Iris. An investigation into the death turns up many important clues, and also many different memories which want to be forgotten. In true Agatha Christie style the plot twists and turns; you may work out who the killer is before the end but it is the journey on which you are taken that counts.

This is probably my favourite Agatha Christie book aside from "They Came To Baghdad". I really enjoy how the story is told from many different points of view, and the plot line doesn't jump around like in other books I've read based on that idea. The ending is also good in that sense; most of the book focuses on one person and in the end that person finishes the tale. A thoroughly good read and highly enjoyable.

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Aromatherapy for Dummies

Like a lot of other people I like the Dummies series, they're to the point and cover just about everything you'd need to know to get you started with whatever subject they're covering. This one is no different. It covers how essential oils are made, a little history, how aromatherapy can affect your daily life, which scents to be careful with, etc.

For beginners it may seem that there's too much information in this tome, but trust me after a trying some of the combinations you'll be hooked and want to learn as much as possible about the plants used and the methods for extracting oils. It's amazing how smell can affect the way you feel or behave. Now, if I could just find a combination to quiet my dogs' noisy, energetic play sessions.

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Natural Beauty Recipe Book

A staple book in our house for making our soaps, shampoos, face cleansers etc. Even if we don't use the base formulations we still use the scent combinations, which so far have been delightful. I just wish we had more time to relax with some of the body scrubs, bath oils and face masks. Most of our essential oils come from online sources as it is that much easier to get what you need when you live in a small town. The author wrote with organic ingredients in mind, but the recipes work well with regular ingredients.

Our dogs love it when we play with essential oils, wherever they are they come and stand beside us with their noses twitching and tails wagging. Even my husband and son have stopped complaining about the house being smelly since we tried some earthy tones. It's worth the extra effort of making your own beauty products, at least you know what's in it.

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The basic plot summary of Stormbreaker: Alex Rider’s parents died in a plane crash the year Alex was born. he was then left in the care of his uncle, Ian Rider.

Alex is now 14 and every thing seems normal until his uncle dies in a car crash.

Then Alex finds out his uncle was a spy who worked for MI6. Alex is plunged in to a world of spies, secret agents and contract killers.

The reason I liked this book so much is that it is about a spy who does not want to be a spy.

I would recommend this book to any one who likes action packed adventures. If you like the Artemis Fowl series you will definitely like this book.

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Half Moon Investigations

Fletcher Moon is twelve years old but he is no ordinary kid. He is the world’s youngest private detective. He even came top of his class. But everything goes wrong when a classmate at his school asks him to investigate a crime and his prized detective badge is stolen. To top that he is framed for a serious crime which he didn’t commit. Fletcher has to use all his skills to clear his name. I thought this was one of the best books I’ve ever read. I couldn’t put it down. I loved the ingenious plot with its twists and turns and clever clues. The characters seemed alive.

This book would appeal to any one who likes mysteries.

Eoin Colefer has also written the New York Times best selling Artemis Fowl series.

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Square Foot Gardening

If you've ever wondered how you're going to be able to grow vegetables, flowers or herbs in the tiny bit of your yard that has sun this book is pretty darn good.

I live in a forest and have fought with trees, roots, weeds and critters for years. Finally a solution that meets my needs. I had already been gardening in boxes for some veggies, but this book takes it all a step further with recommendations for soil that holds moisture, provides good nutrition and easy made covers to protect the plants from critters, sun and cold.

The plant spacing section alone has helped me plant more in my existing boxes. It all sounds so obvious when you read it, but in truth it would probably have taken me another few years to realise I could plant this way. I almost bought the previous issue of this book, but talked myself out of it. A dopey move, but at the time I didn't realise how good it was. Even the kids have got behind this, I think in part because they can see themselves making the boxes thanks to the step by step pictures and understandable shopping lists.

This book really empowers you no matter how hard up you are. Simple clear language makes it an easy read, which is really important to me as I don't have a lot of time between training dogs homeschooling 2 teens and running a couple of home businesses.

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Artistic Fitness

I found this book whilst helping my son look for Manga drawing books. Both of us are avid artists, but just lately I've found myself with an artistic block on pencil drawing. This little book has helped get me over that hurdle by taking away the need to look for inspiration in the things around me.

A bit like a physical fitness workout routine the exercises are laid out for you with just enough guidelines that it leaves you with a free will to make mistakes that you can correct by going back over the exercise and not having the pressure that the squirrel moved at the crucial point. I can take this book anywhere with just a couple of pencils and a small art pad. I've taken it to the hospital waiting for an appointment, to my kids soccer games, waiting rooms, even to bed and completed a drawing just before going to sleep. OK, it's my way of relaxing.

It has all sorts of subjects for different personalities fruit to cars to mythology. I've actually drawn things I would never have touched and surprised myself at how much I liked drawing fantasy creatures. And that block, well it's not gone yet , but it is fading slowly.

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The Photoshop Elements X Book

If you have a digital camera, you need Adobe Photoshop to get the best from it.

But if (like me) you can't afford the full version of Photoshop, Adobe's Photoshop Elements is the next best thing.

And if you use Photoshop Elements, then you should look at this book. It will definitely change the way you think and use Photoshop.

Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski provide a comprehensive how to guide which unapologetically does not waste space covering the basics of digital photography (as covered in too many other books). Instead it starts from the assumption that the photograph is taken, and that your mission is to turn that photograph into a masterpiece. It provides straightforward and easy-to-follow instructions on how to correct and crop your photographs, perform digital darkroom techniques such as dodging and burning, fix colors and flesh tones, remove blemishes, compensate for distortion and vignetting, and so on.

Adobe's online help files and tutorials were good, but they really didn't help me figure out all the things I could do with Photoshop Elements. This book has saved me countless hours and helped me get the best out of the product.

(These books get updated with  every version of Photoshop Elements - they don't change much so if you don't mind slightly out-of-date screenshots, getting one for a previous version is significantly cheaper.)

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