Newest Lifestyle Reviews

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Allotments (Britain's Heritage Series) by Twigs Way

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Allotments came about originally from the enclosure of land, primarily for sheep pasture. Fearing that the enclosures would leave peasants unable to feed themselves, Elizabeth I issued an act requiring all new cottages to have four acres of ground, something which has been honoured more by history than by Elizabeth's contemporaries. It was the first in a long line of legislation with that aim in mind - which largely failed to achieve their aims. Full review...

The Anxiety-Elimination System by Nicos Nicolaou

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Nick Nicolau suffered a major panic attack and was told by his doctor that he would need medication to control the attacks and that there wasn't much more that he could do - apart that was, from going home to sleep. The next morning he had another attack which he could neither stop nor control and before long was having panic attacks every day and developed generalised anxiety and phobias. After a great deal of work and research he discovered how to control his anxiety - and now he helps others to do the same. No one is born with a chemical imbalance in the brain and genes do not determine behaviour. The proof of the efficacy of his system is that through the course of a particularly challenging life event - his divorce - he didn't slip back into inappropriate anxiety. Full review...

Eat With Pleasure by Akon Margaret Kalu

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When you think about a certified nutrition coach you probably imagine someone who is going to be very strict with you about what you should or shouldn't be eating. You visualise someone who will insist that you eat worthy (and probably tasteless) food and completely avoid those foods which you really love. Gone will be the bar of chocolate and possibly even the mug of coffee which gets you going in the morning. It was particularly refreshing and something of a relief to encounter Akon Margaret Kalu - certified nutrition coach and food blogger at www.therealakon.co.uk. She's outspoken. She believes that the occasional treat does you no harm so long as you don't make it a regular habit. In fact you're better having a small, occasional, indulgent snack than resisting and finally giving into cravings and binging. In other words, she lives in the real world with the rest of us imperfect beings. Full review...

Say Yes to New Opportunities! by Ruth Pearson

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Ruth Pearson was deputy head of her school and was studying for a Masters degree when she suffered an emotional breakdown as a result of the stresses of the job. The breakdown was so severe that she was afraid to return to the classroom, but rather than sitting back and letting the circumstances overwhelm her she allowed what had happened to become a catalyst which would help her to change her life. In Say Yes to New Opportunities she shares what she learned from the experience. To come back from this situation requires strength, honesty and a sense of purpose, all of which Pearson demonstrates quite clearly throughout this book. Full review...

Confessions of Modern Women by Spadge Whittaker

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She's back! Huzzah! Do you remember when Spadge Whittaker faced her (and our) deepest fears? We loved the way she did that. EXCEPT FOR THE SPIDERS.

This time, Spadge has turned her attention to what it means to be a modern woman in twenty-first century, digital Britain. Full review...

Tiny Campsites: 80 Perfect Little Places to Pitch by Dixe Wills

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I've often been put off the idea of camping by the thought of large, soul-less campsites, often populated by people who want to party late into the night. I much prefer camping to mean something - a feeling of being somewhere special, of being able to be at one with nature. But the trouble is, where do you find these gems? Well, Tiny Campsites will provide you with eighty perfect little places to pitch your tent. Full review...

Dress (with) sense: The Practical Guide to a Conscious Closet by Redress

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Not too long ago I didn't have any problems with clothes. They were just about all black and I wore them until they dropped off my back - and then I used what I could of the material for other purposes. I had this lovely little clothes shop in Ilkley (it says 'Oxfam' over the door) when I needed to restock. Clothes were simple. Then I encountered the lovely Numba Pinkerton and suddenly I had colour in my life: not all of it could be had from Oxfam. Sometimes I might even be buying new clothes. I needed help and more advice, because it really isn't as simple as just walking into the nearest department store. Full review...

The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr Elissa Epel

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I have lived my life determined not to age: I see nothing aspirational in the dependence of old age, whether it be on other people, government in all its forms or the NHS. I'm prepared to put effort into this: it's not the cosmetic image of youth I seek, but rather the ability to do as I do now - running a business, regularly walking for miles in our glorious countryside and enjoying life - for as long as possible. So far it's working out, but what else could I do and why does this work for some people and not for others? Full review...

Living With Depression by Nick Weatherhogg

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Nick Weatherhogg has been diagnosed as suffering from severe depression. Many of you will be nodding wisely and thinking that you know how he feels: but there are two points he wants to make here. You don't know how he feels. This is his depression and only he knows what it feels like - if he's able to think or express how he's feeling. The other point is that there's a big difference between feeling depressed and being depressed - fepression and bepression as he terms them. He's right: I've been there. My feelings, my experience will have been different, but I do know that it was hellish. He describes the experience as a mental state in which your brain regularly and consistently lies to you. Full review...

Web to Success by Jo Bird

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Jo Bird (illustrator, designer and… errr.. .wall tattooist) had a lightbulb moment about positive thinking, self-improvement and success. The road to an improved self isn't linear in a 'change this thing and all will be fine' way; it's a web that connects and intersects several paths and subjects that can be summarised under three headings. All successful people (socially as much as professionally) know about self-awareness, personal development and emotional awareness. After having a shot at principles of self-improvement herself, Jo shares the fruit of her experience across a wealth of fields to make one heck of a self-help book. Full review...

Vietnamese Voices by Mary Ellen Guiney

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Mary Ellen Guiney has been diagnosed at various times with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. The resulting treatment of choice is the conventional western medicine approach and drug regimens that brought with them unpleasant side-effects. Determined to find a better way of symptom control, using her biochemical background, Mary Ellen begins to investigate alternative eastern medicine and therapies in addition to looking at the effect of nutrition and exercise. The results are here: this is Mary Ellen's story written in her own words. Full review...

My Brain Is Out Of Control by Patrick Mbaya

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Dr Patrick Mbaya was enjoying life as a consultant psychiatrist, husband and father. His career was going well and he enjoyed making ill people better. His marriage was solid and fulfilling and his two children were exploring their potential, often through the uplifting power of music. Life was good. But then... Full review...

Lean Gains by Jonathan S Lee

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I don't often begin a book by telling you what it isn't but in this case I think it's important. If you're a fairly sedentary person or a casual sportsman or woman looking to shed a few pounds then you won't get the best out of this book. You'll find some good advice about diet, but I'm afraid that much of it is going to go over your head. Of course you could always take up a sport seriously... On the other hand, if you are a serious sportsman then you could find that the advice in Lean Gains could lift you up to the next level of performance. Full review...

Hollywood Beauty: Vintage Secrets by Laura Slater

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I have vivid memories from my youth of seeing the Hollywood beauties on the television or at the cinema and wishing that I could look like that and - of course, no matter how I tried, I never could. The look of Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Ava Gardner and Sofia Loren always eluded me. To begin with, I lacked knowledge. Despite being reasonably petite my oblong face was never going to look anything like Audrey Hepburn's. I lacked quite a few of Brigitte Bardot's attributes too. Gradually, I realised that developing my own style was the best way to go, but I'll confess that there are still elements of the stars' looks which I'd love to copy. That's where Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty comes in. Full review...

A Food Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure: 6 Simple Steps by Yuchi Yang

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Yuchi Yang has been a registered dietitian for over twenty years and she's allowing us the benefit of her knowledge to help us to reduce our blood pressure without taking medication, although she does stress that if you are taking medication you shouldn't stop doing so without consulting your doctor. You can reduce your BP in six steps, which are actually a lot simpler than they sound. Does it work? Yes, it does: I've been eating this way for more than two years and I've gone from having 'very worrying' blood pressure readings to getting a smile when they're taken and being told that my BP is perfectly normal - and that's without taking medication of any sort. Full review...

The Mock Olympian by Michael Long

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It started with an idle conversation just before the 2012 London Olympics: Michael Long's friend Sarah gave him a book as part of his birthday present. It was Time Out's guide to the history of the Olympics and it covered each of the summer Olympics in chronological order from the inaugural games in Athens in 1896. Sarah's boyfriend James commented that with all the running Michael did, he'd probably have run in most of the Olympic cities. Although Long had done a goodly number of runs, bike rides and triathlons he'd only competed in two of the twenty three cities - London and Athens. Now most of us would have left it at that, but that's not the Michael Long you're going to come to know and love. He saw it as a challenge and what's more he blogged about it and then wrote this book. Full review...

The No Black Project by Numba Pinkerton

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I don't like shopping for clothes, but there's no valid reason why. I'm small, but reasonably slim - a size 10 petite usually fits me perfectly - and I'm lucky to be able to afford to buy whatever clothes I want. The trouble is that I lack the confidence to know what is going to suit me and to be honest it's very difficult to get excited about a trip which will almost certainly end up with another pair of smart black trousers and a matching top. I never feel that I look particularly good in black, but I've resorted to it because it can usually take me anywhere and is unlikely to cause offence. So, how did I feel when I was given a copy of The No Black Project? Well, to be honest, I felt a little scared... Full review...

101 Things To Do When You're Not Drinking by Robert Short

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If you're thinking about giving up alcohol long term, short term or for Dry January then you might be wondering if it's going to leave one helluva hole in your social life. You might be thinking about what you'll do with the time you normally spend out socialising (just having a quick one before you get the train home...) as well as the time you spend recovering from having had just one too many the night before. Sunday mornings will loom large as uncharted and largely unknown territory. Robert Short has a few answers for you - well 101 of them in fact - in a pocket-size book which should give you some inspiration. Full review...

Keep Your Brain Stronger for Longer by Tonia Vojtkofsky

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On the front of the book it says that our brains need a well-rounded workout just like our bodies. A decade or two ago I wouldn't have given very much thought to this - my body and my brain seemed to get all the workout they needed without me adding to their burdens, but close on the beginning of my eighth decade I've noticed something. I keep losing words: nothing major, you know, but this morning I couldn't remember the name of a flower which I hadn't seen since this time last year - until about half an hour later, when, of course it was no longer relevant. When you're young you don't worry about what you'll suffer from in old age. As you get older you develop dreads and one of the biggest for people who are still hale and hearty is that they'll develop dementia. Full review...

Beloved Old Age and What to Do About it: Margery Allingham's the Relay by Margery Allingham and Julia Jones

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We remember Margery Allingham as a novelist from the golden age of crime, perhaps not as famous as Agatha Christie or Dorothy L Sayers but certainly well regarded by those who appreciate good writing and excellent plotting. Her last completed book was not a novel but The Relay, a combined account of caring for three elderly relatives, (Em, Maud and Grace) between 1959 and 1961 and suggestions as to how other people might achieve a good old age for their relatives. Margery died in 1966 and The Relay was never published in the form in which it was written. Full review...

Cigarette Lighter (Object Lessons) by Jack Pendarvis

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I have a favourite cigarette lighter. That sentence may become more strange to you when you consider the fact that I have never smoked. I don't know how but I got it as a freebie donkey's years ago, and I loved its curvy bronzed lines, and the fact that I had to click down on a button instead of rub against a flint-wheel to light it. I optimistically took it with me at uni in case I found a girl good enough to be with even though she smoked (which took almost another twenty years, but that's a different story) – therefore I was carrying something so evidently not a match as a potential match-maker. Later, its semi-art deco styling made it perfect for a play I was in once, after which it dried up. Now it's more or less a paperweight. But if I can imbue such personal relevance in a bleeding fag lighter, just think what all of culture can do? Full review...

Bookshelf (Object Lessons) by Lydia Pyne

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Could you imagine a whole book dedicated to a single lump of wood, or a few sections of metal? I can't assume it would be great – with or without said item being an object with physical, historical and psychological components. But shove some distorted tree by-products on to said wood or metal, and lo and behold you have a bookshelf. Now you're talking – but could you even now imagine a whole book dedicated to it? Full review...

Peace of Mind: A Book of Calm for Busy Mums by Georgina Rodgers

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The promise of a book bringing me calm was too much to resist! There it is, in the title, my job description (busy mum...well, that's just one of my jobs!) and that elusive state that many mums seem to be trying to find, peace of mind. I have to say, I was looking forward to some insightful revelations into changing my life. I think the problem, however, was quickly apparent in that like a busy mum, who is trying to wear a hundred masks at the same time, and carry out a multitude of roles, this book isn't entirely sure what it's trying to be, with everything from poetry and colouring to mindfulness and recipes. Full review...

The Essential Guide to Your Prep School Journey (Head Teacher in Your Pocket) by Merinda D'Aprano

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As you might have gathered from the title, The Essential Guide to Your Prep School Journey is pitched at parents who intend on using the private sector to educate their children. And clearly, these are the parents who will benefit most from reading the book. However, there is a great deal of general advice within its pages which will prove helpful even to parents whose children will be travelling through the state sector. So if this is you, don't discount this book immediately. Such advice includes Why is reading so important?, How can I promote a brave learner? and Is the internet safe for my child? - you can see that these are universally applicable topics and topics that all parents appreciate advice about. Full review...

Winnie-the-Pooh's Little Book Of Wisdom by A A Milne and E H Shepard

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For a Bear of Very Little Brain Winnie-the-Pooh talks an awful lot of sense and we should be honoured that he's chosen to share with us a few of his wise words. You see, occasionally (well, an awful lot of the time, if we're honest) we look for wisdom in the wrong places and forget about those who have a very simple approach to life and who may well have discovered the secret of happiness. Pooh's take on life is very simple and none the worse for that. Full review...

One Second Ahead: Enhance Your Performance at Work with Mindfulness by Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter and Gillian Coutts

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Have you ever worked at a task and found your mind wandering to something else? Do you find yourself breaking off what you're doing to answer an email? Do you try to multitask, thinking that you're being more efficient? Do you have far too much to attend to, to complete and nowhere near enough time to do it all?

You do? Me too. You need this book. Full review...

How to Sound Cultured by Thomas W Hodgkinson and Hubert van den Bergh

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Sometimes it can be hard to run with the big dogs, and while I know the names to drop in my field of work, some wider cultural references can pass me by. This is especially true for those from before my time and so I was delighted to find icons from all decades and centuries featured in this book. Badged as the 250 names that intellectuals love to drop into conversation this book features quotes and biographical titbits covering big names from every sector – science, the arts, philosophy. Full review...

Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much by Tony Crabbe

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Serendipity often brings you to the important books. Recently I heard myself say to a friend: I'm far too busy to do some of the important stuff. It pulled me up short: there was definitely something wrong here - and then I had the opportunity to listen to an audio download of Busy and I knew that it was something I had to do and take notice of if I was to stop going backwards. Because that was what I was doing. Full review...

Walking on Sunshine: 52 Small Steps to Happiness by Rachel Kelly and Jonathan Pugh

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How would you like 52 tips on how to be happier? No this isn't an offer to sign up to a dodgy website - it's a small book which you could pop into a bag and which will give you tips, tools and positive idea about how you can make your life happier, less complicated and more fulfilling. Open it at random, if that's what you feel like doing, or work your way through it reading one tip per week - they're helpfully divided into the four seasons - and savour just a couple of pages of elegant writing which will give you something to think about or something positive to do (or not do - if you see what I mean). Full review...