Cookbooks: February 2017


Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, the recent weather here in the UK has been cold and miserable. This sort of weather calls for some hearty, comforting recipes so I tried these:

Leek & Potato Soup
Save with Jamie – Bonus Recipes – Page 263

A simple and easy to make recipe that serves two, although I doubled up on all the ingredients to make sure I would have extra portions to freeze. I served it as suggested with toast and a poached egg on top, which made for a filling and warming week day meal.


Rich Beef and Ale Casserole
Hairy Dieters 1 – Stews – Page 106

Using lean meat and only one tbsp. oil, Dave and Si have created this healthier version of a classic stew. Not having a large enough pot made this a little fiddly for me to make, however it was well worth it because it was delicious. Serve alone or with leeky mash, yum!


Turkey Chilli
Hairy Dieters 3 – Family Favourites – Page 48

I love these guys’ regular chilli recipe and I now regularly make it, so I decided to try this turkey version with chipotle paste in for a change. It was simple to make and it made for a delicious change.


Over the month, I have also re-made The Hairy Biker’s scrumptious Chilli Con Carne, Red Lentil and Bacon Soup and Very Easy Thai Chicken and Coconut Curry .

Then in contrast to those big hearty dishes, I had a go at making my own hummus:

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Hairy Dieters 1 – Lunchboxes & Snacks – Page 197

I love hummus but bought pots can be really high in fat and salt, so I was thrilled when I spotted this recipe. There is a few steps to making this: preparing the peppers, onion, chilli and spices, however then it is whizzed altogether with the chickpeas in a food processor. Serve with vegetable sticks or, as I like, on top of a rice cake…or two.


Again, I am really pleased with all the recipes I have tried over the last month. I also have new-to-me cookbooks: Jamie’s 30-minute Meals By Jamie Oliver and Plant Based Cookbook by Trish Sebben-Krupka still to read.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

What cookbooks are you reading? Have you tried any new recipes?

New Read: The Servant Queen


Last year, I went to a special service and tea party at a local church to celebrate the 90th birthday of our Queen Elizabeth II, where I received a free copy of The Servant Queen by Mark Greene & Catherine Butcher; a unique tribute published by Bible Society, HOPE and The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC).

The Servant Queen – and the King She Serves is a short and interesting look into the life and reign of Elizabeth II and her strong Christian faith that has helped her to serve her people all her adult life, with an amazing consistency of character; a touching concern for others and a honest dependence on Christ. Which means this book had a double appeal for me as I am a Royalist, with a strong affection for our queen, and I am also a practicing Christian.

There are chapters on: the secret of her long successful reign; her piece in ‘The King’s Speech’; her coronation and the vows she made; her working service; the celebrities and leaders she has met; her Christmas speeches, where she finds strength against adversity and the more fun side to her personality. All of which contain beautiful photographs; inspiring quotes about the queen and from herself; and examples of poetry, art and parables that have inspired her.

As soon as I received this I placed it on my bedside table ready to start immediately, but sadly it sat there for a long time because for one reason or another longer Christian and other non-fiction works took up my time. When I did finally start reading it though, in early February, I was instantly hooked and read it in just two short sittings! I found it to be an utterly charming read for a Royalist and an inspiring read for a practicing Christian.

Overall, The Servant Queen was a quick, interesting and inspiring read – my only niggle would be that I wanted more! Good read.

Have you read this? Any recommendations of other books about the Queen?

Top Ten Tuesday: Disappointing Books


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would

I am going to have to go with books I loved less than I thought I would because I wouldn’t start reading a book if I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it, so a lot harder to think of books then that a love more than I thought. Here is my list of ten books I was a little disappointed with:

~ 1 ~

The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman

I loved Northern Lights; I loved The Subtle Knife and while I enjoyed the third book, it did get a bit bogged down in the theological debate for me.

~ 2 ~

The Dark Tower VII by Stephen King

This is an epic seven book series which I loved, then I got to the warning one chapter from the end of the final book. My gut instinct was to stop reading as warned but my dad urged me on…I should have stopped!

~ 3 ~

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Being set in the roaring twenties, I thought this was a dead set for me loving but I found the characters just too unlikable to love it.

~ 4 ~

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling

Don’t get me wrong I adore this series, however when I first read this book I was really annoyed with how moody and whiney Harry is.

~ 5 ~

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

After being blown away by The Time Traveler’s Wife, I had very high expectations for this one…which was perhaps its downfall.

~ 6 ~

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Controversial choice I know! I loved the gothic setting and the beautiful writing, but sadly I found Jane’s self-deprecating behaviour really annoying.

~ 7 ~

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Similar to His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, I loved The Hunger Games, I loved Catching Fire and while I enjoyed the final book in this trilogy, it lost the impetus and structure of the previous books.

~ 8 ~

The Shack by William Paul Young

This book started so well for me then I reached the big reveal…and most frustrating of all is I can’t tell you why I was disappointed because that would ruin the surprise for you!

~ 9 ~

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

This book suffered from not living up to the film for me which I watched first, where was Captain Shakespeare?!

~ 10 ~

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

I loved the magical and more adult Oz that Maguire created but I found the story a bit too political for me.

What books disappointed you? Also, please link in the comments if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic too.

New Books: February 2017


Hello my fellow bookworms, here are the goodies I have added to my Kindle and bookshelf recently:

Seven Stages by Geoffrey Trease

The Girl in the Glass Tower by Elizabeth Fremantle

This month, my acquisitions started slowly with me making just two requests to Netgalley. First, for Geoffrey Trease’s history Seven Stages which I couldn’t resist as I love all things to do with performing and the theatre. Then having loved Elizabeth Fremantle’s Sisters of Treason, I just have to give her newer novel The Girl in the Glass Tower a go.

The Lady of the Rivers

The White Queen

The Red Queen

The Kingmaker’s Daughter

by Philippa Gregory

Then I managed to triple my acquisitions with one single trip to The Works where I found all of Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War series, which I have long wanted to read, in the 3 for £5 deal. To complete the deal I also got my dad copies of Zom-B Baby by Darren Shan and Mr Murder by Dean Koontz.

Do you fancy any of these? What new books did you got this month?

New Read: The Early Life of Anne Boleyn


Through out my life, I have had a fascination with the Tudors and as an adult I have been particularly interested in the figures of Elizabeth I and her mother Anne Boleyn. So when I saw Endeavour Press had reprinted J. H. Round’s The Early Life of Anne Boleyn: A Critical Essay (originally published in 1886) I hit request immediately!

Like many people, I knew the infamous rise of Anne Boleyn in the Tudor court where she soon caught the eye of Henry VIII, who went on to break with the Holy Roman church to make her his new wife and queen. Unfortunately for Anne her fall from grace and death came just as fast as her rise! What interested me so much in this book was the chance to find out more about her childhood and early life; the time before the well known events. In his essay Round discusses and compares thoughts on: her possible dates of birth; whether she was the younger or older sister; her previous marriage interests and whether she was the Boleyn girl who went to the French court.

While I found this all very interesting, I was disappointed that this really is ‘a critical essay’ rather than a history of Anne Boleyn. Instead of laying the events and facts out to the reader as they happened, Round introduces other historians beliefs on these events and facts then argues for and against them using letters from the time and other historians discoveries. At first I found this all rather confusing especially as I have little to no previous knowledge of this period or the historians he was talking about. I’m afraid I had always took it as fact that Anne was the younger sister and that she was the daughter that was sent to the French court!

So in one respect I did learn a fair bit from this book but it was hard going at the beginning and in hindsight I really would have benefited from having more existing knowledge. I also think Round’s writing style really shows it’s age (to be fair it was written in the late 1800’s) and I found it very matter of fact, with no personal or emotional additions to bring the history alive. Plus there are copious amounts of footnotes – which if you’re a student or an avid history reader you may find very helpful and interesting – but for me, just an interested regular reader, it was all a bit too much. However most of these are more my problems than the author’s, who clearly wrote this for other scholars and educated amateurs of the time.

Overall, I found The Early Life of Anne Boleyn: A Critical Essay to be an interesting and quick read. But it was not the book I was looking for and I would say I was not the intending audience either. Okay read.

Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Can you recommend any histories of Anne Boleyn?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Literary Couples


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

All About Romance Tropes/Types

I am not a huge romance fan as a genre in its own right, but there are a fair few romances I have enjoyed within other genres. So here are my top ten favourite literary couples (listed alphabetically):

~ 1 ~

Bathsheba and Gabriel
Far From the Madding Crowd

I had to pick poor Gabriel who faithfully loves Bathsheba through out this harrowing tale and finally she wises up.

~ 2 ~

Daenerys and Drogo
A Song of Ice and Fire

In this bloody, fantasy epic these two show that even in an arranged marriage real affection can grow.

~ 4 ~

Eowyn and Faramir
The Lord of the Rings

I could have picked another more well known couple from this epic, however I have particular soft spot for these two and their overlooked romance.

~ 5 ~

Emma and Knightly

I had so many couples from Austen’s wonderful books to choose from – I went for these two as it is so funny and sweet when they finally realise they have loved each other all along!

~ 5 ~

Dracula and Mina

How could I not choose these two when their love has outlasted hundreds of years and even death?!

~ 6 ~

Katniss and Peeta
The Hunger Games

While I am not all that keen on the love triangle in this series – I am of the firm belief it should always have been these two together.

~ 7 ~

Lupin and Tonks
Harry Potter

There are also many couples I could have picked from this long series, however I have a soft spot for these two as they had to overcome a lot to get together and then it all has such a bittersweet ending.

~ 8 ~

Roland and Susan
The Dark Tower

A young, innocent love affair that has heart breaking and lasting consequences. Roland would never have been the same without her.

~ 9 ~

Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet

No literary couples list would be complete without Shakespeare’s infamous and ill-fated star-crossed lovers of Verona.

~ 10 ~

Tris and Four

Refreshingly this young adult series doesn’t have a love triangle and these two are sweet together, even when they disagree.

Who are your favourite literary couples? Also, please link your post in the comments if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic too.

New Read: Faith and Moonlight


Last year, I read and enjoyed four of Mark Gelineau’s & Joe King’s novellas from two threads of their fantasy series, Echo of the Ascended. So much so I didn’t wait long into this year to continue my reading with Faith and Moonlight; the first novella in a third thread of their epic series.

Previously I have read about Elinor a brave orphan girl who rose to be the King’s Reaper; in the A Reaper of Stone thread. Also, I have read about another orphan Alys, who is a hardened survivor of the dangerous, poverty-stricken underworld of the capital city; in the Best Left in the Shadows thread. Turns out these orphans all originally knew each other and this novella takes the reader back in time to the tragic fire at their orphanage which saw them separated and scattered across the kingdom.

In Faith and Moonlight, we are introduced to teenage orphans Roan and Kay. Who have been torn from the only home and family they’ve ever known, after a terrible fire destroyed their orphanage and killed most of it’s inhabitants. Now, Roan and Kay are journeying together to the city with hopes and dreams of entering the prestige School of Faith to train to become a legendary Razor. However, on arrival they are given just one month to prove their worth by passing the entry trial of pushing past the veil and touching the magical power within. Failure will mean an end to all their dreams and the prospect of life out in the cold, dark and dangerous world alone.

Unlike the previous novellas I have read, Roan and Kay are not grown up orphans but instead they are still young, naïve and vulnerable. This gives the reader the opportunity to watch them grow and, hopefully, follow their path to success like their fellow orphans Elinor and Alys. It also cleverly gives Gelineau’s and King’s series a young adult thread. Ronan and Kay are very close to each other and have promised to face everything together. Yet on arrival they find themselves divided, as Roan excels in his training Kay desperately struggles to keep up. I really liked them both and found myself willing them on, particularly poor Kay.

Like previous threads this new one gave me a view of another area/side to the kingdom of Aedaron. First, I was taken out onto the wild Marshlands; then I was taken to the dark, seedy Lowside; while this took me to the beautiful and serene School of Faith – a place of peace, education, power and history, with its marble buildings and lush green grass, where there is the opportunity for fame and glory if Roan and Kay are allowed to stay! I enjoyed having this pleasant and safe setting however don’t get thinking this means there is nothing scary. Just outside the gates the bustling, dangerous world threatens and Kay is terrified of going back there.

Overall, I thought Faith and Moonlight was another highly enjoyable young adult thread to this epic fantasy series and I look forward to reading Faith and Moonlight 2 soon! Good read.

Thank you to the authors for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or any of the other Echo of the Ascended novellas?