Cookbooks: March 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, sadly March has turned out to be an equally cold month to the previous two, so warming, comfort food has still been called for! With that in mind I gave these new recipes a go:

White Bean and Tuna Fishcakes
The Hairy Dieters (4) Fast Food by Si King & Dave Myers
Fuller Faster – Page 93

Loving fishcakes I just had to try this tasty take on the classic tuna and white bean combo. Although my mixture was a little too wet these were simple to make, conveniently with tinned tuna and beans, and turned out well. Due to the cold weather, I served them with potatoes, greens and parsley sauce, but I could see these being great with salad in summer too. Good recipe.

Curried Cauliflower Coconut Soup
Plant Based Cookbook by Trish Sebben-Krupka
Soups and Stews – Page 85

A creamy cauliflower and coconut soup accented with warm spices, which with its bright flavours was perfect to cook up after a long, cold day. My dad and I indulged in two bowls and still had plenty to freeze for future warming work lunches. I will definitely be making this again. Great recipe.

One-Pan Lamb Roast With Gravy
The Hairy Dieters (2) Eat For Life by Si King & Dave Myers
Family Favourites – Page 68

One Sunday for my dad, granddad and myself, I rustled up this easy one-tray roast dinner, which consists of lamb cutlets topped with mint sauce and cooked nestled within a tray of roughly chopped new potatoes, root vegetables, courgettes and onions. I popped it in the oven and about 45 minutes later I had a delicious, healthy family roast. I will definitely be making this again. Great recipe.

Veggie Bolognese
Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver
Pasta & Risotto – Page 170

As we love a Bolognese in my family, I thought I would try this vegetarian alternative that switches minced meat for copper-rich and fibre-tastic green lentils. Although I don’t think this will be replacing my favourite rich meaty Bolognese, it was tasty and surprisingly still rich. It will be perfect to make when my vegetarian best friend comes round. Good recipe.

That is four new recipes tried over the month. I also remade The Hairy Dieter’s comforting A Big Soup (Book 2); All-In-One Spicy Pork and Rice (Book 2) and Rich Beef and Ale Casserole (Book 1); fab fakeway Very Easy Thai Chicken and Coconut Curry (Book 1); and new favourite Jamie Oliver’s Super Leek and Potato Soup. All in all I think a very impressive month of cooking.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

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


Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10… Books on my Spring TBR

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

Books On My Spring TBR

There are many wonderful books awaiting me on my bookshelf and Kindle, however here are ten books, ordered alphabetically, I am looking forward to reading this spring:

  1. Cauldstane by Linda Gillard – I have three of the wonderful Gillard’s women’s fictions on my Kindle. Of those three I fancy this the most.
  2. Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christopher Nicole – I am looking forward to this, the first book in Nicole’s historical saga about this famous queen.
  3. God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew – This inspirational memoir is my next read for my church’s book club.
  4. Hazard of Shadows by Mike Phillips – After reading The World Below, this book will continue Phillips’ fantasy Chronicles of the Goblin King series.
  5. Headline Murder by Peter Bartram – As I failed to get to read my first Crampton mystery in winter, I must try harder this spring!
  6. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier – In your kind comments this seemed to have the edge on Frenchmen’s Creek for me to read next.
  7. Peach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip – This exotic, historical fiction would be perfect towards my What’s in a Name 2018 reading challenge.
  8. Queen of Hearts, Volume 3: War of the Cards by Colleen Oakes – After waiting so long since Volume 1 and 2, I am near desperate to find out how it all ends!
  9. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory – After loving The White Queen, I am looking forward to continuing Gregory’s popular Cousins’ War series.
  10. The Tenant of Wildfel Hall by Anne Brontë – I am very excited to read this, my result for the 17th spin for The Classics Club.

Have you read any of my choices? What books are on your spring TBR? Also, please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this week’s TTT topic too.

New Read: The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King

In the bitterly cold and dreary weather of February, I found myself needing to escape to another world, so I picked up The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King by Michael R. Miller; which had sadly lay in my Kindle’s to-be-read folder for too long! And It was only as I neared the end and no conclusion seemed forthcoming that I realised it is the first book in a planned fantasy trilogy.

Immediately, we are thrown into the action of the dark, fantastical realm of Tenalp; as the last of the proud race of dragons is forced to flee their ancestral home of Aurisha, by a never-ending hoard of mindless demons sent by the dark lord, Rectar and the traitorous wizard, Castallan. During the bloody fighting, King Draconess is killed and Prince Danuir is mortally wounded. Fearing they will be lost without an heir to the powerful Dragon’s Blade, the last good wizard, Brackendon is forced to perform a dangerous rebirthing spell upon Danuir, which leaves him a helpless babe.

I know what your thinking… a dark lord and a traitorous wizard, isn’t that The Lord of the Rings? Initially, I have to admit I thought the same thing, but reading on I discovered some interesting differences to enjoy about Miller’s new creation too. The biggest being the dragons themselves. These are not the traditional scaly, winged, fire breathing beasts you might have imagined. Instead many generations ago, with the help of magic, the dragons of this world shed their beastly form for a human-like one, whilst retaining their impressive strength and longer life spans.

Meanwhile twenty years pass and with no knowledge of his true heritage, Danuir grows up hidden away in a human village in the Boreac Mountains. However his life is turned upside down when he comes of age and the Dragon’s Blade magically presents itself to him. With it comes a bewildering array of new strength, powers and memories. Now as the demonic forces are poised to finally destroy the beleaguered alliance of humans, fairies and dragons for good, all hopes rest upon his young shoulders, as the long-awaited king who can wield the legendary Dragon’s Blade.

All the while I just had to feel for poor Danuir, who is just trying to figure out exactly who he is! Once an arrogant prince full of scorn and pride, the kinder and humble rebirthed Danuir has a lot to come to terms with. Especially when unnerving memories start to resurface and old prejudices frustratingly erupt in moments of anger, which leads to uneasy relations with his human friends. Towards the end of the book though, Danuir does seem to be getting a better handle on things – balancing the strength and authority of his former self, with the fairness and humility he has now.

During this dangerous adventure out of the Boreac Mountains, through the Cairlav Marshes and to the fairy homeland of Val’Tarra, Danuir is helped and joined by an eclectic collection of characters. Including old friends, the wizard, Brackendon and human hunters Cosmo, Ballack and Garon and new acquaintances Blaine, the Guardian of Tenalp; Kymethra, a shape-shifting witch and a mysterious young woman, Cassandra. While I thought all of these characters were good, I didn’t always find Cassandra that believable. However she does have many secrets and twists to come that explain some of her behaviour and actions.

Overall, I thought The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King was a fun, fantasy adventure which certainly helped me to escape from miserable February! My only problem was at the end I wanted to know what happens next! Good read.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Can you recommend any similar fantasy?

The Classics Club: Spin #17 Result

This week saw the arrival of The Classic Club’s 17th Spin, which is my first spin since creating my brand-spanking new list. To join in all you simply had to do was list and number any 20 books that remain on your Classics Club list before Friday, 9th March, when the club would announce the winning number. So the results are in and our spin number is…


Which means I have The Tenant of Wildfel Hall by Anne Brontë to read by Monday, 30th April. I am really pleased with my result because I have long wanted to read something by Anne, as I have already enjoyed books by both of her sisters, Emily and Charlotte Brontë.

Now my only dilemma is do I wait till I have finished This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald or abandon the former to start this?!

Have you read this? If you also took part, what was your result?

The Classics Club: Spin #17

It’s time for The Classic Club’s 17th Spin and my first spin since creating my brand-spanking new list. To join in simply list any 20 books that remain on your Classics Club list before Friday, 9th March. On that day, the club will announce the winning number and then all you have to do is read the corresponding book by Monday, 30th April. Simples! Here is my list:

  1. Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
  2. Emma by Jane Austen [re-read]
  3. The Tenant of Wildfel Hall by Anne Brontë
  4. The Professor by Charlotte Brontë
  5. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  6. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  7. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  8. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  9. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  10. Howards End by E M Forster
  11. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
  12. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy [re-read]
  13. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  14. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  15. The Enchanted Castle by E Nesbit
  16. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott [Re-Read]
  17. Heidi by Johann Spyri
  18. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  19. The Time Machine by H G Wells
  20. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

I will do an update post tomorrow with the result. Wish me luck!

Are you taking part too? What book would you like me to get?

Tough Travels: Apprentices

Tough Travels is a monthly meme hosted by The Fantasy Hive, which, inspired by The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones, spotlights each month a different fantasy trope for us to compile lists and have fun with. Last month we discussed SHAPESHIFTERS. This month’s topic is:


‘Apprentices are people who are training for a trade or skill, which means they are usually quite young and bad at what they do. Most of the time they are like nurses during an operation, being there only to hand the master his tool. They seem to have to do this for a good many years before they get to do anything more interesting, and it is therefore not surprising that some of them get restless and either try to do the interesting stuff themselves or simply run away. The Rules state that if an Apprentice tries to do the interesting stuff on their own it will blow up in their face. If they run away, they will learn all sorts of things very quickly and also probably prove to be the MISSING HEIR to a Kingdom.’

Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland

You would think with apprentices being many a fantasy story’s bread and butter this would an easy topic, but clearly I am not reading the right fantasy books! However after a good, hard think I thought of these (a cheeky science-fiction choice may have been snuck in too… ):

  • Mort – First up from Terry Pratchett’s fourth fantastical Discworld novel we have the titular character Mort. A thin, lanky, uncoordinated teenager, who is taken by his exasperated father to a hiring fair. When who should turn up… but Death – offering an apprenticeship in ushering souls into the next world!
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Disney’s magical animated short, that was included in the classic Fantasia collection, sees Mickey Mouse making his come back as the lazy, hapless titular ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’. Who, when sick of doing his chores, decides to bewitch a broom, which has disastrous consequences!
  • Septimus Heap – Next we have Septimus Heap who is the titular character from Angie Sage’s seven novel series (which I am yet to finish). As the seventh son of a seventh son, he has the potential for great magical powers, which he will have to study for seven years and a day (precisely) for with an ExtraOrdinary Wizard.
  • Arya Stark – Now from George R R Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series we have Arya, who is the spirited youngest daughter of Lord Eddard Stark. After the bitter loss of her family, the revenge-fuelled Arya travels to the city of Braavos to be initiated and trained by the Faceless Men: a religious group of assassins.
  • Anakin Skywalker – Last, but certainly not least, we have the young Anakin Skywalker from the Star Wars films. Believed to be the ‘Chosen One’ by Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin is apprenticed to Obi Wan Kenobi to become a Jedi knight, against the wishes of some the Jedi Council. I think most of us know how this turns out… !!

Do you like my choices? Which apprentices would you have chosen? Please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this month’s topic too.

Come back next month for: MOTHERS.

Adaptations: February 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptation lovers, here are the adaptations I have been watching over the last month:

Howards End (2017)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

This month, I finally caught up with my recording of the BBC’s gorgeous new four-part adaptation of E. M. Forster’s classic novel, which aired on the lead up to Christmas last year. A touching and humorous tale of three families in the early 20th century: the bohemian Schlegels; the rich, capitalist Wilcoxes and the impoverished Basts. All brought to life by a wonderful cast, including two of my favourites: Hayley Atwell and Matthew MacFadyen. Good watch.

Brighton Rock (2010)
Not Read     Film     Television

Another recording I caught up with this month was of this British mobster thriller, which transposes Graham Greene’s 1938 novel to Brighton during the Mods and Rockers era of the 1960s. A stylish, dark, gritty film that follows the bloody, ambitious exploits of sociopathic gang member, Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley), who befriends and manipulates naïve witness Rose. Good watch.

Inhumans (2017)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

Over a week, I also caught up with my recording of new American TV series, based on the Marvel Comics’ characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. After a military coup, the Inhuman royal family escape from Attilan, on the moon, to Earth, where they must try to save themselves and their people. A fun series, but it pales in comparison to some of the great shows and films that were also released last year. Okay watch.

That’s three new-to-me adaptations. During February, I have also enjoyed re-watching The Hobbit film trilogy on ITV2. While not as great as The Lord of the Rings trilogy they are still fun films. And that brings my total up to six adaptations altogether.

As for non-adaptations, I became completely hooked on Sky’s new ancient historical drama Britannia (2017), so much so I downloaded and watched it in a row! After that I caught up with my recording of the BBC’s military drama Our Girl (Series 3), but sadly I was a little disappointed with it. Then I went to the cinema with a friend to see musical drama The Greatest Showman (2017) starring the brilliant Hugh Jackman – this hasn’t received the best reviews, but I thought it was really good fun.

Have you watched any of these? What did you watch in February?