Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10… Books on My Autumn 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 Autumn 2018 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 autumn, with the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril reading event in mind:

  1. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan – This classic Christian allegory is my November read for my church’s book club.
  2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – I look forward to continuing my re-read of this thrilling YA trilogy.
  3. Lives of Notorious Cooks by Brendan Connell – This set of fictional biographies of famous chefs through the ages sounds fascinating.
  4. Theatre Royal by Michael Coren – After loving another theatre history from this publisher, I have high hopes for this one too.
  5. Zombie edited by Christopher Golden – A horror, short story collection that will be perfect for my What’s in a Name 2018 reading challenge.
  6. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory – After loving The Red Queen, I look forward to continuing Gregory’s popular Cousins’ War series.
  7. A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King – I think it is high time to read more from King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery series.
  8. Kin by Snorri Kristjansson – A dark, intense and compelling Viking murder mystery which I am super excited about reading.
  9. A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland – After reading The Plague Charmer, I am looking forward to Maitland’s newest dark historical fiction.
  10. The Dragon’s Blade: Veiled Intentions by Michael R. Miller – After reading The Reborn King, I look forward to continuing Miller’s fantasy trilogy.

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


Cookbooks: August – September 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, in the last month or so of summer here are the new recipes I have tried:

Spinach and Rice Stuffed Tomatoes
Plant Based Cookbook by Trish Sebben-Krupka
Vegetables – Page 141

When I came home from my uncle’s farm with some of his home-grown large, juicy beef tomatoes I just had to try this recipe. Which had me stuffing them with a cheesy rice, spinach and pine nuts filling and then baking them until they were tender and sweet. Simply served with a large, dressed green salad this made for the perfect taste of summer. Great recipe.

Marinated Fish With Stir-Fried Greens
The Hairy Dieters (4) Fast Food by Si King & Dave Myers
Fuller Faster – Page 94

I also came home with a home-grown cabbage from my uncle’s which was stir-fried with spring onions, green pepper and chilli, to accompany fresh salmon fillets cooked in a sticky Chinese style marinade. A refreshing, tasty new take on fish and greens, but I did also need to cook some rice to serve with it, because this wouldn’t have been filling enough for my family’s appetites otherwise! Good recipe.

Four Seasons Minestrone (Summer)
Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver
Soups – Page 212

A recipe that makes use of beautiful seasonal veggies and guarantees you will get all of your 5-a-day portions with just one serving of this! On top of the basic soup base there are suggested veg for each season to top it up – I used baby artichokes, fresh tomatoes* and runner beans* (*brought back from my uncle’s farm). I enjoyed this seasonal take on this classic Italian soup and I look forward to trying the other seasons’ twists. Good recipe.

Pasta with Summer Vegetables and Parma Ham
The Hairy Dieters (3) Good Eating by Si King & Dave Myers
Comfort Classics – Page 112

This deliciously summery dish is made by gently cooking leek, asparagus, peas and runner beans in a light white wine and low-fat crème fraiche sauce. Then cooked pasta and ripped pieces of Parma ham are simply tossed in to finish it off. A super simple but super tasty pasta dish, which made for a refreshing change from the usual tomato-based pasta dishes. Great recipe.

Roasted Cod with Parma Ham and Peppers
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
One-Pan Dishes – Page 43

Another colourful one-tray meal which is easy to prep and even easier to cook. Consisting of cod fillets wrapped in parma ham, cooked nestled within a tray of roughly chopped peppers, courgettes and onion. I popped it in the oven and returned to a delicious, healthy family meal. However I did serve it with some boiled new potatoes, because this wouldn’t have been filling enough for my family’s appetites otherwise! Good recipe

That’s five new summery recipes tried altogether. I also remade the Co-op’s rich, spicy Summer Veg Pilaf and The Hairy Dieters’ gutsy Chilli Salad Bowls. Although I enjoyed our blistering summer, I am now looking forward to trying some new, comforting autumnal recipes.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

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

Re-Read: The Hunger Games

Finally in the school summer holidays, I got round to my planned re-read of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the first book in Collins’ highly successful, young adult dystopian trilogy. A trilogy that went on to spawn a film franchise that was a massive box-office success. After enjoying the films a lot, I was excited to remind myself of the extra details in the books.

This first book, introduces us to the nation of Panem, which was formed from the remains of North America after a post-apocalyptic event. This is a brutal and unfair world consisting of a rich, privileged Capitol region surrounded by twelve poor, working districts. After a failed, bloody rebellion by a former thirteenth district early in its history, the Capitol now reminds and punishes the remaining districts with the Hunger Games, a barbaric and cruel annual televised event. That forces each district to yield one boy and one girl, as ‘tributes’ for the games, who will be forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

It is on the day of the Reaping – a lottery system to choose the ‘tributes’ – in the poorest District 12 that we meet 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen as she selflessly volunteers herself, after her little sister, Prim is chosen. Katniss’ male counterpart chosen is Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son who once showed her great kindness. The games are pretty much a death sentence for them, as they will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives from the richer districts, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. But Katniss is a survivor and Peeta will be a better ally than she realises.

What I love about Katniss is that she is an imperfect heroine. On face value she comes across prickly and she can be naïve and fiercely independent – finding it hard to trust people. However she is also loyal, kind, brave and devoted to her little sister, which adds up to make an imperfect but realistic heroine. Peeta on the other hand is exactly how you find him: strong, kind, personable and honest. (If anyone knows where I can find a Peeta of my own please let me know?!) They are both characters you can really root for and I found myself completely invested in their blossoming, complicated relationship.

Loving these characters means, that even though I knew exactly what was coming, I still found myself gripped and on the very edge of my seat as through Katniss’ eyes we enter the arena and have front row seats to the unfolding bloody games. After escaping the opening massacre, Katniss must find food, water and shelter. Whilst always being on guard for other ‘tributes’, because everyone is a possible enemy, including Peeta as only one can win this game. If all that wasn’t bad enough, the games masters also have some horrific tricks up their sleeves: a deadly wild-fire with fireballs reigning down; killer crackerjack bees; poisonous berries; water supplies drying up overnight and finally hideous mutant beasts.

All in all The Hunger Games is a gritty, dystopian young adult adventure, full of hardship, danger, love, death, friendship and courage; that lost known of its shine on re-reading it. I look forward to continuing my re-read of the trilogy with Catching Fire soon. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you watched the films?

This was also book 5/10 for my 10 Books of Summer 2018 reading challenge.

Adaptations: August 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptation lovers, here is what I watched in August:

Poldark (Series 4)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

This gorgeous BBC period drama, based on the books by Winston Graham, is now something I annually look forward to returning each summer. We re-join Captain Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) as he reluctantly runs for Parliament, while he, his family and his enemies are rocked by death and scandal. All of which was again brought to life by a strong ensemble cast, with stunning Cornish scenery and beautiful costumes. Good watch.

The Handmaid’s Tale (Series 2)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

One of the most-talked about new shows of 2017, based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian modern classic, returned at the beginning of summer this year. In which, in the dark near future, we carry on following Offred (Elizabeth Moss) as she continues to quietly defy the brutal totalitarian regime in power, but now she has an expectant child to think about. A powerful, gripping and disturbing drama, which is brought to life scarily realistically! Good watch.

Swallows and Amazons (2016)
Not Read     Film     Television

I was delighted to discover one Sunday this British family adventure, based on Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s novel, being shown on BBC1. My dad, granddad and I settled down after our lunch to watch the four Walker children on their summer holiday in the Lake District. Where they learn to sail, camp out, fight ‘pirates’ and scupper the plans of Nazi spies! An utterly charming little film with a great British ensemble cast, that was perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Good watch.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

Finally this summer also saw the BBC airing a new, six-part, Australian period drama, based on Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel, which stars Natalie Dormer as Mrs Applegate, an enigmatic and formidable headmistress. When, on the college’s Valentine’s Day picnic to Hanging Rock, three students and their teacher mysteriously vanish! A gripping and surreal drama ensures, as in the fall-out of this tragedy theories abound, secrets are exposed and hysteria sets in… Good watch.

Altogether that is four new-to-me adaptations and I have also enjoyed re-watches of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) on ITV2 and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) on ITV1. Which brings my total up to six adaptations watched over the month.

As for non-adaptations, I became completely hooked on another cracking Welsh-noir, crime drama Hidden (2018) from BBC Cymru and I finished off the sumptuous Franco-Canadian period drama Versailles (Series 3). I also enjoyed a trip to the cinema to see Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), in which Tom Cruise was at his crazy best again!

Have you watched any of these? What have you been watching recently?

Challenge: 10 Books of Summer 2018 (End)

Monday, 3rd September, saw Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer 2018 reading challenge (with the option of 15 or 10 levels too) coming to an end. Here in the UK, we have been treated to a rare and gloriously hot summer, which has allowed me to regularly read in the sun. However, as usual, I think I blinked and missed it! I made a list of 10 books, so let’s have a look at which of them I actually managed to read:

  1. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
  2. Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christopher Nicole
  3. Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
  4. Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins [Re-Read]
  6. Seven Sovereign Queens by Geoffrey Trease
  7. Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir
  8. But Is It Real? by Amy Orr-Ewing

Those I didn’t finish/get round to were:

  • Cauldstane by Linda Gillard (currently reading)
  • Lives of Notorious Cooks by Brendan Connell

Altogether that is eight of my ten books read – one down on last year – but I am actually really relieved with my result this year; as by the end of July I had only read three books! So to have read another five more by the end of August I think is pretty monumental. The only thing I am disappointed with is how behind I am with my reviews!

Have you read any of these books? Did you take part in this challenge?

New Read: Hannah’s Moon

Having previously enjoyed John A. Heldt’s Indiana Belle and Class of ’59, I picked up Hannah’s Moon, the fifth and final instalment in Heldt’s American Journey series, back in July to discover how it all ends. Although there is a continuing background thread to this series each book has its own individual, time travelling adventure so you could read these as stand-alone stories too.

In 2017, after struggling for years to conceive and then suffering the tragic still-birth of their only child, Claire and Ron Rasmussen decide to turn to adoption to start their longed-for family. Just after making this difficult decision, Claire is contacted by her brother David with an extraordinary offer from their distant aunt and uncle: How would they like to travel back to a time when there was an abundance of bouncing babies available to adopt and red tape was short? Within weeks, Claire, Ron, and David unbelievably find themselves, with a suitcase of money and false documents, on a train to Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1945!

Through the alternating third person narration of Claire, Ron and David it was lovely to experience 1940s America, with its sedan cars, friendly neighbours, copious amounts of pie and a wonderful innocence, even despite the world war which is still raging. Claire, Ron and David are all likeable characters (even if they ‘chuckled’ and ‘giggled’ a little too much for my liking, as was Cameron’s wont in Indiana Belle too). So I enjoyed seeing Claire and Ron successfully adopt the angelic baby Hannah and David befriending their beautiful neighbour, Margaret. Then I felt for them when Ron is forced to join the Navy and Claire and David come under suspicion by the secret services.

As with his previous books, Heldt has stuck to his familiar time travelling formulae. A formulae which some may argue is a little far-fetched, as Heldt never really explains how the characters time travel with any realistic scientific detail. Personally I prefer the lack of scientific detail and I am happy to completely suspend belief and once you have these books make for light, escapist reads full of love, romance, hope, danger and endurance. And Hannah’s Moon is no exception.

For those interested, the continuing background thread revolves around Geoffrey and Jeanette Belle, through whose time tunnel (powered by gypsum crystals in their basement) all the characters in this series have gone off on their time travelling adventures. If you hadn’t already guessed it, the Belles are Claire’s distant aunt and uncle. And the last few chapters of this final book are dedicated to a reunion of all the characters from the series (some were unfamiliar to me as I haven’t read the earlier books but this wasn’t an issue as Heldt introduces them all to each other) for a poignant resolution.

Overall, I thought Hannah’s Moon was a nostalgic, time travelling adventure with touches of romance and drama. I enjoyed it more than Class of ’59 but not as much as Indiana Belle, the latter is definitely still my favourite. Now this series has come to an end, I look forward to trying Heldt’s newer Carson Chronicles series. Okay read.

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

Have you read this? Any recommendations of other books set in the 1940s?

This is book 4/10 for my 10 Books of Summer 2018 reading challenge.

Goodbye August, Hello September 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are well? The last month of summer has been a more peaceful one for me. Where I have enjoyed a good rest, caught up with friends, had a good clean out and visited my mum down south, which included a trip to The Hobbit Pub in Southampton. During this time here is what I managed to read:

Fiction: 4          Non-Fiction: 2

First, I finished reading the time travelling romance, Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt, which took me back to Chattanooga, Tennessee 1945. An easy read and a satisfying conclusion to Heldt’s American Journey series. Next, I time travelled forward with a re-read of the gritty, dystopian The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the first book in Collins’ bestselling young adult trilogy. After enjoying the films, it was great to go back and refresh myself on the book’s extra details. I whipped through this in just three days!

Then it was back in time again, as I completely lost myself in the scandal and danger of the tumultuous Tudor Court in Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir, the second book in Weir’ epic Six Tudor Queens series. Finally, nearing the end of the month, I finished reading the charming children’s classic, The Enchanted Castle by E Nesbit, the fourth of Nesbit’s juvenile novels I have now read and another title ticked off my new Classics Club list.

Alongside these fictions, I also read two non-fictions in August. First, I read another quick and interesting history, Seven Sovereign Queens by Geoffrey Trease, who was one of my favourite new authors of last year. Then, on the very last day of the month, I finished reading the interesting Christian non-fiction, But is it Real? by Amy Orr-Ewing for my church’s book club, which will be meeting next week.

Pick of the Month: The Hunger Games

Altogether that is six books finished, which is a great amount! However I am so behind on writing reviews! So my full thoughts on all of these are still to be posted about. As it is the end of summer too, I will soon be doing a round-up post for my 10 Books of Summer 2018 reading challenge.

In September, I am excited/nervous to start my new job in a special needs secondary school. I am also looking forward to going to see historian Lucy Worsley do a talk on Queen Victoria and starting my autumnal reading with the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII reading event.

What did you do and read in August? What are your plans for September?