New Read: Resthaven

At the end of September, I decided to continue my Autumn themed reading for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII event with the young adult thriller Resthaven by Erik Therme; which had been on my Kindle for too long!

As the new kid in town, Kaylee feels isolated and awkward, so the last thing she wants to do is go to a sleepover with girls she barely knows, let alone likes. Things only get worse when it turns out the queen bee Jamie has arranged a scavenger hunt inside the old abandoned retirement home, Resthaven, which sits right on the edge of town. After an explosive argument the girls all split off separately around the dark empty building…but Kaylee soon discovers that they’re not alone and to top it off the front doors have been mysterious padlocked from the outside! Now Kaylee must find everyone and try to find another way out before it’s too late.

Our narrator Kaylee is joined on this disastrous scavenger hunt by the sensitive Anna, who invited her, the silent Wren, the ditzy Sidney and the bullying Jamie. The problem was I didn’t really like any of them! As stereotypical teenage girls they were all hormonal and seemed to take it in turns to be selfish, thoughtless, insensitive and downright hurtful to each other, including our heroine Kaylee. So sadly I can’t say I found myself rooting for any of them!

Fortunately, Therme has written a tight story with pacey action scenes, twists and turns, and an element of surprise or two. Therefore I certainly wasn’t left bored and I was drawn to keep reading to find out more. As we read on we also learn more of the back stories of each girl, which does help to explain their current behaviour and attitudes, even if it doesn’t completely justify them. Plus of course there is the other person/s in the locked building with them that adds tension, mystery and a real sense of danger.

So overall, shame about the characters but otherwise I thought Resthaven was an easy-to-read, fast paced, young adult thriller which I just zipped through. It was also a very good fit for the R.I.P event. Okay read.

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

Have you read this? Or anything else for the R.I.P event?

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII – 2/4

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Top Ten Tuesday: Food in 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:

Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books

With my being a bookworm and a food lover this is like the perfect topic for me! In no particular order, here are ten of my favourite books with memorable scenes of delicious food and meals:

~ 1 ~

Hot Chocolate and Turkish Delight
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis

The infamous rich hot chocolate and sweet Turkish delight that the White Witch conjures to tempt the young Edmund to betray his family.

~ 2 ~

Lashings of Ginger Beer
The Famous Five by Enid Blyton

Their picnics of sandwiches, boiled eggs and tinned sardines, all washed down with lemonade or ginger beer are nearly as famous as them!

~ 3 ~

The Unexpected Party
The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

The dwarves empty poor little Bilbo’s well-stocked larder of seed cakes, buttered scones, jam, tarts, pies, cheese, boiled eggs, cold chicken and pickles!

~ 4 ~

Hogwarts Start-of-Term Feast
Harry Potter by J K Rowling

Where the tables magically fill with succulent platters of roast meat, chops, sausages, pies and overflowing bowls of potatoes, mash and vegetables.

~ 5 ~

Forest Stew
Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat

As the children hide out in the forest in a small cottage they learn to cook big steaming pots of hearty meat and vegetable stew.

~ 6 ~

Supper with the Beavers
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis

Mrs Beaver prepares the children a comforting supper of fried fish and boiled potatoes, followed by a sticky marmalade roll.

~ 7 ~

Buns for Tea
The Railway Children Edith Nesbit

When Mrs Waterbury sells one of her children’s stories she uses the money to buy the children sweet buns for their tea.

~ 8 ~

Farmer Maggot’s Feast
The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien

Taking shelter with Farmer Maggot, the hobbits enjoy a mighty dish of mushrooms and bacon, washed down with plenty of beer.

~ 9 ~

Tea with Mr Tumnus
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis

On her first trip to Narnia, Lucy has tea with Mr Tumnus, where she enjoys lightly boiled brown eggs, sardines on toast and a sugar-topped cake.

~ 10 ~

Spice, Rice and All Things Nice
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

At Highgate House, Miss Steele is surrounded by colourful, exotic furnishings and dines on spicy, rich curry and fragrant rice.

Like my choices? What yummy food in books can you think of? Also, please link in the comments if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic too.

New Books: September & October 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, as I didn’t manage to squeeze in a post last month, here are the goodies I added to my bookshelf and Kindle in September and October:

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

First in September, I finally managed to get my hands on a lovely Headline Review copy of this, which completes my beautiful pastel Austen set.

Queen of Love by Christopher Nicole

Seven Sovereign Queens by Geoffrey Trease

Then I was happy to snap up a free copy of Queen of Love, the second Eleanor of Aquitaine novel, and a bargain copy of Seven Sovereign Queens, which I am particularly excited about after loving Seven Stages, both from Endeavour Press’ e-newsletters.

Aaru by David Meredith

River Rising by John A. Heldt

Finally, in September, I was contacted and received review copies of David Meredith’s new young adult novel Aaru and John A. Heldt’s new time-travel novel River Rising, the first in Heldt’s new Carson Chronicles. Previously I have enjoyed both these authors, so I am looking forward to trying more.

The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart

Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart

Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart

Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

The Prince and the Pilgrim by Mary Stewart

Moving on to this month, I could barely contain my excitement when I found five of Mary Stewart’s suspense novels and one of her Arthurian Saga novels all in the Kindle 99p sale on Amazon (UK)! So I had to get them all … right?!

Crazy Busy by Kevin Deyoung

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

Finally, this month, I bought these two Christian non-fictions in anticipation of the long-awaited return of my church’s book club. Up first is Crazy Busy for the November meeting.

Do you fancy any of these? What new books have you got recently?

New Read: Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage

After enjoying four comforting re-reads, I was excited to read new-to-me Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M C Beaton, the fifth book in Beaton’s long-running, cosy-crime series. (If you are unfamiliar with this author and series you may instead want to read my thoughts on the first book: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death).

Our smart dressing, retired-PR executive Agatha Raisin believes all her dreams are about to come true, as the morning of her marriage to James Lacey dawns bright and clear. However before the service can be completed, Agatha’s presumed dead husband, Jimmy Raisin, turns up very much alive and kicking! In embarrassment James storms off and Agatha is left mortified. Things are only to get worse though, when Jimmy is discovered dead the next morning, Agatha and James are the prime suspects. So they will have to reluctantly work together again to catch the real murderer to clear their names.

Our formerly sharp, bossy and cajoling Agatha has reached her lowest point ever. Now embarrassed and heart sore she cares little for maintaining her usual immaculate appearance and strong outer persona, which in fact only makes her more endearing to the reader, her friends and secretly even James Lacey too. Personally not being a huge fan of the distant James, I wasn’t all that bothered when the marriage was stopped, but I was upset when the young Detective Sergeant Wong’s head is turned by the ambitious Detective Constable Maddie Hurd; who he believes is the one?! Fortunately, Mrs Bloxby is as steadfast and lovely as ever!

As with my re-reads, it was an absolute pleasure to return to the charming village of Carsely, but this time for an all new crime and a more personal although still rather eccentric and bumbling investigation with Agatha. I love a good murder mystery, however I don’t always want all that gore and gritty realism, which is when a cosy-crime like this is perfect. These aren’t ground breaking books, instead they are grab a mug of tea, curl up and simply enjoy kind of books. They are rapidly becoming my go-to-books for comfort.

Overall, I thought Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage was another quick, fun and comforting read. Next up is Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist. Good read.

Have you read this? Have you read any other cosy-crime recently?

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII – 1/4

New Read: Watling Street

Back in May, I requested a copy of Watling Street: Travels Through Britain and Its Ever-Present Past by John Higgs because, living just off this ancient road, I was interested to learn more about it.

In this book, Higgs takes us on a journey along one of Britain’s oldest roads, from the White Cliffs of Dover to the Druid groves of Anglesey, which was long ago formed by the tramping of feet; straightened by the army of Rome and gained the name Watling Street in the Dark Ages. This has been a road of witches and ghosts, of queens and highwaymen, of history and myth, of Chaucer, Dickens and James Bond. Alongside it Boudicca met her end; the Battle of Bosworth was fought; the Nazi’s enigma code was broken at Bletchley Park and Capability Brown remodelled the English landscape.

Methodically, Higgs works his way up the road starting in London and stopping off at key points along the way to discuss the history of the area; the people who lived there and the culture that sprung up there. Each stop off is detailed and well described, but loose in structure as Higgs allows his thoughts and feelings to meander and grow. Which is great when it is a topic you enjoy, however I found it hard when he got into full flow on something I didn’t share his passion on.

I found the glimpse into the history, culture and characters of Canterbury, the infamous Tyburn, St Albans, Dunstable and Bletchley fascinating. On the other hand, I wasn’t very interested in the town planning of Milton Keynes; the street football game in Atherstone or the enthusing on life in London (not living there myself). So a real mixed bag! Sadly there was also no stop off in my own home town. In fact it only warranted one or two lines! While I learnt more about the rest of the road, I have to admit being extremely disappointed not to learn anything about my own piece of the road.

Overall though, I thought Watling Street by John Higgs was an interesting, if somewhat eccentric and meandering, exploration of the people, history and culture that has grown up along this ancient road. 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? Or anything else about Watling Street?

Cookbooks: September 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, September is the start of Autumn here in the UK, which means it is time for spooky, mysterious books and warmer, comforting food. So first up, I got my new individual pie dishes out and gave these pie/pot style recipes a go:

Quick Cod and Prawn Gratin
Hairy Dieters 1 – Pies – Page 78

I love a fish pie and this lighter version has a traditional creamy fish and prawn filling, but with a crunchy breadcrumb and cheese topping, rather than mashed potatoes. Quick and easy to make (under 20 mins), it makes a super tasty mid-week meal. So much so I have already made it twice! Great recipe.

Creamy Chicken and Tarragon Pots
Hairy Dieters 3 – Comfort Classics – Page 108

Creamy, delicious chicken and leek deep pot pies, made with crème fraiche and a bubbly cheese topping rather than naughty double cream and puff pastry. While this is a lighter recipe it still feels like a real treat! I will definitely me making this again. Great recipe.

I served both of the above recipes with seasonal Jersey Royal potatoes and freshly steamed greens – yum!


Also with my family’s love of curry, I dug out this recipe which I cut out of a Co-op Food magazine ages ago:

Friday Night Thai Red Beef Curry
Co-op Food – Unknown Edition – Page 36

A hot red Thai beef curry which cleverly uses dried tarragon to replace the hard-to-find Thai basil – this really added an extra nice touch and I will definitely be adding tarragon to all my Thai curries from now on. I simply served with plain basmati rice for a yummy Friday night fake-away. Great recipe.


Finally during September, I made and froze a batch of the Hairy Dieter’s creamy Tomato Soup for work lunches. However this time, for my personal taste, I left out the celeriac and used more butternut squash and carrot instead. Then later in the month, I made and froze a second spicy batch of this soup, with the addition of some left over red Thai paste from the above beef curry.

Overall, I think I have had a great month of cooking and I look forward to more. Especially as I am now halfway through Plant Based Cookbook by Trish Sebben-Krupka, in which I have sticky noted lots of great looking veggie soup and stew recipes. After that I have Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver, which I am very excited about, lined up to read. ‘My cup runneth over’!

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

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

Tough Travels: Minions

Tough Travels is a monthly meme hosted by Fantasy Faction, 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 DRAGONS. This month’s topic is:


MINIONS

‘Minions of the DARK LORD can be male or female, though he tends to favour males (who seem to be more susceptible to the Evil One’s wiles). They can take many forms: BAD KINGS, ENCHANTRESSES, HIGH PRIESTS, EUNUCHS, DUKES, REGENTS or WITCHES. Additionally, there are the non-human minions, such as ORCS, TROLLS, GOBLINS and random OTHER PEOPLES . . . not to mention MUTANT NASTIES, carefully selected MONSTERS, UNDEAD, and DEMONS.’

Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland


Gríma Wormtongue
Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien

Gríma is the simpering, wily and silver-tongued minion of the wizard Saruman, who drip, drips poisonous words into the ear of King Théoden of Rohan.

**********

Mr Smee
Peter Pan by J M Barrie

Smee is the simple, oddly genial bo’sun on the Jolly Roger – often portrayed as a portly man who comically scuttles round after the fearsome Captain Hook.

**********

Peter Pettigrew/Wormtail
Harry Potter by J K Rowling

The snivelling betrayer of Lily and James Potter is one of the first of the Dark Lord’s minions to crawl back and help him return – appropriately his Animagus form is a rat!

**********

The Witch’s Dwarf
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis

This unnamed dwarf is a traitor to his own people, who does the bidding of the White Witch with a ‘wicked grin’ upon his face.

**********

Renfield
Dracula by Bram Stoker

Renfield is an inmate at Dr Seward’s lunatic asylum, who becomes a thrall to the powerful Count Dracula and eats insects to try to imitate his master.

**********

Like my choices? What minions can you think? Please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this month’s topic too.

Come back next month for: Mentors.