Goodbye November, Hello December 2016

month-nov-2016

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? November has been a cold and dark month here in the UK! However despite the weather, I spent a wonderful weekend on the south coast celebrating my mum’s and stepdad’s birthdays. I have also got stuck into the Pathways to Ministry course – a really interesting and thought provoking course, but that does involve quite a bit of reading. Here is what else I have managed to read:

Fiction: 0          Non-Fiction: 1

My one and only book finished in November was Christian non-fiction Life of the Beloved by Henri J. M. Nouwen, which I read for my church’s book club. I thought it was a well-written and inspiring guide, that was a good boost for me living in a majoritively secular society myself.

Pick of the Month: Life of the Beloved

I would usually be pretty down on myself for finishing just one book, however I know I have actually been reading a lot but just not finishing them! I have made big progress through some very long books: The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas and 90 Days Through the New Testament by Ron Rhodes (30 days left!). Plus I am over 3/4’s of the way through Innocence by Dean Koontz and I have started re-reading The Screwtape Letters by C S Lewis, which is the next book for my church’s book club.

In December, I am looking forward to finishing a lot of these books, breaking up from work for the holidays and celebrating Christmas; of course!

What did you do and read in November? What are your plans for December?

Adaptations: November 2016

Blog - Adaptations

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptation lovers, here are the adaptations I’ve watched on the big and small screen during this month:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
Read     Film     Cinema

The long awaited, spin-off prequel to the Harry Potter film franchise, which is inspired by J K Rowling’s fictional textbook. We travel back to the Wizarding World in 1936 to follow Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his case of magical creatures in their extraordinary adventures in New York. A truly wonderful, fantasy romp with a more adult edge, which had me grinning from ear-to-ear!

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Dark Angel (2016)
Not Read     TV Series     Television

A gripping, two-part historical drama starring Joanne Froggatt as the serial killer Mary Ann Cotton, who is feared to have poisoned up to 21 people with arsenic; adapted from a criminology by David Wilson. Froggatt is stunning in this dark, twisted tale of love and betrayal, and worst of all it’s true!

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Victor Frankenstein (2015)
Read     Film     Television

Fantasy, horror film, based on Mary Shelley’s eponymous character, that imagines how radical medical student Frankenstein (James McAvoy) works with circus hunchback Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) to create a monster! On release this received negative reviews, but I am glad I gave it a go as it is a bit of fantastical fun.

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That’s three new adaptations watched. However I have also started watching the highly anticipated and controversial second series of the BBC’s Poldark.

As for non-adaptations, I watched the second series of the BBC’s Our Girl; a gripping army drama starring Michelle Keegan as new character, Lance Corporal Georgie Lane.

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

The Classics Club: Monthly Meme #47

The Classics Club Meme

Each month The Classics Club releases a question to get club members thinking, discussing and sharing; either on the official site or on their own sites. This month’s question is a rewind from January 2013:

What is the best book you’ve read so far for The Classics Club — and why? Be sure to link to the post where you discussed the book! (Or, if you prefer, what is your least favourite read so far for the club, and why?)

When I originally answered this question in 2013, less than a year into the club, I think I chose Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as my best read. An utterly charming novel that chronicles the struggles, tribulations, and joys of the four March sisters as they grow from children into women. I would still rank it as one of my favourites, but now, 4 years and 8 months into the club, I couldn’t possibly pick just one favourite!

Since then, I have read the deliciously gothic The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, which was another great Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson mystery. Also A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the heart-warming, redemptive tale of the famous miser Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve. As well as, two more utterly charming children’s novels: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Railway Children by E Nesbit. And, I could list many more as I have read many wonderful books because of the club. These were just the books that immediately came to mind.

What has been your favourite read of The Classics Club? If you’re not taking part in the club, what is your favourite classic?

Also, share your link in the comments if you have taken part in this month’s Classic Club meme too.

New Books: November 2016

new-books-november-2016

Hello my fellow bookworms, my current to-be-read is getting a little out of hand, so this month I have been good and kept my new acquisitions down to just these three review copies:

The Last Day of Captain Lincoln by EXO Books

First, I was contacted by husband and wife publishing team about their debut, science-fiction novel, The Last Day of Captain Lincoln. Described as a ‘soft’ sci-fi focused on the characters and relationships rather than just the technology.

Sandokan, The Tigers of Mompraecem by Emilio Salgari

Next, I was contacted by Nico Lorenzutti about an English translation of the Italian classic, Sandokan, The Tigers of Mompraecem. A swashbuckling adventure and love story; it sounded right up my street.

The Sacrifice: Short Stories Volume 1 by Indrajit Garai

And finally, I was contacted by a close friend and muse of American writer Garai about his collection of short stories, The Sacrifice. I don’t read a great deal of general fiction, but I have enjoyed many a short story collection.

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

Cookbooks: November 2016

Cookbooks Update

My fellow bookworms, I am sorry that it has been so long since I updated you on the recipes I have been trying from my cookbooks. The fact is I have been cooking over the last 3 months, but generally not new recipes. Instead opting to make some well-loved and tested recipes, such as: The Hairy Dieter’s Sausages and Rich Onion Gravy (Book 2 pg42) and Very Easy Thai Chicken and Coconut Curry (Book 1 pg144).

However, as the weather started to take a distinctly colder turn I found myself craving some new, hearty and comforting recipes to try. First, I tried these Jamie Oliver recipes:

Save With Jamie

Mushrooms on Toast
Save with JamieBonus Recipes – Page 261

Mushrooms fried with butter, garlic and thyme, poured on a chunky piece of toast, makes an easy and quick meal for one. I didn’t have any balsamic vinegar so I used a splash of Worcester sauce instead, yum and a good way to use up the spare mushrooms I had.

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Happy Frumpy Minestrone
Save with Jamie – Veg – Page 68

A hearty, Autumnal take on a classic Italian minestrone soup – full of vegetables: swede, carrots, onions, tomatoes, peas, spinach and broad beans. It fed me and my father (with seconds too), and I still had 4 portions to freeze. A cheap, tasty and healthy recipe, I will be making again.

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Hairy Dieters #2

Next, I tried this recipe from the nation’s favourite ‘Hairy Biker’ chefs, Si King and Dave Myers:

A Big Soup
The Hairy Dieters 2 – Meals on the Move – Page 130

And they’re not lying… this is a big soup of spicy chorizo, tomatoes, cannellini beans and the ‘super food’ curly kale. Again, I fed me and my dad and then I froze 3 portions, which will make some warming, work lunches. A tasty, wholesome soup which was good on the taste buds as well as being good on the waist line.

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mrs-beetons

Finally, I found myself with a hankering for the spiced parsnip soup of my childhood. So I dug out my copy of The Best of Mrs Beeton’s British Cooking to try this classic recipe:

Spiced Parsnip Soup
Mrs Beeton’s – Soups – Page 19

A simple, classic soup which is warming and very seasonal for Autumn/Winter. I switched out the cream for milk, but it still turned out thick and creamy. Another yummy soup for my work lunches.

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Hairy Dieters #4

Earlier this year, I also read Hairy Dieters: Fast Food and while I bookmarked many yummy looking recipes, I have yet to try any. So keep your eyes peeled for upcoming recipes from that as well as my other cookbooks.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

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

New Read: Life of the Beloved

life-of-the-beloved

As a practicing Christian, I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith and now I am a member of my church’s book club. After an interesting discussion about our second book, Surprised by Hope by Tom Wright, I was looking forward to reading our third book, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri J. M. Nouwen.

When writing Life of the Beloved, Nouwen hoped it would be a book that could communicate to his dear, Jewish friend the powerful and loving invitation of Jesus Christ. Of how accepting that invitation can bring love, happiness and that acceptance we all seem to be chasing in the modern world. Sadly, Nouwen failed to communicate to his friend as he had wished. However, instead this has gone on to be a highly successful guide to living a truly uplifting life in many of today’s secular society; for Christians all over the world.

With Nouwen’s initial hope to communicate and reach out to his friend and other young people from the then growing secular population, he has written this sincere testimony – sharing his own experience of Jesus’ powerful work in his life and those around him – in a clear and down-to-earth manner. Which was easy to read, follow and reflect upon on, but this is clearly still the original edit because Nouwen often opens chapters directly speaking to his friend and referring to his friend’s life. While I give Nouwen kudos for being honest about his initial hope and so not editing the text – I did find it a little annoying as I am not his friend and his life stories are not expanded upon for those who don’t have their shared history.

Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian, who in his life worked and taught at the University of Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School. As well as working with individuals with mental and physical needs at the L’Arche Daybreak community in Ontario, USA. Having lived such a colourful, spiritual and productive life, Nouwen has a wealth of inspiring and touching experiences which he freely and candidly shares with us in this book; particularly from his time at L’Arche. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to share my thoughts on this at the book club meeting, as it landed in a crazily busy week for me which meant I couldn’t attend. I have since received positive feedback from the vicar along with further resources to check out.

In conclusion, I found Life of the Beloved to be a well-written and inspiring guide, that was a good boost for me; living in a majoritively secular society myself. Next up for the club, we will be reading and discussing The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis which will be a re-read for me. Good read.

Have you read this? Or anything else by Henri J. M. Nouwen?

New Read: Blood on the Bayou

blood-on-the-bayou

Sadly, Blood on the Bayou by D. J. Donaldson was sat gathering dust on my Kindle for far too long! Until the R.I.P reading event finally gave me the push I needed to pick it up and aren’t I pleased it did.

As Donaldson immediately drew me in and completely immersed me into the colourful and superstitious Deep South of America. For a gritty mystery in the famous French Quarter of New Orleans which, during a hot and humid Summer, has been shook by a string of brutal murders. Where the victims seem to have been viciously clawed and then bitten – these frenzied, bloody attacks eerily resemble a werewolf! However the chief medical examiner, Andy Broussard, is not to be fooled or scared by these supernatural tales and, together with criminal psychologist Kit Franklyn, sets out to discover the culprit…the real, human culprit.

This is a detailed, meticulous and graphic, although I felt it was never gratuitous, depiction of a murder investigation. Due to the fact that half the narration is told from medical examiner, Andy Broussard’s point-of-view. Skillfully, though I was never left feeling cold or isolated by his clinical technique as Broussard is a very likeable and multifaceted character, with his quirky love of lemon sweets and an enviable collections of classic T-birds. Plus he takes on an encouraging and supportive role for Kit, who is a young, educated woman in a male dominated world. The other half of the narration is told from Kit’s point-of-view, which made for an interesting but complimentary juxtaposition to Broussard’s.

What I really loved though was the setting, as I have always had a fascination with the deep south especially after watching the first series of HBO’s True Detective. And, I thought Donaldson really made me feel like I was there: feeling it’s hot, humid weather; meeting the colourful, eclectic people with their old traditions and superstitions; and travelling to the small town communities out in the crocodile infested wetlands. The only thing I was left to imagine was that they all spoke like Matthew McConaughey😉 . While there was less of a supernatural element than I expected, it was these just in a more subtle way – with the eerie resemblance of these brutal attacks with werewolves; the small town people’s folk tales of old and the links to Clinical Lycanthropy.

In conclusion, I found Blood on the Bayou to be a deeply engrossing mystery which I struggled to put down. I would certainly be interested in reading more from this series and author. Great read.

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

Have you read this? Or any other mysteries from the Deep South?

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI – #5