Cookbooks: May – June 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms and foodies, as the weather has (on the whole) continued to warm up, I have enjoyed trying these easy, lighter recipes:

Easy Cheesy Leek Risotto
The Co-operative Magazine

Having previously enjoyed four of the Co-op’s rice based recipes, I thought I would try another: this comforting baked risotto, that I had cut out and saved; which really is as easy as the name suggests! Soften leeks in a oven-proof dish, then add risotto rice and stock, and pop in the oven for half an hour. Once done, stir in cheese and enjoy! I served with some fresh, baby leaf spinach on the side. Delicious and simple! Great recipe.

Roasted Cod Basa with Spicy Lentils
The Co-operative Magazine

Another Co-op recipe I cut out and saved some time ago now, was this rich dish that had me roasting cod – although I used the more sustainable basa fillets and I think you could use any firm, white fish – on a bed of spicy lentils, tomatoes and spinach. Another simple and tasty recipe, but I did have to serve it with some seasonal Jersey Royal new potatoes, because this wouldn’t have been filling enough for my family’s appetites otherwise! Good recipe.

Easy Crispy Chicken
The Hairy Dieters (1) by Si King & Dave Myers
Grills & Roasts – Page 70

Love some finger-licking, crispy chicken? Well this recipe bakes chicken breast fillets with a delicious coating of breadcrumbs, garlic and herbs, cutting the calories considerably but to taste you would never know! It could be versatile too: with the warmer weather I served it with potato salad and seasonal asparagus, but I think in colder weather it will be equally good with chips or mash, and a variety of veg or baked beans. Yum! Great recipe.

Poached Chicken and Tarragon Sauce
The Hairy Dieters (6) Make It Easy by Si King & Dave Myers
Half-Dozen Winners – Page 87

Finally I tried this dieter’s version of the French classic of gently poached chicken with a creamy tarragon sauce, however no naughty cream here but half-fat crème fraiche instead. With only six ingredients this was a super simple and economical dish to make – Perfect served with seasonal Jersey Royal new potatoes and green veg. My only niggle is the sauce was too thin for my liking, that could be easily fixed with more reduction and perhaps some cornflour though. Good recipe.

So altogether that’s four delicious new recipes. I also remade Jamie Oliver’s garlic, sage and honey Pork Chops (30 Min Meals) with his Garlicky Green Beans, and Jool’s Sweet Pea & Prawn Pasta (Save With Jamie). As well as The Hairy Biker’s Coconut Prawn Curry, but substituting the prawn for Quorn, (Hairy Dieters 1) and their White Bean and Tuna Fishcakes (Hairy Dieters 4). What a month or so of great spring cooking, however now I look forward to more sun, trying some new salad recipes and eating al fresco on the patio.

Do you fancy any of these recipes?

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


Adaptations: May 2019

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

Game of Thrones (Series 8)
Not Read (Yet)     TV Series     Television

The 8th and final series of this epic fantasy drama, based on George R R Martin’s books, that has had millions of us hooked on its scintillating political intrigue, family rivalry, back-stabbing, bloody battles, dragons and the dead! There has been much criticism of this final series, however other than the story and character arcs felt a little sped up and one disappointing death I don’t generally agree. I thought it was a breath-taking, heart-breaking and ultimately fitting end. With such a long-running series though I don’t think you could have pleased everyone! Great watch.

That’s only one new-to-me adaptations watched, but what a watch?! I also enjoyed comforting re-watches of Practical Magic (1998) and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001). Which brings my grand total up to three adaptations watched over the month. I have also continued watching American fantasy drama Once Upon a Time (Series 1) and the German war drama Das Boot (2018).

As for non-adaptations, I watched the charming, historical drama Victoria (Series 3) on ITV and I watched, back-to-back, the very amusing Ghosts, a new comedy series from some of the hilarious makers of Horrible Histories (2009-2013), on the BBC iPlayer.

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

Goodbye May, Hello June 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? May has absolutely flown by for me in a blur of four friends and family birthdays (including my baby brother’s 21st!), a lovely bank holiday weekend, buying a new car, and a short term at work which led to another week break. Even though it flew by, it was a quieter, more relaxing month, which left me plenty of time for some great reading. Here’s what I read:

Fiction: 3          Non-Fiction: 1

First, I finished reading the engaging, turn-of-the-century classic, Howards End by E. M. Forster off of my Classics Club list, which I was inspired to add to my list after watching the BBC’s delightful 2017 adaptation. I found the book to be an equal delight and the perfect spring read as I had hoped. Then I travelled further back to 16th century Scotland and France, in By Sword and Storm by Margaret Skea, the gripping and eagerly anticipated conclusion to Skea’s brilliant Munro Scottish Saga trilogy. It was great to catch up with well loved characters and see some conclusions for them… although I think teasingly left open enough for the possibility of more.

Finally, for something completely different, I indulged in a short, fun read of Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M. C. Beaton, the sixth full-length mystery from Beaton’s long-running cosy crime series. The premise for which was so familiar I thought this was a re-read, but the further I got into the twists and turns I had no idea what was coming, so either my memory is worse than I thought or I never actually read/finished this before.

Alongside these fictions, I also finished my continued read of the fascinating biography, Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley. Started back in January, I took my time over this in-depth and enthusiastic look into this beloved author’s life through the places and spaces that mattered to her.

Pick of the Month: I can’t choose!

Altogether that is a brilliant four books read – not only does that make this my best month numbers wise this year, it was all top-notch quality too. At the end of the month, I also started reading my first book off my 10 Books of Summer 2019 Reading Challenge: Runemarks by Joanne M. Harris; my book club‘s next read, Undivided by Vicky Beeching; and my Classics Club Spin result: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells.

In June, I look forward to a trip to a local Film and Comic Con; a special ‘Vision Evening’ at my church; celebrating Father’s Day and a trip to the theatre to see The Lady Vanishes. It is shaping up to be a busy month – Here’s hoping there is still plenty of time for reading!

What did you do and read in May? What are your plans for June?

New Books: April & May 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms, it has been a while since I did one of these posts, because I have been resisting the urge to buy any new books. However I have received a few review copies, which are free…so totally okay, right? Here’s the goodies I’ve got over the last two months:

Her Kind by Niamh Boyce

Radioactive Evolution by Richard Hummel

Back in April, I received two new books from two new authors. First, I was kindly sent a copy of the new historical fiction, Her Kind from the publisher Penguin. It is said to be a ‘vivid re-imagining of the events leading up to the Kilkenny Witch Trial’, so I am super excited about it!

Then I also happily accepted a review copy of Radioactive Evolution, a new science fiction and fantasy cross-genre, from the publicist, after it was described as a collision of Hunger Games, Ready Player One and Game of Thrones.

Caitlin’s Son by John A. Heldt

The Comedy Club by Peter Bartram

While in May, I received two review copies from authors I have enjoyed before. First Heldt’s new time-travel novel, Caitlin’s Son, which is the fourth book in his Carson Chronicles series. I have previously enjoyed several books from Heldt’s earlier American Journey series, so I look forward to trying more.

Then The Comedy Club is the third book in Bartram’s nostalgic, murder mystery series. Having already enjoyed Headline Murder and Stop Press Murder from the series, I am looking forward to more adventures with ace crime reporter, Colin Crampton in 1960’s Brighton.

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

New Read: Headline Murder

After being on my autumn and winter to-be-read lists without success, I finally got round to reading Headline Murder by new-to-me author, Peter Bartram, at the end of spring. This is the first book in Bartram’s Crampton of The Chronicle crime, mystery series.

It’s August 1962, and Colin Crampton, a crime reporter for the Brighton Evening Chronicle, is desperate for a front-page story, when he receives a tip-off about the disappearance of the owner of the seafront’s crazy-golf, Arnold Trumper. On further investigation, Crampton scents a scoop as he discovers that Trumper’s vanishing act is possibly linked to an unsolved murder and dodgy property deals. However some powerful and dangerous people are determined Crampton should not discover the truth, so he will need to use every journalist trick in the book if he is to land this exclusive.

What follows is a very British murder mystery, with twists, turns, colourful characters and a good dash of humour too. All of which befits a story set in Brighton: one of Britain’s coolest, trend-setting towns. Plus Bartram took me back and brilliant evoked the time and style of the swinging sixties – like two of my favourite crime dramas, Endeavour and Inspector George Gently – with its classic cars, well-cut suits, pop music, food and smoky pubs! So I was pretty much in setting heaven! And while there is a dark, realistic edge to this, there is no gratuitous blood or gore, which makes this perfect for those, like me, who prefer lighter murder mysteries.

We follow all the fast-paced action and unravelling plot through the eyes of our protagonist, Colin Crampton, a dedicated – if sometimes rather cocky – local reporter. Who is willing to go the miles, even risking personal grief and putting himself in danger to finally solve this mystery and get his story. I must say I became very fond of our reporter, especially seeing him get up to all kinds of mischief while on the case, which also leads to romantic strife with his feisty Aussie girlfriend, Shirley!

What I was also really impressed with was how Bartram was able to so realistically describe the world of crime reporting, for even a journalistic novice like me! So it was no surprise to learn, after finishing this book, that Bartram has years of experience as a journalist himself. I just loved how he brought alive the smoky, bustling newsroom, with its ringing phones and clicking typewriters. And how – in an age without computers or mobile phones – Crampton has to do good, old-fashioned leg work and trips down to the archive office, as he desperately tries to produce the sort of copy that is demanded for the editor’s deadline.

All in all, I am so pleased I finally got round to reading Headline Murder. It was a good, page-turning murder mystery, with a likeable protagonist and great setting. I would be very interested in reading more from this series. 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? Or any other mysteries set in the colourful Brighton?

New Books: May & June 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, I have another combined post here for you. In May and June, here are the goodies I have added to my Kindle and shelves:

Queen of the North by Anne O’Brien

A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland

The Tudor Crown by Joanna Hickson

At the end of May, I was lucky enough to have my requests for these three historical fictions granted. After recently enjoyed The Shadow Queen by Anne O’Brien, The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland and First of the Tudors by Joanna Hickson, I am super excited to read these new books of theirs.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Moving on into June, I downloaded the discounted Collins Classics’ Kindle edition of The Pilgrim’s Progress and ordered a bargain, second-hand copy of The Return of the Prodigal Son from World of Books. Both for my church’s book club.

The Black Corsair by Emilio Salgari

The Queen of the Caribbean by Emilio Salgari

Then I was thrilled to be contacted again by the translator, Nico Lorenzutti about two more Italian classics. After enjoying Sandokan, The Tigers of Mompracem, I am looking forward to more swashbuckling adventures. As these are classics too, I have added them to my Classics Club list too.

Knowing Max by James Long

Finally, through Endeavour Press’ weekly e-newsletter, I snapped up a free copy of this historical fiction, because some years ago now, I loved Long’s bestselling time-slip novel Ferney.

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

Re-Read: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Audiobook)

Over the last couple of months, I have been re-immersing myself into J.K. Rowling’s wonderful ‘Wizarding World’, by listening to the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, read by Stephen Fry. Listening to one or two chapters at a time has made my chores speed along and re-awoken my childhood love of audiobooks.

For those who don’t know, the Chamber of Secrets, is the second book in the series, where we continue to follow the adventures of the famous boy-wizard, Harry Potter, with his lightning scar. Now in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry delights in his magical studies and playing as Seeker for the Gryffindor house Quidditch team. But even after banishing Lord Voldermort for a second time, more trouble lies ahead for Harry and his good friends, Ron and Hermione. When Salazar Slytherin’s fabled ‘Chamber of Secrets’ is said to have been re-opened and ‘mud-blood’ students find themselves the targets of whatever monster lies within!

Being several years since I read any of this series – although I have watched the films many times – it has been great to rediscover all the extra details of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s adventures in this light, fun book. In particular, what I have always loved most about this series is the whole host of colourful, memorable characters and creatures that Rowling has created – All of whom I thought were brought to life brilliantly by Stephen Fry, who cleverly uses subtle changes in tone, pace, pitch and accent to give each character their own distinct voice. Hermione’s voice is particularly funny!

All in all, I found listening to the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets extremely comforting and fun. I am looking forward to starting the next audiobook in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban soon. Great read.

Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Have you tried any of the audiobooks?