Monday, 29 February 2016

Monday Music #4


"Life turns on a dime" is the mantra of the book I'm currently reading. The smallest thing, the tiniest change to the way we do things can make a difference to the outcome. The smallest person, with very little power, can change destiny for another soul around them.


It's not always that easy. When we look at the big mess we are in, it's too daunting. There's too much to change, and if we tackle things, we can too easily fail.

The song I've chosen today encourages us to get up, fight for the things we want, and live life to the full. It reminds us that small things have the power to move big ones, and that it doesn't matter what others say, or how bad things are, we have a lot of fight left in us. 

Today is February 29. The additional day we only get every four years. Go and make life different today.

It's Rachel Platten - Fight Song. Enjoy






Friday, 26 February 2016

Ten of the Best #34


Welcome to the weekend. It's been waiting, while you've been working. And here it is, along with the end of February - yes really, already - with some downtime, hopefully, to read, watch and enjoy the things you didn't get to during the week.

Here's the best of what was on my social media feeds this week. Hope you enjoy them all.

1. Thuto Gaasenwe says it best. Sums up the mood in our country at the moment. Not as positive as Lovelyn's address, which is here, if you missed it three weeks ago - the first point. Thuto composed a poem entitled "Dear Mr President"... it's a student speaking, and she makes sense.



2. Really, it could be worse - we could live in Uganda. The Daily Show does a walkabout on a Ugandan street and asks locals whether they would vote for Trump or Museveni. “For a Muslim,” said one, “that would be like having to choose between ham and bacon.”
“I’d rather hang myself,” answered another. Here's Trevor.  

Friday Book Bling


BookBeginnings is a weekly meme, hosted by Rose City Reader. To participate, share the opening lines and your thoughts about a book you're reading, or about to.


Beginning: 
At first they watched the rain from inside the tent and then they watched it come inside the tent. A stone path extended from the house to the shore.When the shuttle buses arrived, the stones were opaque. Now they were translucent, the kind of wet that made it difficult to imagine them ever being dry again. Lightning struck the surface of the ocean and a curtain of hot wind swayed inward at their feet, pushing detached bouquet petals in a row. Victor took a step back. These were his only nice shoes.
My thoughts:

Four friends reunited for the snazzy wedding of a college friend. Victor loves Kezia, Kezia loves Nathaniel, Nathaniel loves Nathaniel. There is an older lady's 
obsession over a necklace, that they get sucked into, and they struggle their way through each other's lives not going according to plan.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

Verity Grey is an archaeologist, who is invited to work with the eccentric Peter Quinnell, to work on his dig on the Scottish borderlands. Her ex-boyfriend is there, and as she “meets the neighbours”, she discovers that all is not as it seems. Everyone is intent on keeping Peter Quinnell’s theory – that he has found the final resting place of the Ninth Legion – intact. The evidence seems flimsy at best.

I listened to this on Audible, and the narration was beautiful. I love Scottish accents and this emphasized the dialogues, which were real and well written.

This book was written in 1999, and although I have enjoyed others by this author, this wasn’t her best. The paranormal element didn’t worry me, but the plot could have been more gripping and the resolution less contrived. The characters were the main weakness – most of them more than a little annoying.



I didn’t know before that there was so much mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Ninth Legion, nor that so many cared about finding out what happened to them. I do now, and it was diverting.

An ok 3 star read for me.

ISBN: 9780515124644

You may also enjoy Kit by Marina Fiorato, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, or Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen.

All my reviews.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Good old favourites #12

How's your food week been, so far? I've had a wonderful week - not really giving a damn about what I eat, which is sometimes ok, but only for a while.

One of the things I've really been enjoying is tomatoes. It could be because they are growing like weeds in my garden, and producing a huge quantity of fruit, that seems enough to share with the birds, the whole family and the neighbourhood. They are just so juicy and tart, and they seem to work with so many things.

Watch this space for tomato jam, tomato chutney and anything else to do with too many tomatoes...

Here's the recipe for the week. Yes, it's healthy. Of course, it has tomatoes.

Vegetarian Aubergine Lasagne (originally from the LoSalt website)


You need:
1 and three quarter cups of chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic minced
500g tomatoes (can use two tins)
quarter cup tomato paste
2 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp oregano
half tsp dried basil (I use fresh)
Black pepper
At least one large eggplant/aubergine, sliced
1 cup shredded mozarella cheese
Parmesan to sprinkle

What to do:

Spray pan with nonstick oil and fry onion and garlic over low heat until translucent.
Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, everything except eggplant.
Steam the slices of eggplant in a pot - about 5 minutes.
Layer the eggplant and the tomato and onion mix in a serving dish (coated with nonstick oil). Top with mozarella and parmesan and bake for half an hour on 190 degrees.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Die Trying by Lee Child

Lee Child has created the ultimate hero in Jack Reacher. Although these books are not new, the length of the series, combined with "I know what the read is going to be like" is very attractive, particularly when you've just read something long and heavy. This is the second -Die Trying- where Jack inadvertently gets involved with the kidnapping of an FBI agent - Holly Johnson.

We follow them along an unknown path in the back of a truck, and then, when the action starts, it’s pretty non-stop.

If you know and love Jack, you’ll love this book. He’s awesome. So is Holly. And there were some twists I didn’t see coming. Clever writing, good plotting, with a dash of the unbelievable-in-any-world-except-Jack-Reacher-or-James-Bond.

Plenty of action, good characters, annoying villains and all the good guys win.

A strong 3 star read for me.

ISBN: 9780553505412

You may also enjoy Killing Floor – number one in the series by the same author.

All my reviews.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Monday Music #3

Good morning everyone. Welcome to the week. It's going to be a good one.

How do I know? Well, this is your Adventure of a Lifetime. It's got to be good. It's the only one you've got. Not inspired yet? Hang in there, maybe soon.

Coldplay fans may have already worked out this week's music clip to get us all going today. 

It's...

ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME - COLDPLAY

Why I chose it? 

Well, we all need to turn our magic on today. And everything we want is a dream away. Great stuff, right?

But my favourite bit is 

"Under this pressure, under this weight, we are diamonds taking shape."  

Inspired by our Sunday sermons on James - where we've been thinking about how the tough stuff in life can bring out the best in us. No matter what your beliefs are, this is a truth - when you've gone through some rough times, you are better for it. Quite amazing when you think about it - throw some brown at the human race, and it makes them more awesome. 

And the last subtitle - "Dedicated to the people of Paris, where this film was brought to life."

I don't know if it's worth bothering with watching the video - just take a listen.  It's quite cute when they dance, but that's it!

We are legends, everyday. Woohoo.





Last week's Music - Taylor Swift.

And the week before - Awake my soul - Mumford and Sons

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Suffragette

"Well, that does it. I officially hate men. All of them."
"Me too. In fact, I am not speaking to another one for at least a week."

This was the conversation my husband and I couldn't help but overhear as we left the screening of Suffragette. I glanced at him, and his look said, "Keep walking." I wanted to turn around and say "Not all of them," but perhaps it was better that I didn't. The movie had marked me under my skin. So much so that I returned to see it the very next night with my teenage daughter.

What was it about the movie that really got to me? A number of things.

Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Ten of the Best #33

Busy is not the word... Hectic? Frenetic? Frenzied? Stressful? Yup, any one of those is a good description for my week. Yours too? Sorry. 

Look at us though, we made it to another weekend. And no matter what is still to be done, it is now officially the end of the week. You (and I) deserve some time to sit down, chill, smell the roses, sip the tea, and catch our breath.

While you're doing that, why not catch up on what you didn't have time for on social media this week? That was frenetic too. In SA we had more Zuma, more students, some Valentine's Day rants and it sounds like the rest of the world was just as busy. Here's the most thought-provoking, interesting and funny things I found this week. Hope there's something for you to enjoy.

1. Where to begin? Well way back on Sunday it was Valentine's Day. And there was all sorts of anti-romantic sentiment that I found. I blame my friends. Cynical bunch that they are. Click the pic for an article on why single is really better for a woman.


2. Antjie Krog wrote an interesting piece on Eugene.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Friday Book Hero


BookBeginnings is a weekly meme, hosted by Rose City Reader. To participate, share the opening lines and your thoughts about a book you're reading, or about to.


Beginning: 
Nathan Rubin died because he got brave. Not the sustained kind of thing that wins you a medal in a war, but the split-second kind of blurting outrage that gets you killed on the street.
My thoughts:

Lee Child has created the ultimate hero in Jack Reacher. Although these books are not new, the length of the series, combined with that "I know what the read is going to be like" is very attractive, when you've just read something long and heavy. This is from the second - Die Trying - where Jack inadvertently gets involved with the kidnapping of an FBI agent - Holly Johnson. A great read.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. 
For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.
Kate Atkinson’s writing is gorgeous. Clever, in an effortless sort of way.

“The little heart. A helpless little heart beating wildly. Stopped suddenly like a bird dropped from the sky. A single shot. Darkness fell.”

The book is acclaimed, with loads of people just raving about it. The premise is brilliant, and well executed. The narrator on Audible was fantastic. She really nailed the voices and the pacing of the story. The characters grew beautifully, learned to do life better, and were charming and lovable.

But, dear reader, can you sense I am holding back here? Yes, because despite finding many things to delight in, the whole thing just didn’t hang together for me. It wasn’t that I was irritated by the restarts, they actually wove together. It wasn’t even that the ending never really did anything for me. 

Maybe the purposelessness was too much for my ever hopeful heart? Or maybe it’s just me?
Anyhoo, it’s three stars. Probably should be four, but I can’t bring myself to do that. Tell me what you thought.

ISBN: 9780316176484

You may also enjoy Ben Elton – Time and Time again.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Good Old Favourites #11

My family’s definition of healthy is slightly different from mine - as you will have worked out if you've been here before. 

They believe that healthy should definitely include lots of pasta, preferably with cheese. The more of both, the better. So they love this. But you don’t have to use as much pasta. And the cheese is ricotta – which of the cheeses, is one of the healthiest you can get. 

If you’re worried about salt, leave out the parmesan. If you’re worried about carbs, use an alternative, like the zucchini spaghetti, or carb free noodles. Either way, this is a yummy meal.

Rigatoni with tomato and corn salsa

500g rigatoni pasta
500g baby tomatoes, quartered
4 cobs fresh corn, cooked and stripped off the cob
100 ml fresh basil, shredded
1 fresh green chilli seeded and chopped (optional)
200ml extra virgin olive oil
20 ml balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
250g ricotta cheese, coarsely crumbled
Parmesan cheese shavings (optional)

Here’s what to do…

·              In a glass bowl, combine the tomatoes, corn, basil and chili,
·              Add the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar and season with herbs and pepper
·              Allow to stand at room temperature for the flavours to intensify
·              Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions till al-dente
·              Drain the pasta and immediately return to the warm cooking pot, but remove the pot from the heat
·              Add the salsa and the crumbled ricotta to the warm pasta
·           Combine the ingredients gently with a large spoon and season more, if required
·              Serve immediately in bowls topped with Parmesan cheese shavings

More recipes

Last week

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham

Since this is the 8th in the Joe McLoughlin series, we Robotham junkies have come to know what to expect. And we were not disappointed. The crime is hectic – a mother and her daughter found brutally murdered in a farmhouse. The danger is real – Joe doesn’t want to get involved, as he is reconnecting with his family, but he has to. Then they are drawn into the drama and become too involved, increasing the tension. And my old favourite, Vincent Ruiz, makes an appearance with some classic lines that had me snorting with laughter.

The soft and injured side of Joe – his Parkinson's, his unrequited love for Julianne and his beautiful relationship with his youngest daughter, Emma, provide a lovely counterpoint to the tense crime.

And as this races to its climax and neat resolution, we are completely messed with. I cannot tell – because I DO NOT DO SPOILERS. I’m even worried to tell you that there is one, because…oh never mind.

I am a die-hard fan, not sure if I will ever recover. That was just so wrong of you, Michael Robotham. And I wonder, did you have fun doing it?

Ok, enough said. You’ll have to read it to discover. And I hope I’ve whet your appetite, because the ride is worth every minute.

4 suspenseful stars

ISBN: 9780751552874

You may also enjoy Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter or The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer or Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Monday Music #2

Another Valentine's Day done and dusted. Here's the post from the cynic, in case you missed it.

But no cynicism today, because that didn't ever encourage anyone, did it? This is the Monday Motivation. Time to get up, and get at the week. And the music that gets me going today?

Well, it's Taylor Swift, with two of my all time favourites.


Why does Taylor's music inspire me? Well, she writes her own material. From her own personal experiences. I like that.  I also love how she manages to make the music fit into the words and the style of the song - it all just works like good choreography does. It's real, it's heartfelt and each song tells a story.

Today, I've chosen romantic, fairytale songs that make you feel good about life. Some of us may be suffering from Valentine hangover, after all. The clips are in keeping with the songs - just good old fashioned boy meets girl stuff; and boy meets wrong girl, but then lands up with right girl. Sweet and good. All the things we hope that Taylor still is.

The music is catchy, and you can exercise to it, if that's what gets you going.

Happy Monday everyone. We can do this week.

Love Story


You belong with me


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Love is not for sissies


I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day. It's not just the commercialism that I resist. I think I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to love. There, I said it out loud. I am therefore most often complaining about what love is not. That's the great joy of being a cynic - it's very seldom one gets to participate in any positive emotions.

It does help me to know that the origins of Valentine's Day were not romantic love, or cupids with bows and arrows, but a doctor, named Valentine who went about doing good deeds, helping Christians persecuted by the Roman Empire. For his love, he was beheaded on February 14, and hence we have the day.

Even the cynic in me can find something to like in that story.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Ten of the Best #32

A warm welcome to the weekend. It's going to be a good one. 

1. Let's start with SONA 2016 (State of the Nation Address, for all the non-SA residents). The only way to cope with it is to turn it into a drinking game. I missed it. Anyone record it? No 'spose not...oh well, next year, we'll play the game. Click the pic of the game for the highlights, including the President's inability to read numbers. Oh dear, not enough alcohol.

2. Carrying on in the humorous vein, this made me laugh. A man in a high tech voice activated lift. Only the lift doesn't understand him. My worst nightmare. You'll learn to say "eleven" in Scottish, Irish, American and other unknown accents.




3. And in health news, Tim Noakes seems to be having a hard time of it, and getting lots of publicity too.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Friday Book Justice


BookBeginnings is a weekly meme, hosted by Rose City Reader. To participate, share the opening lines and your thoughts about a book you're reading, or about to.


Beginning: 
Murderers do not usually give their victims notice.
My thoughts:

PD James is becoming a favourite of mine. Her detections are well written, and predictable in all the right kind of ways. 


This is about Venetia Aldridge QC, a distinguished barrister, who defends Garry Ashe, accused of the brutal murder of his aunt. And four weeks later she is found dead in her Middle Temple Chambers. If you've read PD James before, you'll know that Commander Adam Dalgliesh is called in to investigate.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer

The blurb: Cleone Charteris's exquisite charms have made her the belle of the English countryside. But Cleone yearns for a husband who is refined, aristocratic and who is as skilled with his wit as he is with his dueling pistols.... Everything Philip Jettan is not. As much as she is attracted to the handsome squire, Cleone finds herself dismissing Philip and his rough mannerisms.
With his father's encouragement, Philip departs for the courts of Paris, determined to acquire the social graces and the airs of the genteel -- and convince Cleone that he is the man most suited for her hand. But his transformation may cost him everything, including Cleone....
Indeed. 

As I was drawn into Ms. Heyer’s richly coloured and vivid world, twirling and flouncing in the “forsooths” and the swooning and bowing and ever so correct ladies and gentlemen, I wondered how, with any moral integrity, this relationship could succeed? After all, once you have rejected a man because he is not refined or aristocratic enough, how do you swear true love if he does manage to transform? Who is it exactly that you are now deeming worthy of your affections?

Oh me of little faith. Ms. Heyer is the master of plot resolution. She seems to delight in creating a regency pickle, and then with unswerving deftness and calm and reasonable logic, the thread unravels, and all is right with the world.

Powder and Patch did not disappoint in this way. And as an added bonus, we were treated to the delightful lecture from the elder (aunt, I think) who explained how a woman can hold two contradictory thoughts together. It made sense too. Remarkable.

My relationship with these books will continue – one or two a year - for the language, the setting, the charm and the wit that I devour with such appreciation.

ISBN: 9780553047325

4 stars

You may also enjoy The Whip by Karen Kondazian or Kit by Marina Fiorato, or any of Georgette Heyer’s other books.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Good Old Favourites #10

Good morning lovely people. 

If you're anything like me, right about now, you've decided that the holiday weight must now go - it has spent a long enough time hanging around and making those clothes just a little too tight, and that exercise programme a little too tough.

So what better for dinner tonight than these healthy fish cakes? They have vegetables in them, and fish is a low fat and excellent protein. Skip the dipping sauce if you're watching the sugar, and replace with a dash of low fat mayo.

Thai Fish Cakes

Stuff
500g white fish fillets
45ml cornflour
15ml fish sauce (I replace with my own seasoning - fish sauce too high in sodium)
1 egg, beaten
125ml fresh coriander leaves
15ml red curry paste
2 red/green chillies - seeded and chopped (optional)
100g green beans, finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Oil

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

With Our Blessing by Jo Spain

From the moment this book begins, you are plunged into the edgy, creepy Irish atmosphere. You are not surprised - because you can see it from the cover.The plot is based on actual occurrences in the Magdalene Laundries -  houses for “fallen women”.

You probably have a notion that that these places existed, but did you know that the last one closed as recently as 1996? I didn’t. The social issues are still relevant, and were well explored. The plot twists kept me guessing, the characters were well-drawn, and full of life. The writing was interesting – just enough that it didn’t detract from the plot.

A debut for Jo Spain, she ticked all the boxes for me. The pacing was fast, and with enough humor and warmth to balance the often gritty and chilling undertone. The detectives were likeable, but didn’t have those overdone character flaws, which seem commonplace in most crime novels.

I loved this read, and am delighted that there is another book to come.  

4 stars

ISBN: 9781784295639

You may also enjoy Beneath the Surface by Jo Spain, or A Terrible Beauty by VM Devine.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Monday Music

About an aeon ago, I decided to add some Monday Motivation to my little blog. I like inspiration, it is what keeps me doing this thing called life. But I don't really find the pretty pictures and calligraphy words (sometimes with bad grammar, or serious misspelling) very motivational. Even if they are right and true and have no errors.




Then about a half an aeon ago, I thought I would write about running to motivate us all (yes me too) to exercise on a Monday. I wrote this one post. It was a Good Thought, but not very practical. If I can't get up to run, how on earth can I be an encouragement to anyone else? And getting up to run is hard enough, without having to get up even earlier to write first. Seems duh now, but I did wonder for a few months why that wasn't working for me.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Rebound by Aga Lesiewicz

Anna Wright is a thirty-something media executive. She is successful, attractive and adores her pet Labrador, Wispa, and running in the parks around Hampstead Heath. Strange events unfold after she breaks up with James, coinciding with a number of violent attacks on the Heath. 

Anna develops a passionate sexual attraction for a complete stranger. This impacts on her professional life and culminates in a whirlpool of suspicion, anger and desperate behavior to fight for her very existence.

This is a medium-paced thriller - noteworthy because the premise is refreshingly unique, an achievement, considering the creativity demonstrated by authors in this genre. The plot is well constructed, and the friendships, dating relationships and workplace issues ring true with a contemporary feel.


I didn’t connect with the protagonist, and was irritated by her obsession with certain things and laid-back approach to others, depending on whether it suited the purposes of the plot. The prologue is taken from the middle of the novel, and then altered when it happens, which was also a let-down for me.

ISBN:9781447283089

3 out of 5 stars

You may also enjoy The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins or Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Friday, 5 February 2016

Ten of the Best #31

Welcome to the weekend. And what a weekend it is going to be. Filled with interesting clips, and al those funnies you missed during the week. Put your feet up, grab your favourite beverage, and enjoy - from my friends and family, the best of the social media I saw this week. Click the pictures to access the content. Enjoy.

1. In honour of all those students starting University in the last two weeks (and their lawnmower parents) here's the speech I thoroughly enjoyed. As has been said before - if this is the youth of our generation and their thinking, we may just be ok.




2.  If you've been here before, you'll know that one of my major themes is books and all things literary. How on earth did I miss this one? Beatrix Potter, the original Potter, had an unpublished book. Here it is. Doesn't it look wonderful?



3. Let's stay with the literary, the short story side - this is a good post. The morning after I killed myself.




4. Sorry for all of you that are still struggling with a cold and long and drawn-out winter. We are so sick of being so warm (not really, it's still blissful). Lucky us. Here are some gorgeous pictures of the 25 most beautiful small towns in SA. Put one or two of them on your list to visit. They are as gorgeous as they look.



5.  And here's the closest to Baroque in the Bush that I have ever been. Doesn't it look fantastic? One of my friends went. And another too, and she put this clip together. You'd think I'd've been invited? Maybe next year?



6. Some (67!) life hacks. Mainly for those of us with children. Some of this is good. Bookmark it for a rainy day, when you are not living life to the full and you have time for the life hacks.



7. I know there are a lot of book posts this week, but this one is exceptional...how to decide which books to take to University. Love this.




8.  I really enjoyed Brene Brown on playing the blame game. Didn't think I would, but I did.





9. Here's a funny short one - please don't hit me in the face with a wet fish. Please don't hit me in the face with a wet fish. Please don't ....SLAP. My worst nightmare.



10. This needs no introduction. Except then how would you know that it's good. While my guitar gently weeps. Composed by the late great George Harrison, the world's favourite Beatle. This features Eric Clapton. Oh, and also Paul McCartney. Great guitar starts at about 3m40s in. Enjoy. 


Happy weekend.

Here's the link to last week.

More Ten of the Bests.

Friday Book Frippery

Georgette Heyer is my heroine. She started writing books for her brother who was ill, when she was 15, in the days when there were not many female authors around.

Today I'm featuring Powder and Patch, my most recent read, because everyone should read a little Georgette Heyer every now and then. I am also participating in two linkups - Book Beginnings and the Friday56



The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice every Friday. 

How it works is you...Grab a book, any book. Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that's ok.) Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)

Here's my P56

"Mr Bancroft and I had some slight difference in opinion which we settled in a wood. I was very easily worsted."

"You?" cried mademoiselle. "Impossible."
"On the contrary, bien aimee; I was, in those days , a very sorry spectacle, was I not , sir?"

"Not so long since," said Mr Bancroft.



BookBeginnings is a weekly meme, hosted by Rose City Reader. To participate, share the opening lines and your thoughts about a book you're reading, or about to.

Beginning:

If you searched among the downs in Sussex, somewhere between Midhurst and Brighthelmstone, inland a little, and nestling in modest seclusion between two waves of hills, you would find little Fittledean, a village around which three gentlemen built their homes.




My thoughts:

I LOVE a good story, and here's the blurb from Goodreads.

Cleone Charteris's exquisite charms have made her the belle of the English countryside. But Cleone yearns for a husband who is refined, aristocratic and who is as skilled with his wit as he is with his dueling pistols.... Everything Philip Jettan is not. As much as she is attracted to the handsome squire, Cleone finds herself dismissing Philip and his rough mannerisms.



If you feel like immersing yourself in this world of wigs, pantaloons, with snuff boxes and hessian boots, you can't do better than to let the witty and wry Ms. Heyer be your guide.

What are you featuring? Leave me a comment and I'll visit you over the weekend.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Things we Keep by Sally Hepworth

Anna Forster is only 38, but in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. She agrees with her family who make the decision to move her to Rosalind house. Eve is a struggling single mother who needs to make ends meet. She finds herself there too, with her young daughter. Eve discovers that Anna has met and fallen for Luke, the only other person her age. The family and other staff feel it is better that the two are kept apart, but is this the right thing? I loved the clever way in which the author depicted the progression of Alzheimer’s. It is hard enough to face the disease “in real life”, and we approach reading about it with the same misgivings. However, this was creatively done, with a simplicity that was beautiful.

I was nervous to read about a fairly distressing topic, and was therefore surprised when this turned out to be a page turner of note. The love story unfolded in a subtle way, and was sensitively handled Three points of view told the story - Anna, Eve and Eve's daughter. I was left with a tremendous sense of hope after finishing the book, and shed many tears along the way.

The only negative was that the timelines were confusing. I learned to not worry too much about where I was in the story, and let it piece itself together later, which was fine, but perhaps I would have enjoyed it more, had I not had those questions.

A truly beautiful read. Sensitively handled. 


4 stars

ISBN: 9781250051905

With thanks to Netgalley and the publishers, who provided me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion of the book.

You may also enjoy Still Alice by Lisa Genova and Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. Or what about The Secrets of Midwives, also by Sally Hepworth?


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Good Old Favourites #9

Now what else can I come up with that is healthy (low salt. low sugar, low carbs and high on the vegetable content), that is easy to cook (because I can't) and that my family love, so much that they actually do ask me to cook it again?

Not much, I'm afraid. This series may end soon. Blame it on the high standards of two teens, or the unimaginative kitchen that is mine at the moment.

Even so, this recipe is not scraping the proverbial barrel. Perish the thought. It is great. Haul it out when you feel like vegetarian comfort food. Hope you enjoy.

Mushroom and spinach stroganoff

The stuff:
Olive Oil
2 onions finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
Chestnut and button mushrooms. chopped/sliced
pinch of paprika and black pepper
3 tablespoons brandy
175ml cream
150g baby leaf spinach
Chopped Parsley

The way:

Fry the onions and garlic in olive oil for 10 minutes, until golden. Add the mushrooms, paprika and black pepper and fry for 5 minutes, stirring. Add the brandy and bubble for a minute. Stir in the cream and simmer for 2-3 minutes until slightly reduced.

Stir in the spinach and parsley and allow to wilt.

Serve with potato rosti or your favourite pasta.