Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book 11: Reservoir 13, Jon McGregor

Well, I knew I'd like this one because I enjoyed the last of his that I read (This Isn't The Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You) despite it mostly being a short story collection, which I'm not usually crazy about (these were fairly entwined) and his first novel, If No One Speaks of Remarkable Things is a truly amazing book. But what I didn't realise is how amazing and beautiful the structure would be, in addition to the writing itself. It wasn't totally what I expected (because you tend to expect books which are ostensibly about missing people to be about missing people) but that's not to say it was the worse for that - indeed, the opposite. The missing girl is the pivot point - sort of- for the rest of the action and the inaction and it's a lovely device. If you enjoy fiction, especially beautifully written fiction (and if you ever want an example of how dialogue is completely unnecessary in a book which is essentially about how people interact with one another) you really should read this. And if you aren't sure you like fiction, you should probably read this as well. Just lovely. Definitely a contender for favourite read of the year and it's only February!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Dinner, 13/2/18: Tofu with Black Bean Sauce (Geoff cooking)

This is the photo from the recipe - no photo was taken of the actual meal, which unfortunately, I didn't even get to eat, as Alex and I are out every night this week with Gang Show performances.  I am assured it was good, though, so I imagine we'll be seeing it again...

Books in

Popped into Waterstones to pick up The Obelisk Gate, which I'd ordered (it's the second in the trilogy I finished the first of the other day. I may not read it straight away, but I imagine it will be soon...)  Of course, I couldn't not browse the other books, so I've come home with a few more for the windowsill. Plus I've ordered something from the library - that one I'll have to read right when it comes in, of course.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Book 10: The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

Wasn't sure if this was a Young Adult novel until I read it (it is); doesn't matter of course, except that Young Adult novels are often more readable than novels aimed at adults which I think (sometimes) feel they have to be Clever or Worthy or Literary and often just end up being Tedious as a result (some, of course, succeed brilliantly, don't get me wrong).

Anyway, this is a story of the black market and the underground movement and hiding Jews in 1943 in Amsterdam. And if that sounds familiar, yes, there's a literary precedent, but there is, of course, also history to back up the validity of this story.

Having recently been to Amsterdam, it was particularly enjoyable to follow Henneke's travels through the cobbled streets to places I'd been to or been past. And it was an interesting glimpse into the lives of the sometimes extraordinary ordinary people living through the German occupation of the Netherlands.

A very good book.

Dinner, 11/2/18: Ratatouille (Yotam Ottolenghi)

This is "Tamara's Ratatouille" from Yotam Ottolenghi's first vegetarian cookbook, Plenty. I've made it once before and Geoff and I both love it, though of course the kids don't like it, due to aubergine (I let them pick it out - more for me!). The texture is fabulous, and the long cooking gives it a really nice flavour. It's not a quick assembly dish, but it's worth it.

Book 9: The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin

Well. I've read good things about this book (and the author in general) and it's nice to not only not be disappointed but to be thrilled. What an excellent book. Great writing, interesting characters, fascinating world-building. Have ordered the second one and will no doubt proceed to the third shortly thereafter. I've picked up a bunch of books recently which I really couldn't get into; this one was so gripping from the outset that I knew I would be ok. Highly recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy, especially with strong female characters and intersting world-building.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Friday, February 09, 2018

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Dinner, 7/2/18: Pork Mince & Kimchi Stir Fry (Geoff cooking)

A nice stir fry, with kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage), peppers, bamboo shoots in addition to the pork mince.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Dinner, 6/2/18: Springtime pasta

Not really sure why this recipe was called "Springtime" - it had kale, bacon & onions in it, with goat's cheese. But it was tasty.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Book 8: The Book Borrower by Alice Mattison

I had mixed feelings about this book, which is a combination invented memoir ("Trolley Girls") about sisters, anarchy, trolley strikes and so on in the 20s and modern (1970's forward) novel of friendship between two rather unlikely women friends, who meet in a playground. I'm still not entirely convinced about the writing style of the modern section, or indeed, either of the characters in that section; I found it hard to slip inside the head or skin of either of those women, which made their friendship harder to fathom and so on and so forth. Parts of the novel I enjoyed very much, parts were more of a struggle for me. I did, however, finish it without skipping too much. So that's something.

Dinner, 4/2/18: Spicy Bean Hotpot (Hairy Bikers)

This was very nice - like a vegetarian chili with a thin potato topping. Next time, I'd probably cook this even longer in the oven to get the potatoes even more crispy.