Sunday, January 31, 2016

Reading plan update - January


Once again, I'm trying this year to read through books I own, and not buy so many new books until I've made a substantial reduction in the (unread) books I already had. New year, new tracking...  How am I doing so far?
  • I  read 5 titles from my list (Sarasawati Park by Anjali Joseph, Goodnight, Nebraska by Tom McNeal, Merivel by Rose Tremain, The Good Italian by Stephen Burke, Play with Fire by Dana Stabenow)
  • and removed 2 which I started, but didn't really get into  (The Land of Spices by Kate O'Brien (50 pages); Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson (100 pages) )
  • I read (or apparently, re-read, though I don't really remember it) one book I already had around the house in a series I am reading before donating to the charity shop (Flight, Jan Burke)
  • I re-read one book we owned already (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J K Rowling)
  • I read one library book (Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith)
  • I bought one used book from Abe Books (Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal)
  • I bought one book in Waterstones Kingston when shopping for Alex's birthday presents (A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson)
January's tally is therefore...
books read: 8.5
books removed from list: 7,  books added: 2; net result -5
[Goal (no more than 1 book in for every two books removed) achieved/exceeded this month.]


Here's the updated list of Books to Read in 2016.  There were 55 books at the beginning of January, and now there are 50 - of those, only 7 are left from before 2015. [Books with an asterisk]. 
  1. Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins (Waterstones Kingston, January 2016)
  2. Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows (Waterstones online, November 2015)
  3. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell (Waterstones Canterbury bargain bin, July 2015)
  4. Laura Beatty, Darkling (Big Waterstones, August 2015)
  5. Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead (AbeBooks, October 2015)
  6. Wilkie Collins, The Haunted Hotel (birthday present, November 2015)
  7. Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (Waterstones Kingston, Boxing Day 2015)
  8. Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (World of Books, October 2015)
  9. Rene Denfield, The Enchanted (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)
  10. Anthony Doerr, All the Light we Cannot See (Big Waterstones, August 2015)
  11. Hans Fallada, Alone in Berlin (car boot sale, Bristol, Sept 2015)
  12. Nathan Filer, The Shock of the Fall (charity shop, August 2015)
  13. Ford Maddox Ford, Parade's End (Nov 2012 - birthday present - bought after the BBC adaptation - but I knew I wouldn't read it straight away as I wanted to let time pass from the adaptation.  Enough time has probably passed now...) *
  14. E M Forster, Howards End (late 2014) *
  15. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (would be a re-read, bought shortly after his death - spring 2014 - as I was reminded how much I enjoyed it and I didn't seem to own a copy - think my old one fell apart, probably...) *
  16. Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South *
  17. Graham Greene, Brighton Rock *
  18. Kate Grenville, The Lieutenant (charity shop, December 2015)
  19. Frances Hardinge, The Lie Tree (Waterstones Durham, August 2015)
  20. Georgette Heyer, A Christmas Party (from my mother, December 2015)
  21. Anthony Horowitz, Moriarty (Waterstones Kingston, Boxing Day 2015)
  22. Laurie R King, Dreaming Spies (birthday present, November 2015)
  23. Donna Leon, Doctored Evidence (charity shop, December 2015)
  24. Maria McCain, The Wilding (charity shop, December 2015)
  25. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (charity table, Wetland Centre, May 2015)
  26. Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (charity shop, December 2015)
  27. John McGregor, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (charity shop, April 2015 - will be a re-read as have read it in (apparently) October 2004 for a book group)
  28. Tom McNeal, Far Far Away (AbeBooks, January 2016)
  29. Philipp Meyer, American Rust (charity shop, December 2015)
  30. Kim Newman, An English Ghost Story (The Last Bookshop, Brisol, Sept 2015)
  31. David Nicholls, Us (Waterstones Durham, August 2015)
  32. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  33. Liliane Paul, The Bees (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)
  34. Elizabeth Redfern, The Music of the Spheres  (charity shop, December 2015)
  35. Peter Robinson, Abbatoir Blues (charity shop, August 2015)
  36. Peter Robinson, Bad Boy  (charity shop, December 2015)
  37. Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Prisoner of Heaven (charity shop, August 2015)
  38. Jane Smiley, Some Luck (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)
  39. Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Barnes & Noble (in MD), Summer 2013 - a re-read, as I read it when a teen) *
  40. Andrew Taylor, The Anatomy of Ghosts (passed on from Geoff, April 2015)
  41. Matthew Thomas, We Are Not Ourselves (Waterstones Kingston, Boxing Day 2015)
  42. Rosie Thomas, The Illusionists (WH Smith, May 2015)
  43. Rose Tremain, Tresspass (charity shop, December 2015)
  44. Anne Tyler, A Spool of Blue Thread (World of Books, October 2015)
  45. Barry Unsworth, The Ruby in her Navel  *
  46. Ferdinand von Schirach, The Girl who wasn't There (charity shop, December 2015)
  47. Susan Vreeland, Lisette's List (birthday present, November 2015)
  48. William Wharton, Birdy (The Last Bookshop, Bristol, Sept 2015)
  49. Niall Williams, Only Say the Word (charity shop, August 2015)
  50. Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A J Firky (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)

Book 8: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith


Third in the series, and just as compelling as the first two. A bit more about Robin's personal life and history in this one (had to come out sooner or later) and as the mystery is tied quite closely to Cormoran's past, about his as well. I'm really enjoying these books - the woman can write, that's for sure!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book 7: Play with Fire by Dana Stabenow


I've read some in this series a long time ago, can't remember if this was one I read, even after reading it, so I'm counting it as a new read. A good, solid crime/detective novel with interesting characters and a fascinating setting (Alaskan wilderness). 


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dinner, 27/1/16: Chicken Chassseur, Mash (Geoff cooking)


Lovely having a husband who works from home at least three days a week; with my busy evening schedule he can often cook dinner. Even things which take a while, like this chicken casserole.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Book In


Ordered a couple of used books for Alex's birthday; including this title, which is actually a young adult title, for myself. Unfortunately, Tom McNeal hasn't (yet) written any more titles for adults - write faster, Mr McNeal!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Book 6: The Good Italian, Stephen Burke


Picked this one up in the airport in Rome, but it's taken a while to get to it. Thought it was fabulous, though - it's the story of an Italian in pre-WWII Italian Eritrea, who falls in love with his cook/housekeeper. This is perhaps only mildly problematic, until the Italians pass a law against Italians engaging in "relationships" with local women. In addition to the interest of the two main characters, there's a fair bit on the history and relationships between the nations in question (as well as Ethiopia, when the Italians decide to annex that as well).  A smashing read, all around. 

Dinner, 24/1/16: Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie (Yotam Ottolenghi)


Another winner (we've had this one before) - just yum.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dinner, 23/1/16: Ratatouille (Yotam Ottolenghi)


This was from the recipe in Plenty, one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks. Yotam Ottolenghi sometimes has quite long lists of ingredients in his recipes, but they are always smashing. This was the best ratatouille I've ever had, and was just gorgeous. My kids hated the aubergine of course, but were fairly happy otherwise and Geoff and I adored it; we could have definitely eaten more. The flavour was just stunning - a little caramelised around the edges, perhaps due to the second lot of cooking in a shallow layer in the oven?  Anyway, a winner for sure. More Ottolenghi tomorrow; watch this space!


Book 5: Merivel by Rose Tremain


Historical novel set in the time  of Charles II - the late part of his reign. Nice, solid read, I enjoyed it.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Book 4: Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone (re-read)


It's been a few years since I re-read these, and recent discussion about them, especially the names, made me want to get stuck in again. I'm trying not to zip through them too fast, though, so I'll be interspersing them with other stuff (if I can resist).  Excellent, as always. Even knowing what's going to happen doesn't spoil the pleasure!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Book in


I was ordering some books for Alex's birthday, so I snuck this one in for myself as well. I think it's a young adult title technically, but that never bothered me...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dinner, 17/1/16: Roast Duck, Roast Potatoes, Greens & Broccoli (no recipe)



Book 3: Flight, Jan Burke


Been re-reading this series (and then reading the few later ones I haven't yet read - not sure if this is in the former or latter category - didn't remember it well at all if I have read it, but it's possible), which is great. This one, unlike the others, centres around Frank, Irene Kelly's police officer husband, rather than being told by Irene. But it's an excellent story, with (as usual) well drawn characters and tight plotting.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book no 2: Goodnight Nebraska, Tom McNeal


Read "To Be Sung Underwater" last year and thought it was fabulous, so I sought out another title, which was this one - verdict? Also fabulous. Really beautifully written and so moving. Very honest, bleak in places, hopeful in others.  This author is definitely one for my watch list. 

Dinner, 13/1/16: Brussel sprout and Chestnut Soup (Covent Garden Soup Cookbook)


Monday, January 11, 2016

Dinner, 11/1/16: Canneloni with rocket, spinach and ricotta (Gino D'Acampo)


Didn't get a photo of the whole dish, but here's a bit leftover waiting for lunch tomorrow...

Friday, January 08, 2016

Dinner, 8/1/16: Stir Fried Veg & Cashews (no recipe) with Courgette "Noodles" (Ken Hom)


Although the trend for "spiralizing" vegetables is very much happening now, this recipe is actually an old Ken Hom one from my Stir Fry book (not the stir-fry, just the courgette). I did use Olivia's new hand-held spiralizer to do the courgette though, instead of just slicing it into tiny noodle shapes...

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Book 1: Saraswati Park by Anjali Joseph


Trying to get through some of the 10 books left on my list from before 2015 - this is one of them. It was a good story about a family in India - a middle aged couple whose nephew comes to stay with them while studying. It explored family relationships and identity. Nothing much to say about it - it was a pleasant read. 

Dinner, 5/1/16: Ham, Bean & Lentil Soup (no recipe)


Friday, January 01, 2016

Dinner, 1/1/16: Chili Con Carne (Geoff cooking) (no recipe)


December Round Up

WHAT WAS  FOR DINNER, DECEMBER 2015

  • 31st: Saddle of Lamb
  • 30th: Lunch out
  • 29th: Everyone fend for themselves
  • 28th: Beef Curry (Geoff cooking)
  • 27th: Jerusalem Artichoke and Celeriac Soup, Leftovers
  • 26th: Leftovers
  • 25th: Christmas Feast
  • 24th: Christmas Eve Party
  • 23rd: Fish and Chips
  • 22nd: Lunch out
  • 21st: Chicken Korma
  • 20th: Leek and Bacon Risotto
  • 19th: Salmon with Creme Fraiche and Greens
  • 18th: Cheesy Cauliflower & Bacon Gratin, Salad
  • 17th: Eastern Spiced Chicken Pot
  • 16th: Pesto pizza with Artichokes and Prosciutto
  • 15th: Curried Cauliflower Soup (leftovers from freezer)
  • 14th: Goat Cheese and Spinach Canneloni
  • 13th: Ghobeli
  • 12th: Black Bean Burritos
  • 11th: Hot dogs, chips, salad
  • 10th: Pork mince with Kimchee (Geoff only)
  • 9th: Fish, Potatoes, Peas (Geoff, Alex)
  • 8th: Stir Fried Pork with Spring Onions
  • 7th: Pasta Shells with Courgette
  • 6th: Roast Gammon, Potatoes, Chard
  • 5th: Fennel & Aubergine Bake
  • 4th: Curried Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup
  • 3rd: Everyone fend for yourself
  • 2nd: Pork Mince Curry with Spinach and New Potatoes (Geoff cooking)
  • 1st: Cold Roast Chicken, Fried Potatoes, etc

Book reading in 2016

Last year's book tracking was so enjoyable (to me at least) that I've decided to do it again. I'm also going to try to be even stricter about book buying - employing a 2:1 system - I have to remove 2 titles from my TBR list for every one book I buy, either new or used. Not counting any books I may be given in the course of the year (there are usually a few). 

So, here's my updated list of Books to Read in 2016.  I am starting with 55 books - 10 of which were on the list at the start of the 2015 as well  [Books with an asterisk]. Last year I read 112 books, so in theory I should be able to get through all of these (it doesn't always work that way, of course- for instace, it's impossible to go into the library without coming out again with at least 3 or 4 books to try!). 
  1. Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows (Waterstones online, November 2015)
  2. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell (Waterstones Canterbury bargain bin, July 2015)
  3. Laura Beatty, Darkling (Big Waterstones, August 2015)
  4. Stephen Burke, The Good Italian (Fiumicino Airport, July 2015)
  5. Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead (AbeBooks, October 2015)
  6. Wilkie Collins, The Haunted Hotel (birthday present, November 2015)
  7. Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (Waterstones Kingston, Boxing Day 2015)
  8. Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (World of Books, October 2015)
  9. Rene Denfield, The Enchanted (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)
  10. Anthony Doerr, All the Light we Cannot See (Big Waterstones, August 2015)
  11. Hans Fallada, Alone in Berlin (car boot sale, Bristol, Sept 2015)
  12. Nathan Filer, The Shock of the Fall (charity shop, August 2015)
  13. Ford Maddox Ford, Parade's End (Nov 2012 - birthday present - bought after the BBC adaptation - but I knew I wouldn't read it straight away as I wanted to let time pass from the adaptation.  Enough time has probably passed now...) *
  14. E M Forster, Howards End (late 2014) *
  15. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (would be a re-read, bought shortly after his death - spring 2014 - as I was reminded how much I enjoyed it and I didn't seem to own a copy - think my old one fell apart, probably...) *
  16. Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South *
  17. Graham Greene, Brighton Rock *
  18. Kate Grenville, The Lieutenant (charity shop, December 2015)
  19. Frances Hardinge, The Lie Tree (Waterstones Durham, August 2015)
  20. Smith Henderson, Fourth of July Creek (Big Waterstones, August 2015)
  21. Georgette Heyer, A Christmas Party (from my mother, December 2015)
  22. Anthony Horowitz, Moriarty (Waterstones Kingston, Boxing Day 2015)
  23. Anjali Joseph, Saraswati Park *
  24. Laurie R King, Dreaming Spies (birthday present, November 2015)
  25. Donna Leon, Doctored Evidence (charity shop, December 2015)
  26. Maria McCain, The Wilding (charity shop, December 2015)
  27. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (charity table, Wetland Centre, May 2015)
  28. Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (charity shop, December 2015)
  29. John McGregor, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (charity shop, April 2015 - will be a re-read as have read it in (apparently) October 2004 for a book group)
  30. Tom McNeal, Goodnight, Nebraska (AbeBooks, March 2015)
  31. Philipp Meyer, American Rust (charity shop, December 2015)
  32. Kim Newman, An English Ghost Story (The Last Bookshop, Brisol, Sept 2015)
  33. David Nicholls, Us (Waterstones Durham, August 2015)
  34. Kate O'Brien, The Land of Spices *
  35. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  36. Liliane Paul, The Bees (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)
  37. Elizabeth Redfern, The Music of the Spheres  (charity shop, December 2015)
  38. Peter Robinson, Abbatoir Blues (charity shop, August 2015)
  39. Peter Robinson, Bad Boy  (charity shop, December 2015)
  40. Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Prisoner of Heaven (charity shop, August 2015)
  41. Jane Smiley, Some Luck (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)
  42. Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Barnes & Noble (in MD), Summer 2013 - a re-read, as I read it when a teen) *
  43. Dana Stabenow, Play with Fire (charity shop, August 2015)
  44. Andrew Taylor, The Anatomy of Ghosts (passed on from Geoff, April 2015)
  45. Matthew Thomas, We Are Not Ourselves (Waterstones Kingston, Boxing Day 2015)
  46. Rosie Thomas, The Illusionists (WH Smith, May 2015)
  47. Rose Tremain, Merivel (Birthday, 2014) *
  48. Rose Tremain, Tresspass (charity shop, December 2015)
  49. Anne Tyler, A Spool of Blue Thread (World of Books, October 2015)
  50. Barry Unsworth, The Ruby in her Navel  *
  51. Ferdinand von Schirach, The Girl who wasn't There (charity shop, December 2015)
  52. Susan Vreeland, Lisette's List (birthday present, November 2015)
  53. William Wharton, Birdy (The Last Bookshop, Bristol, Sept 2015)
  54. Niall Williams, Only Say the Word (charity shop, August 2015)
  55. Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A J Firky (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)