Monday, February 29, 2016

Reading Plan Update - February

Continuing in 2016 to make inroads on the books I own (un-read) and not buy too many new ones. Progress to date:
  1. January: books removed from list: 7,  books added: 2; net result -5
And now for February:
  • I  read 4 titles from my list (The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge, The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor,  Only Say the Word by Niall Williams, A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler)
  • I re-read two books we owned already (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J K Rowling, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco)
  • I read part of one library book (Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde) before deciding that it was just not for me, despite really liking his Tuesday Next series.
February's tally is therefore...
books read: 6 (what can I say - it was a really busy month!)
books removed from list: 4,  books added: 0; net result -4
[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 46 - 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. Georgette Heyer, A Christmas Party (from my mother, December 2015)
  20. Anthony Horowitz, Moriarty (Waterstones Kingston, Boxing Day 2015)
  21. Laurie R King, Dreaming Spies (birthday present, November 2015)
  22. Donna Leon, Doctored Evidence (charity shop, December 2015)
  23. Maria McCain, The Wilding (charity shop, December 2015)
  24. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (charity table, Wetland Centre, May 2015)
  25. Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (charity shop, December 2015)
  26. 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)
  27. Tom McNeal, Far Far Away (AbeBooks, January 2016)
  28. Philipp Meyer, American Rust (charity shop, December 2015)
  29. Kim Newman, An English Ghost Story (The Last Bookshop, Brisol, Sept 2015)
  30. David Nicholls, Us (Waterstones Durham, August 2015)
  31. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  32. Liliane Paul, The Bees (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)
  33. Elizabeth Redfern, The Music of the Spheres  (charity shop, December 2015)
  34. Peter Robinson, Abbatoir Blues (charity shop, August 2015)
  35. Peter Robinson, Bad Boy  (charity shop, December 2015)
  36. Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Prisoner of Heaven (charity shop, August 2015)
  37. Jane Smiley, Some Luck (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)
  38. Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Barnes & Noble (in MD), Summer 2013 - a re-read, as I read it when a teen) *
  39. Matthew Thomas, We Are Not Ourselves (Waterstones Kingston, Boxing Day 2015)
  40. Rosie Thomas, The Illusionists (WH Smith, May 2015)
  41. Rose Tremain, Tresspass (charity shop, December 2015)
  42. Barry Unsworth, The Ruby in her Navel  *
  43. Ferdinand von Schirach, The Girl who wasn't There (charity shop, December 2015)
  44. Susan Vreeland, Lisette's List (birthday present, November 2015)
  45. William Wharton, Birdy (The Last Bookshop, Bristol, Sept 2015)
  46. Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A J Firky (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)

Dinner, 29/2/16: Sweet Potato & Chorizo Quesadillas (Good Food Magazine), Salad

Book 14: The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco (re-read)

Read this many, many years ago and have been meaning to read it again; Umberto Eco's recent death prompted me to actually do so. I'm not quite finished, but I'm going to count it as a February read nonetheless.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dinner, 28/2/16: Cauliflower & Pecorino Fritters (delicious. magazine); Green Bean Salad (Yotam Ottolenghi)

The bean salad was good; the fritters were excellent. Everyone loved them, definitely having them again!

(Thanks to Sharon for finding the fritter recipe online:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Dinner, 22/2/16: Pasta with Chorizo, Spinach and Ricotta (Good Food Magazine)

Alex cooked dinner tonight - probably his first time cooking something more complex than putting things in the oven to heat. But he's 13, he's plenty old enough to manage a simple meal now and again (he did quite a bit of baking over the half term, very successfully). Very nice it was, too.

Book 13: A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

I'm a big fan of Anne Tyler from a long time back - Accidental Tourist days or before. I have read all of her books, even the old ones (when I discovered her, there weren't so many to catch up with) and though I generally never dislike them, some I like better than others. This one was lovely - a good, solid Anne Tyler-y read with quirky characters who also seem somehow quite normal. A good one to start with if you've never read any Anne Tyler.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Dinner, 21/2/16: Two potato vindaloo (Yotam Ottolenghi)

This was good, though not my favourite of either his recipes or potato curries. Not sure if I will cook it again or not; I'd certainly eat it again if someone else was cooking it, though...

Book 12: Only Say the Word by Niall Williams

Beautiful. I read "Four Letters of Love" ages back, and thought it was excellent,  so when I came across this in a charity shop, I knew there was a good chance I'd like it. It's a lovely story about love and loss and family, and just beautifully written.  He has two other novels; think I need to acquire them!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dinner, 18/2/16: BLT Tart (Good Food Magazine)

This was good, but if I make it again, I'd be inclined to either use puff pastry (instead of shortcrust) or to blind bake the shortcrust first. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Book 11: The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor

Not really a ghost story, despite the title, but a nice solid historical mystery by an excellent writer. A little slow in the middle, I thought, but otherwise very readable and a with a good feel for the time, I thought.

Dinner, 14/2/16: Roast Pork, roast potatoes, cabbage

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Dinner, 7/2/16: Legume Noodle Soup (Yotam Ottolenghi)

Excellent. I have yet to find an Ottolenghi recipe I didn't like. This is an Iranian soup, and it was great. I did modify the recipe a little (used tinned beans instead of dried and egg noodles because I had them in the house) but it was still awesome. 

Book 10: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

This is a "young adult" title  - and although not much would make me want to be a teenager again, some of the YA titles I've read in recent years put forward a strong case - if only there was that much excellent YA fiction when I was younger...  Still, doesn't stop me from reading it now! This is a hard book to categorise; it's mostly a historical novel. about a girl whose family moves to a remote island for her father to work in an excavation. Or, it's mostly a book about a Victorian girl's complicated relationship with her parents. Or, it's about a mysterious tree which grows when you feed it lies and which everyone seems to be trying to find and secure for their own nefarious purposes. Anyway, however you look at it, it was excellent; I shall be looking out for more by this author.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Book 9: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling (re-read)

Second in the series, which I am re-reading. Even though I've read this one several times, I ran across a passage I don't recall at all from before (obviously not in the film version, either) - funny what the brain does and doesn't remember!

Monday, February 01, 2016

Dinner, 1/2/16: Haddock, peas, potatoes

(Only got a photo of the haddock). I got a  real bargain on this by picking it up at the fish counter on Sunday afternoon  - obviously Waitrose was trying to shift its fish before the end of the day. It was still fresh and lovely - I might have to employ this tactic more often!

January Round Up

So, what did we eat in January? I expect this year that there won't be quite so many interesting mid-week meals, just because I am out so much in the dinner prep time, but hopefully, it will still be fairly interesting...


  • 31st: Roast Chicken, roast potatoes, carrots & squash
  • 30th: Spicy root vegetable & lentil casserole
  • 29th: Mexican bean & tortilla bake
  • 28th: Asian tofu & cucumber noodles (Geoff, Sarah only - Sarah cooking)
  • 27th: Chicken chasseur, mash (Geoff cooking)
  • 26th: sausages, jacket potatoes, courgette
  • 25th: Chili con carne (from freezer)
  • 24th: Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie
  • 23rd: Ratatouille
  • 22nd: Spinach, Chickpea & Potato Curry
  • 21st: Everyone find your own
  • 20th: Chicken with Ginger and Carrots (Geoff cooking)
  • 19th: Fish, potatoes, peas (Geoff, Alex)
  • 18th: Courgette Lasagne
  • 17th: Roast Duck with roast potatoes & veg
  • 16th: Sausages, Yorkshire Puddings, Cabbage
  • 15th: Lamb & Bean Soup with Barley
  • 14th: Everyone find your own
  • 13th: Brussel Sprout and Chestnut Soup
  • 12th: Omelettes (S&O out)
  • 11th: Canneloni with rocket, Spinach and ricotta
  • 10th: Minted Slow-Cooked Lamb
  • 9th: Vegan Lancashire Hotpot
  • 8th: Stir Fried veg & Courgette "Noodles"
  • 7th: Everyone find your own
  • 6th: Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Coleslaw, Potatoes, Beans
  • 5th: Ham, Bean & Lentil Soup
  • 4th: Linguine with garlic, prawns, spinach
  • 3rd: Jambalaya
  • 2nd: Courgette, mushroom and mozzarella tart
  • 1st: Chili con Carne (Geoff cooking)