Monday, October 31, 2016

Book 91: Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L Sayers

Having reached the point of Gaudy Night, I then of course had to also read Busman's Honeymoon as well. That takes me to the end of the Sayers stories, though there are still the Jill Paton Walsh continuations to read, which are not bad, though not quite the same. I still have some short stories as well, but they again, aren't quite the same. Still, I might very well read them if I still need a fix!

Book plan update - October

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
  2. February: books removed from list: 4, books added: 0; net result -4 (total YTD: -9)
  3. March: books removed from list: 8, books added:8; net result 0 (total YTD: -9)
  4. April: books removed from list: 6, books added: 0; net result -6 (total YTD: -15)
  5. May: books removed from list: 6, books added: 4; net result -2 (total YTD: -17)
  6. June: books removed from list: 3, books added: 0; net result -3 (total YTD: -20)
  7. July: books removed from list: 4; books added: 8; net result +4 (total YTD: -16)
  8. August: books removed from list: 2; books added: 0; net result -2 (total YTD: -18)
  9. September: books removed fromlist: 3; books added: 0; net result -3 (total YTD: -21)
In October:
  • I re-read one book from a charity shop, which I didn't bother to add to my reading list (Naked in Death, J D Robb)
  • I re-read one book we had in the house, which I have since thrown away as it was completely falling apart. (Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon), three books which we own which I'm keeping with my collection (The Nine Tailors,  Gaudy Night and Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L Sayers), and one book which I re-read in readiness for reading the subsequent books, and because Sarah wanted to read it after having seen the film (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs)
  • I read four books from my list (Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, Winter by Marissa Meyer, Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge)
  • I read one book from the library (Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans)
  • I bought one book from Abe books in a series I'm reading (Seige and Storm by Leigh Bardugo)
  • I bought two books from Waterstones to go with something I ordered as a birthday present to hit the free shipping (Winter by Marissa Meyer, Slade House by David Mitchell)
  • I bought one book in the pound shop (Little Gods by Anna Richards)
  • I went totally crazy in charity shops with Sarah during her reading week holiday and bought a ton of books (All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild, A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman, The Little Old Lady Who Broke all the Rules by Caterina Ingleman Sanders, Ingo (& two other titles in the series) by Helen Dunmore, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin, The Humans by Matt Haig and a couple more which don't go on my reading list for various reasons - titles I've read but which are filling gaps in my collection or better copies of books I own).
October's tally is therefore...
books read: 11
books removed from list:  4 books added: 13 ; net result +9
[Goal (no more than 1 book added to the list for every two books removed)  failed spectacularly 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 42 - of those, only 4 are left from before 2015. [Books with an asterisk]. 
  1. Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky (charity shop, October 2016)
  2. Susan Barker, The Incantations (charity shop, July 2016)
  3. Leigh Bardugo, Seige and Storm (Abe Books, October 2016)
  4. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell (Waterstones Canterbury bargain bin, July 2015)
  5. Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead (AbeBooks, October 2015)
  6. Wilkie Collins, The Haunted Hotel (birthday present, November 2015)
  7. Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (World of Books, October 2015)
  8. Jean-Paul Didierlaurente, The Reader on the 6.27 (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  9. Anthony Doerr, About Grace (Waterstones Piccadilly, July 2016)
  10. Carol Ann Duffy, Faery Tales (charity shop, July 2016)
  11. Helen Dunmore, Ingo (charity shop, October 2016)
  12. Helen Dunmore, Stormswept (charity shop, October 2016)
  13. Helen Dunmore, Tide's Knot (charity shop, October 2016)
  14. 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...) *
  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 (2014)*
  17. Kate Grenville, The Lieutenant (charity shop, December 2015)
  18. Matt Haig, The Humans (charity shop, October 2016)
  19. Melissa Harrison, At Hawthorn Time (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  20. Antonia Hodgkin, The Devil in the Marshalsea (charity shop, May 2016)
  21. Andrew Michael Hurley, The Loney (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  22. Jennifer Johnston, Two Moons (charity table at Sainsbury's, July 2016)
  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, This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You (Waterstones Piccadilly, July 2016)
  27. Darragh McKeon, All That is Solid Melts into Air (Waterstones Kingston, May 2016)
  28. Philipp Meyer, American Rust (charity shop, December 2015)
  29. David Mitchell, Slade House (Waterstones online, October 2016)
  30. Alice Munro, Runaway (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  31. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  32. Elizabeth Redfern, The Music of the Spheres  (charity shop, December 2015)
  33. Ransom Riggs, Hollow City (Waterstones Piccadilly, July 2016)
  34. Hannah Rothschild, The Improbability of Love (charity shop, October 2016)
  35. Gregory David Roberts, Shataram (Abe Books, July 2016)
  36. Sunjeev Sahota, The Year of the Runaways  (Mother's Day present, March 2016)
  37. Caterina Ingleman Sanders, The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules (charity shop, October 2016)
  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. Rose Tremain, Tresspass (charity shop, December 2015)
  41. Sarah Winman, A Year of Marvellous Ways (charity shop, October 2016)
  42. Gabrielle Zevin, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (charity shop, October 2016)

Dinner, 31/10/16: Green pesto tagliatelle with courgette and pancetta

Needed something quick and easy tonight between it being a school night anyway, and Hallowe'en - a night full of having to get up to answer the door. This fit the bill well. We had it with bread and a salad.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Dinner, 30/10/16: Potato and Celeriac Pancakes with Bacon & Cheese

This tasted nice, but it was a bit of a pain to cook - not counting the fact that my food processor decided to go to food processor heaven right before we grated all the potatoes. Some of it, I had to cook more like hash browns (which was fine) because one of my pans wasn't non-stick enough. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Book 90: Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers (re-read)

Still re-reading this series - and this is my favourite of the lot. So it was hard to resist reading it straight away when I got to it. As I've been a bit under the weather and doing a lot of sitting around reading on this holiday, I have managed to read quite a few books. Which is good, though it feels strange as I usually spend half term holidays doing a lot of stuff out and about...

Dinner, 28/10/16: Creamy Chicken, Ham and Leek Pie (Hairy Bikers), Mashed Potato

Mmm... and enough leftover for a weekday supper when it's hard to cook.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book 89: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (re-read)

Prompted to re-read this, first because I have the second in the series waiting to be read and second because Sarah, having seen the film, now wants to read the book. A nice quick re-read and glad I did so as I had forgotten some of the detail. It will be interesting to see where the next book goes.

Dinner, 27/10/16: Ham, Potatoes, Green Beans

Books in

Sarah is home for a few days during her reading week, and I have the week off for half term. I haven't been 100 per cent well, but yesterday I really needed to get out of the house, so we headed to Wimbledon (Olivia had her last orthodontist retainer check anyway) and hit all the charity shops. In addition to a nice jumper for Geoff, I did find a load of books. Quite a few of them are children's (the Helen Dunmore) or young adult titles (Gabrielle Zevin), a few are ones I've read but don't have a copy (the Douglas Copeland) of or are better copies of books I have (Northanger Abbey) or by authors whose works I have most of (Coraline). But there are still a good handful of titles for my reading list!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Book 88: The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers (re-read)

Still re-reading my way through the Peter Wimsey series - an annoying virus (worse than a cold, not as bad as flu) has had me mostly curled on the sofa reading - which is not an entirely bad thing, mind you - so I got through this very quickly.

Dinner, 26/10/16: Smoked Haddock, Caramelised Fennel, Baked Sweet Potato

With no children being home, for one reason or another, Geoff and I went for something the kids don't like - smoked fish, fennel. Strange cooking for only two!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hunting Snowdogs

As it's half-term and we have the week off, we took a day to go down to Brighton and visit Sarah. As it happens, she's having a reading week, so we spent a slightly drizzly afternoon wandering around Brighton with a snowdog map, having a look at the artistic creations. We also had some lunch (of course), and played the 2p machines on the pier. A regular seaside mini break!  Alex and I left Olivia there to have another day with Sarah and both of them will come home Wednesday night on the train - Sarah will spend a few days at home and then go back to uni on the Saturday...

Monday, October 24, 2016

Book 87: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

A promising start to this series, set in a world where the library at Alexandria never burned down, it's illegal for private citizens to own books and The Library controls the world. I may just confine myself to YA titles, there are so many good ones out there waiting to be read...

Dinner, 24/10/16: Make your own Pizzas

Good choice for  a birthday meal with lots of extra folks around, even if we do have to cook in shifts...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Book 86: Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

Recommended by a friend, this was a fun homefront era read, great characters and a peek into a slightly different world than often offered up with war stories. 

Dinner, 23/10/16: Cauliflower Cheese, etc

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dinner, 21/10/16: Pork Curry

Geoff made this curry using the leftover pork from Sunday - it was excellent.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Book 85: Winter by Marissa Meyer

The concluding book in the Lunar Chronicles (though I think there's an add-on, about the bad guy's backstory - not sure if I'll read that or not). A satisfying conclusion, very action packed but not too easy - that said, you have to expect a certain amount of happily-ever-after when you are dealing with retold fairy tales. In all, a very entertaining Young Adult series.

Dinner, 19/10/16: Spicy Parsnip Soup (Good Food); Cheese, Garlic & Chive Scones (Ocado magazine)

These "scones" were a lot more like American biscuits in texture, but they were tasty and went well with the spicy parsnip soup. Yum.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Dinner, 17/10/16: One Pan Spicy Rice (Good Food Magazine)

A standby in our house - rice, spinach, chickpeas, curry paste, cashews. Quick and easy. And tasty.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dinner, 16/10/16: Roast pork, roast potatoes, cabbage; cheesecake

It's Geoff's birthday on Tuesday, but Tuesday is a bad day for cooking, and Sarah was home this weekend, so we did his birthday meal on the weekend. The cheesecake will last two days, but probably not beyond that...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Book 84: Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel

Thought this was great. Post-apocalyptic tale based around some travelling players, but multi-stranded with gentle interweavings, heading towards a nice resolution which I didn't actually see until right before it, though in retrospect...d'oh. Lovely writing and a great, rather calm, take on what is often so brutal (post-apocalyptic worlds) - reminded me a little of The Road in that sense of calm in a horrible world and a little of David Mitchell in the quality of the interwoven stories (though not quite so convoluted). Anyway, a real winner.

Dinner, 15/10/16: Stromboli, Potato & Bean Salad, Asparagus

Sarah is home for the weekend, so I had a request for "something which was more complicated than stuff I want to cook for myself at uni"  - I went with stromboli. Not really a one-person-cooking-in-a-uni-kitchen kind of meal, though it's not particularly difficult. A potato and bean salad to go with it, and the asparagus was reduced in the supermarket - I know it's out of season and from far away, but it was reduced from £2 per small packet of tips to 59p per packet, so I got enough asparagus for 5 people for just over £2. Can't resist that!

Book in

No idea about this one, though it looks promising. I found it in the pound shop, so thought it was worth a pound to try it out. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Dinner, 12/10/16: Courgette and Refried Bean Quesadillas (myWaitrose magazine)

These were very nice - the beans were black beans, fried with onion and blitzed; the courgettes were thinly sliced and roasted. Then some goat cheese and chilis. Served with pico de Gallo. Tasty. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dinner, 10/10/16: Meatball & pasta bake

This was a total assemly-rather-than-cooking dish: the better part of a bag of frozen meatballs, several bags of ready-made ravioli, a jar of sauce, some grated cheese. Chucked in the oven for a while. But it was very nice!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Dinner, 9/10/16: Sweet potato gumbo with cornbread muffins (Simon Rimmer)

From his book The Seasoned Vegetarian (I really must get his first veggie one, The Accidental Vegetarian) - we've had this before a number of years ago, but not recently. I still really like it, even though it's quite spicy. Personally, I like okra, but if you aren't a fan, this dish probably isn't for you.

Book 83: Death at La Fenice, Donna Leon (re-read)

Re-reading this series, too, I think. Now that I've been to Venice, I want to read them again and imagine I'm there, crime and all. And wish I was back!

Friday, October 07, 2016

Dinner, 7/10/16: Pea, Courgette and Feta Fritters (Sainsbury's Magazine), Salad

Another excellent addition to the fritter collection. These were light and fresh tasting.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Book 82: The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins

I counted this book in my September reading as I read most of it in September. I think Wilkie Collins is an excellent writer - quite under-rated. Really enjoyed the Moonstone last year and this one is also superb.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Dinner, 3/10/16: Rosemary chicken with tomato sauce & mash (Good Food Magazine)

We've had this before, I think, though not in a while - it's getting colder, so all the autumnal recipes are beginning to come out! This was quick, because it used boneless thighs - even the time spent boning the thighs didn't add much to the prep time. Good for a quick weeknight supper.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Dinner, 2/10/16: Roasted sausage and apple with sauerkraut (John Whaite)

Another from the Perfect Plates with Five Ingredients book - this one's main purpose was to use up half a jar of sauerkraut languishing in the fridge. It was nice - I liked the apple, though I imagine the kids weren't as keen. I'd choose different sausages next time than the ones I bought, though - they weren't my favourite.

Book 81: Naked in Death, J D Robb

I've read this before a couple of times - it's a light (in the sense of being a quick, easy read, a little fluffy, but in a good way) crime fiction/romance novel, the first in a series. Found it in a charity shop and fancied it again - still entertaining.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Dinner, 1/10/16: "Fresh" Lasagne with pesto (Good Food Magazine)

This is one we've had a number of times before - it's a lovely warming meal, and because it uses fresh tomatoes instead of sauce, it's lighter than a lasagne al forno. The recipe calls for spinach, which is what I usually use, but as I had a large bundle of spring greens, I used those this time instead. And half cherry tomatoes (recipe) and half larger tomatoes (left in the house, going soft). Always tasty - and made enough for leftovers later in the week.

September Round up


  • 30th: Courgette noodle miso ramen
  • 29th: Everyone fend for yourself
  • 28th: Chili with rice (Geoff cooking)
  • 27th: Cold Chicken, Fried Potatoes, Cabbage
  • 26th: Creamy Sausage & Rocket Pasta
  • 25th: Lunch out for Sarah's birthday
  • 24th: Roast Chicken, potatoes, beetroot
  • 23rd: Carrot Tart, Spicy Indian Greens
  • 22nd: Everyone fend for yourself
  • 21st: Chicken and Cauliflower Curry
  • 20th: Mac & Cheese with green beans
  • 19th: Salmon with tangy salsa, new potatoes, broccoli
  • 18th: Lamb Rogan Josh
  • 17th: Jambalaya
  • 16th: Spag bol (from freezer) (K out)
  • 15th: Sausages, Curly fries, broccoli
  • 14th: Penne, Pecorino & Broad Bean Gratin
  • 13th: Lemony Couscous with Chickpeas
  • 12th: Sloppy Joes, Corn on the Cob
  • 11th: Lunch out, Half Moon Inn, Plumpton
  • 10th: Pesto Pizza with Prosciutto and Artichokes
  • 9th: Pata all' Arabbiata
  • 8th: Everyone fend for yourself
  • 7th: Middle Eastern Lamb Nachos
  • 6th: Thai Chicken Soup
  • 5th: Vegetable and Cashew Stir Fry
  • 4th: Fried Butter Beans with Spinach and Sumac, Lamb Steaks
  • 3rd: Courgette and Bacon Risotto
  • 2nd: Bratwurst, sauerkraut
  • 1st: Everyone fend for yourself