Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Plan Update - November

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 from list: 3; books added: 0; net result -3 (total YTD: -21)
  10. October: books removed from list: 4; books added: 13; net restul +9 (total YTD: -13)
In November:
  • I read three books from my list (Faery Tales by Carol Ann Duffy, The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurente, No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy)
  • I got 3 books as birthday presents (Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine, Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs, The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness)
  • and one as a belated birthday present (Germany: Memories of  a Nation  by Neil MacGregor)
  • I re-read three books we already own (Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen by Garth Nix) as a prelude to reading another book already in the house (which Geoff got for his birthday) (Goldenhand)
November's tally is therefore...
books read: 7
books removed from list:  3 books added: 4; net result +1 (but I didn't actually buy any!)
[Goal (no more than 1 book added to the list for every two books removed)  not achieved 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 43 - 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. Rachel Caine, Paper and Fire (birthday present, November 2016)
  6. Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead (AbeBooks, October 2015)
  7. Wilkie Collins, The Haunted Hotel (birthday present, November 2015)
  8. Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (World of Books, October 2015)
  9. Anthony Doerr, About Grace (Waterstones Piccadilly, July 2016)
  10. Helen Dunmore, Ingo (charity shop, October 2016)
  11. Helen Dunmore, Stormswept (charity shop, October 2016)
  12. Helen Dunmore, Tide's Knot (charity shop, October 2016)
  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. 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...) *
  15. Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (2014)*
  16. Kate Grenville, The Lieutenant (charity shop, December 2015)
  17. Matt Haig, The Humans (charity shop, October 2016)
  18. Melissa Harrison, At Hawthorn Time (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  19. Antonia Hodgkin, The Devil in the Marshalsea (charity shop, May 2016)
  20. Andrew Michael Hurley, The Loney (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  21. Jennifer Johnston, Two Moons (charity table at Sainsbury's, July 2016)
  22. Maria McCain, The Wilding (charity shop, December 2015)
  23. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (charity table, Wetland Centre, May 2015)
  24. Neil MacGregor, Germany: Memories of  a Nation (birthday present, Nov 2016)
  25. John McGregor, This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You (Waterstones Piccadilly, July 2016)
  26. Darragh McKeon, All That is Solid Melts into Air (Waterstones Kingston, May 2016)
  27. Philipp Meyer, American Rust (charity shop, December 2015)
  28. David Mitchell, Slade House (Waterstones online, October 2016)
  29. Alice Munro, Runaway (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  30. Patrick Ness, The Rest of Us Just Live Here (birthday present, November 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. Ransom Riggs, Library of Souls (birthday present, November 2016)
  35. Hannah Rothschild, The Improbability of Love (charity shop, October 2016)
  36. Gregory David Roberts, Shataram (Abe Books, July 2016)
  37. Sunjeev Sahota, The Year of the Runaways  (Mother's Day present, March 2016)
  38. Caterina Ingleman Sanders, The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules (charity shop, October 2016)
  39. Jane Smiley, Some Luck (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)
  40. Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Barnes & Noble (in MD), Summer 2013 - a re-read, as I read it when a teen) *
  41. Rose Tremain, Tresspass (charity shop, December 2015)
  42. Sarah Winman, A Year of Marvellous Ways (charity shop, October 2016)
  43. Gabrielle Zevin, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (charity shop, October 2016)

Dinner, 30/11/16: Chili (Geoff cooking)

One of Geoff's standby dishes. But he makes it very well!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Book 98: Abhorsen, Garth Nix (re-read)

The final re-read of this series before I read the new one - just reminding myself of all the things which happened... An excellent fantasy series - looking forward to the next one!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dinner, 28/11/16: Teriyaki Salmon, New Potatoes, Broccoli

Quick weekday meal - I marinated the salmon for a while in advance in a teriyaki marinade, then just griddled it. Easy peasy.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Dinner, 27/11/16: Mushroom and Pancetta Risotto

Cleared out the freezer, there were lots of stock bones...time for a risotto!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Dinner, 26/11/16: Roast chicken, stuffing, sweet potatoes; pumpkin pie!

Yes, it's like a mini-Thanksgiving feast. I don't do it every year, and never on a Thursday, as not only do I have to work, but also, it's the day when none of us are home for dinner except Geoff. But some years, I do a sort of mini-celebration.  Pecan pie next weekend at Geoff's request; pumpkin pie is my favourite and Alex loves it - in fact, he made this one himself!

Book 97: Lirael, Garth Nix (re-read)

Second in the series; re-reading it in preparation for a new book in the series.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Book in

This was a slightly belated birthday present from a friend who I went out to dinner with tonight. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but obviously, I have a vested interest in Germany, so perhaps it will be interesting and insightful!  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Book 96: Sabriel, Garth Nix (re-read)

Was planning to read the newest book in this series (Goldenhand), and even picked it up to start it, but decided after a few pages, that I really needed to go back and re-read the first three books (I won't re-read the fourth book, Clariel, as I read that fairly recently and it's still quite strongly in my mind...)

Dinner, 23/11/16: Lamb Keema (Good Food community) (Geoff cooking)

A nice lamb mince curry with peas; really fragrant - tastes great and also makes the house smell amazing. Recipe here

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dinner, 21/11/16: Chicken Cacciatore, mashed potato, green beans

An easy weeknight supper - lots of sauce leftover, so that's gone in the freezer for sometime when it can be dumped over pasta.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Dinner, 20/11/16: Lasagne

This was actually an easier meal than one might think; the ragu was already made and in the freezer, so it was just a matter of making a white sauce and assembling the lasagne. Yumm. 

Book 95: No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy

Picked this up in a charity shop a while ago, but it took a while to get into the mood for reading it. Cormac McCarthy writes beautifully, but it's not cheery, breezy, lose-yourself-in-fantasy type stuff.  This one was great, though (I haven't seen the film). Perhaps not quite as good as The Road, but then, what is?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Dinner, 19/11/16: Birthday feast

As usual, for my birthday, I had some friends around to dinner. Here's what we ate (above) - and some of the dishes closer up...

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad (Moosewood Cookbook)

Tortilla (Good Food)

Potato Salad with Salsa Verde and Artichokes (no recipe)

Butternut Squash and Lentil Salad (Good Food)

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickepeas with Harissa (

Vegan Hotpot (Simon Rimmer)

I forgot to take a closeup of the Stir-Fried Mixed Greens (no recipe) or the dessert (Gin & Tonic Sorbet; Strawberry Daquiri Sorbet)

Books in

Three books among my birthday presents - is it telling that they are all young adult fiction? Paper and Fire is the second in the Great Library Series of which I recently read the first; Library of Souls is the third in the Miss Peregrine books (I need to read the second, Hollow City) and the other is a stand alone. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Dinner, 18/11/16: Sticky Onion and Sausage Pizza (Good Food)

This was good, though the sweetness of the caramelised onions would have been better balanced with some blue cheese - something salty.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dinner, 15/11/16: Leek and Potato Soup

Tuesday night is always problematic for dinner - I am out until quite late but Alex has to eat before Scouts, and Geoff is usually not working at home on Tuesday, so it's harder for him to cook. Consequently, we often make something ahead - this week, I had leftover leeks, so leek and potato soup seemed perfect.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dinner, 14/11/16: Bacon, Squash & Potato Pasta

A standby. Great for using up a bit of leftover butternut squash or sweet potato.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dinner, 13/11/16: Paella (Lorraine Pascal)

There are many recipes for paella - I used this one, a little loosely, just for basic proportions and timings. Not everyone likes prawns so I did fewer prawns and more chorizo. Whatever the proportions, it's a tasty dish.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Dinner, 12/11/16: Butternut Squash and Lentil Samb (Mary Berry)

Despite the name, this was not an Indian spiced dish - it was inspired by an Indian dish, but the flavours were more continental, a bit of Dijon mustard, etc. I liked it; it was a nice wintery vegetarian dish.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Book 94: The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

This was a sweet story, I really enjoyed it. Nicely written (and translated) and an interesting idea. 

Dinner, 11/11/6: Stir fried pork with cashew nuts and rice noodles (Keith Floyd)

Haven't had this before - it was a nice stir fry variation. Very simple, but it worked. And luckily, Olivia was out for the evening, so it didn't even matter that it has loads of peppers in it!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Book 93: Faery Tales by Carol Ann Duffy

A lot of people retell faery tales; I picked up this book in a charity shop and enjoyed reading through some tales I knew well and some I knew not-so-well. I think there were a few originals in there as well.  A pleasant way to spend some time.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Dinner, 7/11/16: Paper Potato Pizza (Ainsley Harriott), salad

Another pretty quick one. I put the pizza dough in the bread machine before I went to do my tutoring, so when I got back it was very quick to assemble and cook. Called paper potato pizza because you slice  the potatoes very, very thinly, so you don't have to pre-cook them. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Dinner, 2/11/16: Mexican Bake with Salads (Waitrose magazine)

We have this a lot. We like it, it's easy, and it's very quick.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Book 92: A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

I counted this among my October reading, though technically I didn't finish it until today. It's a YA, fantasy story, set in a strange underground land where people are born with expressionless faces and have to learn how to show their emotions. The main character is from Above, from the world where your face shows what you are feeling and thinking all the time and is found as a small child by a master cheesemaker. For various reasons, he raises her and hides her away from the underground people. When, some years later, she breaks out into the underground world, all kinds of havoc gets wreaked. It's quite an interesting construct, which I enjoyed. Hardinge is a good writer, with some really unusual ideas.

Ocotber Round Up


  • 31st: Green pesto tagliatelle with courgettes & pancetta
  • 30th: Potato & Celeriac Rosti
  • 29th: K & G birthday dinner out
  • 28th: Creamy Ham, Chicken and Leek Pie
  • 27th: Ham, Potatoes, Green Beans
  • 26th: Smoked Haddock, Fennel, Sweet Potato
  • 25th: Lunch out in Brighton
  • 24th: Make your own pizzas
  • 23rd: Cauliflower Cheese, etc
  • 22nd: Toad in the hole, vegetables
  • 21st: Pork Curry
  • 20th: Everyone fend for yourself
  • 19th: Spicy Parsnip Soup, Cheese Scones
  • 18th: Leftover cold pork, fried potatoes, etc
  • 17th: One Pan Spicy Rice
  • 16th: Roast Pork, roast potatoes, cabbage
  • 15th: Stromboli, Potato & Bean Salad, Asparagus
  • 14th: Everyone out
  • 13th: Everyone fend for yourself
  • 12th: Courgette and Refried Bean Quesadillas
  • 11th: Chicken and Cauliflower Curry (leftovers from freezer)
  • 10th: Meatball and Ravioli bake
  • 9th: Sweet potato gumbo
  • 8th: Chicken Fajitas
  • 7th: Pea, Courgette and Feta Fritters
  • 6th: Everyone fend for yourself
  • 5th: Broccoli and stilton soup
  • 4th: Leftover lasagne
  • 3rd: Rosemary Chicken with tomato sauce & mash
  • 2nd: Roasted sausage and apple with sauerkraut
  • 1st: Lasagne with pesto