Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Reading Roundup


So, here, in reverse order (because it's easier that way) is the list of books I read in 2017.  And here are some possibly interesting (or possibly not, but I like to keep track!) statistics about what I read over the course of the past year...

Books read: 109
Books bought not counting gifts for others: approx 50 (I may have missed some out);   new: 31, used:19
Books acquired as presents, etc: 9
Library books read: 1
Young adult/children's titles read: 33
Books re-read: 20
Non-fiction titles read: 3


And, as usual, I have chosen some of my favourites to pull out for the montage at top and to underline below. I have not included books I've read before in this selection of favourites! Not sure there's a single "best book" I read this year, though I did think Margaret Atwood's The Hag Seed was remarkably good.


109: One of Us is Lying, Karen McManus (YA)
108: She is Not Invisible, Marcus Sedgwick (YA)
107: The Names They Game Us, Emery Lord (YA)
106: Mr Darcy's Daughters, Elizabeth Aston
105: At the Edge of the Orchard, Tracy Chevalier
104: Let it Snow (compilation) (YA, re-read)
103: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, Joanna Cannon
102: A Noble Radiance, Donna Leon (re-read)
101: La Belle Sauvage, Philip Pullman (YA)
100: Divisadero, Michael Ondaatje
99: Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood
98: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl, Grayson Perry (NF)
97: The Girl Next Door, Ruth Rendell
96: The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness (YA)
95: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley
94: Disturbance, Jan Kelly
93: Wonder, R J Palacio (children's)
92: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Becky Chambers
91: Little Gods, Anna Richards
90: Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8, Naoki Higashida (NF)
89: All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders
88: Girl of Ink and Stars (YA)
87: My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout
86: Treason, Berlie Doherty (children's)
85: Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (re-read)
84: More Than This, Patrick Ness (YA)
83: Love Letters to the Dead, Eva Dellaira (YA)
82: Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Chris Cleave
81: The Death of Faith, Donna Leon
80: In a Land of Paper Gods, Rebecca MacKenzie
79: Floodland, Marcus Sedgwick (children's)
78: The Astounding Broccoli Boy, Frank Cottrell Boyce (children's)
77: Skellig, David Almond (children's)
76: The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan
75: The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida (NF)
74: The Foreshadowing, Marcus Sedgwick (YA)
73: The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman (YA, re-read)
72: The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman (YA, re-read)
71: Northern Lights, Philip Pullman (YA, re-read)
70: Sense & Sensibility, Jane Austen (re-read)
69: The Summer Book, Tove Jansson
68: The House at the Edge of the World, Julia Rochester
67: Vinegar Girl, Anne Tyler
66: Acqua Alta, Donna Leon
65: The Fault in our Stars, John Green (YA)
64: The Gift Shop, Charlotte Armstrong (re-read)
63: Emma, Alexander McCall Smith
62: Ink, Alice Broadway (YA)
61: Traitor to the Throne, Alwyn Hamilton (YA)
60: Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo (YA)
59: About Grace, Anthony Doerr
58: The Moon-Spinners, Mary Stewart (re-read)
57: Nine Coaches Waiting, Mary Stewart (re-read)
56: Madam, Will You Talk, Mary Stewart (re-read)
55: Dawn's Early LIght, Elswyth Thane (re-read)
54: The Light Between Oceans, M L Stedman
53: The Bargain, Mary Jo Putney
52: Three Bedrooms, One Corpse, Charlaine Harris
51: The Belchamber Scandal, Frances Murray (re-read)
50: A Bone to Pick, Charlaine Harris
49: The Heroine's Sister, Frances Murray (re-read)
48: Real Murders, Charlaine Harris
47: The Chocolate Cobweb, Charlotte Armstrong (re-read)
46: The Tightrope Walker, Dorothy Gilman (re-read)
45: The Burning Lamp, Frances Murray (re-read)
44: The Lieutenant, Kate Grenville
43: Dead in the Water, Ann Granger
42: The Haunted Hotel, Wilkie Collins
41: Some Luck, Jane Smiley
40: The Devil in the Marshalsea, Antonia Hodgson
39: Chaplin and Company, Mave Fellows
38: A Venetian Reckoning, Donna Leon
37: Numbers, Rachel Ward
36: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
35: The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
34: The Improbability of Love, Hannah Rothschild
33; Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
32: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle
31: The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules, Catharina Ingelman-Sunderburgh
30: Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle
29: Midwinterblood, Marcus Sedgewick
28: Kidnapped, Jan Burke
27: The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick
26: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Kate DiCamillo (children's)
25: A Year of Marvellous Ways, Sarah Winman
24: Paper and Fire, Rachel Caine (YA)
23: This isn't the sort of thing that happens to someone like you, Jon McGregor
22: Bitterblue, Kristin Cashore (YA) (re-read)
21: Fire, Kristin Cashore (YA) (re-read)
20: Graceling, Kristin Cashore (YA) (re-read)
19: Ruin and Rising, Leigh Bardugo (YA)
18:The Loney, Andrew Michael Hurley
17: The Humans, Matt Haig
16: The Anonymous Venetian, Donna Leon (re-read)
15: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, Gabrielle Zevin (YA)
14: The Wilding, Maria McCann
13: The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness (YA)
12: Slade House, David Mitchell
11: Rebel of the Sands, Alwyn Hamilton (YA)
10: The Year of the Runaways, Sunjeev Sahota
9: The Late Scholar, Jill Paton Walsh
8: The Attenbury Emeralds, Jill Paton Walsh
7: At Hawthorn Time, Melissa Harrison
6: Coraline, Neil Gaiman (YA)
5: Seige and Storm, Leigh Bardugo (YA)
4: All That is Solid Melts into Air, Darragh McKeogh
3: A Presumption of Death, Jill Paton Walsh
2: Thrones, Dominations, Dorothy L Sayers & Jill Paton Walsh
1: Library of Souls, Ransom Riggs (YA)

Book Progress Update - December

At the start of the year, I set a few reading goals, with the overall aim of trying to make my way through books I've had for a while and haven't read, and trying not to acquire too many new books. The goals were:
  1. Read at least 100 books in 2017 (approximately 2 per week; hopefully I can accomplish this)
  2. Buy/acquire fewer books each month than I remove from my TBR shelf/list
  3. Read or otherwise get rid of at least 1 of the books I've had since before 2015 (there were 4 on the list at the start of the year) and at least three of the books I  bought during 2015 (12 on the list)
They are (fairly) reasonable goals, which shouldn't stress me too much. In theory. (In practice, by the end of the year, I was beginning to get a little stressed about buying "too many" books - so I think I'll do something a little different next year...) But I digress.

In January:  books read: 8; list reduced by: 2; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In February: books read: 12; list reduced by: 11; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In March: books read: 8; list increased by: 1;  pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0
In April: books read: 10; list increased by: 8; pre-2015 reduction: 1; 2015 reduction: 3
In May: books read, 14; list reduced by: 1; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 3
In June: books read, 9; list reduced by: 3; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0
In July: books read: 7; list increased by: 5; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In August: books read: 15; list reduced by: 1; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In September: books read: 8; list increased by: 1; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0
In October: books read: 7; list increased by: 4; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0
In November: books read: 3; list reduced by: 1; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0

And finally, December: 
  • I re-read one book in a series I'm gradually working my way back through (A Noble Radiance, Donna Leon)
  • And I re-read one book which Sarah owns, which is a nice, comforting, seasonal read (Let it Snow story collection)
  • I read four books from my list (The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon; At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier; Mr Darcy's Daughters by Elizabeth Aston; She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick)
  • I read two books Sarah passed to me after reading them herself (The Names they Gave Us by Emery Lord, One of us is Lying by Karen McManus)
  • I bought one book in the RA gift shop (The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry) 
  • I received four books as Christmas presents (The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks, At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen)
December goal progress:
  1. books read: 8 (goal already met +9)
  2. books removed from list: 4; books added: 5; net result +1
  3. books read/removed from list from before 2015: 0 of 3;  from 2015: 0 of 2

Here's the updated list of Books to Read in 2017.  There were 46 books at the beginning of January, and there are 46 now, which seems like no progress, but most of them have changed - only 10 books are left on the list from last year or before  - books acquired in 2017 are underlined. 
  1. Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor (charity shop, April 2017)
  2. Katherine Arden, The Bear and the Nightingale (Christmas present, Dec 2017)
  3. Susan Barker, The Incarnations (charity shop, July 2016)
  4. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell (Waterstones Canterbury bargain bin, July 2015)
  5. Geraldine Brooks, The Secret Chord (Christmas present, Dec 2017)
  6. Mikhail Bulgokov, The Master and Margarita (charity shop, April 2017)
  7. Jessie Burton, The Muse (Waitrose, January 2017)
  8. Alexia Casale, The Bone Dragon (Waterstones Piccadilly, October 2017)
  9. Becky Chambers, A Closed and Common Orbit (Waterstones Piccadilly, October 2017)
  10. Emma Donohue, The Wonder (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  11. Bi Fieyu, Three Sisters (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  12. 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...) *
  13. Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  14. Claire Fuller, Our Endless Numbered Days (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  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. Linda Grant, The Dark Circle (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  18. Sara Gruen, At the Water's Edge (Christmas present, Dec 2017)
  19. Hella Haasse, The Tea Lords (Bookhandel von Rossum, Amsterdam, August 2017)
  20. Mark Haddon (Introduction), Experiences at the Edge of Consciousness (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  21. Christina Henry, Lost Boy (Waterstones Piccadilly, October 2017)
  22. Siri Hustvedt, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  23. John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  24. N K Jemisin, The Fifth Season (AbeBooks, Sept 2017)
  25. Lynn Knight, The Button Box  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  26. Ernest van der Kwast, The Ice Cream Makers (Amsterdam, August 2017)
  27. Sarah J Maas, Court of Thorns and Roses (Christmas present, Dec 2017)
  28. Neil MacGregor, Germany: Memories of  a Nation (birthday present, Nov 2016)
  29. Ben Marcus, The Flame Alphabet (2nd Hand Shop, Brighton, October 2017)
  30. Edward Marston, The Railway Detective (Charity shop, Farnham, Sept 2017)
  31. Alice Mattison, The Book Borrower (Used Book Depot, Vero Beach, April 2017)
  32. Elizabeth McKenzie, The Portable Veblen (Mother's Day, 2017)
  33. Magnus Mills, The Restraint of Beasts (Abe Books, May 2017)
  34. Alice Munro, Runaway (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  35. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  36. Maggie O'Farrell, This Must be the Place (Waterstones Brighton, October 2017)
  37. Orhan Pamuk. A Strangeness in Mind (Christmas present 2016)
  38. Michelle Paver, Dark Matter (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  39. Grayson Perry, The Descent of Man (RA Gift Shop, December 2017)
  40. Sara Perry, The Essex Serpent (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  41. Lucy Ribchester, The Hourglass Factory (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  42. Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram (Abe Books, July 2016)
  43. Jane Smiley, Early Warning (Abe Books, May 2017)
  44. Ali Smith, Autumn (Waterstones Brighton, October 2017)
  45. Sally Vickers, Cousins (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  46. Lucy Worsley, A Very British Murder (Waterstones Oxford, August 2017)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Dinner, 29/12/17: Vegetable Jalfrezi, rice, Poppadoms, naan bread


Book in


Sarah and I dropped a load of bags to the charity shop today - DVDs, stuff Olivia had cleared out of her room, a few books, etc. Of course, I couldn't resist a quick look at the bookshelves in Oxfam, so this came home with us. Sarah literally pulled me away from the shelves before I could find anything else, lol. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dinner, 28/12/17: Leek Fritters, Cucumber Salad, Crusty Bread


One of our favourite fritter recipes; this one is from Yotam Ottolenghi.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Book 109: One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus


Another young adult title passed on to me by Sarah - this one is a take on the Breakfast Club - five kids of very different personalities and high school groups end up in detention together. The difference is that one of them ends up dead and the other four look to have been the most likely culprits. The story is told from the revolving viewpoints of the four kids, which is interesting - as you get to know them, you don't really want any of them to be the killer. I did predict a couple of elements of the book, including how the whole thing would be resolved, but that doesn't make the book lesser.  Enjoyable, and a good reminder about the importance of looking beyond the surface of both things and people.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Dinner, 25/12/17: Christmas Feast


Featuring Roast Turkey, Roast Beef, Carrots, Yorkshire Puddings, Roast Potatoes, Pigs in Blankets, Stuffing, Parsnip and Brussels Sprout Bubble & Squeak Cake and various other trimmings...

Books in!


Some Christmas presents - two from Geoff, both by authors I've read before - 



and two from Sarah - both Young Adult fiction, fantasy, both new to me. Not that she's at all self-interested in these gifts, I'm sure!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Book 108: She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick


Another young adult title, this time one I sought out, as I am a Marcus Sedgwick fan - this is the fourth of his I've read. This one is a thriller, and modern, as opposed to some of his others, which are a bit more mystical, etc. Excellent, though, really enjoyed it. 

Dinner, 23/12/17: Mac & Cheese & stuff


Originally this was going to just be mac & cheese, mainly to use up a lot of cheese - much of it kind of mild - which came from Sarah's uni fridge (not her cheese, mind you, just stuff that was left).  But Geoff pointed out we are eating a lot of cheese at the moment, due to Christmas, so I added some other stuff to this to make it less sheer cheese - some meatballs I had in the freezer, some shredded up leftover smoked ham, some peas. Breadcrumbs on top.  Makes a nice casserole with some leftovers for lunch tomorrow, if needed.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Book 107: The Names they Gave Us by Emery Lord


This one Sarah passed along to me; it's Young Adult fiction. A nice story, easy reading, but exploring a few serious issues without taking itself too seriously.  I thought the characters well-drawn and the premise was compelling. It definitely reads like young adult fiction, but not in a bad way. I often wish a lot of today's YA fiction had been around when I was a teen; we had such little choice and these days there is just so much good stuff out there...

Dinner, 21/12/17: Vegetable and Tofu Stir Fry


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dinner, 20/12/17: New Potato and Rosemary Pizza


One of the many variations on pizza we eat in our house. I chose this one because my mother is visiting and she can't really eat anything with a heavy tomato sauce in the evening. I made two, so there would be leftovers for lunch the next day or two.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Book 106: Mr Darcy's Daughters by Elizabeth Aston


I picked this up last spring when I was visiting my cousins in the family's Florida house, didn't get around to reading it until recently. It was ok, the premise that Darcy and Elizabeth have been married a while and have 5 daughters of more or less marriagable age; they are away on a diplomatic posting and the girls are in London staying with relatives. Stuff ensues.  I admit, it didn't fully hold my attention, but that may be because it's been a long, tiring week and my heart wasn't really in it.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Dinner, 17/12/17: Stew


In the slow cooker for a large part of the day, while we put up the tree, the outdoor lights, baked Christmas Cookies and wrapped presents. Bliss.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Dinner, 15/12/17: Mozzarella, Ham & Pesto Pizzas, Salad


We had one of those nights where everyone is all over the place; Alex cooked these for himself, his dad and his grandma, then knocked up a few more for me when I got back. I think Olivia made some for herself in advance. Tasty!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dinner, 14/12/17: Chicken Tray Bake


This is basically just some chicken on top of some vegetables on top of some potatoes. It goes in the oven and cooks for about 45minutes to an hour - really easy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Book 105: At the Edge of the Orchard, Tracy Chevalier


I always enjoy Tracy Chevalier's books, and this was no exception. The story centres on American settlers, first in the Black Swap of Ohio, then in San Francisco and other parts of California around the time of the Gold Rush (though it's not a Gold Rush book). I learned a lot about apples and trees, as well as enjoying (more or less) finding out what happened to the characters...

Dinner, 13/12/17: Celery Soup with Biscuits


Monday, December 11, 2017

Dinner, 11/12/17: Orichiette with Brussels sprouts and pancetta


This is a really nice pasta dish with pancetta (or bacon) and brussels sprouts in a creamy sauce, with the pasta. The sprouts are lovely cooked this way; we really like how they come out.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dinner, 10/12/17: Massaman Beef & Potato Curry


One for the slow cooker: potatoes, beef, shallots, green beans, curry paste, coconut milk; easy to assemble and makes the whole house smell great as it cooks. Yum.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Book 104: Let it Snow (compilation)


This one is a re-read - it's a young adult book, three linked stories with a Christmas theme, including a Christmas miniature riot, a trek across town to the Waffle House in a blizzard, another trek from the same Waffle House to home, an epic Twister quest, an infestation of cheerleaders, and a teacup pig. Just the sort of thing I was in the mood for on a cold winter evening.

Book in


Really enjoyed Grayson Perry's memoir ("Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl") which I read a little while back, and wanted to pick this up the next time I saw it - which was today in the RA gift shop. He's very articulate and interesting, so I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say, particularly in light of his unusual perspective on manliness...

Book 103: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, Joanna Cannon


An enjoyable story of 70s suburbia and secrets, set largely (but not entirely) from the point of view of 10 year olds Grace and Tilly, as they investigate why one of their neighbours has vanished. Very well drawn characters and a nice rhythm. 

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Dinner, 5/12/17: Courgette & Cheddar Soup


Also has potatoes in it as a main ingredient. I started it off, and then made Alex finish cooking while I did the online grocery shopping. My life is so much fun.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Friday, December 01, 2017

Book 102: A Noble Radiance, Donna Leon


I'm re-reading my way through this series, and catching all the ones I missed before (before I just read it as I came across the books, not trying to follow the order, and there are definitely gaps) - this was the latest, and as usual, well drawn and enjoyable. I did guess the resolution (and I don't think this was one I'd read before, but I thought it was reasonably well pointed towards the relevant clues) but that didn't matter too much.

Dinner, 1/12/17: Roasted Cauliflower Pizza


This was very tasty - we eat a lot of pizza variations, and this will definitely go into the mix. The cauliflower is roasted first, then put on the pizza dough with some breadcrumbs. It's really lovely. If your pizza dough was vegan (mine isn't) it would feed vegans as well!

November Round-Up

WHAT WAS FOR DINNER, NOVEMBER 2017

  • 30th: Fend for yourself Thursday
  • 29th: Ginger Beef with Tofu
  • 28th: One pan spicy rice (Alex cooking)
  • 27th: Mushroom and Sausage Pasta
  • 26th: Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
  • 25th: Chili pie with courgettes
  • 24th: Pork Curry with Hearts of Palm
  • 23rd: Fend for yourself Thursday
  • 22nd: Potato & Chorizo Quesadillas
  • 21st: Leftovers
  • 20th: Leftovers
  • 19th: Roast Chicken, roast potatoes, cabbage
  • 18th: Birthday Vegan (almost) feast
  • 17th: Homemade Pizzas
  • 16th: Fend for yourself Thursday
  • 15th: Red chili & broccoli pasta, garlic bread
  • 14th: fend for yourself - everyone out
  • 13th: Cauliflower Cheese Soup (no photo, oops)
  • 12th: Bolognese Stuffed Peppers
  • 11th: Celeriac Steaks with Salsa Verde
  • 10th: Sticky Chinese Chicken (K out - no photo)
  • 9th: Fend for yourself
  • 8th: Mixed Bean Goulash (Alex cooking)
  • 7th: Creamy Cabbage Pasta
  • 6th: Butternut Squash & Bacon soup
  • 5th: Green Prawn Curry
  • 4th: Jacket potatoes with toppings
  • 3rd: Sausges, etc (G&A only; K out)
  • 2nd: Fend for yourself
  • 1st: Chili (Geoff cooking)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Book Progress Update - November


At the start of the year, I set a few reading goals, with the overall aim of trying to make my way through books I've had for a while and haven't read, and trying not to acquire too many new books. The goals were:
  1. Read at least 100 books in 2017 (approximately 2 per week; hopefully I can accomplish this)
  2. Buy/acquire fewer books each month than I remove from my TBR shelf/list
  3. Read or otherwise get rid of at least 1 of the books I've had since before 2015 (there were 4 on the list at the start of the year) and at least three of the books I  bought during 2015 (12 on the list)
They are (fairly) reasonable goals, which shouldn't stress me too much. In theory. (In practice, by the end of the year, I was beginning to get a little stressed about buying "too many" books - so I think I'll do something a little different next year...) But I digress.

In January:  books read: 8; list reduced by: 2; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In February: books read: 12; list reduced by: 11; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In March: books read: 8; list increased by: 1;  pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0
In April: books read: 10; list increased by: 8; pre-2015 reduction: 1; 2015 reduction: 3
In May: books read, 14; list reduced by: 1; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 3
In June: books read, 9; list reduced by: 3; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0
In July: books read: 7; list increased by: 5; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In August: books read: 15; list reduced by: 1; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 1
In September: books read: 8; list increased by: 1; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0
In October: books read: 7; list increased by: 4; pre-2015 reduction: 0; 2015 reduction: 0

And now, November: 
  • I read one book lent to Geoff by a friend & colleague (Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood)
  • I read one book from my list (Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje)
  • I received one book for my birthday (La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman) and promptly read it.
November goal progress:
  1. books read: 3 of 2 books 
  2. books removed from list: 1; books added: 0; net result -1
  3. books read/removed from list from before 2015: 0 of 3;  from 2015: 0 of 2

Here's the updated list of Books to Read in 2017.  There were 46 books at the beginning of January, and there are 45 now, which seems like little progress, but most of them have changed - only 11 books are left on the list from last year or before  - books acquired in 2017 are underlined. I really must see if I can stop adding books to the list, at least until I get a few more removed...
  1. Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor (charity shop, April 2017)
  2. Elizabeth Aston, Mr Darcy's Daughters (from Taffy's house in Florida, April 2017)
  3. Susan Barker, The Incarnations (charity shop, July 2016)
  4. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell (Waterstones Canterbury bargain bin, July 2015)
  5. Mikhail Bulgokov, The Master and Margarita (charity shop, April 2017)
  6. Jessie Burton, The Muse (Waitrose, January 2017)
  7. Joanna Cannon, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (Mother's Day 2017)
  8. Alexia Casale, The Bone Dragon (Waterstones Piccadilly, October 2017)
  9. Becky Chambers, A Closed and Common Orbit (Waterstones Piccadilly, October 2017)
  10. Tracy Chevalier, At the Edge of the Orchard  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  11. Emma Donohue, The Wonder (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  12. Bi Fieyu, Three Sisters (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  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. Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  15. Claire Fuller, Our Endless Numbered Days (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  16. 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...) *
  17. Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (2014)*
  18. Linda Grant, The Dark Circle (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  19. Hella Haasse, The Tea Lords (Bookhandel von Rossum, Amsterdam, August 2017)
  20. Mark Haddon (Introduction), Experiences at the Edge of Consciousness (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  21. Christina Henry, Lost Boy (Waterstones Piccadilly, October 2017)
  22. Siri Hustvedt, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  23. John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  24. N K Jemisin, The Fifth Season (AbeBooks, Sept 2017)
  25. Lynn Knight, The Button Box  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  26. Ernest van der Kwast, The Ice Cream Makers (Amsterdam, August 2017)
  27. Neil MacGregor, Germany: Memories of  a Nation (birthday present, Nov 2016)
  28. Ben Marcus, The Flame Alphabet (2nd Hand Shop, Brighton, October 2017)
  29. Edward Marston, The Railway Detective (Charity shop, Farnham, Sept 2017)
  30. Alice Mattison, The Book Borrower (Used Book Depot, Vero Beach, April 2017)
  31. Elizabeth McKenzie, The Portable Veblen (Mother's Day, 2017)
  32. Magnus Mills, The Restraint of Beasts (Abe Books, May 2017)
  33. Alice Munro, Runaway (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  34. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  35. Maggie O'Farrell, This Must be the Place (Waterstones Brighton, October 2017)
  36. Orhan Pamuk. A Strangeness in Mind (Christmas present 2016)
  37. Michelle Paver, Dark Matter (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  38. Sara Perry, The Essex Serpent (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  39. Lucy Ribchester, The Hourglass Factory (charity shop, Farnham, September 2017)
  40. Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram (Abe Books, July 2016)
  41. Marcus Sedgewick, She is not Invisible (Waterstones Oxford, August 2017)
  42. Jane Smiley, Early Warning (Abe Books, May 2017)
  43. Ali Smith, Autumn (Waterstones Brighton, October 2017)
  44. Sally Vickers, Cousins (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  45. Lucy Worsley, A Very British Murder (Waterstones Oxford, August 2017)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dinner, 29/11/17: Ginger Beef with Tofu (itsu cookbook)


This was very tasty and easy - next time we might add some bamboo shoots or sugar snap peas or something of a vegetable nature as well. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dinner, 28/1/17: One Pan Spicy Rice (Alex cooking)


This is a simple dish of rice, spinach, cashews, raisins and curry paste which we have quite often on weeknights. Tonight Alex was cooking it...

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Book 101: La Belle Sauvage, Philip Pullman


This book is the long awaited (by us at least) first book of the Book of Dust trilogy - a companion trilogy to Pullman's original Dark Materials trilogy. I got it for my birthday, and though I did finish the book I was reading, it didn't take long to get stuck into it. I did try to pace myself a little (i.e. not read it all in one sitting), but I admit, it didn't take longer than a few days to make my way through it. I found it very enjoyable, with some interesting new ideas and characters, though I do feel like the Big Ideas of this trilogy (purported to be some discussion on the nature of matter in line with the conversations about Dust in the previous trilogy) are yet to really make much of an appearance. That's not detrimental to the story, or anything, mind you. Of course, now the hard part will be waiting for the next book... Always the way of it. (As though I have nothing else to read, mind you!)

Dinner, 26/11/17: Oriental Chicken Noodle Soup


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Dinner, 25/11/17: Chili casserole with courgettes


This was Geoff's creation - a way of using up leftover chili from the freezer - he griddled some courgettes and layered them on top, then added cheese and bits of tortilla chips. It was nice - the courgette texture was a nice addition. It doesn't look like much, but it tasted good!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Dinner, 24/11/17: Red Pork Curry with Green Beans and Hearts of Palm


Sarah recently made this for herself at uni -it's a dish we've had many times in the past - and that inspired me to cook it for us here at home...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dinner, 22/11/17: Chorizo and Potato Quesadillas (Thomasina Miers)


I added some butternut squash to these as well, as I had a bit leftover in the fridge. We pretty much like quesadillas in any form in our house. What's not to like?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Book 100: Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje


Woo Hoo - hit my goal and it's still November, so I might even get a few more read before the end of the year... This was one I've been meaning to read for a while as I like Michael Ondaatje and a friend mentioned this was her favourite of them. When I saw it on the shelf in the charity shop I knew it was destiny, lol. I enjoyed it, parts of it immensely.  

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dinner (Lunch): 19/11/17: Roast Chicken, etc


Despite the usual birthday tradition of not cooking on my birthday (unless it's the day of my annual feast), I cooked lunch today because we had a friend in from the US - but we kept it simple with a nice roast chicken and potatoes - a lot less effort that way. For dessert we had homemade icecream, which Sarah made yesterday during the big cooking extravaganza...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Almost Vegan Birthday Feast (18/11/17)


On a weekend near my birthday, it's been my tradition - I think for about 9 or 10 years now - to have a group of girlfriends around for a feast. Many of my friends are vegetarian, plus one of my friends who has been coming in the past few years is also allergic to gluten and dairy, which means that vegan food is a good starting place - and then of course, there's the gluten free addition. She's also allergic to most nuts, so that doesn't help either. These dishes are mostly vegan except for some honey in one salad dressing and the tortilla, which has egg in it. Also, dessert featured egg in a large way. But otherwise, pretty varied despite the restrictions (and yummy...) Sarah was home for the weekend, so helped me with the cooking.



This first dish (above) is titled "Surprisingly Delicious Moroccan Cauliflower Salad" - which made me laugh  - it uses cauliflower "rice", which was useful because the cauliflower steaks, which we've had before several times, generate lots of leftover bits of cauli. The tahini yogurt sauce was made with soya yogurt, so it was dairy free. Tahini has such a strong taste you couldn't tell it was soya yogurt at all... Recipe: BBC Good Food Magazine


This is a lentil and butternut squash salad; I've made it lots of times before. (BBC Good Food)


This is a new one, though - it's a parsnip and brussel sprout bubble and squeak cake. It was gorgeous - and very Christmassy seeming - I'm considering cooking it again for Christmas dinner. (BBC Good Food)


This is a simple tortilla recipe, cooked in the oven and cut into pieces - I've made it before for parties.(BBC Good Food)


Here we have a Caribbean Vegetable Curry (with coconut cream on top) which I'd been planning to make for dinner a couple of weeks ago and never quite got around to - we'll definitely have it again, though as it was really nice. Spicy. (Sainsbury's Magazine)


This was perhaps the star of the evening, despite looking so ordinary -it was a "Burnt Aubergine Vegetable Chili" - and had a really brilliant smoky flavour, due to the aubergine.  I made some rice to go with both of those dishes. (BBC Good Food Magazine)


This was a Spanish Vegetable casserole and was nice, though not nearly as interesting as some of the other things. (Tesco Vegetarian Magazine)


This one you may recognise from other postings - it's Niomi Smart's Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce, which we think is an excellent dish. (Eat Smart by Niomi Smart).

It occurs to me now that I should have cooked Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe "Tamara's Ratatouille", but then again, you can't have everything. Maybe next year.


Dessert was meringues, with lots of fresh fruit and some cream (or soya cream). I put cocoa in some of the meringues, so they had a kind of marble effect. I say "I" - it was actually Sarah who made the meringues - ironic really, as she doesn't even like them...