Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Books & Reading January 2017

Well, new year, new reading tally. Any goals for this year? I'd still like to try to make my way through books I've had for a while and haven't read, and not acquire too many new books. So, three goals for 2017:
  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 at least 1 of the books I've had since before 2015 (there are 4 on the list) and at least three of the books I  bought during 2015 (12 on the list)
They are reasonable goals (the first one seems a big ask, but I usually manage it with no problem, though 2016 was closer than I like!), which shouldn't stress me too much. 

So, let's see how I did in January:
  • I read four books from my list (Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs, All That is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon, Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison)
  • I read one book which was in the house but not on my list (Coraline by Neil Gaiman)
  • I re-read three books I already owned (Thrones, DominationsA Presumption of Death and The Attenbury Emeralds by Dorothy L Sayers &/or Jill Paton Walsh)
  • I started and abandoned one book (Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card - I liked Ender's Game very much, but this one just didn't grab me. I think it was mostly the writing style which put me off. Also maybe slightly preachy.)
  • I bought two books (The Muse by Jessie Burton, Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo)

January goal progress:

  1. books read: 8 of 100 books
  2. books removed from list:  4 books added: 2; net result -2
  3. books read/removed from list from before 2015: 0 of 4;  from before 2016: 1 of 12

Here's the updated list of Books to Read in 2017.  There were 46 books at the beginning of January, and now there are 43.
  1. Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky (charity shop, October 2016)
  2. Leigh Bardugo, Ruin and Rising (Abe Books, January 2017)
  3. Susan Barker, The Incarnations (charity shop, July 2016)
  4. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell (Waterstones Canterbury bargain bin, July 2015)
  5. Jessie Burton, The Muse (Waitrose, January 2017)
  6. Rachel Caine, Paper and Fire (birthday present, November 2016)
  7. Wilkie Collins, The Haunted Hotel (birthday present, November 2015)
  8. Anthony Doerr, About Grace (Waterstones Piccadilly, July 2016)
  9. Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (World of Books, October 2015)
  10. Helen Dunmore, Ingo (charity shop, October 2016)
  11. Helen Dunmore, Stormswept (charity shop, October 2016)
  12. Helen Dunmore, Tide 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. Antonia Hodgkin, The Devil in the Marshalsea (charity shop, May 2016)
  19. Andrew Michael Hurley, The Loney (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  20. Neil MacGregor, Germany: Memories of  a Nation (birthday present, Nov 2016)
  21. Rebecca MacKenzie, In a Land of Paper Gods (Christmas Present, 2016)
  22. Maria McCain, The Wilding (charity shop, December 2015)
  23. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (charity table, Wetland Centre, May 2015)
  24. John McGregor, This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You (Waterstones Piccadilly, July 2016)
  25. Philipp Meyer, American Rust (charity shop, December 2015)
  26. David Mitchell, Slade House (Waterstones online, October 2016)
  27. Alice Munro, Runaway (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  28. Patrick Ness, The Rest of Us Just Live Here (birthday present, November 2016)
  29. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  30. Orhan Pamuk. A Strangeness in Mind (Christmas present 2016)
  31. Natasha Pulley, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (Waterstones Wimbledon, December 2016)
  32. Elizabeth Redfern, The Music of the Spheres  (charity shop, December 2015)
  33. Anna Richards, Little Gods (pound shop, November 2016)
  34. Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram (Abe Books, July 2016)
  35. Hannah Rothschild, The Improbability of Love (charity shop, October 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. M L Stedman, The Light Between Oceans (Waterstones Wimbledon, December 2016)
  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)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Book 8: The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Paton Walsh

A nice mystery in and of itself, and for fans of Lord Peter, fun to see "what happened next". Walsh has done a good job of carrying on with these characters and if her writing isn't quite as erudite as Sayers, well, I for one never managed to get all the literary references anyway (though I did get a fair few).

Dinner, 30/1/17: Butternut squash spaghetti with walnut & rocket pesto (Spiralize Every Day)

This was really nice - some of us were a little dubious at first, but actually, it really grows on you - the texture is a bit more al dente than pasta, but it works well, and the pesto was nice. We weren't trying to avoid carbs so much as to increase the veg intake, so we had bread along the side.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Dinner, 29/1/17: Greek Lamb Shanks in tomato and garlic sauce (I Love My Slow Cooker)

This was excellent. The lamb shanks were wonderful and the sauce was great. And it made the house smell wonderful all day while it was in the slow cooker.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Book 7: At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison

I enjoyed this story. The writing was lovely and the characters interesting, while in many ways quite detached. I'm not totally sure I liked the framing - the incident at the first and last sections of the book, though I suppose it's a good way of drawing in the reader to try to determine which character will be which as you follow the story, but it's not a game-changer, certainly. In all, a pleasant read.

Dinner, 28/1/17: Baked Eggs (Good Food Magazine)

This was lovely. Eggs nestled in a bed of spinach, with pesto and a bit of cream. Only issue for me was it would be better in a shallower dish (to be fair, the recipe did use shallower dishes, but I don't have any individual gratin dishes - probably I should get some as I've needed them other times as well). as the egg white would get done faster. But the taste was great - we had them with a loaf of crusty bread. This would make a great weeknight supper, as very quick, only Olivia doesn't like eggs, so it sort of rules it out unless she's not around (like tonight).  Vegetarian if you use vegetarian pesto!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Dinner, 27/1/17: Prawn Masala with Spinach Rotis (Olive Magazine)

Alex made the rotis - not bad, though you need to cook them on a very high heat, which we discovered after the first one was not as puffy as ideal...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Dinner, 25/1/17: Ravioli with artichokes, leeks and lemon (Good Food)

Uses ready-made ravioli - the sauce is very simple with leeks, cream cheese and some rocket. And lemon zest and juice.  Very quick weeknight supper. And vegetarian if you use veggie ravioli (we actually didn't in this instance). 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dinner, 24/1/17: Pesto Pizza with Artichokes and Prosciutto (Good Food)

One of Sarah's favourites; as she was home this week (part of the week, anyway) between exams and the start of classes, I asked her to make it for dinner. By the time I got home very late on Tuesday evening, there was only a little left for me. A little is better than none!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Dinner, 23/1/17: Coconut Chicken Soup

A Thai-inspired chicken soup, using the leftovers from the roast chicken. With rice noodles, not apparent in the photo...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dinner, 22/1/17: Meat and Potato Pie (Hairy Bikers), Courgettes

Another pie winner from the Hairy Bikers. This one has mince, potatoes, veg inside with a shortcrust pastry.

Book 6: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I've read most of Gaiman's other books (though not the graphic novels) but somehow never had read this one, despite having seen the film. Excellent, but definitely creepy. Perhaps even more so than the film!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Dinner, 21/1/17: Roast Chicken, Roast Potatoes, Carrots

Book 5: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

The second in the Grisha series, of which I read the first some time back. I wasn't sure at first that I'd get into the second one quite as much, but it picked up quite quickly. Of course, I'll have to get ahold of the third one now, to finish off the series.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dinner, 20/1/17: Homemade Pizza Night!

This was mine. Everyone makes their own, so they all look slightly different...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book 4: All That is Solid Melts into Air, Darragh McKeon

I thought this was a great story. Set mostly around the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, the story follows a surgeon who becomes involved in the aftermath; his ex-wife, a dissident factory worker and former journalist; and her nephew, a nine-year-old piano prodigy. And some others. Beautifully written, appalling to read in places (radiation sickness is not a pretty thing - though actually, that's not quite as sickening  as Soviet party politics) and engaging. 

Dinner, 18/1/17: Bacon, Potato & Onion Casserole (Geoff cooking)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dinner, 15/1/17: Slow-cooked beetroot and beef curry (Good Food Magazine)

This was really tasty - the beetroot was subtle and not too beetrooty - we really liked it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Dinner, 11/1/17: Cheese & Olive Pasta with Rocket (Tesco magazine)

The source of this recipe shows just how long I've been cooking it - I almost never shop in Tesco any more - but this is a good standby - some cream cheese, some tapenade, some lemon zest and a handful of rocket - hey presto!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Book 2: Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy Sayers & Jill Paton Walsh (re-read)

Carrying on re-reading this series - now enterring into the not-strictly-Dorothy Sayers territory. But the stories are still good.

Dinner, 8/1/17: Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Salad (Waitrose magazine)

I love the taste of this, as you stir a bit of pesto into the lentils - really perks it up a bit!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Dinner, 7/1/17: Chili Beef Pies (Hairy Bikers), Courgettes

These were fab. The pastry was very delicate, but despite having some holes when put in the oven, the filling didn't leak, so it didn't matter. And it was definitely worth it - the pastry was great; the polenta gave it a really nice texture, which contrasted well with the filling. We'll definitely be having these again. Awesome.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Book 1: Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

The third part in the trilogy - a good conclusion. I enjoyed these - I haven't yet seen the film adaptation, but I imagine I'll get to it when it comes out on DVD.

Dinner, 5/1/17: Shredded Chicken with Sesame Seeds (Ken Hom)

The chicken in this one is marinated and then boiled priefly before stir-frying, which makes it really succulent.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Dinner, 4/1/17: Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)

A nice, easy, filling meal which doesn't take too long to prepare or cook - we have this a lot in various incarnations. Sometimes I crumple up the filo pastry on the top to make more surface area, which gives more crunch.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Dinner, 3/1/17: Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheese with Walnuts

Something we love anyway, but in this instance, also a good way to use up part of a very large block of Stilton in the fridge and some extra walnuts from the Christmas Baking...

Sunday, January 01, 2017

December Roundup


  • 31st: Pork Stroganoff
  • 30th: Dinner at Brian and Caroline's
  • 29th: Minestrone soup Lunch
  • 28th: Out with John & Angela (Cote)
  • 27th: Christmas Curry (Geoff cooking)
  • 26th: Christmas Leftovers
  • 25th: Christmas Feast!
  • 24th: Christmas Eve Party
  • 23rd: Fend for yourself (Xmas lights)
  • 22nd: Bacon, Greens, Bread
  • 21st: Dinner Out (Korean BBQ)
  • 20th: Fend for yourself
  • 19th: Chicken Korma
  • 18th: Filled Pasta Bake
  • 17th:Carrot & Potato Tart, Mixed Greens
  • 16th: Potato, Taleggio and Spinach Tart
  • 15th: Bang Bang Chicken
  • 14th: Fend for yourself
  • 13th: Sticky Chinese Chicken (Sarah cooking)
  • 12th: Udon, Salmon & Spicy Leaves
  • 10th: Steak, Greens, Bread
  • 9th: Vegetarian Singapore Noodles
  • 8th: Fend for yourself
  • 7th: Celery and Stilton Soup
  • 6th: Fend for yourself
  • 5th: Fend for yourself
  • 4th: Beef Stew
  • 3rd: Red Thai Pork Curry
  • 2nd: Dinner out (#thebgr)
  • 1st: Fend For Yourself

Book 103: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Technically, I finished reading this in January, but as it was about 00.30 on the 1st and I hadn't actually gone to bed yet from New Years, I'm counting it as the final read of 2016. This was great, possibly even better than the first. First book of 2017 is going to have to be Library of Souls (number three in the series) as I can't just leave them where they were...