Monday, July 31, 2017

Book progress update - July

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 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

Here is July's tally:
  • I abandoned one book from my list which I started back in June  (The Music of the Spheres by Elizabeth Redfern)
  • I read 3 books from my list (Emma by Alexander McCall Smith, Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, The House at the Edge of the World by Julia Rochester)
  • I read two books which someone else in the house owned (Ink by Alice Broadway, The Fault in our Stars by John Green)
  • I re-read one book in a series I've been going back through (Acqua Alta by Donna Leon)
  • I re-read a book which I already owned (The Gift Shop by Charlotte Armstrong)
  • I bought four books in Waterstones in Nottingham, 4 books in Waterstones in Wimbledon and one book in a charity shop

July goal progress:
  1. books read: 7 of 39 books 
  2. books removed from list: 4; books added: 9; net result +5
  3. books read/removed from list from before 2015: 0 of 3;  from 2015: 1 of 4

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 (but a lot of them are different! (Books acquired in 2017  are underlined and a quick look below shows that only 15 books are left on the list from last year or before)).
  1. Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor (charity shop, April 2017)
  2. Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky (charity shop, October 2016)
  3. Elizabeth Aston, Mr Darcy's Daughters (from Taffy's house in Florida, April 2017)
  4. Susan Barker, The Incarnations (charity shop, July 2016)
  5. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell (Waterstones Canterbury bargain bin, July 2015)
  6. Mikhail Bulgokov, The Master and Margarita (charity shop, April 2017)
  7. Jessie Burton, The Muse (Waitrose, January 2017)
  8. Joanna Cannon, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (Mother's Day 2017)
  9. Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Book People, May 2017)
  10. Tracy Chevalier, At the Edge of the Orchard  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  11. Chris Cleave, Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Mother's Day, 2017)
  12. Emma Donohue, The Wonder (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  13. Emma Donohue, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (charity shop, July 2017)
  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. Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 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. Mark Haddon (Introduction), Experiences at the Edge of Consciousness (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  20. Siri Hustvedt, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  21. John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  22. Tove Jansson, The Summer Book (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)
  23. Lynn Knight, The Button Box  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  24. Neil MacGregor, Germany: Memories of  a Nation (birthday present, Nov 2016)
  25. Rebecca MacKenzie, In a Land of Paper Gods (Christmas Present, 2016)
  26. Alice Mattison, The Book Borrower (Used Book Depot, Vero Beach, April 2017)
  27. Elizabeth McKenzie, The Portable Veblen (Mother's Day, 2017)
  28. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (charity table, Wetland Centre, May 2015)
  29. Magnus Mills, The Restraint of Beasts (Abe Books, May 2017)
  30. Kiran Millweed Hargrave, The Girl of Ink and Stars (Waterstones Wimbledon, April 2017)
  31. Alice Munro, Runaway (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  32. Patrick Ness, More than This  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  33. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  34. Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero (charity shop , April 2017)
  35. Orhan Pamuk. A Strangeness in Mind (Christmas present 2016)
  36. Sara Perry, The Essex Serpent (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  37. Natasha Pulley, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (Waterstones Wimbledon, December 2016)
  38. Anna Richards, Little Gods (pound shop, November 2016)
  39. Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram (Abe Books, July 2016)
  40. Marcus Sedgewick, The Foreshadowing  (Waterstones Piccadilly, April 2017)
  41. Jane Smiley, Early Warning (Abe Books, May 2017)
  42. Elizabeth Strout, My Name is Lucy Barton (Waterstones Nottingham, July 2017)
  43. Sally Vickers, Cousins (Waterstones Wimbledon, July 2017)

More photos from Amsterdam

 View from inside the Rembrandt house museum.

Reconstruction of Rembrandt's collection of interesting things

Poffertjes-puffy little Dutch pancakes

The "brown cafe" where we stopped for a drink near the end of our bike tour

Piet, our guide

Olivia and her bike

The New church (I think)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Book 68: The House at the edge of the world, Julia Rochester

Finally getting my reading mojo back, I think. Admittedly, I'm on holiday, which means there's more time for reading, and that I'm more rested, at least mentally. Maybe not physically! Anyway, enjoyed this, a good story, not quite what I expected and I enjoyed the rather bristly narrator. An old friend from a book group would probably have been annoyed by the appearance not what she always used to scornfully refer to as "mystic twin crap", but it wasn't quite like that anyway...

A few photos from Amsterdam

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Book 67: Vinegar Girl by Anne. Tyler

This is, apparently, part of a series of modern retellings of Shakespeare's plays by various authors. The play on which the novel is based is The Taming not the Shrew, and while I'm not completely convinced of the shrewishness of this particular Kate, I enjoyed the story, which was more or less exactly what you'd expect from a modern retelling of Shrew by Anne Tyler.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Book 66: Acqua Alta by Donna Leon

The next in this series, which I am rereading, gradually. Forgot to catch my blog up before I left to come to Amsterdam for a week, but at least I can add new books I've read, even if I'm a bit behind on dinners or books purchased. I always like these Brunette books, both for the plots & characters and for the setting. This was a very good one. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dinner, 22/7/17: Chili Chicken Noodle Stir Fry, Pak Choi

This was ok, but kind of boring, I thought. There was nothing wrong with it, but it wasn't nearly as good as some of the other similar kinds of meals we've had. Probably not a repeater.

Books in

Sarah and I had a little trip to Wimbledon today to pick up various bits and pieces, and yes, we decided to stop into Waterstones. However, as I had a nice voucher from my class, I didn't end up spending any money. The Anne Frank was a replacement copy of our book, which is ancient and falling apart, and in light of my upcoming visit to Amsterdam with Olivia, I thought I might read it again - we'll be going to the Anne Frank House Museum while we are there, so it seems fitting. I last read it when I was about 15, I think.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book 65: The Fault in our Stars by John Green

I saw the film of this some time ago, and thought it pretty good. While helping Sarah sort her books recently she mentioned that she felt the book was better, though still not her favourite John Green novel, so I decided to try it. Decided to try it now because it's partly set in Amsterdam... Verdict? She was right; the book is better. Funnier; doesn't take itself quite so Seriously.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book 64: The Gift Shop by Charlotte Armstrong

Rightfully, this should have appeared in with my June re-reading of a lot of favourite romance/suspense titles, but I didn't read it then. However, it was still hanging about the living room in July, so I decided to pick it up and re-read it. A nice, quick, easy read. She does suspense well, though her style is a bit dated.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dinner, 19/7/17: Chili Bowl with Quinoa (Niomi Smart)

This was a very tasty vegan chili recipe. She provided a little recipe for vegan sour cream substitute (using coconut cream) but I just put out regular sour cream for my family, though I didn't actually have any in the end... It was really nice with the quinoa instead of rice, I thought. Worked well. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dinner, 18/7/17: Carrot-Potato Tart, Salad, Beans

This is a favourite recipe for us, sent to me a long time ago by a friend, from this website.  We have it a lot, which for us means several times a year! I've adjusted the recipe to make it feed more people, however. But the basic idea is the same. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dinner, 16/7/17: Leek Fritters (Yotam Ottolenghi), Salad, Potatoes

Excellent fritters, one of the best ones (and we've tried a lot of fritter recipes).

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Book 63: Emma by Alexander McCall Smith

This is part of the Austen Project - six modern authors writing modern takes on Jane Austen titles. I've read a couple of them now, and while this was good, and faithful to the story while being presented in a modern way, it suffered from the same problem which the original has for me - I just don't really like Emma. She makes me cringe. Give me Elizabeth Bennett, Elinor Dashwood, Fanny Price - or even better, Anne Elliot - any day. Heck, I'll even take Catherine Morland. (Though honestly, haven't read Northanger Abbey in so many years I might be wrong about that last one...)

Dinner, 16/7/17: Baked Green Eggs

We've had this before - eggs baked in a spinach nest. It's unusual, but I  like it, and it's nice and simple.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Book 62: Ink by Alice Broadway

Finally got around to finishing a book - just haven't really been up to much reading lately - not sure if it's because I'm tired or because of the weather, or what, but it's quite unusual for me. Tried a couple of books I didn't get into, but finally settled with this young adult title and another book which I'm nearly finished as well. I enjoyed this - it wasn't quite as good as some I've read recently, but I thought it was an interesting premise, presented well. 

Dinner, 15/7/17: Chicken Jalfrezi (Hairy Bikers)

We really like this curry as well - had it several times before. Definitely a family favourite.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dinner, 13/7/17: Cheeseburger Quesadillas (John Whaite)

We've had this a couple of times and really like them. Fast food in the best way...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dinner, 12/7/17: Asparagus and Broccoli Soup

This was a blended soup, made from the ends of the asparagus we've had all through the spring and some broccoli stalks -I threw these bits in the freezer, as it seemed a shame to waste them. If I did this again, which I would as it was very tasty - I would sieve it, as it did have some fibrous strands. But otherwise, very nice.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Dinner, 10/7/17: Indoor Picnic

Too hot (and too tired) to cook. So this is an assembly-type dinner. If I had a bit more energy, I'd make some salads myself, but even that is a bit much after this weekend. Alex and I had more or less the same thing last night (slight variation). Maybe next week there will be actual cooking...

Friday, July 07, 2017

Dinner, 7/7/17: Fish Fingers, Oven Chips

The height of sophistication. Alex and me, on our own, on a Friday night...

Monday, July 03, 2017

Dinner, 3/6/17: Spicy Chicken with Peanuts and Green Beans (Ken Hom)

Essentially a Kung-Pao chicken, though not as spicy, and I added green beans. 

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Dinner, 2/7/17: Hot & Sour Soup

Geoff's favourite soup, though not a favourite for Olivia, containing both eggs and mushrooms - good reason to have it on a Sunday, then, when she's at work during dinner time.

Book 61: Traitor to the Throne, Alwyn Hamilton

This is the second in this trilogy (third not yet out); a YA fantasy trilogy set in a desert land, full of Djinns (and half-Djinns) and whatnot. I am really enjoying them.  Not that I've been reading much lately - tired, hot, busy. Perhaps July will be better!

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Books in

Well, so much for July! Olivia and I popped into Nottingham after visiting the university, and of course, there's a nice Waterstones there. So I had to visit the Buy One Get One Half Price tables. These friends came home with me.

Book in

...already, on the first day of the month (actually, I technically bought this yesterday evening, but I had already done my June book roundup, so I'm counting it for July). Anyway, this was at the library on the sale table for the Friends' - 40p.  I am pretty sure I've read it before, but that's ok, it was good.  Not going on my list, though.

June Round Up


  • 30th: Courgette, Mozzarella and Mushroom Tart
  • 29th: Fend for Yourself Thursday
  • 28th: Orecchiette ai broccoli
  • 27th: Leftover pasta bake from freezer
  • 26th: Chicken Korma, Courgettes
  • 25th: Sausages, Yorkshire Puds, Cabbage
  • 24th: Chili peanut beef noodles (Geoff cooking, K & O away)
  • 23rd: Spicy Potatoes with Spinach and Paneer
  • 22nd: Fend for Yourself Thursday
  • 21st: Jambalaya
  • 20th: Fend for Yourself Tuesday
  • 19th: Chicken Goujons, Potatoes, Salad
  • 18th: Salmon, Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes (K&A only)
  • 17th: Homemade pizzas
  • 16th: Roasted Cauliflower & chickpeas with Harissa
  • 15th: Fend for yourself Thursday
  • 14th: Red Kidney Bean Green Bean Curry
  • 13th: Tahini and Honey Chicken & Paprika Potatoes (Alex cooking)
  • 12th: Pasta with Pesto & Veg (Sarah Cooking)
  • 11th: Steak, Asparagus, New Potatoes
  • 10th: Dinner out (early Father's Day celebration)
  • 9th: Veg Stir Fry with Noodles & Cashews
  • 8th: Fend for yourself Thursday
  • 7th: Vegetable & Pasta Soup (no picture)
  • 6th: Mexican Bean & Tortilla Bake
  • 5th: Lemon, chicken & artichoke pasta
  • 4th: Roast Chicken, etc
  • 3rd: Picnic on Juniper Top
  • 2nd: Sausages, etc (K&O away)
  • 1st: Fish, potatoes, peas (Geoff, Alex - K & O away)