Monday, December 06, 2021

This week...


First things first! I announced the 2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge last week so if you like historical fiction and you like reading challenges then it would be great to have you join us!



I'm reading....



After that introduction you would expect that I would be reading historical fiction, but I am reading outside my comfort zone this week. I am reading Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muirwhich is hard to classify but lets go with dark fantasy featuring necromancers. It took me a while to get into the voice but right now I am enjoying it. I can't extend it from the library so I need to get on and finish it



I am back in more familiar territory with the audiobook that I am still listening too which is The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. This was the first Kearsley I ever read and it is still probably my favourite of her books. It has been a few years since I read this book and as I am listening to it I am being surprised all over again as certain things happen in the book. I have about an hour to go so I am hoping to finish it this week



I'm watching...



Last week I got a recommendation for a series called We Are Lady Parts which was a good series to watch. The series is about a group of five Muslim women from London who form a punk band. It is unexpected in many ways.



We have really loved Travels with my Father with Jack Whitehall with his father Michael. It was therefore a no brainer that we were going to watch Christmas with my Father, which was our Friday night treat.



On Saturday we started watching Hawkeye which is another Marvel series. This one is also set at Christmas time so you get Christmassy feels and comedy/action.



We also started watching season two of The Great and the first episode did not disappoint.




Life



We now have something every weekend in December and January is filling up quickly too. This weekend I visited the Johnston Collection with some friends. I hadn't visited before but we will definitely be back. It is a museum of fine and decorative art. It is an amazing place, full of antiques and beautiful trinkets, which are all enhanced by embroiderers who have taken inspiration from the gorgeous items and then throw in a Christmas twist. I will be talking more about this during the week.



We also caught up with friends for brunch and then we went shopping for items for the new house. We thought we were going to buy a heater but instead we bought the pendant lights for the kitchen (no, note the one above, that's from the Johnston Collection). In exciting news we finally have a start date for the build!

 



Festive treats...




This week it has been all about Christmas music, in particular new Christmas music. Australian music legend Paul Kelly has released a new Christmas album. I think I need to listen to a bit more to give it an opportunity to grow on me.



The other album that is new to me is Wintertime Dreams: A Parisian Christmas which I know that I am going to listen to several times between now and Christmas.



Here are the festive treats I have read, listened and watched so far this year:



1. Flora's Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin


2. The Happiest Season 

3. The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan

4. Love Harder 

5. A Castle for Christmas
6. Hawkeye
7.  Christmas Train - Paul Kelly
8. Christmas with my Father
9. Wintertime Dreams: A Parisian Christmas- Tatiana Eva-Marie and the Avalon Jazz Band
10. Single all the Way


Posts from the last week




Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - December 
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2022 sign up post
Music A-Z: Z
Weekend Cooking: What I Baked in November
Six Degrees of Separation: Ethan Frome to The Red Tent


I've linked this post to It's Monday, what are you reading? as hosted by Book Date

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation: From Ethan Frome to The Red Tent

Welcome to this month's edition of Six Degrees of Separation, which is a monthly meme hosted by Kate from Books Are My Favourite and Best.  The idea is to start with a specific book and make a series of links from one book to the next using whatever link you can find and see where you end up after six links.  I am also linking this post up with The Sunday Salon, hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz. 








The starting point for this month is Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. I really struggled to get started last month. This month I had the opposite problem. I had several ideas of where to start.

 I did think about going using novels with a name for a title as one of my options, but I kept it a bit simpler in the end.





I haven't read Ethan Frome although when I was looking on Goodreads I was surprised to see that it is a very short book, so  maybe I should try reading it. The only book  I have read by Edith Wharton is Age of Innocence, which is a book I read many years ago as part of the Barnes and Noble University.





When I was thinking about Age of Innocence I was thinking of the Gilded Age/era which lead me to thinking about The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati, which coincidentally is also set in New York.





My next choice, City of Dreams by Beverly Swerling is also set in New York, or rather in Nieuw Amsterdam back when the city was under Dutch control.





Taking inspirations from the word dream, my next choice is Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams by  Alexander McCall Smith. This book was part of the Canongate myths series





Also part of the same series is Lion's Honey by David Grossman, which retells the story of Samson from the Old Testament.





My final choice is another Old Testament story, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. If I had to pick one book as the book that got me over the line from thinking about writing reviews for a blog to actually starting a blog, this is the book.



Next month the starting point is Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. This is an author that I have been meaning to read for the longest time. That might even be my starting point but there's only a couple of thousand books that are on that list so it doesn't really narrow it down.


Saturday, December 04, 2021

Weekend Cooking: What I Baked in November

 Welcome to the first Saturday of the month, where I share what I baked during the previous month. 



It feels like I didn't make a lot during November. I really only missed one week, but I have realised that I didn't take many photos so the images for the first two are from the last times I made them!




Creamy Gingernut Cheesecake (recipe) - This is a very easy and very tasty recipe but it always gets good reviews.





Spicy Ginger and Apple Self Saucing Pudding (recipe) - Even though it was November and therefore should have been warm but we had a couple of really cool weekends. Perfect weather for a dinner of soup and self saucing pudding.






Red Velvet Layer  Cake with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting - This was my one new recipe for this month and it was a winner! You make the cream cheese frosting with brown sugar which gives it a delicious, almost toffee like flavour. Definitely will be making this one again!





I am not sure what I am going to make during December. I have way too many options so it is almost too hard to pick. I have two Christmas cookie boxes here, plus an indigenous flavoured pavlova kit here to make and I have a sudden desire to make a Paris Brest (choux pastry with a creme patisserie filling). Maybe I will have paralysis by analysis and not actually make a decision.



I am also sharing this post with In My Kitchen, hosted at Sherry's Kitchen.



Weekly Meals

Saturday - Barbecue with friends 
Sunday - Leftovers for barbecues
Monday - Spanish Tuna Pasta Bake
Tuesday - Burgers
Wednesday - Chicken Parma and chips
Thursday -Family dinner
Friday - Takeaway





Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Music A to Z: Z






Welcome to this week's edition of my Music A to Z feature. Normally, each week on Thursday, I am going to share a song where either the song or the artist name begins with the letter for that week. This week, the letter is....

Z



And so we come to the end. Actually, not quite. Next week I am planning to do some numbers songs and then maybe some Christmas songs and then we will be at the end. So what songs have I chosen for the letter Z


Zebra by John Butler Trio - I would love to see these guys live, even though I only know one of their albums.





Zombie by The Cranberries - This song very firmly places me back in the mid 90s travelling around Europe every time I hear it.

Do you have any Z songs or artists? Let me know in the comments.

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2022 sign up post

 



Welcome to the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge for 2022! I am super excited to be hosting this challenge again this year. You are welcome to join if you are have participated before or if it is your first time!


Reading Challenge details

Each month, a new post dedicated to the HF Challenge will be created where you can add the links for the books you have read. To participate, you only have to follow the rules:

Everyone can participate! If you don't have a blog you can post a link to your review if it's posted on Goodreads, Facebook, or Amazon, or you can add your book title and thoughts in the comment section if you wish.


Add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please use the direct URL that will guide us directly to your review)
Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted (Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, History/Non-Fiction, etc.)

During the following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

20th Century Reader - 2 books
Victorian Reader - 5 books
Renaissance Reader - 10 books
Medieval - 15 books
Ancient History - 25 books
Prehistoric - 50+ books

To join the challenge you only need to make a post about it, add your link in Mr. Linky below or just leave a link to your blog if you are not yet ready to post about it yet. If you don't have a blog you can just leave a comment for this post saying that you are joining, and link to your Facebook, Goodreads or other social media page where you will be sharing your reviews.

Don't forget to use the challenge hashtag #histficreadingchallenge, join in on the Facebook page, and grab your challenge badge here:








If you have any questions or suggestions let me know!

Are you excited about joining the challenge? What level of the challenge are you aiming for?

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - December

 

 

 




Thank you to everyone who shared a review this month! We had more than 

50 reviews in November which is awesome! I can't wait to see what you all share in December.


I am going to be putting up the sign up post for the 2022 challenge tomorrow. I hope that you will all join in again next year.  

Here's a sneak peak glimpse of the button and I have a plan to make some changes next year, mainly related to sharing some stats each month! I have been putting together some for this year and I will be sharing some of these shortly! Are you curious to see which book has been reviewed most so far this year? I can tell you that! And which author? Yes, I can tell you that too!!




Just to recap what participants need to know. At the beginning of each month I will put up a post which will have a Mr Linky embedded into it for you to add your link.

Please remember...




  • add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please, do not add your blog link, but the correct address that will guide us directly to your review). A direct link to your Goodreads review is also acceptable
  • any kind of historical fiction is accepted (fantasy, young adult, graphic novels...)
  • if you have time, have a look some of the other links that are present. You never know when you will discover new blogs or books!
I have created a group on Facebook which you can find here and don't forget to use the #histficreadingchallenge hashtag on the socials.





Monday, November 29, 2021

This week...

I'm reading...



I haven't read much this week at all. I listen to a little bit of The Winter Sea, but not a lot. I do have a plan for something to read this week, so if everything goes to plan I will start reading Midnight in the Snow by Karen Swan.



I'm watching...



I did, however, watch quite a lot this week.



There is a new series on our national TV station, ABC, called The Books that Made Us which is all about the booksthat have shaped our literary scene. I don't think there is going to be much genre fiction in it, but the first episode was interesting!



I was flicking through Netflix and came across a show called School of Chocolate . The theory is that there are a group of professional chefs who come together to learn from a master chocolatier. Just the glimpses of some of the creations are amazing, as you can see from the trailer! I watched the first episode, and I think I will definitely watch more.


On Sunday night we watched Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which brings new mythology into the Marvel universe. I am looking forward to seeing more in this world as it was very interesting.



In terms of series we already had underway, we watched the Great British Bake Off finale and a couple more episodes of Wheel of Time. 



On our list to watch this week, if we can get to it, is the second series of The Great. We really loved the first series and I am hearing good things about the second series! I also heard of a series called We Are Lady Parts which we will try this week too.



Life



This week, there were signs of getting back to normal. I have worked in the office a couple of days  and then we went to a very cool place for a work gathering . There were about 50 of us all up, and it was so good to see people face to face instead of looking at them through a screen.



On Saturday night we had some friends around for dinner. So much fun and so much food! In the end, there was enough food leftover for Sunday night dinner too! 



Festive treats...



I watched A Castle for Christmas on Sunday morning. It stars Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes, with a cameo from Drew Barrymore. It features an American author who decides on a whim to buy a castle in Scotland, despite the fact that the duke still lives there. I am not saying it is going to win any awards but it was a lot of fun, and I did laugh several times.


Here are the festive treats I have read and watched so far this year:



1. Flora's Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin


2. The Happiest Season - watched because Dan Levy is in it.

3. The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan

4. Love Harder 

5. A Castle for Christmas


I did also spend some time working on next year's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, so I thought I would give you a sneak peak of the logo for 2022.  The sign up post will be up later this week, so if you enjoy reading historical fiction I would love for you to join in! I have also been doing some statistics which I will share over the coming week or so too!


Posts from the last week




Mjusic A-Z: Y
Weekend Cooking: Tasting Whisky


I've linked this post to It's Monday, what are you reading? as hosted by Book Date

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Weekend Cooking: Tasting Whisky


Recently I read The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan which I enjoyed immensely. The majority of the story is set a whisky distillery in Scotland. Alex is a very successful business coach who receives a last minute request to go to Scotland to deal with a CEO who has a very volatile relationship with the board of his company, most of whom happen to be family members.



I must confess that I don't know much about whisky distilling so there was lots of interesting facts about the whisky distilling process, and I have never been to a whisky tasting, and this passage caught my attention because of the idea of saying hello!



Of course, I have said hi to whisky before, usually with a splash of cola which is probably a bit sacriligous but still.










She watched as Skye brought her glass to her mouth, but before sipping, inhaled it deeply, her eyes closed. She pulled the glass away and then brought it back again, repeating the deep breath in.

"Is that how you're supposed to drink whisky?" Alex asked, fascinated.

"Oh," Skye said, pulling an embarassed expression. "Occupational hazard. I forget not to do it."

"Well, could you show me how? I've never done it properly before."

"Sure," Skye replied, looking delighted and pouring them each a little more. "The first - or most important - thing is to remember is that whisky's not something to be rushed, but rather savoured. It takes a long time to make and it should take a long time to drink, to really allow the flavour to come out."

"Right," Alex said, adjusting her grip so that it was the same as Skye's, her fingers on the stem, away from the bowl of the glass. She realized she'd never seen whisky served in a stemmed glass before either - only ever tumblers.

"Now the first thing you want to do is introduce yourself to it. So you bring it to the nose and say hello," Skeye said in a sing-song voice, swirling the glass only slightly, closing her eyes and inhaling the aroma for a good four or five seconds.

"Hello," Alex echoed, feeling faintly ridiculous to be talking to a drink.

Skye then swung her arm away as though it was hinged, before bringing it back in again. "How are you?" she murmured in another dramatic voice, this time with a light swill of the glass and a deep inhalation.

Alex copied her exactly, right down to her intonation.

"Very well, thank you." Skye opened her eyes. "Smell that? See how it's beginning to breath?"

Alex nodded. It was like the opening of a flower. "Yes."

"Now take a good swig but hold it in the middle of your mouth. That's it and we're going to count down from ten..." she said, holding up her fingers and counting down. Alex swallowed when she did.

"And now take a bite of chocolate," she said, handing over the ramekin. "And then take another swig."

Alex's eyes widened as the sweetness of the chocolate in her mouth contracted with the smooth, fiery burn of the whisky.

"See that, how the flavours balance and complement one another? Now take another sip quickly."

Alex did as ths was told, eyes closing with pleasure as the last swig of whisky was drained, to dance in her mouth. She didn't gulp it down but let it play on her palate for a few moments, the different flavours like musical notes. "Oh my God," she gasped finally. " Wow."

"Yeah? You liked that?" Skye asked, looking pleased. "You should try the twenty-eight. It's a different level entirely."

"I'd love to," Alex replied.

"Yeah? Shall we say hello to it?"

Alex grinned. "Let's say hello."





Have you ever said hello to whisky in this way?


Weekly Meals

Saturday - Butter chicken pizza
Sunday - Roast beef and vegies
Monday - Beef and rice stir fry
Tuesday - Chicken Enchiladas
Wednesday - Fried Chicken, mash and beans
Thursday -Out for drinks
Friday - Takeaway





Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page



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