Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: New To Me Authors I Discovered in 2021






Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the theme is New to Me Authors in 2021!

Maggie Christensen - I read 6 books by Maggie Christensen last year, 5 of which were part of her Granite Springs series featuring older protaganists who live in the university town of Granite Springs falling in love. I need to get back to that series. I do have another of her books up soon to read.

Martha Wells - I am not really a sci-fi reader, but I really, really enjoyed the first three Murderbot books. Must read the fourth book.

Meredith Jaffe - One of my 5/5 books last year was The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison. So good! My review is here.

Kelly Rimmer - Another 5/5 read. I really need to get back to her books.

Karen Swan - Bree from All the Books I Can Read absolutely loves this author. We mostly have similar reading tastes, but there are some notable exceptions. Fortunatey, Karen Swan is not one of them.

Heather Webber - I read two of Heather Webber's books last year. If you like magical realism, the American South and some tasty sounding food then this may be the author for you.

Lucy Parker - I can't really believe I haven't read Lucy Parker before. I loved Battle Royal and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Helen Hoang - I know I should have read Helen Hoang before, but I hadn't. I have now.

Micaiah Johnson - Another science fiction read. This one came highly recommended by several blogger friends.

Kristin Harmel - Kristin Harmel is one of those authors I knew I would like when I finally got to read her. And I did!

Have you read any of these authors?

Monday, January 24, 2022

This Week...

I'm reading...

Recently I was thinking about my reading. In particular, I was thinking about the fact that my aim for this year is to read just over a book a week. How am I tracking against that target? Well, up until Sunday night I had read one page this week. I'd say it is going well then right?

I did, however, start another audiobook today, despite already only being halfway through the one I was already listening to. I started listening to Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Tousselot. I started it because it has a really fun premise and because the whole audiobook only takes just over six hours to listen to. The book is actually divided into 4 parts, so I was able to listen to one of the stories whilst working.

The premise is that there is a cafe in Tokyo where you can time travel to the past, but there are very specific rules. You have to sit in a specific chair, you can only see people who come into the cafe and you have to come back to present before the coffee gets cold! 

I am looking forward to listening to more tomorrow!


I'm watching....

If I am not reading then I must be watching, right? Well...not really. The only thing we really watched was a couple of episodes of Bobba Fett, and then we started watching season 3 of After Life.

Don't ask me what we have actually been doing!


It's been hot here this weekend, perfect weather for spending some time floating around in the pool, and for spending inside in air conditioned comfort.

We did head into the city yesterday and went to Van Gogh Alive, an interactive exhibition devoted to the art of Vincent Van Gogh. 

This is my lovely husband making a joke about chopping off his ear!

Posts from the week

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to my TBR

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

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sunday Salon: 2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge statistics

I thought it might be interesting to have a look at some of the statistics related to the 2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge before we got too much further through 2022.

Whilst we had hosted the challenge for a number of year at Historical Tapestry, last year was my first year of hosting it again and I was happy with how it went. Overall, there were 775 reviews, contributed by 48 participants, although I should clarify that these are the ones that were linked up. There is at least one person who participates but doesn't link (you know who you are!! ;-)) so there might be more.

Let's start wth the month by month stats. The highest number of reviews for the month was in January with 98 reviews, which makes sense given that everyone is excited to start new reading challenges at the beginning of the year.

The individual reader who posted the most reviews was Yvonne from A Darned Good Read who posted an amazing 79 reviews (which is actually significantly more books than I even read in 2021. There were a seven other people who linked up more than 30 reviews throughout the year. Regardless if you linked 79 reviews or just one I thank you for your participation in the challenge!

There were 527 authors who were read and reviewed for the challenge! That feels like a lot! The two authors with the most reviews were Anne Perry and Julia Quinn with an equal 10 review each. Well done to Rambling Book Nerd who reread and reviewed the entire Bridgerton series! The next authors were C S Harris with 9 reviews and then Charles Finch and Kate Quinn who each had 7 reviews.

There were 681 individual titles reviewed. The top 3 who were all reviewed 5 times were:

Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig 

The Four Wind by Kristin Hannah 

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. This was one of my 5/5 reads last year too.

My intention is to do some monthly stats during the year. We'll see how I go with that shall we.

A couple of people mentioned wanting to have a wrap up post for their completed challenges so I will be posting that in December.

What other stats would you be interested in seeing?

It's not too late to sign up for the 2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. You can find all the details here.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Weekend Cooking: The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

A few months ago now I read and loved Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber. It had so many elements that I love - Southern charm, good food, great characters and a dash of magical realism. I already had this book on my Kindle waiting for me to read so it was a no brainer that I was going to read it. Whilst I enjoyed Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe slightly more, this was still a fun read with a lot to like about it.

Told in alternating voices between Sadie Way Cross and her sister, Leala Clare, the story is fundamentally the story of the two sisters and their mother who have a very difficult relationships. Their mother had raised them as a single parent whilst running a bed and breakfast right on the shores of the lake, the lake that Sadie had nearly drowned in 8 years previously. Whilst she survived, the colour of Sadie's hair had changed overnight to "glittery silver tresses" which Sadie's mother reminded her of the stars. Tired of being different, Sadie left her home town of Sugarberry Cove and didn't look back. Well, except for maybe when she was being honest with herself about how much she missed Sugarberry Cove and her home and family.

Sadie is an online content creator with her own YouTube channel, A Southern Hankerin'. She found people from all over the South who talk about a particular recipe, whether it be a family favourite or something that brings back memories. They could be complicated or as simple as buttermilk scrambled eggs.

Whilst Sadie doesn't really have a home as she travels all across the South, Leala is the opposite. She has stayed in Sugarberry Cove. She has the perfect husband, the perfect child and the perfect show home. So why isn't she happy?

Their mother, Susannah, having a heart attack is the trigger to bring all three members of the family together, forcing them to face their own truths about their life both past and present, about their relationships with each other and those around them and what the future may bring. First and foremost, it makes them see how much their mother really hasn't been coping for quite some time. The B&B is in desperate need of a makeover, and it isn't making enough money.

Leala and Sadie have been so engrossed in their own worlds that neither really know each other. Leala assumes that Sadie's channel is a little hobby rather than the extremely successful undertaking that it is and Sadie assumes that Leala is happy in her perfect life.

There are a cast of other characters who pass through the book including Teddy who comes to stay at the B&B every year for years and has become a close family friend, who this year brings her niece Bree for the first time, Sadie's uncle who has played a pivotal role in the absence of their deceased father, her first love and more.

Another character is the lake. There is a legend that the lake is home to Lady Laurel, the lady of the lake. Each year in August, there is a lantern festival where the townspeople can make their wishes and they may come true. It sounds like a truly magical event.

I thought I would share a passage from one of the A Southern Hankerin' episodes

"Is there anything I can do to help, Mrs Teakes?" I needed a diversion from my thoughts or else I was bound to fall into a deep mudhole of self-pity. I'd alreaady set up my cameras, three in all, to frame specific shots of the homey kitchen that breathed vintage charm, which was easy to do since it hadn't been updated in at least sixty years, possibly more. The room was painted a cheerful blue, and the scent of vanilla floated in the air, as if being exhaled by the colorful, floral wallpaper that served as a backsplash. The bulbous white fridge, covered in family photos, postcards, and old newspaper clippings hummed loudly, its long chrome handle gleaming. The wide stove with side-by-side ovens had two storage drawers at the bottom, and I could only imagine the stories it could tell of the meals it had cooked.

But those stories would have to wait. The focus of today's video ws on a dish served cold. Several small glass bowls were lined up along the ceramic tile countertop, each filled with different ingredients. Shredded coconut. Mandarin oranges. Sour cream. Maraschino cherries. Pineapple chunks. Mini marshmallows. Once the food prep was complete, I'd bethe one asking all the questions for the sake of the video, which would be posted the following week on my YouTube channel, A Southern Hankerin'.

The videos wereabout more than Southern cooking. At their heart were human-interest pieces featuring people across the South willing to share a family recipe and the story behind it. Last week, I'd had an in-depth preliminary phone interview with Mrs.. Teakes, and today I'd film her while she told me how, in the late 1960s, she'd captured the heart of her late husband with her recipe for ambrosia salad

During the interview I'd be sure to mention how the South proudly labeled some desserts as salad. To those who lived here, this came as no surprise. After all, this was the land where mac and cheese was considered a vegetable But my audience wasn't limited to the South. I had viewership that spanned the globe, a fact that amazed me - though it shouldn't. People tuned in for the heartwarming, relatable stories, which were needed in the world more than ever.

It sounds like a Youtube channel I would like to watch!

I am already excited about the next book that the author is releasing which is going to be called In the Middle of Hickory Lane

Do you have any cooking related Youtube channels that you watch, or podcasts you listen too?

About the book

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove is a charming, delightful story of family, healing, love, and small town Southern charm by USA Today bestselling author Heather Webber.

Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, since she nearly drowned in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she wonders why she was saved. What is she supposed to do?

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost died. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted—so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. It’s the last place either of them wants to be, but with a little help from the inn’s quirky guests, the sisters may come to terms with their strained relationships, accept the past, and rediscover a little lake magic.

Weekly meals

Saturday - Out for dinner
Sunday - Take away
Monday - Chicken Katsu
Tuesday - Ginger and Soy Soba Noodle salad
Wednesday - Pork nachos
Thursday - Beef sukiyaki bowls
Friday - Fish and chips at the beach

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn't Get To





Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the theme is 2021 Releases I was excited to readd but didn't get to. Now, it's going to be a very short post if I just say all of them, so let me work through some of my posts from last year!

Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone by Diana Gabaldon - I have been invested in this series for at least 20 years. Normally by this stage I would have bought the book the first time I saw it in the shop and finished it. I will read it at some point I am sure.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston - I really enjoyed Red, White and Royal Blue so I was very excited about this book coming out.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah - I have several books still to read by Kristin Hannah. I did intend to read this one!

The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley - I have listened to all of the Seven Sisters books and they are all very long books. I am just not sure when I am going to have time to listen to this one.

From the Ashes by Kristina Gruell - This is the first in a series written by a friend of mine who I met on the forums for Sara Donati back in the day.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir - I haven't actually read Andy Weir before, but the movie of his book The Martian is one of my all time favourites.

The Fossil Hunter by Tea Cooper - This author wrote one of my few 5/5 reads for last year so I really should read this one.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr - I loved All the Light We Cannot See and I have heard good things about this book too.

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin - I have heard such good things about this book

Still Life by Sarah Winman - Several people I know have raved about this book. I just started it this week and so far so good.

Have you read any of these books?

Monday, January 17, 2022

This week....

I mentioned last week that I was reading The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison and I am pleased to say that I finished it over weekend. I also mentioned that I was using Bookly to keep track of my reading to see what it ends up producing as a graphic. This is what it ended up looking like.

I think I am going to continue keeping track as I start reading my next book which is Still Life by Sarah Winman. I have heard so many good things about this book, to the point that it is one of my Twelve challenge reads. I have read the first 20 or so pages so far and I have to say I am already hooked.

I'm watching...

We finished Wheel of Time last week. While I haven't read the books, my husband has and he spent the whole series basically saying that isn't how it was in the books. I liked it, but given that we watched The Whicher at the same time, I have to say if I had to pick between the two, I would definitely choose The Whicher.

We also started Brooklyn 99. I am kind of surprised that we have never watched it before because we really liked it. We will definitely be watching more.


We were lucky enough to go away for the weekend to a place called Yarrawonga over the weekend. One of my friends, who I met a bookclub we are both no longer involved in, recently retired up there! The town sits right on the state border with New South Wales and is on a lake formed when the Murray River was dammed. For me there is something almost spiritual about the Murray River. Whenever I drive anywhere where I get to see it, I have to take a moment to breathe in deeply and appreciate the moment. 

The weekend was filled with a lovely combination of relaxing, swimming, doing touristy things and great company!

On the way home we stopped at a small town called Picola where there was painted silo that we haven't ever seen before. We do love looking for the silo art. I must have a look at the map and see if there are any others in the state that we hven't seen yet.

Posts from the week

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to my TBR

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

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Weekend Cooking: Mediterranean Vegetable Tart

A while ago now we watched British chef Tom Kerridge's series Lose Weight for Good, and I shared a recipe for "fried" chicken. This is a recipe that is definitely part of our regular meal rotation.

We also tried a couple of other things from the series, one of which is this Mediterranean Vegetable Tart. I just feels so summery to me, so it is perfect for this time of year! And the reality is that you can't go past puff pastry!

It's time for us to make it again and so today I am sharing the recipe so we can find it when we need to.

Mediterranean Vegetable Tart (Tom Kerridge)

280g/10oz ready-rolled light puff pastry
200g/7oz baby zucchini, cut into 15mm/⅝in slices
1 large red capsicum/pepper, cored, seeds removed, cut into 2cm/¾in chunks
1 large yellow capsicum/pepper, cored, seeds removed, cut into 2cm/¾in chunks
1 red onion, cut into 2cm/¾in chunks
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
olive oil spray
1 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
100g/3½oz cherry tomatoes, halved
75g/2¾oz goats’ cheese, crumbled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Using a sharp knife, trim the sheet of puff pastry to 25 x 28cm/10 x 11in. Place it on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and score a border 2cm/¾in in from the edge all the way round. Prick the pastry within the margin, using a fork. Leave to rest in the fridge for about an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 240C/220C Fan/Gas 9.

Put the zuchinni, capsicum and red onion into a large bowl. Add the garlic and herbs and season generously with salt and pepper. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, lay the vegetables on it and spray 15–20 times with oil.

Brush the puff pastry all over with the milk and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook on the middle shelf of the oven, with the vegetable tray on the top shelf above, for 15 minutes, rotating both trays halfway through to ensure even colouring. Remove both trays from the oven and reduce the temperature to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3. Set the vegetables aside.

Press the inside of the pastry down and return to the oven for 25 minutes to get a super-crisp base.

Take the tart case out of the oven and increase the temperature to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Tip the roasted vegetables into the tart case, scatter over the cherry tomatoes and goats’ cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 20–25 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through and the cheese is softening and colouring at the edges. Cut the tart into quarters and serve.

Weekly meals

Saturday - Roast beef, vegies and gravy
Sunday - Roast beef, vegies and gravy 
Monday - Fried chicken, mashed potato and gravy
Tuesday - Homemade pizza
Wednesday - Zucchini and Mushroom risotto
Thursday - Pork chop, potato gratin, broccoli and cauliflower bake
Friday - 

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to my TBR pile




Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the theme is Most Recent Additions to my TBR pile. 

Let's start with my library loot!

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak - I saw this recommended at The Chocolate Lady's Book Review Blog and thought it sounded very interesting

The Last Piece of my Heart by Paige Toon - I recently read my first Paige Toon, but it isn't going to be my last

And now my one click purchases

The Pasha of Cuisine by Saygin Ersin - I was attracted to this one because it sounds like an interesting historical foodie novel!

Must Love Babies by Kelly Hunter - Kelly Hunter is one of my favourite Australian contemporary romance writers.

Sunrise Over Sapphire Bay by Holly Martin - I don't even know why I got this one. Maybe it was a freebie.

These next two are from Audible:

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
- I listened to this just before Christmas and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell - I have heard such good things about this author but never read her, or listened to her.

And then there are the books that I received for Christmas. One of these was a book that I requested. The other two were books that I received as part of Naughty Santa. Have you ever played that? The idea is that everyone takes it in turn to pick from the pile of presents or choose to steal one of the presents that someone else has. I was the second to last person to choose so I stole a Sodastream from someone else, but then someone stole the Sodastream from me. I then picked up the last present rather than steal from someone else and it contained two books.

Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras - This is the one that I did request for Christmas!

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C Cutler - I might keep this one. Maybe.

The Accidental Prime Minister by Annika Smethurst- Pretty sure I will never, ever read this one!

Have you read any of these?


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