Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Sir Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction longlist

 



Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week''s theme is Weird or Funny Things I’ve Googled Thanks to a Book (Submitted by Astilbe @ Long and Short Reviews). Now I have googled my share of things over the years. This week alone I have googled how long it would take to get from Positano to Naples as you do!

Often when I read historical fiction I find myself googling things, and recently the longlist for the 2024 Sir Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction was announced so I thought I would share the list for this weeks Top Ten Twelve Tuesday post.  You read that right. There are twelve books on the longlist and I am sharing them all because it was too hard to decide which two to leave off.

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





The New Life by Tom Crewe - Set in 1890s London



A Better Place by Stephen Daisley - Two brothers from New Zealand are sent off to fight in WWII







Hungry Ghosts by Kevin Jared Hosein - Set in 1940s Trinidad

Cuddy by Benjamin Myers - Tells the story of St Cuthbert across the centuries from the 7th century to now




 
For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain by Victoria MacKenzie - A story of two real women from history coming together in Norwich in the 15th century


My Father’s House by Joseph O’Connor - A Catholic priest who lives in Rome rescues people from the Nazis. This is the one book on the longlist I have read and I really liked it!







Mister Timeless Blyth by Alan Spence - a biographical novel written in the form of poetry and zen. Could be interesting


In the Upper Country by Kai Thomas  - Two interlinked stories set in the same town in Canada. One of the stories is about the Underground Railroad.






Absolutely and Forever by Rose Tremain - Set in London in the 1950s and 60s.

Music in the Dark by Sally Magnusson - A story about the Highland clearances







The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng - 1920s Malaysia featuring W Somerset Maughan as one of the characters.


The Fraud by Zadie Smith - Based on a true life trial from the 1800s and includes figures from history such as Charles Dickens


As I look at all of these I have to say that not all that many of them scream historical fiction to me!!

Have you read any of them?

Monday, March 04, 2024

This Week...

I'm reading



I mentioned last week that I started reading The Paris Cooking School which I have now finished and really enjoyed. However, I probably won't post the review for this one until July, as it will be a perfect Weekend Cooking post for Paris in July.




I also mentioned that I wasn't sure what I would listen to next. I ended up deciding to go back to something I have listened to a few times but not for a few years now. I chose to re-listen to Sylvester by Georgette Heyer, as narrated by Richard Armitage. Hello aural bliss!! 



I am on a blog tour for A Villa with a View by Julie Caplin later this week so I started and finished that this week. It bought back a lot of memories of our trip to Italy early last year.



While I was in Sydney last week, my read on a theme bookclub met and they decided that our next theme would be Crime: Fact or Fiction. I have had Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club waiting for me for a while so this seems like a good time to start reading it! Apparently I missed a cracker of a conversation. Our previous theme was "Outside Your Comfort Zone" and one of our older members decided it was time to read Fifty Shades of Grey which led to a lot of talk!



I'm watching



We are part way through several series but we didn't make a lot of progress this week. We did go and see Dune Part 2. We went a bit further afield from our closest cinema so we could get the reclining seats and it was worth it



Life



On Thursday I had a leaders day where we talked all about Diversity Equity and Inclusion. It was a full on day, but very interesting. Normally after a day like that I would go home exhausted but not this week as Ie went to see the theatre adaptation of Pip Williams' A Dictionary of Lost Words based on her book of the same name. Whilst I haven't read Dictionary, I have read the accompanying book, The Book Binders of Jericho. I really enjoyed the play, but I was exhausted by the end of the day!



In other exciting news, our holiday plans for August/September are starting to come together. I am so excited about some of the plans and I can't wait to share my experiences with you all!



Posts from the last week


Top Ten Tuesday: Trees
Six Degrees of Separation: Tom Lake to A Game of Thrones

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

Sunday, March 03, 2024

Six Degrees of Separation: Tom Lake to A Game of Thrones

 

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. 

 






This month we are starting with Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. I feel like I could have gone in a lake direction and pretty much have done the whole chain based on that theme, but in the end I took a different direction.






I decided to use another book by Ann Patchett as my first link and I have chosen The Dutch House






Recently I bought a book that has easily identifiable Dutch houses on the cover - Midnight Blue by Simone Van Der Blugt. I am looking forward to reading this at some point. When I do read it, it will count towards the Books in Translation challenge as it is written by a Dutch author..



I went looking for a book with the word blue in it, and found The Lady in Blue by Javier Sierra. This is another book in translation, this time by a Spanish author. 





If you were ever to ask me to name a Spanish author, then the first one that would come to mind would be Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I loved his book The Shadow of the Wind so much!







Another wind named book that I absolutely loved was The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.






Patrick Rothfuss is a somewhat famous, or maybe infamous, for being a bit grumpy when people ask when are we ever going to see the next book in the Kingkiller Chronicle series. Another author who is the same is George R R Martin, so I am finishing with A Game of Thrones.



Next month the starting point is a bit different. Kate's instructions are to "look to your bookshelf – do you see a Lonely Planet title there? Or an Eyewitness Travel title? Or any other travel guide? That’s your starting book." I don't think that my starting point will be a surprise to anyone who knows me at all!






Saturday, March 02, 2024

What I Baked (In my Kitchen)in February

The first Saturday of the month is when I share all the things that I baked in the previous month. This month is going to be a very short post because I only made one thing!!



It was my sister's 50th birthday this month. Over the years she has been the party cake maker but it probably stands to reason that she couldn't make her own. Therefore I was approached to make the cake a few days before the event. I had seen something not too long before that I thought would make!



The recipe actually called for a butter cake with a white chocolate ganache frosting. I decided that I would make the Vanilla cake from RecipeTinEats and still make the same frosting. In retrospect, this was the wrong decision!



One of the key ingredients in a white chocolate ganache is white chocolate, and there was a lot. I didn't realise that the version of Lindt white chocolate we got had a filling in it until I ate one of the last pieces. By that point the ganache was basically done, and the recipe called for the ganache to go in the fridge for a few hours and then you whip it up to a lovely creamy frosting. I made it the night before, put it in the fridge. When I started to whip it up, it very soon became clear that it was not working the way it was meant to! I had what appeared to be a very sweet rice consistency.



What to do? Well, I found a recipe for White Chocolate Butter Cream frosting so I decided to go with that. Thankfully we had just enough white chocolate left in the house. By this point though, I was very stressed and didn't read the recipe properly. Instead of using powdered/caster sugar I used granulated sugar so, whilst the frosting tasted amazing it was a bit gritty. By this point, it was a case of either we go with it, or go and buy one. 



As I would expect it didn't look as elegant as the one that I saw in the first place, but it was a bit of fun!



Here is the cake





Now don't feel too sorry for us. We still managed to have plenty of sweet treats. My step daughters (it still feels a bit weird to refer them in that way ) moved in with a few months ago and they did a bit of baking including carrot walnut cake, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate brownies. I do feel like I need to reclaim my kitchen though. No idea what I am going to make though.





I did acquire two new cookbooks this month. The first was The Farm Table by Julius Roberts. I love the colours of the cover. This is a book that focuses on cooking with the season and I do know what the first recipe is that I am going to try.





And the second was Meliz's Kitchen by Meliz Berg. I haven't had a chance to look through this but I have heard good things about the books.





We had a work event this week which was focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We got to hear prominent Aboriginal Australian and former journalist Stan Grant talk to us. As part of a small pack we received we used a packet of Native Seasoning so I am going to have to work out what to do with it. The information on the back just says use to season savoury foods.



Last month I had the great idea to share which new recipes we tried this month. Normally we try a few new different recipes. This month, the month after I declared I would be sharing them, we only tried one which was a Pot Roast.




Now it is not necessarily pot roast weather here, but I was listening to an audiobook where the main character wanted to make a pot roast so then I decided that we needed to have one too! And it was delicious! So delicious that we might make it again when the cooler weather comes!



I am sharing this with In My Kitchen hosted at Sherry's Pickings



Weekly meals

Saturday -  Away
Sunday -  Away
Monday - Spicy Pork and Beans noodles
Tuesday - Beef, Broccoli, Mushrooms
Wednesday - Enchiladas
Thursday - Out for 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

Friday, March 01, 2024

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - March links

  



February might be the shortest month in the year, but we still had a fabulous number of reviews shared for this month. Currently there are more than 50 links for the month!


I am looking forward to reading your reviews throughout the year! I am sure there is going to be a lot of great historical fiction discovered and shared with fellow HF lovers this year!



If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late! The sign up post is here.



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.


Let the reading begin!!




Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Trees



Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Covers/Titles with Things Found in Nature (covers/titles with things like trees, flowers, animals, forests, bodies of water, etc. on/in them) (Submitted by Jessica @ a GREAT read) I am choosing to focus on trees for my post!





At the Foot of the Cherry Tree by Alli Parker - Listened to this on audio this year and it was really good! It is a fictionalised story of how her grandparents met just after WWII in Japan.


The Flame Tree by Siobhan Daiko - If you are looking for a WWII story set in the Pacific theatre of war, then this could be a good option.





Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak - This was one of my favourite reads of 2022.

Under the Christmas Tree by Robyn Carr - This is part of the Virgin River series.




The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman - I have read a number of this author's books but it has been a while.


Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky - I don't remember anything about this book. To be fair, I did read it back in 2008.




The Red Tree by Shaun Tan - This is another author I haven't read for a long time.

The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay - I often think about the love story in this book.




Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty - I have had this book sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now.

The Cedar Tree by Nicole Alexander - This is one that has been sitting on my Kindle for a while! The description does sound good.

Monday, February 26, 2024

This Week....

I'm reading



Last week I mentioned I was reading Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See. I finished it while we were away and thoroughly enjoyed it! Because I finished it while we were on the plane I couldn't download anything new so I had to choose from any books I had already downloaded. I mean, that is still more than a hundred books but it's a narrower choice than I might otherwise have had.



In the end I decided to start reading The Paris Cooking School by Sophie Beaumont. I mean Paris and food! Sounds like a winner to me!



I also finished listening to The Inheritance by Nora Roberts. I can't really decide which audiobook to listen to next. I am sure I will find something!



I'm watching



Not much really!



Life



We spent the weekend in Sydney which was a lot of fun. We had a few flight issues going both ways so we were a bit late landing - us and all the Swifties who were flying in for the Taylor Swift concerts that were happening this weekend.



Our main reason for going was to watch SailGP. On Sunday we were on an island in the middle of the course and so the boats were sailing very close to us. It was very cool.







 


We did learn though that it would be best to stay in Sydney for the Sunday night if we do it again. We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare but it was still a bit angsty!



We also went to see an artist exhibition at the new Art Gallery of New South Wales. The new building was extraordinary and so cleverly done. One of the galleries is actually a WWII storage tank that has now been made into an exhibition space. For this exhibition, the Tank was left quite dark which was very unusual. As for the artist, Louise Bourgeois,I am not sure she was our kind of artist, but you don't know until you try right?






Posts from the last week


Top Ten Tuesday: You Already Own That Book
Weekend Cooking: That's a Bit Strange 


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

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Weekend Cooking: That's a bit strange

A couple of nights ago we had a work event where we went to Holey Moley, which is a mini golf place. After having a couple of beers because it was 37 degrees Celsius outside – in other words hot! – we did our golf thing and then it was time for pizza. As conversations do when you are in a social environment, the conversation meandered from one topic to another. Towards the end of the night we found ourselves talking about weird food things.

 



Firstly, we spent a lot of time talking about porridge/oats and all the ways people eat it. Now, when I have oats we cook it in the saucepan (no microwave oats here) and then I have it with a little bit of milk, some pieces of butter dotted around and then sugar over the top. Other serving suggestions included just with honey, and another person suggested having it with condensed milk.

 



The condensed milk suggestion led to comments about just eating it by the spoonful, but the weirdest suggestion by far was to get an avocado, cut it in half, remove  the stone and then fill the gap where the stone was with condensed milk. Then you eat the avocado, you mix a taste of the avocado and condensed milk in each bite. I am not sure that I would want to try it but my husband likes both avocado and condensed milk so maybe he would like to try it!

 



Inevitably we ended up talking about the weird ways that people eat Vegemite. To me, any way that you eat vegemite is weird because I just don’t like it at all. I am a bad Australian!!

 



I am trying to think what my weirdest food thing is. I do get hung up on the shape of some food, particularly chocolate. For example, you can get Cadbury chocolate in different shapes here. You can get rolls, different size bars which all have different size squares, and to me the different shapes all taste different! For the purposes of this blog post, I had to go and buy a Cadbury roll. I can tell you, the ones that are in the packet that face towards each other taste different from the ones that are in the packet facing away from each other. I'll eat both, but when I start eating the packet I will start with the complete shapes first. 




This is a terrible photo, taken in an airport lounge while we waited for our delayed flight, but I would start eating the middle ones first because they are a complete shape!



And another thing, drinking Coke out of a can tastes different from Coke out of a glass bottle, and again to plastic bottles!! And then there is the fact that the formula for Coke varies around the world so it tastes different wherever you go!!

 



Recently I was talking to my husband about a particular type of lolly (by which I mean soft jube like lollies/candy). I am absolutely convinced that if you have the lollies that are in a mixed bag absolutely taste different from a bag of just the same type of lolly!

 



Do you have any food ideas that other people might find a bit odd? Or any weird food combinations that you love?



Weekly meals

Saturday -  Steak, baked potato, grilled broccolini and mushroom sauce
Sunday -  Pot roast
Monday - BBQ chicken noodles
Tuesday - Pork chop, mash, peas and gravy
Wednesday - Chicken Kebab, baked potato and coleslaw
Thursday - Chicken Shwarma
Friday - Airplane food








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

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Blog Tour: A French Adventure by Jennifer Bohnet


If I started to think about what key words there are that make want to read a book the words France, French and Paris would be right up there! Of course, there are so many books with these words that I could just read those and I would never run out. 


Vivienne Wilson is a successful author writing under a pen name. She books a trip to Antibes on the French Riviera so that she can finish her upcoming book. It also won't hurt to have some time away from her husband. Hopefully absence might make the heart grow fonder. However, he blindsides her at the airport when he tells her that he wants a divorce as he has met someone else. And then, cheeky beggar that he is, he wants Maxine to be the one to tell their grown up children. 



Despite being somewhat shell shocked, Vivienne still gets on the plane. When she arrives she meets Maxine Zonszain, a woman who recognises emotional pain when she sees it. She also meets Olivia Murray who lives in the downstairs apartment. 



Maxine found her great love later in life, and was devastated when her husband Phillippe passed a year before. She is definitely still grieving but she is also trying her hardest to still live life. But she too is shocked when she receives a letter from a solicitor which brings back the traumatic events from her past that had affected her life for years. Fortunately, her stepson is very supportive of Maxine, so she is not totally alone, but he lives overseas.



Olivia is the youngest of the trio. She inherited a florist business that she runs out of a bright pink London taxi, providing flower arrangements to a lot of the luxury yachts moored in Monaco.  Her mother in particular, really just wishes that Olivia would get a proper job and also find the right man, get married and have kids. And if Olivia can't find the right man, then her mother has an endless parade of suitable men.



Despite a rocky start, the three women soon begin to build a friendship, helping each other to deal with both their current issues and to help them to look to the future. They all have pressing issues that they need to deal with now. For one, Vivienne needs to decide what her life is going to look like. Is she going to agree to her husband's demand to sell their family home? He wants to move on, and he wants it done immediately.



The scenery of the French Riviera is integral to this book, being quite close to Monaco, but Vivienne also heads up into the hills to visit a small town to investigate her own potential French connection. 



This was my first Jennifer Bohnet, and I liked it a lot. There was one small niggle for me and that was the tendency to have secrets from the reader. I get that it was supposed to build tension, for want of a better word. For example, Vivienne finds out who the other woman is but we don't get told as readers for a number of chapters. But this is a small niggle in an otherwise enjoyable read.



Luckily for me Jennifer Bohnet lives in France and has any number of books that are set in the area!! Guess I have another author I trust with a backlist to work my way through!!



I am sharing this review with the New Release Challenge hosted at The Chocolate Lady's Book Review Blog.



Thanks to the publisher, Netgalley and Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy. Check out other stops on the blog tour!



Rating 4/5








About the Book

A French Adventure

 
When your old life ceases to exist, its time to build a new one…


It’s early summer on the French Riviera when Vivienne Wilson arrives for a one-woman writers’ retreat after learning that her philandering husband or 30 years, wants a divorce. There to collect the shell-shocked Vivienne is recently widowed Maxine Zonszain, who is struggling to come to terms with her empty life. To add insult to injury she receives another knockout punch with a letter from her very estranged first husband…. Florist extraordinaire, Olivia Murray, shares the Villa that Vivienne is renting. She’s content with life - but sad to add another failed relationship to her growing list and longs to meet 'The One'. Life under the summer sun in Antibes becomes a challenging time for all three women as secrets are shared, problems halved as they forge unexpected friendships and embark on new adventures. Sometimes life’s surprises turn out to be unwanted but just sometimes the ‘new normal’ makes for a happier life than the one lost.



Purchase Link - https://mybook.to/AFrenchAdventureSocial

About the author



Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 12 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenniewriter1

Twitter https://twitter.com/jenniewriter

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jenniewriter/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/JenniferBohnetnewsletter

Bookbub profile:Jennifer Bohnet Books - BookBub

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