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.


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

Friday, November 26, 2021

Music A to Z: Y




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....


I missed last week...ooops! Just crazy busy and no time! But here I am, on Friday! Better late than never.

Yesterday by The Beatles - The first song that came to mind when I was thinking about songs starting with the letter Y. I did also contempate Yesterdays by Guns and Roses but The Beatles won!

Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton - I was looking for something fun for the next song and this one meets the brief!!

Youngblood by 5 Seconds of Summer - I loved this song from the first time I heard it. There is just something about that first verse building up to the first Youngblood!

While next week is the letter Z but that won't quite be the end. The week after will be numbers and then I think I can find some Christmas songs to share!

Do you have a favourite Y song? Share in the comments.

Monday, November 22, 2021

This week....

 I'm reading....

Last week I mentioned that I was starting to read a book by Karen Swan called The Christmas Secret. I finished that book last week. If I show you the two books I picked up from the library today, you should get a fair idea of what I thought of that book....

The other book that I read this week was called The Year the Maps Changed by Danielle Binks.  This is a middle grade book which is about a young girl called Fred who is trying to navigate a complicated life in 1999. She is being raised by her adoptive father who has a new partner, who in turn brings a son called Sam into the house. She also has a growing awareness of the world around her, particularly the tragic events in Kosovo which lead to a group of refugees being housed near her town.  This is very much a Melbourne book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I now need to get a move on in reading Cinnamon and Gunpowder. The last date to post about the book is 30 November, which is approaching very rapidly.

I'm watching....

I am very excited to see that The Great is back, which we have every intention of watching, but this weekend we watched the first two episodes of Wheel of Time. I have never read the books, but my husband has. I think it is watchable, although I do know some AVID fans who are definitely not enjoying it.

I did watch a few more episodes of Midnight Diner over the weekend and I intend to watch more this week.



We are now allowed out as long as we show our vaccination certificates whereever we go, so we took advantage and had a pub meal. It was so nice to go out, but it was busy, loud and the drinks were expensive! Maybe it is just so long to since we had a pub dinner that I had forgotten all of those things.

It was also bookclub week this week, and for the first time we were able to meet up in person, at a lovely French cafe.  There were only three of us but we had a great chat about books, music, social events and more. The next theme is Holiday, so I am not sure if I am going to count one of the Christmas books I have here, or a book about somewhere I want to visit, or maybe summer. So many options.

The other big focus for the weekend was painting the master bedroom. When we have finished there will be no more 1979 in my house, except for the front door. If we weren't going to be moving we would have changed it, but that can be the next person's thing to do.

Posts from the last week

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

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Weekend Cooking: Pressure Cooker Spaghetti Bolognaise

Recently we were talking about how we use our pressure cooker with family (surely a true sign that we are all adults now right?) and someone asked if we had tried Pressure Cooker Spaghett Bolognaise yet. Our answer at the time was no, but we were definitely interested, and since then we have had it for dinner twice! 

We have been surprised by how much we enjoy it. It gives a much richer tasting bolognaise, I think becuase the spaghetti is cooking in the sauce instead of the more traditional method of cooking the spaghetti separately and then spooning the bolognaise sauce over the top.

Whilst I have to follow a recipe, my husband is far more of a pantser when it comes to cooking, so this recipe is a combination of a couple of recipes, plus a bit of this and that. It is very simple one pot recipe, which makes it a perfect mid-week dinner, as well as leaving plenty of leftovers for lunch for all three of us.


Pressure Cooker Spaghetti Bolognaise

800g lean beef mince

1 brown onion, diced

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

140g tomato paste

2 cups beef stock

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can tomato soup

1/2 can water

1 tsp sugar

400g spaghetti

1 tsp cooking oil

4 tsp parmesan, grated, to serve

Brown onion in oil in the pressure cooker. Add mince and brown. Drain any excess fat.

Add mixed herbs, salt and pepper to taste, tomato paste, diced tomatoes,stock, and can of soup. Stir to combine. Add 1 1/2 cans of water and sugar and stir. 

Add spaghetti. Close and lock lid of pressure cooker. Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Release steam and open lid carefully.

Serve with cheese and fancy garlic bread.

Weekly Meals

Saturday - Bacon, Vegetables, Risoni soup with pork meatballs
Sunday - Leftover soup
Monday - Sardines on toast
Tuesday - Mexican chicken and rice
Wednesday - Pork chops with vegie and potato bake
Thursday - Pressure Cooker Spaghetti Bolognaise
Friday - Dinner at the pub!

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

Sunday, November 14, 2021

This week....

I'm reading...

mentioned last week that I was reading The Great Passage by Shion Miura (translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter) which I finished this week. It was touch and go. I finished it on Friday night thinking that book club was on Saturday, which it was, but then it was postponed to next week. That, of course, means that I finished a week early.

I started reading Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown, which is the next Cook the Books selection. I have read a few chapters and so far it is a lot of fun. I think I am going to enjoy it. 

I also started reading another book yesterday, just because I could. Bree from All The Books I Can Read is a big fan of Karen Swan and has read many of her books. I have tried reading this author before but I really didn't enjoy it. However, I generally trust Bree's taste in books so I thought I would try another one. And this one, The Christmas Secret, has grabbed my attention from the first chapter. In fact, it is calling my name right now.

I'm watching...

Nothing really


We went to get our second vaccination today so whilst there hasn't been a lot of  activity this weekend, things are definitely heating up on the social life front.

Posts from the last week

Blog Tour: A Mother's Story by Maggie Christensen

Music A-Z: X

Weekend Cooking: A WWII wedding cake

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


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