What to Bake & How to Bake It: Baking Book Giveaway

baking book giveaway

This book has a completely different feel to other baking books – Both in its content and the actual texture of the book. I was intrigued as soon as I opened my copy – Its a substantial sized book – If you gave someone this for a gift, they would feel they had got a decent present. A hard back with a matt cover and hand drawn pictures on the outside.

So what about what’s in it? The book is described as containing ’50 easy-t-follow recipes for all home bakers. Every stage explained with step-by-step photographs’. These step-by-step photos are what stick in your mind when you have been reading it. Very uncluttered and perfect for those bakers who are never quite sure what texture a substance should be.

tarte au citron The wonderful Tarte au Citron[/caption]

The recipes themselves are good homely bakes – There are the usual suspects, Victoria Sandwich, Seriously Chocolate Cookies and a wonderfully yellow Tarte au Citron that can form part of your baking repertoire. Even the more elaborate and fancy recipes all contain ingredients that are likely to be found in a home baking cupboard or easily found in most supermarkets – 3 flavours of macarons, 4 types of cupcakes, wonderful seasonal recipes like the Chocolate Hazelnut Log and Cranberry Stollen. At the top of my ‘to bake’ list form the book is the Strawberry Meringue Cake (see pictured below)

strawberry meringue cake

The book is divided into 5 sections, Introduction (This is rather a long intro but very handy if you are new to baking), Simple Family Baking, Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea, Special Bakes and Desserts & After Dinner. I’m a bit of a sucker for a bookmark ribbon and this book has 2 – For someone who regularly takes their cookbooks to bed, these are invaluable.

how to bake a chocolate log

What to Bake & How to Bake It has a RRP of and can ordered here. I was given my own copy of the book for review and let loose with my own thoughts!

baking book giveaway competition

I have one copy of the book to giveaway – Perfect for a Christmas present, or you could just keep it and bake your way through the book – It would be easily done! Just fill in the Rafflecopter details below (Please remember to actually leave a comment on this blog post rather than the Rafflecopter widget – Otherwise your entry won’t count).

The closing date is November 4th 2014. The lucky winner will be chosen at random and contacted for their postal address to be sent the book as soon as possible after the closing date. Please reply within 5 days – Sorry UK entries only. Good Luck and Happy Baking!

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Book Giveaway: Deliciously Decorative Cookies

decorated cookies book giveaway
I’m well know for my love of books – Cookbooks, Cake Books, Reading Books – they are well and truly taking over the house! This book is one of the best I’ve seen so far though – I’m so pleased to be able to share a giveaway to WIN ONE OF 3 COPIES OF DELICIOUSLY DECORATIVE COOKIES!!

Not the easiest of book titles to say but absolutely jam packed with tips, pictures and ideas for beautiful cookies.  Whether you are new to cookie decorating or experienced, this book has something for you. Each page has tons of pictures, the writing is tiny meaning that they can fit so much more content in the book than other decorating books.

cookie decorating book giveaway

There are clear to follow tutorials and great ideas for presenting your cookies. For anyone that likes to give edible gifts, this book is a must!

There are plenty of quick cookie creations if you are pushed for time and more challenging projects for leisurely afternoons.

how to make owl cookies

There are some short cuts – I like that the author, Fiona Pearce doesn’t presume that everyone wants to bake every biscuit from scratch – sometime you just want time to decorate.

There are tips for using edible pictures and icing sheets which are easy to come across now and Templates and Recipes at the back of the book if you need them.

perfume bottle cookies

To enter to win one of 3 copies of this lovely book, follow the Rafflecopter instructions below. The winners will be chosen at random as soon as possible after the giveaway ends on Wednesday 1st October. The winners will be asked to give an address that their book will be sent to – The publishers are responsible for sending the prizes out.

All entries will be checked. Please make sure you have left your contact details. All winners to have provided address details within 7 days of winners names being posted. Sorry, UK entries only.

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“SuperLucky

Sainsbury’s Cake Book Giveaway & Review

competition giveaway cake book

Competition Now Ended: The lucky winner is Chloe Elphick. Chloe could you please contact me via email with your address and I will get the book sent out to you asap. Congratulations!

 

Its pretty common knowledge that I cannot resist a cake book – I’ve had to start limiting myself to only ones that are really good as space is rapidly running out. (I’m still hoping that one day I’ll get my haven of peace in the conservatory being converted to a snug/library). When Sainsbury’s contacted me asking me to review their Cake book (There’s no messing, its simply called ‘Cake’), all will power went out of the window. I was slightly sceptical though, wondering what could possibly be new in a supermarket cake decorating and baking book?

I was wrong.

how to make cakes with sweets inside

This has quickly turned into the cake book of the moment for me. There’s so many techniques that I’ve been wanting to try for ages but not got round to. I could possibly have googled the techniques on the internet, but its super handy to have them all in one book.

There’s at least 50 different cake designs to choose from with ratings to show how easy or complicated the design is to achieve. Each cake has a photograph alongside pics of the steps to achieving the finished look.

shapes inside cakes

The colours of the cakes are great. There’s cakes that even beginners can do and some for the more advanced (wedding cake that could be used for a really special party). All the latest trends are in there from the baked shaped in the middle of a cake to the surprise sweets piñata type of cake that are so popular.

I know that I will be using this book asa reference for quite a while to come – its definitely not been relegated to the ‘Nice book but not much in it’ shelf. My copy is covered in butter stains & splashes of vanilla extract already.

making a cupcake bouquet

Sainsbury’s have kindly offered another copy of this book to be used as a giveaway. To enter please follow the Rafflecopter instructions below. The draw will close on Monday 5th May and the winner will be notified as soon as possible. I will send the book out to the winner as soon as the winner has been verified. If any steps have been missed out when entering the competition, another winner will be selected at random.

Thanks for entering – I’m sure the winner will be very happy with their book! Happy Baking and Decorating!

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World’s Best Cakes: Cookbook Review

sticky date cake with caramel sauce

I’ve mentioned before how much of a cookbook addict I am. Every now and then, though, a book comes along that I just can’t get enough of – You know the sort, you take it to bed to read, you have a list as long as your arm of recipes you want to make. The World’s Best Cakes by Roger Pizey is definitely one of these books. I was looking forward to receiving a copy but when it arrived it took my breath away.

This is a book that has toured the world, looking for the best and most popular recipes. Each recipe has at least one good sized picture. The recipes are easy to follow and inviting to make – I have made a few out of the book already (the one pictured is Lucas Glanville’s Sticky Date Cake with Caramel Sauce – The recipe in the book is for Caramel Sea Salt Sauce but I was cooking for the kids so omitted the salt and it still worked perfectly.

world's best cakes baking book

I love the short story that accompanies each recipe – about where it comes from and when, who invented it and how it has altered over the years. Some of the recipes are really simple and some more complex but none seem so scary that I wouldn’t attempt.

This is a large book that is packed full of recipes and tips – there is not a bit of space wasted making it superbly good value for money at £30 – I wouldn’t normally advise paying so much for a cookbook but if you had this one, you wouldn’t be likely to need another for quite some time (I’m not promising I won’t fall foul of temptation and stop buying cookery books at all!)

I’m really looking forward to baking my way through this book – There’s ideas in here that I’ve heard of but never tried such as Maltese Prinjolata and Kransekaka – They are rather ambitious but I’m up for the challenge!

really good baking book

Celebration Popcorn & Some Foodie Resolutions

white chocolate marshmallow pecan nuts sweet popcorn

I’m having the most perfect New Year’s Eve tonight. We went to the Pantomime at the Liverpool Empire earlier with the girls, been for a delicious Italian meal at Il Forno in Liverpool, had drinks at our friends for a few hours afterwards and are now back home with the girls snugged up in bed. I’m not spending the whole of my NYE on the computer but wanted to share one of my favourite recipes with you. Tonight I will be drinking Prosecco (Yep, I’ve still got some left from Christmas) and nibbling on my favourite way to eat popcorn, Celebration Popcorn. So called because I did out the recipe near enough every time there is a celebration.

If you got some popping corn in the house, you still have time to make it before the clock strikes twelve. Here’s how:

Ingredients:

  • Around 75g of unpopped popcorn (available in most supermarkets – I got mine from the Asian aisle in Tesco – not sure why it was there!)
  • 50g Mini Marshmallows – plus extra for sprinkling on later
  • 50g white chocolate
  • 50g Pecan Nuts (or whatever your favourite nuts are)
  • Vegetable oil for spreading around the base & sides of the pan
  • Popping Candy for extra explosive fun (optional)

Method:

  • In a large pan, drizzle about 1tbsp oil and brush around the sides and all over the botton
  • Pour in the popping corn and turn on the heat – MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE LID ON
  • After 2 or so minutes the corn should start popping (Its fun to watch if you have see through lids on your pans) – Carry on with the heat until the corn pops start slowly down and there are several seconds between each ‘pop’
  • While this is happening, place the marshmallows and white chocolate (chopped finely if not already in small pieces) into the microwave and heat on high at 30 seconds intervals. It should take between 4-6 shots until you have a ‘bloop’ consistency. It will never go that runny.
  • Transfer the choc/marshmallow mix into a large bowl and add the corn. Mix thoroughly until well combined. Some corn chunks may break down. The bloop will turn into a crumb like consistency – most odd but great to eat.
  • Break up the pecans and mix well into the corn mix.
  • Just before serving, add a sprinkle of popping candy if you are using it – I also added extra marshmallows for extra chewiness.
  • get your glass and enjoy your celebration!

For 2014, I have made some Foodie plans/resolutions: During this year, I am going to try to:

  • Eat 5-a-day (or more) – Don’t gasp, I know I should have been doing this already.
  • Drink more (Not alcohol!) My water intake has dropped a lot – I’m going to experiment with different flavours of cordials and non-alcoholic cocktails.
  • Continue experimenting with different foods – 2013 was quite a good year for this -I’m going to keep up the good work and use some of this stuff in my cupboards.
  • Have a supply of homemade frozen meals in the freezer – Around 2-3 times per week, Millie and I have to eat our evening meal in the car or at a leisure centre for her swimming training. We give Meals on Wheels a whole new meaning.
  • Dermot has put us on a ban of buying any alcohol during January (We may even see how we go through to February). We’ve gained quite a stash over the past month so we need to economise. Watch out for some odd combinations – I’m still not sure we’ll drink my mum’s massive bottle of Lambrini or that really old bottle of Cherry Liquor though.
  • I’m all about Food Bargains at the minute – I’m not about to start queuing with the masses at the fridges while the shop assistant puts the ‘Whoops’ stickers on but I’m really going to cut down on our food bill. 2014 is the year of Frugal Eating for us!
  • We are going to experiment with different cuts of meat and types of fish.
  • Buy Less shop made cakes & biscuits – It annoys me every time I see the cupboard full of pre-made cakes – Surely I should be able to have a house full of homemade goodies?!
  • I’m getting back to sugarcraft – I lost the joy of doing it for a hobby but now there has been a while since my last wedding cake went out, I can start to experiment again.
  • Join in with linkies – I love discovering new blogs and recipes. I also love being part of the foodie community. Long may it continue!
  • And a biggie … I’m aiming for AT LEAST 200 FOOD BLOG POSTS. (If I type it in capitals, it has to happen doesn’t it?)

I also have a few other resolutions:

  • To continue with my reading challenge of reading 500 books by the time I’m 50 – considering I’m only 3 books in and I only have 9 years and 8 months to go – I’ve got some work to do this year.
  • This year is all about crafts for me too – I’ve sorted the craft room (at last!) and I’m ploughing on with my WIP’s. I’m taking part in the Granny Square Crochet Blanket – I’m aiming for 2 squares per week and am motoring on with our plan to crochet bunting to be displayed at the St Helens 10K in March in aid of raising money for the Steve Prescott Foundation
  • My inbox WILL be clear *cough*
  • I’m going to walk to school more – This is probably the last year I’ll ever have a pram with me *weeps* so I’m going to make the most of it.

Have you made any resolutions/plans/goals – whatever the trendy term is this year? I’d love to hear them. Don’t forget, while your working them out, enjoy a bowl of Celebration Popcorn! Happy New Year!

July/August Reads & A New Reading Challenge

As per usual, the summer saw my books covered in a dusting of sand and suncream. I caught up slightly on some of my To Be Read pile, but as ever, it keeps on growing.

When God was a Rabbit review

When God Was A Rabbit – Sarah Winman

I’d had this book as a TBR for ages since winning it on ReadIt,SwapIt. For some reason, the title put me off slightly – I’m wondering if more people might have picked the book up if the title were different. I haven’t got a problem with reading religious books but I pick my time carefully. The book wasn’t about God btw – the main character actually owned a rabbit named ‘God’ – or maybe we were supposed to think deeper and associate the pet with being looked after by God?

The story itself was a sweet, a sister and brother growing-up and how their relationship and lives develop (I think the trendy term is ‘coming-of-age’) I’ve always been intrigued about the relationships between brother and sister – all I know is girls having 3 of my own and 2 sisters but no brothers. I can’t tell you if the book is a realistic snapshot of how a brother and sister communicate and love each other, but it felt real and pleasurable to read.

I really enjoyed the book, it got me through a pretty rough ferry crossing. I would love to read something else by Sarah Winman but cannot see that she has anything published or even soon to be published.

4 out of 5

  Police Crime 999 book review

Police, Crime and 999 – John Donoghue

This is a book I’ve seen around on Twitter for a while – with incredible reviews. I downloaded it on my Kindle and made the mistake of scanning the first few pages – before I knew it I was 3 chapters in and roaring. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not really a laugh out loud person when reading, unless something is REALLY funny – well, this book is!

I was doing that really annoying thing of reading excerpts out to Derm, they are never as funny unless you are reading the book but you have to try!

4 out of 5

red dust road jackie kay

Red Dust Road – Jackie Kay

I got this book as part of World Book Night and heard plenty of great reviews again. I saved it until my holidays actually wondering if it would be my sort of thing. The true story of a girl with a Scottish birth mother and a Nigerian birth father who is adopted. Jackie’s adoptive parents sound like right characters and I found myself wishing I could meet them as I read on. In the book, Jackie describes meeting both of her birth parents – Jackie’s experiences in Nigeria are incredible – I’m not going to spoil it but it is worth reading to find out.

The only thing that stopped me from giving this book a 5 star rating was that around 3/4 of the way through I struggled to keep focussed. I wanted to finish the book and wanted to really love it, as by this point, I really liked Jackie, but it slowed down a little for me. I really wish I had been able to go to see Jackie Kay speak on World Book Night at St George’s Hall in Liverpool – I have the feeling she is fascinating to listen to.

4 out of 5

Clare Balding my animals and other family

My Animals and Other Family – Clare Balding

One of my very best friends, Paul, loved Clare Balding. He used to champion how great she is and what a fantastic TV presenter. I’m so sad that Paul is no longer with us to see a) how successful she has become and b) that we have finally had to agree with him and admit that Clare Balding is actually great.

I’m not a massive animal lover but I’m enough of a fan to want to see what her life was like growing up. Her Grandmother scared the wits out of me just in print. There were real laugh out loud bits (yes, again!) – Clare’s Grandmother certainly wasn’t the type to hold back on what she thought. I knew Clare was ‘posh’ but the accounts of being brought up around the stables and having The QueenMother for breakfast blew me away. There is even a brilliant photo of The Queen Mother and Clare’s family sitting around the family table, with The Queen Mother still with her hat on.

There is a lot in the book about animals but it still interesting to read. I have seen other reviews that criticise Clare for not writing enough about her tv career but I actually wasn’t surprised by how much was included in the book. The title spells out that the majority is going to be about her upbringing – Clare hardly appears the celebrity lifestyle chaser and so I could not expect too much name dropping. A great read.

4 out of 5

Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker

Everyone has to take a Richard & Judy on holiday with them, don’t they? This is my second of the 2013 Summer Reads and I wasn’t disappointed.

I am intrigued how an author comes up with an idea like making each day a little bit longer. I kept waiting for the story to lose impact and for me to become bored but it didn’t happen. I sped through the book and couldn’t wait to see how it ended. This was definitely a read that I wished I could talk about with someone else who had read it so perhaps it is a good book group choice? I have kept thinking about the concept afterwards – Highly Recommended!

5 out of 5

Kate Morton The Secret Keeper

Its been ages since I read any Kate Morton. I think enjoyed the last couple of her books that I read but found this one didn’t quite live up to my expectations. A saga and a book that I really hoped to get my teeth into. This was a book that took stamina though – Perhaps its me, I am finding that I get impatient with very long books at the moment as time seems so precious and there are so many other books that I want to read aswell. I am just sometimes feel that extra long books feel a little indulgent on the author’s part – they are expecting the reader to really commit to working their way through their offering. (Don’t get me started on my dilemma over whether to read The Luminaries or not!)

There were some really good elements of the book that kept me going – the historical elements were for me the best bits. I needed to find out what had happened between Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy and had a massive feeling that something awful was going to happen. I just wished the story kept my interest for longer – I had to keep pushing myself on to keep going.

I’m giving it a very generous 4 out of 5 stars – its probably more like 3.5 but this seems a bit mean considering the end was rather clever!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

This is a book that I’m really glad I have read. I am shocked that I knew nothing about Henrietta Lacks and how important her cells have been in changing history and our lives now. Every now and then a book comes along that as I reading it, tells me that I need to know this. This book was one of those times.

Its not an easy book to read – there is a lot of medical terminology particularly in the middle but Henrietta Lacks is not a name I’ll forget in a hurry after reading about her.

4 out of 5

the beach house jane green

The Beach House – Jane Green

You couldn’t get two more different books than these. I know that Jane Green is a worldwide best seller and incredibly popular. I’ve read tons of her books myself. I was so disappointed by this book though. I’m certain my reading tastes have changed and that perhaps I just need a little bit more out of a book but I’m also believe that this was certainly not one of her best. It felt very Danielle Steele like and I had a throwback to my uni years when I used to devour DS. The storyline felt so predictable and forced – are we really supposed to believe it when people accidentally meet at an airport with an incredible bond? And really, not everyone who endures heartache is truly beautiful – or maybe they are in Jane Green’s world?

3 out of 5 stars – again, maybe a little generous!

I mention in this post title about a new reading challenge. You may remember absolutely ages ago I set myself the challenge of reading 100 books before I was 40. Well, that milestone came and went … and I failed! I didn’t foresee how I would go ‘off’ reading books when I was having Tara and how difficult it would be to get back into reading. I am loving my books once again though and have started planning ahead … to my 50th! Yes, I know its 10 years away but you can never be too organised. I’m setting myself the challenge of reading 500 books by the time I am 50 – anyone care to join me in a challenge for the next 10 years?

Feel free to add me as a friend on Goodreads and see how I’m doing with the challenge.

June Reads

Khaled Hosseini Book Review

Yeah, Yeah! I know we are over half way through July – How have you lasted? I didn’t have a plan what to read and in what order. I decided to go with whatever took my fancy when I was looking for a read.

And The Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini
I utterly loved The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns (both in my top 5 favourite books ever) so, along with hundreds of other readers, I was really looking forward to getting my teeth into his 3rd book. I didn’t even wait for it to come out in paperback and paid a massive £8+ for it.

I wanted to love it and be sucked in but if I’m honest I found it just ok. The story is about several people who find their lives interwoven over the years. They don’t all get to know each other and they are spread over several countries but they are all linked by various circumstances.

The first chapter to me, was the best and a real tear jerker. The div that comes to take away a child is such a horrific prospect and so well written. Unfortunately, the rest of the story just didn’t hold my attention as well. I’m not a massive fan of short stories and this book felt like one.

3 out of 5 (I would err on the side of 3.5 but not quite a 4)

Curtis Sittenfeld Book Review

The Man of my Dreams – Curtis Sittenfeld

This was another author who’s previous books I have loved. The American Wife is another on my list of top books and Prep is pure escapism. I had read reviews on Goodreads about The Man of my Dreams but chose to ignore the negative ones (there were quite a few!)

The title alone put me off slightly – I had images of Mills & Boon type books. It wasn’t quite as romantic a read as that thank goodness.

Described as a ‘Coming of age’ book, we meet Hannah at high school and follow her journey to adulthood. I just couldn’t get to care about Hannah. She wasn’t interesting enough to hate or love. She wasn’t geeky enough to be unique. She appeared to have friends around her but not appreciate them or that actually her life wasn’t too bad. I found it very unbelievable that she just happened upon becoming a teacher and was brilliant at it. Surely, someone with that talent would have had an inkling of their vocation earlier?

3 out 5 (I’m being a little generous there due to my love of Curtis Sittenfeld)

Night Rainbow Book Review

The Night Rainbow – Claire King

This was a real impulse read. I have seen it hanging about and half thought I would read it on my hols but just dove in one evening. I completely loved it. I expected it to be a little more chick lit but it didn’t follow any particular formula.

Set in France, (which is where I’m going on my holidays and it didn’t half make me want to be there NOW!) The story is about 5 year Pea (anyone else wish they’d named their daughter, Peony?) and how her life has changed since the death of her father 12 months earlier.

There is real desperation in the story. I felt so sorry for all the characters. I wanted to shout at the mother but also really felt for her. There is intrigue and a sense of impending doom in the introduction of the character, Claude. I’m not going to tell you how it turns out as its really worth reading.

4 out of 5

Fractured book review fiction

Fractured – Dani Atkins

I’ve no idea where I saw this book but I discovered it on my Kindle. A quick read as I really wanted to find out what happens.

Rachel’s life is turned completely upsidedown by a split second event…or so it seems. As I was reading the book I was trying to work out what the answer could be. I’m not sure I wanted the outcome to turn out like it did and this is possibly the reason that I have given the book 4 and not 5 stars.

A good read for on holiday! 4 out of 5

In other book news, me & Violet finished our Wishing Chair trilogy and thoroughly enjoyed them, We are almost at the end of Gangsta Granny now which Millie (aged 11) highly recommended. Violet has loved it and laughed so much. We’re reached the difficult bit towards the end where Granny confesses that she is seriously ill – its a bit tricky to handle with a 7yo but between me & Derm, we are muddling through.

I set out a couple of years ago to read 100 books before I was 40 (I didn’t count children’s book). During that time Tara made an appearance and reading took a massive back step. I’ve really got back into it and am more than chuffed with my total of 47 with just under a month to go (eek!) Considering I was only at 20 at the turn of 2013, I’ve done ok. I’m even toying with setting myself a target of 500 books before I’m 50!

Off on hols soon so August’s Reads should be delayed but will hopefully be a mega edition. Have you got any holiday recommendations I should be taking with me?

Nutella and Coconut Palmiers: 30 Best Nutella Recipes Book Review

Nutella Palmiers Recipe

Aah the joy of a new cookbook! And one that is full of luscious Nutella recipes at that.

We are a family of Nutella® fans but we haven’t been all that adventurous with what we have done with it – just the usual Nutella® Sandwiches and spreading it on biscuits and in cakes. Until now. last week, we were sent a fabulous book: The 30 Best Nutella® Recipes published by Jacqui Small. My girls particularly liked the 3D book in the shape of a Nutella® jar.

The recipes are split into 4 sections: Little Nutella® Treats, Melt In The Mouth Nutella®, Nutella® for Sharing & Amazing Nutella®. Some of the recipes are a bit more complex if you fancy a challenge but the majority are super speedy.

I’m really looking forward to trying the Nutella® macarons, Nutella® truffles and the Nutella® & White Chocolate Rice Cakes but for now I decided to make Nutella® & Coconut Palmiers.

A very clever recipe that uses only 3 ingredients and takes just over 15 mins from start to finish. I have been granted permission to publish the recipe from The 30 Best Nutella® Recipes on this blog …

Nutellapalmiersinstructions

Nutellapalmiers

This is definitely a recipe keeper – So easy and even lovely the next day when the palmiers had completely cooled and the Nutella® has solidified.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of 30 Best Nutella® Recipes for review purposes – The book is now available for £8.99 in bookshops. All opinions on the book are my own.

May Reads: Book Reviews

Ancient Light John Banville

I started off so well in May, powering through 2 books within days and then … I got stuck! I had to happen sooner or later. Unfortunately the book that I got stuck on was a review book for an online book club so I felt duty bound to plod on.

Ancient Light: John Banville

Its always a bad sign when the blurb on the front of a book talks about ‘sadness and yearning’. Alarm bells should have started ringing that this might be a book full of words and not much action. A very brief description of the book is: 60 year old retired actor, Alexander Cleave reminices about an affair he had at the age of 15 with his best friend’s mum. Alexander is mourning the loss of his only child, a daughter, Cass. The story switches between present day, his involvement with a theatre production and 45 years ago, at the time of the affair.

It is very obvious from the start that John Banville loves language. I just felt that the book was very indulgent – he seemed to want to use as many obscure words as possible. He frequently went off on a tangent in a way that did not enhance the story at all to me.

There did not seem to be anything at all happening. I have just found out, however, that this is the third in a trilogy. I would surmise then, that the author expects us to have already read the first two. This would explain why the daughter’s death and Alexander’s relationship with his wife are not delved into more deeply in Ancient Light. Not sure I will be rushing to read the first 2 books to clear anything up though.

1 star out of 5 I’m afraid.

I read this book as part of the BritMums Book Club.

I will now happily be able to get back to reading And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini which I am completely in love with.

Other Books from the month of May are:

The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans: M.L. Stedman

This is a most beautiful book. Grabbed me from the very start. I love lighthouses but even if I didn’t, I would have still loved this book.

A couple live a very isolated life as lighthouse keepers on an island off the coast of Australia. After many years of trying for a baby, a boat is washed up containing the dead body of a man and a newborn live baby girl.

The author, M.L. Stedman is so clever in getting the reader to really care about the couple. I argued with myself so many times during reading the book about what I wanted to happen and what I thought should happen.

Even the end of the book (I don’t want to say too much about it and spoil it) was a joy. Everything was sewn up but it didn’t feel forced and it wasn’t how I expected it to end.

An incredibly easy 5 out of 5 stars – in fact I wish I could read it all over again for the first time.

Sealed with a kiss Rachael Lucas

Sealed With A Kiss – Rachael Lucas

I had seen links to this book all over Twitter and on impulse decided to download it. Rachael is prolific on Twitter and I am a reader of her blog. Pressure on then – what if I didn’t enjoy the book? No worries, I loved it! Set on a remote island of the coast of Scotland – its all been about remote islands this month ;-), this is a true romantic read. I’ve not read any chick-lit for ages and this was a welcome return. Very enjoyable and a quick read.

4 out of 5 stars

So what have you been reading this month? Have you ever got stuck on a book (as opposed to getting stuck in a book!) Did you persevere or give up?

April Reads

A much slower month for reading last month – I thought I was only going to finish one book which would have made for a really interesting review post I’m sure! Happily, I did manage to complete 3 books – I really must stop reading more than one book at a time – it really slows me down, dotting between the two (or more). Thats my resolution for this month anyhow!

Honour but Elif Shafak

I was sent this book as part of my involvement with the BritMums Book Club. I hadn’t heard of it previously (but since then, every shop I go in has got it staring me in the face). My first impression was that I loved the cover and couldn’t wait to get started. I was away for a few days in the caravan which always makes for perfect reading conditions – no internet or tv and exhausted kids that go to sleep early. Bliss! Right from the beginning I was hooked – I have talked her before about being interested in anything that involves twins, so this book was perfect for me.

The story of Turkish/Kurdish twins, Pembe and Esma. Pembe leaves her country to live in London with her husband and 3 children. The story concentrates on Iskender, the eldest son who is shortly to be released from prison, where he has been serving a sentence for an ‘Honour killing’. I don’t want to say too much about the story and spoil it, if you haven’t read it and intend to. You will really want to get to know the characters and get to the end of the story. The writing is wonderful, you get to see the situation from different points of view.

This is a book that has stayed with me throughout the month – I highly recommend it as a page turner but beware, other books might not seem quite so good afterwards!

A very rare 5 out of 5 for this one. (If you search for this book, you might also find it called Iskender from a previous title)

The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot

Every now and then, I will read a YA Novel. My 10yo had just finished reading this book and happened to mention that a boy in her class called it a ‘dirty book’. Now, I know the boy in question and am tempted to think that anything more adult than Biff, Chip & Kipper would be ‘dirty’ in his eyes, so wasn’t immediately alarmed. It did make me stop and think though – how much do I know what my child is reading and what age are the Princess Diaries aimed at?

I saw the Princess Diaries 2 film on Boxing Day this year and completely loved it and fell in love with Anne Hathaway (who need Les Mis?) The film was very mild so I wasn’t expecting anything naughty either.

I did find the language slightly more grown up that usual though – not in a rude way but a long words type of way. I do wonder how much of the book passed my daughter by.

The main character, Mia is 14 and finds out during the course of book 1 that she is actually a Princess – The Princess of Genovia. Its a pleasant story, Mia seems a nice girl – she falls out with her mate but of course in true teenage fiction style, they make up at the end. There is talk of bodily functions – testicular cancer, periods, infertility which leads me to think that perhaps 10 is slightly younger than the target audience. I’m thinking perhaps 13-14 is an ideal age for these books.

I have since started Princess Diaries: Take Two which starts off with talk of s*x (I’m not a prude – I just don’t want the spammers hitting my blog). I do want to know how Mia gets on with being a Princess though and so far, she hasn’t been anywhere near Genovia!

3 out of 5 (but I may be being a bit unfair as I am definitely older than the target audience!)


(Image courtesy of http://www.carolinesmailes.co.uk)

The Drowning of Arthur Braxton by Caroline Smailes

Oh this author is very clever! The talent of being able to use just a few words to really convince a reader that someone is truly horrific and creepy. Just incredible.

I was completely gripped at the start of the book. Lauren, a teenager goes to work in The Oracle, an old Edwardian baths where miracles are said to occur in the water.

I knew absolutely nothing about the book and that there is a twist on what I was expecting as I went through the story. All I knew was, I really enjoyed Caroline Smailes’ last book, Like Bees To Honey.

This was a complete change from the type of book I would usually read – I’m strictly a realistic fiction type of girl and this story stretched me. I needed to continue though, the writing was just too good to stop once I realised what the book was about (Yep, you guessed it, I’m not going to tell you) – I really enjoyed the end. My questions were answered but not in a way that I felt everything was being sewn up for the sake of it.

Throughout the book, there are passages about constant heavy rain – It has been a rainy sort of week here. Every time I get soaked or look out of the window, I’m drawn back to the book. Sure sign of a good writer.

4 out of 5 – I reckon this would be a brilliant book to be discussed at a book group. The characters are so strong that people would be likely to have strong views and plenty to discuss.

In other news, Violet and I are reaching the end of the 3rd Wishing Chair adventures book – I’ve loved how we snuggle down to have a chapter and we have sometimes enjoyed ourselves that much, that we have read 2 a night. No mean feat when you have already done 2 school reading books a night too! Next on her list is the Magic Faraway Tree. I’d like her to go for Malory Towers or St Clare’s but she is adamant.

Millie has also discovered a love for reading (just in time for SATS!) I’ve been scouring the internet for recommended authors for a 10yo and discovered Cathy Cassidy. I ordered Cherry Crush (book 1 in the Chocolate Girls series) and I swear I have never known Millie be so obsessed about a book. Book 2 and 3 are on order as an end of SATS treat – I hope they are here by Friday! Highly recommended and the lead character’s name is Costello!