Thursday, 14 February 2019

Books From The Backlog - Above The Bridge by Deborah Garner

Books from the Backlog is a weekly post hosted at Carole's Random Life In Books. Carole says it's "a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your bookshelf unread. If you are anything like me, you might be surprised by some of the unread books hiding in your stacks." Find out more and link up your own posts on Carole's Random Life In Books.

I enjoyed taking part in Books From The Backlog last year, but got out of the habit of the weekly posts. Now I hope to use this meme to stoke my enthusiasm for my 2019 Mount TBR Challenge. I'm going to post one BFTB a fortnight and then Actually Read The Book before the next post is due!

Last time I chose The White Walls and Straitjackets by David Owain Hughes and my review is on Literary Flits.

Next up is:

Above The Bridge by Deborah Garner

When Paige MacKenzie arrives in Jackson Hole, her only goal is to complete a simple newspaper assignment about the Old West. However, it's not long before her instincts tell her there's more than a basic story to be found in the popular, northwestern Wyoming mountain area. A chance encounter with attractive cowboy Jake Norris soon has Paige chasing a legend of buried treasure, passed down through generations.

From the torn edge of a water-damaged map to the mysterious glow of an antler arch, Paige will follow clues high into the mountainous terrain and deep into Jackson's history. Side-stepping a few shady characters who are also searching for the same hidden reward, she will have to decide who is trustworthy and who is not.

Above The Bridge is, I think, the first of Deborah Garner's Paige Mackenzie cosy mysteries series. I read the fourth book, Hutchins Creek Cache, as part of a blog tour back in September 2016 and snapped up Above The Bridge as a temporary freebie a few months later, intending to read the whole series. Maybe now I will?!

Monday, 11 February 2019

Our Weekend in Sevilla

View from the Setas sculpture 
I'm linking up with The Sunday Post at Caffeinated Reviewer.

We're both pretty exhausted today after a long weekend exploring the gorgeous Spanish city of Sevilla. Dave's family flew out from the UK so we rented a lovely Airbnb apartment for everyone. It's five years since Dave and I last visited Seville so there were a few places, like the amazingly tiled Plaza de Espana and the beautiful historic Real Alcazar, that we were keen to share. This time around we also toured the Setas sculpture - huge wooden mushrooms with a skyline walkway around them! - and got to see a stunning dance show at the Museo de Flamenco.

A significant proportion of our time seemed to be spent sampling delicious tapas and simply wandering around soaking up the Spanish sun and atmosphere. Perfect! A few foodie recommendations for your own Seville visit, should you be planning one, are:
Bar Patanatas - for good traditional tapas.
Arte y Sabor - a fusion restaurant with a great choice of vegan or vegetarian dishes as well as a meaty menu.
Cafe Piola - for the best hot chocolate, plus cocktails and excellent cake for Dave.
El Paladar - a tiny restaurant so get there as they open if you can. Amazing stacked vegan burger and excellent vegan lasagna, plus good meat menu too.
Of all the places we stopped to eat, I think El Paladar was my favourite. It's got a brilliant atmosphere and the waiter's explanation of the menu (mostly in English, occasionally in mime) was great fun!

In bookish news, Reem at Kotobee got in touch this week to let me know about the book fairs section on their blog. Apparently every international book fair is listed here and it looks like we could spend the whole year doing nothing else but touring them!

Giveaways closing soon
11th Feb: Win an ebook of The Night Knight by C H Clepitt
14th Feb: Win an audiobook of Ink by Jobie Baldwin
14th Feb: Win a $10 Amazon gift card to celebrate the publication of A New World - Contact by M D Neu
16th Feb: (post 14th Feb) Win a signed copy of The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard

(All current giveaways here)

On my blogs this week were:

Stephanie Jane
January Challenges WrapUp and Bookish Bingo
#WorldReads - Five Books From Northern Ireland
#Veganuary Food Diary - Week Five and Wrapup
Cover Characteristics - Swimming

Literary Flits
How To Create A Vegan World by Tobias Leenaert nonfiction review
Salt of the Earth by Jozef Wittlin historical fiction review
A New World - Contact by M D Neu Spotlight + #Giveaway + Excerpt
How to Lose a Country by Ece Temelkuran nonfiction review
White Walls And Straitjackets by David Owain Hughes horror review
The Swooping Magpie by Liza Perrat historical fiction review
Love In No Man's Land by Duo Ji Zhuo Ga romantic epic review

Airing Out
None this week

Alcazar palace ceiling 
Tile motifs in the Alcazar 

street art in Sevilla 

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Cover Characteristics - Swimming

I've long been a fan of the beautiful Cover Characteristics posts that Kristen curates over at Metaphors And Moonlight so I thought I might try putting together a similar post myself. The idea is to choose book covers which are linked in some way (featuring an object in common, perhaps, or a similar title font) and to then display them artfully. Sounds easy, turns out not to be! But it is fun to look back through my old reviews.

My second collection is:


Click each cover image to see its review on Literary Flits.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

#Veganuary Food Diary - Week Five and Wrapup

Aubergine And Tomato Curry
by Vegan Recipe Club 
This is a post about my experiences during Veganuary 2019. I'm going to talk about vegan food. If that's going to offend you, please feel welcome to discover My Travels in Spain or read Reviews of My Favourite Books instead!

As in previous posts, appetising photos have been 'borrowed' from their respective websites. Click pretty pics to see their recipes!

Here's what I ate this week:

Every day: Porridge made with flaked oats and soy milk

Tues: Roti with homemade Hummus
Wed: Pita bread with Tumaca and with Peanut Butter, apple
Thur: Pita bread with Peanut Butter, apple

Brown Rice And Lentil Burgers
by One Green Planet 
Tues, Wed: Brown Rice And Lentil Burgers on a bed of Red Cabbage
Thur: Aubergine And Tomato Curry with Chips

Both my final Veganuary dinners were great and the Brown Rice And Lentil Burgers were definitely triumphant because I have now sussed how to make proper veggie burgers that don't crumble when cooked. Thank you One Green Planet for the recipe! I had bought a little tin of genuine Arabic Harissa paste in Spain a week or so ago and found the burger recipe through that ingredient. Use With Caution! Harissa paste is delicious, but super-hot-spicy!!
I celebrated the last night of Veganuary with a slow cooked Aubergine And Tomato Curry created from a Vegan Recipe Club recipe. It's shown with rice in the photo, but I served mine with chips - and local Cerveza Victoria beer - because I am classy like that!

So what's my Veganuary verdict?
Well, first up, I feel great! I've had so much energy this month that, according to my OH, it's been Quite Irritating! I guess no-one wants to live with Zebedee! Is this all down to what I have been eating though? I think partly yes because I experienced an energy spike when I changed to a vegetarian diet around six months ago. In a too-much-information admission, I am peri-menopausal and found that, over the past couple of years, I have wanted less and less to even be around meat, let alone to eat it. I suspect my changing hormones have a lot to do with my desire to change my diet, and responding to my body's needs has benefited my health and, consequently, my happiness.

However, over these same couple of years I have also been learning a lot about the realities of commercial food production in the UK and Europe. Animal factory farming is simply not an industry I can stomach supporting. So maybe my dietary and emotional change is driven by education as much as hormones. In my book choice this week (see below) Tobias Leenaert discusses cognitive dissonance - which is where we simultaneously hold, and act upon, two conflicting ideas in our brains. In this instance for me, resolving the I don't like factory farming / I eat factory farmed products conflict has felt incredibly freeing.

Plus, of course, I do love my food! On a shallow level, Veganuary has given me an even better reason than usual to spend ages hunting out new recipes and trying new foods. Dinner is usually one of the highlights of my day and I've spent a lot of January thinking about it! We all know how much doing what we love makes us happy!

So overall, and despite a few slipups in Week Two, I am delighted with how Veganuary went for me. So much so that I plan to continue with my plant-based diet through February and beyond. Whether I will take up the Vegan label yet, I'm not sure. On a practical level, I own two pairs of leather boots which are too worn to donate to a charity shop, but not yet worn out enough to be unwearable. Plus I feel I should have more than a few weeks experience under my belt - so to speak - beforehand.

Finally my last vegan motivation book suggestion this week is another nonfiction tome, the provocatively excellent How To Create A Vegan World by Tobias Leenaert. You can Read My Review Here.

Are you doing Veganuary too? If so, please link up your recipe successes in the Comments so I can visit and be inspired!

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

#WorldReads - Five Books From Northern Ireland

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month I highlight five books I have read from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post as well as finding out how to join in the challenge.

Click the book titles or cover images to visit their Literary Flits book review pages.

This month we are going to Northern Ireland!

Edinburgh in the 1930s. The Lennox family is having trouble with its youngest daughter. Esme is outspoken, unconventional, and repeatedly embarrasses them in polite society. Something will have to be done.
Years later, a young woman named Iris Lockhart receives a letter informing her that she has a great-aunt in a psychiatric unit who is about to be released.
Iris has never heard of Esme Lennox and the one person who should know more, her grandmother Kitty, seems unable to answer Iris's questions. What could Esme have done to warrant a lifetime in an institution? And how is it possible for a person to be so completely erased from a family's history?

Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty

A retired couple, Gerry and Stella Gilmore, fly from their home in Scotland to Amsterdam for a long weekend. A holiday to refresh the senses, to do some sightseeing and generally to take stock of what remains of their lives. Their relationship seems safe, easy, familiar – but over the course of the four days we discover the deep uncertainties which exist between them.
Gerry, once an architect, is forgetful and set in his ways. Stella is tired of his lifestyle, worried about their marriage and angry at his constant undermining of her religious faith. Things are not helped by memories which have begun to resurface of a troubled time in their native Ireland. As their midwinter break comes to an end, we understand how far apart they are – and can only watch as they struggle to save themselves.

Lies Of Silence by Brian Moore

When Michael Dillon is ordered by the IRA to park his car in the carpark of a Belfast hotel, he is faced with a moral choice which leaves him absolutely nowhere to turn. He knows that he is planting a bomb that would kill and maim dozens of people. But he also knows that if he doesn't, his wife will be killed.

The Wooden Hill by Jamie Guiney

As we climb the wooden hill to bed each night we trace our life's journey from birth, then each step toward death, the final sleep. This collection of short stories, by Jamie Guiney, explores what it is to be human at every stage of life, from the imminence of a new birth in `We Knew You Before You Were Born', through to adolescence and the camaraderie of youthful friendships as portrayed in `Sam Watson And The Penny World Cup'. Ultimately, all of our lives stride towards old age and the certainty of death, as poignantly evoked in the title story, `The Wooden Hill'.

Music Love Drugs War by Geraldine Quigley

A tender, devastating coming-of-age debut novel about friendship, innocence and war.

The end of the school year is approaching, and siblings Paddy and Liz McLaughlin, Christy Meehan, Kevin Thompson and their friends will soon have to decide what they're going to do with the rest of their lives. But it's hard to focus when there's the allure of their favourite hangout place, the dingy 'Cave', where they go to drink and flirt and smoke. Most days, Christy, Paddy and Kevin lie around listening to Dexys and Joy Division. Through a fog of marijuana, beer and budding romance, the future is distant and unreal.
But this is Derry in 1981, and they can't ignore the turmoil of the outside world. A friend is killed, and Christy and Paddy, stunned out of their stupor, take matters into their own hands. Some choices are irreversible, and choosing to fight will take hold of their lives in ways they never imagined.
With humour and compassion, Geraldine Quigley reveals the sometimes slippery reasons behind the decisions we make, and the unexpected and intractable ways they shape our lives.

That's it for February's WorldReads from Northern Ireland. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of Northern Irish-authored books! If you fancy buying any of the five I have suggested, clicking through the links from this blog to do so would mean I earn a small commission payment.

You can join in my WorldReads Challenge at any time! Simply read 1 or more books from a different country each month, write a post about it/them, grab the button below and add it to your post. Don't forget to pop back here and Comment your link so I can visit!

Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited'

Africa: Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Jamaica, United States of America,

Asia: India, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Turkey

Australasia: Australia, New Zealand,

Europe: Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,

In March I will be highlighting five books by Kenyan authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!

Monday, 4 February 2019

January Challenges WrapUp and Bookish Bingo

I've got several challenges on the go this year so, instead of cramming all the information into my Month In Books roundups, I thought I would make these monthly Bookish Bingo posts into Challenge roundups. Visit my Current Reading Challenges page to see the whole year's links. Last month I added:

Alphabet Soup (2019): 11 in Jan / 11 overall

Books In French (2019): 0 in Jan / 0 overall

Classics Club (2018-23): 3 in Jan / 16 overall

Decade Challenge (2018-19): 2 in Jan / 10 overall

Mount TBR Challenge (2019): 6 in Jan / 6 overall

New Release Challenge (2019): 2 in Jan / 2 overall

Vegetarian / Vegan Character (ongoing): 2 in Jan / 3 overall

This challenge wrap-up post includes my new month of Bookish Bingo which is hosted each month at Chapter Break. I include books I actually read during January, but I might not have blogged all their reviews yet so if the cover image doesn't go anywhere when you click it, that's (probably) why!

This month I've got 19 squares completed

Super powers
Shelf love

In a series


Physical book
Ghosts / spirits / souls
Over 400 pages
Start a series

Made into a TV show / film
Free Space
Outdoor activities
Free book

Audio book
Cold weather
 New to me author
Diet / fitness

Library book
Not in a series
Multi word title

I'm going to do February's Bookish Bingo too and here's the new grid: