Thursday, 28 February 2019

Books From The Backlog - Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

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 posting one BFTB a fortnight and then Actually Reading The Book before the next post is due!

Last time I chose Above The Bridge by Deborah Garner and my review is on Literary Flits.

Next up is:

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck's first major critical and commercial success, TORTILLA FLAT is also his funniest novel. Danny is a paisano, descended from the original Spanish settlers who arrived in Monterey, California, centuries before. He values friendship abovemoney and possessions, so that when he suddently inherits two houses, Danny is quick to offer shelter to his fellow gentlemen of the road. Their love of freedom and scorn for material things draw them into daring and often hilarious adventures. Until Danny, tiring of his new reponsibilities, suddenly disappears...


I don't often read John Steinbeck but always love his books when I do. I think Cannery Row is probably my favourite so far, but there's still lots of his books I haven't read. I bought Tortilla Flat straight after finishing La Perle. I'm looking forward to reading it soon!

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

State Of The ARC - February 2019

I saw this State of the ARC meme over at Avalinah's Books blog in January 2018 and thought it would be fun to join in.

The idea is to keep track of all the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) books I've got awaiting reading and reviewing, and to make headway through the overdue pile. For my State of the ARC, I am including all books sent to me for review whether they are pre-publication copies (as ARCs should be) or simply review copies of books already available publicly. I don't include books that I have purchased myself, book exchange swaps, or free downloads.

In February I blogged my reviews of these ARCs:
(Click the cover images to visit their reviews)

  
   
    
 
(The Girl Without Skin review will publish on the 28th)

Here's my State of the ARC numbers as of today:

Awaiting Reading

Read / Reviewed / Blogged

Overdue

NetGalley

18

3 RRB

0

From Authors

0

0

0

Blog Tours

4

0

0

From Publishers

0

0

0


RRB (Read, Reviewed and Blogged) essentially means those book reviews are completed and I'm just waiting for their scheduled blog post date.


No State Of The ARC would be complete without checking out the additions to my ARC stash. Only seven this month. That's fewer than I read so yay me!!

Here are February's new arrivals




If you want to join this State of the ARC meme check out This Page at Avalinah's Books.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Out in the middle of nowhere!

I'm linking up with The Sunday Post at Caffeinated Reviewer.

I managed to confuse myself yesterday - not particularly difficult to do. I had thought that with my combination of veganing and almost-daily walking over the past seven weeks that I had lost quite a bit of weight. So I was surprised (and a little disappointed) when my lightweight linen trousers felt a bit snug over my hips as I put them on. It wasn't until several minutes later I realised I'd not undone the zip or the button! Fortunately there's also a ribbon tie which I had remembered so no chance of an embarrassing fall-down-again moment, but I'm going to need to buy another pair soon because they're getting rather clown trouser baggy. I hate clothes shopping!

There's very limited shopping opportunities at our current out-of-the-way campsite. It's a few miles inland from Mazarron Bay and is a French-owned camperstop site called Los Olivos. The gravel pitches are marked by young olive trees which is really cute. Lots of pretty walking routes especially as the Spring flowers seem to be in abundance here. Huge yellow and white daisies, a sprinkling of poppies and some gorgeous dark purple flowers we haven't identified yet.



In bookish news, tomorrow I will be featuring my 1000th book on Literary Flits! 1000 consecutive days of book reviews, spotlights, excerpts and giveaways, phew. When I first started I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep up the pace for a month, let alone nearly three years. If you've got time to spare today, have a scroll through these Literary Flits Highlights.


Giveaways closing soon
28th Feb: Win a Literary Flits Spotlight post for your book (one drawn each month from all submitted titles).
28th Feb: Win an Alex And Ani rose gold serpent bracelet and a The Sign Of The Serpent by Majanka Verstraete ebook.
28th Feb: Win a Clean Teen Publishing mystery box to celebrate the publication of Travel Diaries Of The Dead And Delusional by Lauren Nicolle Taylor.
28th Feb: Win a $25 Amazon gift card to celebrate the Losing Normal by Francis Moss blog tour.
3rd Mar: Win a copy of The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver.
(All current giveaways here)

On my blogs this week were:

Stephanie Jane
Recipe Roundup - two Spanish Tapas and a Portuguese Cataplana

Literary Flits
Travel Diaries of the Dead and Delusional by Lauren Nicolle Taylor spotlight + #Giveaway
Losing Normal by Francis Moss spotlight + #Giveaway + Excerpt
Consuming Fire by Catherine Fearns spotlight + #Giveaway + Excerpt
And Death Came Too by Richard Hull classic crime review
The Virgin And The Bull by Erato spotlight + Excerpt
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli review
The Scent Of Blue Ink by Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu poetry review + #FreeBook

Airing Out
Aire - Gelves Marina - Sevilla - Spain
Campsite - Donarrayan Parque - Hinojos - Spain

Vera street art 
Vera street art 

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Recipe Roundup - two Spanish Tapas and a Portuguese Cataplana

Espinacas con Garbanzos 
After the glut of delicious new recipes I discovered during Veganuary, I've not needed to go searching out many more yet. The three recipes I'm sharing here are all based on dishes I ate in cafes or restaurants this winter and which I have now recreated myself in our little motorhome kitchen. They're all pretty easy, cheap and very tasty!

Espinacas con Garbanzos

Spinach With Chickpeas was the first tapa dish I tried in Seville. The recipe was originally brought to Spain from North Africa.

I finely sliced two Garlic Cloves and fried them in local Olive Oil until they started to brown. Then I stirred in half a teaspoon of Paprika. I added 100g of Baby Spinach leaves and, when they had wilted down, added about 3 tbsps of cooked Chickpeas. I served the Espinacas con Garbanzos hot with a little bread to soak up the flavoured oil.

When making this again I would chop the spinach into small pieces. It was ok as whole leaves, but I think the texture would be better if it was chopped.

Pan Tumaca / Pa Amb Tomaquet

Pa Amb Tomaquet 
A Catalan idea for my second tapa and this is often served as part of a late-morning breakfast, so basically for elevenses.

Halve a good sized ripe Tomato and grate it into a bowl until you are just left with the skin which can be discarded. (Mind your knuckles if using a box grater!) Add a little Salt and stir in a good splash of Olive Oil. Mix together and serve spread onto hot dry toast. I used toasted homemade pita bread for mine.

The trick for this tapa is to use good quality tomatoes and oil. Mass grown supermarket tomatoes are likely to result in a disappointingly bland Pa Amb Tomaquet. Get organic farm shop or home grown ones if possible.

Cataplana

Cataplana 
This is traditionally a fish or meat stew, named for the copper cataplana dish in which it should be served. It again originated in North Africa before becoming a Portuguese staple. I enjoyed eating a vegan version when we visited Vilamoura.

I began by dicing half an Onion and a Garlic Clove and gently frying them until they softened. Then I added some diced Red Pepper, a handful of quartered Mushrooms, two chopped fresh Tomatoes, some Cauliflower broken into small florets, some Potato chunks and cubes of Plain Tofu. I poured in a cup of strong Vegetable Stock and seasoned with Salt, Pepper, a shake of Mixed Herbs and a little Harissa Paste to give it a kick.
This is a great use-up dish, because - other than the onion, garlic and tomatoes, it doesn't seem to matter what veg goes in. Raid that fridge! The liquid should be thin with the vegetables cooked and recognisable but not mushy within it. The tofu and potatoes absorb lots of flavour.


I hope you get a chance to try these recipes for yourself. If you do make them, or already have your own versions, let me know!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

From Gelves marina to Presa de Beznar embalse

Gelves Marina 
I'm linking up with The Sunday Post at Caffeinated Reviewer.

I struggling to get my head around it not yet even being a week since we left Sevilla after our weekend there! It hasn't felt like a particularly busy week, but we seemed to have crammed a lot into the time. On Monday we returned to Gelves Marina where we had left our motorhome. We were parked up between the marina basin and the river with boats either side of us. It's a fab location for visiting Sevilla - the bus takes about half an hour and costs just €1.60 each way and the marina parking is €12 per night without electric hookup.

Tuesday saw us driving to Olvera and their municipal Pueblo Blanco campsite. Situated up on a high plateau, it had long views across the countryside but, probably due to the time of year, was ridiculously windy. We managed to get one reasonable walk in but, despite having gone there for the Via Verda cycle path, our bikes stayed put on the bicycle rack! We stayed three nights in the hope of the weather easing before we gave up. A shame as it was a nice campsite, albeit a bit pricey at €18 per night.

We had Olvera campsite pretty much to ourselves! 

Our destination for Friday was the Presa de Beznar embalse - a free motorhome parking spot on the edge of a dammed up lake. There are absolutely no facilities here because it isn't a campsite as such, just a place where motorhome parking overnight is allowed. It's beautiful! We thought we'd only stay one night, but actually stayed there for two - the sun being higher in the sky than at Messines in December means our solar panel charges up much better. We had a great walk aross the top of the dam - scary for height-phobic me! - and then down into the river valley from where we could look up and appreciate just what a feat of engineering it is. We saw and smelt lots of wild rosemary which got me thinking how I should pick a little for delicious fresh rosemary tea. We gleaned a handful of leftover almonds too. The trees are in blossom now so last year's nuts definitely won't be part of any harvest. We need to add nutcrackers to our travelling kitchen utensils though. The two almond shells I did manage to open yielded perfect nuts with an unbelievably strong flavour!

Dave by Beznar lake 


In bookish news, I've just finished (about 20 minutes ago!) reading Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli. Wow! Just wow! I don't think this is one that will appeal to a wide readership, but I loved its dense prose and stream of consciousness style. I had thought that The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo was probably going to be my Book of the Month, just ahead of The Swooping Magpie by Liza Perrat, but now I have this other contender as well. 2019 is shaping up to be a great year for bookishness :-)


Giveaways closing soon
None closing this week
(All current giveaways here)

On my blogs this week were:

Stephanie Jane
Books From The Backlog - Above The Bridge by Deborah Garner

Literary Flits
The Sign of the Serpent by Majanka Verstraete spotlight + #Giveaway + Author Interview
Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - vintage review
The Unwinding Of The Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams review - cancer non-survivor memoir
The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard review + #Giveaway - Romeo and Juliet retelling
One Last Prayer For The Rays by Wes Markin spotlight + Excerpt
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo review - Malaysian weretigers!
The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver spotlight + #Giveaway + #VeganRecipe

Airing Out
None this week - must post soon before I start to forget where I've been!

Squint and you might just make out motorhomes above the dam wall 
Beznar dam from t'other side 

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:

Swimming





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