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Spring Reading List For You…

March 25, 2019
This picture is of me reading on a read armchair with ah purple blanket over me.  There is a stack of books for my spring reading list.

I’ve always loved to read but I am currently struggling to pick up a book. In my mind the perfect reading session is 3-4 hours, curled up on my couch, or bed, covered in at least one blanket! I play some jazz in the background and a scented candle flickers. If I am really lucky, light rain runs down the window creating a cosy atmosphere, as I read through my spring reading list!

The reality is, I have realised, the ability to do this is limited. This fantasy of the perfect reading session means I am not reading at all. Instead I have been looking at ways I can read for twenty minutes, at lunch time, before bed, at the weekend. This time frame is more realistic, and I am slowly bringing long form reading back into my life. Having now joined the library I have a small waiting list of books that I am eagerly watching as the people in line ahead of me reduces. These are the books I am going to read this spring that I thought you might be interested in.

This picture is a close up shot of me rading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society whilst I sit on the red armchair!  There is a stack of books for my spring reading list.

The Book That Is A Smash Hit Film.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I know about this book because of its film, that I have yet to watch! A story told through letters, it is of the islands residents and how they dealt with the German occupation. As an anglophile I love anything British and am looking forward to reading this book first. In fact I was so impatient I have bought this one rather then wait for hte library waiting list to go down!

This image is a close up of two books on a side table with Zoya nail polish stacked on top of them.  There is a stack of books for my spring reading list.

The Book Everyone Got At Christmas!

Becoming by Michelle Obama. Everyone seemed to get this book for Christmas and it has taken me until now to find people who had read it! All the reviews have been positive, and I’ve been told that there is a great theme of Obama changing her mindset when it came to her career. She speaks about the guilt she felt wanting to change her career for something more fulfilling, knowing her parents had given up a lot for her to be where she was. I am looking forward to reading her story as I too chose a career based on my parents encouragement and not on what I wanted.

This image is of the red armchair with the purple blanket draped over it.  I nthe background are books on a side table.  There is a stack of books for my spring reading list.

The Book Written Secretly At Work.

Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce. This novel has come onto my radar as a friend of a friend is the author! Pearce was inspired by an old magazines self help column and secretly wrote her story at work. Centred around Mrs Bird who refuses to respond to letter that are not pleasent, Emmy decides to take charge and send out advice. I can’t wait to read this as I have heard the description of London in the war is highly accurate. This book should be a bit of a fun addition to the spring reading list!

Another image of me on the armchair with the blanket draped over me!  There is a stack of books for my spring reading list.

The Book With Real Life Legal Stories.

In Your Defence by Sarah Langford. I read This Is Going To Hurt and Langford has written a similar factual book detailing various crimes and how her clients lives changed as a result. Her writing and her ability to show our legal system for its glory and faults has received high praise. I am particularly interested to read about the rationalisation for sentencing across all the cases.

Another image of the armchair with the blanket draped over it and the books stacked on the side table.   There is a stack of books for my spring reading list.

The Book I Researched And Realised I Had To Preorder!

The Flatshare Beth O’Leary – Preordered. I love the sound of this book where two strangers share a flat and a bed but have never met. It is a scenario I know is true in London where those who work nights rent their beds! The reviews are hilarious and have mentioned sticky notes, my favourite way to communicate with flat mates! Availible early 2020 I have preordered this one on Amazon. Preorders are incredibly important for authors as they can help secure second deals as well as other work. If you like this one add it to you wish list or perhaps ask for it for Christmas!

UPDATE – Thanks for Hannah for pointing out I had found the paperback date for The Flatshare. The hardback is out on the 19th April here and I have updated my order!

What are you reading at the moment? I’ve got more book reviews here but I’d also love to hear your recommendations for the spring reading list. PF xo

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Rich People Problems By Kevin Kwan Book Review…

February 18, 2019
Rich Peoples Problems Pretentious Fringe Book Review

Have you watched Crazy Rich Asians? One of the funniest movies of 2018 depicting the lives of the Asian elite whose endless amounts of money afford them the most extravagant of lifestyles. Years ago I read the book, Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan and absolutely loved it. Kwan’s background as part of an established Chinese family, living in Singapore, means that you can guarantee lots of the story is inspired by real events! With Singapore as the backdrop the story centres around the Young family and their various offshoots. The reality of the family politics rings so true for me as various members vie for the attention of the matriarch, Su Yi, or actually compete for her wealth and properties when she passes on. Rich People’s Problems by Kevin Kwan* is set two years after the previous novel in the trilogy.

The Story.

I started to consider the curtains and I began to imagine how they would lookin the fron windows of the town house I would buy in London. Victoria

Nicky Young and his wife, Rachel continue to be the main focus of Kwan’s narrative alongside the same generation cousins. Relunctant to return to Singapore, Rachel convinces Nicky to return and make up with his grandmother. A quick hop on a jet later and we are back in Singapore hearing about the families desperate antics to determine who is the sole heir of the family fortune. As each family member fantasises about their life after Su Yi’s death, not everyone wants Tyersall Park, some manipulative behaviour sees Nicky and Astrid barred from the estate.

Kwan’s writing.

Then they drove up a long winding gravel lane that had been cut through thick trees, giving way to an avenue lined with majestic palm trees, until suddenly the most magnificent building she had ever seen came into sight – Ah Ling

Kwan’s descriptions of the details of the Asian elite bring you into a world accessed by the few. The stunning island of Singapore extend this time to India where there is a surprise proposal! No expense is spared with dancers and elephants just the tip of the iceberg. Meanwhile back in Singapore the narrative describes in detail the palatial Young estate hidden on the island. All 64 acres that only no one on the island seems to know about or notice exists! The peacefulness and tranquillity that Nicky feels in this one spots cannot be replaced.

My Thoughts.

I expected the book to finish with the reading of the will declaring Nicky the heir, but a surprise twist means we get more story. Yay! Over the last few chapters there are so many twists and turns the final owner/s of the Young estate changes hands multiple times and then boom we are transported a year in the future. I love this series from Kevin Kwan and whilst this book neatly ties up the loose ends and finishes the story I want more! Hope you enjoy Rich Peoples Problems*. Here’s hoping that Kwan writes something else soon! PF xo

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Books

The Roasting Tin By Rukmini Iyer Book Review…

February 8, 2019
The Roasting Tin cookbook by Rukmini Iyer displayed on a very large succulant!

My Mum Doesn’t Cook.

My Mum doesn’t cook.  Bless her over the course of my thirty something years I have rarely known her to make a meal.  It isn’t that she refuses to do it or delegates it to another family member, she just manages to hurt herself.  Every time! 

Just before I left for my Christmas holiday in Australia I walked around Notting Hill with Lucy and we spent time perusing the shelves of the beautiful Books for Cook’s shop.  I found Rukmini Iyer’s The Roasting Tin* full of delicious recipes that promised tasty, simple food made easily in one tin.  Purchased, I packed it in my overweight suitcase and together we made the journey to my other ‘home’.

Picture is of my mums hands squashing garlic.  There is a oven pan full of fennal, lemons and spring onion showing the mid process of cooking.

My Dad Was The Cook In Our House.

Growing up my Dad was always the cook in the house.  He is one of those frustrating people who can look in a bare cupboard and rustle up a feast from three unlikely ingredients.  There was always a routine, a ritual for him when he came home from work.  Changing out of his army uniform, he was straight in the kitchen prepping dinner.  It was his way of destressing and throwing off the day.  Occasionally someone else would try and cook for the family. 

Dad, after many years, asked that I start making dinners to contribute.  Mum tried to jump in a few times too but quickly she would burn or cut herself and Dad would take over.  It was always a frustrating cycle with my Dad.  He didn’t want to make the dinner every night but he would interfere when someone else was doing it.  Always taking over!  Things haven’t changed now that my sister and I are adults except we are much more vocal! Get out!

This picture shows my sisters hands adding sea salt to chicken that is laying on top of the vegables in a roasting pan.
This images shows oil hving been added to the chicken and my mum lifting the pan to put in the oven.

Until My Mum Stole My Book!

I showed Rukmini Iyer’s The Roasting Tin* to my Mum when I arrived and she disappeared with it.  Hours later I found her on the back deck reading the cookbook like a bible, making notes and creating lists of food.  This, she declared, was what she was going to use to get herself back into the kitchen.  A week later, ingredients purchased, my sister and I sat at the kitchen bench whilst my Mum prepped and cooked dinner. 

Chatting about life and work we occasionally answered Mum when she asked about a cutting technique and I was happy to help when she preferred someone else cut the last bit of fennel.  We all agreed she was on a roll and this was the thing that would give her the most grief!  My Dad tried to cut in a few times but we told him to go away.  Mum was doing this and he had to let her!

This image shows my mum making the sauce to go with the roasted food.  There are vegetables scraps on the kitchen surface and the Roasting Tin cook book is open.

And We Feasted Like Kings and Queens!

Dinner that night was absolutely delicious!  We had the roast chicken with fennel and spice roast aubergines and potatoes, and my sister took a portion home to her fiancée.  A few days later my mum announced she was making dinner again and we had avocado and chicken salad.  Since I have returned she has also sent pictures of two more dishes.  And that my friends is how my mum started cooking again! 

Having pulled the pan out of the oven we slice a chicken breast to confirm if it is cooked.  Very slightly pink we put it back in.

The Perfect Batch Cooking Lunches Book.

Mum paid me for the book and I ordered a new one from amazon.  The first weekend I was back in the UK I made the chicken with fennel and roasted aubergine and potato portioned into 15 lunches!  It was easy to do on a Sunday afternoon whilst I played jazz radio and read my book. 

The ingredients for these two dishes cost me £30, I already had the spices, and that’s less than I was spending each week on take out lunches!  Throughout the book Iyer gives tips on how to replace ingredients and ultimately make your own roasting tins.  Perfect if the local supermarket doesn’t have something or you want to go on a food adventure.

Photo of the finshed chicken and vegetable dish with sauce in a glass jar redy to serve.  The Roasting Tin cook book is open at the page with the recipe.

If you are wanting easy recipes for lunches or recipes to bulk batch food Rukmini Iyer’s The Roasting Tin* is for you. Happy cooking! PF xo

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The Roasting Tin Recipe Book
Books

The Accidental Further Adventures of The Hundred Year Old Man by Jonas Jonasson Book Review…

October 29, 2018

Reducing my screen time has opened up a window before bed to read and now that I am in the routine my bank account can’t keep up!  I devour books and often got in trouble when I was younger for eating them.  Did you have a book club at school?  In Australia we had one where you got a brochure and could pick which books you wanted to buy.  I remember pouring over this for hours selecting and reselecting the books I wanted.  Then asking my mum what the budget was and refining further!  At one stage I know I had hundreds of books and later in high school when we were taught to speed read it shocked everyone that I could read 998 words per minute with a 98% accuracy.  To try and plug the gap and keep the momentum I joined my local library and borrowed The Accidental Further Adventures of The Hundred Year Old Man by Jonas Jonasson.

When did you last visit a library?  I hadn’t been to one for over seven years.  It was only because I walked a different way to the station that I spotted my local.  A search on the internet and I had printed the application alongside my proof of my address.  It only took a few minutes on a Saturday to have my membership stamped.  Whilst I waited I perused the new books section and found The Accidental Adventures of The Hundred Year Old Man.  Excited I grabbed it immediately should someone else see it too!  I have read all of Jonasson’s previous works including my favourite, the first of this series, The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window and Disappeared.

Continuing on from this previous book, The Accidental Adventures starts off reintroducing us to the two main characters, Allan, aged over 100 and Julias, aged younger then Allan!  Having survived their previous adventures with a briefcase full of cash, the duo have settled in Bali for the endless sunshine.  After a year though, they both have itchy feet.  Allan craves another adventure and Julias, a serial criminal, wants to scheme and steal again!  A hiccup with a hot air balloon sees them sailing across the sea with three bottles of champagne to be rescued by a North Korean ship.  With the ship secretly carrying a cargo of uranium Allan and Julias have no choice but to travel to the communist country.  Jonasson add current affairs into his stories and has Allan enrage Trump, resulting in a twitter tirade and Julias mixing up a coffin delivery that upsets the local German Nazis.

If you love a book with twists and turns, that cleverly makes you relook at current world events, this is for you. Let me know if you read it and what your thoughts are.

Happy Reading.  PF xo

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Accidental Adventures

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October Read – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion Book Review…

October 13, 2018

Within a couple of weeks three people recommended The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion.  I wasn’t that keen as when first described as a romance novel this turned me off.  Just not my bag.  However, the descriptions built and I was intrigued.  A romantic novel where the lead character has Autism, written from his view point, with plenty of comedic moments and commentary on social norms.  This sounded good!

Don Tillman is our lead and it’s easy to grasp from the beginning he sees the world differently due to Autism or Asperger’s.  We are never told exactly where Don lies on the spectrum and this works brilliantly.  As explained in the novel those with Autism often don’t know.  Why would they?  For their brains are operating, often at a high function and they are getting about in life just fine.

Don is a university genetics professor and the story is based in one of my favourite cities, Melbourne, Australia.  Keen to fulfil social conventions, Don decides he will resolve the wife problem with ‘The Wife Project’.  He formulates a detailed questionnaire for prospective dates, trying to determine their suitability for marriage.  Don’s list didn’t sound that much different to the online dating forms I have filled in!

The questionnaire brings Rosie into Don’s life by way of best friend Gene, an older professor who is always on hand to help Don navigate social norms.  Rosie is quickly determined as an unsuitable wife but her own search for her father results in Don establishing ‘The Rosie Project’.  This project quickly escalates as Don is challenged to reconsider his personal rules and routines, interact with a multitude of people at a university reunion, all to determine Rosie’s parentage.

‘Fault! Asperger’s isn’t a fault. It’s a variant.  It’s potentially a major advantage.  Asperger’s syndrome is associated with organisation, focus, innovative thinking and rational detachment.’ – Don Tillman

What I loved about Graeme’s story is that he painted a world where Autistic people should be accepted and not considered faulty.  Don’s thought processes throughout a situation or social interaction are clear and often make our complex social norms ridiculous.  His dependency on routines and the situations he gets himself in make Don likable and someone we all root for.

If you love the characters and story as much as I did you will be pleased to know there is a sequel and a third in development!

I’d love to hear what books you are reading at the moment? PF xo

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The Rosie Project

Books

August Book Review – Northern Lights by Philip Pullman…

August 5, 2018

Northern Lights Philip Pullman

I have two favourite colleagues at work at the moment.  One is a female and of a similar age, loves food and knows all the great places to go in London.  The other is a older distinguished male who loves to know about new books and TV shows and we are constantly swapping Netflix picks!  Recently he lent me his copy of Northern Lights by Philips Pullman after learning of my predilection for fictional writings with discerning story lines.  I was under an iron clad agreement that I would return the book after he lost a selection of his favourites to a friends ex. Pressure!

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