I recently went to Crete and it was fantastic.

Time to relax, time to take a minute, try and get a tan and read. Lots of reading. I downloaded The Memory of Water novel onto my Kindle purely because of the cover. I was desperately downloading books before my holiday and didn’t have time to really go through and look at every single one. The Memory of Water appearing under the search Free Romance, but that’s not strictly what is was. Here’s what I thought (either way.)

Blurb

Slade Harris will do anything for a story, including murdering the woman he loves.

Slade doesn’t think twice about jumping out of a plane or conducting disastrous love affairs to gather material for his work, but his self-indulgent life is catching up with him. Stumbling through his late thirties hopeless and a little drunk, Slade has a dazzling, dangerous idea which will change his life forever. It’s going to be Slade’s ultimate story … and all he’s hoping for is to survive it.

My Review

I didn’t read the blurb before beginning the book, but it goes a little like this. Haunted by his past and struggling with writer’s block novelist Slade Harris plans a theoretical murder in order to the get words flowing again. When the events of his outline begin to play out he can’t control where fiction and reality blur. Set in modern day South Africa the action moves between rich suburbs and seedy towns. The plot moves with pace and constantly keeps you on your toes guessing what is real and what is only in Slade’s head.

Slade Harris is an author who likes to experience life high’s and lows to feed his writing. He carries around a car load of baggage from a family tragedy and the author documents it sublimely. The style has a contemporary crime novel feel with modern and classic culture references. The twist at the end left me off guard but I had an inkling. I liked the hints of the locale language that helped place me as a reader in South Africa. The place depicted add a flavour without too much focus on the country and its recent history.

The writing is phenomenal (and I don’t say that too often.) It has a melancholic, deliciousness to it. Slade is a hedonist who is too self-absorbed but definitely lovable. He sees himself as a Jay Gatsby character; a little shady, with brushes with the law and a vagueness about his sister’s death. We do in the end have the stories of Eve and Emily tied up. I had to definitely re-assess Slade, but I still thought he was wonderful. It’s a crime novel but the sex scenes are evocative, dark and delicious. Big fan.

Final Thoughts

The ending isn’t perfect. We have a double ending which is interesting but doesn’t quite get pulled off. Otherwise, I adored this. I couldn’t stop myself from reading it. The plot is excellent, the characterisation is fantastic, the themes and writing are a storm. It’s one of those books I find super difficult to review because it’s everything I was from a book. Just go read it. It’s bloody gorgeous.

Amazon Goodreads 

 

In other news, which I’ve mentioned earlier, I joined a book club!

If you’re in the Greenwich area and love books I would definitely recommend joining us. We meet the first Wednesday of the month and read a different book each month. Whether you loved or hated the book there’s always something to discuss. The Last Weekend was the book of choice the first week I attended the book club. This is what I thought.

Blurb

Set over a long weekend, Blake Morrison’s new novel is a taut, atmospheric, brilliantly chilling story of a rivalrous friendship – as told by Ian, the deceptively casual narrator.

It opens with a surprise phone call from an old university friend, inviting Ian and his wife, Em, for a few days by the sea. Their hosts, Ollie and Daisy, are a glamorous couple. And the scene is set for sunlit relaxation and cheerful reminiscence. But dangerous tensions quickly emerge.

In vivid, careful prose, Blake Morrison perfectly conveys the stifling atmosphere of a remote cottage in the hottest days of summer. Troubling revelations from Ian’s past slowly intrude. And his rivalry with Ollie intensifies as they resurrect a seemingly forgotten bet made twenty years before. Each day becomes a series of challenges for higher and higher stakes, setting in motion actions that will have irreversible consequences.

My Review

This review might be tough to write because I’m still on the fence as to how much I liked it. The book is a tense and fast-moving book told following the events of a long weekend in the life of four friends. First there’s Ollie and Daisy, the golden couple. They invite Ian and Em (the poorer, less golden couple) to a remote country lodge for a brief holiday. As the weekend progresses, old rivalries surface as the two old university friends Ian and Ollie interact. It leads to a dark, chilling, ending.

First things first, Ian is an incredibly unreliable narrator. At the beginning of the book I liked his easy nature but as the book progresses his character crosses the line. He’s a devious, manipulative and delusional liar. His obsession with Daisy comes full-force and we find that he is capable of horrible, horrible things. (I’ll let you discover them.) Daisy is a a waif like character and I wish we had learnt more about her. Her dreams, her fears, her expectations. Em the same – we don’t quite get the full picture, but I think this is to expose Ian’s unstable nature.

The whole holiday is an utter car crash that I couldn’t stop looking at. But was also sickened by what was happening/what I was seeing. Throughout the book Ian and Ollie compete to honor an old bet. A range of sporting challenges which are played for bigger and better stakes. Ian, the poorer friend feels a sense of social inferiority to his richer, more successful friend, which is magnified by his gambling addiction (kept secret from their friends.) There’s a definite sense of an unsettled score and a childishness to the rivalry between the two men.

Final Thoughts

The book does have problems. The ending is very formulaic and predictable. Daisy and Ollie have a son that comes on the holiday but dissapears frequently. We never learn where he’s been and he never really adds anything  the book. There’s also a discussion of Ollie visiting the lodge as a boy. It’s never revealed whether Ollie was lying. Other bits and pieces in the book that seem pivotal are never discussed. It’s frustrating.

The writing is playful and well-written. As Ian’s personality bubbles and becomes more unstable, we see Ollie and Daisy react but never get the release we need. The twist (if you can call it at the end,) is very well done, just not quite the ending I wanted.

Read ‘The Last Weekend’ for the shock factor, and the beautiful McEwan style writing but it’s not perfect.

AmazonGoodreads 

 

If you don’t like the F word maybe don’t read on.

See, the Thug Kitchen book is like nothing I’ve read before. Vegan recipe with bite might be the best description.

Thug Kitchen recipe book

Blurb

Thug Kitchen started their wildly popular website to inspire people to eat some Goddamn vegetables and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Beloved by Gwyneth Paltrow (‘This might be my favorite thing ever’) and with half a million Facebook fans and counting, Thug Kitchen wants to show everyone how to take charge of their plates and cook up some real f*cking food.

Yeah, plenty of blogs and cookbooks preach about how to eat more kale, why ginger fights inflammation, and how to cook with microgreens and nettles. But they are dull or pretentious as hell -and most people can’t afford the hype.

Thug Kitchen lives in the real world. In their first cookbook, they’re throwing down more than 100 recipes for their best-loved meals, snacks and sides for beginning cooks to home chefs. (Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos? Pumpkin Chili? Grilled Peach Salsa? Believe that sh*t.) Plus they’re going to arm you with all the info and techniques you need to shop on a budget and go and kick a bunch of ass on your own.

This book is an invitation to everyone who wants to do better to elevate their kitchen game. No more ketchup and pizza counting as vegetables. No more avoiding the produce corner of the supermarket. Sh*t is about to get real.

My Review

This book really took me by surprise. The extreme profanity is woven throughout out the book. It’s a big concept  and it’s a lot of fun. It’s definitely found a niche in the market. Yes it might turn some people off, but I liked the contrast because this is a vegan cookbook. I think veganism has a bad rep for being a little, nice? But this takes it to another level. Love it.

The recipes are split into six sections, each with an equally rude name. But basically, we have breakfasts, lunches (salads and sandwiches,) stews, munchies (salsa, snacks) mains, and motherfucking desserts. Yes, it’s actually called that. The recipes are fantastic. Favourites include baked spanish rice, pozole rojo, and creamy ravioli with house marinara.

They are in American cup sizes which can be confusing but a quick google will help.

I love the bowl recipes. The idea is you pick a grain or starch, then add vegetables, a protein, and a sauce or dressing. The book then lists combos from the book, from different sections to help you out (with helpful page numbers and whether it’s a veggie, protein etc.) It’s a wonderful way of making the book more versatile. Yes you could make quick pickled vegetables and serve it with your own recipe, or helpfully you could mix it with sweet citrus baked tofu and make a bowl. The book becomes a lot more personal.

The book doesn’t just do recipes it also breaks down different ways of cooking an ingredient. Tofu is something I have struggled to cook at times. The book has two pages that give different marinades, and different ways of baking the tofu. It’s really helpful. There’s also a page on how to make a vegetable broth which is used in numerous recipes. Which again was V helpful .

Additionally any confusing ingredients have a *, (****) depending on how many confusing ingredients there are. It might link to another recipe or explain other ingredients you could use. It’s brilliant. So instead of teaspoon oil you could use coconut/grape seed/olive oil. Wonderful.

Final Thoughts

It’s a bloody brilliant book. If you’re vegan definitely buy it. If you want to try cut out a little meat definitely buy it. It’s a wonderful book for mixing up what you make in the kitchen!

Thug Kitchen recipe book

Thug Kitchen recipe book

 

 

 

I read somewhere that you should have one signature dish that you can always whip up.

Writing this I think Hannah Gale wrote in one of her very fab blog posts. The idea being that on a Saturday at midnight, when you’ve missed the last train home, you can still make this recipe. You can perfectly create it every damn time. You don’t need to weigh out 59603059220 different ingredients. You’ve made it so many times it’s inscribed on the cookery book you keep inside your noggin.

For me that did is homemade pizza. It started last year when I oddly had all the ingredients in the cupboard. I then lived off homemade pizza for six months. (Almost.) So I’m sharing how you can do the same.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

Put in your trolley (For the dough.)

200g strong white flour

50ml of lukewarm water (Give or take.)

1tbsp of olive oil

For Toppings

Tomato and basil passata

Sweetcorn

Deli Chicken (We used chicken tikka, T had quorn.)

An egg

Mozzerella

Anything else you fancy topping your masterpiece with.

You may have noticed there is not yeast in this recipe. I like very, very thin and crispy pizza bases so I don’t wait for the dough to rise. I’ve done it before and (with yeast and proving,) and found it unsuccessful. (If you were wondering.)

Step One

Measure out the flour into a bowl, spoon in the oil. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water bit by bit. I add very little amounts at a time – you don’t want it too sticky. Stir with a spoon until it comes together and then use your hands.

Step Two

Put the oven on to pre-heat at 200C.

Take the dough from the bowl and knead. Youtube helps if you’re struggling with the motion. Knead until it resembles mashed potato. Then roll out using a rolling pin. (Or a bottle of tomato sauce.) It will spring back, so keep rolling until it’s circular(ish) and the thickness of a pound coin. Liberally sprinkle a baking tray with flour and place the dough on-top.

Step Three

Top with the passata (quite a lot) and then add your toppings (minus the egg.) We added a mixture of the toppings featured but just use your favourites. Mushrooms, olives, artichoke – whatever you fancy. Pop in the oven and cook for 7 minutes.

Step Four

Once the base is cooked – give it a prod, crack the egg on top and then whip back in the oven. T likes his quite cooked so he put his on a couple of minutes earlier. Once egg is cooked take out, slice and devour.

Numbers (if you’re bothered.)

Depending on how many toppings you use this comes to between 450 – 500 calories which is higher than a lot of the recipes I’ve been posting. But compared to ordering a large dominos you’re onto a winner. It’s a brilliant way to treat yourself without ruining your healthy eating mission.

Recommended Reading

I’m not going to suggest reading for this one. Pop on Project Runway with a glass of diet coke and while the evening away. Perfection.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

I’ve been reading a lot of books recently and a couple have really stood out. Like this one.

Want to give a quick shout-out to Pigeonhole. I tried to download the book after it had finished it’s serialisation.  But the app was letting me download it but it never appeared in my bookshelf. I shouldn’t have been able to get hold of it, but Pigeonhole let me because they are wonderful. This is what I thought of Lies by T.M Logan.

Blurb

 When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that’s when Joe receives the first message . . .

My Review

Sometimes, secrets are best kept that way.

T M Logan’s debut novel ‘Lies revolves around the decisive moment where everything changes, when you find out something you didn’t want to know. The YES or NO choice that seems harmless but causes your life to dissolve into hell. Well maybe.

Joe Lynch is pretty normal. He has a lovely wife and an adorable son, and a normal job as a teacher. He spends his days pottering around doing all-together adult things. Until one day his son spots his mum’s car, somewhere where it shouldn’t really be. Following his wife Mel he finds her with their friend Ben at a hotel. From this moment everything begins to collapse. It looks like Joe is going to be arrested on suspicion of murder and he quickly realises he doesn’t know his wife, Mel, at all.

Character wise I loved Joe. Yes, he’s very naive, yes it takes him a long time to catch on but that’s why he’s so great. The trial by social media that he is forced to withstand is excruciating. Ben, (as described in the blurb,) dissapears but not for long. He taunts Joe, leading him deeper into the hell hole that’s been created. I wanted Joe to succeed, especially as he gets more and more desperate.

The writing is exceptional. It’s not gritty, but it is very engaging and clean writing with bite. The demise of Joe is wonderfully done. I felt like throwing the book on the floor a number of times. It’s not often that a book manages to make me desperate to read and piss me off at the same time. The writing is very cat and mouse, back and forth.

Final Thoughts

Overall, a super good read. I would say the ending was a brilliant twist but a little over the top. Saying that I didn’t guess it at all and was very, very shocked. If you love a thriller definitely get a copy. Thumbs up.