Books #5, 6, 7 and 8

So over the past few weeks I have read three books and abandoned one.

Book #5: “My Sister, the Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Braithwaite. I borrowed this book because I had read a recommendation, although I had also read a review in which the reader was not sure if it was supposed to be humorous. I found it low key funny, not a laugh out loud. Definitely an easy read

Book#6: “Rooftoppers” by Katherine Rundell. This is children’s literature and my daughter thought I would like it. It was well written, the worlds described are imaginative but believable, as was the plot mostly. I was slightly concerned about the baby Sophie seemingly entrusted to a committed bachelor with minimal support. But that helped the plot.

Book #7: “Why Mummy Drinks” by Gill Sims. I had heard of this book when it was first released, and when I saw it on the virtual library self I decided to read it. It is a well known scenario, overworked mother with children who could be angels but aren’t, seeing other mothers who seem to be living a perfect life… But the brilliant writing and puts twists makes for a very amusing novel, easily read.

Book #8: “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernadine Evaristo. I picked this off the virtual library shelf after hearing others discussing it. I should have paid more attention to one of them who described it as challenging. In theory I should like this book as it develops a number of characters. But I found it verbose and I was really irritated by the lack of full stops and capital letters at the start of what appears to be a sentence. So after about 20% of the book I decided I really wasn’t enjoying it and it would be better to read something more enjoyable.

Books #4, 5 and 6

A friend had lent me some books, and so they were my first choice of reading material.

Book #4 “How the Dead Speak” by Val McDermid, a gripping police drama, with the story told from different angles and interconnected plot lines, including historic child abuse. Kept drawing me back and really enjoyable.

Book #5 “Big Sky” by Kate Atkinson. Kate Atkinson is one of my favourite authors Her plot lines and story lines are not predictable. This one is based around her character Jackson Brodie and he is in North Yorkshire. The plot line is sad and linked like the previous book to historic child abuse. But the description of the Scarborough area – including a car chase to Flamborough does add colour. Definitely a good book – and I wonder if I should re-read some of her early work?

Book #6 “The Vanishing Point” by Val McDermid. This was a very different tale to the previous books I have read by Val McDermid. The book starts with the abduction of a child from his carer in a US airport, and story moves back about how the child was with the carer. Candidates for the abdunction are introduced and then ruled out. The story then moves forward – to the big reveal as to who did it.

I am about a third of my way through my next book – so I think I may be back into reading.

Book #3 “Knife” by Jo Nesbo

You would think with months of lockdown I would have read a lot. But no we came back from Lanzarote in February and I had read two books. I started Jo Nesbo’s “Knife” and I just stalled.

I didn’t find the book readable I kept going back to it, but I just couldn’t engage. So a few weeks ago I decided I really must abandon it – and read something else.

Gluten Free Apple Muffins

I have made these a few times, and tweaked the original recipe so here is my version of a relatively healthy muffin (they are healthier if you omit the optional sugar).


  • 1 Egg
  • A knob of butter melted
  • 50 g ground almonds
  • 1/2 teasp of baking powder (check it is GF)
  • 1 eating apple coarsely grated
  • 1/2 teasp of cinnamon or other spice
  • Optional – 1 level tblsp of soft brown sugar


  1. Whiz all the ingredients in a blender
  2. Spoon in to bun cases that are stood in bun tins
  3. Bake at 180 C Fan (200 C ordinary) for 15-18 minutes, check they are cooked with a skewer put in the mixture which should come out clean, give them a couple of more minutes if they are not set.


  • The sugar can be omitted but they are tastier with it
  • Using traditional UK bun cases I get 6-8 from this mixture.
  • If eaten on the day made the muffin sticks a bit to the case – but after a day or so they will be loose.
  • The apple can be replaced by other fruit or veg, change the spice to match.

Book #2 The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

This book is about a newly retired husband and is set about his walk from Devon to Berwick (Northumbria). The story is told with glimpses in to his family’s past and his work colleagues.

Largely a feel good book with a touch of tragedy. Somewhat reminiscent of Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper with a long journey and links to the past.

Book #1 History of Wolves by Emily Frilund

A slow start to completing books this year; I have some other books that I have started so may catch up!

This was a some what sad book, at one point I thought of giving up because it was obvious that a tragedy was going to happen. But after a break I went back to it, and the tragedy did happen – but not in the way I thought it would. It is what is called a “coming of age” story, the protagonist is variously called Maddie and Linda and lives with her permanents in the remnants of a hippie commune. But it is their new Christian Science neighbours who create the tragedy. I can see why the book was shortlisted for a prize.

Book #31 The Pauper’s Cookbook by Jocasta Innes

This is a review from last year:

I used to own this book, we used it a lot when students and first married. The copy got so dog eared that it must have got thrown away at some point. Recently we had some bacon bits left and I was reminded of a recipe from the book that baked sliced potatoes, sliced onions and bacon bits with milk that was in this book. I searched the Internet but with what I could remember I couldn’t find the recipe – they all tended to use cream like Dauphine Potatoes. My local library had a copy of the book – but a newer edition (c 2004), looking through the contents and index I couldn’t find the dish, so I put the book to one side. When i decided to try and read it I discovered that the author had updated some of the contents – but then I came across my dish described as a casserole. So I was able to reconstruct the dish that used to be one of our regular meals – delicious.

I went through the book and was reminded of other things we used to eat. The book itself is now out of print, and I guess there wouldn’t be much of a market for it compared to modern recipe books, but i loved it.

New Year Resolutions

So with the start of a new year it seemed appropriate to review last year, and think about next. I thought I had written some aims for 2019, but on checking the last were for 2018, there are a few others for earlier years back to my earlier blogging days in the 2000s. Life has changed since then with retirement and becoming a grandma.

I am continuing to try and record what I read, and while reading 50 books a year may be something to aspire to 25 is more realistic (I still have to record 2 I read last year).

I also try to keep fit – with walking and other exercise – I have had a Fitbit for several years and it does help me to ensure I walk a reasonable amount each week.

I enjoy making stuff – both crafting and cooking. I have tried to record my experiments in gluten free baking, and will continue to.

I am also do bits of academic work, however on retirement I did decide to say “No” to things that weren’t convenient or interesting.

Got some ideas for travel this year, got a guide book on the coffee table.

But a lot of what I will do will be family oriented, I enjoy spending time with all of them, and having the opportunity to spend time with the grandchildren each week is delightful – if exhausting!.

Book #30 There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar

My teacher daughter lent me this book by the same author as “Holes” it is aimed at a younger audience but since I enjoyed the previous book I thought this would be fun.

The title suggested the book may be addressing gender issues, but rather it was addressing bullying and fitting in, and the bathroom incident(s) played a minor part. It was a fun easy read. I am pleased to know children’s literature is so engaging.