Books I’ve Read Jan – April 2017

The Books I've Read in 2017

 The Books I've Read in 2017

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

This is the second book I’ve read from Fredrik Backman and I have to say I was a little worried it wouldn’t live up to ‘A Man Called Ove’, which was my favourite read of 2016. I quickly realised Britt-Marie Was Here was going to be a wonderful read. It is about a lady who after decades of hiding away from the world has developed a strong belief of how certain things should be done. She takes a job in Borg, a very small, run down & neglected town in Sweden where she in fact discovers her self worth. Britt-Marie makes friends with people that challenge her, encourage her and even fall in love with her and in return she gives the entire town hope. This book evokes such a mix of emotions but ultimately it is a story of letting go of the past, rediscovering your dreams and letting people into your heart. I urge you to add it to your reading list.

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

I wasn’t so keen on this book – I found it frustrating at times. It is about a young couple whose son has autism and through trying to learn to cope and navigate through the early years of his life they have stopped communicating as a couple and live very separate lives. The dad also struggles to connect with his son and finds it difficult to understand his world. Through the videogame Minecraft comes a bit of a breakthrough which proves to be the catalyst that helps this family to communicate and appreciate a new side to their son. The Dad Alex also realises that he has been holding on to a lot of pain from his childhood and it is stopping him from moving forward in all aspects of his life. I know this is a bestseller and has been well received but I just found it to have so many Minecraft references that it got a little annoying.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

This story is mainly set in South Carolina and centers around a young girl named Sarah Grimke whose family are very wealthy and much like most wealthy families in America at this time (1803) own quite a few slaves. It follows her defiance to accept her 13th birthday present which is in fact a slave girl of the same age as herself named Handful. Sarah educates herself to a level that is not usual or accepted amongst women in America at this time and she longs to be the first ever female judge but that is a dream beyond what society can allow. Sarah and Handful struggle to understand the world and how cruel it can be, but they both find the strength to make a difference. This is a book about ambition, loss, pain but ultimately on all sides it is about the need to be free.

I was surprised to learn this story is based upon the Grimké sisters who were in fact real-life abolitionists and in a way you could say early feminists. I read this book really quickly and I want to read more from Sue Monk Kidd.

The Little Paris Book Shop by Nina George

This is a story about love, loss and friendship. It is heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measures and if you have a romantic soul like me then you will love this story. It is mostly set on board a book barge in the centre of Paris and that in itself was enough to make me purchase this book. I love that the main character, Jean Perdu, doesn’t let people pick their own books, he chooses their books for them almost like a prescription from a doctor. It follows his journey to try and mend his broken heart and you’re taken along for the very scenic ride. I 100% recommend adding this to your reading list for 2017.

Most Recent Books Read in 2017

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This thought provoking novel doesn’t hold back, it brings to the forefront subjects and situations that are still very much part of the modern world.  It talks openly, honestly about racism, discrimination and  privilege in America. I don’t want to give too much away as the story is gripping from the get go but this one book that brings you face to face with some very hard hitting situations that make you feel uncomfortable at times.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

I read this book without knowing anything about it – sometimes that is how you discover some incredible reads although I am not too sure I would class this as one of those. The main characters, Wavey & Kellen, I thought had a very uncomfortable story to tell. At times I really rooted for them but more often than not I was unsure how I should feel about their relationship. For me this was a heartbreaking read and I was left feeling the main character Wavy was let down by almost everyone. If you’re looking for quite a shocking, coming of age novel then add this to your reading list.

In Order to Live by Park Yeon-mi

I’ve watched a few documentaries about people that have escaped North Korea but this account from Park Yeon-mi was so hard hitting. I had no idea that her struggle was going to get so much worse once they’d fled North Korea. This true story follows Park’s desperate, poverty stricken life first living under the dictatorship of Kim Jong-il in North Korea then as her family attempts the dangerous journey into China. It is incredible just what the human spirit can overcome and Park’s account of what her family had to endure in North Korea and then as defectors of the regimes will stay with you for a long time.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This really reminds me a book I read last year called ‘All The Light We Cannot See‘ It is similar in that it is set first in Paris and then in rural France during the German Occupation of the Second World War. It follows two sisters that couldn’t be more different and we get to see the War from a female perspective. You get lost in the details and are quickly transported to the French countryside but the harrowing effects of the Nazi occupation are hard to ignore. The sisters are both trying to get through the War as best they can one desperate to make a difference and the other focused on staying safe. I sped through this and loved it just as much as I’d hoped, make sure you have a tissue to hand, as I think you will need it.

What have you been reading so far in 2017? Let me know if you read any of the books I have mentioned.

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This Weeks Happy – Exploring Fowey

Pretty Fowey Town

Exploring Fowey Cornwall

I live less than 5 miles from the beautiful harbour town of Fowey but I very rarely go there. I tend to head in the other direction but I wanted to go there for a sunset walk while it was Winter and quiet (before all the tourists descend).

I love exploring the cobbled windy streets & taking photos of the beautiful houses. One of the things I love about Fowey is the river, its beautiful and it makes me feel calm and peaceful. I like to sit looking out over the river whilst the sun sets and it’s the perfect end to the day.

Fowey Houses

Fowey Villas

Fowey River Feb 2017

Fowey Centre

Pretty Fowey Town

Light Shop Fowey

Fowey has the perfect selection of shops including my favourite homeware shop Brocante, a very small but well stocked Joules boutique as well as lots of places to eat and get yummy cakes to take home. Also on this lastest visit I stumbled across this Industrial Lighting Shop which was incredible and well worth a visit. They had a huge selection of nautical and industrial reclaimed options, I have my eye on one in particular and I think I am going to pop back and treat myself to it.

Hidden Streets Fowey Cornwall

Rooftops Cornwall

River Fowey Sunset

Sams Diner Meal

We really wanted to visit our favourite place to eat in Fowey, Sams but it was closed for refurbishment (typical) so we drove to their new Diner. To my surprise they had quite a few Vegan options, including a Vegan Hot Dog (which sounded very tempting) but I opted for the Falafel Burger which came with chips and a cabbage salad. It was delicious & huge. I love an old school sesame seed bun, not these brioche buns which burgers seem to be served on nowadays.

The Diner is new and I thought it was a little cold inside and I am not 100% sure about the decor, it was a little hit & miss but the menu is good and the staff were very helpful when letting me know about their Vegan options. They also do an extensive healthy breakfast menu, so we might pop back one morning to give that a go, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day.

We are planning a day to Penzance next week and quite honestly I can’t believe we have lived in Cornwall for 18 months and haven’t visited yet. I’m really looking forward to it, if you have any recomendations for places to eat and drink in Penzance let me know.

This Weeks Happy – Celebrating 17 Years

2000

2000

Portsmouth 2000

2002 New York

New York 2001

John and Me 2003

London 2002

2004 Manchester

Manchester 2003

2004

Manchester 2004

2005

London 2005

SF 2006

San Francisco 2006
London 2007

London 2007

Edinburgh 2008

Berlin 2010

Berlin 2009

Perth 2011

Perth 2010

Dundee 2012

Dundee 2011

2013

Wiltshire 2012

Merseyside

Liverpool 2013

2014

Amsterdam 2014

Cornwall 2015

Cornwall 2015

Scotland 2016

Dundee 2016

2017

Cornwall 2017

This is a different kind of post from me today, I’m taking a day off from beauty products to celebrate my lovely husband, John, the love of my life.

I thought I would share a photo of John & I from each year that we have been together & I am proud to say that 17 years ago this week I met John who quickly become the love of my life. He was just 16 in the first photo back in 2000 and I had just turned 21, how young we look! I just can’t believe how quickly the years have flown by. We have lived through so many major life events at both ends of the emotional spectrum and I have never doubted our relationship or questioned John’s love for me. John is the most selfless, humble and determined man I know and has shown me that through the most unimaginable pain and grief you can still be optimistic and let go of anger.

I feel like the luckiest lady in the world to have such a supportive, understanding and damn right handsome partner. I could tell you so many stories and reasons why I love this man but one of the earliest ones which stands out for me and it isn’t one that is OTT with fancy gifts or involved spending money.  So way back in 2002 when we lived in our first, very small flat together in Scotland, we didn’t have a car or a mobile phone, I worked in quite a rural location and there wasn’t any shops or facilities near by. After I had left that morning to go to work John noticed that I had left my lunch at home in the kitchen,  he knew I would not be able to get anything else and be really hungry (and grumpy) so he walked 5+ miles each way just to bring me my lunch. All my colleagues couldn’t believe that he walked all that way in the freezing Scottish Winter just to drop off my lunch, which was just a simple can of soup and walk all the way home. What a sweet thing to do & still 15 years later it still makes my heart full of love just thinking about John walking all that way.

Here is to 17 more years of happiness, living adventures and perusing our dreams but mostly to snuggling up on our sofa talking about everything and anything.

Vegan Banana Bread Recipe

Vegan Banana Bread Recipe

Vegan Banana Bread Recipe

I’m possibly the worst baker but I really want to get better because there is nothing nicer than enjoying home baked treats, it also makes your house smell incredible. So I told myself that 2017 was the year I would put my recipe books to good use and get busy in the kitchen learning to bake some delicious sweet treats. I always enjoy banana bread and it has to be one of the easiest recipes to master, so it is a good place to start. we can also convince ourselves it is somewhat healthy as it contains banana’s …… right?

I have two recipes that I go back and forth between which are my good friend Hayley’s Recipe and Aine Carlin from The New Vegan – I’ve taken my favourite bits from them both and created my version of a delicious banana bread.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 ripe bananas mashed
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 50g olive oil
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 level tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp soy milk
  • A handful of Vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • First off pre heat your oven to 180 /Gas mark 4.
  • Lightly grease and line a 2lb loaf tin or use a tin parchment paper liner (that is what I do)
  • Using a fork, mash the banana’s in a large mixing bowl
  • Measure all the dry ingredients and add them to the bowl with your bananas
  • The add the wet ingredients to your mixture and mix for about 2 minutes until the mixture is lump free and quite smooth. I use an electric whisk for this part (lazy)
  • Lastly add the chocolate chips to your mixture and stir them in so they’re evenly distributed
  • Transfer mixture into your loaf tin and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire rack & enjoy with a lovely cup of tea.

Let me know what extras you like to add to your banana bread.