Saturday, 20 October 2018

Ten of the Best #138

It's called Ten of the Best, but usually there are more. Things that have interested me that you guys have shared on your Facebook pages, your Twitter feeds, and that are trending on my timelines. I just put them together, and I have a great time doing it. Grab your mug and let's do this.

Trevor on the rigged voting system in Georgia.

Brene Brown - why vulnerability in leadership is essential.

Harry Potter homecoming assembly - these kids are great.

South Africa's Luke Davids won the 100m gold medal at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.

Mattea Goff explains why being a mom is so exhausting - in pictures.

Brother of the year goes to....

Ndlovu Youth Choir and Wouter Kellerman’s cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”. So so so wonderful. Sign of a good song - that it can be transformed like this.

Our endangered earth...

For doctors, going deeper is a way to combat burnout - this is a fascinating read. I'm sure it's relevant for other professions too.

Oh wow - this is one obituary you need to read. An honest one for Madelyn Linsenmeir. Beautiful.

Meet Chiune Sugihara, who saved countless people with handwritten visas. This is his lovely story.

Reading and vacations... why they're the same, and you should do both. At the sea.

Ok, we're done here. Nothing more to see - move along and have an awesome weekend. Don't forget to check in next week.

Friday, 19 October 2018

The Accident by Chris Pavone

This started so well. A manuscript, with a secret that someone famous doesn't want shared is shared with an agent. And then a publisher, and then the agent's assistant is murdered, and then someone else makes an illicit copy, and what is going to happen? 

Is the famous person who doesn't want this published going to murder all who lay eyes on it? Is it going to "go viral"? Is a failing publishing house going to use this as a job-saving income-producing deliverer from the perils of bankruptcy? And who are all these eyes -  by turns researching, stalking, protecting and then running, or defending themselves with deadly precision?

I liked Isabel, the agent, and enjoyed the publishing anecdotes and the tension around how this story could destroy so much, and also - in the way of truth - set others free. Yet, as the pressure built, and the stakes increased, I found the pages turning more slowly, and my head more often inclining to one side - really? Is it that plausible? And they got that upset about that? And so, in the final revelations and consummations, it felt more like a water-logged wrinkled copy than a lit and set the world alight piece of literature.

Still worth the read though, and a diverting (and coincidentally fairly relevant) premise.

3 stars.

ISBN: 9780571298945

You may also enjoy The Killing Lessons by Saul Black, or what about John Grisham's Camino Island?

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

We've been doing the U-cook vegetarian options for the last few weeks. It's been great, and so that I don't lose our favourite recipes, I'm posting them to my blog. They're great - healthy and tasty, and if you'd like to sign up (they deliver all the ingredients for 3 meals for portion sizes of your choice on a Monday) you can find them on


1kg aubergine (large is good)
2 chillies
8g fresh basil
4 garlic cloves
2 celery sticks
80g grated parmesan
160g grated mozzarella
800g cooked chopped tomato
2 onions
2g fresh thyme


Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees. Thinly slice aubergines lengthways. Lightly salt and place into a colander to leach out bitter juices. Slice garlic and celery finely. Deseed and slice chillies.

Place saucepan with a glug of olive oil on medium heat. Add onions, celery and sweat for 3-4 minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic, chili and thyme and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add cooked chopped tomatoes and 200ml water and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Taste and season with salt, pepper and a little xylitol.

Pat aubergine slices dry. Sprinkle with salt and brush oil on both sides and layer in a single layer on baking tray. Roast for 15 minutes (flip over after 8 minute) until soft and turning golden. 

Remove thyme stalks from sauce, and chop basil and add to pan (reserving some leaves). Cover bottom of oven proof dish with thin layer of tomato sauce, then aubergine slices, then a sprinkle of combined mozzarella and parmesan. Continue this process, ending with cheese. Reduce oven heat to 190 degrees and place dish in oven for 10-12 minutes - grill for a golden top, if you'd like, but watch carefully. Top with basil leaves and serve with warm sourdough bread and rocket leaves.


Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The Empress of the Seven Hills by Kate Quinn

In book #3 in the Empress of Rome series, Vix is back. For those who haven't read Mistress of Rome and Daughters of Rome, we met Vix's parents in the first, and didn't hear much of him in the second. A gladiator for a father and a Jewish slave girl for a mother, Vix has dabbled in arena sports and women, wine and song, and isn't sure what he wants to be yet. Sabina, on the other hand does. Daughter of Senator Norbanus, she is destined for greatness - especially if she marries well.

But, because it's ancient Rome, of course there are enemies, and plots, and counter-plots, and wars. There are also beautiful cities, lavish celebrations and much philandering, plundering and postulating.

I love Kate Quinn's books, especially this series, and Empress of the Seven Hills does not disappoint. All the ingredients are here and I raced through it. Onwards and upwards to the next one.

4 stars

ISBN: 9780425242025

You may also enjoy The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. or what about Dictator by Robert Harris?

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Killing Lessons by Saul Black

Rowena Cooper lives with her two children in Colorado, and when two strangers show up in the evening, you know it's not going to end well. But not everything runs as smoothly as the strangers intend, and ten-year-old Nell, injured and terrified, runs to safety, or is that more danger?

Meanwhile Valerie Hart, in San Francisco is feeling quite despondent. Her case, involving a series of murders with bizarre markers left at each scene, is not getting any closer to being solved, and the additional people involved on the case seem to be hindering progress more than helping. The emotional baggage from a past relationship re-entering the crime scene is also not useful.
It's difficult to believe that this is a debut. I loved Nell, Valerie, and even enjoyed getting inside the minds of the murderers. The pages turned at a pleasing pace, all the way through, and the plot had me twisting and turning with it in gleeful anticipation.

A smart, taut, tick-all-the-boxes thriller.

5 stars.


You may also enjoy Snap by Belinda Bauer, Broken Ground by Val McDermid or The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George.

More books.

Monday, 15 October 2018


Morning everyone. It's Monday, and the best place to be? No, it's not in bed. It's out there. In the sunshine.

I love getting out and exercising first thing, especially on a Monday. I love the way the coolness embraces my skin, and the sun glints through the trees. I love the rays - the angles and the shine, the soft glow, the radiance of the beautiful light.

There's nothing like it. Or like the feeling when I'm done, and the rest of my week can begin.

There's only one song we're singing  today. It's Mika's We are Golden. 

Running around again
(Running around again)
Running from running

We are not what you think we are
We are golden, we are golden
We are not what you think we are
We are golden, we are golden

Here's the clip, I couldn't watch it - too much Mika on display for me this early in the morning, but listen as you run.

Let's go golden people.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Ten of the Best #137

Hey hey hey, it's finally Saturday. And time, together with great wifi connectivity and speed to catch up on the stuff we missed on social media - you know what I mean. The link you scrolled past in that meeting, the one you couldn't press play on, because you were supposed to be working, and others would have heard you, the many articles you had no time to read, and of course that one you couldn't download, because you have no more data, and you weren't connected to the wifi.

I've collected my favourites, and I'm sharing them with you. It's been quite a week.

My favourite pic is on the right, but scroll down for the clips and articles and music.

Kanye West, Taylor Swift and politics. Catch up with Trev.

I loved this article - "Relax, Ladies. Don’t Be So Uptight. You Know You Want It" by Anastasia Basil, and this quote "She was never famous, just one of many unsung feminists who stuck her hand down the drain and cleared the sludge for the rest of us."

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Anna Fox is the Woman in the Window. She lives alone, as we discover quite early on. She is a psychologist, so loves to observe humanity, which she does from her vantage point - she sees infidelity, abuse, deceit, lies - all the evil we try to keep behind closed doors, and shuttered windows.

Anna has agoraphobia - an intense fear and anxiety of being in places where it is hard to escape, or where help might not be available. Agoraphobia usually involves fear of crowds, bridges, or of being outside alone. So she watches old movies, she drinks, she takes her pills and she observes.

It's when a child's life and safety may be at stake that the ante is upped, and she needs for her observations to believed. But can they, given her solitary state, her addictions, and her, well plain weirdness?

I enjoyed this page turner. I liked Anna - even though I did guess most of her story, and I loved the neighbours and finding out more about them.

I am a little tired of the "should we believe her, because she's unreliable?" theme, although its use here is less trite than some others I've read.

All in all, a good psychological thriller, that will keep you entertained and figuring out the truth.

ISBN: 9780062799555

3.5 stars

You may also enjoy Snap by Belinda Bauer, Watch Me by Jody Gerhman, or The Wife between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Ten of the Best #136

Well, good morning people. I've had a great week - you?

But the weekend is about to get even better - here are all the things on my social media feeds that interested, entertained and made me think this week. Hope you find something you like. If not, keep scrolling, If you do, don't forget to come back for more.

The pic of the week is the one above - we can't stop laughing.

Trevor's not that funny in this clip. But he does show us the amazing insight comedians have into human nature - in this case the dark side. Trump and victimhood. Spot on Trevor.

Trump mocks Christine Blasey Ford, and .... karma's a bitch.

Meanwhile, Melania, oh Melania...

Friday, 5 October 2018

Friday Books - The Killing Lessons

Welcome to BookBeginnings and Friday56 -where we share books on Fridays. It's a great way to start the weekend.

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader.

 Here's the beginning of the book I'm featuring today.

The instant Rowena Cooper stepped out of her warm cookie-scented kitchen and saw the two men standing in her back hallway, snow melting from the rims of their boots, she knew exactly what this was: her own fault.

I loved that opening - it drew me right in, even though I'm sure it's not her fault. This page-turner of note has me up late at night, willing my eyes to stay open for one more chapter. The link on the cover will take you to the goodreads blurb.

At Freda's Voice, you'll find the Friday56, where the excerpt comes from page 56 or 56% in your Kindle.

Here's an excerpt from page 56 of The Killing Lessons by Saul Black.

Six days had passed. He'd brought no books to read. Reading had gone the way of writing. Reading and writing were proof that you were still interested in the world, still intrigued, still bothered.

The quote is actually on p57, but I loved it so thought I'd cheat - a little. I'm also enjoying the writing - it's not often you want to quote from crime thrillers, but there you are.

What are you reading this weekend? I'd love to visit your blog and check it out.