Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson

childrenHow could I possibly write a negative review of one of my favorite authors? I love DCI Banks and almost all books in the series have been page turners…….but this book could have been much shorter.  Way too much detail and rambling.

Let me start with what I liked, move on to my complaints and tell you about food mentioned in this book.


The entire team of Alan Banks, Annie Cabbot, Winsome Jackman and the CSI folks.

Some of the food that is mentioned as they enjoy a pub lunch or a quiet dinner at home.

The mystery wasn’t a bad plot, just a bit long winded.  And far fetched, yes, let me add that but I certainly finished it.


It is actually one I could have skipped. Pains me to say that about Alan Banks. I have read this series from book 1, all in a row and not skipping around. This one started off at a good pace but lost me later on.  I persevered because I like the characters very much.  Too much supposition for this murder investigation and too many long-winded discussion on the “what-if” line of thinking.

Also, Banks has never been described as a hottie, someone women just swoon over, but in these past few books he seems to attract the attention of very attractive women.  These women are almost young enough to be his daughter and that leaves me scratching my head,  waaaaaaaa??  Perhaps our author will get DCI Banks a more age appropriate personal relationship in the future.  I’m not a prude, I know there are what you’d call May-December relationships  but I sure liked him with Annie better than the scenarios that have come up lately.


“There wasn’t much food in the fridge besides wilted broccoli and chicken tikka masala…”

Fish and Chips

“Banks ordered bangers and mash and an orange juice….”

Chinese takeaway

Rogan Josh, chicken tikka, aloo gobi and raita and naan

So…….I thought a good meal would be something more exotic than what I usually prepare.  Something Asian or Indian and definitely vegetarian (after all my naughty indulgences this past week).

I prepared Sesame Noodles with Tofu, Scallions and Cashews

For all the lovely photos and recipe visit Squirrel Head Manor.

Linking up with:

Foodies Read at Based on a True Story

The British Book Challenge at Tales of Yesterday

 Joy’s British Isles Friday


The Moth – The Art of Storytelling

mothI thought this would be a collection of short stories and was pleasantly surprised to discover a series of short memoirs. John Turturro’s story was particularly interesting to me as I am a big fan of his work.

These are poignant and insightful true stories that give you a different perspective of their lives. Well written and interesting, you may feel as if you are at a personal reading or sitting in their den as their story unfolds. I’m actually still reading some of the stories but so far I love this book.

Before getting this book I didn’t know about The Moth. It’s about the art of storytelling. Check out their site HERE.  There are free audio stories and they are just wonderful.

Here is The Moth’s Facebook page.

  • I received this book from the Blogging for Books Program.  All opinions are my own, I was not compensated.


11/22/63 by Stephen King…..not his typical genre style but I liked it.

11-22-63I had heard so much about this book that I just had to get a copy. I am not a fan of horror and so if Stephen King wrote it, I am not typically drawn to his publications. But this book isn’t horror at all. It’s a departure for King’s writing style (he says so himself in interviews) and has appealed to all sorts of readers, some who don’t share favored genres.

There is time travel and that was a hook for me. The star of the book is Jake Epping. He is a high school English teacher living in Lisbon Falls Maine. While working as a GED instructor he reads an essay that changes his entire life. Harry Dunning is a janitor at the school and signed up for Jake’s class to earn his diploma. Harry has a gimp leg and isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but the reason for his impairment is explained in the essay – it’s about a day that changed their lives.

The story is about Harry’s father and how he took a hammer to his wife and kids one drunken evening, killing them all but Harry. He tried to kill Harry too but only managed to get in a few swings, ruining Harry’s leg as the child tried to get under the bed. What an astounding essay.
The happy part of the story is Harry received his GED and became friends with Jake. They celebrated with a Fatburger at Al’s diner. Now fast forward 2 years and it’s 2011. Al asks Jake to stop by the diner for a chat. They weren’t close friends so Jake is curious as to what Al wants. Jake is shocked that Al has seemingly aged years in a short time. His hair is white, he’s lost weight and has cancer. How is this possible?
Al explains his appearance is attributable to his having time traveled and lived for years in the past. There is a time portal or wormhole and you can step through and transport to the year 1958. All this is revealed within the first few chapters so I am not giving out spoilers. One thing I must add is that no matter how long you stay in the past ( 10 minutes or 10 years) only 2 minutes elapse in your time period. Mind blowing!

Rather than hash out the story as it’s been in countless reviews I will just say it was a page turner. Ok, there was a period where Jake had a slow time and it was a little slow for me too. But overall – I liked this book quite a bit. Imagine having the ability to go back and change historical events. Prevent JFK from being assassinated or keep a horrific event from coming true on a personal level. The people you meet and your every action would change history. Sometimes for the best and sometimes hardly any change would happen…..but what about that Butterfly Effect? What would happen is JFK lived?

Here is a snap of one passage of the book. It echos a sentiment I have often expressed.  Yes, I love my blogs and I enjoy writing and all the modern conveniences of cell phones and computers……..but how my life would be simplified without any of it.

book passage

Besides the historical portions of this book we have the interactions of Jake with a small community of folks in Jodie Texas. How might he change their lives if dropped into 1960 something from 2011?

Not much food mentioned in this book but there was the Fatburger and milkshakes,  There was also mention of pound cake.  If you have read this book you will completely get the reference but if not….I can tell you if you aren’t going to read it…  Email me 🙂

Here is the recipe for a lovely lemon pound cake.



Spoiler below!  

Stephen King published an alternative ending on his official website on January 24, 2012, in which Jake finds a November 2011 news article where Sadie has turned 80. She had married a man named Trevor Anderson, with whom she has five children, eleven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. This ending was changed to the published version at the suggestion of King’s son, writer Joe Hill.

Linking up to the 2017 Monthly Motif Challenge at Girlxoxo.


A Year Between Friends: Crafts, recipes and best of all….friendship.


A Year Between Friends: 3191 Miles Apart is a lovely book filled with craft ideas, recipes, letters and best of all – friendship.

Molly Wizenberg wrote the forward and it’s a great beginning.  She explained how she discovered a blog called  Port2Port where Maria (MAV) was an author.  This was over 10 years ago.  Molly and Maria were fans of Stephanie Congdon (SCB) on Flickr.

The ladies began collaborating with photo projects and craft ideas. They have been corresponding for quite some time and the result was deep friendship between Maria and Stephanie.

This book is divided by the months of the year. They each take photos of their respective locales – Maria who goes by MAV is in Portland Maine and Stephanie (SCB) lives in Portland Oregon.  In addition to photos there are recipes and letters.


My dear friend Mary Margaret lives in Alaska and I live in Florida.  About as far away as friends can be and still be in the USA. This book reminded me of our deep friendship and how the miles didn’t matter a lick.  I can still call her and talk to her as if I’d seen her a day ago.  This has been going on since the late 1970’s. (Yes, I am a senior citizen 🙂

What a lovely display of friendship this book is.

From Amazon:  Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes share a love of art and design, handmade pleasures, and a well-lived domestic life. Almost a decade ago, they began their first year-long project together, posting a photo from each of their mornings on their blog, 3191 Miles Apart, named for the distance between their homes in Portland, Maine, and Portland, Oregon.

The inspired recipe from this book is soup. But we haven’t been eating much meat lately and so, while I planned on chicken soup….I diverted to a veggie chili.  Very different but one of the biggest components in this book features healthy eating.

I made a black bean chili with finely chopped zucchini, green onions,tomatoes, mushrooms and a little bit of water. Once everything started thickening up I added about 3/4 cup of brown rice.

The plus of our healthier eating (and additional walking) is the weight loss.  My husband has lost 22 pounds while I have lost 12 pounds. Yes, I keep up with him eating and drinking yet my weight loss has been considerably slower.  🙂  Oh well!

Good book with great recipes and craft ideas.  You will love flipping through it.

Linking up with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series. The linkup for this week may be found HERE.

Also linking with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series.


The Olive Farm. {An Irish woman starring in a BBC production landing in France. Very International.}

Expatriates-in-paradise genre – One of my favorites!

I have long been a fan of Irish actress Carol Drinkwater. She was my favorite Helen in the series All Creatures Great and Small, a series I very much enjoyed.  That’s where we got our son’s name, from the character Tristan Farnon.  She left that series in 1985.

When I read the books, after seeing some of the BBC television shows, it was her voice I heard when Helen was speaking.

When Carol wrote The Olive Farm  I was delighted to learn it would be a trilogy. Combining a favorite genre (expat-lit genre) with Drinkwater’s writing style makes for a winning combo. This is the first book in her bestselling trilogy, all of it set on her Provencal olive farm.

Carol met her husband Michel while they were involved in making a movie in Australia . He proposed to her on the first date and they married four years later.  Eventually they bought this gorgeous ruin of a villa built in 1904, located in Provence . The villa is named Appassionata – meaning passion – and very appropriate for Carol and Michel as they fall heels over ears in love with the place.

“I am in the south of France , gazing at the not-so-distant Mediterranean , falling in love with an abandoned olive farm,” Carol Drinkwater writes. “The property, once stylish and now little better than a ruin, is for sale with ten acres of land.”

After investing all the money she has they are able to move into their new home, devoid of electricity and water. French law is a different animal altogether from British and American laws as Carol learns while sifting through the endless paperwork and awaiting the many appointments to sign one or two papers. Finally, Appassionata is theirs!

Carol, Michel and his teen aged daughters Clarice and Vanessa arrive one extremely hot afternoon, with the promise of a swim in the pool. Alas….no water and the pool is a pit of sticks and branches. Carol struggles to make it a positive experience and tries to speak her limited French to the girls. The stepdaughters can speak English but make Carol work at communicating. Eventually they become a close knit family….. along with a number of stray dogs and good friends among the local citizenry.

The experiences she writes about were fascinating to me and she clearly has a better work ethic than I do. Restoring an old villa like that is hard work. HARD work! They uncovered ancient Roman looking steps and tiles. They found some of their olive trees were over 500 years old…’s an expat’s dream IF you don’t mind hard work – both physically and culturally.

Carol took language classes to improve her French, quickly becoming fluent. An engaging book about France , olive harvesting, conquering cultural barriers and love. Above alllove.

If you like the works of Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes I feel certain you would enjoy Carol’s musings about Appasionata and her love of southern France .

To learn more, check out the links below:

Carol Drinkwater
Home Hunts
It Shouldn’t Happen to an Olive Farmer!

Food: Caponata and Tahini Hummus on toasted baguette

The inspired dishes from this book include eggplants, caponata and tapenade. The little bites of appetizers you might enjoy sitting in the shade of Carol Drinkwater’s patio, the hot breeze licking your cheek as you sip an ice cold glass of white wine and nibble bruschetta.

Eggplants from the southern Mediterranean area would have a different taste from what I can lay hands on in Northern Florida but….still a wonderful treat.

An Irish woman starring in a BBC production landing in France.  Very International.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday


Dinner with Edward for Cook the Books!

dinnerSuch an enjoyable book by Isabel Vincent –  It’s about love, friendship, understanding with a bonus of fantastic menus.    I’m sorry I didn’t read it sooner when bookish friends were writing about it.

The first chapter is sorrowful as Edward is sitting by his wife’s bedside, listening to her sing and then telling him he may not end his life when she dies,  it would be the end of the family.  How would Edward deal with his grief? What is their backstory, this loving couple who can’t imagine a life without the other in this world?

Edward meets his daughter’s friend, Isabel Vincent, and they forge a great friendship. Both are going through an emotional time in their lives but this friendship is exactly what they both need. It was wonderful to read about their interactions and their special dinners.

Each chapter begins with a menu. It’s the meal Edward would be preparing for Isabel and each meal is exceptional. Chapter one starts us with Grilled Sirloin Steak, Sauce Bourguignonn, New Potatoes, Chocolate Souffle and Malbec.

One day Isabel is walking off the elevator to Edward’s apartment and she “immediately  inhaled cinnamon, sugar and baked apples.” She felt a rush of happiness.  What a lovely aroma to be greeted with and I would also be happy to know I could indulge in an apple galette later in the evening.  So much food and wine and cocktails!  Initially I was going to make the Apple Galette but then the lure of his crab cake dinner roped me in.

My recipe is an adaption of one from the Cheesecake Factory.  A restaurant I have never been in but have heard they serve some good crab cakes. These are loaded with chunks of crab, fresh red bell pepper and green scallions. We also enjoyed cheese grits, steamed broccoli and and a few glasses of Chardonnay.

This book is a lovely tribute, well documented by award winning investigative journalist Isabel Vincent.  Thank you to Claudia who writes at Honey from the Rock for suggesting this book.  Thanks also to Debra at Eliot’s Eats for my book 🙂

Linking up with Cook the Books and Briciole’s Novel Food and Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series.
cookthebooks novelFood

Agatha Raisin – The books and the TV series

M.C. Beaton writes two series – 27 books so far in the Agatha Raisin series and 33 books in the Hamish MacBeth series. For years I have been enjoying the Agatha Raisin books but I am no where near caught up to her exploits.

I was delighted to see Acorn TV produced a television series based on the books. There is already a long running series for Hamish MacBeth starring Robert Carlyle, but I haven’t gottern interested in that one as of yet.

agathaRaisin So, how do the Agatha Raisin books compare to the TV show? From the first two episodes they actually follow the plot well.  The physical differences are quite different for me but then, we all get certain ideas as to what a book character looks like as we read.

TV Agatha is much prettier and more physically fit than the book version.  Also, the TV character James Lacey (a romantic interest of Agatha’s) is younger and quite dishy, in my opinion.  Overall the plot does follow the books and I hope they continue with the series.

There was a TV series on back in the 1990’s called Murder, She Wrote.  Jessica Fletcher was the amateur sleuth, using her charm and persistance to solve crimes.  This is rather an English version of that old show but with a Bridget Jones’ twist to our main character.  If you like mysteries and love to see the English countryside, this is a show I think you would enjoy.

There is a YouTube video at the bottom of this post if you’d like to get a preview of the show. I love the scenery!

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday