My holiday reads

I’m off on a week’s holiday at silly o’clock tomorrow morning to the Greek island of Kefalonia so I thought I’d share with you the books I’ll be taking with me.

Although we do like sight seeing and visiting places, we are planning a more chilled out relaxed holiday rather than being full on so they’ll be plenty of reading time for these:

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

It is 1941 and Captain Antonio Corelli, a young Italian officer, is posted to the Greek island of Cephallonia as part of the occupying forces. At first he is ostracised by the locals, but as a conscientious but far from fanatical soldier, whose main aim is to have a peaceful war, he proves in time to be civilised, humorous – and a consumate musician.

When the local doctor’s daughter’s letters to her fiancé – and members of the underground – go unanswered, the working of the eternal triangle seems inevitable. But can this fragile love survive as a war of bestial savagery gets closer and the lines are drawn between invader and defender?

What better place to read the book than in the place that it’s set? Or is that a bit cliché?

The One by John Marr

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

Recommended by trusted book blogger Claire from Art & Soul, this one has been quite a popular read with other bloggers too so looking forward to this one.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.
Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . .

I absolutely loved Clare’s first novel, I Let You Go, and so have really high expectations for this one.  My daughter and I will have to buddy read so we can discuss it at the same time 🙂

I’ll also be taking my Kindle, just in case, on which I have the new Robert Bryndza and Tom Bale amongst many others. Oh and I have my phone with In Her Wake to finish, The Cows, Into the Water and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine as Audible books so think I’m covered.

Have you planned your holiday reads or read any of mine? How do you decide which ones to take?

Movies I was surprised to find out were based on books

As I was flicking through Netflix looking for a film to watch one genre of suggestions was ‘movies based on books’, so naturally I went scrolling through them and I was actually quite surprised at the amount of them that I didn’t realise were based on or inspired by books.  I have seen all of the movie adaptations, but have not read any of the books.

Here’s a small selection:

Jumanji

The game under the tree looked like a hundred others Peters and Judy had at home. But they were bored and restless and, looking for something interesting to do, thought they’d give Jumanji a try. Little did they know when they unfolded its ordinary-looking playing board that they were about to be plunged into the most exciting and bizare adventure of their lives.

Written by Chris Van Allsburg and originally published in French in  1981.  I love this movie but not sure how I’m feeling about a sequel.

 

Legally Blonde

Elle Woods, California University senior, seems to have it all. President of Delta Gamma sorority, she’s aced her major–sociopolitical jewellery design-and is on the verge of becoming Mrs. Warner Huntington III. Too bad Warner, bound for Stanford Law, dumps her with the explanation that he now needs a more “serious” woman at his side. Faced with this unexpected reversal of fortune, Woods doesn’t get depressed, she gets busy.

Written by Amanda Brown and originally published in 2001, who doesn’t love a bit of Elle Woods against the world!

 

Letters to Juliet

The enduring legend of Shakespeare’s pair of star-crossed lovers draws millions of visitors to Verona, Italy, each year. But that is just part of the story. Every day, letters, frequently addressed simply, “Juliet, Verona,” arrive in the city. They come by the truckload, in almost every language imaginable, written by romantics seeking Juliet’s counsel. Most of the missives talk of love, of course —love found and love lost, love sought and love remembered. And, amazingly, not one letter goes unanswered.

This movie was based on a non-fiction book by Lise and Ceil Friedman which was published in 2006.  I want to visit Verona because of this movie!

 

Limitless

Imagine a drug that made your brain function to its full potential.

A drug that allowed you pick up a foreign language in a single day.

A drug that helped you process information so fast you could see patterns in the stock market.

Just as his life is fading into mediocrity, Eddie Spinola comes across such a pill: MDT-48 – a sort of Viagra for the brain. But while its benefits materialise quickly, so do certain unwelcome side-effects. And when Eddie decides to track down other users, he soon discovers that they’re all dying, or already dead…

Written by Alan Glynn and originally published in 2011.  I didn’t really understand the movie so not sure how I would get on with reading the book.

 

Captain Phillips

A Captain’s Duty tells the life-and-death drama of the Vermont native who was held captive on a tiny lifeboat off Somalia’s anarchic, gun-plagued shores. A story of adventure and courage, it provides the intimate details of this high-seas hostage-taking–the unbearable heat, the death threats, the mock executions, and the escape attempt. When the pirates boarded his ship, Captain Phillips put his experience into action, doing everything he could to safeguard his crew. And when he was held captive by the pirates, he marshaled all his resources to ensure his own survival, withstanding intense physical hardship and an escalating battle of wills with the pirates. This was it: the moment where training meets instinct and where character is everything. Richard Phillips was ready.

I loved this movie, firstly Tom Hanks is in it and it’s packed full of tension.  Probably the type of movie you can only watch once though, however I would still be interested to read the book to see how much of the movie was fiction.

So there’s my surprises.  Have you got any movies to share that you were surprised to learn were based on books?

#BookReview: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

What’s it about?

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal…

A murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly?

What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?

 

 

My thoughts

I’ve read one other of Liane Moriarty’s books before (The Husband’s Secret) and remember thinking that what’s between the covers was a lot darker and had more depth to it than what you’d expect from just the cover.  Same again here and I ‘m not gonna lie, I was totally drawn to this book because of the recent TV adaptation!

The book’s format isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste in that the chapters are interspersed with a reporter’s interviewees responses but I liked it and thought it added to the tension and suspense of what was really going on! WHO’S DEAD AND WHO DID IT? Right from the outset we don’t know the answer to either so that really drew me in but by god did it also frustrate me but I tell you what it made me read quicker 🙂

I liked the way this book explored the darker side of everyday life; playground mums (and some dads), school bullying that’s not just the between the students but with this black comedic twist and so much misdirection.

Surprising to find that all of the 3 main women characters are likeable, it’s the majority of the others you’ll have issues with.  I’m now looking forward to being able to watch the TV show somehow because it looks to have been perfectly cast.

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Facebook | Website

Small print for info
Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 460
Publisher: Penguin

Fatless Victoria Sponge #Recipe

Continuing my baking theme of trying to find healthier baking alternatives, here’s a fatless Victoria sponge recipe that I’ve tried and tested recently and served up for my book club.  It was touch and go whether or not the middle of the cake would be edible and I did make a quick trip to the shop for emergency cake just in case!

What you need:

150g self-raising flour
150g caster sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract*
No added sugar strawberry jam
Strawberries*
1 tsp icing sugar to decorate
Frylight (or alternative low calorie cooking spray) for greasing

*optional extras

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 170°c.  Using Frylight grease and line 2 x 7″ baking tins with greaseproof paper.
  • Using the whisk attachment on a free-standing mixer whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture has tripled in size.  This does take a good 7-10 minutes – keep going, it does happen!
  • Carefully fold in the flour with a metal spoon – try to knock out as little air as possible to ensure a good rise.  However, be aware that although you think you’re mixing the flour in, it will also sink to the bottom so be sure to mix to the bottom of the bowl!  This happened to me and I had to mix in the flour in the baking tin – oops!
  • Divide the mixture between the 2 prepared tins.
  • Bake for approximately 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack.
  • Spread one sponge with the jam, add the strawberries if required.
  • Put the other sponge on top and sprinkle with icing sugar to decorate.

Results

Fortunately there was only one pocket of flour discovered in the cake so that was better than I expected and I didn’t need the emergency cake supplies after all.  As the cake is so light it will take on the shape of whatever you put in so mine wasn’t a perfect circular shape due to the greaseproof paper folding in slightly.

If you’re following the Weight Watchers plan, as am I, then I managed to get 9 pieces from this cake and pointed it at 8 points per slice.  A shop bought slice of Victoria Sponge ranges between 6 and 30 SmartPoints depending on shop and portion size so I’m quite happy with this at 8 points as it was a good sized piece and no sacrifice made in terms of taste.

I’m struggling to find a fat and sugar free sponge recipe so if anyone has one please do let me know.

Until next time…Happy Baking!

#BookReview: The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

What’s it about?

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?

And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

My thoughts

I was sent this book by the publisher and it was accompanied by a sprig of dried flowers (which may or may not have been lavender…I’m no expert) which at the time seemed an interesting marketing tool in order to make the book stand out.  However, now that I’ve read the book and understand the significance it seems somewhat weird! Did anyone else feel strange about it or just dismissed it as nonsense?

I’ve never read anything before about the witch trials so have no point of reference but as an historical novel this has a great sense of place and feeling with the language used being that of used in other books I’ve read of this time, and of course mixing a certain amount of fact with fiction it’s an interesting read.

I liked Alice as a character and felt she was ahead of her time; being prepared to stand up to those in power for those in less fortunate positions.  You can’t help but admire her resolve and strength of character even if some her actions were questionable.  When reading books like this it’s hard to get your head round how subordinate women were and how not confirming to the norm would have you being hanged as a witch.  I couldn’t quite grasp what Matthew’s motivation and driving force was: acceptance, revenge, disapproval?  This would make a good book club discussion.

I liked the book, I’m not sure enjoyable would be an appropriate word given some of the books content however.  This has the feel of what Kate Summerscale achieves in her books but on reflection she definitely has the edge but this is still a worthwhile read nonetheless if historical novels are your thing.

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Website

Small print for info
Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 368
Publisher: Viking