Book Review: Letters to Eloise – Emily Williams 

Book Review: Letters to Eloise – Emily Williams 

This recently released debut novel from UK author Emily Williams is a love story following Flora, who becomes pregnant during her last year at uni. She is trapped in a complicated situation – keen to reconnect with an old love but currently involved with her lecturer. She confides her feelings and fears in a series of letters to her unborn baby. 

Emily got in touch with me recently and asked if I thought her book was something I thought I’d like. Well, I have a soft spot for epistolary novels and for new writers.  
I really liked the writing style and the plot whizzes along as Flora writes her diary to her Little Bump. This is a sweet story and a great read for the Bank Holiday weekend or your long summer hols. 

If you want to grab a copy, here’s some links. 

U.K. Amazon – http://amzn.eu/716SJ6U

U.S. Amazon – http://a.co/bNe9eEu

And if you’d like to know more about Emily and see what she’s up to next, she’s on Twitter or you can find her blogging too. 

My BorrowMyDoggy experience

My BorrowMyDoggy experience

At the beginning of the year I signed up to BorrowMyDoggy – a service designed to connect dog owners with dog lovers who can’t have their own canine chum. 

Our flat is too small, we are both out all day and we don’t have a garden so having a dog is currently out of the question. 

I took advantage of a special offer on the price of the membership, otherwise it might be a bit pricey for some. 

I created a profile and messaged a few local dog owners (it gives you an approximate location) but nothing happened. 

A few weeks ago I got a reply from a lady who lives across the dual carriageway from me (about 10 minutes walk) – how lucky was that! 

I met Flick and her human, Susan, and we had a chat and a cuddle (Flick) and now Flick and I go to the park a few times a week for a walk and a play. For an older dog she’s very keen on running around the park and exploring the messages left my other dogs.

She’s a smart pup who goes into school to hear children read and help them build their confidence so she’s super friendly and gentle. Hopefully soon she’ll be coming over for a picnic and a sleepover. 

I’ve really enjoyed using the service so far and will be seeing if I can make any more doggy friends, they are great fun and mean I get outside for some fresh air and exercise, plus science says stroking an animal lowers your blood pressure and can help boost your mental wellbeing. 

The ratties don’t seem too bothered by the slight smell of dog on me after my park outings with Flick luckily. 

My pal Flick

How about you? Anyone used BorrowMyDoggy? What did you think? 

At the library 

At the library 

I have always been a member of at least one library or another – at one point 4 (local library near my parents, British Library, uni library and the library I currently use). 

Libraries are wonderful places, offering community services and access to the internet all for free. All you need is a library card. 

Recently my local libraries have gone all high tech – and reduced librarians to computerised check out and card entry doors. I’m not sure I’m a fan. 

Today I returned 2 books (historical crime fiction) and took out 4. Two graphic novels, the reading group book (decided to join it for a bit) and another historical crime novel. 

I also checked out the Cityread London program – but the book in question was checked out! 

Libraries are for everyone – whatever age, race, identity, language you speak, the library is for you too. 

Recipe: Potato & Egg curry

Recipe: Potato & Egg curry

This is a great way to use up potatoes left over from a previous meal. Oh and eggs. To make it vegan, just skip the eggs. A quick tip – book the eggs and potatoes in the same pan if you’re using raw potatoes. 

1 or 2 hard boiled eggs per person 

A few potatoes boiled and chopped up 

Tin tomatoes or passata

Onion, chopped

Celery, 2 or 3 sticks, diced

Ginger – 1 tsp fresh or frozen

Garlic – 1 tsp fresh or frozen 

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Turmeric – 1 tsp

Chilli powder – 1 tsp or a small fresh one chopped

Masala powder (optional) – 1tsp

Salt & pepper to taste

Method 

Boil the potatoes (10 minutes till al dente) and eggs (7/8 minutes till you’re happy they’re done). 

Brown your onion and toast the cumin seeds, add the ginger and garlic and leave to mingle for 5 minutes. Add your spices and season to taste. 

Pour in the tomatoes, mix and cook for 5 or 6 minutes. Drain the potatoes and add them and the celery. Mix in well and simmer. 

When your eggs are done, run them under a cold tap, peel and slice. Add them to the pan for a minute and spoon some of the sauce over them. 

Serve. You can add raita or yoghurt to serve or your choice of Chutney etc. I don’t tend to serve it with rice because of the potatoes but it’s up to you. I do like a piece of naan to dip. 

This is based on a recipe from my lovely work wifey whose family come from Gujarat in India. You can use different vegetables to bulk it out and it tastes just as good reheated the next day minus the eggs. 

Book Preview: I Know My Name – C.J Cooke

Book Preview: I Know My Name – C.J Cooke

Eloise wakes up on a Greek island surrounded by strangers and with no memory of who she is and how she got there. 
Meanwhile in London Lachlan is frantically trying to find his wife, who’s disappeared without a trace. 

As both frantically spiral into their fears, secrets are revealed and things thought left in the past resurface. 

What starts out like a fairly typical thriller soon becomes something else. The exploration of mental illness and people’s choices is thought provoking without feeling exploitative and the characters, while definitely privileged, are flawed and relatable. 

Due for publication on 15th June 2017, I really enjoyed this book. I like a good psychological thriller and this is definitely a good one. 

Book review: Maya’s Notebook – Isabel Allende

Book review: Maya’s Notebook – Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende has written dozens of books, both autobiographical and fiction – mostly historical with a touch of magic realism. Maya’s Notebook is different. 

It deals with addiction, loss, first love, homelessness, desperation and renewal. While Allende has covered some of these themes, this book has a modern setting and takes place mostly on a island  (and in flashback) at the bottom of Chile – the author’s home country. 

When Allende has previously written about Chile it has been through a historical lens long before her cousin was president and her father, a politician, disappeared. Her other contemporary novels are mostly set in her adopted home of California, USA. 

Maya was raised by her beloved grandparents in a brightly coloured house in Berkeley, near San Francisco. After a family tradition the teenager begins to spiral out of control. 

The story is told mostly in flashbacks of Maya’s downward trend interspersed with her stay on a tiny island to recover. 

Wanted by the FBI, gangsters and bent coppers, her family have sent her to stay hidden with a family friend. The island and its inhabitants help her heal and deal with the past, while she also begins to uncover some of the secrets of her own family. 

Allende writes in Spanish, despite speaking English as well but the translation is smooth and the author’s distinctive style comes through. It’s a beautifully well written, compelling story and Maya is a thoroughly created character and quite the narrator. 

Perhaps because it’s her diary and there’s no audience she is honest and there are moments that shock and send a shiver through you of the terrible things Maya’s been through. 

I loved the supporting cast as well, from her slightly crazy grandmother and her Criminals Club, to the islanders with whom Maya finds a second home. 

I wouldn’t say this is Allende’s best book (that’s probably The House of the Spirits) but it’s a good read and certainly deals with some tough issues.

How to: tummy soother

How to: tummy soother

We’ve all been there, you’re bloated, your belly aches and you’d quite like to die now thank you. 

Here’s a quick recipe for a tummy soothing remedy that costs less than 50p to make. 
You will need: 

One mug from your cupboard

Hot water – a little cooler than boiling. 

A thumb of ginger root (If you can’t find any in the shops, 1/2 tsp dry ground ginger) 

Half a lemon/lemon juice from a bottle 

Pour the water into the cup and let it cool slightly so you don’t scald your tongue. 

Peel and grate the ginger. Wash and half a lemon. 

Put the grated ginger in a bowl and press down on it with a spoon to release the juice. 

Pour the ginger juice into the hot water (I use a tea strainer) and squeeze in the lemon juice. Sip. Adjust juice levels to taste. Drink slowly and in a while you should feel better. 

Ginger helps promote good digestion and soothes the bloat. Lemon is a friend to your liver and helps break down chemicals like alcohol.

If you can stomach it hot water with lemon is a great way to get your body up and at ’em in the mornings. Personally I found it smelt like pancakes but tasted horrific. The ginger version is definitely better. You could also use fresh mint in warm water as mint also helps the digestive system and has anti-inflammatory properties. Or you could buy some tea bags – whatever works for you. 
I am not a doctor or nutritionist – this is just a simple home remedy. For anything more serious please see your GP or visit a hospital. Any ongoing pain in your gut must be addressed with a professional as it could be serious.