Crumbly shortbread topped with mint buttercream and dark chocolate.
I wanted to make mint millionaire’s shortbread and was delighted to find a recipe which also had a Halloween theme with cute white chocolate cobweb decorations. The original recipe for Halloween mint chocolate squares comes from Katie Bryson.
Ingredients (makes approx. 16 slices)
An atmospheric tale in need of a stronger final act. 3.5/5.
The blurb: Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America — to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood “just like Ireland” — she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.
Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.
This was my first audiobook! Or, at least, my first audiobook since I used to listen to Disney stories on cassette tapes when I was eight. And I’m very pleased to say that, overall, I enjoyed Brooklyn.
The story is highly atmospheric. The author does a great job of capturing the different spirit of a small town in Ireland and then Brooklyn in the 1950s. The story has a good range of characters, which are all brought to life by Niamh Cusack’s voice and great skill with accents (particular credit to her for being able to switch between Belfast, south-west Ireland and Brooklyn in seconds).
Looking for a quiet but heartfelt read? Look no further! 3.5/5.
The blurb: Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie–who is 600 miles away–because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die.
So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, strangers stir up memories–flashbacks, often painful, from when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, of his inadequacy as a father, and of his shortcomings as a husband.
Ironically, his wife Maureen, shocked by her husband’s sudden absence, begins to long for his presence. Is it possible for Harold and Maureen to bridge the distance between them? And will Queenie be alive to see Harold arrive at her door?
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry uses the well-worn trope of a physical journey as a catalyst and/or framework for an internal voyage of discovery. Given the protagonist’s age and physical condition (he’s not exactly a trained hiker), his journey is understandably slow and rather ponderous, but thankfully never dull. Harold and Maureen’s story is touching, often sombre and always heartfelt. There’s no flash, bang or nail-biting tension in this book, just lots of stories about broken, fragile people. And given that, it’s surprising just how bright and hopeful the narrative is.
Chewy, delicious banana cake. Go on, kid yourself it’s healthy!🙂
Firstly, apologies that my photos for this recipe are rubbish. The artificial light when I made them was terrible. And the natural light the next day didn’t seem to improve matters!
This recipe is from my copy of Sweet and Savoury Bites by Jane Price.
Intensely dramatic. No wonder they made it into a film. 4/5.
The blurb: Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
The blurb for The Girl with All the Gifts is purposefully vague. If you currently know nothing more about this book than what you’ve read here, I recommend you avoid the film trailers and go in blind. I’d already seen the trailer and read some reviews so I knew what I was getting into… which was a shame because I think it would have been even better to slowly realise what the heck was going on as the narrator drip-feeds us pieces of the puzzle.
So… the following will contain minor spoilers. If you want to go in blind, stop reading now!
A good detective mystery with supernatural elements. Fans of the Peter Grant series should definitely check this out. 4/5 stars.
Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book in return for an honest review.
The blurb: The name’s Gideon Tau, but everyone just calls me London. I work for the Delphic Division, the occult investigative unit of the South African Police Service. My life revolves around two things – finding out who killed my daughter and imagining what I’m going to do to the bastard when I catch him.
I have two friends. The first is my boss, Armitage, a fifty-something DCI from Yorkshire who looks more like someone’s mother than a cop. Don’t let that fool you. The second is the dog, my magical spirit guide. He talks, he watches TV all day, and he’s a mean drunk.
Life is pretty routine – I solve crimes, I search for my daughter’s killer. Wash, rinse, repeat. Until the day I’m called out to the murder of a ramanga – a low-key vampire – basically, the tabloid journalist of the vampire world. It looks like an open and shut case. There’s even CCTV footage of the killer.
Except… the face on the CCTV footage? It’s the face of the man who killed my daughter. I’m about to face a tough choice. Catch her killer or save the world? I can’t do both.
It’s not looking good for the world.
This reminded me a lot of the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch. You’d just need to age Peter 20 years, give him some tragic life experience, transfer him to South Africa and make him work for a larger law enforcement unit with a cool secret base of operations and far more resources… Well, anyway… you’ll just have to trust me that there truly are similarities!🙂
These mini doughnuts are baked rather than fried, making them more doughnut-shaped cakes than real doughnuts. But they’re still delicious and better for you!
My sister gave me a mini doughnut pan and after some internet searches, I found this recipe at Tesco realfood.
Ingredients (original recipe says makes 12. I got 24 mini doughnuts from these quantities!)
Spoiler-free review: should you read this? Yes! 4/5 stars.
The blurb: I won’t put the blurb here to avoid spoilers for the first half of the story, Six of Crows. However, if you’re interested, you can see the blurb for that book and my review here.
This will be a short and slightly stunted, odd review as I attempt to avoid any and all spoilers. So, the short version: this is very good and if you enjoy fantasy fiction and haven’t read Six of Crows yet, get that book and then move on to this one!🙂