Love to List: 21/07/2015

Sunshine Beach

Eating: Kale. Seems you can only buy a metric tonne of the stuff from Sainsbury’s at a time, so it’s in everything. Still, sautéed in garlic and added to a tomato & mascarpone saucy, cheesy, bread-crumby pasta bake probably doesn’t damp down the health benefits. Does it?

Drinking: Serene Green Jasmine Tea by Pukka which I discovered last week and is oddly…soft.

Listening: Spotify’s ‘Your Morning Coffee’ playlist is a godsend when, like this morning, I am too bleary eyed to think independently.

Watching: Obsessed with The Mentalist right now. About to start season three. Also considering starting Nashville (Yes, I’m behind the times). Just discovered Witches of East End got cancelled and am pretty annoyed. It should be illegal to cancel shows that had a cliffhanger ending.

Reading: About to start The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury for book club (I got to foist my fantasy reading list on the others this time!)

Writing: Blog posts over here. Also, many, many emails.

Planning: Trying to stop my head slipping into Autumn mode…It’s still July, dammit! But it’s raining. Shh.Summer camping trip, in the woods. With campfires and yummy food and cider.

Si Signore, Brighton: Dinner

Another birthday celebration, another delightful dinner to look forward to. This time I drove down to Brighton to visit Si Signore in the North Laine, which I had never even seen before, much less visited.

Upon finding the place, in the centre of the street and surrounded by miniature Christmas trees and twinkling lights, we sat upstairs on a long table overlooking the North Laine in a charming, ramshackle building.

I ordered a mango juice, which was delicious, top quality juice and a Fiorentina pizza, which is my personal favourite and caught my eye the moment I opened the extensive menu.

You can see the evening menu here.

It was delicious, with the addition of green and black olives marinated in a chilli oil which elevated the usual spinach, nutmeg and egg topping. The egg had been thoroughly cooked, where usually I would expect it to still have a runny yolk. The pizza base was thin, but spongy and while I usually prefer a thin and crispy base, it was enough of a departure from the usual that it was enjoyable.

All very reasonably priced and I’m glad to have found a cute little spot for pizza in the future.

Bills, Tunbridge Wells: Lunch

I headed down to Bills with the full intention of finally trying the hot cinnamon doughnuts, but alas, my dining partner and I were so hungry we were ordering lunch before we knew quite what was happening.

I opted for my favourite green smoothie, which comes bright green in a frosted glass adorned with pineapple and melon. I figured that was healthy enough (I got a large), to justify a huge dish of Butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheese.

Oh, is there anything better than mac ‘n’ cheese when the weather outside is frightful? I was all wrapped up warm in a huge print blanket cape and it seemed appropriate to continue the theme of self-indulgence with quantities of cheesy pasta, with spinach, butternut squash and pumpkin seeds for texture and taste.

 

You can check out the menu here.

Phew, it was a big dish though, well worth the £8.95 and kept me fuelled for the rest of the day.

We’ll be back, for doughnuts!

The Drapers Arms, Islington: Lunch

I hopped off the tube at Islington & Highbury, into the drizzle and made my way to a lovely pub, The Drapers Arms, about a fifteen minute walk. Open, airy and pleasant, the pub itself was a delight with high ceilings, diligent waitstaff and lots of natural light (even in November).

The birthday I was there to celebrate had a table in the corner, so I took my seat to await the other guests and sipped quantities of the iced water already on the table to bring my temperature down (unseasonably warm outside!)

With a long menu, initially it looked like there were many dishes to choose from, but if you have a restricted diet you may have a hard time of it. There was just the one vegetarian dish out of maybe ten main courses?

See the Menu here.

So, without further ado I ordered the Baked salsify with Tunworth, breadcrumbs and watercress. That is indeed the entire component of the dish – a large dish, one baked root with meltingly good cheese over the top, sides and possibly lining the dish too. Add breadcrumbs on top to give a golden colour and a handful of watercress leaves by the side, no more, no less. It could have done with less reliance on the rich flavour of the cheese, which becomes monotonous after a few bites, and more of the vegetable. It was almost as if, in order to charge £12.50 for the meal, the chef felt obliged to use at least six pounds worth of cheese. I would have preferred a hash of salsify, parsnip, sweet potato, butternut squash and onion, with a thin layer of golden, bubbly cheese and breadcrumbs on top and a more interesting salad with a sharp vinegary dressing.

For dessert, a Gingerbread pudding, whipped cream and oats intrigued me and was delicious. A very small portion, but just as a gingerbread pudding ought to be, with pouring cream rather than whipped and puffy, crisp oat clusters adding an alternate texture to the top.

The house rose was fine, dry and the cava was very much enjoyed by the party. Golden ale was on tap and the wait staff were happy to bring out water.

For what was on offer, the vegetarian food was priced to match the rather more adventurous carnivorous dishes.

November

Eating: Toasted cinnamon and raisin bagel with slightly salted butter.

Drinking: Reheated green tea, ‘cos I let the pot get cold and I don’t want the teabag to have had a wasted life.

Listening: To Oh Land and loving the mystical trippy videos that go alongside.

Watching: The Hunger Games 1 & 2 in preparation for the release of number 3 later this week. All the feels.

Reading: ‘Women in Clothes: Why We Wear What We Wear’ by Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton and Sheila Heti. Weirdly entertaining look into women’s minds as they get dressed.

Writing: Book #4 of the Equilibria Series for NaNoWriMo 2014 but currently feeling uninspired.

Planning: This week is the busiest week of my year, no joke. Planning everything with military precision.

Free Book Downloads at NoiseTrade

You can get a whole range of fantastic free ebooks at NoiseTrade, a service I have just discovered.

Basically, you can scan through their marketplace of genres, choose however many books you like (oh, this is going to be dangerous!) and then get clicking. Depending on the file format the author has uploaded to the site, you should be able to read your free books on any ereader or computer.

NoiseTrade allows you to ‘tip’ the author if you fancy and also encourages you to help the author out by sharing their book page and writing a review once you’re done reading.

If you’re self-publishing, this is a really great route to get lots of new readers interested in your work. I can’t wait to see what happens as a result of my debut, Wave Singers, being available. I’m hoping to discover lots more fantasy lovers like myself, that’s for sure.

Add Wave Singers by Echo Fox to your Summer TBR list now, for free!

Before He Was Gone by Becky Wicks

Before He Was Gone

I was lucky enough to get my paws on a pre-release copy ofBefore He Was Gone and it accompanied me on what should have been a long train journey. The journey flew by, in a wave of sand, sea and sunshine thanks to this great summer story.

Perfectly paced to keep me turning pages (or clicking Kindle buttons, ahem), Before He Was Gone developed the character of Alyssa from Before He Was Famous with the style and vivacity I have come to expect from the author.

Quick-witted and unassumingly beautiful, Alyssa chooses to leave behind heartbreak for a desert island adventure that promises a life changing sum of money for the winner – not to mention madcap challenges, new friendships and a whirlwind romance along the way!

The description of a reality TV series was right on the ball, with both the highs and lows framed perfectly as well as showing evidence of Becky Wicks great research into the industry.

I loved Alyssa and Joshua’s romance. Joshua’s emotional unavailability made for a great mystery to puzzle over during dark train tunnels and their relationship evolved at a good pace instead of the popular ‘insta-love’ situation.

With an extra bonus chapter on the author’s website, Before He Was Gone is a fantastically fun read and very much recommended.

Read this review on Goodreads.

Splintered by Hope Christine

Splintered

Really interesting and original twist on the usual fantasy characters with great details to establish each culture / people as individual powers in the land.

Occasionally more gory than I necessarily want to deal with, especially when I’m reading in bed.

The story jumped straight into the thick of things with no build up and remained well-paced. The entire book felt more like a ‘snapshot’ of many political and historical issues coming to head at once, with flashbacks and memories to flesh out any details necessary to make sense of what was happening.

Very intriguing fantasy world, loved the descriptions of the tree spirits.

Read this review and others on Goodreads.

Promise You Won’t Tell? By John Locke

Promise You Won't Tell

I started this as a bit of light reading before bedtime, but thanks to it’s pace, well-written wit and fun storyline, it was 2am before I knew it and I had finished.

Dany was a fantastic main character, dropping in backstory to explain her reactions without it getting in the way of the main story. She had a great sense of timing and a seemingly fearless attitude to the crazy clients wandering into her office.

The twists and turns were brilliant, reminding me of a Veronica Mars episode. Absolutely loved it, perfect Summer read.

Read this review on Goodreads.

Ice by M.S.Watson

Ice

My first impressions of Ice were not particularly favourable. Having studied Classics, I found the characterisation of the Greek gods to be lacking, especially when the mighty Poseidon forgot to change his clothes and needed to hide in the bushes to avoid detection.

The storyline was interesting enough that I read on to see what would happen, but ultimately, the writing style had me less immersed in the story as bemused about the odd wording and inconsistencies (especially chronological ones). For example, at one point the MC went from worried that torrential rain will soak her to shaking off the light mist. Another phrase I found particularly strange: ‘Freedom so close I could taste its toxicity.’ This could be a poetic turn of phrase about the liberties of those who fate cannot control, but I doubt it.

Both the main characters had some serious temper issues that I just could not identify with, so that made it hard for me to get involved with them and their story. Characters I would have thought were important to earlier scenes suddenly turned up a third of the way through – like best friends who hadn’t been around for the previous week of turmoil or 18th birthday party’s.

Lastly, the characters seemed to switch temperaments at the end, the reasoning for which I didn’t understand or see explained.

Read this review on Goodreads.