I am I am I am

I read this very quickly. M. O’F. has a beautiful writing style which is very easy to read. The book is a memoir comprised of ’17 brushes with death’. Some are more horrific and shocking than others but all of them plunge you deep into her life. Very enjoyable.

Macaroni cheese recipe

Adapted from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/8834/bestever-macaroni-cheese

4 tbsp butter
350g spiral or other short pasta
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp English mustard powder
6 tbsp plain flour
1 litre semi-skimmed milk
250g/to taste mature cheddar/any combination of strong cheese, grated or chopped into small pieces
strong hard cheese, grated for topping
Fresh breadcrumbs for topping

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
Boil the pasta for 2 mins less than stated on the pack. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan.
Add the garlic and mustard, cook for 1 min, then stir in the flour.
Cook for 1 min more, then gradually whisk in the milk until you have a lump-free sauce. Simmer for 5 mins, whisking all the time until thickened.
Take off the heat, then stir in the cheese.
Stir the pasta and some seasoning into the cheesy sauce. Tip into a large ovenproof dish, or 4 individual dishes.
Scatter over the hard cheese, then cover with breadcrumbs, then bake for 20 mins until crisp and golden. Can be frozen before baking – defrost thoroughly before cooking.

Additions to the sauce: leeks/onions, bacon

12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave

Read this for reading group. Now I realise that this is an important story. Not a novel but one man’s account of slavery, so that the world could know what happened to him. Undoubtedly many others were in worse situations. I did think the film was very powerful when I watched it back in 2013. But I hated reading the book. Partly because the language felt impenetrable, partly because of the long dull accounts e.g description of sugar cane industry. I didn’t know where any of the places were and there were too many names to remember so it was difficult to relate to. For me, this is not a book to be read for pleasure, rather one to be studied for its historical value.

Alarm Girl


Read this for Reading Group. I chaired the meeting so ended up reading it quite in-depth; after I’d finished it I went back to the beginning and re-read a lot of it.

Indigo seems very childish for an 11 year old. I found her very irritating and sulky, although I liked the way she isn’t yet conditioned to be ‘nice’ i.e. socially acceptable. I enjoyed Karen’s story more. Her timeline jumped around but it made more sense when I went through the book again. The gradual uncovering of her illness was very clever. Indy’s story is set in South Africa, which adds another element of interest.

The book is a decent coming-of-age story. I don’t know if I would go so far as to recommend it, but I enjoyed reading it.

The Stranger’s Child


Read this for book group. I enjoyed Part 1, delighting in the language and sharp observations of his characters’ encounters with each other, but the book quickly became tedious and I was frustrated with so many new characters being introduced. It seemed absurd that so many of the characters were gay men. At the end, I didn’t know what I was supposed to learn, if anything. I’ve come away feeling that this is probably a good book but maybe I’ve missed something…

The Long Firm


Read this for the September reading group meeting but I was in Dorset on holiday at the time of the meeting.

I really enjoyed the book and found it compelling from the start. I love gangster stories anyway but this book was well-crafted with five interlocking tales, each from a different character’s point of view. It’s very evocative of 60’s London; I felt like I was there. I was glad that the central character is gay. It threw something a little different and unexpected into the mix. A good read.

Station Eleven


I read this for reading group. I enjoyed how it transported me to different worlds with its powerful descriptions of landscapes. Unlike many post-apocalyse stories, this one didn’t cover the immediate aftermath, instead we are given glimpses into the times just before the virus and also twenty years on through the eyes of the characters. I loved the connections that are gradually revealed between the characters. Surprisingly, it’s a book that gives hope.

Be Awesome


I had a great time with this book; it resonated with me and I found it laugh out loud funny. It’s quite similar to How To Be A Woman in that it’s a cheerleader for women everywhere.