January’s Reading List

Well… I’ve actually kept up one of my new year’s resolutions until the end of January! (And long may it continue!) I decided that in 2014 I wanted to read much more than I have been over recent years, and so far I’ve already made it through four books, so I’m dead impressed with myself.

As a kid I was a bit of an obsessive reader (the days before I got the Sega Megadrive!) I’d even get excited when it was the school summer holidays because our local library allowed you take out 10 books instead of 5 (I was easily pleased as a child!)  I remember one particularly hot summer spending almost the entire six weeks off school sat in the paddling pool in the back garden keeping cool with a stack of books.

During the peaceful hours spent reading you get to be someone else, living an entirely different life and forget all the trivial annoyances, stresses and sorrows of the real world.  Reading is definitely my therapy of choice.

Once I reached the age of 17 or 18 I more or less completely gave up reading for the next 10 years.  I suppose I got a life and decided to live in the real world for a while.  Now I’ve reached the grand old age of 27 (nearly 28) and I’ve become dead boring again! So here I am rediscovering my love of fiction.

This was my January reading list:

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1) Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

After reading Gone Girl whilst on holiday in Corfu last year I was pretty excited to get my hands on the previous two novels that Flynn had written.  Sharp Objects was her debut and I absolutely loved it. It’s about a young journalist called Camille who works for a small town newspaper in America.  Her boss sends her packing back to her hometown to try to get a scoop about the recent spate of child murders.  Being forced to stay with her estranged mother and family forces Camille to painfully unravel the secrets from her own past as she struggles to solve the mystery of the murders.  The book is, in my opinion, much darker and more chilling in the way that it is written than her other two novels.  The characters are intense; and characters that I care about is an absolute must for me.  This is the shortest of Flynn’s books, but probably my favourite of the three.

2) Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

To complete my Gillian Flynn binge I moved onto Dark Places.  This book has already been swept up for a film adaptation which is due for release in September or October of this year (around the same time as Gone Girl I think).  It took me a little longer to get into this one, the main character Libby Day has a rather (intentionally) flat character.  Libby was just a child when her entire family were murdered and she gave evidence which condemned her own brother to prison.  Now aged about 30 and with her donations from well-wishers and sympathizers drying up, Libby is forced to confront what really happened all those years ago.  I loved this book, but I did find myself hurrying through the ‘present day’ chapters to the chapters detailing what happened in the past.

3) Divergent by Veronica Roth

I picked up Divergent after it was recommended to me by a friend and after hearing it being described as ‘the next Hunger Games’.  It’s important to keep in mind that this is a kids’ book, so after my recent Gillian Flynn binge it took me a while to get back into the swing of reading children’s fiction.  Veronica Roth is/was very young when she wrote the first Divergent book (her first novel), and I did feel a little put off by the simplicity of the book when I first started.  I’m by no means a literacy snob, I struggle to enjoy a lot of the ‘classics’ and only read what I enjoy (fairly easy reads), but I still felt a little like this book was a bit overly simplistic like “Let’s do this” she said. “Ok” he said.  The plot and characters were fairly interesting though and although I’ve not raced to buy the second book in the trilogy yet I’m sure I will eventually do so.

4) N-W by Zadie Smith

This book wasn’t really my cup of tea.  I’ve not read anything by Zadie Smith before, but since reading this book I’ve heard that this one is a bit different to the rest of her stuff, so I’m not going to write her off yet. The book is divided into a few different sections, and each section is about a different character.  The character’s stories  intertwine throughout the book.  The whole book is based in London and describes the different cultures and lifestyles led by the city’s inhabitants.  Throughout the book, particularly at the beginning there are descriptive sections that are written in broken sentences that I found that I really had to concentrate on to understand.  Call me a lazy reader but I don’t like books that are hard work, I read for enjoyment and to get lost in a story – if it’s too much like hard work I tend to stop.  This book  can’t have been sooooo bad as I did make it (somewhat reluctantly) to the end but it didn’t really capture my imagination or interest, I wasn’t very excited to keep picking it up.

Baking to beat the January blues

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Lemon and poppy seed muffins.

(Recipe via Two peas and their pod)

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Caramel-filled chocolate chip cookies (The recipe suggests using Rolos, I used squares of Galaxy caramel)

(Recipe via Sally’ baking addiction)

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Irish soda bread

(Recipe via Cafe Johnsonia)

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My kitchen companion and this blog’s namesake – Darwin! 🙂

Hello February, January is finally behind us.  January is always a pretty quiet one for me.  I’m usually still paying off Christmas and being so broke is the perfect excuse for holing up at home in front of the fire and developing an unquenchable thirst for tea.

This January I refused to admit that December’s gluttony was truly over by beating my January blues with plenty of freshly baked things to eat.  Hey, it’s freshly made so it can’t be all that bad for you! (That’s how it works right?)

If Darwin’s in a good mood he likes to follow me into whichever room I go to and keep me company (he’ll even come and lay at my feet on the bathroom floor when I’m having a toilet break).  His new favourite spot this January has been the dining room chairs when they’re pushed under the table (not sure how he jumps up there without hitting his head on the underside of the table).  The first time he decided to take a nap under there it took forever to find him… the little imp!