The books I read in March 2017

It’s hard to believe I’ve never actually participated in this link up before! Usually I would have some other opportunity to list recent reads and I wouldn’t want to have too many book posts. But I’m currently between reading challenges and the next one isn’t starting for a while, so I might as well tell you about the non-challenge reading I’ve been doing recently. I know some people break things down into categories, but I’m just listing my books in the order I read them.

I am linking up with Jana and Steph.

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First of all, in case anyone hasn’t already seen my final check-in post, I read all these books in March for the bonus round of Erin‘s challenge.

And now on to the other books I read in March…

The Lying Game by Sara Shepherd – For some reason I didn’t realise this was part of a series, then I was really confused when the end came (especially because my copy contained a preview of book 2, so I thought there was more left than there actually was…) then just as it started getting interesting it ended. Aargh! Most of the plot wasn’t really believable to me (how could anyone not realise that their daughter wasn’t, in fact, their daughter – especially after she literally told them at the start!) and 90% of the characters just weren’t likeable. But once I suspended ALL my belief it was actually kind of interesting. 4 stars.

The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood (book 2 of the Incorrigible Children series) – This one was even better than book one, and I really liked book one! The first book spent a lot of time setting the scene though, whereas more seemed to happen in this one. I was slightly annoyed by all the entirely unsubtle references to book 1 – it was like the author assumed I hadn’t actually read the first one! But apart from that it was great. 4 stars.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix – This book has been on my wish list since about 2008! The idea sounded so intriguing – the life of a family’s third son in a world where the law forbids people to have more than two children. Unfortunately the book was a lot shorter than I was expecting and took ages to really get going. In such a short book I would have expected the action to start sooner! There are about a million books in the series though (well, 7) so I suppose it gets going properly later. Also, I think it’s aimed at younger children than I thought – I was expecting YA but it seems to be more for 11-12 year olds. 3 stars for this, but I will probably still give book 2 a chance.

Smart by Kim Slater – I loved this book, enough that I read it in one sitting even though it was pretty long and I ended up reading way past my bedtime. It reminded me a bit of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but I loved that book as well. I loved Keiran, the (presumably autistic) narrator and was really glad things worked out for him in the end. An added bonus was the setting – it takes place in Nottingham, which is where I studied. 4 stars.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham – I initially intended this to be my “genre you rarely read” book for Erin’s challenge (science fiction), but I had to rearrange things after I’d already read it. I enjoyed this one more than I expected. It’s one of the more interesting disaster/end of the world books. For some reason I was under the impression that the “Triffids” were alien plants that came to Earth on a comet and started attacking/blinding people, but actually they are very much man-made… 4 stars.

Never Have I Ever by Sara Shepherd (book 2 of The Lying Game) –  I decided to give this series another chance, and I’m glad I did. This book was much better than the first one. Finally the “mean girls” are starting to show that they do have some personality under all that nastiness. I will have to keep reading because I really want to know whodunnit! 3.5 stars (4 on Goodreads because I tend to round up).

The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood (book 3 of the Incorrigible Children) – Still enjoying the series. I think they are getting better as they go along. This one still referred back to the previous two, but in a much less annoying way. More secrets are coming out, and I think I am starting to guess some connections but I need to keep reading to be sure. 4 stars.

The Interrupted Tale by Maryrose Wood (book 4 of the Incorrigible Children) – I had an evening to myself so I read this immediately after the previous one. This has been the best installment yet! Finally we got one or two answers, although I wish Miss Mortimer would reveal what she knows already. Only two more books to go (and book 6 isn’t even out yet!). How will I cope? 5 stars.

Super Awkward by Beth Garrod – Just snuck this one into March, as I read it on the 31st! I thought this was going to be like the Georgia Nicholson books, and in a way it was, but Georgia is much funnier – or maybe it’s just that I was younger when I read Angus, Thongs, etc. and could relate to it more? Anyway, at first I found this book really annoying. I kept thinking do teenagers really talk like that these days? In text speech? Do they really say things like “obvs” OUT LOUD? Am I old? Honestly, I thought about not finishing it, but I was reading in the bath so I didn’t really have another option to hand. Then things started to pick up more and I decided I did kind of like it after all. I would probably have loved this book to death at 15, but at almost 34 I’m afraid I’m too old for it. *Sigh*. 3 stars.

And that’s it. March was a most excellent reading month!

In case anyone is actually still here and interested, I  am currently reading The Sense of Style by Steve Pinker. It’s really good so far, but I’m useless at reading non-fiction so I’m getting through it at snail’s pace!

Have you read anything good lately?

GBBO bake along: chocolate chip hedgehogs

After missing biscuit week thanks to work and a visitor, I decided to jump back into the linkup for bread week. I wanted to go Swiss for this bake and make hedgehog rolls like the one here, except add chocolate chips to mine to comply with the rules (and also because chocolate!). I couldn’t actually find a recipe for Igeli though, so I settled for this one for Schokobrötchen. I felt like I was cheating a bit since this recipe doesn’t involve any yeast… is it still bread without yeast? It literally has bread roll in the name though (the German means “chocolate bread roll).

My original plan for this post was to translate the recipe for you then show you how I made hedgehogs instead of bread rolls. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out quiiite as planned and I’m at least partly blaming the recipe for not telling me what consistency the dough was supposed to have… mine ended up really sticky so I had to add extra flour just to be able to form it into anything. Even the balls that the original recipe called for wouldn’t have been possible. And also what kind of oven has a 175°C setting? Mine certainly doesn’t and neither have any of the other ones I’ve used in my life!

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I decided to use two different methods for the spines so that I would hopefully end up with at least some rolls that looked something like hedgehogs.,For some of the rolls, I cut the dough using scissors to try and make spines like the ones in the picture linked above. My dough was obviously far too soft though because my spines had already melted back into the rest before the rolls even made it into the oven. For the rest I used almonds… sliced almonds would have worked best, but I only had whole peeled almonds so I tried to cut them to size. It only kind of worked.

Apparently I had made me rolls too flat, so my hedgehogs ended up looking like they’d been squished in a nasty traffic accident… possibly involving a truck? And, as expected, the non-almond spines didn’t work at all, leaving me with demented mouse rolls instead of hedgehogs.

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I swear the one at the top right is giving me the evils…

At least the almond ones looked vaguely like they were supposed to…

I am so far far from being a star baker! But despite looking a bit dodgy, my hedgehogs tasted delicious! Next time, I I think I will try and find a better Schokobrötchen recipe, though.

I am adding this to the link up even though every single other entry looks totally professional and absolutely delicious! After all, somebody has to be the failure of the week! (If this was the real show, I’d be the one being voted off…)

This would be a fun bake to do with kids (provided you find a better recipe than the one I used). If you go with the almond spines method, the kids could place them and turn the plain buns into cute little hedgehogs.

And now I have seven more chocolate chip hedgehogs to eat and nobody to help me! (Jan is away at yet another choir weekend)

Stamp of Approval Sat… errr, Sunday

I know, I know… two posts in one day. How sad am I? 😉 But having no time at all to blog yesterday meant I completely missed the Stamp of Approval Saturday link up at Ifs, Ands & Butts. And I really, really need to share this with you.

Actually, all the credit for me having come across it goes to Hails at Coffee Helps, who shared it on Facebook. I promptly shared it on my own timeline because it was just too hilarious not to. I give you The Alot is Better Than You at Everything.

What is an Alot, you ask? Well, in the words of the author, “The Alot is an imaginary creature that I made up to help me deal with my compulsive need to correct other people’s grammar.  It kind of looks like a cross between a bear, a yak and a pug, and it has provided hours of entertainment for me in a situation where I’d normally be left feeling angry and disillusioned with the world.  ”

If you have ever been annoyed at somebody’s inability to use an apostrophe or actually hit the space bar between words, you NEED to read this post. If you’re anything like me, the Alot will soon become your new favourite animal…

Alot of fire, (C) Hyperbole and a Half
Alot of fire, (C) Hyperbole and a Half

Stamp of approval Saturday: Sardonic Salad

Today I’m linking up with Alex over at Ifs, Ands and Butts for Stamp of Approval Saturday.

Sardonic Salad is a webcomic that I came across after seeing one of their cartoons on Facebook. Once I started looking at the site, I just couldn’t stop! Here are some of my favourites from their cartoons:

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cheese graterbad_milk

onion crying

potato juniorThere are more, but I think I should stop now and let you go see the rest for yourselves. Here’s the link: http://sardonicsalad.blogspot.de/ (plus clicking on any of the pictures should also take you directly to the specific cartoon).

Seen anything on the Internet that you approve of this week? Then you should link up with Alex, too!

And on an entirely unrelated note, I read today that one of my favourite authors died on Wednesday, aged 69. RIP James Herbert! Haunted was one of the first “adult” books I read (when I was about 13) and it scared the pants off me! Sad to think there will never be another book by him.

Travel theme: Bridges

Toy train bridge

This post was inspired by Elaine at I used to be indecisive, or rather by her take on this week’s travel theme at Where’s my backpack?
The theme is bridges, which are one of my favourite things to photograph, so when I saw Elaine’s post I knew I had to join in!

I’m not sure why I like photographing bridges so much. Perhaps it’s because of what they represent. Without bridges it would be so much more difficult to get anywhere – and I do so hate being stuck in one place for any length of time! (I blame my army upbringing.) Of course, without bridges there would still be boats and planes – and in some instances even the possibility to swim – but those methods aren’t always practical – or would you enjoy swimming across a stream when there’s snow on the ground? 😉

Or maybe I just made all that up so I would sound intellectual and the real reason I have so many photos of bridges is simply because I like the way they look? Many of them are just so beautiful! Others are majestic. With some, I wonder how on Earth anybody ever managed to put them together (there’s a reason I’m a translator and not an engineer!). Anyway – enough rambling from me! Time to get on to the bridges…

With so many photos in my collection, it was really difficult to decide which bridges to include in this post, but to start with I thought I would give you my most recent photograph of a bridge, taken in Luxembourg City on 2 January this year:

Luxembourg bridge

This is the Adolphe Bridge, one of the bridges across the gorge that splits Luxembourg City in two. It was built between 1900 and 1903 and is one of those bridges that makes me wonder just how the builders managed.

The next photo is not specifically of a bridge, but it does show some of Stockholm’s many bridges. The city of Stockholm is made up entirely of different islands (14 if I remember correctly), so there are basically bridges everywhere you look.

Stockholm

This photo was taken from the tower of Stockholm City Hall, and as you can see the view is well worth the climb!

Moving on… my next photo shows the St. Nikolaus Bridge in Calw, Germany. Being my adopted home country, Germany may be featuring a few times in this post…

St. Nikolaus BridgeThe tiny little building you can see on the bridge is the St. Nikolaus Chapel and the metal statue just in front of it is Hermann Hesse, who was born in Calw. Here’s a better picture of the statue:

Hermann Hesse

Looking at the sky, you wouldn’t believe these photos were taken a few moments apart. I promise you, they were!

Staying in Germany, but moving a little closer to home, this pretty wooden bridge is in Ettlingen – the next town over from Karlsruhe.

Ettlingen

The river it crosses is the Alb.

Switching countries again, here are two Dutch bridges. One in Leiden, complete with windmill:

Leiden

It opens to let ships through.
And one in Delft:

Delft

OK, that last one isn’t exactly a bridge in the same way as the others I’ve posted (it’s part of Delft’s Eastern Gate), but it does bridge a canal and it’s rather cool, don’t you think?

Austria next, I think. And a night shot.

Salzburg bridge

The above photo of a bridge over the River Salzach, in Salzburg, was taken in December 2011 – which is why the bridge has Christmas lights on it. In the background you can see the fortress, all lit up.

OK, this post is getting rather long now so I won’t add too many more. Here’s a bridge in Venice, Italy:

Venice bridge

Returning to Germany with one from Tübingen:

Tübingen bridge

Not the best photo, but I’m including it so I can also say Tübingen is among the prettiest places in Germany and if you ever find yourself in the area you shoud go!

Another one from Austria – this time from Feldkirch, which I want in purely because I used to live there:

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The yellow building is the Landeskonservatorium für Vorarlberg – in other words the music college. The building was originally a Jesiuit school, the Stella Matutina, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame was once a pupil there!

And now I shall finish off with some photos of the North East of England, because it’s the closest thing to a “where I’m from” I have.
This one is the Lion Bridge in Alnwick, Northumberland – so-named because of the stone lion that stands on it:

Lion Bridge, Alnwick

Here’s a bridge in Morpeth, the town where I spent most of my childhood holidays (my parents are both from there) and later, after moving up North myself, a few drunken teenage nights:

Morpeth bridge

And finally, here are some of the bridges that cross the River Tyne in Newcastle, including the most famous one – the Tyne Bridge itself.

Bridges of Newcastle

Wow! Sorry this post has ended up being so long – I was having too much fun to stop! If you would like to see even more bridges – or join in yourself – you need to go here.

All of these photos were taken by me or – in the case of the one from Leiden – my boyfriend. Please do not steal them.