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I need to start this post by saying all these books were less than £1 at the time of writing (15th July 2019). Hopefully they won’t go up any time soon but one never knows with Amazon. This post contains affiliate links.

I keep hearing about people planning their holiday reading. I love that friends come to me ( as well as other people) when thinking about books. Some of my recent reads would make brilliant summer reads so I thought I would share 5 brilliant ones. At least one of these books was free on Amazon Prime at the time of writing.

Today is Amazon Prime day – I will admit to having a little shopping splurge last night when I bought a new Kindle. I’ve been using one of the girls’ Kindles since October when I lost mine but it isn’t a paperwhite so nigh on impossible to read in the sun. I’ll leave the link below for anyone contemplating a new Kindle of their own as it is £40 cheaper today!

So onto the 5 Brilliant books that you might like to download this summer without breaking the bank.

Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell

Kindle £0.99. Good escapism – At the time of reading I commented that I had lost a couple of days of my life being completely sucked into it which sounds like a perfect beach read.

Laurel’s daughter, Ellie went missing 10 years ago just before her GCSE’s. Completely out of character (isn’t it always in these books?) Laurel has never rested trying to find out where she went.

After 10 years though, Laurel meets a handsome father and starts to believe that she might just actually be able to live her life again.

This book contains a lot of coincidences – if you can suspend reality for a short while then you will enjoy this book. Its certainly enthralling and the ending is actually quite scary.

What You Did – Claire McGowan

Anyone who has Amazon Prime may have seen this book doing the rounds this July. What you Did is one of the free First Reads available this month (For July only, Amazon Prime members can download 2 free First Reads books)

(Trigger warning: Rape) This book is gripping – gave it a very strong 4.5 stars and finishing within a couple of days. Ali and her husband, Mike are hosting a weekend getogether celebrating friendships being formed 25 years ago at uni. On the first night though, everything goes wrong. Ali’s best friend is attacked & raped. The attack scene is not explained in graphic detail thankfully – the story is more concerned with what happens afterwards. Ali’s nightmare continues when it is her husband that is accused of the attack.

Sea of Memories – Fiona Valpy

Kindle £0.99. I’ve talked several times about my love for Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. This book, Sea of Memories is actually one of the closest reads to The Nightingale that I’ve found. Not just because it is set during WWII but also because of the drama and the brilliant writing.

Kendra’s Grandmother, Ella is at the end of her life but asks Kendra if she will help document her memoirs. The books spans between Kendra’s modern day life and Ella’s pre-war upbringing continuing throughout the war. There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a love story but it will make you fall in love with the characters. I always tried to avoid love stories finding them too cheesy but this book makes me feel differently. Just wonderful.

One of Us is Lying – Karen M McManus

Kindle £0.99. I didn’t realise before starting it that this book is supposed to be for a young adult audience. In fact, a friend has told me that it is one of the suggested books on the Y8 syllabus. This definitely created a murmur during our book group discussion as to whether we thought the adult themes were appropriate for ages 12/13. Some months after first reading it, it has stayed with me and my answer is … I still don’t know.

This aside, I did enjoy the book and was hooked. 5 students at a high school in America enter a room for detention. Before long one of the students is dead and the other 4 are under suspicion for murder. Try as I might I had no way of guessing who the culprit was which made for an addictive read.

Ruth Robinson’s Year of Miracles – Frances Garrood

Kindle £0.99. I discovered Frances Garrood’s books last year and have quickly read 3. Fast moving and yet a gentle read, I think Ruth Robinson’s Year of Miracles is my favourite yet.

Ruth is pregnant, jobless and homeless, and relationship-less. She goes home to her parents as a last resort but they won’t let her stay. She is quickly sent to live with her 2 twin eccentric uncles on a remote farm and this is where the story becomes absolutely wonderful.

I loved the characters that come by the house and into Ruth’s life. Her uncles are fantastic – oh how I wish they were real. There are moments of loneliness, friendship, romance and frustration and absolutely brilliantly funny scenes – I loved them all. Thanks to Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this in advance of publication.

So there are 5 potential reads for over the summer – I’ve also got a list of 5 fantastic books for under £2 to come soon too!

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The ultimate crowd pleaser and super quick recipe to make – Melting Moments made with a twist using Almond flavour rather than vanilla.

I use 3 types of almond flavour in these biscuits/cookies which are brilliant if you are looking for ideas for baking with kids. I add vanilla extract, flaked almonds on top and a blog of marzipan just before baking.

Print
Marzipan Melting Moments
Crumbly easy bake cookies with an Almond Marzipan taste
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword Almond, biscuits, cookies, Marzipan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 14
Ingredients
  • 60 Grams Butter
  • 60 Grams Caster Sugar
  • 120 Grams Self-Raising Flour Plus extra for sprinkling on your surface
  • 1 Medium Egg
  • 1 tsp Almond Extract
  • 50 Grams Flaked Almonds
  • 25 Grams Marzipan
Instructions
  • Preheat the oven to 180C and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment
  • Using an electric mixer, whisk together the butter and sugar until combined
  • Beat the egg and add this with the almond extract to the butter/sugar mix
  • Fold in the flour
  • Tip out the mixture onto a floured worktop (it will be very sticky)
  • Put the flaked almonds into a small bowl
  • take 1 tbsp of mixture and roll into a rough ball shape with your hands, then roll the ball into the almonds
  • Continue until the mixture is used up and all the balls are oon the baking trays
  • Add a small ball of marzipan onto the top of each ball and bake for 15 minutes until golden
  • Leave to cool. Best eaten same day
Notes
Bake of the Week

We have some changes coming to Bake of the Week – Jenny is taking some well deserved time off so its back to just me! Luckily I am back from my travels for a while now (Still waiting to get chance to blog about Russia, Barcelona & Prague!) so I will be able to bake every week and show you the backlog of bakes I have on offer. would like to thank Jenny for her time and hard work at keeping Bake of the Week going during the months when I have been mainly unavailable though.

I’d also like to highlight Choclette from Tin & Thyme who has been a fabulous mainstay of #BakeoftheWeek. Go check out her wonderful Matcha Madeleines!

The link is now open for you to add your entries for this week’s Bake of the Week. Don’t forget, up to 3 recipes per week are allowed (Old recipes are welcome too as long as they haven’t been added before and include the badge). Please link too www.casacostello.com and feel free to tag me on social media (@CasaCostello on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram). I’m happy to do extra shares to promote your recipes. I will continue to comment on each entry & share on Pinterest, Twitter, Insta stories & Facebook when possible.

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If you are looking for the easiest bake that hits the sweet spot, then here’s your recipe. I defy you to find another snack that is so easy, has few ingredients yet makes you feel like you’ve baked and achieved something. I am torn between what to call these, Apple Cinnamon Twists seems the most obvious but equally in this house they are often call Apple Pastry Fingers. My girls never seem as keen if I tell them that they contain cinnamon (but devour them quickly all the same)

Another one of my Baking Without Eggs range which makes them even handier. I always have a couple of boxes of ready rolled puff pastry in the freezer too so as long as you remember to take the pastry out of the freezer and hour in advance, they are super quick too.

I use Pink lady apples as we tend to have them in and we love the tang, but obviously you don’t need me to tell you any apples you like will do just as well.

Print
Apple Cinnamon Twists
Sweet Puff Pastry Twists with an Apple Cinnamon Centre
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword Apple, Pastry, Snacks
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings 8
Ingredients
  • 375 grams Ready Rolled Puff Pastry Sheets
  • 3 tbsp Demarara Sugar
  • 2 Pink Lady Apples
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon Powder
  • 2 tbsp Milk
Instructions
  • Peel and core the apples then chop into very thin slices – The thinner the slices are the better as they will soften quicker and are easier to spread over the pastry
  • Cook in a medium pan along with 2 tbsp of the sugar until soft (approx 8 minutes) Leave to cool while you unroll the pastry
  • Spread the slightly cooled softened apples over half of the pastry then fold the other half over the top
  • Cut into 8 strips and flatten down the edges. Seal the edges of each strip by brushing with milk
  • Twist each strip around three times – If any edges come undone, press again until sealed – some leakage is ok though
  • Brush each twist with the leftover milk and sprinkle over the remaining 1 tbsp sugar
  • Bake for 12 minutes until golden
  • Eat as soon as possible
Bake of the Week

Time for the #BakeoftheWeek roundup – Thanks to Jenny at Mummy Mishaps for doing a great job as usual for hosting.

My featured Bake of the Week this week comes from Choclette at Tin & Thyme for these magnificent Spelt Rhubarb Mini Muffins with Rose. I love how Choclette always offers something a little extra with regards to flavours. She really is one of my go-to blogs when I need inspiration for paring up flavours and ingredient combinations.

Spelt Rhubarb Mini Muffins with Rose
  1. A fantastic fun way to use up over ripe bananas and a pretty cake at the same time – Mummy Mishaps serves up this Banana & White Chocolate Bundt
  2. Striking yet tasty, The Baking Explorer is being creative with these Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
  3. My 8yo is impressed with Cooking With My Kids’s fork decoration on these Chocolate Fork Biscuits

Our linky is now open for another week – Please feel free to enter up to 3 bakes (I’m adding an extra one as you have all been so patient waiting for the linky to reopen). Don’t forget to link to me (https://casacostello.com) and Jenny (http://mummymishaps.co.uk) as well as adding our Bake of the Week badge: Please also feel free to tag us on Twitter and Instagram @CasaCostello & @JennyPaulin

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More apple recipes that you may enjoy

Apple & Passion Fruit Puffs

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Bundt Cake

Apple Pie Cupcakes

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Beautiful views at Nostell Priory

We resisted one of our favourite National Trust properties in Yorkshire yesterday & thought we would be kind and share this beautiful spot with you. This is not an ad or a sponsored post – We just love Nostell Priory so much that we keep going back whether its for an hour or several.

Nostell Priory is near to Wakefield around 30 minutes from the centre of Leeds, making it perfect for when Millie is at training. I’ve spoken before of how we try to make the most of our fragmented family time when Millie has to spend so many hours in a pool.

The first thing to say is, we do not go into the house when we visit Nostell. Our visits are all about stretching our legs, getting fresh air and stopping the kids arguing enjoying each others company. We’ve never been short of something to do at Nostell and seem to discover new areas to explore each time. Having said that, the weather always tends to be kind to us so perhaps on a rainy day, we would find ourselves inside.

Nostell has so much space – Even the car park is spacious. National Trust members get to park for free by scanning their NT card at the payment booth (£7 for non-members) TIP: If both adults are NT members, take both cards with you when you go into the grounds as you will need to show them to enter the gardens and play area.

The lake is truly incredible to walk around – takes around an hours to get all the way round but there are short cuts that divert you back to the main area if you like. There are seating areas at regular intervals too and it is mainly buggy friendly. The steps up the short cut may be a little more difficult but are still doable with a pram.

Beautiful scenery everywhere at Nostell Priory

The play area is great for ages 4+ and even Violet (age very cool 12) gets stuck in. There are bouncing tyres, bouncy mats where you try to bounce your sister/Dad off the other side, zip wires and plenty more to climb on. Only a couple of benches for adults to sit on but I’ve never been without yet.

National Trust Cafe

The cafe is very typical National Trust. An abundance of scones and ice-creams but can get very busy. There is a large seating area in the courtyard outside which somehow seems protected from any wild winds (but as I say we have always been quite fortunate with the weather at Nostell).

One of Nostell’s jewels in its crown is their bookshop. One of the best NT book shops I’ve seen (and I’ve visited A LOT!). Plenty of books to choose from and comfortable to potter around. Everything is in alphabetical order with a separate section for Crime thriller and historical books. You enter the book shop through an extra coffee shop which is brilliant for weekend afternoons when the main cafe can have queues.

The main Priory building is quite magnificent to look at from the outside. There are steps up to the front and down again which provides amazing views across the Yorkshire countryside. The lawns directly in front are beautiful and perfect for visitors to cartwheel or sunbathe on. I’ll leave it to you to decide what my kids chose to do!

Our family membership to the National Trust costs us £126 per year (2 adults and up to 4 children age 17 and under). Non-members can enter Nostell Priory for £29 per family. More information about Nostell including activities for over half term can be found at their website

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I really thought I had shared this cake but seems I forgot. Football cakes are so versatile – I really do love making them and setting myself the challenge of each one being that little bit different. An Everton football cake is always welcome in this house as Tara is growing ever more blue by the day. I can feel trips to Goodison coming on very soon!

One thing I’m always a little wary of, is using blue icing that will be eaten. No-one wants to eat so many colourings. I try to combat it by using a thin layer of blue over a base of white icing. I also use a paler colour blue when possible.

2 layer cakes are really my minimum now – I barely make cakes at all so if I’m going to, I want them to be impressive in size as well as appearance. One tier cakes seem so old fashioned at the moment around here.

Bake of the Week

After a short break, I’m happy to launch the return of Bake of the Week. Jenny has been fabulous at keeping it going so we are having a boost this week when I will be sharing older entries as well as new ones all over social media.

A special mention goes to Only Crumbs Remain who has been a stalwart throughout our Bake of the Week journey. Only Crumbs Remain has recently been taken over by a favourite blogger of mine, Jacqueline.

Rhubarb & Custard Crumble Cake from Only Crumbs Remain

Our linky is now open for another week – Please feel free to enter up to 3 bakes (I’m adding an extra one as you have all been so patient waiting for the linky to reopen). Don’t forget to link to me (https://casacostello.com) and Jenny (http://mummymishaps.co.uk) as well as adding our Bake of the Week badge: Please also feel free to tag us on Twitter and Instagram @CasaCostello & @JennyPaulin

If you would also like to join our Bake of the Week Facebook Group and Pinterest Group, we would love to have you!

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Its been a while since I did an update of where we are up to so when I saw Donna’s #LivingArrows post this morning, I thought it the perfect opportunity. You’ve probably noticed how quiet posts have been around here – partly due to sorting technical behind the scenes blog stuff out (I won’t bore you with the details) but mainly because our sporty kids have taken over once again in the Costello house.

Those close to us will be well aware that Millie is still doing so well with synchro at the moment. (I share photos and updates on Facebook & Instagram stories so feel free to follow there) Last weekend was British Champs where she medalled in 10 out of 11 categories and also came away with the huge Holland trophy for overall high scores for the 2nd year running. Coverage still available on BBC iplayer for the next 3 weeks or so.

This week kicks off the start of travelling season with Senior Europeans in St Petersburg, Russia. I’ve been twitchy since Millie was dropped off in Bristol on Saturday ahead of flying on Wednesday. An incredible opportunity for her to see so many countries of the world but I’ll be mighty glad when I arrive in St Petersburg on Thursday for a huge hug with her. Over the next 2 months, Millie will also be travelling to Barcelona and Prague – If everything goes to plan I’ll share our travels on here

And what about Violet? I often get asked if Violet misses out because of everything we do with Millie. Er no! Trampolining, Dance lessons, Swimming and endless hours of running mean Violet is crazy fit. Yesterday her & Mr C ran the John West 10K in Liverpool finishing with a time of 53.53 minutes. Let’s gloss over the fact that she should have been 15 to enter and she’s only 12. Still didn’t stop her spending a good hour bouncing on the trampoline later in the afternoon though! We are trying to find her a proper running club around here that can help with her technique and give her something to work towards.

Let’s not forget the footballer of the family. I hereby give a public apology to our neighbours for the endless hours of kicking a ball in the front garden, the balls that fly over the fence and the goalpost that blocks the path. We didn’t think the football phase would last this long but if anything its getting worse. Tara plays it, watches it and talks about it ALL THE TIME! Its the end of the season for Ravenhead Vixens now so plenty of time for training and friendlies with her mates. On Mother’s Day, Tara’s squad were lucky enough to be mascots for Manchester City ladies and had the best day. We were definitely shouting loud for them on Saturday when they won the FA Cup ladies final!

While it does make life quite hectic, I do love all 3 girls doing completely different activities (We occasionally get all 3 in the pool for a speed swim session at the same time but it is VERY RARE!) They are definitely individuals and there’s no pressure on either one of them to be more successful than the rest. They are all fit and healthy in their own chosen sports and us parents are truly exhausted!

Donna’s linky, Living Arrows is all about celebrating childhood every Monday. Taken from a poem by Kahlil Gibran, “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth” I take part whenever possible. Head on over to the link to see what others are celebrating about their children or better still, join in! I’d love to hear what you have been up to (with children or without so feel free to leave a comment below)

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Tara is 8! How has that happened so quickly? I swear she has only just started school and all of a sudden she has grown so tall and can hold a proper conversation. Her love of football is well known around here – no synchro for this one. She has definitely found her own niche. So there was no doubt what theme her birthday cake would be this year – A football cake but with her own stamp on it. Everything about me screams that this cake can be suitable for boys and girls – the bow is her signature style, she is never seen without one.

I’ve talked before about my love/hate relationship with football on cakes – I’m actually really pleased with this one. I spent a little more time measuring up the pentagon and hexagons that make up the pattern (If you are interested, I used 5cm ones). I got the measurements from a ball that was a similar size to the ball shaped cake. I baked the cake using a pyrex bowl that is 14cm diameter at the top – An 4 egg sponge mix was plenty to make 2 half spheres that were trimmed down to make a ball.

And here is my gorgeous girl – She’s the one out of my 3 that makes me think most about what feminism really means. I’ve always thought I was quite good at standing up for their rights but actually I think its so much more than that. Definitely a post for another day!

Bake of the Week

Its fair to say I’ve been a bit hopeless at keeping up with Bake of the Week recently. I appear to have found myself a job which has turned us all upside down. Its all good though and I’m rather enjoying this different twist that life has sent me. Its taking a little adjustment as time was certainly not in plentiful supply even before I started going out to work. I’ve debated if I really want to keep the blog going and come to the conclusion that yes, I definitely do. So I will but I will have to make sure that proper time is set aside to do it properly.

I also enjoyed getting back into the kitchen and baking – I actually did 2 cakes in one weekend so will share the other very soon. This week I’m doing a small birthday cake for a friend so another reason that #BakeoftheWeek needs to get its act together!

Thank you as ever to all those who have stuck with Jenny and me for our crazy Bake of the Week period. Hopefully we will be back on track now. My featured #BakeoftheWeek come from Curly’s Cooking with her gorgeous Peanut Butter Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. I adore crinkle cookies – The magic of baking never ceases to amaze me.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Our other entries were all on a chocolate or peanut butter theme this week too.

  1. Kat from The Baking Explorer provided us with these super neat Peanut Butter Baked Donuts.
  2. Jenny from Mummy Mishaps shared her super rich looking Oreo & Caramel Egg Brownies
  3. Choclette from Tin & Thyme showed us her amazing Chocolate Log

We are now open for your latest entries to Bake of the Week. Please be assured that this week will see plenty of shares across Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and plenty more. Jenny will be back later in the week with our round up featuring links and pictures of all the bakes that you have entered this week.

Please add the #BakeoftheWeek badge to your posts to let others know about our links. Please also link to both myself (https://casacostello.com) and Jenny (http://mummymishap.co.uk). If you manage to visit any of the other entries, don’t forget to leave #BakeoftheWeek to let them know where you discovered them. Let’s share the love!

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My year has got off to a strong reading start. I’m determined to share the books I’ve read each month so please excuse how tardy I’ve been with this recent reads review. I read 5 books during January 2019 which is slightly above average for my reading speed. This post contains affiliate links – should you decide to buy any of the books using the links on the images, I may be credited with a few pence (It won’t cost you any more).

What has really helped my reading mojo return is my Casa Costello Reads Facebook group which is full of chat about books we’ve loved and want to read. It’s definitely not helping my TBR pile get any smaller though as practically every single day, I discover a book that I must read NOW! If you would like to join our group, then please feel free. You will be made very welcome.

And so to the books:

A Keeper – Graham Norton

I’ve told everyone who will listen about this book and how good Graham Norton is as an author. I loved his first book, Holding and his second was even better. Set in Ireland, we meet Elizabeth who has returned to clear her mum’s estate after she dies. Elizabeth finds the house in terrible condition. She wonders if she will ever get it clear and is about to give up when she discovers letters that lead her to find out about her mother’s secret life 40 year earlier.

There is a real sense of isolation in this book – Graham Norton describes loneliness so well. I also really felt the terror from all those years before too. This is definitely a gripping story without giving too much away.
There are twists throughout the book that I almost sensed would come but even when they did, I still gasped.

5 out of 5 stars

Tell Me A Secret – Jane Fallon

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Oh I do enjoy an office based book! I love reading about the relationships between colleagues and the sense that the person you know in work may not be the person they really are.

Holly loves her job and is happy to get a promotion. Very soon, things start happening in work that lead her to think that someone has got it in for her. But who is it? There is one obvious culprit but are they too obvious?

This is a light read (I know its a cliche, but perfect for holidays and when you are travelling). I really did enjoy it though.

4 out of 4 stars

Winter in Paradise – Elin Hilderbrand

This is the first in a new series of novels by an author that I have read before. Most of Hilderbrand’s books are set on Nantucket and I can only describe them as ‘very Danielle Steele’. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a huge market for Danielle Steele books. I used to read tons of them during my teenage years. Nowadays though, I prefer my characters to be a little more realistic, less of a ‘natural beauty that doesn’t realise how beautiful they are’. Possible even more of an underdog.

To give Elin Hilderbrand her due, Winter in Paradise was more of a story than I expected. I definitely had a darker side than previous books of hers that I have read. I can’t say I particularly liked the characters of the 2 sons but I did find myself gripped.

Irene gets a message that her husband has been found dead on a Caribbean island after a helicopter accident. Irene didn’t even know her husband was in the Caribbean but knew he was working away somewhere. It transpires that actually Irene and Russ have been leading fairly separate lives. Irene, along with her 2 sons, Cash and Baker (Their names grated on my nerves throughout the book) head off to the Caribbean island of St John to investigate how Russ found himself in the helicopter along with a young woman and a pilot in the first place.

There are some elements of this book that are semi-predictable but enough surprises to hold my interest. Now a few weeks have passed since finishing the book, I’m even intrigued enough to read the second in the series when it comes out.

3 out of 5 stars

Evil Games (DI Kim Stone #2) – Angela Marsons

I’ve talked before about how pleased I was to discover the Kim Stone series of thrillers by Angela Marsons. In fact, Silent Scream (the first in the series) appeared in my Top 10 books of 2018. I was lucky enough to pick up the next couple in the series at a National Trust bookshop and once again found I was hooked.

Ooh this was deliciously evil. A rapist is discovered murdered but all may not be quite as obvious as it first seems. Kim Stone encounters a psychotherapist who is more than a match for her skills. The cat and mouse games between them in this book are great and more than a bit spooky.

5 out of 5 stars

Lost Girls (DI Kim Stone #3) – Angela Marsons

Very unusually for me, I went straight onto another book by the same author. I just needed another fix of Angela Marsons. You can read these books out of order but I would say they are much better enjoyed in the right order. The running thread of DI Kim Stone life is just as interesting as the crimes she is working on.

I actually think this might be my favourite Angela Marsons yet. 2 little girls go missing outside of a leisure centre. They are best friends and their families are super close. The kidnappers play the families off against each other in the cruelest of ways.

The ending to this book is completely spellbinding. You will race through the last 100 pages and the twist at the end is pure brilliance.

Another 5 out of 5 stars.


 

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Well it’s here again, one of my most favourite posts of the year – just a month later than I hoped to post it. It seems to have come around so quickly once again. I’m not going to hang around for long – I know you are here for the book goss. So lets look at the books I loved during 2018.

This post contains some affiliate links #ad – If you decide to buy any of the books mentioned, click on the pictures. You won’t be charged any more but I may be awarded a couple of pence to pay the bills. Thanks x

Firstly the bad news. I aimed to read 55 books during the year but only achieved 45. I’m not too disappointed though as overall it felt like an awesome reading year. Even my usual September book slump didn’t last as long as usual. My total pages were 14,796 which was 1002 more pages than 2017.

My breakdown of star ratings (On Goodreads – add me if you use it) is as follows:

  • 5* – 17 books
  • 4* – 17 books
  • 3* – 8 books
  • 2* – 1 book
  • 1* – 1 book

So let me introduce my Top 10 books in reverse order from last year:

10. The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story – Christie Watson

This is perfect for fans of This is Going to Hurt (which appears later on in this list). I read this in one sitting in a Waterpark in Cyprus and couldn’t tear myself away. I know, I must be such good company to go away with! Christie Watson also wrote Tiny Sunbirds Far Away (fiction) which is on my list to read in 2019.

In The Language of Kindness, Christie talks about her time as a nurse for 20 years. The chapters on when she worked on Paediatric HDU are incredible and will definitely bring a tear to your eye (remember where I was reading this, I must have looked amazing sat weeping in my swimming cozzie). 

9. Marilla of Green Gables – Sarah McCoy

Oh wow, this book was a delight. A prequel to the beloved L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. This book tells the tale of Marilla Cuthbert’s upbringing, who along with her brother Matthew (I’ve never got over him dying!) adopts Anne. At first, I wondered if the writing style was going to be too slow for me but before long I was hooked. Such a delight to read and so very like the Anne series.

8. Let Me Lie – Clare Mackintosh

Another great domestic thriller from Clare Mackintosh. I enjoyed this slightly more than her second book and I loved that.

On the anniversary of her Mother’s death, receives an anonymous note. She has never been completely satisfied that her mum would ever commit suicide but this leads her to question it even more. Clare Mackintosh is very much the queen of the twist so I will admit I was looking out for it slightly. She’s clever though by adding various threads that come together so well at the end. The last 100 pages or so of this book are to be devoured hungrily, you will be on the edge of your seat!

7. Silent Scream – Angela Marsons

We read this book as part of our WI book group and I’m so glad we did. Here started my love affair with the Kim Stone series. Police procedurals and fast moving – just my bag. Angela Marson’s books are quite gruesome – the first murder definitely set the tone and made me terrified to be in the bathroom when home alone for ages.

6. Close to Home – Cara Hunter

Another author that I discovered for the first time last year and proceeded to devour all of her books. Very similar to Angela Marson’s in style and pace – again police procedural. I described this at the time as a suburban thriller. DI Adam Fawley is a great character who genuinely seemed to care about his victims. I was nervous about reading this – books about the death or abduction of a child scare me rigid but only a couple of pages in, I couldn’t stop.

5. Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

Set in Ghana, this starts with following the lives of 2 sisters who end up living completely different lives. The books follows generation after generation of their descendants so cleverly. Its a big book but perfect for getting stuck into. The descriptions of the way of life and the landscapes are magical.

4. This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

This was actually higher up my list at first but after going to watch Adam Kay’s live show at The Lowry in January, I have actually moved him down. Its still a brilliant book talking about his time as a Junior Doctor but I’m not quite as naive about how nice he is as a person now. There’s no doubting his intelligence though. He has a way with words that I can only envy. There are parts of this book that will make you cry and parts that will have tears of laughter falling down your cheeks. As a friend of mine said this week, anyone working in decision making for the NHS in Government should be forced to read this book.

3. Only Child – Rhiannon Navin

Bearing in mind what I just said about finding it difficult to read books about the death of a child, this book should never have been my bag. I didn’t read the blurb at all beforehand though so started it not having a clue that it was about a school shooting. Please read this book – It really does stay with you and is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

2. Educated – Tara Westover

This is another book that I’ve told everyone I meet to read. An autobiography of Tara Westover’s life living in the mountain in Idaho. Tara’s Dad did not believe in doctors, hospitals, immunisations or formal education. She started off being home-schooled but this soon stopped in favour of working on the homestead. During her teens, Tara taught herself to read and studied world history, amazingly ending up at Cambridge. Her story is simply incredible. There were several times during the book that I had to remind myself that I wasn’t reading fiction but actually reading about someone’s childhood.

    1. The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah’s, The Nightingale featured in my Top Books of 2017 so pleased that another of hers has made it this year. This is set in Alaska where 13 year old Leni and her parents move to. This book started my obsession with all things Alaska. The descriptions of the wilderness and how brutal the winters are were chilling (pun totally intended).

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If you have been around here for some time, you may remember a really old recipe for Jam & Cream Scones that came about when I fancied baking but had no eggs. Well, thanks to the 12yo’s obsession with making omelettes, that situation came about again this afternoon. By some miracle, I had some white chocolate that had reached its Best Before Date (I know, how?) so decided to incorporate it into some Egg-free scones. And so my Brown Sugar, White Chocolate and Roasted Pecan Scones were born … and eaten.

As with all scones recipes, the key to success is making sure the mixture is handled as little as possible. Slightly more difficult with this recipe than traditional plain scones as there are more ingredients to add but still possible. These are definitely what you would call ‘rustic’. The brown sugar makes their appearance darker than most scones. We spread some melted chocolate and sprinkled pecans over the top of ours but they are just as good plain.

Brown Sugar, White Chocolate & Pecan Scones
Serves 10
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 25 minutes
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Serve Cold
Light, sweet scones with brown sugar, white chocolate and chopped pecans
Ingredients
  • 350g Self Raising Flour
  • 85g Butter (Very cold and chopped into small cubes)
  • 3 tablespoons Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 100g White Chocolate (Chopped into small chunks - keep 20g aside or use extra if you wish to decorate the scones)
  • 60g Pecans (Chopped into small chunks and roasted for 2-3 minutes in a dry frying pan - plus an extra 8-10 chopped pecans for sprinkling on top)
  • 90ml Warm Milk (I blast in the microwave for 40 seconds)
Directions
1.
Preheat the oven to 220C and line a baking tray with baking parchment
2.
In a large bowl, place the flour and the butter and rub together with your fingertips. Do this for as short a time as possible to minimise handling
3.
Add the sugar, chopped white chocolate and toasted pecans
4.
Mix the vanilla extract into the warm milk.
5.
Make a well in the centre of the floury mix and add the milk/vanilla. Stir through with a knife until it starts to come together as a dough
6.
Pour out onto a floured worktop and roll gently into a 5cm tall dough
7.
Use a scone cutter to cut 10 scones out - do not twist the cutter as you cut as it makes the scones tougher
8.
Bake for 15 minutes - watch to make sure they do not catch
9.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack
10.
Once cool, melt the remaining white chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water and spread over the scones
11.
Sprinkle over the remaining chopped pecans and eat the same day
Bake of the Week

If you have been eagerly awaiting a new #BakeoftheWeek linky then thank you so much for your patience. Horrendous technical difficulties around here for some time now but for now we are sorted. There may be more work to come but for the time being, I’m luxuriating in a blog that works and a computer that isn’t quite as slow as it was.

My featured bake from our last linky goes to Glutarama with these beautiful Gluten Free Vegan Blueberry Frangipane Tarts

Thank you as ever to all you lovely people who have stuck with us during the computer crisis of 2019, especially the lovely Jenny from Mummy Mishaps who is one of the world’s most patient people!

1. Making the most of Blood Orange Season, Jo’s Kitchen Larder made her Gluten-Free Orange & Almond Cake

2. The perfect donation for the PTA, Apply to Face’s Chocolate Loaf Cake – No wonder she was sad to part from it!

3. Leaving us yearning for the summer months is my co-host, Mummy Mishaps with this Strawberry & White Chocolate Bundt Cake

4. For a cake with a crunch, The Baking Explorer has remade a family favourite, Crunchie Drip Birthday Cake

Our linky is now open for another week – Please feel free to enter up to 3 bakes (I’m adding an extra one as you have all been so patient waiting for the linky to reopen). Don’t forget to link to me (https://casacostello.com) and Jenny (http://mummymishaps.co.uk) as well as adding our Bake of the Week badge: Please also feel free to tag us on Twitter and Instagram @CasaCostello & @JennyPaulin

If you would also like to join our Bake of the Week Facebook Group and Pinterest Group, we would love to have you!

<div ><a href="https://casacostello.com" title="Casa Costello" ><img src="https://casacostello.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Bake-of-the-week.jpg" alt="Casa Costello"  /></a></div>

Inlinkz Link Party

For more scones recipes:

Easy Cherry Scones

Glazed Maple & Oat Scones

Mini Lemon & Lime Scones

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