Friends this is my review of the book Bleeding Hearts by Ian Rankin, which I read recently. The observant will notice that this is book 52, and it is week 39. It has taken me slightly longer this time to get to through the books, as I have been very busy over the last few months, and not really had much time to read.
Still that is enough of me and back to the book. This book was written a few years ago by Ian, and I am sorry to say has been sitting on my bookshelf unread until now.It is another story about an assassin, but here the twist is that not only are the police and private detectives trying to find the assassin, but the assassin himself is trying to find out who has employed him, as someone phoned the police telling them that the assassination attempt would take place.
The question is who will find their quarry first. It is an exciting story, with a believable plot line, that moves from Scotland to America. It picks up a secretive new age cult and some branch of the American secret service along the way.
There is a very amusing part with a road blockage and a caravan on the narrow Scottish roads. Our heroes solution of sorting the matter with a gun, certainly offers and original solution to being held up.
So this was a good book to end my run of reading 52 books on, which covered 39 weeks. 48 of the books were fiction, and 4 non fiction. I wonder how long it will take me to read my next 52 books.
Friends, this continues my mini series of a meal that uses blackberries, we have had the main course of venison with blackberries and red cabbage and half the desert of blackberry and apple cake To go with this we now have blackberry ice cream.
This is a very easy recipe, and produces a very rich tasty ice cream, that goes well with the cake … This requires an ice cream machine to make it.
500 g blackberries
150g sugar (icing sugar makes it quicker to make)
300 ml double cream
Up to 3 tablespoons of port
Wash blackberries and lemon.
Put lot into liquidizer and whisk to a pulp
Put liquid through a fine sieve or muslin bag (Make sure squeeze all juice out) collecting the juice in a microwave proof jug/bowl
Warm juice in microwave for about 30 seconds
Add sugar to warm juice – make sure fully dissolved (If did not use icing sugar may need to warm for a few more seconds)
Allow to cool
Turn on ice cream machine
Add cream to bowl in ice cream machine
Add blackberry juice with dissolved sugar.
Add port if going to.
Leave machine to do its work freeze churning the mixture
When made serve with blackberry cake or fresh fruit and enjoy.
Friends this is my review of the book Key out of Time by Andre Norton, which I have listened to recently whilst decorating.
This is Book 4 in the Time Traders Series, In this book Ross Murdock and Arthur Ashe continue their adventures in Time and Space on the World of Hawaika.
Again there are many parallels with the TV Stargate series, but in this story the Hawaiian and Polynesian settlers help Ross and Ashe discover the way the world has changed from the data tape to present time. The native dolphins and humans can communicate, and Ross learns Gordon is hostage in a castle through a native, Loketh.
Ross and Loketh are captured by seafaring Rovers, then join them. They recover a Rover island captured by the Baldies. Ross convinces a coalition of natives the Baldies are playing them against one another. Ross finds Ashe at last, in a castle the company of the mystic and advanced Foanna, who turn out to be only three, the last of their race.
The Foanna set a trap for the Baldies, using their assets as bait, but they cannot win against the whole force without increasing their numbers. Ross and Ashe agree to a process mentally joining them with the Foanna.
A second encounter with the Baldies, they win. In a final encounter, Ross is teleported to a Baldy ship like the one familiar to him from Galactic Derelict, and sets its course to a random destination. The main Baldy installation is simultaneously attacked and the Baldies driven off the planet.
This was all good fun and made the time pass quickly listening to this when painting the walls and ceilings. This was book 51 week 38 fiction 47 (13 on audio) non fiction 4
Friends continuing on my theme of recipes using blackberries. This is one of Paulines and is a great favourite. It works just as well with frozen blackberries if there are no fresh around.
3.5 oz butter
2 medium eggs
5 oz sugar
2 oz ground almonds
4 oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 chopped cooking apple
4 oz blackberries
Beet butter, eggs and sugar together in a large bowl
Fold in flour, baking powder and ground almonds
Peel core and chop apple into small bits. Gently stir apple and blackberries into cake mixture
Put into a loaf tin
Bake at 180 centigrade for 45-60 minutes (test with skewer if comes out clean then cooked)
Let to cool and enjoy.
Friends this is my review of the book Witch Hunt by Ian Rankin. This is another book that has sat on my book shelf for a number of years. (It had actually got pushed to the back and only came to life on sorting them out).
Unintentionally I seem to be following a hit person story line theme, as Witch Hunt is all about the chase to try and catch an assassin, given the code name of witch. The chase starts in the Kent coast, with a couple of linked murders on both sides of the channel, moves up to Scotland and then off to Europe. There are a number of British agencies all looking for her. Scotland yard, MI5, and the “Witch expert” Dominic Elder.
They slowly follow the trail she has created across Europe trying to gather clues as to who will be her next target. It is assumed that it will be someone at the major conference taking place in London. But the question is who?
Gradually just like pealing the layers off an onion more is revealed about the Witch's past giving insight on what she will do next. The story splits in two giving the Witches side as well as the pursuers. To say much more would spoil the plot, as it is full of mystery and intrigue, but it is certainly a page turner.
This is an interesting well thought out generally believable story. Ian Rankin originally wrote this under the name of Jack Harvey, and it does make a nice change from his normal Edinburgh crime novels.
This was book 50 week 37 fiction 46 (12 on audio) non fiction 4
This year we have been very fortunate with our blackberry harvest and have picked over 10kg so far. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of our more favourite recipes that use blackberries.
This is the recipe for venison with blackberries and red cabbage. It is a very easy recipe though it does take just over an hour to prepare and cook.
1 medium chopped onion (can be red if prefer)
½ a red cabbage, chopped to same size as a blackberry. - There should be around 1.5 times the amount of red cabbage to that of onion.
1 teaspoon mixed spice
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
175g washed blackberries
1 tablespoon olive oil
300g venison either venison stakes, sausages, or burgers
4 to 6 sliced potatoes (You need enough sliced potatoes to cover the casserole dish)
2-5 teaspoons sugar – depends on how sweet your tooth is
up to 1 glass red wine
This makes a generous amount for two.
Chop and prepare all the ingredients
Fry the venison on each side in a large frying pan in the olive oil, to give it colour. Roughly two minutes per side
Take these from the pan and place in a large oven proof casserole. (This should be large enough to put the meat flat on the bottom )
Warm the oven to 180 Centigrade
Next fry/seal the onion in the frying pan for around 5 minutes
Add the red cabbage and mix well with the onion. Sprinkle the mixed spice over the mixture. Fry for a further 3-4 minutes stirring continuously so the cabbage is completely mixed with the onion.
Add the blackberries to the pan and mixture and stir round for about a further minute
Poor the mixture over the venison
Add the balsamic vinegar to the frying pan to take the oils and spices from it and then pour this and the wine into the casserole
Add sugar if required
Add up to 100ml hot stock. The liquid should be up to the top of the mixture.
Cover the whole surface with sliced potatoes
Put in the warm oven for around 45 minutes. (Time does depend a bit on size of casserole used)
The potato top should be crispy brown and the liquid will have thicken up to a lovely rich gravy.
Serve with fresh steamed vegetables and enjoy
Friends this is my review of the book The Eleventh Commandment by Jeffery Archer, which I read recently. We are slowly going through the process of sorting our book shelves and come across books that have sat there for a long time, which it would be good to read again.
This is one such book. Though it was written some time ago, the descriptive text of the surroundings make it all the more interesting, as it reminds me of things that used to be, which I had forgotten till reading about them again.
This is a book about a CIA hitman, who is caught up in the battle for power at the Whitehouse between the president and the head of the CIA. The head of a foreign power is assassinated by Conner Fitzergerald, the CIA's most experienced hitman. Sadly the CIA did not have authority to kill.
If the president can prove that the CIA made the killing then the Director can be sacked or even worse. If the CIA can kill off Conner before the president gets to him then there is no proof. To get rid of Conner the CIA send him off to Russia to kill the new Russian President.
The race is on and it goes from a Russian Mafia's luxury hideaway outside St Petersburg to the Oval office via a number of locations along the way. It is all good fun with some unexpected twists along the way.
This book was an easy and enjoyable read and was book 49 week 36 fiction 45 (12 on audio) non fiction 4
Friends this is my review of the book Mosaic by Gayle Lynds, which I read recently. This is certainly a fast action page turner that progresses along at a fantastic pace.
The story takes place in the last few days before the American Presidential Election. The seemingly underdogs, a very wealthy political family endeavor to turn events around so that they will win.
Sadly to get to this point it does not matter who is in the way, they are to be got rid of, even if they are family. The body count quite quickly mounts up, but all starts top go wrong when Julia Austrian a world class concert pianist witnesses her mother's brutal murder. To make matters worse Julia had been blind for the last 10 years before that, but just as her sight mysteriously vanished so it reappeared, only to vanish again at the trauma of seeing her mother die.
The other star of the story is a classical music fan, whose number one hero is Julia, and he just happens to work for the CIA. Together they have to solve the mystery of who killer Julia's mother and unwittingly plunge into a violent whirlwind of deceit, lust and greed. This leads back in time to Nazi war-time treasure.
It is a good story, with a nice couple of unexpected twists at the end.
This was book 48 week 36 fiction 44 (12 on audio) non fiction 4
Friends, this is my review of the book Red Square by Martin Cruz Smith, which I read recently. It is the third book in the Gorky Park and Polar Star series. Arady Renko has been reinstated as an investigator in the Moscow Militsiya, and he is trying to stamp out black market trading. Sadly his chief informer is murdered in a horrific fireball as he gets into his car. Arady then starts to look into why he has been murdered. The main clue seems to be a message on the fax machine “Where is Red Square”
The book ten goes on a magical mystery tour to find the answer to the question posed in the fax. The really enjoyable aspect of reading this book is the picture Martin paints in each chapter of what is going on. Vast amounts of prose seemingly telling nothing, but in fact setting the back ground and turning what could have been an average book into a great book, full of sub plots that run alongside the main one.
One of these sub plots is with the one great love of his life, Irina Asanova. Her seemingly total disinterest in Arkady sends him resignedly on his way until, in an ultimate ironic twist, a belatedly-delivered message from Renko's recently deceased father galvanizes him into one last, determined attempt at winning Irina back.
Yes you do have to read it and yes the names are not that easy but it is meant to be about Russia, but this was a really enjoyable read.
This was book 47 week 35 fiction 43 (12 on audio) non fiction 4
A short while ago we were walking near Port Logan in Dumfries and Galloway, enjoying the fantastic countryside and a sunny stroll along the beach we watched the farmers racing to get the harvest in before the weather broke.
As you can see in some fields the process had finished and in others it was still progressing.
The hillside was covered in these large bales, that when taken together made patterns on the skyline.
We thought it would make a good digital wallpaper for October
If you do not like the month on the image then we have it without as well
We hope you like our choice of the Galloway Harvest digital wallpaper for October taken in Dumfries and Galloway last month this year. Hopefully we have included all common screen size combinations, so you can enjoy it too, over this coming month. There are more free digital wallpapers to be found here...
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.