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Archive for April, 2017

Beths Book Blog 2017

Categories: Beth's Books, Books, Literature
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Beth’s Blog

Fredrik Backman, My grandmother sends her regards and apologises

In his debut, Fredrik Backman charmed his readers with a cantankerous character with a heart of gold.  The characters in My Grandmother sends her regards and apologises are similarly crusty on the surface.  Seven year old Elsa is brilliant and a loner without friends other than her eccentric – in fact, crazy – grandmother.  But the two of them escape into the Land of Almost Awake or the Kingdom of Miasmas where Granny’s gift for storytelling builds the fortress Elsa needs to face the world.  This is a many-layered novel of compassion and social consciousness which will delight and warm the reader.

Sally Vickers, Cousins

Long a favourite author of mine, Sally Vickers has had a strong word of mouth following since her debut in 2002 with Miss Garnet’s Angel. A critic from the Washington Post commented that Vickers is a “novelist in the great English tradition of moral seriousness. Her characters suffer, they struggle to be true to both themselves and the promptings of the human heart.”

Her tenth novel, Cousins, is a family epos following three generations of a family of English gentry in the rapidly changing 20th century.  Three of the women attempt to reconstruct the impact on the family of a dramatic accident which befalls two of the young men, Nat and much later Will, who fall while free-climbing the spire of King’s College Chapel in Cambridge. Tender, philosophical, complex and reflective, this is literature at its best.

Kieran Larwood, Podkin One Ear

A new saga for children in the tradition of Watership Down has been born! A traveling bard arrives in the grand hall of a rabbit’s burrow and recounts the legend of Podkin One-Ear, a fearsome warrior rabbit renowned for beating back the vicious iron-clad rabbit breed which has sought to take over the realms of other rabbit clans. This beautifully written and illustrated tale is already becoming a classic, with more promised from author Kieran Larwood.  Great storytelling!



Len Vlahos, Life in a Fishbowl

The new owner of one of my favourite bookstores, The Tattered Cover in Denver, Colorado, is also the author of several young Adult novels.  His most recent work, titled Life in a Fishbowl, is a quirky satire about Jared Stone, a politician in Oregon and the father of two daughters, who discovers that he has six weeks to live.  Afflicted with a brain tumor (which becomes a major character in the book), Jared decides to sell the rights to his story to a television network.  The ensuing reality TV programme pokes fun at the obsession of watchers with the tragedies of other people.  As the cameras intrude on the lives of the Stone family, the members begin to fight back.

Restaurant Review – Borrl

Categories: Food and drink, Nick's Nosh
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By Carol Moore

Whilst living in The Netherlands for the past 10 years, I have had a reasonable stab at trying to learn Dutch. Not always very successfully, but, none the less, in a fashion that made life here much more enjoyable and interesting! I have lived in Amsterdam the entire time but am still not completely au fait with the East part, so when I chanced upon a new place there I decided to try it straightaway.

I was rather intrigued by the name of this restaurant –    , and set out to see if it really was a true representation of the “gezellig” atmosphere which one would expect to find whilst having a drink socially. It was a cold, dark and dreary Winter’s Wednesday evening and I was meeting up with my friend for our first catch up of the New Year. Upon entering we were greeted warmly by the owner who quickly showed us to a nice table (which we were free to choose) and given a detailed run through of how the evening menu works. There is a small but not insufficient and varied menu which suits equally the meat/fish/veggie diner and, in-keeping with the name of the place, the emphasis is on sharing dishes together to keep up with the non-pretentious, relaxed ambiance. We plumped for the Borrl kitchen platter which was a lovely combination of serrano ham, chorizo, aioli, tuna mayo dip, mackerel and beetroot puree. Alongside this we ordered some good old fashioned Dutch bread, all served on a lovely simple wooden platter. In the meantime we had also received the explanation that the wines which were on offer were specifically priced lower than some of other local establishments, so that the recipient could drink good quality wine but without the rip off, overpriced amount that so many places in Amsterdam charge these days. We opted for the Kiwi Cuvee which originated not from New Zealand as I had thought, but good old France! It was crisp and juicy and again, at a more wallet-favourable price, plus very tasty on the palette. Read more