Favourite books read in 2015

In no particular order, here are my favourite reads of 2015:

  • The Hollow Crown - Dan Jones
  • Silent Scream and Evil Games - Angela Marsons
  • The Martian - Andy Weir
  • Royal Wedding - Meg Cabot
  • The Wayward Pines series - Blake Crouch
  • The Paper Magician series - Charlie N. Holmberg
  • The Day We Disappeared - Lucy Robinson
  • Sweet Girl - Rachel Hollis
  • The Throne of Glass series - Sarah J. Maas
  • The Road to Little Dribbling - Bill Bryson
  • Career of Evil - Robert Galbraith

Which books have you enjoyed reading the most this year? x

Books read in 2015

In 2015 I read 279 books, abandoned reading 35 books, and listened to one audiobook. You can find out how I rated them over on Goodreads, and I'll also be sharing my favourite reads of the year on the blog in the next few days.
  1. A Winter Flame - Milly Johnson [B]
  2. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss [B]
  3. Philomena - Martin Sixsmith [B]
  4. Solo - William Boyd [B]
  5. Sleepyhead - Mark Billingham [B]  
  6. Burial Rites - Hannah Kent [B]
  7. The Hollow Crown - Dan Jones [B] 
  8. The Worst Witch - Jill Murphy [R]
  9. Shall We Dance? - Maggie Alderson [B]
  10. Around the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne [B] 
  11. Shopaholic on Honeymoon - Sophie Kinsella [B] 
  12. The Killables - Gemma Malley [B] 
  13. Thirteen Weddings - Paige Toon [B]
  14. The Forgotten Holocaust - Scott Mariani [B]
  15. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit - Judith Kerr [B]
  16. The Tea Chest - Josephine Moon [B]
  17. Red Rising - Pierce Brown [B]
  18. The Tudors - Jane Bingham [B] 
  19. Silent Scream - Angela Marsons [B] 
  20. Black Flagged - Steven Konkoly [B]
  21. The No-Kids Club - Talli Roland [B]
  22. The Martian - Andy Weir [B]
  23. Northern Lights - Philip Pullman [R]
  24. The Venice Bucket List - Ella Fairlie [B]
  25. Slated - Teri Terry [B]
  26. Doubting Abbey - Samantha Tonge [B]
  27. Conditional Love - Cathy Bramley [B] 
  28. Trouble in Tinseltown - Aimee Duffy [B] 
  29. Misbehaving in Miami - Aimee Duffy [B]
  30. Prada and Prejudice - Katie Oliver [B] 
  31. Dan Taylor is Giving Up on Women - Neal Doran [B]
  32. Letters From My Sister - Alice Peterson [B]
  33. How to Get a (Love) Life - Rosie Blake [B]
  34. Not Quite Perfect - Annie Lyons [B]
  35. The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman [R]
  36. Tied up with Love - Amelia Thorne [B] 
  37. Prey - James Carol [B] 
  38. In Search of a Love Story - Rachel Schurig [B]
  39. Black Wood - S.J.I. Holliday [B] 
  40. The Little Things - Jane Costello [B]
  41. Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch [B]
  42. One Hundred Proposals - Holly Martin [B]
  43. You're the One That I Want - Giovanna Fletcher [B]
  44. There's More To Life Than Cupcakes - Poppy Dolan [B]
  45. Departure - A.G. Riddle [B]
  46. The Paper Magician - Charlie N. Holmberg [B]
  47. The Glass Magician - Charlie N. Holmberg [B]
  48. Follow the Leader - Mel Sherratt [B]
  49. The One That Got Away - Simon Wood [B]
  50. Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma - David Boyle [B]
  51. Stranger Child - Rachel Abbott [B] 
  52. From the Cradle - Louise Voss and Mark Edwards [B] 
  53. Because She Loves Me - Mark Edwards [B]
  54. Fat Chance - Nick Spalding [B] 
  55. The Venus Trap - Louise Voss [B]
  56. Poppy Day - Amanda Prowse [B]
  57. Second Time Lucky - Sophie King [B]
  58. Paying the Piper - Simon Wood [B]
  59. City of Bones - Cassandra Clare [R] 
  60. City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare [B]
  61. City of Glass - Cassandra Clare [B]
  62. Connectivity - Aven Ellis [B]
  63. Decoy - Scott Mariani [B]
  64. City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare [B]  
  65. Spin - Catherine McKenzie [B] 
  66. House of Malice - Scott Mariani [B] 
  67. The Man Who Can't Be Moved - Tilly Tennant [B] 
  68. City of Lost Souls - Cassandra Clare [B]   
  69. Arranged - Catherine McKenzie [B] 
  70. City of Heavenly Fire - Cassandra Clare [B]
  71. Forgotten - Catherine McKenzie [B]
  72. Hidden - Catherine McKenzie [B]
  73. More Ketchup than Salsa - Joe Cawley [B] 
  74. Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts - Mary Gibson [B] 
  75. Golden Son - Pierce Brown [B] 
  76. The Wronged Sons - John Marrs [B]
  77. Runaway Summer - Ruth Saberton [B] 
  78. Bad Blood - Casey Kelleher [B] 
  79. Pines - Blake Crouch [B] 
  80. Wayward - Blake Crouch [B]  
  81. The Last Town - Blake Crouch [B]    
  82. The Lie - C.L. Taylor [B]
  83. The Bride Wore Size 12 - Meg Cabot [B]
  84. Here Come the Girls - Milly Johnson [B]
  85. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins [B] 
  86. #Forfeit - Caroline Batten [B]
  87. One Plus One - Jojo Moyes [B]
  88. The Allegra Biscotti Collection - Olivia Bennett [B]
  89. The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman [R]
  90. Winter of the World - Ken Follett [B] 
  91. Evil Games - Angela Marsons [B] 
  92. The Bone Clocks - David Mithcell [B]
  93. The Martyr's Curse - Scott Mariani [B] 
  94. Feed - Mira Grant [B]
  95. Fresh Doubt - Eva Hudson [B] 
  96. Lullaby Girl - Aly Sidgwick [B] 
  97. The Day We Disappeared - Lucy Robinson [B] 
  98. The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton [B] 
  99. The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance - Kirsty Greenwood [B] 
  100. The Perfume Collector - Kathleen Tessaro [B] 
  101. The Year of Taking Chances - Lucy Diamond [B] 
  102. The Shape of Water - Andrea Camilleri [B] 
  103. Kiss Heaven Goodbye - Tasmina Perry [B] 
  104. Ladies Who Launch - Milly Johnson [B]
  105. Ransom - Rachel Schurig [B] 
  106. Shallow Waters - Rebecca Bradley [B] 
  107. Whatever It Takes - Adele Parks [B] 
  108. Us - David Nicholls [B] 
  109. The One You Really Want - Jill Mansell [B]
  110. Royal Wedding - Meg Cabot [B]
  111. The Wolf of Wall Street - Jordan Belfort [B] 
  112. Not What They Were Expecting - Neal Doran [B]
  113. You Had Me at Merlot: Part 1 - Lisa Dickenson [B]
  114. You Had Me at Merlot: Part 2 - Lisa Dickenson [B]
  115. You Had Me at Merlot: Part 3 - Lisa Dickenson [B]
  116. You Had Me at Merlot: Part 4 - Lisa Dickenson [B] 
  117. The White Princess - Philippa Gregory [B]
  118. Catch Me If You Cannes: Part 1 - Lisa Dickenson [B]
  119. Catch Me If You Cannes: Part 2 - Lisa Dickenson [B]
  120. Catch Me If You Cannes: Part 3 - Lisa Dickenson [B]
  121. Catch Me If You Cannes: Part 4 - Lisa Dickenson [B] 
  122. The Duff - Kody Keplinger [B]
  123. The Guestbook - Holly Martin [B] 
  124. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick [B]
  125. Deep Blue Sea - Tasmina Perry [B]
  126. You, Me and Him - Alice Peterson [B]
  127. Johnny's Girl - Paige Toon [B]
  128. Hostile Witness - Rebecca Forster [B]
  129. What Might Have Been - Matt Dunn [B]
  130. White Wedding - Milly Johnson [B]
  131. Travelling to Infinity - Jane Hawking [B]
  132. Someone Else's Fairytale - E.M. Tippetts [B]
  133. Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell [B]
  134. The Longest Holiday - Paige Toon [B] 
  135. The Breeders - Katie French [B]
  136. Secrets on the Estate - Mel Sherratt [B]
  137. Izzy's Cold Feet - Sarah Louise Smith [B]
  138. The Memory Game - Sharon Sant [B]
  139. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling [R]
  140. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler [B]
  141. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez [B] 
  142. Over You - Lucy Diamond [B]
  143. Soldier's Wives - Fiona Field [B]
  144. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert [B]
  145. A Brief History of Walt Disney - Brain J. Robb [B]
  146. The Story of You - Katy Regan [B]
  147. I Knew You Were Trouble - Paige Toon [B]
  148. Finding Audrey - Sophie Kinsella [B]
  149. Somewhere Only We Know - Erin Lawless [B]
  150. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn [R] 
  151. The Wild Places - Robert Macfarlane [B]
  152. The Good Girls - Sara Shepard [B]
  153. Forrest Gump - Winston Groom [B]
  154. Water Wings - Lauren McCrossan [B]
  155. The Bourne Ultimatum - Robert Ludlum [B]
  156. Corporate America - Jack Dougherty [B]
  157. Ugly Love - Colleen Hoover [B]
  158. The Girl Who Wouldn't Die - Marnie Riches [B]
  159. Finding Cinderella - Colleen Hoover [B]
  160. X - Jack Croxall [B]
  161. Confessions of a Chocoholic - Lynda Renham [B]
  162. Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas [B]
  163. The Stranger Within - Kathryn Croft [B]
  164. No-One Ever has Sex in the Suburbs - Tracy Bloom [B]
  165. Only the Brave - Mel Sherratt [B] 
  166. Perfect Little Town - Blake Crouch [B]
  167. Wreckage - Emily Bleeker [B]
  168. Follow You Home - Mark Edwards [B]
  169. Run - Blake Crouch [B]
  170. To Be Someone - Louise Voss [B]
  171. Snowbound - Blake Crouch [B]
  172. Hidden - Kendra Elliot [B]
  173. Chilled - Kendra Elliot[B]
  174. Abandon - Blake Crouch [B]
  175. Buried - Kendra Elliot [B]
  176. Veiled - Kendra Elliot [B]
  177. Alone - Kendra Elliot [B]
  178. The Generation Game - Sophie Duffy [B]
  179. Stirred with Love - Marcie Steele [B]
  180. Letting in Light - Emma Davies [B]
  181. Paris Time Capsule - Ella Carey [B]
  182. A Time for Living - Ruth Saberton [B]
  183. The Good Neighbour - A.J. Banner [B] 
  184. Escape for Christmas - Ruth Saberton [B]
  185. About That Fling - Tawna Fenske [B]
  186. The Evil Beneath - A.J. Waines [B]
  187. Crown of Midnight - Sarah J. Maas [B]
  188. Vanished - Kendra Elliot [B]
  189. Bridged - Kendra Elliot [B]
  190. Spiralled - Kendra Elliot [B]
  191. Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas [B]
  192. The Master Magician - Charlie N. Holmberg [B]
  193. Addicted - Nigel May [B]
  194. The Shell Collector - Hugh Howey [B]
  195. Trinity - Nigel May [B]
  196. Half Way Home - Hugh Howey [B]
  197. The Birds and the Bees - Milly Johnson [B]
  198. On Her Father's Grave - Kendra Elliot [B]
  199. Gone to Her Grave - Melinda Leigh [B]
  200. Her Grave Secrets - Kendra Elliot [B]
  201. Walking on Her Grave - Melinda Leigh [B]
  202. The Hunter's Prayer - Kevin Wignall [B]
  203. Girl on a Train - A.J. Waines [B]
  204. Dead Wrong - Helen H. Durrant [B]
  205. The Tunnel - Scott Mariani [B]
  206. Party Girl - Rachel Hollis [B]
  207. My Name Is - Angela Marsons [B]
  208. Sweet Girl - Rachel Hollis [B]
  209. Dead Silent - Helen H. Durrant [B]
  210. Dead List - Helen H. Durrant [B]
  211. Followed by Frost - Charlie N. Holmberg [B]
  212. Beacon 23: The Complete Novel - Hugh Howey [B]
  213. Marriage to Measure - Talli Roland [B]
  214. Where the Memories Lie - Sibel Hodge [B]
  215. Married by Midnight - Talli Roland [B]
  216. Last Christmas - Talli Roland [B]
  217. The Rose Girls - Victoria Connelly [B]
  218. The Middle Child - Angela Marsons [B]
  219. The Lie of You - Jane Lythell [B]
  220. Welcome To Wherever You Are - John Marrs [B]
  221. The King's Hounds - Martin Jensen [B]
  222. Oathbreaker - Martin Jensen [B]
  223. A Man's Word - Martin Jensen [B]
  224. The Blissfully Dead - Louise Voss and Mark Edwards [B] 
  225. Dark Place to Hide - A.J. Waines [B]
  226. Strawberries at Wimbledon - Nikki Moore [B]
  227. Queen of Shadows - Sarah J. Maas [B]
  228. Zoo Station - David Downing [B] 
  229. Don't Turn Around - Caroline Mitchell [B]
  230. Emerge - S.E. Hall [B]
  231. The Vintage Girl - Hester Browne [B]
  232. The Martian - Andy Weir [R]
  233. Somewhere to Hide - Mel Sherratt [R] 
  234. The Bad Beginning - Lemony Snicket [R]
  235. The Reptile Room - Lemony Snicket [B]
  236. The Wide Window - Lemony Snicket [B]
  237. Behind a Closed Door - Mel Sherratt [R] 
  238. The Road to Little Dribbling - Bill Bryson [B]
  239. The Miserable Mill - Lemony Snicket [B]
  240. The Leftovers - Tom Perrotta [B]
  241. The Austere Academy - Lemony Snicket [B]
  242. Wish Upon A Star - Oliva Goldsmith [B]
  243. Written in the Stars - Mel Sherratt [B]
  244. The Assassin and the Pirate Lord - Sarah J. Maas [B]
  245. The Assassin and the Healer - Sarah J. Maas [B] 
  246. Little Black Lies - Sharon Bolton [B]
  247. The Short Drop - Matthew FitzSimmons [B]
  248. Deadline - Mira Grant [B]
  249. Lost Girls - Angela Marsons[B]
  250. The Assassin and the Desert - Sarah J. Maas [B] 
  251. The Assassin and the Underworld - Sarah J. Maas [B] 
  252. The Assassin and the Empire - Sarah J. Maas [B] 
  253. Heresy - S.J. Parris [B]
  254. From Italy With Love - Jules Wake [B]
  255. From Paris With Love This Christmas [B]
  256. Blackout - Mira Grant [B]
  257. The Twelve Dates of Christmas - Lisa Dickenson [B]
  258. Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard [B]
  259. Dead Gone - Luca Veste [B]
  260. Mishaps & Mistletoe - Tilly Tennant [B]
  261. The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen [B]
  262. The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton [B]
  263. I'll Take New York - Miranda Dickinson [B]
  264. Coming Home for Christmas - Jenny Hale [B]
  265. One Hundred Christmas Proposals - Holly Martin [B]
  266. My Christmas Wish - Julia Williams [B]
  267. Dad's Christmas Wish - Julia Williams [B]
  268. Granny's Christmas Wish - Julia Williams [B]
  269. A Christmas Gift - Stella Wilkinson [B]
  270. When He Fell - Kate Hewitt [B]
  271. Notebooks of a Middle School Princess - Meg Cabot [B]
  272. The Kiss Before Midnight - Sophie Pembroke [B]
  273. Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe - Rebecca Raisin [B]
  274. Terms of Use - Scott Allan Morrison [B]
  275. How to Stuff up Christmas - Rosie Blake [B]
  276. A Cottage in the Country - Linn B. Halton [B]
  277. And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini [B]
  278. The Snow Angel - Lulu Taylor [B]
  279. Picture Perfect - Holly Smale [B]
  280. The Kind Worth Killing - Peter Swanson [B]

  281. Did not finish:

    The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
    Alpha - Colin F. Barnes
    Star Fish - Nicola May
    The Gemini Effect - Chuck Grossart
    Minette - Melanie Clegg
    The School Run - Sophie King
    A Little Love - Amanda Prowse
    Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
    The Mangle Street Murders - M.R.C. Kasasian
    The Nostradamus File - Alex Lukeman
    The New York Trilogy - Paul Auster
    The Italian Lesson - Frankie McGowan
    The Woodlands - Lauren Nicolle Taylor
    Twinkle, Twinkle... My Year Observing the Implosion of a Little Star - Mary Roulston
    The Agincourt Bride - Joanna Hickson
    Humanity's Global Era: A Dual Paradigm Change - Shlomo Yishai
    Providence - Jamie McGuire
    Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes - Sue Watson
    The List - Joanna Bolouri
    Gone - Michael Grant
    Surface Tension - Christine Kling
    Silver - Steven Savile
    The Seven Steps to Closure - Donna Joy Usher
    Twenty-Five - Rachel L. Hamm
    Boys for Sale - Marc Finks
    Sky Song - Sharon Sant
    As The Crow Flies - Damien Boyd
    A Beautiful Lie - T.E. Sivec
    Matches - Carlie Pettit
    The Detective's Daughter - Lesley Thomson
    A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother - Christie Barlow
    Avenged - Jacqui Rose
    The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Robert Tressell
    Winter's Children - Leah Fleming
    Humbugs and Heartstrings - Catherine Ferguson

November 2015: The Hand and Flowers

The Hand and Flowers, 126 West Street, Marlow, SL7 2PB.

Last month we headed to Marlow for dinner at the two-Michelin star gastropub, The Hand and Flowers. We ate there last November as well so knew we'd be in for a treat! Once again we'd booked the restaurant back in January this year but, and is it just me, this year has flown by so it didn't feel like such a long wait.

I slightly preferred our visit the first time round, though that's not to say there was anything wrong with this visit. The food was still as beautiful as ever, and the dessert that I had this time was incredible. I picked the lime and white chocolate bavarois with 70% cacao sorbet and white chocolate tuile, which is that rather planet-like picture below. Easily the best dessert I've had, probably ever.

What always strikes me about The Hand and Flowers is that it is exceptional value for a two-Michelin star rated place. Prices have pretty much remained the same as when we went in November 2014. If you can, I'd definitely recommend you go - I'm sure we'll be back there next November. x

The month that was: November

What happened:
We celebrated Olly's birthday at the start of the month, and his present from me was the BB8 droid (my nephew got the toy version for his birthday). Needless to say, he was very happy with it! We also headed to Kent the weekend after his birthday to celebrate with his family, catch up with friends, and watch a firework display. As for his birthday itself, we had a relaxing day. That's something to be said about working two days, having Wednesday off, then it's only two more working days until the weekend!

This month I finally listened to the Undisclosed podcast, which is a follow-up podcast to Serial, plus some of the Truth and Justice episodes. I thought that Serial was eye-opening but I am even more astounded after listening to Undisclosed that the case wasn't thrown out because of the missing /shoddy and seemingly tampered with evidence/witnesses. Has anyone else listened to these? I also started listening to Limetown, a fictional podcast - I'm not quite convinced about the story at the moment, but I'll see how it plays out - and I've also been listening to some of the BookD podcasts.

We headed to Marlow to have dinner at Tom Kerridge's The Hand and Flowers and stayed over, then headed to Bicester the next day for a bit of shopping. To be honest, I didn't really rate Bicester (Arielle would be appalled!) as I found a few things that I'd bought recently online to be more expensive at Bicester!

Other than that I've been hard at work earning money to ensure that I can take some months off at the start of next year to get Found finished. The cover is finished, and I'll be revealing it once it's available for pre-order.

What I ate:
We headed to Honest Burgers at Brixton Village which was Olly's first visit. Thankfully, especially as it was his birthday, he loved it. We ate at The Vineyard in Lamberhurst with Olly's sister and her husband and enjoyed some delicious gastropub/hearty country food. I had a beautiful wild boar meatball starter; other dishes we ordered included a yummy game pie, succulent scallops (below) and tasty venison medallions. Definitely go if you're in the area.

I discovered Taqueria on Westbourne Grove, which is an awesome Mexican restaurant if you're in the Notting Hill area. (I still love Wahaca, but it's always nice to try new places, especially since Wahaca is considered a chain nowadays!) Tacos from there pictured above right.

I was lucky enough to do some two Michelin Star dining at Tom Kerridge's The Hand and Flowers. We ate there last November, too, so it's becoming something of a November tradition! I'll review it soon, but we had a lovely meal, and I was particularly thrilled with my dessert (above right). It's a mini planet - how awesome is that! The next morning we had breakfast at The Coach, Tom's other Marlow eatery, which was nice enough.

What I watched:
TV-wise I followed Hugh's War on Waste with a super keen interest, and I urge you all to sign the pledge but also make sure that you recycle and try not to waste food. We also started watching the last season of Peep Show and season 7 of Nurse Jackie.

Movies watched: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Fast & Furious 7, Cleaner, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Wedding Ringer, Paris When it Sizzles, Pitch Perfect 2, Independence Day, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, X-Men: First Class, Angels and Demons, Tangled, Taken 3, Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace, Sister Act and Inside Out.

What I read:
In November I read 16 books and abandoned reading 3 books. I enjoyed reading From Italy With Love and From Paris With Love This Christmas by Jules Wake, The Assassin and the Desert by Sarah J. Maas, The Short Drop by Mattthew FitzSimmons, Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton, Blackout by Mira Grant and The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.

How was your November? (And how is it December already?!) x

The month that was: October

What happened:
October started with a cold, which I had on and off for the first two weeks of the month. Thanks for that body! Hopefully it will be the last cold I have for the rest of the year but, since I also headed back to Notting Hill to do some consultancy work, I have a feeling that the Tube germs may catch up with me. Boooooooo!

I'm enjoying some autumnal walks in Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park on my lunch breaks though, and it's nice to be earning some pennies. In an ideal world Found would be out this year, but I will get it out as soon as I can next year, and I'm going to be so much better at using my non-working time next year to get more books out. (Though writing, of course, is still hard work!) I did commission the cover though, and I'll be sharing that soon.

My family visited from Yorkshire, which meant tourist time. This included doing the Tower Bridge Exhibition - there's a glass floor so you can walk over the Thames, as well as finding out how the bridge was built and works/used to work - and mooching around Battersea Children's Zoo.

We also went to King's Cross train station so they could pretend to go through the wall of Platform Nine and Three Quarters - I'm quite sad that I didn't get the chance to pretend myself, though I did buy an awesome Gryffindor mug from the shop. I also booked tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child... in April 2017. Someone remind me to go!

What I ate:
We ate out at Wahaca, Jackson + Rye (bottom left) and Sticky Fingers, and grabbed a quick lunch at the Real Food Market by the Southbank Centre and Chilango. We also gave Fish, Wings and Tings (bottom right) a go at Brixton Village as we've never actually eaten Jamaican food in Brixton - a travesty! Jamaican food will never be my favourite cuisine, but it was nice.

We also headed out on two Saturday afternoons for drinks in Upper Street and Soho, respectively, which is something we don't do often enough. I absolutely love Upper Street, and really should go there more often!

What I watched:
We watched season 5 and season 6 of Nurse Jackie, then dipped our toes into a few new shows - we haven't found one to continue watching yet. At the cinema we went to see The Martian: I absolutely loved the book when I read it earlier this year, and I now love the movie. We also went to see Spectre. I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would, though I do now want to go to Mexico City for Day of the Dead!

Other films watched: Horrible Bosses, Horrible Bosses II, Trading Places, The Drop, The Interview, The Gambler, Mad Max: Fury Road, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Cocktail, The Judge, The Fifth Element, Bad Boys, Back to the Future II, The Love Guru, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Ghostbusters and Birdman.

What I read: 
In October I read 19 books. I loved Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas the most, and I also enjoyed rereading the first three books in The Estate Series by Mel Sherratt, ahead of reading Mel's latest book in that series.

I have to mention the two books that I bought in hardback in October: the beautiful illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as well as Bill Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling. I've been a massive Bill Bryson fan since I was a teenager and I, obviously, loved his latest book.

How was your month? x

Santorini: The best of the rest

There are lots of restaurants to choose from in Fira and Firostefani, though the choices are limited to almost exclusively Greek food. Understandable, but after ten days we were craving other cuisines. Italian is probably the second most popular cuisine type; we had a nice Italian dinner at Da Vinci and a cheap and cheerful lunch at Il Cantuccio (both in Firostefani).

I am now a massive fan of gyros (top left), souvlaki (top right),and fava, though I didn't understand the appeal of the Santorini tomato balls when I tried them - the ones I had were far too doughy/stodgy. Gyros though I can totally get behind! It's basically meat, red onion, tomatoes, chips and sauce served in a pita, though this varies slightly from place to place. Why Not! Souvlaki in Firostefani was our favourite place for a quick and tasty gyros lunch, and I can also recommend Meat Corner in Fira.

Mama Thira is the place to go for souvlaki - I had it there twice and it was beautifully tasty both times - and I had the best fava at Rastoni (Fira). It came with smoked almonds and roast Apaki pork, though I'd give Rastoni a miss and have tasty fava from Pirouni (Firostefani) instead. Pirouni offers massive portions - you could quite easily share a main, even if you're super greedy - a great view of the sunset, plus the staff were lovely. Aktaion is another nice little Firostefani restaurant. As for Fira, try Naoussa - their pork in Santorini sauce was so yummy. We also ate at Vanilia (Firostefani) and Fanari (Fira), which were nice enough.

Two courses each, a bottle of wine and water at most restaurants costs between €65-100, and you usually get given a free dessert or shot. We found that the restaurants in Fira are slightly more expensive than Firostefani, and slightly less tasty. If you want to have cocktails in Fira, we liked V Lounge.

Speaking of drinks, we took a trip one evening to the Artemis Karamolegos Winery, where you'll also find the #1 rated restaurant in all of Santorini (as voted on TripAdvisor in September 2015): Aroma Avlis. Although we didn't have a tour, we did do a wine tasting session and tried six different glasses of their wine for €8 each. Our favourite was the Nykteri, though I really liked the dessert wine: Vinsanto.

Another popular drink on the island is Yellow Donkey (the Santorini Brewing Company also do Red Donkey and Crazy Donkey), which Olly loved. As for Aroma Avlis, the food was delicious and ridiculously cheap - definitely get the Santorini sausage starter - and I'd highly recommend that you visit both the winery and the restaurant.

As for what else you can do in Santorini if you're not feeling lazy like we were - lots! One option is to rent a scooter, quad bike or hire car to take yourself off around the island, as taking taxis all the time will get quite expensive. For reference, a taxi from the airport to Firostefani will cost €20-25, and that's only a distance of 3 miles. Another option is using the local buses, which we used to get to Oia and back.

Visit the beaches and take in the difference colours - you'll find black, red and white beaches in Santorini. Other sights include:
  • The Prophet Elias Monastery - the highest point on Santorini
  • Akrotiri - the Minoan settlement preserved by the volcanic eruption 3,500 years ago
  • Mesa Gonia - a village that was deserted after the earthquake in 1956
You can also take a full-day boat trip that covers the volcano and hot springs, like we went to, but then goes to Thirasia, the other inhabited island in Santorini, and finishes in Oia.

That's it for my Santorini adventures, other than to say you can fly direct from London to the island in under four hours, and I'm sure we'll be doing that again at some point in the future! What do you think to what you've seen of Santorini? Have you been? x

Books: Coming soon!

Over the next few months there are several books coming out that I can't wait to read. First up, it's The Lake House by Kate Morton (out October 22nd). It feels like an age since Kate Morton last released a book, and I can't wait to get stuck into The Lake House. The Cassandra Sanction (out January 28th, 2016) will be the 12th Ben Hope book from Scott Mariani, can you believe it, and Ben Hope is surely up there now with the likes of James Bond and Jason Bourne. OK, he's as irritatingly indestructible as Bond and Bourne, but it will still be a thrilling read!

I first started reading Bill Bryson books as a teenager and he's still one of my favourite authors. The Road to Little Dribbling (out tomorrow) follows on twenty years after Notes From a Small Island - I can't wait to catch up with Bill's take on Britain today! Written in the Scars is the 4th book in Mel Sherratt's The Estate Series, and I'm looking forward to some more grit lit from Mel on October 30th.

I thought Undivided concluded the Unwind Dystology perfectly, but I'm still excited for UnBound, the next book in Neal Shusterman's dystopian series. Out December 15th, the book is a collection of short stories that tell us what happened next. (I don't want to say much more in case you haven't read the other books.) Finally, Lost Girls by Angela Marsons (out November 6th) is the 3rd book in the D.I. Kim Stone series, and one that is highly anticipated.

Which books are you looking forward to reading? x

Santorini: Fira and Firostefani

Fira is the capital of Santorini, whilst Firostefani is known as the "crown" of Fira. We stayed in Firostefani at Splendour Resort, which is about a fifteen minute walk from the capital.

Although we didn't have a view over the caldera at our hotel, we just had to cross the road to see it. Our hotel was great, though only because we booked a suite with a private pool - it didn't look very relaxing at all by the main pool, and I'm glad we had our own space to read and relax in the sun.

But, there is plenty of accommodation along the cliff path if you want the view as it's from this side of the island where you get the most marvellous sunsets (though Oia does seem to be the firm favourite of where to go to see the best sunset on the island).

Fira can often be very busy as the cruise ships dock at the Old Port - you can get from the Old Port up to the capital via a cable car for €5 each way, a €5 donkey ride or walking - you'll find lots of American, Japanese and Singaporean tourists exploring the island.

We headed down to the Old Port to catch our boat to Nea Kameni - via the very steep cable car - but unless you're taking a boat somewhere, there's not much to do down there.  

From walking around Fira, you'll see that there's a lot of money in the capital (what Greek depression?), and it's because of those cruise ships. You'll spot high-end boutiques as well as charming little shops as you mooch around, and plenty of restaurants and bars.

Firostefani is much quieter than Fira, though with the same lovely view. The restaurants there were much better than what was on offer in Fira, and also a bit cheaper. Fira definitely looks much more impressive though and the sprawl of white buildings are quite something against the dramatic volcanic caldera. I'll tell you all about where you should eat and drink in both places next time. x

Santorini: Oia

Oia - pronounced "ee-ah" - is a small cute town in the north west of Santorini, and it's the *the* place to go to see a pretty spectacular sunset.

Like Fira and Firostefani, the town is perched on the edge of the volcanic caldera, overlooking the Aegean Sea, and it can get pretty crowded as people stake out the best spot to see the sun go down. We grabbed an ice cream from Lolita's Gelato and went and did the same!

Oia has plenty of those splendid blue-domed churches and dazzling white buildings that Santorini is famous for, so remember your sunglasses - it's so dazzling and picturesque that you'll need them!

To get there, you can catch the bus from Fira/Firostefani for €1.80 each way. Buses run every twenty minutes in high season, but you may have to stand as it gets busy. (A cab to Oia from Fira would set you back around €25 each way.)

There's also a clifftop walk from Fira to Oia that's apparently beautiful, though a bit of a slog in the sun as it takes around three hours to complete. Part of me was tempted, but then I recalled how hot and sticky we got climbing to the top of the volcano island and decided against it!

Another famous Santorini landmark is its windmills, and we headed to the edge of town to settle down for some cocktails by one.

We got there just before 6pm and got to choose the best table at the Sun Spirit cocktail bar - I can highly recommend their Ginger Smash cocktail and the location. Sure, you can stand along the path to watch the sun go down, but you're on holiday! After quite a few cocktails, the sun finally disappeared and we headed off to have a quick poke around the town. Do remember to take with you a small torch, or install a torch app on your phone, as there are often black outs which can last anything from five minutes to five hours.

If you're a book lover, do visit the wonderful Atlantis Books - they have lots of lovely first editions to drool over, and I had to stop myself from buying a first edition of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (amongst others).

After dinner at 1800, a restaurant in a restored Captain's mansion that dates back to 1845, we headed back to Firostefani feeling merry. Buses run quite late, though are less frequent at night, and you should definitely add a trip to Oia on your Santorini to-do list. x


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