Reads and Recipes

A literary lifestyle blog based in London, England.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Book Lover Meet Up in London, May 28th

Hello folks! 

I have some London-centric news for you.

I was recently contacted by WeRoom, who are organising a book lover meet up in London on May 28th.  

As its national share a story month, Weroom are hosting an exclusive event called Happy Hours at The Society Club  in Soho for book lovers to meet other book lives to flatshare with.  Weroom is encouraging people to get dressed up as their favourite literature characters to meet future flatmates who share the same interests as them.

Weroom ( is a dedicated social platform for flatsharing, designed to connect people with their ideal housemates and improve the lives of renters, share-seekers, landlords and letting agencies.

Those wishing to attend just have to register here

Then come along on May 28th for free drinks, snacks and lots of book chat!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Take Up Space by Vanessa Kisuule

Vanessa Kisuule’s Take Up Space is a prime example of this.  Vanessa is 23 years old and based in Bristol she has won several Slam titles.  Urging women to ‘take up space’, to be themselves, and to appreciate the women around them, Kisuule says that she wanted to “stand amongst an array of different women expressing themselves in whichever way they see fit…to represent the true multitude of female experiences.”   For more information about this series, you can visit here or here.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Blog Tour + Giveaway: The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality

Gahan Hanmer's book The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is set in present day. The central character Jack Darcey – actor, wanderer, ex-competitive fencer – has been tricked into visiting his school friend Albert Keane’s beautifully designed medieval kingdom nestled in a completely isolated river valley in the Canadian wilderness.

Albert Keane's community takes nothing from the modern world, the community lives in a setting that resembles the Middle Ages. There are castles, dungeons, knights on horses and the farmers that work the land.

One of King Albert’s nobles is trying to overtake him and he needs Sir Jack's help. Jack Darcy who finds himself learning how to adapt to living in a medieval kingdom becomes entangled in political intrigues.

Though The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality takes place in one time period but with two very different cultural settings.  The book answers the question why the past holds the key to happiness that may be missing in our present day.  That community such as this could easily exist in present day.


Finally they came back from the grove, wearing their new garments and dumping the old ones in the pile with ours. They were all wearing medieval riding costumes, with pantaloons tucked into soft boots and long jackets under their cloaks. The servants all wore the same colors, some kind of livery perhaps to identify them with Albert. Rudy and I were dressed similarly, with the right sides of our tunics padded with leather.

Whoever had designed all these clothes had done a good job. We were a very authentic-looking group. The men’s tights were hand-loomed; the daggers had come from an armorer’s forge, not a factory. Everything, even our hand-stitched leather baggage, had the unmistakable texture of handicraft. Everything, that is, except the pile of modern clothing that lay near the bonfire.

About Gahan Hanmer
Born into a family of actors and painters, Gahan Hanmer naturally gravitated toward the arts. He speaks French and Spanish and has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University. The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is available at: Amazon, My Book Orders,, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and on his website.  Ask Gahan Hanmer questions by visiting his website at

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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PRIZES 1 Winners will each receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash.

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the giveaway is now closed
congratulations to: Iain van Schalkwyk + Sara Zielinski


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Caramel Butter Cake

This is a bit lethal.

Delicious, but lethal.



125g (4 ounces) butter (unsalted, softened)
220g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tablespoon golden syrup
150g plain flour
75g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
125ml milk


220g light brown sugar
60g butter (unsalted and softened)
3 tablespoons milk
120g icing sugar


Preheat oven to 180*c (350F,  if your oven is fan-assisted, I recommend 160*c).  Grease your tin.  I used a shallow square tin, this cake doesn't rise much so you don't need a deep one.  


Beat the sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in a small bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and golden syrup.  For the syrup, to avoid it sticking to the spoon too much try warming the spoon in hot water just before adding the syrup.  This way the syrup will be runnier + won't take so long to get off the spoon.  Sift in the flours, and add the cinnamon and milk.  


Spread the mixture into the pan.  Be sure to spread the mixture well into the corners so there isn't a peak in the middle.  Bake for 50 mins (if the temperatures above are too high for your oven, lower them, each oven is different so don't feel obliged to stick to those temps).  


Check your cake is baked through by inserting a knife in the deepest part.  If it comes out clean, you can remove it from the oven.  Let it stand for five minutes before removing it from the tin + placing it on a cooling rack.


Once your cake is reasonably cool, you can begin to make the icing.  Stir the sugar, butter, and milk in a small saucepan over a medium heat.  Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved.  Don't let it boil until all of the sugar has dissolved into the mixture.  Reduce the heat once bubbles begin to form and let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for three minutes.  Once it has bubbled away for a short while, remove from the heat and add the icing sugar and some milk.  How much milk you add is dependent on how runny you want your icing to be.  I only added 2 tablespoons + the icing was like fudge once it had dried.  If you want it runnier, add the milk in teaspoons until you get your desired texture.


Spoon over cake once it has cooled completely.  Slice up, and serve.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in The Australian Women's Weekly "The Baking Collection".

In other news....

I am now on Facebook! (I know, it's taken me this long to join the 21st century).  I've created a little page which you can 'like' and keep updated with posts from here as well as my instagram. I won't be linking my Twitter feed as I think that will be too many posts, but I would love to see you there.  

If you have a page of your own which you think I'd like, leave a link in the comments and I shall pop over and have a look.  (I promise not to spam you.)

Hope you enjoy the rest of your long weekend!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns 

“If you don't imagine, nothing ever happens at all.”

I love most of John Green’s books, but Paper Towns was the first one I read, and has always stood out as my favourite. Green’s books are wonderful at capturing teenage sentiments realistically, and avoiding the trashy clichés too often found in the genre. Although I’m no longer a teenager myself, I still enjoy revisiting book from that time in my life, and find I still relate to many of the characters.

For those unfamiliar with the plot of Paper Towns, Q and Margot have been next door neighbours for years. One night, she climbs in his bedroom window and leads him on a madcap adventure through the streets of Florida. The next morning, she has vanished, and now Q and his friends have to follow the trail of clues she left behind. As a protagonist, Q is likeable and relatable, and I was rooting for him the whole way through, which is always important for me when reading a book - I’’m not going to enjoy it if I don’t like the main character. Margot is mysterious and mischievous, a whirlwind that turns his world upside down. I love the possibilities that she brings to the story; I grew up reading fantasy novels, so it’s great when there’s a bit of adventure and mystery in a novel set in the real world. There’s also a road trip featured, which makes me long for travel again myself.

Without giving away the ending, I think it’s excellent. Whatever you think it’s going to be, you’re probably wrong, and I love a book that avoids the cliché ending, and keeps me on my toes like that. I find Green’s books to be more realistic because of endings like this, and because he throws in a few harsh truths. In this case, people and places aren’t always as great as we think they are in our heads:

“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”

I also like that his characters avoid stereotypes too, and instead have unique little quirks, as most of us in the real world too. These details are pretty unforgettable too; this book will always make me think of the world’s largest collection of black Santas (and you’ll have to go read it if you want to know what that’s all about!).

The film adaptation of the novel is also coming out this year, which I’m a little anxious about. We’ve all seen good and bad adaptations before, but I really don’t want one of my favourite books to be ruined on screen! However, I liked the last John Green adaptation, The Fault in Our Stars, and the trailer looks good, so I’m staying optimistic!

Paper Towns has everything I look for in a novel - realistic characters, an interesting and exciting plot line, a unique writing style and a lack of clichés. But liking a book is more than just checking off these points on a list - my favourite books make me feel, I get excited or nervous about the fates of characters, I sympathise with them and root for them; I want to be a part of the story. This novel is about friendship and adventure and mystery and feeling like a teenager again. And that’s why I’ll always go back to read it again.

“As long as we don't die, this is gonna be one hell of a story.” 

This 'Favourite Book' submission is courtesy of Charlotte, thank you!

 Charlotte has her own blog, entitled "Just Muddling through Life"; and she can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

If you'd like to share your favourite book with my readers, click here (or the tab at the top of the page) to find out some more info.  The books shared by various bloggers & authors can be found hereeee.  

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