The Children Act - Ian McEwan

The Children Act Ian McEwan
The Children Act by Ian McEwan - another book in my quest, and number 24! (we're not counting Elizabeth is Missing remember...?)
This is actually a  very short book - it comes in at just under 200 pages, so obviously I read it all in one go.

This book focuses on Fiona, a 50 something high court judge who specialises in custody and children's rights, with marriage issues and lots of emotional baggage. She is used to passing verdicts and being sure in herself, but when she has to decide whether a hospital should perform a blood transfusion on 17 year old leukaemia patient against his will - he's a Jehovah's Witness and will certainly die without the treatment, she takes a different approach.

I can't really say much else without ruining the book as it is super short - though it seems quite a lot does happen!

I'd actually never heard of Ian McEwan but a quick Google tells me he's a prolific writer and very well regarded - oops! I do like his writing style so I'll definitely be trying out some more of his books in the future!

Have you ever read The Children Act? What did you think? Tweet me!

10 things no-one tells you about...doing a car boot sale

doing a car boot sale

A bit of a different post today and the second in my new 10 things series! Basically, me sharing anecdotes about things other than the usual content of my blog - because hey, there's more to my life than baking and books! (Not much...but still.)

  1. You have to get up early. I mean REALLY early. Think getting up at 6am for a spin class, but so much worse. The one I used to go to with my mum required us getting up at 5.30 in order to be in the car queue at 6am, only to queue in a line with the other sellers until 7 when they let you in!
  2. On that note, check your car the night before you go. My most recent experience was particularly painful, as I got to my car at 5.45am, only for my tyre light to go off. In my sleepy state, I had managed to walk past the flat tyre. I mean comically flat - there was no way I was going to be able to drive on it. There's nothing worse that loading up all your stuff, getting up early, only to not be able to do it!
  3. People have this idea that bootsales are a cheap and easy way to make money. I guarantee you nothing is more painful than standing about for an hour to make a fiver, than to then have to hand over the £7 for the pitch. Plan for this, and expect to be running at a loss for a bit. (Usually the pitch costs go to charity, so count that as your good deed for the day.)
  4. People love a bargain at bootsales right? Not so fun when you're a seller - some people will barter you down to ridiculous prices, and people WILL NOT value your hard earned and well loved stuff as much as you do. If you aim to sell something for a tenner, I promise you, you will probably end up getting £3 for it...
  5. You get up at stupid o'clock and stand in a field/car park all day - you will freeze. Layers are key, and weirdly, sunglasses.
  6. That £3 you just got for your super expensive pair of jeans? You will spend twice that on the worst cup of tea you have ever had in your life and a dodgy burger from the burger van at the end of the row.  However, due to point 5, the food poisoning is worth the risk.
  7. You will not make your fortune and be able to quit your job. The misconception many people have is that they have X amount of stuff at Y price, and thus will end up with the fortune that is XY. You'll get a fraction of what you intended, and will stuff have to lug half of your stuff home with you.
  8. After spending months clearing out your stuff, half an hour in to the bootsale you'll decide that actually you do really want to keep that top you haven't worn for 5 years, and that actually, you will get round to re-reading that book. Stuff is hard to part with, and a fair amount of it will end up back in your car for safe keeping.
  9. If you decide to pack up early, or have someone with you, you may want to have a look around at the other stalls. This is a mistake. You will return with various pieces of vintage homeware and quirky clothes that you envision yourself wearing and loving, and these will sit unworn in your wardrobe until you decide to clear them out at the next bootsale.
  10. At the end of your super long day, when you have finished unloading all of your stuff back into your roof/garage/cupboard, and counting up the coins you have collected, you will vow it is not worth it. Until you forget all of this, decide it was actually quite fun, and do another one. Bootsales are weirdly addictive!

Have you ever done a bootsale? Where do you go? What was your best find? Tweet me!

The Three - Sarah Lotz

The Three Sarah Lotz

Creepy fact: I didn't notice the kids on the cover in this photo until late one night after I had finished - I swear they weren't there at all before - I am 100% convinced the cover was just red lines.

The Three by Sarah Lotz. Another book down in my quest to read 50, and not a good book to choose when on a plane. Silly me. (But a very good book to read!)

This book will not be for everyone. It jumps around a lot and it told from different perspectives (it's very cleverly done though, a book within a book.)

There's murder, the four horseman of the apocalypse and religious nut jobs aplenty, sprinkled between plane crashes, ghosts and suicides. What's not to love eh? ;)

But seriously. This is quite a dark book -  it has supernatural undertones, but perhaps the most horrifying thing in this book are the humans themselves - it is a very good account of just what people are capable of when faced with things they can't explain.

The premise is, there are four plane crashes due to unidentified reasons all on the same day in different parts of the world. All of the passengers on each of the planes are killed instantly, apart from three kids of roughly the same age. The kids are creepy (PTSD? Possessed?) and the world rallies around them...until the theories start.

This book is told by the point of view of interviews with the kids' guardians, new reports, articles and is basically an anthology of events. I was gripped the entire way through, and finished it in one sitting. (Admittedly, I was on a 9 hour flight so I was a bit trapped...)

I really would recommend this if you were wanting to try something a bit different - it is definitely not your conventional thriller!

There is a sort of sequel out, called Day 4, but I'm waiting for the paperback version before I dive in.
Have you read The Three? What did you think? Tweet me!

Salted Caramel Brownie recipe

Salted caramel is pretty much my ultimate vice. Since discovering it last year, I have quickly become OBSESSED with it. I decided to whip it up into some brownies, and they've fast become some of my most popular! (See my other baking exploits here...)

I think I've discovered the perfect brownie recipes and am now using it as a base for everything - mars bar brownies, crème egg brownies, M&M expect to see some more brownie inspiration on the blog soon!

(Also, I apologise for the poorly lit photos - late night baking!)

You will need...

4 eggs

50g cocoa powder

120g plain flour

200g butter

100g golden caster sugar

100g dark brown sugar (though I guess 200g  of brown sugar would work? I just used what I had in my cupboard)

250g chocolate (I just used Dairy Milk)

Galaxy salted caramel chocolate

Teaspoon of vanilla

Sprinkle of sea salt

M&S Salted caramel sauce

Gratuitous shot of my lovely Kitchen Aid we got as a Christmas/Engagement present...

Melt butter in a saucepan, take off heat and mix in the chocolate cubes so they melt.
In a bowl, whisk the sugar, vanilla and eggs. Pour the chocolate butter mixture into the bowl whilst whisking.
Sift in the flour and cocoa powder whilst whisking.

Pour half into a baking tray, and add half the cubes of Galaxy salted caramel chocolate, and smooth a layer of the sauce on top (I used about ¾ of the jar!)...

...tip the rest of the brownie mixture on top...

...add the rest of the Galaxy and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake at about 180 for about 30 minutes.

Tada! The best brownies I have ever made!

I took these into work and 4 people wanted the recipe, so I must be doing something right ;)

Let me know if you give these a try! Tweet me!