Sunday, 19 February 2017

Food & Drink: The Giggling Squid, Wokingham



As an early Valentine's Day surprise, my husband treated me to an evening at The Giggling Squid, a Thai restaurant which has recently opened in Wokingham, Berkshire. My husband knew that I was keen to give it a try, despite not always being overly keen on Thai food himself (he has an odd hatred of lemongrass!).



Photo credit: http://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2016/12/giggling-squid-bring-flavours-thailand-wokingham/


I understand that the chain has been around since 2002, although I had not heard the name prior to the restaurant opening in Wokingham. I have read that it was started by Pranee and her husband in a tiny fisherman's cottage in Brighton. The company now boasts 21 restaurants throughout the UK.

When we arrived, we found the interior of the restaurant to be stylish and full of character, boasting some eye-catching ceiling decorations. Whilst we were left waiting in the reception area for quite a while, when a member of staff did approach, we quickly found ourselves seated and ready to order drinks. 




To start with, my husband ordered a Singha beer whilst I chose the Hibiscus Spritz, one of their guest cocktails combining Hibiscus infused vodka, strawberries and dry rose wine, topped with soda. I have to say, it really was delightfully refreshing and tasty.




Next, we moved onto starters. Not knowing how large the main course would be, we decided to share a started of Moo Ping. This consisted of 3 grilled marinated pork skewers with a Tamarind dipping sauce. We both thoroughly enjoyed this dish, although I unfortunately forgot to take a photograph as I was too busy eating!

For our main course, I opted for the Chicken Chilli and Basil Gra Pao with a side order of Jasmine Rice. The dish was a stir fry of vegetables with chilli and holy basil. There was a sweetness to the dish which perfectly complimented the heat of the chilli. We both thought the dish was absolutely delicious, although I did leave the mushrooms for my husband to eat as I am not the biggest fan of them.




My husband opted for the Chicken Tropical Jungle Curry (Keang Pa), being the spiciest curry on their menu, along with a side order of sticky rice. My husband did enjoy his curry, although he descibed it as being very similar in flavour to a Thai Red Curry but with a thinner sauce, possibly due to the lack of coconut milk. He agreed with the description in the menu that it was "refreshing" and "fragrant" in flavour and he enjoyed the level of heat. However, he did comment that he would have preferred a bit more chicken as he was still a bit hungry after finishing it.




We finished off diner with a trio of ice creams. My husband went for two scoops of Banana & Honey ice cream, whereas I chose one scoop of the Banana & Honey and one of the Brighton Rose ice cream. Both were delicious, although my husband suggested that it would have been nice to have more sorbet options on the menu as sorbet is more refreshing than ice cream after a meal, however the only sorbet on offer was Lemongrass & Basil and, as mentioned above, he is really not a fan of lemongrass.




In total, the bill came to approximately £54, plus a 10% service charge. This is slightly higher than we normally pay for a meal out, since so many restaurants offer discount codes/vouchers nowadays. However, we did feel that the food and service were of a good standard.

On a separate note, I want to mention the high standard of service received from our waitress. I did not catch her name, however she was a younger waitress with braces. Her service was very prompt, professional and friendly and it was a pleasure to have her as our waitress for the evening.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to The Giggling Squid and look forward to our next visit.


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Thursday, 2 February 2017

Blog Tour & Review: Rupture by Ragnar Jonasson


I am delighted to welcome you to today's stop on the blog tour for Ragnar Jonasson's latest crime novel, Rupture.

Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Title: Rupture
Publisher: Orenda
Publication Date: 24 December 2016 (Kindle) and 15 January 2017 (paperback)

Twitter: @ragnarjo

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Blurb

1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…

In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik, who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them. 

Haunting, frightening and complex, Rupture is a dark and atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s foremost crime writers.

Review

Thank you to Karen at Orenda books for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing a copy of Rupture for review.

Rupture is the fourth book in Jónasson's Dark Iceland series, featuring police officer Ari Thor and the isolated town of Siglufjordur. This is one of the few series I have read where I can honestly say that each book is even better than the last! 

As the book opens, things are not going so well for the citizens of Siglufjordur. The town is in quarantine due to a suspected outbreak of haemorrhagic fever. Everyone is staying indoors, in the safety of their homes. This gives an immediate element of claustrophobia to the tale.

With Siglufjordur a veritable ghost town, Ari Thor needs something to occupy his mind. When asked to look into a cold-case, Ari Thor finds his interest piqued and is determined to get to the bottom of the decades-old mystery.

We also become reacquainted with news reporter, Ísrún, who is finding herself stretch in several directions; worrying about her health, acting as go-between for her estranged parents and attempting to establish herself at work.

The story proceeds at a good pace, complete with a few twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes. The plotline contains several threads for the reader to follow: a child abduction, a hit-and-run accident and a suspicious death. Jónasson is certainly skilled at smoothly bringing together seemingly unconnected storylines.

The writing is, for me, one of the highlights of Rupture and the earlier books in the Dark Iceland series. Jónasson writing style is particularly to-the-point and feels almost sparse at times, yet there is a poetic element to his prose which compliments the bleak elegance of the tale. Each word feels as though it has been intentionally chosen to draw the reader into the pages and immerse them in this fictional world.

I like Ari Thor as a character and I was interested to read his interactions with Ísrún, whom we have already met in Jónasson's earlier book, Blackout. Their different investigatory styles seem to compliment each other and they certainly made a good partnership. I hope that we see Ísrún once again in any further additions to this series.

Rupture is a great crime novel - a classic mystery with a contemporary nordic twist. It creeps up on you, gripping your attention until you just can't put it down. A beautifully bleak, intelligent and atmospheric tale which I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend.

About the Author



Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavík University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated fourteen Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavík, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. Ragnar’s debut thriller Snowblind became an almost instant bestseller when it was published in June 2015, with Nightblind (winner of the Dead Good Reads Most Captivating Crime in Translation Award) and then Blackout following soon after. To date, Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, which has been optioned for TV by On the Corner, and had rights sold in fourteen countries. He lives in Reykjavík with his wife and two daughters.

Buy Links


Blog Tour

I am one of the last stops, so why not check out the earlier stops on the Rupture blog tour. Details as listed below.



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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Blog Tour & Book Review: Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb



I am delighted to be one of today's stop on the blog tour for the FANTASTIC debut novel Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb. I have the honour of sharing today's stop with the wonderful Sophie at Book Drunk, formerly Reviewed the Book (you must check out her new blog - it's great!).

Title: Deep Down Dead
Author: Steph Broadribb
Publisher: Orenda
Publication date: 5 January 2017

Twitter: @Crimethrillgirl and @Orendabooks

Website: www.crimethrillergirl.com 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 

Blurb 

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that's when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she's assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori's former mentor - the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past. Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida's biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where 'bad things never happen', but he's also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they're ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal. 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Book Review: Nighblind by Ragnar Jonasson



Title: Nightblind
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication date: 1 December 2015

Twitter: @ragnarjo

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Blurb

Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. 

Ari Thór Arason: a local policeman, whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him. 

The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by the murder of a policeman - shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. 

With a killer on the loose and the dark arctic winter closing in, it falls to Ari Thór to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik, where someone is being held against their will. Then a mysterious young woman moves to the area, on the run from something she dare not reveal, and it becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all. Dark, chilling and complex, Nightblind is an extraordinary thriller from an undeniable new talent.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Book Review: Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson



Title: Snowblind
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication Date: 20 April 2015

Twitter: @ragnarjo

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Blurb

Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors - accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. 

Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik - with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. 

When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. 

An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness - blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose. 

Taut and terrifying, Snowblind is a startling debut from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Book Review: Dark Fragments by Rob Sinclair



Title: Dark Fragments
Author: Rob Sinclair
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Publication date: 8 November 2016

Twitter: @rsinclairauthor
Website: www.robsinclairauthor.com

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Blurb

Dark Fragments: an edge of your seat thriller from the best-selling author of The Enemy Series

Murder. Money. Revenge.Outwardly, Ben Stephens appears to be a normal, hard-working family man. In reality, his life has been in turmoil since the murder of his wife, Alice, seven years ago. The killer was never caught.Now re-married - to the woman he was having an affair with while still married to Alice - Ben's life is once again spiraling out of control, and he's become heavily indebted to an unscrupulous criminal who is baying for Ben's blood.When Ben's estranged twin sister, a police detective, unexpectedly returns to his life, asking too many questions for comfort, it becomes clear that without action, Ben's life will soon reach a crisis point from which there will be no return.In order to avoid falling further into the mire, Ben must examine the past if he is to survive the present - but just how much pressure can one man take before he breaks?

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Book Review: The Tea Planters Wife by Dinah Jefferies



Title: The Tea Planter's Wife
Author: Dinah Jefferies
Publisher: Penguin  
Publication date: 3 September 2015

Rating: 4 out of 5

Blurb


Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper steps off a steamer in Ceylon full of optimism, eager to join her new husband. But the man who greets her at the tea plantation is not the same one she fell in love with in London.

Distant and brooding, Laurence spends long days wrapped up in his work, leaving his young bride to explore the plantation alone. It's a place filled with clues to the past - locked doors, a yellowed wedding dress in a dusty trunk, an overgrown grave hidden in the grounds, far too small for an adult...

Gwen soon falls pregnant and her husband is overjoyed, but she has little time to celebrate. In the delivery room the new mother is faced with a terrible choice, one she knows no one in her upper class set will understand - least of all Laurence. Forced to bury a secret at the heart of her marriage, Gwen is more isolated than ever. When the time comes, how will her husband ever understand what she has done?