Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Have you ever wondered what to serve the little monster in your life? The Hoxton Street Monster Supplies Cookbook provides everyday recipes for the living and the dead. Serve up tasty dishes the next time zombies drop round for tea.

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies Cookbook

Did you know there is a Monster Supplies shop tucked away on an East London Street? Hoxton Street Monster Supplies has been supplying quality goods for the monster community for hundreds of years. It was set up in 1818 by a refugee monster called Igor, an attempt to ingratiate himself with the local monster community. In reality, inside the doors there is unique and original sweet shop. The shelves are stocked with Fang Floss, Picked Eyeballs and other interesting oddities. A basket contains a purring invisible cat and you might think twice before purchasing anything. 

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies is actually part of a project called Ministry of Stories which aims to promote imagination and storytelling among school age children. The store also runs workshops to encourage and mentor young writers. Created in 2010 with the support of Nick Hornby, author of Fever Pitch, the store is a great way to get children thinking up stories. All the profits from the store go to the Ministry of Stories, due it is said to a rather inconvenient curse.

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies Cookbook

The Hoxton Street Monster Supplies cookbook is a classic cookbook that has been in use by monsters for hundreds of years. It contains everyday recipes for the living, dead and undead. Recently the book has been adapted for use by humans as well as monsters. Now you can cook up treats for every occasion as well as finding hints for monster housekeeping. The 160 page hardback book is worth £13, contains over 70 recipes and is beautifully illustrated.

Inside the  book you will find mix of recipes and general advice and wisdom. It starts with the introduction and some information about the shop. There a very handy guide on the golden rules for entertaining monsters. Did you know dragons and yetis should be seated at opposite ends of the table for temperature control? You should also be aware that zombies take things very slowly so allow plenty of time for the meal.

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies cookbook

The recipes are broken into different sections:

  • Sweets & Pastiles
  • Biscuits & Cookies
  • Cakes & Bakes
  • Jams & Preserves
  • Savoury snacks for entertaining monsters
  • Potions & Poisons

Most of the recipes have strange names like gingerdead men and spiced earwax pie. If you can get past the revolting names and read the list of ingredients you will find the recipes are normal.   The book is full of tasty and original recipes as well as come classics. They are definitely worth cooking up. There is a small introduction to each recipe which are quite funny and some have illustrations as well. Intermixed with the recipes are words of advice and wisdom. These can be labels for buffets or gifts or information on how to carve a human. It makes entertaining reading as well as being a good recipe book.

1000 Year Curse Cookies

I tried out the recipe for 1000 year curse cookies from the book.  These can be used to curse your friends and provide 1000 years of misery per cookie. Luckily there is also a recipe to reverse the curse. Really these are just chocolate chip cookies and very tasty they are. They are also easy to make and children could easily help.

thousand year curse cookies or chocolate chip cookies from Hoxton Street Monster supplies cookbook

Making the biscuits is simple, it is just a case of creaming the butter and sugar the adding eggs, vanilla essence, flour baking powder and chocolate chips to make a dough. It is always a good idea to leave the butter out of the fridge for a while before making the cookies. This softens it and makes it easier to cream. After baking for fifteen minutes you will have delicious cookies that will not last long. Will you be cursed for eating them?

1000 Year Curse Cookies
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  1. 25g 4oz butter
  2. 175g 6oz light soft brown sugar
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 tbsp milk
  6. 200g 7oz plain flour
  7. 1 tsp baking powder
  8. 100g plain dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 18oC (350 F) Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy
  3. Add the vanilla extract. Beat the egg and add it a little bit at a time mixing well after each addition
  4. Stir in the milk and then sift in the flour and baking powder. Fold it in and finally add the chocolate chips
  5. Place 16 spoonfuls of the mixture on the baking tray and press down with a fork
  6. Bake for 15 minutes until golden.
Dragons and Fairy Dust
thousand year curse cookies aka chocolate chip cookies from Hoxton Monster Supplies Cookbook

Check out these videos which show more recipes from the book.


 Hoxton Street Monster Supplies Cookbook Giveaway

I have some copies of the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies Cookbook to give away to three of my readers. It would make a great gift or a good addition to your cookbook shelf. It is really easy to enter. Just leave a comment below letting me know which type of  monster you would like to entertain at a dinner party and why. When you have done that go back and fill in the rafflecopter widget so your entry is registered. There are other entries for subscribing by email, following on twitter, visiting facebook and tweeting about the giveaway but these are optional. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Rules

  • There are  three prizes of a box of a Hoxton Street Monster Supplies Cookery book – the prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
  • Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Dragons and Fairy Dust and Hoxton Monster Supplies
  • Closing date for entries is on 11:59pm GMT on 24th Nov  2016
  • Only one entry per person
  • Entrants must log into rafflecopter and leave a comment on the blog answering the question.
  • Optional entry methods are to follow on twitter, visit facebook, tweet on twitter and subscribe by email.
  • The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
  • Automated entries will be disqualified.
  • The winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 14 days or a new winner will be chosen.
  • The winner’s name will be available on request.
  • Hoxton Monster Supplies is responsible for prize fulfilment. The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address.
  • This is a joint promotion between Dragons and Fairy Dust and Hoxton Monster Supplies
  • Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions

Giveaway to win one of three Hoxton Street Monster Supplies Cookbooks

I was sent a copy of the book in return for an honest review. My opinions are my own.




I have been a big fan of the Alfie Jones series of books since I read the first one, Alfie Jones and a change of fortune. When I heard that David Fuller had written another one in the series, Alfie Jones and the Big Decision, I couldn’t wait to read it. Although these books are aimed at children they are enjoyable for adults to read as well. Each book can be read without having read the others in the series, but if you have read the other books you will be familiar with the characters and the interaction between them.

Alfie Jones and the big decisionAlfie Jones is a football mad boy who dreams of becoming a professional footballer. He has been playing for the Kingsway Colts for years and dreams of being offered a place in their football academy. Some of his friends have already been given places there and he longs to follow in their footsteps. In this book Alfie has turned twelve and just started at Tideway Secondary School. He realises that most professional footballers have already joined the academy by the time they are in secondary school and time is running out for him to get chosen.  To make things more confusing for him it appears that Daisy Saunders, a girl at school, has taken an interest in Alfie. Being twelve he is unsure how to act and takes to hiding and running away when he sees her to prevent himself becoming embarrassed. It is a lot to deal with.

When Alfie gets offered a trial for a professional football teams academy he is over the moon. It is not the academy for his local team, but it is a chance to realise his dreams. Only when he discusses it with his parents he realises it might be quite hard to travel for the training if he makes the cut. First though he has to make the grade. This is the perfect time for the mysterious fortune teller Madam Zola to appear, with the mysterious chiming of wind chimes. Madame Zola has the habit of turning up and making pronouncements on Alfie’s future but leaving him to figure out what she means. She tells Alfie he has a big decision to make and he is left wondering if he should accept the invitation to go to the football trials after all.

To further distract him Daisy appears to want to meet him. When he turns up it seems she is friends with Alfie’s nemesis, Jasper Johnson, which throws things into further confusion for Alfie. What will be the outcome for Alfie? Will he make the right decision and start the road  being a professional footballer? You need to read the book to find out.

As with all of David Fuller’s books the book shows an understanding of football played at school level. The excitement of each match is carefully captured with the descriptions of the game. The way the scouts are looking for talent is described perfectly, watching the game and the way the kids play, without them being aware. The book is about more than football though, it is about growing up and how a young boy is learning how to manage relationships with girls. Even Madam Zola has her part, her cryptic messages often end up being important lessons that Alfie needs to work out. It is an enjoyable book and one that will appeal to boys, who often show a reluctance to pick up a book.



Over Christmas I took the chance to catch up on my reading. It is not often I read chicklit but I found a few Christmas themed novels in my reading pile. One of these was Kiss Me Under the Mistletoe by Fiona Harper. The book is about Louise, a former model who is married to a famous actor, Tobias Thornton. She appears to have the perfect life, money for everything she needs and a gorgeous son. Louise is fed up with her husband’s affairs and on learning of his latest one decides to ask him for a divorce. She wants to start a new life away from the paparazzi and take charge of her life. She buys an estate in Devon, Whitehaven, previously owned by an iconic British actress, intending to make the perfect home for her and her son.

kiss me under the mistletoe

Ben has been looking after the garden on the estate as part of a promise made to the previous owner. Aware that the estate has been abandoned for years and not aware it has been sold he is taken aback to be ordered off the grounds by Louise, the new owner. Ben is also going through a tough time, his wife has left him and gone off to find herself. He is left juggling his job with the demands of looking after his daughter. The last thing either of them are looking for is love. 

Intermingled with the story of Ben and Louise is the story of the previous owner of Whitehaven. Louise comes across her diary whilst clearing out the house and reads all about her life. The two stories run alongside each other adding another dimension to the plot. It is a good read and leaves you guessing if the two will find love or let their past get in the way until the end.

One thing the book is not short of is food. Louise is a perfectly capable cook and loves baking.  Raspberry and lemon muffins, jam doughnut muffins or fairy cakes, they all appear in abundance. I had no difficulty deciding which recipe to make from the book as Fiona Harper had kindly included her recipe for Madeira Cake at the end of the book. Madeira cake is a cake I have always intended to make but never got round it. It is a deceptively plain looking cake, the magic happens when you bite into it. One slice is never enough.

Madeira cake

Madeira cake has a long crack down the middle which gives it a distinctive appearance. Traditional Madeira cake uses lemon as the flavouring, I substituted orange in this recipe which is just as tasty. The citrus taste works well with the sugar crust that forms on top of the cake as it bakes making you crave more than one slice. It also takes an hour to bake. The smell of it cooking whilst it bakes will ensure you put the kettle on almost as it leaves the oven. The waiting for it to cool seems to take forever.

Madeira cake

Madeira Cake Recipe

Madeira Cake
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  1. 240g (8½ oz) softened butter
  2. 200g (7oz) golden caster sugar plus extra for dusting
  3. 210g (7oz) self raising flour
  4. 90g (3oz) plain flour
  5. 3 eggs
  6. Grated zest and juice of one orange
  7. Few drops of vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 17OC Gas 3
  2. Butter and line a 450g (1lb) loaf tin
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar
  4. Add the orange zest and vanilla extract
  5. Add the eggs one at a time
  6. Mix in the flour and the orange juice
  7. Spoon into the loaf tin and sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of sugar.
  8. Bake for an hour or until a skewer comes out clean
  9. Cool in the tin on a wire rack
Dragons and Fairy Dust
Enjoy with a cup of tea. For other bakes from books why not try some chocolate brownies from a Prayer for the Dead by James Oswald.

Linking up to ReadCookEat over on Chez Maximka.




Tasty Tuesdays on


I am firmly of the opinion that you can never have enough books. I have bookcases bulging with books on every subject and a never ending pile of books that I must read. I would love live in a house with a library. The sort that has ladders that slide around the bookcases, comfy chairs, discrete reading lamps and a roaring log fire in the fireplace. I know plenty of people who are just like me, who hoard books and love nothing better than opening the pages of a new one. Recently I discovered The Beautiful Book Company gifting service. This is a gifting service that personalise and create book bundles allowing you to give a gift a bookwork will treasure. It is really simple to use, you can either choose to send a book a month for whatever length of time you choose or you can send a box of books. You then need to choose a category for the type of books the recipient would like and a fill in a few details about them. You can then sit back and relax knowing that beautifully wrapped books will be delivered each month which they will enjoy. The first book comes with a card that tells them who the gift is from.

Beautiful book companyThe Beautiful Book Company Gifting Service

I recently got a chance to try out the service and was sent one of the books from the Chef’s Collection. The book arrived securely wrapped in brown paper and inside it was beautifully wrapped in tissue paper tied with string. There was a gift card. It was exciting opening the tissue paper to find out what book was inside. After carefully unwrapping the package (well I actually ripped it) I found Natural – Wholesome recipes for pure nourishment. This is a book published by Paragon books which focuses on using natural and simple ingredients in your cooking to help boost your health and happiness. I have been trying to do more cooking from scratch recently so this was the perfect book to provide inspiration.
NaturalNatural – Wholesome recipes for pure nourishment.

Natural – Wholesome recipes for pure nourishment starts with an introduction which explains why it is good to eat natural foods and what foods are good choices for your body. It also describes each of the sections in the books and why they have been added. From healthy breakfasts to desserts, sauces and snacks they are all included. There is also a section on superfoods and why they are so super. Following the introduction there are eight chapters:

  • Wake Up! – a section on energy boosting breakfasts
  • Energy Fuelling Lunches
  • Super Charged Snacks and Sides
  • Dressings, Sauces and Dips
  • A Feast of Vegetables
  • Power Packed Protein
  • The Sweet Stuff
  • Healthy Nectars

Each section is filled with recipes that are beautifully set out. There is a small introduction at the top of each page under the recipe title, the method and a picture showing what the finished recipe looks like. The book has large pictures which I love in recipe books. It makes it so much easier to see what the dish looks like.


I found each of the chapters provided me with plenty of inspiration and looking though the book there were a lot of recipes I wanted to try. Sometimes with recipe books you look though and find hardly anything you fancy. These recipes all look lovely. I am going to be trying out some of the breakfast and lunch ideas in the near future. I find it hard to make healthy lunches to take to work and often just take sandwiches. I will definitely be trying some of the wrap and salad ideas in this book.


If you know someone who loves to cook The Beautiful Book Company Gifting Service would be a perfect gift idea. You can specify food preferences and experience level so that the books will suit them. The subscription comes in a three month package for £49.99, a six month package for £99.99 or a book box for £99.99. Don’t forget there are other subscription options so there is bound to be something for the person you want to treat. The Beautiful Book Company also has a gifting option for children which is a great idea.

If you are looking for cookery book ideas for Christmas presents The Nerdy Nummies cookbook would make an unusual and quirky gift. For a more special gift why not give a book with some chocolate, the Hotel Chocolat Festive Selection has some lovely ideas for chocolate lovers.


I am always on the look out for unusual cookbooks to help inspire my baking and The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook by Rosanna Pansino definitely falls into this category. It is full of unusual cakes and bakes that help to celebrate maths, science and geek culture. It is a cookbook that appealed to the scientist in me as well as the baker. As the book says it contains sweet treats for the geek in all of us.

Nerdy NummiesRosanna Pansino is the host of Nerdy Nummies, which is a popular internet baking show. Her videos have been watched more than 1 billion times and Rosanna is one of the most watched personalities on YouTube. The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook showcases her most popular creations as well as a selection of new recipes.

The book starts with an Introduction and section about the Nerdy Nummies show and how it started which is interesting reading. There is then an explanation on how to use the book with a list of tools, tips and techniques for decorating and information on where to get the templates to make the unusual shapes some of the recipes use. Templates are included at the back of the book and also available to download on-line. The recipes then start with a section on basic recipes. These are used to complete all the projects in the book and are set out in a really easy to follow way. There are various recipes from New York style cheesecake, to brownies, red velvet cake and different types of icing.

Nerdy-Nummies-2The baking projects then start, the book is broken into six chapters each devoted to a different theme. There is Math & Science, Space, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Gaming, Tech & Web and Geeky Treats. Each recipe has an introduction with a full colour picture and a list of ingredients. There are then really easy to follow steps with photos to allow you to recreate the recipe really easily. The projects are inspired and I was quite happy just flicking though the book and reading it. 

The Math & Science section includes recipes like the Periodic Table of Cupcakes, Apple Pi Pie and Atom Cookies. These are inspired by Math & Science and are a great way to inspire people to find out more about the subject.

Nerdy NummiesSpace has a series of space inspired recipes, why not take off in a Rocket Ship Cookie Pop or create a cake resembling the moon? I also loved the Gaming section which not only recreates modern games but also recreates some traditional games. I love this Chocolate Chess Cake which would be a perfect centre piece for a party.ChessThe section on tech also had me smiling. These Emoticon cookes are guaranteed to please and if you feel creative why not try a Motherboard cake?

Nerdy NummiesThe Nerdy Nummies cookbook has a great range of recipes that can be tackled by basic and advanced cooks. These bakes will definitely make you stand out and look great fun to try. I am having fun deciding which one I am going to make first. The book would also make a great gift for someone who enjoys baking.

The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook: Sweet Treats for the Geek in all of Us is
available from Amazon and other bookstores. RRP £16.99

If you love baking you might also be interested in Fairy Tale Baking, a recipe book that helps bring fairy tales to life in cake form.