It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

The Good News: Thank you for the many lovely birthday wishes I received last week, they truly brightened my day.

The Bad News: The tradition continues however, making this the 41st year without receiving a single book (or book voucher etc) as a birthday gift! What I did get was a block of  Crunch chocolate and a television remote control (don’t ask!)

The Good News: The children have two weeks of school holidays

The Bad News: I’m exhausted trying to keep them entertained.

 The Good News: We’ve spent the four day Easter holidays at home, overdosing on chocolate and hot cross buns.

The Bad News: Hubby will go back to work tomorrow

The Good News: This weekend we celebrate ANZAC Day and so he will be able to enjoy another long weekend.

The Bad News: I’m nervously preparing for the presentation I am giving this Thursday night to a local women’s network group about books and blogging.

The Good News: I’m hoping to be able to share the details of a special bookish event with you sometime this week, I’m so excited about it and can’t wait to make the announcement!

What I Read Last Week

From The Feet Up by Tanya Saad

The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

The Accident by CL Taylor

Guidebook To Murder by Lyn Cahoon

The Forever Song by Julia Kagawa

The Man Who Couldn’t Stop by David Adam

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon ★★★1/2

Review: From The Feet Up by Tanya Saad

Review: The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon ★★★

Guest Post: Writing What You Fear by CL Taylor

Review: The Accident by CL Taylor ★★★

Review: Guidebook To Murder  by Lyn Cahoon★★1/2

Review: The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa ★★★★

Stuff on Sundays:  Bookshelf Bounty

What I Am Reading Today

For centuries, the Furies have lived among us. Long ago they were called witches and massacred by the thousands. But they’re human just like us, except for a rare genetic mutation that they’ve hidden from the rest of the world for hundreds of years. Now, a chance encounter with a beautiful woman named Ariel has led John Rogers into the middle of a secret war among the Furies. Ariel needs John’s help in the battle between a rebellious faction of the clan and their elders. The grand prize in this war is a chance to remake the human race. Mark Alpert’s The Furies weaves cutting-edge science into an ingenious thriller, showing how a simple genetic twist could have inspired tales of witchcraft and sorcery, and how the paranormal could indeed be possible.


 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

 

Four-year-old Nathan Fisher disappears from the bank of a rocky creek. Did he drown or was he taken? The search for the missing boy grips the nation. A decade later, young teen Adam Vander has grown tall enough, strong enough, to escape his abusive father. Emerging from behind the locked door of their rambling suburban home, Adam steps into a world he knows little of.  In the days that follow, with the charismatic and streetwise Billy as his guide, Adam begins to experience all that he’s missed out on. And he begins to understand that he has survived something extraordinary. As the bond between the boys grows, questions begin to surface. Who is Adam really? Why was he kept so hidden? Was it just luck that Billy found him, or an unsettling kind of fate?  Unearthing the shocking truth of Adam’s identity will change the lives of many and put at risk a cast of flawed, desperate people. It’s a treacherous climb from the darkness. For one boy to make it, the other might have to fall through the cracks.

 Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes. When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption. But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knit Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

Dan’s got a new job. But he’s moved out of town in order to start a family and had to start commuting into the city every day, leaving his young wife Beth and newborn daughter at home. After 14 months of the trains either making him late for work or late getting home, he’s had enough. Tracking down the email address of the train company’s director, he starts to write him letters. Emails that take as long to write as the delay to his journey has been. If his time’s been wasted, why shouldn’t he waste the director’s? And so begins a hilarious and extraordinary correspondence. When the director begins to write back, Dan finds himself with a dysfunctional father/confessor to talk to — one who he never imagined would care. In truth, he probably doesn’t. But Dan finds solace in opening up to a stranger about the dramas of his day job at a scandal-hit newspaper, the challenges of his night job as the father of a baby who isn’t sleeping, and about life as it is played out in the confines of Coach C, while world events pass by its odd mix of inhabitants.

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny’s murderer to justice – if he doesn’t track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women and damaged children. It’s the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts. In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue’s lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boom town like no other.

Physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of the doctors and nurses who struggled to preserve life amidst chaos. After Katrina destroyed the generators that make twenty-first century medicine possible, to be a patient at Memorial meant you were wholly at the mercy of caregivers forced to make a cascade of decisions about whose lives could be preserved and who would most likely die in the face of serious illness and limited medical care. The result was an almost unthinkable tragedy: several health professionals deliberately injected severely ill patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.  In an engrossing narrative that exposes the human drama that fuels medicine and the unchartered territory of end-of-life care, Fink brings the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about just how ill-prepared we are as Americans for the impact of large-scale disasters on the most vulnerable among us.

While you are here…

Winner of  Beached by Ros Baxter : Carla P

 

Vote for Book’d Out in the Best Australian Blog Awards. Click the image below and look for Book’d Out (listed alphabetically). I’d appreciate your support!

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll try to be along to visit you shortly!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

happy-birthday-to-me-52

And it’s true, today is my birthday!I’m 41 on the 14/4/14!
All gifts, (books), cake, diamonds etc gratefully accepted ;)

 

What I Read Last Week

Fish Out of Water by Ros Baxter

Beached by Ros Baxter

The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan

Losing Kate by Kylie Kaden

Games Creatures Play by Charlaine Harris et al

The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: Crimson Dawn by Fiona McDonald ★★★1/2

Review: The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan ★★★

Review & Giveaway: Beached by Ros Baxter ★★★1/2

Review: Losing Kate by Kylie Kaden ★★★★1/2

Review: Games Creatures Play by Charlaine Harris et.al

Stuff on Sundays:  Six Degrees of Separation

What I Am Reading Today

In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted ‘death of print’ has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are a thing of the past, as we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but have become so intuitive as to hail us taxis before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange. Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language(NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the final edition that will ever be printed. Doug is an intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used e-mail to communicate-or even actually spoke to one another. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving a single written clue: ALICE. It’s a code word he and Anana devised to signal if one of them ever fell into danger…. Joined by Bart, her bookish NADEL colleague (who is secretly in love with her), Anana’s search for her father will take her into dark basement incinerator rooms, underground passages of the Mercantile Library, meetings of a secret society designed to save the written word, the boardrooms of the evil online retailing giant Synchronic, and ultimately to the hallowed halls of the Oxford English Dictionary-the spiritual home of the written word. As Anana pieces together what is going on, and Bart falls victim to the strange ‘word flu’ that is spreading worldwide, the very future of language is at stake….

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

 

This dazzling memoir reveals one woman’s determination to overcome the odds and survive a frightening prognosis. Tanya Saad’s life wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t far off. Happily occupied with a demanding job, the competitive cycling she loved and the support of her irrepressible family, she wasn’t given to introspection. Then the thunderbolt hit. At the age of 30, Tanya discovered she had tested positive for the BRCA1 gene: a gene that meant her chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer young just increased exponentially. Worse was to come when one of her beloved younger sisters tested positive, too. A resilient personality, Tanya was used to meeting challenges. Growing up as part of a Lebanese family in a small NSW country town then coming out as a gay woman in a conservative environment meant she was used to conflict. But there were tough decisions ahead — should she have her breasts and ovaries removed before the disease took hold? Still a young woman, yet to find a partner, would she have time to have children? Told with great verve and humour, this memoir questions what it is that makes you a woman, shows how to meet adversity with courage and grace and offers some surprising revelations along the way. As Tanya says, ‘the profound moments in your life are not about getting what you want, they are about discovering who you are.

The finale of the Blood of Eden trilogy. VENGEANCE WILL BE HERS  Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster?  With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.  MONSTER  Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.  In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

The person you trust most may only be telling you half the story … Fast-paced, suspenseful, this is a book with more twists than a helter-skelter that will keep you reading late into the night. Perfect for fans of Before I Go to Sleep and Gone Girl. Sue Jackson has the perfect family but when her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma she is forced to face a very dark reality. Retracing her daughter’s steps she finds a horrifying entry in Charlotte’s diary and is forced to head deep into Charlotte’s private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and she’s forced to look further, into the depths of her own past. There is a lot that Sue doesn’t know about Charlotte’s life. But then there’s a lot that Charlotte doesn’t know about Sue’s …

 In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store–Coffee, Books, and More–open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder? When Jill’s elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily’s gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill–along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit–especially if it gets her closer to South Cove’s finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she’s on the case–and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently.

Have you ever had a strange urge to jump from a tall building, or steer your car into oncoming traffic? You are not alone. In this captivating fusion of science, history and personal memoir, writer David Adam explores the weird thoughts that exist within every mind, and how they drive millions of us towards obsessions and compulsions. David has suffered from OCD for twenty years, and The Man Who Couldn’t Stop is his unflinchingly honest attempt to understand the condition and his experiences. What might lead an Ethiopian schoolgirl to eat a wall of her house, piece by piece; or a pair of brothers to die beneath an avalanche of household junk that they had compulsively hoarded? At what point does a harmless idea, a snowflake in a clear summer sky, become a blinding blizzard of unwanted thoughts? Drawing on the latest research on the brain, as well as historical accounts of patients and their treatments, this is a book that will challenge the way you think about what is normal, and what is mental illness. Told with fierce clarity, humour and urgent lyricism, this extraordinary book is both the haunting story of a personal nightmare, and a fascinating doorway into the darkest corners of our minds.

While you are here…

ENTER TO WIN Beached by Ros Baxter Open worldwide, closes April 20th 2014

Congratulate WINNER’s of The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown Prize Packs:

Mary S & Cheryl B

Vote for Book’d Out in the Best Australian Blog Awards. Click the image below and look for Book’d Out (listed alphabetically). I’d appreciate your support!

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll try to be along to visit you shortly!

Stuff On Sunday: Six Degrees of Separation

800px-Six_degrees_of_separation.svg_-685x327

Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman were inspired to create this meme by a short story titled ‘Chains’ in which Hungarian writer and poet Frigyes Karinthy first coined the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’. Based on the idea in Karinthy’s story, Emma and Annabel will choose a book each month, and link it to five other books in a chain, inviting their readers and other bloggers to join them by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal or esoteric ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

The great thing about this meme is that each participant can make their own rules. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

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The first book chosen by Annabel and Emma is Hannah Kent’s, Burial Rites.

Burial Rites is a fictionalised account of the last female prisoner executed in Iceland in the late nineteenth century.

Like Burial Rites, Kate Forsyth’s historical novel, Bitter Greens, is inspired by a real figure, Charlotte-Rose de la Force.

Bitter Greens is set in the late 1500′s to 1600′s, and its is that time period that forges a link between it and Kirsty Eagar’s Saltwater Vampires.  Saltwater Vampires twists the famed mutiny and massacre that occurred after the shipwreck of the Batavia off the West Australian coast in 1629 into a vampiric legend that centuries later endangers a group of teenagers during the summer holidays, and the residents of  the coastal town they live in.

From Saltwater Vampires  you can make the leap to Snake Bite by Christie Thompson which features another group of teens during summer vacation, though Jez and her mates are stuck in urban Canberra. A coming of age story set in the suburbs of Australia’s capital during the 1990′s, Snake Bite is a story of adolescent rebellion and discovery.

In Snake Bite the mother of the main protagonist, Jez, is an alcoholic, as is Sarah’s in Nelika McDonald’s The Vale GirlIn this novel, fifteen year old Sarah Vale goes missing, yet few, including her mother, seem to care.

In contrast, Dee is devastated when her teenage daughter goes missing while holidaying in Argentina in Traces of Absence by Susan Holoubek. She makes annual pilgrimages to South America to search for Corrie hoping to discover the girl’s fate.

********

So that’s it, six books linked by six degrees of separation, though the more observant of you might notice the entire chain is also connected, as each book is by an Australian author.

Please note that clicking on the title links will also take you to my review for each book.

Visit Emma‘s or Annabel’s blogs if you would like to join in with this meme or to browse the intriguing connections from bloggers who are participating.

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

I had an incredibly frustrating week, starting with a computer glitch that threatened my hard drive and blocked internet access across our network, which I spent three days troubleshooting. I’m still not entirely sure what caused the hard drive issue but the system seems to be stable now. I was panicked in part because I discovered by external back up drive had also been corrupted at some stage, resulting in half of my files being inaccessible. I’m still working on a solution for that but in the meantime I had to buy another external drive and create a new backup which took eight long hours. And then,  after I was confident I had solved the hard drive issues and was finally back online, a storm caused a three hour black out!

It is the first Monday of the month  so here are my challenge updates:

SNAG-0193

The Eclectic Reader Challenge 4/12

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 25/50

Aussie Author Challenge 5/12

Around the World in 12 Books Challenge 4/12

 

What I Read Last Week

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Simmering Season by Jenn J McLeod

After Everything by Suellen Dainty

The Red-Hot Chili Cook-off by Carolyn Brown

The Australian Blue-Ribbon Cookbook by Liz Harfull

Crimson Dawn by Fleur McDonald

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: Before I Got To Sleep by S.J Watson ★★★★1/2

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell ★★★★

AWW Feature: Who Am I? by Jenn J McLeod

Review: Simmering Season by Jenn J McLeod ★★★1/2

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown

Review & Giveaway: The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown ★★★★

Stuff on Sundays: Weekend Cooking: The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook by Liz Harfull

What I Am Reading Today

How far will a gentle sea princess go to save the home she loves?  When the clerk at a burger joint is assaulted for trying to sell a fish burger to a hot blonde, it’s just the beginning of a clash between Land and Sea. The world is going mad, and Princess Lecanora is on a special mission to stop it. There are just a few complications… First, life on the land is a bit harder to adjust to than expected, what with the wearing of clothing and the consuming of delicious (but pointless) calories. Second, the most evil magician the world has ever seen wants her as his bride — consensually or otherwise. Finally, a completely inappropriate gun-toting mercenary who goes against every one of her pacifist principles keeps rocking her world. As the forces of darkness gather, Lecanora must come to terms with the lengths she will go to in order to save the sea home she has always known, and the land she has come to love.

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

 

 This mesmerising debut is part love story, part mystery, telling the captivating story of two lovers torn apart by tragedy and the secrets they kept of one devastating night. I’m the most authentic version of myself when I’m around Jack. We’ve known each other since we were kids, and our relationship was always one of mudpies and mocking. Then everything changed. Beautiful Kate, my best friend, disappeared on a moonlit beach after Jack dumped her for me. Jack was a suspect and, sure of his innocence, I lied to protect him. I know Jack didn’t kill her. Our betrayal did. Thirteen years later, I am thirty, childless and single, attempting to renovate my life rescuing a rundown worker’s cottage. All is as it should be in my safe little world – until Jack buys the vacant lot behind my house… and the feelings that we buried all those years ago – the guilt, the love and the pain – resurface. We can’t keep running away from the past – and to move forward we have to know what really happened to Kate.

Welcome to the wide world of paranormal pastimes, where striking out might strike you dead. Editors Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner are your announcers for this all-new story collection of the most peculiar plays ever made… Sports fans live and die by their teams’ successes and failures—though not literally. But these fourteen authors have written spirited—in more ways than one—new tales of killer competitions that would make even the most die-hard players ask to be benched.

 

A stolen baby. A murdered woman. A decades-old atrocity. Something connects them all. A month before Christmas, and Ballyterrin on the Irish border lies under a thick pall of snow. When a newborn baby goes missing from hospital, it’s all too close to home for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, who’s wrestling with the hardest decision of her life. Then a woman is found in a stone circle with her stomach cut open and it’s clear a brutal killer is on the loose. As another child is taken and a pregnant woman goes missing, Paula is caught up in the hunt for a killer no one can trace, who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted ‘death of print’ has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are a thing of the past, as we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but have become so intuitive as to hail us taxis before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange. Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language(NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the final edition that will ever be printed. Doug is an intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used e-mail to communicate-or even actually spoke to one another. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving a single written clue: ALICE. It’s a code word he and Anana devised to signal if one of them ever fell into danger…. Joined by Bart, her bookish NADEL colleague (who is secretly in love with her), Anana’s search for her father will take her into dark basement incinerator rooms, underground passages of the Mercantile Library, meetings of a secret society designed to save the written word, the boardrooms of the evil online retailing giant Synchronic, and ultimately to the hallowed halls of the Oxford English Dictionary-the spiritual home of the written word. As Anana pieces together what is going on, and Bart falls victim to the strange ‘word flu’ that is spreading worldwide, the very future of language is at stake….

Kate Fullerton, talented tea designer and now co-owner of The Tea Chest, could never have imagined that she’d be flying from Brisbane to London, risking her young family’s future, to save the business she loves from the woman who wants to shut it down. Meanwhile, Leila Morton has just lost her job; and if Elizabeth Clancy had known today was the day she would appear on the nightly news, she might at least have put on some clothes. Both need to start again. When Kate’s, Leila’s and Elizabeth’s paths unexpectedly cross, they throw themselves into realising Kate’s magical vision of London’s branch of the newest and most delectable tea shop, The Tea Chest. But every time success is within their grasp, increasing tensions damage their trust in each other. With the very real possibility that The Tea Chest will fail, Kate, Leila and Elizabeth must decide what’s important to each of them. Are they willing to walk away or can they learn to believe in themselves? An enchanting, witty novel about the unexpected situations life throws at us, and how love and friendship help us through. Written with heart and infused with the seductive scents of bergamot, Indian spices, lemon, rose and caramel, it’s a world you won’t want to leave.

While you are here…

If you live in the US or Canada enter to WIN The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown

Vote for Book’d Out in the Best Australian Blog Awards. Click the image below and look for Book’d Out (listed alphabetically). I’d appreciate your support!

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll try to be along to visit you shortly!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

I am really not happy with WordPress at the  moment. Midweek they decided to change the way in which images can be manipulated within posts under the guise of simplifying the process. WordPress insists this is an upgrade, but given it removes advanced features that I rely on without replacing them, or offering an alternative, then it is a downgrade as far as I am concerned, especially as it means I have to spend extra time manipulating the html for every post I publish.

I am certain the frustration has contributed to my struggle writing reviews this week. The words just wouldn’t come and now I am behind at a time when I really can’t afford to be. Does this happen to you? How do you handle it? I ended up refusing to turn to computer on at all on Saturday, usually I would do at least some work in the late afternoon after spending most of the day at basketball and then grocery shopping. Instead, I watched the entirety of season two of Warehouse 13 on Netflix!

What I Read Last Week

Safe Harbour by Helene Young

Beams Falling by P.M. Newton

Betrayed by Jaqui Rose

The Violet Hour by Katherine Hill

Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman

Tracking North by Kerry McGinnis

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

 

 New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: Safe Harbour by Helene Young ★★★★1/2

Review: Beams Falling by P.M. Newton ★★★★1/2

Review: Betrayed by Jacqui Rose ★★

Review: Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman ★★★★

Review: Tracking North by Kerry McGinnis ★★★★

Stuff on Sundays: Snugg-le Up!

What I Am Reading Today

When a school reunion brings home more than just memories…  Back in Calingarry Crossing to sell the family pub, Maggie Lindeman has no idea a perfect storm is heading her way until her past and present collide with the unexpected.  Maggie once had a crush on Dan Ireland, now a work-weary police crash investigator, still hell-bent on punishing himself for his misspent youth. Dan has ample reason for not going home to Calingarry Crossing for the school reunion, but one very good reason why he should. Maggie is dealing with a restless seventeen-year-old son, a father with dementia, a fame-obsessed musician husband, a dwindling bank account and a country pub that just won’t sell.  The last thing she needs is a surprise houseguest for the summer. Fiona Bailey-Blair, daughter of an old friend and spoilt with everything but the truth, whips up a maelstrom of gossip when she blows into town.  This storm season, when a school reunion brings home more than memories, Maggie Lindeman will discover … there’s no keeping a lid on some secrets.

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

 

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together.  Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life. Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words …And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible …

Laura Murphy will need to call on all her grit and determination to retain her beloved farm… But will her fierce self reliance close her off to the possibility of love? Since inheriting Nambina, the property that’s been in her family for generations, Laura Murphy has worked wonders. Rather than just focus on farming she has set up a successful school, teaching women the basics of managing a property – from fencing and mustering to handling the financial side of the business. But the notoriously self-reliant Laura is lonely and still scarred by a tragedy from her past. She’s also grappling with the hostility of her nearest neighbour and former best friend, Meghan Hunter. The fact that Laura’s ex-boyfriend Josh is Meghan’s brother only makes things worse. When a solicitor contacts Laura saying his clients may have a claim over Nambina, her entire world is turned upside down, and she has to call on all her determination to hold on to the property she’s worked so hard to build. In the process she realises she must reach out to friends and loved ones or risk losing everything.

It’s never too late to make amends. In contemporary London and rural France, a small group of friends reach their late fifties and discover that life still presents them with surprises and unexpected chances for new beginnings. Recently divorced and seeking to reinvent herself, Penny moves to a picturesque town in France and renounces sex—until she meets an irresistible American philosophy professor. Meanwhile, handsome and unmarried Peter falls head over heels for the first time in his life with plump, sexy, and fiercely independent Frieda; David and Angie face challenges in their childless and co-dependent marriage; and Jeremy, twice divorced and the most successful of them all, develops a destructive interest in underage girls. At the heart of the story is Sandy, Penny’s ex-husband and a once acclaimed songwriter who realizes too late that he took his marriage and two children for granted. He wants to make amends with his family, but first he’ll have to confront a secret tragedy that has haunted him for decades. Wonderfully wise and deeply engaging, After Everything provides an insightful look into the complicated relationships we all experience at some point in our lives. As this beautifully written debut novel unfolds, some relationships blossom, some fade, but all reveal the ambivalent nature of the ties that bind us together.

In small-town Cadillac, Texas, Carlene Lovelle and her cousins’ fancy panty business, Bless My Bloomers, is booming. But irony strikes when Carlene discovers another woman’s silk bikini underwear in her husband’s briefcase. Lenny Joe hasn’t just crossed the line, he’s left it in his dust, so Carlene’s taking her revenge to the kitchen. For ten years, Lenny Joe’s team has dominated Cadillac’s Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off. But with Carlene’s Bless My Bloomers team now in the ring, it’s anyone’s game—and when there’s pride and food involved, things are bound to get messy.

Every year hundreds of talented amateurs devote hours to preparing entries for cookery competitions run as part of 600 or so agricultural shows across Australia. In their quest for a precious blue ribbon, they use recipes based on generations of experience and strict judging codes that demand absolute perfection. In this follow-up to her first award-winning book, The Blue Ribbon Cookbook, Liz Harfull brings together 70 tried and true recipes from some of the country’s most enthusiastic and talented show cooks. But more than that, in The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook Liz shares their heart-warming stories, and the wisdom, knowledge and generosity of spirit that brings success, even for novices. Whether it’s a traditional Mixed Mustard Pickle or Madeira Cake, mouth-watering Sausage Rolls or Pumpkin Damper, Jenny’s Jam Drops or Cousin Barb’s Jelly Slice, there is something delicious for everyone to try.

The end results may even win you a blue ribbon!

While you are here…

Dance!

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll try to be along to visit you shortly!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

I’ve enjoyed a much quieter week, punctuated only by the usual commitments. I even found time to watch Catching Fire (finally) and Gravity (really good) and finish Season 2 of Continuum on Netflix, didn’t do a lot of housework though…

What I Read Last Week

The Wrong Girl by Jennifer Smart

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

Iron Junction by Charlotte Nash

Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy

Skeletons by Jane Fallon

Paris Lettersby Janice MacLeod

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: Making Soapies in Kabul by Trudi-Ann Tierney ★★★★1/2

Review: The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster ★★★1/2

Review: The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit ★★★★1/2

Review: Iron Junction by Charlotte Nash ★★★1/2

Review: Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy ★★★1/2

Review: Skeletons by Jane Fallon ★★★

Stuff on Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

Review: Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod ★★★

What I Am Reading Today

When Darcy Fletcher drags a handsome sailor from a stricken yacht, she finds herself drawn into his mysterious world. Having saved his life, can she now rescue him from his dark past? Or will that endanger all she holds most dear?  Noah, keeper of the peace and guardian of the Banskia Cove secrets, can’t tell Darcy the real reason this stranger has washed up on their shores. If she understood the links between him and her own dysfunctional family, he’d lose her love for good.  As they take refuge in an old whaling station for the night, only one thing is certain – by morning, no one will be the same again. Lies will surface. Hearts will break, and not all will find safe harbour.  A heart-stopping novel of high drama and desire by Australia’s award-winning master of romantic suspense

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

On the inside, Detective Nhu ‘Ned’ Kelly is a mess. Stitched up after being shot, her brain’s taking even longer to heal than her body. On the outside, though, she’s perfect, at least as far as the top brass are concerned. Cabramatta is riding high on the new ‘Asian crime wave’, a nightmare of heroin, home invasions, and hits of all kinds, and the cops need a way into the world of teenaged dealers and assassins. They think Ned’s Vietnamese heritage is the right fit but nothing in Cabra can be taken at face value. Ned doesn’t speak the language and the ra choi – the lawless kids who have ‘gone out to play’ – are just running rings around her. The next blow could come from anywhere, or anyone. And beyond the headlines and hysteria, Ned is itching to make a play for the kingpin, the person behind it all with the money and the plan and the power. Beams Falling is the brilliantly compelling and gritty second novel by the rising star of Australian crime writing. A portrait of our recent past, it’s also a compulsive and utterly authentic insight into the way both cops and criminals work.

For a moment that afternoon, it was only woman and water, the Bay in all its sickening glory squaring itself for a fight. Life hasn’t always been perfect, but for Abe and Cassandra Green, an afternoon on the San Francisco Bay might be as good as it gets. He’s a doctor piloting his new sailing boat. She’s a sculptor finally getting a bit of recognition. Their beautiful daughter Elizabeth is off to Harvard at the end of the summer. But then there is a terrible row. Cassandra has been unfaithful. In a fit of insanity, Abe throws himself off the boat. A love story that begins with the end of a marriage, The Violet Hour follows a 21st century American family through past and present, from a lavish New York wedding to the family funeral home in suburban Washington, from a drunken PTA party to a scene of unexpected public violence. In this resonant odyssey of youth, middle age, ambition and loss, intimacy is fragile and the search for gratification breeds destruction. Here is a family ripped apart by individual desires. And here is a family possibly reborn

She trusted the man she loved. It was the most dangerous things she had ever done … A gripping story of gangs, drugs, girls and unbreakable bonds. Perfect for fans of Martina Cole and Mandasue Heller. No one can touch Del Williams – the hardest gangster in Soho. He’s got the monopoly on the drugs, the clubs and the girls – it’d be a mistake to underestimate him. The one person he’d take a bullet for is tough, beautiful Bunny Barker, mother of their daughter Star. Bunny is determined to shield Star from ‘life’ but Del has a lot of enemies. When a familiar face appears from their past, their family is put into terrible danger. Can Bunny protect Star from the demons of her own past, and her very worst nightmare?

Lauren Clay has returned from a tour of duty in Iraq just in time to spend the holidays with her family. Before she enlisted, Lauren, a classically trained singer, and her brother Danny, a bright young boy obsessed with Arctic exploration, made the most of their modest circumstances, escaping into their imaginations and forming an indestructible bond. Joining the army allowed Lauren to continue to provide for her family, but it came at a great cost. When she arrives home unexpectedly, it’s clear to everyone in their rural New York town that something is wrong. But her father is so happy to have her home that he ignores her odd behavior and the repeated phone calls from an army psychologist. He wants to give Lauren time and space to acclimate to civilian life. Things seem better when Lauren offers to take Danny on a trip to visit their mother upstate. Instead, she guides them into the glacial woods of Canada on a quest to visit the Jeanne d’Arc basin, the site of an oil field that has become her strange obsession. As they set up camp in an abandoned hunting lodge, Lauren believes she’s teaching Danny survival skills for the day when she’s no longer able to take care of him. But where does she think she’s going, and what happened to her in Iraq that set her on this path?

Kelly Roberts finds refuge in the rugged and remote cattle country of northern Australia, but when tragedy strikes she is forced to find a new life for herself and her children outside of Rainsford Station. She retreats to the family’s only asset – a freehold block of land owned jointly by her eccentric father-in-law, Quinn. In the valley at Evergreen Springs, Quinn hopes the fractured family might all come together to start over again. Life in Queensland’s far north is wildly unpredictable, with daily challenges and the wet season, in all its wild majesty, to survive. But when twelve-year-old Rob makes the gruesome discovery of a dead body in the valley, real peril comes far too close to home. Tracking North is a beautiful family story about life in the stunning Gulf Country, one of the world’s most unique and fascinating places.

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story.  Welcome to Christine’s life.

While you are here…

Smile!

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll try to be along to visit you shortly!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

It’s been quite a week, I’m glad to say my daughter made it home safe and sound from her first three day Scout hike, in fact just minutes before a wild storm hit that left trampolines and tree branches in the middle of the street and  knocked out power for over an hour. Talk about good timing!

As usual its been a busy week including a funeral where my children were asked to form part of the honour guard (as Scouts) and a 70th surprise birthday party. I also had responsibility for running training for all five basketball teams this week as the head coach went away and I’m delighted to report that four of the five teams won their games on Saturday.

I am hoping this week will be less frantic as I need to get some serious reading done and even I have to sleep sometimes ;)

What I Read Last Week

The Wardrobe Girl by Jennifer Smart

Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters

I See You Made an Effort by Annabelle Gurwitch

Making Soapies in Kabul by Trudi-Ann Tierney

The Divorce Papers by Susan Reiger

All I Have in This World by Michael Parker

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

AWW Feature: Jennifer Smart and The Wardrobe Girl

Review: The Wardrobe Girl by Jennifer Smart ★★★1/2

Review: Mountain Ash by Margareta Osborn ★★★1/2

Review: Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters ★★★1/2

Review: The Divorce Papers by Susan Reiger ★★★1/2

Review: I See You Made an Effort by Annabelle Gurwitch ★★

Review:  All I Have in the World by Michael Parker  ★1/2

What I Am Reading Today

Lily is a producer on a successful cooking segment for a daily morning show. The new chef has just arrived on set and he is drop dead gorgeous. And despite everything – the sabbatical that Lily and her flatmate Simone are taking from men, the fact that Jack is a work colleague – Lily falls head over heels for him.  And while Lily battles her feelings, her flatmate Simone breaks their pact and starts dating some guy from her wholefoods shop. That guy turns out to be Jack. Up close, Lily bravely watches on as romance blossoms between Simone and Jack. Or does it? They don’t seem to have much in common, apart from their striking good looks. And Lily and Jack just seem to get each other. Is that the same thing as falling in love? And could she ever dream of betraying a friendship? Lily has to make some difficult decisions about work and home, and realises that if she doesn’t take life by the scruff of the neck, she is the one who’ll be picked up, shaken and dumped

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Told in the collective voices of the wives of the men who created the atom bomb, this is the bold and emotionally charged story of the women of Los Alamos. Their average age was twenty-five. They came from Berkley, Cambridge, Paris, London, Chicago, and arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure, or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship as they were forced to adapt to a rugged military town where everything was a secret, including what their husbands were doing at the lab. They lived in barely finished houses with a P.O. Box for an address, in a town wreathed with barbed wire, all for the benefit of ‘the project’ that didn’t exist as far as the greater world was concerned.They were constrained by the words they couldn’t say out loud, the letters they couldn’t send home, the freedom they didn’t have.Though they were strangers, they joined together – adapting to a landscape as fierce as it was absorbing, and to an existence fluctuating between the banalities of everyday life and the drama of scientific discovery. And while the bomb was being created, babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up, and Los Alamos gradually transformed from the site of an abandoned school into a real community. But the end of the war would bring even bigger challenges to the men and women of Los Alamos, as the scientists and their families struggled with the burden of their contribution towards developing the most destructive force in the history of mankind. The Wives of Los Alamos is a window into one of the strangest and most monumental research projects in modern history, and is a testament to a remarkable group of women who carved out a life for themselves, in spite of the chaos and moral confusion of war.

Desperate to get away from her family’s expectations of success in love and in work, Dr Beth Harding leaves Sydney behind and takes a locum job at Iron Junction – a mining town in the distant Pilbara. With the mine growing at a rapid pace, the town full of contractors and tensions running high, Beth is convinced she’s made a huge mistake until she meets Will, a man who shares her dreams and could make the difference between going home and staying on. For Will Walker, being born into cattle farming was never the life he wanted. He’s traded a broad-brim for a hard hat and headed down the mines. Iron Junction seems like just another gig in the long road that’s taking him even further from home. But in the lonely fly-in, fly-out life, he never counted on meeting Beth … But when Beth and Will discover that the choices they make will have far-reaching consequences neither could ever have imagined, they have a decision to make. Will they be brave enough to risk loving each other despite everything that stands in their way?

Frank has been in a serious car accident and he’s missing memories—of the people around him, of the history they share, and of how he came to be in the crash. All he remembers is that he is a lawyer who specializes in fine print, and as he narrates his story, he applies this expertise in the form of footnotes.* Everyone keeps telling Frank that he was fine before the accident, “just a bit overwhelmed,” but as he begins to reclaim his memories, they don’t quite jibe with what everyone is telling him. His odious brother Oscar is intent on going into business with an inventively cruel corporation.** Alice, Frank’s wife, isn’t at all like the woman he fell in love with. She’s written a book called Executive X that makes Frank furious, though he isn’t sure why. And to make matters even stranger, stored in a closet is a severed finger floating in an old mustard jar that makes him feel very, very proud. As more memories flood in, Frank’s tightly regulated life begins to unspool as he is forced to face up to the real terms*** and the condition of his life.**** Robert Glancy’s debut novel is a shrewd and hilarious exploration of freedom and frustration, success and second chances, and whether it’s worth living by the rules.
* Yes, exactly like this.
** We can’t tell you what it’s called for legal reasons, but believe us, it’s evil.
*** Which are rarely in his favor.
**** Which is a total mess

Jen has discovered a secret. It’s not hers to share, but is it hers to keep? If she tells her husband Jason, he might get over the shock but will he forgive her for telling the truth? She might drive a wedge through their marriage. If she tells someone else in Jason’s family – the family she’s come to love more than her own – she’d not only tear them apart but could also find herself on the outside: she’s never really been one of them, after all. But if she keeps this dirty little secret to herself, how long can she pretend nothing is wrong? How long can she live a lie? Jen knows the truth – but is she ready for the consequences?

What do you do when your great life-plan works out, and you’re still unhappy? Successful, but on the verge of burnout, Janice MacLeod saved enough money to buy herself two years of freedom in Europe. Days into her stop in Paris, she met Christophe, and her fate was sealed. Forced to find a way to fund her expat future, Janice created a painted letter subscription service, sending out thousands of letters to people who are hungry to receive something beautiful. Paris Letters is the inspiring story of a woman who dared to discover a life she could love.

While you are here…

Congratulate the winner of Lingerie for Felons by Ros Baxter: Paula C

Congratulate the winner of Tiddas by Anita Heiss: Sally R

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll try to be along to visit you shortly!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

Hmm,  I’m not sure I remember exactly what I did last week. I think it was, thankfully, rather non eventful. We seem to be finally finding our feet managing the various family schedules, though this coming week will likely be a test with the addition of the AFL season for the boys, my youngest daughter going on her first three day Scout hike and my ‘Uncle’s’ 70th birthday celebration – a three hour drive away. What I am looking forward to most is lunch with the girls this Thursday, watching Sherlock Season 1 & 2 and reading {of course}.

What are you looking forward to this week?

What I Read Last Week

Lingerie for Felons by Ros Baxter

Tiddas by Anita Heiss

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

The Madhouse Cookbook by Jo Pratt

Werewolf Sings The Blues by Jennifer Harlow

Mountain Ash by Margareta Osborn

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review & Giveaway: Lingerie for Felons by Ros Baxter ★★★★

Review: Safe With Me by Amy Hatvany ★★★

AWW Feature & Giveaway: Q&A with Anita Heiss

Review & Giveaway: Tiddas by Anita Heiss ★★★1/2

Review:  Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler  ★★★★

Review: Werewolf Sings the Blues by Jennifer Harlow ★★★

Weekend Cooking: The Madhouse Cookbook by Jo Pratt ★★★

What I Am Reading Today

The Wardrobe Girl is a delightfully witty novel full of romance and family dramas, plus an irresistible behind-the-scenes peek at life on a soap. ‘It’s just string bikinis, thongs and boardies on Pretty Beach Rescue. You could do it drunk and standing on your head.’ After the humiliating end of her last relationship, this is just what TV costume designer, Tess Appleby, needs to hear. Sure, a wardrobe assistant on a soap is a step down from her gig at the BBC, but all Tess wants is an easy life . . . Unfortunately she’s barely arrived on set before she’s warding off the attentions of the show’s heartthrob, Sean Tyler – and, as a consequence, the hostility of its other star, Bree Brenner. And if the pressures and politics of working on a TV drama aren’t enough, she’s living with her high-maintenance mother, an ageing celebrity, and her infuriating sister Emma, an aspiring actress. Still, Tess is certain she can deal with everything they throw at her – until Jake Freeman, her ex-fiancé, the man she last saw eight years ago as he walked away and broke her heart, is named the show’s new director…

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

The panic began to set in when Annabelle Gurwitch turned 49. Suddenly, new and pernicious health problems began to plague her, solicitations from the AARP began flooding her mailbox, and a marriage proposal on Twitter was abruptly rescinded when the tweeter caught a glimpse of Gurwitch’s age.  A visit to her gynecologist ended not with one of his usual benign send-offs stay healthy, stay happy, stay hydrated, but instead with the slightly ominous: Stay funny.  In this new collection of essays, Gurwitch has taken her gynecologist’s advice to heart. Whether she’s lusting after the young man fixing her computer, navigating the extensive anti-aging offerings in the Barneys beauty department, or negotiating the ins and outs of acceptable behavior with her teenage son, Gurwitch bravely turns an unflinching eye towards the myriad of issues women can expect to encounter in their later years.

Forgive me, Dorothea, for I cannot forgive you. What you do, to this child, to this child’s mother, it is wrong… Roberta likes to collect the letters and postcards she finds in the books that pass through her hands in the second-hand shop where she works. When her father gives her some of her grandmother’s belongings, she finds a baffling letter from the grandfather she never knew – dated after he supposedly died in the war. Dorothy is unhappily married to Albert, who is away at war. When an aeroplane crashes in the field behind her house she meets a Polish Squadron Leader, Jan Pietrykowski, and as their bond deepens she dares to hope she might find happiness. But fate has other plans for them both, and soon she is hiding a secret so momentous that its shockwaves will touch her granddaughter many years later… Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase is a heartbreaking debut novel about family secrets, soulmates and missed opportunities.

Two strangers meet on a windswept car lot in West Texas. Marcus is fleeing the disastrous fallout of chasing a lifelong dream; Maria is returning to the hometown she fled years ago, to make amends. They begin to argue over the car that they both desperately want a low-slung sky-blue twenty-year-old Buick Electra. The car, too, has seen its share of mistakes and failures. Every dent and seam has witnessed pivotal moments in the lives of others, from the boy who assembled it at the Cleveland factory to all the owners who were to follow: a God-fearing man who sells it when he sees a sexy girl sprawled across it; a doctor who can t dissociate it from his son s fate; a girl with a hole in her heart; and a rancher’s wife who d much rather live without it for all the history it carries. Marcus and Maria, after knowing each other for less than an hour, decide to buy the old car together. And as this surprising novel follows the rocky paths of the Electra and its owners both past and present these two lost souls find solace in an unexpected alliance. “All I Have In This World” is a tender, compelling novel about our desire to reconcile the past with the present, and the ways we must learn to forgive others, and perhaps even ourselves, if we are ever to move on.

On an impulse, Trudi-Ann Tierney, Sydney producer and former actress, goes to Kabul to manage a bar. She quickly falls into the local TV industry, where she becomes responsible for producing a highly popular soapie. Trudi’s staff are hugely inexperienced. They include Habib, the Pashto poet who wants to insert allegorical scenes involving fighting ants into the scripts; Rashid, the Dari manager, who spends all day surreptitiously watching uncensored Hindi music videos; and the Pakistani actresses who cross the border to Jalalabad (‘Jallywood’) to perform roles that no Afghan actresses can take on without bringing shame to their families. Trudi lives among the expat community – the media, the burnt-out army types now working as security contractors, the ‘Do-Gooders’, the diplomats – in dubious guest houses like The Dirty Diana. This is ‘Ka-bubble’, where the reckless encounters with each other, with alcohol and of course with recreational drugs are as dangerous as the city’s streets. Here are crazy people living crazy lives, and locals trying to survive as best they can against the backdrop of war.

Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one weekend, with all the big partners away, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of the firm’s most important client. After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly’s. She is locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane—and she also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she’s never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can’t be put off. As she so disarmingly puts it: It’s her first divorce, too.

While you are here…

Congratulate the winner of The Lost Girls by Wendy James: Erin P!

Congratulate the winner of The Curl Up and Dye: Donna L!

Enter to WIN Lingerie for Felons by Ros Baxter { open worldwide }

Enter to WIN Tiddas by Anita Heiss {Australian readers only}

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll try to be along to visit you shortly!

Weekend Cooking: Cooking in a Madhouse

food-fight-blog

I have four children who are 8, 9, 11 and 17 years old. One will eat almost anything, or at least give it a try. One won’t eat red meat, two won’t eat fish, another two start gagging when forced to eat pasta, one refuses chicken and getting them all to knowingly eat vegetables is an endless war with every single one of them (my husband included).

As such, planning dinner seven nights a week is a bit of a nightmare, and not made any easier as I also have to take into account after school/evening schedules which include gymnastics classes, basketball and football training, scouts and cub meetings, etc, etc. Monday and Thursday nights in particular are mayhem and the only way to make sure everyone eats is to prepare meals in advance, either on the weekend or the morning of, or stick with something simple like omelettes that can be prepped, cooked and eaten in a half hour. Most often I make pasta bakes – beef or chicken – which 4 out of the 6 of us are happy to eat and can be served and reheated easily in single serves through the evening as needed. I’ll also make a huge batch of my Faux Fried Rice recipe once a month which can then be served with whatever protein is handy, such as cooked and sliced sausages, cooked chicken pieces picked up from the local deli or stir fried beef tossed in a honey soy sauce, over a couple of nights on a week when I know we are going to be especially busy .

I’m always looking for new ideas though and when I spotted Jo Pratt’s Madhouse Cookbook I was hoping to find new recipes to add to my collection. The prep and cooking time for the recipes Pratt lists in the Monday-Friday Survival/The Need for Speed section are great – generally less than 30 minutes each. I’m already familiar with the simpler recipes such as Chicken, Cheese and Corn Quesa-d-easies, Crumbed Chicken Breasts and Fish Stick Tortillas. Unfortunately few of the other recipes would suit my fussy children, there is little hope of them even sampling Lemon Linguine with Walnuts, Spinach and Blue Cheese and it’s even less likely they would try a Pepper and Feta Fritatta. Several of the recipes require quite strong tasting ingredients like chilli, olives and marscapone cheese which also wouldn’t appeal to my children’s unsophisticated palette and there are half a dozen recipes or so based on salmon, which at $28/kg is not in my grocery budget.

I did pick up a few tips though. I really like the idea of making up a Savoury Crumb mix that can be stored in the freezer and used as needed for coating fish or chicken, or to add to meatballs, for example. I usually make a standard mix of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and mixed dried Italian herbs as needed, and though its simple to do, having some ready at all times would be convenient.

Similarly Pratt suggests making a Vegetable Starter mix, called soffrito. Essentially, use a food processor to finely chop a mix of vegetables such as onions, carrot, capsicum (bell peppers), celery, garlic and mushrooms. Fry gently in a bit of oil til soft. Cool, divide and then store for up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. You can then toss the mix into soups, pasta sauces, casseroles etc as needed.

There are quite a few delicious sweet recipes included, such as Sticky Toffee and Banana Pudding, though I rarely serve dessert at home.  But I do really like Pratt’s Mix and Match Fruit Crumble recipes which can be sprinkled over icecream, yoghurt, custard or stewed fruits. The Madhouse Cookbook also includes a selection of recipes for entertaining at home that are quick to prepare including appetisers, mains, desserts and drinks.

If your child  is an adventurous eater and you are a busy mother looking for some interesting recipes to try without spending hours slaving over the stove, then the Madhouse Cookbook may well be the perfect resource for you, but really I think most of the recipes would be more useful for a busy single person wanting to throw together a simple but elegant meal for one, or maybe two, after a hard days work.

This afternoon though I’ll be making up a batch of my Faux Fried Rice since we have various things scheduled over the next few nights and I’m happy to share it with you today. It’s a large family friendly batch, so you might want to reduce the amounts – this isn’t a sensitive recipe so just half the rice and the ingredients to taste. And if you were wondering, I call it Faux Fried Rice because the rice isn’t fried at all.

My Faux Fried Rice

Ready in about 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups cooked long grain rice (I prefer white but you can use brown)
  • 300g diced or shredded bacon or ham
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 – 2 diced spring onion/scallion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups mixed frozen vegetables (I use a Golden Mix that includes peas, carrot, corn, celery and capsicum (bell pepper) – you can add whatever you like)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-2 cups of good quality soy sauce
  • Pepper to taste

Method

  • Cook rice by preferred method (I use the absorption method in a microwave rice cooker – takes about 20 minutes)
  • While rice is cooking, in a large saucepan, fry bacon/ham til cooked through,  add garlic and then onion. Fry til onion is translucent
  • Push bacon mixture to the side of the saucepan and add beaten eggs, allow to set and then break up into strips.
  • Add mixed vegetables and stir into egg and bacon mixture til they begin to soften (about 5 minutes).
  • Add 1/2 to 1 cup soy sauce
  • Stir to coat, season to taste
  • Allow to simmer for 5 minutes on low heat.
  • Place cooked rice in a large container with a lid, slowly pour in soy sauce and mix well with fork to coat rice. Don’t drown it!
  • Add bacon mixture to rice and mix through.
  • Serve hot, warm or cold with a protein of you choice – try leftover sliced beef or chicken sausages, cooked chicken pieces, or stir fried meat. It even makes a pretty good meal or afternoon snack on its own.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

wkendcooking

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

Some weeks just don’t run smoothly despite best laid plans. I haven’t been especially well this week, I have a chronic condition that flares up on a fairly regular basis, but sometimes are worse than others. Thankfully I got it under control quite quickly but it left me largely useless for 48 hours or so, add to that discovering a flat car battery on morning resulting in a mad scramble to get my children to school on time,  some sad news about a friend’s husband, and a huge loss for my daughters basketball team, and it wasn’t a great week.

One thing I couldn’t miss this week despite everything, was a meeting I attended on Thursday night organised by the manningnet.org, billed as a ‘real life chat room’ for women. The local  group, who meet monthly, have asked me to speak to them in April about books, and my blog, so I went along to see how it all worked. I was stunned to find nearly 100 women in attendance (I was thinking there would be 20 or so!), who shared a meal before a presentation by a guest speaker. It was a very nice evening but I am anxious about speaking to such a large group now!

And, it is the first Monday of the month (already!) so here are my challenge updates:

SNAG-0192

The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2/12

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 12/50

Aussie Author Challenge 2/12

Around the World in 12 Books Challenge 3/12

What I Read Last Week

The Lost Girls by Wendy James

House of Glass by Sophie Littlefield

The Curl Up and Die by Sharon Sala

The Fourth Season by Dorothy Johnston

Safe With Me by Amy Hatvany

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review & Giveaway: The Lost Girls by Wendy James ★★★★1/2

Review: Fairway To Heaven by Lily Malone ★★★1/2

Review: House of Glass by Sophie Littlefield ★★★1/2

Review & Giveaway: The Curl Up and Die by Sharon Sala ★★★

Review: The Fourth Season by Dorothy Johnston ★★1/2

What I Am Reading Today

If there’s one universal truth, it’s this: You’re always wearing your worst underwear when you land in trouble. Lola’s parents told her that everyone can make a difference. And she believed them. She’s been fighting the good fights since she was eleven years old. But at 23, Lola falls hard for an Australian stockbroker who thinks Doctors Without Borders is a porno and Joni Mitchell sounds like a harp seal being battered to death. She cuts him loose, but over the next fifteen years, through protests, misunderstandings, humiliating predicaments, and a number of poor underwear choices, their lives and paths continue to converge.  Along the way, Lola learns a few important life lessons: Never wear a red lace thong to a strip search. Make sure you take motion sickness pills if you’re going to the Southern Ocean to save the whales. And sometimes, Mr Right can be all wrong, and Mr Wrong just needs time to find the right path.

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Hank, Leland, Kip and Ronny were all born and raised in the same Wisconsin town—Little Wing—and are now coming into their own (or not) as husbands and fathers. One of them never left, still farming the family’s land that’s been tilled for generations. Others did leave, went farther afield to make good, with varying degrees of success; as a rock star, commodities trader, rodeo stud. And seamlessly woven into their patchwork is Beth, whose presence among them—both then and now—fuels the kind of passion one comes to expect of lovesongs and rivalries. Now all four are home, in hopes of finding what could be real purchase in the world. The result is a shared memory only half-recreated, riddled with culture clashes between people who desperately wish to see themselves as the unified tribe they remember, but are confronted with how things have, in fact, changed.

A story about what it means to be a friend … Five women, best friends for decades, meet once a month to talk about books … and life, love and the jagged bits in between. Dissecting each other’s lives seems the most natural thing in the world – and honesty, no matter how brutal, is something they treasure. Best friends tell each other everything, don’t they? But each woman harbours a complex secret and one weekend, without warning, everything comes unstuck. When their circle begins to fracture and the old childhood ways don’t work anymore, is their sense of sistahood enough to keep it intact? How well do these tiddas really know each other?

After years of struggling as a single mother, Jodie Ashton has given up on love and passion. What she craves now is security for herself and her beloved daughter Milly. And marriage to widower Alex McGregor, the owner of the prosperous Glenevelyn cattle station in East Gippsland, will certainly offer that. If only he wasn’t so much old er and so controlling. Needing space to decide her future, Jodie reluctantly agrees to a girls-only weekend at the Riverton rodeo … Meanwhile, cowboy Nate McGregor vows off women, after his latest one-night stand costs him his job in the Northern Territory. Perhaps it’s time to head back to his family home, Glenevelyn, to check out for himself the ‘gold-digger’ his father seems determined to marry. But first, on his way through Riverton, he plans to stop off at a rodeo. Two lives are about to collide in one passionate moment – with devastating results…

If Vivian Dahl’s life had a soundtrack, every song would be the Blues. She’s pushing thirty, her singing career is going nowhere, and the partying lifestyle is taking its toll. Plus, a mysterious man is stalking her. But when she’s abducted from a singing gig, Vivian is surprised to see her stalker become her savior. Jason is her werewolf rescuer sent by the biological father who abandoned her as a baby. Finding herself on the run, Vivian drives across America with the enigmatic Jason and learns about the werewolf war her father’s pack is caught in. Now that an opposing pack has targeted her, Jason will stop at nothing to make sure Vivian’s song isn’t cut short.

Oh, how Jo Pratt’s life has changed over the last few years! Gone are the days of spending a day or two preparing for elaborate dinner parties, using ingredients she hunted down in back-street markets and fancy deli shops. That was all pre-children – now things are very different. She’s a busy mum who has to juggle work, children and all the associated chaos. She lives in a madhouse! Bestselling author Jo has devised a cookbook full of delicious and healthy food that addresses one of the most challenging problems experienced by busy parents: finding time to cook meals for their family. The recipes are simple, easy to shop for and quick to make, with shortcuts and prepare-ahead tips. But there’s much more to the book than this – there are also Lifesaver mini-recipes that give you staples for your freezer and store cupboard, and Leftovers mini-recipes too, to show you how to be clever and get more value out of time spent in the kitchen.

While you are here…

Aussie readers! Enter to WIN The Lost Girls by Wendy James

US/Canadian Readers! Enter to WIN The Curl Up and Die by Sharon Sala.

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll try to be along to visit you shortly!

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