It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Life…

  Yesterday my oldest daughter flew to spend two weeks working with my younger brother, a DJ, event compere, promoter and sometimes actor,  in the Northern Territory.  It is not the first time she has been away, but it is the first time she has gone unchaperoned (my brother doesn’t really count) and as an actual adult (she just turned 18). It’s a little scary to be honest though I know the experience and the independence will be good for her.

I feel for the relatives of those on the Malaysia Airlines MH17 , whose loved ones won’t be coming home from their adventures.

 

What I Read Last Week

 

Family Secrets by Liz Byrski

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik  Backman

Chasing the Ace by Nicholas J Johnson

The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: Swimming in the Dark by Paddy Richardson ★★★★1/2

Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ★★★★★

Review: Family Secrets by Liz Byrski ★★★

Review: Letters to My Daughter’s Killer by Cath Staincliff ★★★★

Review: Chasing the Ace by Nicholas J Johnson ★★★

Stuff on Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

 

 What I Am Reading Today

On the eve of the 1898 Omaha World’s Fair, Ferret Skerritt – ventriloquist by trade, conman by birth – isn’t quite sure how it will change him or his city. Omaha still has the marks of a filthy Wild West town, even as it attempts to achieve the grandeur and respectability of nearby Chicago. But when he crosses paths with the beautiful and enigmatic Cecily, his whole purpose shifts and the fair becomes the backdrop to their love affair.
One of a travelling troupe of actors that has descended on the city, Cecily works in the Midway’s Chamber of Horrors, where she loses her head hourly on a guillotine playing Marie Antoinette. And after closing, she rushes off, clinging protectively to a mysterious carpet bag, never giving Ferret a second glance. But a moonlit ride on the swan gondola, a boat on the lagoon of the New White City, changes everything, and the fair’s magic begins to take its effect.

 

What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Author of the beloved Half Moon Hollow series of vampire romances (Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs), Molly Harper has created a standalone paranormal romance in which a dilapidated haunted house could bring star-crossed lovers together—if it doesn’t kill them first! When Nina Linden is hired to landscape a private island off the New England coast, she sees it as her chance to rebuild her failing business after being cheated by her unscrupulous ex. She never expects that her new client, software mogul Deacon Whitney, would see more in her than just a talented gardener. Deacon has paid top dollar to the crews he’s hired to renovate the desolate Whitney estate—he had to, because the bumps, thumps, and unexplained sightings of ghostly figures in nineteenth-century dress are driving workers away faster than he can say “Boo.” But Nina shows no signs of being scared away, even as she experiences some unnerving apparitions herself. And as the two of them work closely together to restore the mansion’s faded glory, Deacon realizes that he’s found someone who doesn’t seem to like his fortune more than himself—while Nina may have finally found the one man she can trust with her bruised and battered heart. But something on the island doesn’t believe in true love…and if Nina and Deacon can’t figure out how to put these angry spirits to rest, their own love doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance.

 

‘Elizabeth is missing.’ Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with this message scrawled on it, but she can’t remember writing it. That said, she can’t remember much these days: the time of day, whether she’s eaten lunch, if her daughter’s come to visit, how much toast she’s eaten. Still, the notes about Elizabeth nag at her. When was the last time she spoke with her best friend? It feels like ages ago.. Frustratingly, no one seems willing to help Maud find her: not the police nor Elizabeth’s son – not even Maud’s own daughter or granddaughter. It’s like they’re hiding something. Maud resolves to take matters into her own hands, and begins digging for the truth. There are many clues, but unhelpfully, they all seem to point to another unsolved disappearance: that of Maud’s sister Sukey just after the war. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance lead Maud to the truth about Elizabeth? As Maud’s mind retreats into the past at a frightening pace, alienating her from her family and carers, vivid memories of what happened over fifty years ago come flooding back to give her quest new momentum.

A powerful novel set in Gallipoli, that’s part war-story and part mystery. ‘Amid Gallipoli’s slaughter he hunted a murderer . . .’ It is 1915 and Thomas Clare rues the day he and his best friend Snow went to war to solve the murder of his father. The only clues – a hidden wartime document and the imprint of an army boot on the victim’s face – have led the pair from the safety of Queensland to the blood-soaked hills of Gallipoli. Now not only are Thomas’s enemies on every side – from the Turkish troops bearing down on the Anzac lines, to the cold-blooded killer in his own trench – but as far away as London and Berlin. For, unbeknown to Thomas, the path to murder began thirteen years earlier in Africa with the execution of Breaker Morant – and a secret that could change the course of history . .

Only five still guard the border between the worlds. And when they fall, so do we all… The Oversight is a gothic fantasy that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell “The end always comes faster than you think.” Once there were hundreds of members of the Oversight, the brave souls who guard the borders between the mundane and the magic. Now there are only five. And their numbers are dwindling further still. When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight’s London headquarters, she might answer their hopes for a new recruit, or she could be the instrument of their downfall. In his first novel for adults, Charlie Fletcher (The Stoneheart Trilogy) spins a tale of witch-hunters, supra-naturalists, mirror-walkers and magicians. Meet the Oversight, and remember: when they fall, so do we all

 

Elf and Yoli are two smart, loving sisters. Elf is a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yoli is divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. When Elf’s latest suicide attempt leaves her hospitalised weeks before her highly anticipated world tour, Yoli is forced to confront the impossible question of whether it is better to let a loved one go

 While you are here…

Congratulations to the winners of  Colors of Gold by Kaye Dobbie

Australian: Maria P International: Denise D

Thanks for stopping by!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Life…

Thankfully I am pretty much fully recovered after my bout with illness, and with the children returning to school tomorrow after their two weeks of holidays, I will hopefully be able to get caught up.

As I was so ill at the beginning of the month, I completely forgot about posting my monthly update so here it is:

SNAG-0201

The Eclectic Reader Challenge 8/12

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 55/50 – Completed!

Aussie Author Challenge 9/12

Around the World in 12 Books Challenge 10/12

 

What I Read Last Week

 

Colours of Gold by Kaye Dobbie

Reservoir Dad by Clint Greagen

Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves by Dave Lowry

The Luck of the Irish by Babette Smith

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

AWW Feature & Giveaway: Also Known As  Kaye Dobbie

Review & Giveaway:  Colours of Gold by Kaye Dobbie ★★★★1/2

Review: Mating for Life by Melissa Stapley ★★1/2

Review: Reservoir Dad by Clint Greagen ★★★★

Review: The Bookshop That Floated Away by Sarah Henshaw ★★★

Weekend Cooking: Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves by Dave Lowry ★★★★1/2 (and a recipe for Oven Baked Chicken Spring Rolls)

 What I Am Reading Today

When patriarch Gerald Hawkins passes away in his Tasmanian home, after ten years of serious illness, his family experience a wave of grief and, admittedly, a surge of relief. Gerald’s dominating personality has loomed large over his wife, Connie, their children, Andrew and Kerry, and his sister Flora, for decades. Connie, whose own dreams were dispensed with upon marriage, is now determined to renew her long friendship with Gerald’s estranged sister, Flora. She travels to France where she finds Flora struggling to make peace with the past and searching for a place to call home. Meanwhile Andrew’s marriage is crumbling, and Kerry is trapped in stasis by unfinished business with her father. As the family adjusts to life after Gerald, they could not be more splintered. But there are surprises in store and secrets to unravel. And once the loss has been absorbed, is it possible that they could all find a way to start afresh with forgiveness, understanding and possibility?

 

What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell”. But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time? Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Friendship and fraud is a dangerous mix. Joel Fitch has watched every twist-happy movie there is about con men, and he thinks he knows it all. After nineteen years of being a sucker, Joel’s going to take everything he’s learned from the screen and finally get his. He’s going to be a master con artist. Richard Mordecai is a real-life swindler. But unlike Joel, he knows the truth about con men. At the end of a long career of lies and betrayal, Richard is tired and jaded. He’s ready to retire. Until he meets Joel. They form an uneasy partnership and Joel soon finds himself thrust into a world of bottom dealers, fraudsters and ace chasers that’s unlike any movie he’s ever seen. And when the pair accidentally scam the wrong mark, they have to draw on every last trick and piece of cunning they can to get themselves free and walk away with the money … and hopefully their dignity.

On the eve of the 1898 Omaha World’s Fair, Ferret Skerritt – ventriloquist by trade, conman by birth – isn’t quite sure how it will change him or his city. Omaha still has the marks of a filthy Wild West town, even as it attempts to achieve the grandeur and respectability of nearby Chicago. But when he crosses paths with the beautiful and enigmatic Cecily, his whole purpose shifts and the fair becomes the backdrop to their love affair.
One of a travelling troupe of actors that has descended on the city, Cecily works in the Midway’s Chamber of Horrors, where she loses her head hourly on a guillotine playing Marie Antoinette. And after closing, she rushes off, clinging protectively to a mysterious carpet bag, never giving Ferret a second glance. But a moonlit ride on the swan gondola, a boat on the lagoon of the New White City, changes everything, and the fair’s magic begins to take its effect.

Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard – each pledged to defend the queen to the death – arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding… And so begins her journey back to her kingdom’s heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother’s legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea’s story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance – it’s about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive.

Elf and Yoli are two smart, loving sisters. Elf is a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yoli is divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. When Elf’s latest suicide attempt leaves her hospitalised weeks before her highly anticipated world tour, Yoli is forced to confront the impossible question of whether it is better to let a loved one go

 While you are here…

 Enter to WIN Colors of Gold by Kaye Dobbie (open worldwide)

Thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Cooking: Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves by Dave Lowry

wkendcooking

I’ve decided to make the Weekend Cooking meme, hosted by Beth Fish Reads  a regular monthly post at Book’d Out. Cooking is something I enjoy and I have been making more of an effort again lately, so I am looking forward to sharing some of my culinary adventures.

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Title: Chinese Cooking For Diamond Thieves

Author: Dave Lowry

Published:  Mariner Books: Haughton Mifflin Harcourt July 2014

Status: Read from July 09 to 10, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I’m not sure exactly why I decided to take a chance on this novel but I am so glad I did. Funny, clever and fresh, Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves by Dave Lowry is a fabulously entertaining blend of mystery, action, a touch of awkward romance, and Chinese cooking.

Having been kicked out of college just before graduation, Tucker is heading home to Missouri in his aging Toyota when he crosses paths with the attractive and enigmatic Corrine Chang, making her way from Canada to Buffalo, NY, at a deserted rest stop. In the absence of any real goal, Tucker offers Corrine a ride, surprising her with his ability to speak Mandarin, and being surprised in turn when he intercepts a threatening phone call. Corrine, it seems, is on the run from a Chinese gang convinced she has $15 million dollars worth of diamonds missing from her employer’s store. Despite her protestations of innocence, the gang follows them all the way to St Louis, as intent on capturing Corinne, as Tucker, with a little help from the FBI, is at stopping them.

Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves is fast paced with plenty of action and intrigue, and just enough exaggeration to entertain. Snappy dialogue, liberally laced with sarcasm, is delivered with expert timing.

Lowry’s protagonist is an unusual guy. The son of white upper middle class parents (his father a retired agent of some description), Tucker practices xing-i, speaks Mandarin (and a little Cantonese) and cooks Chinese food, real Chinese food, with the skill of a native. He is simultaneously a tough guy capable of crippling an enemy with an economy of movement, and achingly vulnerable and self deprecating. The contradiction works perfectly to create a charming, quirky hero, who is supported by an equally appealing cast.

For foodies, there are plenty of tips for cooking authentic Chinese food, and a glimpse into the inner workings of a Chinese restaurant kitchen.

Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves is probably best described as a crime caper given the elements of humour, adventure and the offbeat characters. I thought it was witty, clever and interesting and recommend it without hesitation.

Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves is available to purchase from

Haughton Mifflin Harcourt I AmazonUS I BookDepository I Indiebound

via Booko

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The few Chinese dishes I cook are unapologetically westernised versions and fairly simple ones at that. Today I thought I’d share one of my favourites, with apologies to Tucker, and Dave Lowry.

Oven Baked Chicken Spring Rolls

 

Ingredients

1 kg barbecued or roast chicken, finely shredded
1 large can of corn kernels
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp finely grated ginger
2 tsp sesame oil
5 tbs soy sauce
1 pkt frozen spring roll wrappers
1/4 cup (60ml) peanut oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 200°C.

In a bowl combine shredded chicken, corn kernels, onions, ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce

Lay out a spring roll wrapper with a point facing towards you. Place 2 tablespoonfuls of chicken mixture on pastry then fold pastry over filling once. Fold in side corners. Brush far corner with water then roll up tightly. Repeat with remaining filling and pastry.

Place spring rolls on an oven tray. Brush with peanut oil then bake for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Serve with fried rice and/or a dipping sauce of your choice

spring rolls

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Life…

I apologise for my absence from the blog last week. Unfortunately the flu triggered a flare up of a chronic medical condition, which creates its own complications, and I spent the latter half of the week marooned on my lounge taking a heavy dose of antibiotics and painkillers hoping the situation would resolve itself sooner rather than later and without the need for hospitalisation. I actually do feel a lot better today, at least the severe joint pain has abated and I feel a little more clear headed.

I’m surprised how much reading I got done to be honest,  but I really wasn’t up to writing reviews, so I am going to have to catch up as and when I can.

What I Read Last Week

 Mating For Life by Marissa Stapley

The Bookshop That Floated Away by Sarah Henshaw

Swimming in the Dark by Paddy Richardson

Expecting by Ann Lewis Hamilton

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Letters To My Daughter’s Killer by Cath Staincliffe

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: 21st Century Dodos by Steve Stack ★★1/2

Review: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner ★★★★

Exclusive Excerpt: Expecting by Ann Lewis Hamilton

Review: Expecting by Ann Lewis Hamilton ★★★

Stuff of Sunday: 6 Degrees of Separation

 

 What I Am Reading Today

A beautiful novel of a young girl’s life and adventures in the Australian goldfields — and how a painting revealed her story to the next generation of her family. Annie Reuben is an art restorer in her father’s business, but times are tough. After being given a long-lost painting found in the basement of a condemned hotel, Annie becomes intrigued by the two girls who stare out at her from the ruined canvas. All she has are two names: Alice and Rosey…and a landscape from a century before. 1867: Named by the wife of the paddle steamer captain who finds her half drowned in the Murray River, Alice has a gift — she can see an aura of colours around the people she meets, but sometimes the colours tell her of impending doom. Learning to survive in a world which misunderstands her, Alice eventually runs away to the goldfields with her friend Rosey and joins a troupe of entertainers. While her fame and fortunes increase as people pay to hear her predictions, Alice can never escape her past…along with the frightening man in the dark coat who follows her wherever she goes. Who were Alice and Rosey? And why does Annie find their lives so important? As Annie becomes caught up with seeking answers from the past, she finds herself seeing the same man in the dark coat who follows her wherever she goes. What is his connection to the painting?

What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Best Australian Blog 2013 judge Kerry Sackville echoed the feelings of the many fans of award-winning blogger Reservoir Dad aka Clint Greagen, a stay-at-home dad who tells it like it is and makes us laugh out loud – and sometimes cry, but in a good way. A sharply funny, fresh and irreverent chronicler of real life in today’s parenting trenches, whether he’s making us choke with laughter, ‘scrisper’ (a scream, tempered by a whisper, vital to surviving being in charge of four little boys on a plane, train, automobile or supermarket) or cringe with horror or snicker in recognition, you can see why his star is rising. Women love him, and men, fellow stay-at-home dads and otherwise, admire him for keeping it real and doing his best to man up, even (and perhaps especially) when he fails, spectacularly. He is not only funny and wise but out and proud about loving his kids and wife – his relationship with the ever-patient Reservoir Mum. In Reservoir Dad, he finally shares the whole enchilada. The result is a laugh out loud and often heartbreakingly moving modern day love story that reminds us of what really matters amongst all the chaos and craziness.

Driving home after being kicked out of college, Tucker meets and picks up the mysterious Corinne Chang at a rest stop. Infatuated, and with nothing better to do, he ends up with her in St. Louis, where he gets a job as a chef in a Chinese restaurant. Even though he’s a gwai lo—a foreign devil—his cooking skills impress the Chinese patrons of the restaurant, and his wooing skills impress Corinne when she joins him there as a waitress. But when Chinese gangsters show up demanding diamonds they believe Tucker’s kind-of, sort-of, don’t-call-her-a-girlfriend stole, he and his friends—which luckily include a couple of FBI agents—have to figure out just who is gunning for Corinne and how to stop them. Good thing Tucker is a Mandarin-speaking martial arts master who isn’t afraid to throw the first punch.With its one-of-a-kind hero, Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves is perfect for anyone who loves cooking, Chinese culture, bad jokes, and young love. Diamonds are forever . . . unless Chinese mobsters decide they want them back.

The luck of the Irish was chronic bad luck, as their sad history attests. That’s how it looked for 250 Irish convicts when their ship, the Hive, sank ignominiously off the NSW coast in 1835. Miraculously all survived, guided to safety by local Aboriginal people. They landed at a time when the so-called slave colony was at its height, ruled by the lash and the chain gang. Yet as Babette Smith tracked the lives of the people aboard the Hive, she discovered a very different story. Most were assigned to work on farms or in businesses, building a better life than they possibly could have experienced in Ireland. Surprisingly, in the workforce they found power, which gave rise to the characteristic Australian culture later described by DH Lawrence: ‘Nobody felt better than anybody else, or higher.’ The Luck of the Irish is a fascinating portrait of colonial life in the mid-19th century, which reveals how the Irish helped lay the foundations of the Australia we know today.

When patriarch Gerald Hawkins passes away in his Tasmanian home, after ten years of serious illness, his family experience a wave of grief and, admittedly, a surge of relief. Gerald’s dominating personality has loomed large over his wife, Connie, their children, Andrew and Kerry, and his sister Flora, for decades. Connie, whose own dreams were dispensed with upon marriage, is now determined to renew her long friendship with Gerald’s estranged sister, Flora. She travels to France where she finds Flora struggling to make peace with the past and searching for a place to call home. Meanwhile Andrew’s marriage is crumbling, and Kerry is trapped in stasis by unfinished business with her father. As the family adjusts to life after Gerald, they could not be more splintered. But there are surprises in store and secrets to unravel. And once the loss has been absorbed, is it possible that they could all find a way to start afresh with forgiveness, understanding and possibility?

 While you are here…

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Stuff On Sundays: 6 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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This month, Annabel and Emma have chosen 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate”

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The obvious link here is to another Pulitzer Prize Winner – A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan.

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

***

Punk music is the link to Viv Albertine’s memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys.

Viv Albertine is one of a handful of original punks who changed music, and the discourse around it, forever. In Clothes … Music … Boys a story hitherto dominated by male voices is recast through the eyes of one of the most glamorous, uncompromising and iconic figures of the time. After forming The Flowers of Romance with Sid Vicious in 1976, Viv joined The Slits and made musical history as one of the first generation of punk bands. Here is the story of what it was like to be a girl at the height of punk: the sex, the drugs, the guys, the tours, the hard lessons learnt and those not considered. From Madonna to Lady Gaga, fashion to feminism, Viv Albertine has influenced a range of exceptional artists. Here, before and beyond the break-up of The Slits in 1982, is the full story of a life lived unscripted, with foolishness, bravery and great emotional honesty. A memoir full of raw and uncompromising anecdote and opinion, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys is an unflinching account of a life lived on the frontiers of experience, by a true pioneer.”

***

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson is also a memoir

“When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father (a professional taxidermist who created dead-animal hand puppets) and a childhood of wearing winter shoes made out of used bread sacks. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it. Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter are the perfect comedic foils to her absurdities, and help her to uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments-the ones we want to pretend never happened-are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a poignantly disturbing, yet darkly hysterical tome for every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud. Like laughing at a funeral, this book is both irreverent and impossible to hold back once you get started.”

***

Alice Hoffman’s protagonist, Coralie Sardie,  in The Museum of Extraordinary Things also grew up surrounded by, amongst other things, taxidermied animals displayed in her father’s ‘freak’ museum.

Coney Island, 1911: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of a self-proclaimed scientist and professor who acts as the impresario of The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a boardwalk freak show offering amazement and entertainment to the masses. An extraordinary swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl,and a 100 year old turtle, in her father’s “museum”. She swims regularly in New York’s Hudson River, and one night stumbles upon a striking young man alone in the woods photographing moon-lit trees. From that moment, Coralie knows her life will never be the same. The dashing photographer Coralie spies is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community. As Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and the dispute between factory owners and labourers. In the tumultuous times that characterized life in New York between the world wars, Coralie and Eddie’s lives come crashing together in Alice Hoffman’s mesmerizing, imaginative, and romantic new novel.”

***

Another novel which features a collector of something unusual is The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose

A lush and imaginative novel that crisscrosses time as a perfumer and a mythologist search for the fine line between potion and poison, poison and passion…and past and present. Florence, Italy—1533: An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. Traveling with the young duchessina from Italy to France, René brings with him a cache of secret documents from the monastery where he was trained: recipes for exotic fragrances and potent medicines—and a formula for an alchemic process said to have the potential to reanimate the dead. In France, René becomes not only the greatest perfumer in the country but the most dangerous, creating deadly poisons for his Queen to use against her rivals. But while mixing herbs and essences under the light of flickering candles, Rene doesn’t begin to imagine the tragic and personal consequences for which his lethal potions will be responsible. Paris, France—The Present: A renowned mythologist, Jac L’Etoile, is trying to recover from personal heartache by throwing herself into her work, learns of the 16th century perfumer who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. She becomes obsessed with René le Florentin’s work—particularly when she discovers the dying breathes he had collected during his lifetime. Jac’s efforts put her in the path of her estranged lover, Griffin North, a linguist who has already begun translating René le Florentin’s mysterious formula. Together they confront an eccentric heiress in possession of a world-class art collection. A woman who has her own dark purpose for the elixir… a purpose for which she believes the ends will justify her deadly means. This mesmerizing gothic tale of passion and obsession crisscrosses time, zigzagging from the violent days of Catherine de Medici’s court to twenty-first century France. Fiery and lush, set against deep, wild forests and dimly lit chateaus, The Collector of Dying Breaths illuminates the true path to immortality: the legacies we leave behind.”

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Six books linked   and the common theme – they are all on my shelf, as yet unread.

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.

6degrees

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Life…

Ugh, I’m sick. You may remember that last week I returned home from a weekend away to find my husband and 2 of the children coughing and spluttering all over the place. Twenty four hours later I felt like I’d been swallowing razor blades and my head was pounding. Even though it has been almost a week I am still struggling with a claggy head, a nagging cough and a runny nose.

School holidays began today which means a houseful of children demanding to be entertained. I really don’t have the energy so I am bribing them with unlimited Netflix viewing.

What I Read Last Week

 

Red Sand Sunrise by Fiona McArthur

Let Her Go by Dawn Barker

Lost and Found by Brooke Davis

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

What Came Before by Anna George

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

AWW Feature: What Fiona McArthur, author of Red Sand Sunrise, is reading…

Review: Red Sand Sunrise by Fiona McArthur ★★★1/2

Review: Lost & Found by Brooke Davis ★★★★

Review: Let Her Go by Dawn Barker ★★★★1/2

Review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf ★★★★

Review: What Came Before by Anna George ★★★★

 What I Am Reading Today

 Former folk singer Helen Sear was a feminist wild child who proudly disdained monogamy, raising three daughters—each by a different father—largely on her own. Now in her sixties, Helen has fallen in love with a traditional man who desperately wants to marry her. And while she fears losing him, she’s equally afraid of abandoning everything she’s ever stood for if she goes through with it. Meanwhile, Helen’s youngest daughter, Liane, is in the heady early days of a relationship with her soul mate. But he has an ex-wife and two kids, and her new role as a “step-something” doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Ilsa, an artist, has put her bohemian past behind her and is fervently hoping her second marriage will stick. Yet her world feels like it is slowly shrinking, and her painting is suffering as a result—and she realizes she may need to break free again, even if it means disrupting the lives of her two young children. And then there’s Fiona, the eldest sister, who has worked tirelessly to make her world pristine, yet who still doesn’t feel at peace. When she discovers her husband has been harboring a huge secret, Fiona loses her tenuous grip on happiness and is forced to face some truths about herself that she’d rather keep buried.

What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

 In a small New Zealand town, four women find their lives inextricably linked by a secret that could bring about their undoing… or set them free. Serena Freeman, a once-promising high school student, has started to retreat from life and one night does not return home. Her sister, Lynnie Freeman, is carving out a successful career and is desperate to distance herself from her troubled past. But on hearing of Serena’s disappearance, Lynnie is forced to return to the town of Alexandra to look for her. The only link to Serena’s disappearance is Ilse Klein, a quietly dedicated English teacher who longs for her lost childhood in Germany and the sense of belonging it gave her. She lives with her mother, Gerda Klein, who is beset by a devastating depression each winter and plagued by memories of Stasi Germany. The Kleins learned long ago that there is safety in silence, can they break a lifelong habit? Haunting and compelling, Swimming in the Dark explores the nature of guilt and fear, the power of friendship and the strength of the human spirit.

A mom, a dad, a baby…and another dad. Laurie and Alan are expecting, again. After two miscarriages, Laurie was afraid they’d never be able to have a child. Now she’s cautiously optimistic — the fertility treatment worked, and things seem to be different this time around. But she doesn’t yet know how different. Jack can’t seem to catch a break — his parents are on his case about graduating from college, he’s somehow dating two girls at once, and he has to find a way to pay back the money he borrowed from his fraternity’s party fund. The only jobs he is qualified for barely pay enough to keep him in beer money, but an ad for the local sperm bank gives Jack an idea. Laurie and Alan’s joy is shattered when their doctor reveals that Laurie was accidentally impregnated by sperm from a donor rather than her husband. Who is Donor 296. And how will their family change now that Donor 296 is inarguably part of it?

In early 2009 a strange sort of business plan landed on the desk of a pinstriped bank manager. It had pictures of rats and moles in rowing boats and archaic quotes about Cleopatra’s barge. It asked for a GBP30,000 loan to buy a black-and-cream narrowboat and a small hoard of books. The manager said no. Nevertheless The Book Barge opened six months later and enjoyed the happy patronage of local readers, a growing number of eccentrics and the odd moorhen. Business wasn’t always easy, so one May morning owner Sarah Henshaw set off for six months chugging the length and breadth of the country. Books were bartered for food, accommodation, bathroom facilities and cake. During the journey, the barge suffered a flooded engine, went out to sea, got banned from Bristol and, on several occasions, floated away altogether. This account follows the ebbs and flows of Sarah’s journey as she sought to make her vision of a floating bookshop a reality.

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . . On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . . Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall? Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

Grandmother Ruth Sutton writes to the man she hates more than anyone else on the planet: the man who she believes killed her daughter Lizzie in a brutal attack four years earlier. Ruth’s burden of grief and hatred, has only grown heavier with the passing of time, her avid desire for vengeance ever stronger. In writing to him Ruth hopes to exorcise the corrosive emotions that are destroying her life, to find the truth and with it release and a way forward. Whether she can ever truly forgive him is another matter – but the letters are her last, best hope. Letters To My Daughter’s Killer exposes the aftermath of violent crime for an ordinary family and explores fundamental questions of crime and punishment. How do we deal with the very human desire for revenge? If we get justice does reconciliation follow? Can we really forgive those who do us the gravest wrong? Could you?

While you are here…

 

Thanks for stopping by!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Life…

I am respite carer for a friend, a single mother who has three children, one of whom is autistic. She qualifies for two periods a year offering her and her children a few days in one of three locations owned by the respite service, giving her a much needed short break from the exhausting, everyday routine of therapy and intervention, and the children the chance to experience places and activities they aren’t usually able to. This past weekend we went to Port Macquarie, a town about an hour and half away, and had a wonderful, if busy, time. On Saturday we took the kids to Timbertown – a colonial village – where we rode in a steam train, on a horse and carriage and witnessed displays of whip cracking and bullocking before going out for dinner at the Hogs Breath Cafe. On Sunday we enjoyed a game of mini-golf, visited the local koala hospital and saw Saturn through the telescope at the Observatory. We stayed in a complex with a pool and spa which meant the children insisted on a daily swim despite it being freezing cold and we ate, a lot!

While I was off having fun, my husband was left to manage the weekend chaos of our household on his own which included a sleepover, a Scout hike, AFL and gym. I didn’t feel at all guilty about that until I came home early this morning and discovered my husband and two of the kids have the flu!

 

What I Read Last Week

 Skinjob by Bruce McCabe

The Fever by Megan Abbott

Marble Bar by Robert Schofield

Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z Martin

21st Century Dodos by Steve Sack

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: The Awakening of Miss Prim by  Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera ★★★1/2

Review: Skinjob by Bruce McCabe ★★★1/2

Feature Q&A with Robert Schofield, author of Heist and Marble Bar

Review: Marble Bar by Robert Schofield ★★★

Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott ★★★★

Review: Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z Martin ★★

Stuff On Sunday:Bookshelf Bountry

 What I Am Reading Today

When the father she barely knew dies suddenly, midwife Eve Wilson decides she owes it to him to go the funeral and meet her stepfamily in Red Sand. She doesn’t expect to be so completely charmed by the beautiful remote township in far west Queensland – or by local station owner, Lex McKay. After disappointment and heartbreak in Sydney, Dr Callie Wilson decides it might be time to move home to spend some time with her grieving mother. When she is approached to oversee the establishment of the area’s first medical clinic, it seems the perfect opportunity. And Callie is keen to involve Eve, the sister she’s just getting to know. Melbourne-based obstetrician Sienna Wilson can’t understand why anyone would want to bury themselves in the outback, but when her hospital sends her north to research the medical mystery affecting women in Red Sand, it seems fate is intent on bringing the three sisters together. And when disaster strikes, they must each decide if being true to themselves means being there for each other… Red Sand Sunrise is a romantic, heartfelt story from an internationally bestselling author. It celebrates the strength of family ties, the renewing power of love, and the passion of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.

 

What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Millie Bird (aka Captain Funeral), seven-years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her red, curly hair. Her struggling mother leaves Millie in a local department store and never returns. Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house – or spoken to another human being – since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silences by yelling at passers by, watching loud static on the TV and maintaining a strict daily schedule. Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl is moved into a nursing home but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes. A series of events binds the three together on a road trip that takes them from the south coast of WA to Kalgoorlie and along the Nullarbor to the edge of the continent. Millie wants to find her mum. Karl wants to find out how to be a man. And Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was. They will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself experience sadness just might be the key to life.

How far would you go to have a family? What would you hide for someone you love? Confused and desperate, Zoe McAllister boards a ferry to Rottnest Island in the middle of winter holding a tiny baby close to her chest, terrified that her husband will find her or that her sister will call the police. Years later, a teenage girl, Louise, is found on the island, unconscious and alone. Flown out for urgent medical treatment, when she recovers she returns home and overhears her parents discussing her past and the choices that they’ve made. Their secrets, slowly revealed, will shatter more than one family and, for Louise, nothing will ever be the same again. LET HER GO is a gripping, emotionally charged story of family, secrets and the complications of love. Part thriller, part mystery, it will stay with you long after you close the pages wondering – What would you have done?

 

In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences… Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity;the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children’s advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for. Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends’ couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen’s and Jenny’s lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another. A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

David Forrester and Elle Nolan are sophisticated, mature people who don’t understand love. They live in a world where love is revered but marriages commonly end in divorce, or worse. When jaded lawyer David meets Elle, he decides she’s his last chance of happiness and does everything he can to woo her and keep her. Everything, that is, except face his demons. Elle, a lawyer herself once but now a blossoming filmmaker, is done with heartbreak. But romance can be intoxicating and David is determined. Over the course of one ill-fated night, David and Elle recount the journey of their love affair. And it begins with David admitting into his dictaphone to the killing of Elle.
Hovering above her broken body, Elle sees the sweep of her life, its triumphs and its mistakes. She sees how, when she first met David, her newfound success as a filmmaker had made her reckless and her idealised ideas about romance misled her. As the night progresses, we learn their story of a love of unprecedented intensity; a love David was compelled, at turns, to destroy. A love that Elle has yet to survive.

While you are here…

 Winner of Lick by Kylie Scott: Khrissy R

Winner of For One Night Only by Phillipa Fioretti : Emily P & J’Aimee B

Thanks for stopping by!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Life…

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What I Read Last Week

For One Night Only by Phillipa Fioretti

Currawong Manner by Josephine Pennicott

The Skeleton Cupboard by Tanya Byron

A Shiver of Light by Laurell K Hamilton

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

Skinjob by Bruce McCabe

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: Present Darkness {Detective Emmanuel Cooper #4} by Malla Nunn ★★★★★

AWW Feature & Giveaway: Phillipa Fioretti, For One Night Only

Review & Giveaway: For One Night Only by Phillipa Fioretti ★★★

Review: The Skeleton Cupboard by Tanya Byron ★★★1/2

AWW Feature: Exclusive Excerpt of Currawong Manor by Josephine Pennicott

Review: Currawong Manor by Josephine Pennicott ★★★★

Review: A Shiver of Light {Merry Gentry #9} by Laurell K Hamilton ★★★

 What I Am Reading Today

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community. The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community. As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

 

What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

 

 Allison Weiss has a great job…a handsome husband…an adorable daughter…and a secret. Allison Weiss is a typical working mother, trying to balance a business, aging parents, a demanding daughter, and a marriage. But when the website she develops takes off, she finds herself challenged to the point of being completely overwhelmed. Her husband’s becoming distant, her daughter’s acting spoiled, her father is dealing with early Alzheimer’s, and her mother’s barely dealing at all. As she struggles to hold her home and work life together, and meet all of the needs of the people around her, Allison finds that the painkillers she was prescribed for a back injury help her deal with more than just physical discomfort—they help her feel calm and get her through her increasingly hectic days. Sure, she worries a bit that the bottles seem to empty a bit faster each week, but it’s not like she’s some Hollywood starlet partying all night, or a homeless person who’s lost everything. It’s not as if she has an actual problem. However, when Allison’s use gets to the point that she can no longer control—or hide—it, she ends up in a world she never thought she’d experience outside of a movie theater: rehab. Amid the teenage heroin addicts, the alcoholic grandmothers, the barely-trained “recovery coaches,” and the counselors who seem to believe that one mode of recovery fits all, Allison struggles to get her life back on track, even as she’s convincing herself that she’s not as bad off as the women around her. With a sparkling comedic touch and tender, true-to-life characterizations, All Fall Down is a tale of empowerment and redemption and Jennifer Weiner’s richest, most absorbing and timely story yet.

Gareth Ford, with a cloud still hanging over him because of his involvement in the Gwardar Gold Heist, has decided to make a new beginning in the iron mines of Newman. But when he returns home from the night shift and finds his flatmate has been murdered, suspicion quickly falls upon him. He, however, fears he himself was the real target and soon discovers he is being tailed. He summons his old ally from the Gold Squad, DC Rose Kavanagh, and soon they find themselves in Marble Bar, searching for the Gwardar Gold and being pursued by a variety of desperadoes, each with their own agendas.

Cassidy Kincaide owns Trifles & Folly, an antique/curio store and high-end pawn shop in Charleston, South Carolina that is more than what it seems. Dangerous magical and supernatural items sometimes find their way into mortal hands or onto the market, and Cassidy is part of a shadowy Alliance of mortals and mages whose job it is to take those deadly curiosities out of circulation. Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670—acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500 year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. When mundane antiques suddenly become magically malicious, it’s time for Cassidy and Sorren to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up

At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in the plush, wood-panelled agency, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches, and at night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Brooklyn apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities and struggling to trust her own artistic sense, Joanna is given the task of answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back… Poignant, keenly observed and irresistibly funny, My Salinger Year is a memoir about literary New York in the late 1990s, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself swept into one of the last great stories and entangled with one of the last great figures of the century. Above all, it is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer and a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives.

A fond farewell to the many inanimate objects, cultural icons and general stuff around us that find themselves on the verge of extinction. We ve all heard of the list of endangered animals, but no one has ever pulled together a list of endangered inanimate objects. Until now, that is. Steve Stack has catalogued well over one hundred objects, traditions, cultural icons and, well, other stuff that is at risk of extinction. Some of them have vanished already. Cassette tapes, rotary dial phones, half-day closing, milk bottle deliveries, Concorde, handwritten letters, typewriters, countries that no longer exist, white dog poo…all these and many more are big a fond farewell in this nostalgic, and sometimes irreverent, trip down memory lane.

While you are here…

 Enter To Win Lick by Kylie Scott

Enter to Win For One Night Only by Phillipa Fioretti

Thanks for stopping by!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Life…

I got to share a quick coffee and a chat with Carol from Reading, Writing and Riesling today. She and her hubby are currently traveling around Australia and happened to be passing my town on their way to Queensland so we met up at a highway service station. Her husband was fairly eager to get back on the road so we didn’t have a lot a time together but it was really lovely to meet her! I forgot to get a photo though!

Feeling more relaxed and well read this week. I’m nearly back on track!

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What I Read Last Week

A Year After Henry by Cathie Pelletier

The Caller by Juliet Marillier

The Secrets in Silence by Nicole Trope

Lick by Kylie Scott

Present Darkness by Malla Nunn

The First True Lie by Marina Mander

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

AWW Feature: Kate Belle & Being Jade: Born of Myth & Dreams

Review: Being Jade by Kate Belle ★★★★1/2

Review: The Caller {Shadowfell #3} by Juliet Marillier ★★★

Review: The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly ★★★★

Review: The Secrets of Silence by Nicole Trope ★★★★1/2

Review & Giveaway: Lick {Stage Dive #1}  by Kylie Scott ★★★

Stuff On Sunday: Weekend Cooking: Cinnamon Swirl Cake

*On the AWW Challenge Blog: MAY 2014: General Fiction Round Up*

 What I Am Reading Today

In Italy, passion and danger share the same bed. When Ornella vacations in Sicily, she meets Hugh, an archaeologist working on a dig in the beautiful town of Taormina. Hugh convinces Ornella to join him on a trip to the island of Stromboli, where they hike up a live volcano at dusk.  After a passionate night together Ornella, an actress usually focused on her career, suspects she’s in love. But after breakfast the next morning, Hugh vanishes.  Ornella is left with Hugh’s phone, sunglasses and a sudden end to the love affair she thought she didn’t want. Desperate to know if Hugh ran out on her or if he’s met with disaster, she wants to search for him. But with an important screen test in Rome and her agent impatiently waiting for her, Ornella faces a dilemma. Little does she know the danger Hugh is in – and that she is the key to his survival

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

 

 Currawongs appearing at the Manor in vast numbers had come to portend one thing… Death was on its way.When photographer Elizabeth Thorrington is invited to document the history of Currawong Manor for a book, she is keen to investigate a mystery from years before: the disappearance of her grandfather, the notorious artist Rupert Partridge, and the deaths of his wife, Doris, and daughter, Shalimar. For years, locals have speculated whether it was terrible tragedy or a double murder, but until now, the shocking truth of what happened at the Manor that day has remained a secret. Relocating to the manor, Elizabeth interviews Ginger Flower, one of Rupert’s life models from the seventies, and Dolly Shaw, the daughter of the enigmatic ‘dollmaker’ who seems to have been protected over the years by the Partridge family. Elizabeth is sure the two women know what happened all those years ago, but neither will share their truths unconditionally. And in the surrounding Owlbone Woods, a haunting presence still lurks, waiting for the currawongs to gather… An evocative tale set in the spectacular Blue Mountains, Currawong Manor is a mystery of art, truth and the ripple effects of death and deception.

Prudencia Prim is a young woman of high ideals, intelligence and achievement, with an extensive knowledge of literature and several letters after her name. But when she accepts the post of private librarian to a wealthy bibliophile in the secluded village of San Ireneo de Arnois, she is unprepared for what she will encounter there. Her employer, a philosopher and intellectual, is dashing yet contrarian, always ready with a stinging critique of her beloved Austen and Alcott. And the neighbours are also capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the outside world. Thoughtful, gentle Prudencia might have hoped for friendship in San Ireneo but she didn’t expect to find romance – nor did she expect the course of her new life to run quite so rocky, to offer challenge and heartache as well as discovery, joy and delicious regional pastries. The Awakening of Miss Prim is a delightfully unusual and entertaining tale of literature, love and the search for happiness.

The Skeleton Cupboard is Professor Tanya Byron’s account of her years of training as a clinical psychologist, when trainees find themselves in the toughest placements of their careers. Through the eyes of her naive and inexperienced younger self, Tanya shares remarkable stories inspired by the people she had the privilege to treat. Gripping, poignant and full of daring black humour, this book reveals the frightening and challenging induction faced by all mental health staff and highlights their incredible commitment to their patients. Powerfully moving and beautifully written, The Skeleton Cupboard shares the tales of ordinary people with an amazing resilience to the challenges of life.

SOCIETY IS DIVIDED Silicon Valley has taken virtual sex to the extreme, encouraging men to act out their darkest and most violent sexual fantasies. Militant feminists and churches are bitterly opposed. Powerful corporations battle for market control. In the midst of a fierce protest campaign, a bomb goes off in San Francisco. TWELVE ARE DEAD Daniel Madsen is one of a new breed of federal agents armed with a gun, a badge and a handheld lie detector. He’s a fast operator and his instructions are simple: find the bomber before he strikes again. A NIGHTMARE AWAITS Madsen plunges headlong into a sleazy, unsettling world where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable, exploitation is business as usual and the web of corruption extends all the way to Washington . only to discover the stakes are higher than he could ever imagine.

At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in the plush, wood-panelled agency, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches, and at night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Brooklyn apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities and struggling to trust her own artistic sense, Joanna is given the task of answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back… Poignant, keenly observed and irresistibly funny, My Salinger Year is a memoir about literary New York in the late 1990s, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself swept into one of the last great stories and entangled with one of the last great figures of the century. Above all, it is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer and a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives.

While you are here…

 Enter To Win Lick by Kylie Scott

Thanks for stopping by!

Stuff On Sunday: Weekend Cooking – Cinnamon Swirl Cake

wkendcooking

I’ve decided to make the Weekend Cooking meme, hosted by Beth Fish Reads  a regular monthly post at Book’d Out. Cooking is something I enjoy and I have been making more of an effort again lately, so I am looking forward to sharing some of my culinary adventures.

**********************

Winter is slowly creeping over the landscape in Australia, the wind is growing chill, the clouds are dark and the rain falls loudly on my tin roof. The cold leaves me craving sweet warm comfort foods like this delicious Cinnamon Swirl Cake. Quick and simple to put together using ingredients most people would already have on hand it didn’t last long in my house.

I ate it while reading The Storied Life of A.J Firky by Gabrielle Zevin

cinnamonrollcake

Cinnamon Swirl Cake

  • Cake

    • 3 c. flour
    • 1/4 tsp.salt
    • 1 c. sugar
    • 4 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 1/2 c. milk
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/2 c. (125g) butter, melted
  • topping

    •  1/2 c. (125g) butter, well softened
    •  1/2 c. brown sugar
    •  1 Tbsp. flour
    • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • Glaze

    • 2 c. powdered (icing) sugar
    • 5 Tbsp. milk
    • 1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions

  1. Mix everything together except for the butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased and lined 9 x1 3 pan.
  2. For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl through with a knife.
  3. Bake at 350 for 28-32 minutes.
  4. While warm drizzle the glaze over the cake.

 

 

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