Stuff on Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

It’s that time of the month or near enough,  so here is what I have added to my shelves recently.

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)

For Review (ebook)

Bought or otherwise acquired (giveaways, gifts etc)

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

Stuff on Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

It’s that time of the month or near enough,  so here is what I have added to my shelves recently.

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)









 

 

For Review (ebook)


 

Bought or otherwise acquired (giveaways, gifts etc)

Stuff on Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

It’s that time of the month or near enough,  so here is what I have added to my shelves recently.

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)





 

 

For Review (ebook)


 

Bought or otherwise acquired (giveaways, gifts etc)

Stuff on Sunday: Mum’s favourite books …..

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Though my mum, Cherry,  doesn’t read quite as much as me, she manages to finish at least one book a week, which is impressive given how busy she is. She and my father own a post office, though they are retiring this year, and enjoy an active social life. We live just over an hours drive apart so only see each other every six weeks or so, and at each visit I hand over a bag of books for her to read from my vast collection, which she then exchanges for another stack on our next visit. Like me, mum will read just about anything however she prefers historicals, speculative fiction and crime.

To celebrate Mothers Day today, I thought I would share with you  five of of my mum’s  favourite books, so here they are in no particular order…

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 dune

The Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert

Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the “spice” melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe. The story explores the complex and multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis and its “spice”.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon—all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell

A serial Killer is on the loose in Richmond, Virginia. Three women have died, brutalised and strangled in their own bedrooms. There is no pattern: the killer appears to strike at random – but always early on Saturday mornings. So when Dr. Kay Scarpetta, chief medical examiner, is awakened at 2.33am, she knows the news is bad: there is a fourth victim. And she fears now for those that will follow unless she can diog up new forensic evidence to aid police. But not everyone is pleased to see a woman in this powerful job. Someone may even want to ruin her career and reputation…

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood

“Cat’s Eye” is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to Toronoto, the city of her youth, for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, and artist, and woman – but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories. Disturbing, hilarious, and compassionate, “Cat’s Eye, ” is a breathtaking novel of a woman grappling with the tangled knots of her life.

*******

What are your mother’s favourite books?

 

 

Stuff On Sunday: Six Degrees of Separation

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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, Annabelle and Emma have chosen The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath to start the chain.

The semi autobiographical novel was first published in 1960 under a pseudonym, Victoria Lucas. It is touted as an extraordinary work chronicles the crackup of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful–but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time.’

Also  written under a pseudonym is The Cuckoo’s Calling, attributed to the fictional identity of Robert Galbraith but authored by J.K. Rowling, featuring private investigator,  Cormoran Strike, an amputee Afghanistan War vet.

Flashes of War, a collection of short stories and flash fiction by Katey Shultz,  is a look at the experiences of  civilians and military personnel in the Afghanistan war which captures personal moments of fear, introspection, confusion, and valor in one collection spanning nations and perspectives’

The Lottery is Shirley Jackson’s most well known short story,  part of a collection from The Lottery and Other Stories. This collection includes 24 stories that demonstrate Jack son’s remarkable range–from the hilarious to the truly horrible–and power as a storyteller’.

It is a  lottery that sparks rebellion in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, of which Mockingjay is the final installment.  This award winning young adult dystopian series features teenage heroine Katniss Everdeen who incites a revolution against the oppression of the Capitol.

Adult readers of dystopian fiction may prefer, The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. Shortlisted for the ManBooker in 1986 and  winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel in 1987 this literary novel explores a frightening future with commentary on politics, feminism, religion.

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So that’s it, six books linked by six degrees of separation linked variously by author, character, setting, theme and genre.

They also share another common denominator, I haven’t read a single one, (though I have read The Lottery as a stand alone as well as Hunger Games and Catching Fire) though they are all on my TBR list.

 

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

 

Stuff on Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

It’s that time of the month or near enough,  so here is what I have added to my shelves recently.

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)

 





For Review (ebook)


 

Bought or otherwise acquired (giveaways, gifts etc)

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.

********

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.

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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.

 

Weekend Cooking: The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook by Liz Harfull

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.

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

The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook  is much more than just a compilation of prize winning recipes and cooking tips, it is also a wonderful collection of heart-warming personal stories laced with Australian agricultural show nostalgia.

Agricultural shows have been a staple of Australian society for 200 years and around 580 are held across the country each year in cities, regional towns and small rural communities. While the noisy battle for first place in events like sheep shearing and wood chopping draws the crowds to the main show ring, an equally fierce but quieter competition is being fought in the grounds pavilions where cakes, biscuits, slices, pastries, jams and relishes are laid out on trestle tables being judged on strict criteria in relation to appearance, consistency in shape, size and colour, taste and smell.

Within the pages of The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook you can find award winning recipes for entries such as Eileen’s Apple Jelly, Charlie’s Rosella Cake and Rod’s Bloody Hot Tomato Sauce as well as classics like scones, pikelets and sausage rolls, teamed with the personal stories of their maker and the histories of the shows they compete in.

This recipe book is as much a pleasure to read as to cook from. The only disappointing element is the lack of photographs showing the winning recipes, though the pages are illustrated with reproductions of show ephemera, winners portraits and scenes from past and present shows.

I’m too slapdash a cook to ever enter in a show competition where the standards are close to perfection but I’m looking forward to trying several of the recipes in The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook.

One of the categories in show competition is ‘Slices’ so I thought I would share my favourite recipe.

 

Vanilla Slice

Photo Credit http://beatricechristiana.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/vanilla-slice-or-an-easy-type-of-millefeuille/

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 300ml milk
  • 600ml thickened cream
  • 2 packets vanilla instant pudding
  • 1/4 cup pure icing sugar, to sift over the pastry

Method:

Preheat oven to 210°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Bake pastry sheets for 10-15 minutes or until puffed and just golden. When you remove them from the oven, place a tray on top of the sheets to make them flat and leave to cool.

Line a slice tin with baking paper and set aside.

In a bowl, using a mixer, add the milk, cream and pudding mix together and combine until thick.

Cut one pastry sheet to fit the base of the slice tin and place in the tin.

Pour the custard mixture into the slice tin and smooth out evenly.

Cut the second sheet of pastry and place on top.

Refrigerate until chilled through (about 3 hours) and sprinkle with sifted icing sugar before serving. Remove from tin and slice into squares or rectangles using a serated knife.

 

The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook by Liz Harfull is available to purchase from:

 

 

Allen & Unwinboomerang-books_long I Booktopia Amazon AU I Amazon US

  via Booko

 

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Aussie-Author-Challenge-2014-final-badge

 

 

 

Stuff On Sundays: Snugg-le up!

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Last year thesnugg.com contacted me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing one of their products and I chose the Snugg iPad 4 Case Cover and Flip Stand in Baby Blue Leather to trial. At the time my iPad was much coveted by my family and the case had to withstand daily use by a dozen pairs of hands. I’m pleased to report that nearly a year later the case is still protecting my iPad from sticky fingers and rough handling . The exterior has been kept clean with a few swipes of a moist disinfectant wipe, the stitching hasn’t frayed (something an earlier case I owned did within a couple of months) and the neither the elasticised handstrap nor the velcro or magnetic closures have weakened at all.  Though with a lifetime guarantee on the product, I wouldn’t have expected any less.

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Just a few weeks ago thesnugg.com contacted me again to ask if I would be interested in reviewing another one of their products,  their timing was impeccable given we were just about to gift our daughter with her own iPad and I was on the verge of placing an order with thesnugg.com/au for a case, having already been assured with their quality. This time I was sent the Snugg iPad 4 Executive Case Cover and Stand in Orange Leather,  which I immediately appropriated for my own, passing the blue case on to my daughter.

There are few differences between the standard and Executive case covers. Both are made of robust PU leather  and soft nubuck interiors to protect the surface of the iPad from scratches. The iPad slips into the case easily and is held securely in its place with an inner velcro tag and a magnetic closure that works with the iPad’s sleep/wake function. The design of the case ensures all of the iPad features such as volume control buttons and ports are easy accessible.  The cover folds to create a stand that ensures the iPad can be stood in an  upright or horizontal position on any flat surface and there is a comfortable interior hand strap for life on the go, as well as convenient stylus/pen loop.

photo 1   photo 2

However the The Snugg iPad 4 Executive Case Cover and Stand also offers three card pockets in which you can slip business cards, notes or even cash, and a narrow document holder (about 1ocm wide and 25cm high) in which you can tuck paperwork . These features are very useful when out and about, I take my iPad with me everywhere and it is convenient to be able to carry some Book’d Out bookmarks with me in the pocket as well as other bits and pieces.

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TheSnugg.com offers an extensive range of cases for your digital devices – from Apple products, to Galaxy phones and tablets, as well as Kindles, Nooks and the Microsoft Surface and much more. There is even a personalisation option, so you can have your name or Logo on your cover and a wide range of colours to choose from.

If you are looking for a quality case for your iPad, or any other device, I am happy to recommend thesnugg.com. They ship to  several countries as well as offering dedicated online storefronts for half a dozen countries including the UK and Australia. For the full range of products available at the thesnugg.com, visit their website and browse their quality products for what is on offer at great prices.

*I was provided with a case free of charge for review purposes, however all opinions expressed are my own*

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