Review: The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon

 

Title: The Tea Chest

Author: Josephine Moon

Published: Allen & Unwin April 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from April 11 to 13, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The future of the ‘The Tea Chest’, a boutique chain offering gourmet and custom tea blends, is in doubt after Simone Taylor’s sudden death. Judy, Simone’s step-sister and part owner, is desperate to sell but Kate Fullerton, who inherited Simone’s share of the business, is determined to follow through on her mentor’s vision and launch a new store in London. It’s a huge undertaking, a scary financial risk, and means leaving her husband and young sons behind in Australia for months, but if it succeeds, Kate’s wildest dreams could come true.

A charming debut novel from Josephine Moon, The Tea Chest is a story about self belief, friendship, love and tea.

As a tea designer, with no experience in running a business, Kate knows she needs help and during the process of readying the store recruits Leila Morton, and sisters Elizabeth Clancy and Victoria Plimsworth. All four women, have something to prove, to themselves and others, and need to work together to launch The Tea Chest on time, and on budget, but their path is strewn with obstacles, both personal and professional.

A third person narrative shifts between the perspectives of the four women, providing individual back story while moving the story forward, and an additional narrative begins about a third of the way into the book to share Judy’s story. To be honest I found this thread a bit distracting as it seems so removed from the main action, though ultimately it explains Judy’s motivation for selling.

The technicalities of tea making didn’t really interest me, as I don’t drink tea (or coffee) but Moon infuses Kate’s passion for blending with a romanticism and glamour that is appealing, and I’d certainly be tempted to stop and browse in The Tea Chest should I pass it on the street.

I thought The Tea Chest was a light, easy read with a lovely message about trusting yourself and reaching for a happy ending.

The Tea Chest is available to purchase from

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  via Booko

 

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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

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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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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.

 

Review: Games Creatures Play by Charlaine Harris & Toni LP Kelner et al.

 

Title: Games Creatures Play

Authors:  Charlaine Harris (Editor), Toni L.P. Kelner (Editor) , Jan Burke , Dana Cameron, Adam-Troy Castro , Brendan DuBois, Joe R. Lansdale , Laura Lippman, Seanan McGuire, Brandon Sanderson , Scott Sigler , Caitlin Kittredge, William Kent Krueger, Ellen Kushner, Mercedes Lackey

Published: Jo Fletcher Books April 2014

Status: Read from April 10 to 11, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Games Creatures Play is an entertaining anthology from fifteen contributors, with each short story featuring the unusual combination of the paranormal and sports.

Some of the authors didn’t venture too far from their comfort zone. ‘Into the Blue Hereafter’ by Charlaine Harris is set at a softball game in Bon Temps, where Sookie Stackhouse and Manfred Bernado meet for the first time. Similarly Seanan McGuire doesn’t stray far from the familiarity of her InCryptid series, ‘Jammed,’ in which a chimera is on the rampage during a Roller Derby, features Antimony Price. I enjoyed both stories in part at least because of my familiarity with the characters and their worlds.

My favourites included Scott Sigler’s ‘The Case of the Haunted Safeway’, a ghostly tale of love and baseball which managed to be funny, sweet and a little bit spooky all at the same time, Jan Burke’s ‘Stepping into the Dead Zone’ which portrays dodgeball as a test of loyalty and friendship, and ‘Bell, Book and Candlepin‘ by Toni L. P. Kelner in which more than just the bowling balls are returned.

In Games Creatures Play you will find witches, monster stompers, faeries, Gods, ghosts and more, all playing to win and even though I have very little interest in sport in general, I really enjoyed this anthology. Get ready, get set and go… pick up a copy today.

Games Creatures Play is available to purchase from

Jo Fletcher Books I AmazonUS I Amazon UK I BookDepository

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Blog Tour Review: Losing Kate by Kylie Kaden

 

Title: Losing Kate

Author: Kylie Kaden

Published: Bantam: Random House April 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read on April 10, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Kylie Kaden’s compelling debut novel, Losing Kate, is an absorbing contemporary story of secrets, betrayal, love and redemption.

On the night that seventeen year old Kate disappeared while celebrating ‘schoolies’, Francesca lost both the best friend she adored and the boy, Jack, who held her heart.
Thirteen years later, Frankie is stunned to discover Jack has bought the vacant block of land bordering her cottage. Their unexpected reunion revives memories and emotions neither are prepared for, and to move forward they need to learn the truth about what happened to the girl they both loved.

The first person narrative shifts between the past and present as it traces Jack, Kate’s and Frankie’s teenage relationship, the events on the night Kate went missing, and Frankie’s and Jack’s reunion after 13 years. Though Frankie and Jack quickly reestablish the intimacy of their childhood friendship, Kate always stands between them. Guilt, regret and lies are irredeemably tangled with loyalty, truth and love. The situation is complicated further by Jack’s current relationship.

The mystery of Kate’s fate is what primarily drives the tension throughout the novel. The flashbacks slowly reveal what Frankie remembers of the night and how those memories fit with what she is learning in the present day. Frankie just can’t let go of Kate and her desire for closure. Suspicions rise and fall as the truth is pieced together, and the swirling ambiguity kept me guessing.

Despite the pop culture references (to bands like Powder Finger), elements of the story, including the oppressive summer weather, Francesca’s crumbling cottage, fire and illness, give the story a contemporary gothic feel. The doomed teenage romance between Kate and Jack also plays into this, as does Frankie and Jack’s unrequited love.

Set amongst the streets of suburban Queensland, Losing Kate is a gripping novel of suspense, drama and romance. An impressive debut, I really enjoyed Losing Kate and I’m looking forward to more from Kylie Kaden.

 

Losing Kate is available to purchase from

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  via Booko

To learn more about Kylie Kaden visit Goodnight Carolina to read an interview with the author

 

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Review & Giveaway: Beached by Ros Baxter

Title: Beached {Aegira Chronicles #2}

Author: Ros Baxter

Published: Escape Publishing April 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from April 06 to 07, 2014 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Beached is the second book in Ros Baxter’s Aegira Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy with a creative twist on Norse legend. The first, Fish Out of Water, introduced Rania Aqualina, deputy sheriff of small town Dirtwater, and half mermaid. Her investigation into the discovery of a dead blonde with a fish tattoo on Main Street leads Rania to uncover a plot which could mean the end of her underwater home, Aegira, and her own life, at the hands of a crazed sorcerer, Manos.

In Beached, the focus of the story shifts to Rania’s sister, Princess Lecanora whom the Queen has sent to Land to find support for the battle against the Sorcerer from none other than the Presidential candidate. Lecanora, while struggling to adjust to the ways of the Land, joins her sister, mother and their allies to gain the candidates favour while dodging over zealous bodyguards, Manos’s army and saving two worlds.

The action is fast paced, as Manos launches his attack, determined to take Lecanora as his bride so he can rule over Aegira, and destroy any chance of the prophecy of ‘the Three’ thwarting him by killing Rania. The fight moves between land and sea, finally culminating in an epic battle in Aegira.

As in Fish Out of Water, there is a strong romantic element within the story and it’s Rania’s ex, Doug, who leaves Lecanora breathless. Peace loving Lecanora is baffled by her attraction to the gun toting, ex special forces, bad ass and the strange feelings he evokes. It’s insta-love of a sort, but not too badly done.

I enjoyed the humour which came from Rania’s snark, and Lecanora’s naïveté. Baxter writes well, with snappy dialogue and descriptive prose. I’d recommend reading Fish Out of Water before Beached though it’s not strictly necessary, Baxter provides enough back story to orient a reader new to the trilogy.

Beached, like Fish Out of Water, is a fun book, combining action, fantasy, humour and romance, which I really enjoyed. I’m looking forward to reading the final adventure in the Aegira Chronicles.

***

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Ros Baxter

I have 1 e-edition of

Beached

to giveaway

**Open worldwide**

Please leave a comment on this post and then

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Entries Close April 20th, 2014

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***

Beached is available to purchase from

Escape Publishing

 Amazon Amazon UK Apple Barnes & Noble BIG W Booktopia ebooks Google JB HI FI KoboAllRomanceEbooks

 

 

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Review: The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan

 

Title: The Dead Ground {Paula Macguire #2}

Author: Claire McGowan

Published: Headline:  Hachette Australia April 2014

Status:  Read from April 07 to 09, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The second book from Irish crime fiction writer, Claire McGowan, The Dead Ground is part police procedural/part thriller as forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, and the Missing Persons Unit, searches for an abducted infant, a missing pro-choice doctor and a newborn, ripped from her mother’s womb.

The grisly opening scene, set during the height of ‘The Troubles’ sets the tone for the shocking crimes that follow in The Dead Ground. This isn’t a story for the faint of heart as the MPRU and Serious Crime team struggle to trace a child abductor and a killer who may be the one and the same.

Paula’s personal issues are entwined in the cases her unit are investigating. I could sympathise with Paula’s prevarication with regards to her personal life but I was irritated by her lack of assertiveness and clear thinking in her professional role. Distracted by her own problems, Paula makes poor choices, including withholding evidence, ultimately putting herself in the path of a killer. I wanted to like her more than I did, and perhaps if I had read the first book to feature Macquire, The Lost, I may have been more forgiving of her flaws in this one.

McGowan courts controversy with her exploration of the abortion debate. Vehement religious opposition means termination is still illegal in Ireland and the few, like Dr Alison Bates, who are willing to offer women options are subject to public vitriol. The irony of the doctor being brutally murdered, and the lack of sympathy for the woman from right to lifers, is inescapable.

Fast paced, provocative and intriguing, The Dead Ground is a story of murder, madness, and the missing.

 

The Dead Ground is available to purchase from

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  via Booko

 

 

Review: Crimson Dawn by Fleur McDonald

 

Title: Crimson Dawn

Author: Fleur McDonald

Published: Arena: Allen & Unwin April 2014

Read an excerpt

Status: Read from April 04 to 06, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Fleur McDonald’s fifth novel to combine her love of rural Australia and her farming experience with drama and romance, Crimson Dawn is an engaging story of betrayal, resilience, and family secrets.

Reeling from betrayal and tragedy, Laura Murphy throws herself into the management of Nambina, the family sheep station which now belongs to her. Eight years later, Laura is proud of what she has achieved including developing prize winning Merino rams and setting up a successful farm school that teaches young women the basics of managing a property but then things slowly begin to wrong, one of her rams is poisoned, she suspects one of her students is doing drugs and then her neighbour, and former best friend, announces she has a claim on Nambina, and threatens to take away everything she loves.

There are several tangled plot lines in this story which ultimately reveal unexpected connections, including Meghan’s claim on Nambina, the identity of Laura’s mother, a drug and sex party ring and most significantly, the parallel narrative within the novel which tells the story of a young boy, who left his abusive home in the 1930′s, as he grows into a man. McDonald does well to draw these and other minor threads together in a manner that is plausible, though not entirely probable.

The story did feel a little disjointed to me, especially to begin with, as the contemporary chapters move quite quickly from 2000 to 2001 to 2003 before finally settling in 2008, while the parallel historical timeline makes similar leaps. I personally would have preferred for the contemporary story to have been grounded in a single time period.

Laura is a likeable heroine, her own hard work and determination has seen her build a successful property and business and she is satisfied with the life she has created for herself. But she has been unable to move on from the shocking betrayal of Meghan and Josh, once her best friend and fiance respectively, and has become emotionally closed off from all but family. When Nambina is threatened, McDonald gently guides Laura into the realisation that she doesn’t have to face this latest betrayal alone and introduces Tim, the local vet with whom Laura forms a tentative, and ultimately lovely relationship.

While I do think the storyline was just a bit too ambitious and the flow of the narrative suffered as a result, I did enjoy Crimson Dawn. Laura is a protagonist I can admire and I always appreciate the authentic details McDonald provides about everyday life on rural properties.

 

Crimson Dawn is available to purchase from

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

  via Booko

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Also available

 

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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

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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.

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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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